Okay, I just watched tonight’s episode of Galactica. (And if you haven’t seen it yet – if you taped or Tivo’d it for later, and you’re SPOILER-averse – well, STOP READING.)
Anyway, seems to me my earlier speculations were pretty much on target. Back on Galactica 1980, in what was perhaps the only good story arc in that ill-fated spinoff series (see the last filmed episode plus its unfilmed sequel), the original Starbuck was lost, believed dead, marooned on a planet with only a Cylon for company, then recruited by an angel from the Ship of Lights and raised to angelhood himself, evolving to “another plane of existence,” whereupon he returned, much later, to aid the Colonial fleet.
The events that befell the new Starbuck on tonight’s show don’t seem far out of sync with that trajectory; hence something tells me we will be seeing Kara back next season.
(Also, the being who appeared as Leoben but evidently wasn’t Leoben reminded me of Kosh on Babylon 5 appearing to Sheridan as his father.)