A two-hour Battlestar Galactica special that tells the story of the Battlestar Pegasus several months prior to it finding the Galactica.
Battlestar Galactica: Razor (2007) tells the story of the first mission of Lee 'Apollo' Adama as commander of the battlestar Pegasus. Flashbacks interleaved with the main story show what happened to Pegasus during and after the Cylon attack on the Twelve Colonies, as well as some events at the end of the First Cylon War. The main story and most of the flashbacks focus on Lt. Kendra Shaw, who joins Pegasus as aide to Adm. Helena Cain just before the Cylons strike.
We first see Shaw in the main storyline, working in the galley and using drugs; she's out of uniform and looks like a grunt, so it's a surprise to hear Apollo address her as 'Lieutenant.' Calling her Cain's legacy, Apollo makes Shaw his executive officer, with a promotion to major. This is a risky move given the black marks in Shaw's record resulting from run-ins with Cain's immediate successors, Fisk and Garner. Shaw tells Apollo that Fisk and Garner were unworthy of her respect and shows little respect for Apollo himself, sneering that he hasn't earned his command--his daddy just gave him the keys to the battlestar.
In flashback, Shaw experiences Cain's brutality at first hand, initially in small ways: Cain belittles her for having trouble finding her way to the battlestar's CIC (bridge), accuses her of having her influential mother pull strings to get this new assignment, and when Shaw replies that her mother has died, warns Shaw never again to play for sympathy. Shaw gets a first glimmer of respect from Cain by staying at her post in the CIC for two solid days after the Cylon attack--though the admiral can't refrain from making her exhausted subordinate button her jacket.
Soon after the attack, Shaw meets and befriends Gina Inviere, a civilian systems specialist who is on board to help refit the Pegasus computer networks. Shaw is surprised to learn that Gina is romantically involved with Cain; as she remarks to Gina, Cain seems entirely self-sufficient. Gina replies that everyone has needs--"we're all human." This line is aimed at viewers familiar with the Battlestar Galactica (2004) television series, who will recognize Gina as a Cylon model Six.
Pegasus attacks what at first seems to be a small group of Cylon ships guarding a communications relay; when it turns out to be a huge force, the officers' instinct is to back off. Cain orders an all-out assault that may prove suicidal and her executive officer Belzen - who is the closest thing she has to a friend among her officers - refuses; Cain kills him with his own sidearm and appoints Col. Fisk as XO in his place. (In the season 2 episode 'Pegasus,' Fisk tells this story to Col. Tigh.)
Some Cylons manage to board Pegasus and Cain sends Shaw after them. Shaw meets Gina and sends her to the CIC, where she'll be safe. Shortly thereafter she sees a Cylon Centurion, followed by a Number Six, which Shaw kills. Realizing that Gina must be a human-form Cylon, Shaw races back to the CIC in time to arrest her before she can take over the ship. Cain locks Gina--her erstwhile lover--in the brig and assigns Lt. Thorne to interrogate her. She instructs him to use pain, humiliation, and fear to extract information. Shaw is promoted to captain for her role in exposing and capturing Gina, though she confesses that she unwittingly helped the Cylons by giving Gina access codes. Cain is surprisingly forgiving, presumably because Gina had won Cain's trust as well.
Pegasus encounters a small convoy of civilian ships led by the Scylla. Cain sends officers and marines to each of the ships carrying demands that vital personnel and equipment--including faster-than-light (FTL) drives--be transferred to Pegasus. Without its FTL drives, the convoy will be dead in the water, unable to reach any refuge or flee any attack. Fisk, Shaw, and their detachment of marines are sent to the Scylla, whose crew and passengers object vehemently to Cain's demands. When Fisk communicates their objections to Cain, she tells him to shoot the family of anyone on the conscription list who refuses to cooperate. This leads to even greater agitation aboard Scylla; seeing that the passengers are on the verge of violence, Shaw opens fire on the crowd and kills a woman. The marines kill nine others before the passengers are subdued. Having stripped the convoy, Pegasus abandons it to pursue the Cylons.
Additional flashbacks show events at the very end of the First Cylon War, forty-odd years before the events of the main story. In one flashback, Helena Cain is a child whose home is under attack by the Cylons. Her father, injured, tells her to take her younger sister Lucy and run. The girls don't get far before Lucy becomes trapped in some rubble. Unable to free her, Helena flees from the oncoming Cylon Centurions; from her hiding-place, she listens as Lucy's cries are cut off. A Centurion finds Helena but apparently receives the order to cease fire before it can kill her. It's here that Helena picks up the wooden-handled pocket knife the film uses to illustrate the razor metaphor.
In the other flashback to the First Cylon War, William 'Husker' Adama is a young Viper pilot. He ejects from his damaged Viper over a planet and discovers that the Cylons have been conducting horrific experiments on human captives. He encounters the first Cylon Hybrid. Adama tries to free the remaining captives but is forced to abandon them when an earthquake threatens to bring the building down on him. When he gets out, he sees a basestar flying away and learns that the war is over.
From these similar experiences, Cain and Adama draw different lessons on how the military should deal with civilians in time of war. Cain apparently views her own survival to fight another day as a worthy return for Lucy's sacrifice; she attempts to banish human feeling and make herself simply a tool--like a razor, she says, fiddling with her pocket knife--but a tool of war. When Cain tells Shaw that sometimes you have to leave people behind in war, Shaw is remembering the civilians of the Scylla and its raped convoy, but Cain must be thinking of Lucy.
Adama's lesson is about protecting civilians rather than bringing destruction to the enemy at all costs. He notes that his conclusion, which he discusses with Apollo, was influenced by Col. Tigh, by the advocacy of President Laura Roslin for her people, and even more by Adama's need to be able to look his son in the eye. Even so, he won't condemn Cain's actions, even in the case of the the Scylla's convoy.
In the present, Adm. Adama sends Apollo and Pegasus to retrieve a missing scientific expedition. Pegasus is attacked by Cylon Raiders, one of which follows a Viper piloted by Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace into the landing bay before being disabled. (Starbuck is angry with Shaw for putting her at risk by ordering Pegasus's batteries to fire at the Raiders while Starbuck and another Viper were engaged with them, but Shaw rejects the criticism on the grounds that her priority was to protect Pegasus.) The captured Raider and its Centurions prove to be of an old design from the time of the First Cylon War, which is puzzling. Sharon Valerii remembers a story about a group of old-model Centurions who guard the first Hybrid; Adama realizes that this is the same group of Cylons he discovered at the end of the last war, and they may be using the missing science team for the same kind of experiments. He transfers his flag to Pegasus so he can oversee the search and rescue mission, though Apollo remains in command of the ship.
Using data from the captured Raider, the science team is traced to a Cylon basestar. Shaw devises a plan to get a rescue team--Shaw herself, Starbuck, and three others--into the basestar while Pegasus draws the Cylons' fire. The rescue team's Raptor is attacked by Raiders, as they expected it would be, so they abandon it, completing their journey to the basestar using jet packs. They find the science team, who aren't in very good shape; as Adama feared, the Cylons have mutilated them. Then things start to go bad: they're attacked by Centurions, who damage the detonation timer on the team's nuke (with which they intend to destroy the basestar after they leave). The Centurions also capture Dasilva, one of the team's marines. Shaw, realizing that Dasilva will probably be mutilated as the science team was, shoots and kills him as the Centurions drag him away.
At this point the rescue team loses contact with Pegasus. Apollo, fearing that they have been captured, orders a nuclear strike against the basestar, but his father countermands the order. When contact is regained, Apollo tells the team that another Raptor is on the way to pick them up, but someone has to stay behind to detonate the nuke and destroy the basestar. He orders Starbuck to do it, but Shaw, who has been wounded, forces Starbuck into the Raptor at gunpoint and takes the nuke back into the basestar herself.
Shaw makes her way to the first Hybrid, whose voice has been audible--speaking more coherently than the later-model Hybrid familiar to viewers of season 3--on several occasions during the rescue. The Hybrid makes some oracular pronouncements about the final five Cylons and repeats a line, apparently from scripture, that it quoted to young William Adama 40 years before: "All of this has happened before and will happen again." It calls Shaw by name and tells her to approach if she wants to be forgiven. The Hybrid warns Shaw that Kara Thrace will lead the human race to its destruction and they must not follow her. Shaw is unable to pass this information back to Pegasus because the Cylons are jamming her communications. She sets off the bomb, destroying herself, the Hybrid, and the basestar.
In the aftermath, Apollo and Adm. Adama discuss Starbuck's suggestion of a posthumous commendation for Shaw. In light of the Scylla incident Apollo doubts that she deserves it, but no decision is reached. Adama mentions that he's been reviewing Cain's logs and can't find much fault with her actions. He notes that history will judge them all, but the first draft of history will appear in their own logs; they adjourn to work on them. Apollo runs into Starbuck in the corridor and she tells him she's resigning as CAG to return to Galactica, joking that he's apparently trying to get her killed and she has a destiny to fulfill.