‘Battlestar Galactica’ Recap: Revelations and goodbyes
And here we are again, true believers. It has been a long time since we were together like this — good holidays? Excellent. Say hi to your mother for me — but I couldn’t tell you how glad I am to see you. Why? Because this is Battlestar Galactica and, unlike some shows I’d been recapping (cough-Heroes-cough), I was looking forward to its return.
When we last saw the rag-tag fleet, they’d found Earth, and the joy of homecoming was almost immediately supplanted by despair as the Colonial Geiger counters revealed humanity’s home was a radioactive wasteland. (Somewhere, Col. Taylor is nodding in silent sympathy.) And that’s where we pick up: on desolation’s shore with everyone — human and Cylon alike — aimlessly looking for pieces to pick up.
Hope in the fleet had been hanging by a thread for years — the only thing that kept them going was the vague idea of salvation on Earth. With that hope gone, nuked two millennia ago, what are people to do? Where do they turn? To each other? Not quite. Disappointment on so vast a scale is impossible to communicate — which is why Roslin can’t even bear to address her people. How can you trust anything, even yourself when faith is so thoroughly betrayed?
There was an awful lot of information thrown at us this episode. Let’s take each bit separately. And since this is the beginning of the end, let’s begin at the end:
ELLEN TIGH? REALLY?!
Okay, so if you read our handy Cylon Odds gallery, you’ll remember that I was almost convinced that Ronald D. Moore and his merry men wouldn’t choose a dead person to be that all-important Fifth Cylon. I mean, sure, it sheds some light on Ellen throughout the years — catting around the fleet, schtupping her husband out of the Cylon holding cells on New Caprica — but it doesn’t have any real impact on the here-and-now. The first Four were interesting choices in that they were all but an arm’s reach away from being able to cripple the fleet. And the fact that they were all ”good guys” — even if Tory sauntered over to the Dark Side when she killed Cally — made for some fascinating tweaks in their existing relationships. I was hoping that the Fifth would be someone not so good, not so interested in the preservation of anything.
But instead, it was Ellen Tigh. I hate to say it, but: lame.
SO, THEN, WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH STARBUCK?
Kara, with Leoben in tow, followed the Colonial transponder signal that led the fleet to Earth and found her own crashed Viper…with her own body inside. But what does that mean? Where’d the other Starbuck come from? Who’s fabricating Vipers out there and, while they’re at it, cloning people? Was that mandala-storm-thing that ”killed” her at the end of Season 3 some kind of wormhole? Is time travel, for the first time, rearing its ugly head in Galactica? Gods, I hope not. Time travel is such a story crutch, especially with science fiction, and I was always so glad that Galactica never leaned on it…and we’d better not start now. If so, I wonder if a holodeck isn’t gonna show up in the penultimate episode.
NEXT PAGE: Dee says goodbye
DUALLA’S LAST HURRAH
She’s trying to live, as Lou Reed would put it, her perfect day. Playing with Hera, going on an impromptu date with Lee…in other words, living the life she always wanted but never had. Giving the only gifts she had to offer: companionship, inspiration, relief, clarity. And it must’ve all been so clear for her, how to spend her last day alive. Such clarity can be frightening. Because one of the hardest things to recognize in ourselves is weakness. Not only did Dee recognize that she wasn’t strong enough to carry on, but she embraced it. Abject despair is like a fingerprint; it’s different for everyone.
One of the reasons I love this show is that it can spring something so surprising — like Dee’s death — while still making it feel like a logical conclusion. Not that you’d ever think that she would’ve done that, but afterwards, you feel like the signs were all there and you just missed them.
And it’s as if Dualla’s death is what kicked the desperation into high gear. Everyone on that ship was looking for a way to numb the pain. Some turned to suicide solutions — Roslin stopped taking her meds; Adama picks a fight with Tigh, hoping to goad him into a shootout; Galactica crewmen are turning ”the Bucket” into a riotous ghetto.
(Call me a heretic, but I thought Adama’s drunken confessions — over Dee’s body, to Tigh after their faceoff — was some of Olmos’ worst acting in the series. Too deliberate, too forced, too much weird stuff happening with his mouth. It’s a tough thing to do, I’m sure, convey that kind of self-destructive anger, but it took me right out of both of those scenes.)
THE THIRTEENTH TRIBE WERE CYLONS
Four different science teams spread out across Earth’s surface and found toaster-y Cylons and what looked like human bones, all buried together. But, as Baltar discovers, they’re not so human after all. ”A tribe of Cylons came to this planet and called it Earth.” As the old saying goes, all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again. So, does this mean that everyone is a Cylon? All of the tribes were machines? Trippy.
THE FINAL FIVE ARE IMMORTAL-ISH
Each of them remembered being on Earth 2,000 years ago, before the bombs went off. Tyrol shopping in a market; Anders playing ”All Along the Watchtower”; Tory watching him perform — but how? They age like humans, or Adama would’ve noticed his best friend never got older. According to the 2,000-year-old Ellen, they’ll be reborn…but why these five? What’s so special about them that they’re chosen, Kal-El-style, to be the standardbearers for their dead civilization? As ever, we got some answers, but they were answers that begged even more questions.
So, here we are, right back where we started. Adama making a promise to the fleet that he will lead them to a new home. Lying to himself, and everyone else, in order to motivate them. But does anyone still believe?
I will say this: Aside from the Ellen reveal, everything about this episode felt right. Every emotion rang true, even if, at times, a little extreme. It was a funereal hour of television, and it couldn’t have gone any other way. But I also can’t say that it was dramatic. Revelation, and the aftershocks of revelation, is an inert experience. Emotional devastation is powerful, but it doesn’t move. We learned some stuff, sure, but aside from Dualla’s suicide, not that much actually happened. Just one mention of the Separatist Cylon threat from the Cavils. Barely a word from Baltar and the Sixes.
In all honestly, I liked what I got, but I was hoping for just a little more from this, the beginning of the end.
What did you think? Who would you rather have seen revealed as the Fifth Cylon? Is Lee gonna find himself back in the Big Chair? How will the fact that, apparently, everyone is a Cylon affect the ongoing war?