Battlestar Galactica: Our Extended Recap of “Revelations”
[See that scroll bar over there? See how long it is? Yeah, this baby’s a long one. You’ve been warned!]
The stage was set – the mood around the Frak Party this past Friday eve was of a palpable, barely suppressed jubilee. You might think it was the single-malt whiskey being passed around (thanks to all of RDM’s podcast suggestions), but our joy was not one you could find in a bottle. Having been witness to season-ending plot-twists the likes of which had us jumping up, clutching our heads, and yelling, “Holy Frak!” – we could only stand around and guess at what Ron Moore and company had in store for us this go round, especially with the series ender looming in the far-distance.
But you could bet, between the sips of whiskey and the chain drags of the Baltar-sized cigars, that we had smiles on our faces as we analyzed every plot strand and wondered at the fate of our favorite characters on television. The crystal-clear night under the stars, with the BSG soundtrack blaring in the background, seemed ripe for grand revelations indeed.
And boy did our beloved writers, actors, and directors ever deliver on the promises that had been developing over the course of the season – and the series!
Journey with me on an in-depth review of this perfect episode, and maybe, just maybe, we can push back the wait for episode 10 (officially #12) just a little bit longer.
(Throughout the recap we’ll be linking to the Battlestar Wiki, an incredible repository of factual information about the show. Do yourself a favor and immerse yourself in the rabbit hole that wiki leads you down. We’ll also reference our own previous recaps to refresh your memory on key points.)
LET IT BEGIN!
The lights dim, everyone takes their places in the room, and in his best Admiral Adama impersonation our host yells “Nobody better say a frakking word for the next hour!” which elicits a chuckle from the crowd.
Then the familiar stuttered keyboard strands of the BSG intro blare from the stereo – “bum – bum, bum, bum – bum, bum – bum, bum, bum,” and a hush immediately settles over the basement entertainment room.
In the official recap, the producers pepper us with key moments that set up the brilliance of this episode: Tyrol and crew marvel at Starbuck’s mint condition Viper after her return; Roslin, having made her way to the rebel Cylon base ship, orders the hybrid to be plugged in, which immediately jumps them from the fleet; Zarek informs the Quorum that Roslin and Baltar were aboard the Cylon ship that jumped away; Lee questions his father’s plan to wait behind for Roslin, as we see Bill drift in space alone aboard a Raptor because “…[he] can’t live without her”; Helo and Sharon escape The Hub with D’Anna and order the nukes to fly, which destroy The Hub in a fiery explosion; Roslin informs D’Anna that she knows the Final 5 are supposed to know the way to Earth, and D’Anna states that she has to protect herself and will not reveal the Final 5 until Roslin takes her back to the fleet; Bill Adama is reading “The Searider Falcon” when the rebel ship jumps back to the rendezvous point, and Roslin and Adama are reunited in a teary union born of the revelation of the love they have for one another.
As the episode begins, Lee is in his father’s quarters, flipping through the Sacred Scrolls (specifically, the Book of Pythia). He stops on a 2-page illustration of an ancient city, but it’s not until Starbuck walks in that we learn what Lee is looking at – The Temple of Aurora. Lee remarks that Pythia, the ancient oracle, says in her writings that the temple is on Earth, but he doesn’t look too certain about it. Starbuck reassures Lee that they’ll get there and walk the halls together, but Lee is still in doubt that they’ll ever get there.
You’ll remember that the Aurora reference holds special significance to Starbuck. During “Maelstrom,” she picks up the Aurora figurine for the first time when she visits the local oracle, who tells her to keep it until she figures out who it should be given to. Before the final flight that leads to her death, she gives it to Admiral Adama, someone producer Ron Moore has always said is a father figure to Starbuck. Adama places Aurora on his model ship as a figurehead when he learns of Starbuck’s death. Given other prophecies of Starbuck’s destiny as the one that will lead the humans to their end, only time will tell if Starbuck is a literal or figurative representation of Aurora, possibly one of the Lords of Kobol, as the Galactica’s figurehead leading them toward Earth.
Starbuck quickly changes the subject away from Lee’s doubt, remarking on the strangeness of Roslin and Adama not being present. Lee says that no one sits in his father’s chair; in fact, Tigh won’t even look at it. As we pan to the empty chair, Lee says that the scariest thing his mom used to tell him was that his father was waiting for him in the study. He would knock on the door and make the long walk across the room to the actual desk that now sits in the Admiral’s Galactica chambers.
Starbuck, oddly enough, brings up a quote that Leoben once said to her while she was in captivity on New Caprica – “Children are born to replace their parents. For children to reach their full potential their parents have to die.” This foreshadowing makes later scenes of the Admiral’s break-down all the more harrowing.
On the rebel Cylon base ship, Leoben informs Roslin and the others that they will rejoin the fleet in less than an hour. Roslin states that she’ll return the Final 5 to the Cylons, but D’Anna cuts her off by telling her that there are only 4 on the human fleet! Wait, what? Is D’Anna playing some kind of game here, based on her knowledge of seeing the final 5? Or is she speaking the truth? If she is speaking the truth, where is the 5th Cylon? Are they on the Cylon base ship? Currently, Roslin, Adama, Helo, Baltar, and the Galactica pilots and crew are the only supposed humans aboard the Cylon base ship. Or is the 5th Cylon somewhere else that we haven’t thought of? At this point, while we are certainly interested in who the 5th is, the finale of this episode put that curiosity on the back-burner. More on that later.
Roslin asks where the 5th is located, but D’Anna is still holding her cards tight to her chest. She reiterates that she wants the 4 Cylons aboard the human fleet. Adama states that it’d be easier if she would just tell them who the 4 are, but D’Anna dismisses the possibility since the humans could just turn around and kill the 4. Roslin tries to assuage D’Anna’s paranoia by reminding her that the humans need the 4 since they know the way to Earth, and Leoben agrees. He tries to coax D’Anna into cooperation, but the reborn D’Anna remembers all too well what happened when they cooperated on New Caprica (although, to me, that point is debatable). She declares that the humans aboard the base ship are to be held hostage until the 4 are safely aboard the ship, motioning to the Centurions to hold them at gun-point. Helo and the marines jump to action, pointing their guns at D’Anna and the other Cylons. Adama even draws his pistol and points it straight at her face. These days, pointing a gun at a Cylon is an actual threat now that The Hub is gone, but D’Anna doesn’t seem to be too concerned. Roslin eventually intercedes and asks Adama to trust her and order a stand down. Adama complies reluctantly.
D’Anna, clearly in control, informs them that 8 has had a Raptor prepared for departure for when they arrive at the rendezvous point, and that Adama will be going along for the ride. Adama, reluctant to leave Roslin, at first refuses, but when Roslin hugs him she whispers in his ear that if the Cylons get the 4 they get Earth, so if that happens he must destroy the Cylon base ship, even with them all on board.
Back on Galactica, we witness the fallout of Gaeta being back in CIC with his amputated leg, trying to helm his old position. He doesn’t look so good, and when he accidentally knocks his pain pills off the console, he has such a hard time recovering them that Dualla retrieves the pills for him. Tigh, still acting Admiral of the Galactica, asks Gaeta if he wishes to be relieved, but Gaeta says that he is “good to go” and turns awkwardly back to his radar – when the CIC warning bells go off! We’ve got Dradis contact! It is, of course, the Cylon base ship and a Raptor, bearing for the Galactica.
When the Raptor lands in the Galactica hangar bay, a squadron of marines and officers greet the ship’s landing. The Sleeper 4 are in attendance, surely eager to find out how D’Anna’s arrival is going to play out. Tigh and Tory are down on the hangar floor as part of the official delegate, while Anders and Tyrol watch from the balcony. Anders whispers, “Maybe she won’t be able to identify us,” but Tyrol just stares at him like it is an unlikely scenario.
Lee embraces his father as Adama and D’Anna exit the Raptor, welcoming him home. D’Anna stares at Tigh with a knowing smirk, then at Tory, and then presumably at Tyrol and Anders who are off screen. She stands before the BSG crew with an 8 and informs Lee that Roslin and the others are alive and well. Trying to wrestle some control back from D’Anna, Adama tells Lee that she wants the 4 Cylons that are on the fleet and will hold the humans hostage until she gets them.
D’Anna tells Lee that they actually don’t need to do anything – she’s already in contact with them, so BSG just needs to stay out of the way. D’Anna, obviously laying not-so-subtle orders for the Sleeper 4 in the room, states that now that the 4 know they are safe that they should find their own way over to the base ship. She requests that Galactica does not interfere with any shuttle traffic in the fleet.
Lee balks – that would give the Cylons the 4 who know the way to Earth, leaving the humans behind, but D’Anna says that it’s up to the 4. Lee concedes, Adama agrees, and D’Anna prepares to depart and await the return of the 4 on the base ship.
At this moment Tory makes possibly the smartest move she has made all series. She approaches Lee and tells him that Roslin needs her medicine and Tory wants to be the one that takes it to her. Tigh, realizing that one of his Cylon conspirators is about to jump ship, tries to stop her by telling Bill Adama that they can’t give the Cylons any more hostages. Even though Lee agrees, Adama says that another hostage is not going to change the equation (and, he no doubt wants Roslin to get her medicine), so he permits Tory to leave. The other Sleeper 4 look on in shock.
Back in Adama’s quarters, Lee, Starbuck, Tigh, and Bill plot future plans. Lee’s next step is to have Starbuck put together a mission to get Roslin and company back by force. Adama lets them in on Roslin’s last request, that if they can’t stop the Sleeper 4 from reaching the base ship she wants it destroyed, but he leaves the decision in Lee’s hands since he is acting President. Lee watches his father put the Admiral pips back on his uniform, and then agrees with Roslin that if they lose those 4 they lose Earth. If everything goes south, he’ll destroy the base ship and everyone on it. The camera closes on Tigh, who is obviously distraught over the turmoil he’s feeling inside.
I’d like to pause for a second here and point out the magnificence of director Michael Rymer, whose deft camera work during D’Anna’s unspoken communication with the Sleeper 4, with quick shots to the various Sleeper 4 to add emotional resonance to the scene. Rymer’s work is always exemplary on BSG, and his skilled hand is readily apparent during this entire perfectly sculpted episode.
When we return to Galactica, BSG Sharon Agathon is in the situation room briefing Lee, Admiral Adama, Tigh, Starbuck, and Dualla on the prisoner situation aboard the Cylon base ship. Since D’Anna will probably have surmised that BSG Sharon has informed the Galactica of the prisoner hold, Sharon suggests that D’Anna may have moved the prisoners, which would mean a compartment by compartment fight. Lee cautions that the Cylons could open fire on the civilian fleet while they’re boarding, and Tigh finishes the thought that they’d wipe out the human race instantly. When Starbuck states that’s why the Raptors need to be on standby, ready to launch nukes, Tigh says that there has to be other options, to which Starbuck sarcastically replies that the 4 could just give themselves up. Little does she know that she’s planted that seed in the head of the only Cylon in the room, Colonel Tigh.
Arriving on the rebel base ship, Tory is led through the hallways, and she doesn’t yet look comfortable in her surroundings. When they get to the Cylon bridge, D’Anna announces that one of their lost siblings has arrived, ushering Tory into the room. What’s intriguing is that the Twos, Sixes, and Eights that greet her do not even sense whether Tory is one of the final 5 or not. Leoben even asks D’Anna if she is one of the Final 5. D’Anna says that she saw Tory in her vision of the 5 (the faces of which we never saw). Tory smiles uncertainly. Are Tory and the others actually Cylons, actually part of the Final 5? Are they not recognized because they are different than the others? We’ve seen a captive #6 on Galactica sense the final 5 on board the fleet, so why do the Cylons on the rebel ship (which include 6’s) not immediately, absolutely know that Tory is one of the 5? Again, only time will tell.
In another part of the base ship, Roslin is dressing Baltar’s wound. Baltar feels compelled to thank Roslin for not murdering him. He knows that it wasn’t an easy decision to make, but he loves living and wants to thank her for saving his life. After a moment where Roslin looks genuinely apologetic, she explains that his thanks might be misguided since she has ordered Adama to blow up the base ship should D’Anna not back down. Baltar looks incredulous, and is about to follow-up, but is interrupted by Tory’s escort into the room.
Even as she is puzzled over Tory’s appearance, you can tell that Roslin is relieved to see her at the same time, which makes the coming moments such a stab to the heart. After telling Roslin to sit down, she gives Roslin her medication. When Roslin inquires how she brought this about, Tory informs her that she came back with D’Anna – to be with her people! Amazingly enough, Baltar immediately pegs her as one of the Final 5, and a #6 confirms that D’Anna saw it in a vision (notice again that the 6 doesn’t say she knows it herself, but is relying on D’Anna’s vision).
Baltar says he knew it, maybe not on a conscious level, but he always knew there was something odd about Tory. As Roslin looks on with surprise still etched on her face, Tory asks her if she ever knew. Roslin confirms that she had no clue, to which Tory replies, “It might be worth pondering what else you’ve been wrong about.” Ooh, I just want to poke her in the eye!
As Tory is walking out, Roslin quickly gathers her wits about her and admits that it is true, she was wrong, and since Tory is indeed one of the Final 5, and since the other Cylons will listen to the Final 5 she asks Tory to convince D’Anna to release all the hostages. Tory quips, “I’m done taking orders from you.” Ouch!
In the vacuum of space, we see a humanoid figure being tossed out of the Cylon base ship’s airlock. On the Galactica intercom, D’Anna informs Lee that there has been a change of plans – she has just executed the first of the Colonial hostages, and another will follow every hour until the other Cylons come home. Tigh is visibly distressed by the news, and I think this is the actual reason for D’Anna’s gambit, opposed to what she is telling Lee – she knows that the Sleeper 4 will have feelings for the people aboard the human fleet, so by executing hostages she is trying to force their hand and make them finally head back to the base ship (especially after she witnessed Tigh try and stop Tory). This is why she terminates the transmission, even as Lee is pleading that they have been cooperating. Having no other choice, he gives Admiral Adama the go-ahead for the rescue mission, and failing that, destroy the base ship.
Down in the Galactica hangar, the pilots urgently ready their Vipers for the mission. Tyrol, for the first time since that mind-frakking Season 3 finale, hears the buzz and distorted hum of the music that triggered his revelation as a Cylon. In the pilot ready-room, as Starbuck and BSG Sharon brief the pilots on the mission, Anders is assaulted by the same buzzing in his head. In CIC, Tigh hears the sound as well, and aboard the Cylon base ship Tory nearly faints from the effect the sound has on her mind.
Later, the Sleeper 3 meet at Starbuck’s pristine Viper, unsure of why they’ve all been summoned there. Tyrol senses that something has changed, but he doesn’t know what it is. Anders suggests that Starbuck might be able to help. Tigh tells him to talk to her, but do so quickly because a lot of good people are about to die. He marches resolutely away from the hangar.
As Tigh walks through Galactica’s corridors, we can tell he’s moving with a purpose. He ends up in Adama’s quarters, immediately telling Bill to scrub the mission. Adama, curious as to why Tigh is away from CIC, questions his presence. Tigh goes on to say that the Cylons will kill every hostage before they can even step foot aboard the base ship. He knows that Laura Roslin will be the next to die. Adama turns off the comm and says that he is open for options.
And here we go – the outing of Saul Tigh, somehow dedicated to the end, Cylon nature be damned. With all he has been through – the drunkenness, the loss of his eye, killing his wife (which has stayed with him since), the discovery that he is a Cylon and what effect that will have on his long-time friendship with Adama – is it any wonder he offers himself up as a hostage and a probable death sentence? Here is Tigh’s chance for release from all his pain. There is no resurrection from death anymore. His last great act can be to save the path to Earth for his long-time comrades.
This scene, which we’ve been dreading all season long, is as painful as we’d feared. Tigh reveals that he’s been activated and is one of the 5, and Adama reacts exactly like we the audience did the first time we learned that Tigh was a Cylon – how the frak could Adama’s friend of 30 years be a Cylon? Adama, in fact, makes an excellent point – when he met Tigh the man had hair. He’s never heard of a Cylon aging before.
Tigh, however, insists that the fact doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Before the attack on the colonies they didn’t even know that the skin-jobs existed. As this sinks in, Adama is clearly unraveling. Tears threaten to spill. With more hope than certainty he tells Tigh that while in captivity the Cylons must have done something to him, like an implant or post-hypnotic suggestion. He’s ready to take Tigh to see Doc Cottle.
Tigh grabs Adama and makes him listen, forcefully stating again that he is a Cylon and has fooled Bill for months. He didn’t want to but he did. Adama tells Tigh to get his hands off him.
Tigh continues on, now bold in his declarations. He tells Adama that if he’d had the guts to airlock himself when he first found out they wouldn’t be in this mess, but that’s the way out not this suicidal attack. With the elation of release he declares again that he is one of the Final 5, and that D’Anna will back down if Adama threatens to flush Tigh out of an airlock. Adama – tears, anger, and confusion in his eyes – is shocked into silence.
In one of the most heart-wrenching, hard-to-watch, yet incredible scenes, Tigh is escorted away from Adama’s chambers by marines, angst riddling his features. Adama, alone in his room, doesn’t know how to let out the horrible range of emotions that have been bottling up inside, so he lets out a primal yell that raised the hair on my arms. Anger rises up as he destroys the contents of his desktop, grimaces at himself in the mirror, and resorts to drinking straight from the bottle – never a good sign for our beloved Admiral. But can you blame him? Seething anger lashes out again as he punches his mirror, leaving streaks of blood on the glass. Meanwhile, Tigh is taken straight to the airlock where he is watched at gunpoint.
Lee finds his father in the bathroom in a ruined state, completely drunk, lying on the floor. He cradles his father in his arms as Bill totally melts down into heavy sobs. It is said that a man will not cry until he is completely shattered, and I imagine this is ever more so the case with Bill Adama, whose steely resolve has seen him through more than a few trials. Here we see Bill Adama broken entirely, placated by his son. In this moment we’re reminded of Starbuck’s opening quote, “Children are born to replace their parents. For children to reach their full potential their parents have to die.” We cried tears of pain with and for Bill Adama, and we feared for his self-preservation.
When the Admiral agonizes over what he has done to the fleet, Lee tries to reassure him by saying that he did it for Earth, but elder Adama is having none of it, spitting out the words, “It’s a frakking joke. there is no Earth.” It is in these moments that we begin to see the culmination of Lee’s transformation into true statehood, into a leader that everyone can follow. In essence, we see him become his father. Lee grabs his father’s face in his hands and tells him to pull it together, but Bill is too far gone in drink and sorrow to pull out of it just yet. When the Admiral says that he can’t kill Tigh, Lee soothes him with the words, “It’s going to be ok. I’ll take care of it.” And we believe him. Lee IS President now, in mind-set as well as function.
Lee marches straight to the launch tube where Tigh stands tall and belts one across Tigh’s face, to the Colonel’s surprise. Lee wants to know who the other Cylons are, but Tigh wants to know where Adama is. Lee snarls, “Right where you put him.”
The engagement is broken by Dualla in the comm room – she’s got a message from CIC that D’Anna is on the line. Lee takes the comm, and when D’Anna informs him that he’s running out of time, Lee says that it’s her turn to listen. He then threatens to launch Tigh out of the launch tube if they so much as give any of the hostages on the base ship a black eye. D’Anna stoically announces that she has no wish for further bloodshed, and when she requests the Admiral, Lee denies her request and says that she’ll have to deal with him. He delivers an ultimatum in splendid Adama fashion – release the hostages within 10 minutes or kiss one of the precious final 5 good-bye. He hangs up the comm with finality.
Turning to Tigh, Lee tells the colonel that if he wants to save the fleet that he needs the others, and he needs them now. Aw, look who’s all grown up now! Was it just me, or did he sound like Roslin when he demanded the other Cylon names?
Meanwhile, Anders has succeeded in getting Starbuck to look at her Viper again, but Starbuck isn’t in tune with the signal that the Sleeper 4 have been receiving and wonders how they know that something’s different. Anders plays his reaction well (not that it matters, he’s about to get busted!), saying that it’s just a feeling he has. Starbuck, sarcastic as ever, remarks that she has a feeling too – that they’re out of their frakking minds. Anders and Tyrol play the trust card – they trusted her “feeling” for the pathway to Earth. Before we can find out Starbuck’s reaction – in come the marines, here to bust the newly-outed Cylons.
As the marine squadron leader asks Anders and Tyrol to raise their hands and put them against the viper, Tyrol smiles and shakes his head with amusement as Anders looks on with worry. Starbuck asks the marines what the hell is going on, and the leader informs her that Anders and Tyrol are Cylons, just like the XO. Starbuck’s reaction is rather priceless, and played perfectly by Sackhoff. We watch as a myriad of emotions play out across her face, much the same as Admiral Adama – bewilderment, shock, anger – before she turns and questions Anders by calling his name with confusion. Anders glances questioningly at Tyrol, who says, “Go ahead.” Anders can barely look at her when he says, “It’s true, Kara.” As he’s pulled away by the marines, Anders pleads with her that something has changed with the Viper, and that she has to find it. Starbuck can only stare in shock as he’s led out of the room.
Aboard the Cylon base ship, things are coming to a head. #8 drafts a pair of Centurions as they hustle the hostage pilots to another area of the ship.
Back on Galactica, Anders and Tyrol join Tigh in the launch tube where Lee looks on with steely determination. Anders, in an unusually humorous moment for his character, turns to Tigh and says, “This is a wild guess, but…you told him?” Tigh nods his head and says that they should have done it day one.
Lee asks Dualla to get the base ship on the horn (I wondered briefly how Dualla now feels about the new and improved Lee – does she still resent him? Have her feelings resurfaced? We may never find out.) Dualla orders communications to hail the rebel ship.
In the hangar, Starbuck climbs into her Viper in slow motion, no doubt trying to suppress the crushing emotional weight of the recent revelation in order to figure out what the hell Anders was referring to. Can she feel it too, that something is not quite as it seems here?
In Roslin and Baltar’s room aboard the Cylon base ship, they hear the pilots being herded, and Leoben rushes into the room to inform them that D’Anna is about to start executing more hostages. Roslin starts to leave, asking Leoben to take her to D’Anna, but Baltar says that D’Anna won’t listen to her. He was the one in the temple with her when she had the vision, so he asks Leoben to take him instead. Roslin agrees, so Leoben and Baltar rush to get to D’Anna before any more executions can take place.
In the Cylon control room, D’Anna – now in contact with Lee – asks the President if he’s ready to come to his senses. Lee responds with, “Anders and Tyrol have just joined Tigh in the airlock. They’re in line for an express ride into a vacuum. You want them alive – stand down.” It’s interesting to note the expression of one of the #6’s in this scene, who’s worried face shows that she, as well as Leoben, are not complicit in the methods D’Anna is using to get the Sleeper 4.
In Galactica’s hangar, Kara powers up the Viper, clicking on computer and communications systems one at a time.
Aboard the base ship, Tory says, “I know Lee. Press him and he’ll back down.” D’Anna orders a #8 to target their nuclear weapons on the civilian fleet. Baltar appears on the scene supported by a Leoben and calls her name.
In her Viper, Kara fiddles with the panels, turning on one of the comm instruments. Playing with the controls, she’s able to tune in a mysterious signal.
On the base ship, Baltar informs D’Anna that coercion won’t work with Lee, since he’s too similar to his father. Tory still thinks Lee is bluffing, but Baltar’s convinced that Lee now doesn’t give a damn about the 3 Cylon hostages. If Lee’s pushed, he will kill them. D’Anna, rather incredulously, states that the entire human race would die with them.
Starbuck races through the halls of Galactica as the Cylon base ship’s nuclear launchers take their aim at the fleet, a fact of which Dualla informs Lee. They work out that if any of the fleet were to spool up their FTL’s that they wouldn’t have time to jump before the Cylons opened fire. Lee orders marine Sgt. Harder to clear the tube of everyone but Tigh.
Baltar, meanwhile, still continues to try and talk D’Anna down, asking her if she thinks this is what God brought her out of the darkness for. Maybe, he adds, God brought her back for a different purpose, to end this peacefully. D’Anna says that the humans will never forgive them for what they did to the twelve colonies, and orders 8 to proceed.
As Tigh is sealed into the launch tube by himself, Starbuck continues to race through the halls of Galactica. She knows that time is running short on revealing her discovery before another battle ensues.
On the rebel ship, Baltar reminds D’Anna that force didn’t work on New Caprica nor on the algae planet, so why would it work this time?
In the launch tube comm room, Lee begins the sequence to open the launch tube. Lee, ready with the key, looks out on Tigh who is standing resolute to accept his death.
#8 informs D’Anna (rather coldly) that they have weapons lock on the human ships. D’Anna appears that she may, indeed, be having doubts.
Lee hesitates to turn the key. Tigh turns to Lee and says, “What are you waiting for Apollo? Do it.” Just as he’s about to, Starbuck bursts into the room and yells for Lee to stop. Out of breath, she says, “Those 3 frakkin Cylons just gave us Earth.”
If you couldn’t tell from that barrage of short sentences, the BSG editors out-did themselves with splicing these interweaving scenes together in dramatic excellence. Coupled with Bear McCreary’s incredible score (with operatic voices!), RDM and company had many of us quite literally on the edge of our seats.
When we return from break, Lee is sitting in Starbuck’s Viper examining the strange signal Starbuck discovered. He identifies it as a Colonial emergency locator signal. He asks Starbuck to confirm that no other wireless in the fleet is picking it up. Starbuck attests that Gaeta confirms that the channel is empty except for this Viper. She states that it has to be a signal from Earth. Lee, for once, thinks that Starbuck is reaching. Starbuck asks him to add it up – she vanishes into a storm, rides this Viper to Earth, coming back she gets a vision that leads her to the base ship, the hybrid of which tells her that the Final 5 have been to Earth but they need the missing 3 to bring them out into the open.
Lee says, “And now we’re starting to get messages from the beyond, ” with a touch of sarcasm.
She reminds him he heard the signal, that the Cylons led her to it, and that if it’s Earth, they’ve given them the home of the 13th tribe, just the way the hybrid said it would happen. She tells him that like it or not, something is orchestrating this for a purpose. Lee wonders skeptically, “A higher power?” Kara says call it whatever you want, but it seems to want us to find Earth with the Cylons.
Next thing we know, the Cylons are coming aboard (you could call it “Guess What’s coming to Dinner, Part Deux”), obviously at the invite of Lee. #8 examines the signal in the Viper, confirming something to D’Anna. D’Anna says, “One tiny needle in the whole fleet. Well you’re right, it’s wafer thin.” Lee, a smirk planted firmly on his lips, says it’s the best he could do at short notice.
D’Anna then polls the Final 4, asking them if they think it’s the way to Earth. Tigh confirms it’s a stretch, but it’s the best they’ve got. Lee turns the statement in his favor, letting D’Anna know that they shared the info with the Cylons rather than jump away and leave them behind, which would have led to another confrontation.
D’Anna says, “All this has happened before…”
Lee quickly adds, “But it doesn’t have to happen again. Not if we make up our minds and change. Take a different path – right here, right now. You were afraid we would kill these 4, yet here they are, standing right behind you, free to go, or stay – I’ve granted them an amnesty. So the question is, where do we go from here?”
D’Anna, apparently sensing that Lee’s change of heart is genuine, agrees to release the hostages and join the humans in heading to Earth. Lee puts out his hand, and D’Anna willingly shakes it.
Back in Admiral Adama’s quarters, Lee points to a map where the projected course toward the signal lies – destination Earth. With a smile on his face, he asks for the Admiral’s orders. Bill, with a bandaged hand and still dressed in a robe, doesn’t appear ready to be giving any orders, which prompts Lee to ask him if he’s ready to lead the fleet to their new home.
Bill, obviously still in a state, responds that he doesn’t know. And then a sweet voice to Bill’s ears says, “You don’t know what?” and then Roslin enters the room, fresh off the base ship. She brings a light to Bill’s face, and he acknowledges that it’s good to see her as she sits next to him. Roslin reminds him that this is it – this is everything they’ve been working for. She wants to see him pick up that first fistful of Earth (man does that sentence hurt given the final moments of the episode). Leave it to a woman you love to get you motivated – Bill says he’ll be right back, and steps away from the two.
In his absence, Roslin remarks to Lee that she now sees Bill’s state of mind (we can only presume that Lee had informed her of his father’s depression before she came into the room). Lee thanks her, and then says that he’s glad to see her again, calling her Madame President. He also mentions that the Quorum is happy too, and that he has just completed the shortest Presidency in colonial history.
Roslin tells him not to look so relieved, because he was dealt a crisis and knew exactly what to do, and faced it boldly. Gazing at him in that way that only Roslin can, she tells him that the fleet is going to need that leadership in the days to come (boy will they ever), so he’s not off the hook just yet.
Just as Lee is getting emotional, Adama appears out of nowhere fully dressed in his military uniform, and says, “You guys gonna sit here and keep flapping your lips or are we gonna go find Earth?” The Frak Party room busted out in laughter and cheers at that one. Our Admiral was back!
Lee informs the Admiral that he and Kara have been working on a recon mission. The Admiral says it’s the end of the line, that they’ve got nowhere else to go. If they give the alliance too much time it will fall apart again. He says they’re going to roll the hard six and all go together as fast as they can. Lee says, “Yes sir, ” with a smile on his face, glad to have his father back in more ways than one.
Before we enter the final act (and oh what a final act it is), I just have to say that I never expected the producers to get them to Earth this early. I figured that the series finale would include reaching Earth and then whatever surprise awaited us there. But here RDM and company twist away from our expectations yet again, which is why I love watching this show. I was kind of hoping they’d give us the Final Cylon and get that out of the way, but that is not as important to me now as what the frak is going to happen on “Earth” – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
At the open of the final act, Roslin and The Adamas are in CIC waiting for all the jump preparations to finalize so they can hit the final coordinate. When Dualla informs the Admiral that the ships are ready to jump, Bill turns to Roslin (addressing her as “Madame President”) and says that without her they wouldn’t have made it, so she should give the order to jump. Roslin chokes up, and then gives the order – “Take us to Earth.”
Zing – zing – zing – zing…..the ships jump one by one to their destination, Galactica taking center stage as it jumps in last. Gaeta announces that Dradis is clear and the fleet is checking in. When the Admiral asks for nav, Gaeta replies that he’s confirming position. The Admiral tells him to take his time and get it right. We the audience have yet to see the big blue marble in the sky.
The fleet checks in, and they’re all accounted for. Gaeta turns to the Admiral – and confirms that visible constellations are a match. Outside, we’re shown the fleet hovering in orbit around a giant blue planet (but dammit, we can’t make out any continents). The Admiral takes the comm and addresses the crew. At this time, given all that we the viewers have been through, I’m going to post the full speech as if it’s addressed to us as well as the fictional crew:
“Crew of Galactica, people of the fleet, this is Admiral Adama. Three years ago I promised to lead you to a new home. We’ve endured a difficult journey. We’ve all lost. We’ve all suffered. And the truth is, I questioned whether this day would ever come.
But today, our journey is at an end. We have arrived…at Earth.”
Adama puts down the comm and hugs Roslin as the crew erupts into joyous celebration. It feels good, doesn’t it? After all we’ve endured with these characters, after all the emotional ups and downs, we now have a bright light to look forward to. But something doesn’t sit so well with us, does it? For us, the viewers, we know that there are 10 more episodes to go. Something starts to feel sour in the pit of our stomachs. The Frak Party room has gone eerily silent with expectation. What is awaiting them, and us, down on the surface?
In the midst of the celebration we see Tyrol, still on the Galactica, taking care of his child. We see BSG Sharon kissing Helo, and wonder about the strange look on Hera’s face. We see Baltar, raising hands with his followers in worship. We see Tigh, still on Galactica as well, nursing a drink (uh oh). Starbuck looks at a picture of Kat on the memorial wall and says, “We made it, kid,” as Anders walks up beside her, hope written on his face. Bill hugs Lee and says, “We did it.” Lee corrects him – “You did it.” And the viewers – well, we’re given one of the most incredible orchestral works to ever hit television, entitled “Diaspora Oratorio,” the words of which McCreary revealed on his blog:
Approach a distant shore
Pierce the melancholy haze
The sky breaks
Like a wave
We have all suffered
We have all survived
We have arrived at Earth
Brothers and sisters
Enemies and friends
For we have come home
Yet I weep
Yet I weep
Not for the fallen
But for the unforgiven
Green hills await
With wind at our backs
The heavens part
As we approach
And man, is that approach ever awesome. If any FX team should win an Emmy this go around, the voters need only take a look at this scene and know which one should win. Have you ever seen actual emotion expressed in the flight of spaceships? Yeah, neither have I. The ships flying down to the surface seemed to be beaming joy in their approach.
And that’s why the episode’s final scene is ever the more devastating. Remember when Roslin said she wanted to see Bill pick up that first handful of sand on the planet’s surface, and how it revived him out of his depressed stupor?
Here she gets her wish in the most horrifying of turns. Bill’s hand picks up a fistful of dirt, and as he pulls it up, a radioactive counter is ticking off the charts! The motherfrakking soil is irradiated!
The camera pans up, and the Admiral angrily tosses the dirt to the ground. The sky behind him is an ashen gray. Beside him, without any emotion whatsoever, Roslin says, “Earth,” as if she has no more room for despair. D’Anna does, however, as she walks up next to the couple and surveys the horror that has yet to be revealed to our eyes.
We see BSG Sharon and Helo walk by others – Anders, Tory, Lee, a #6, Baltar, Tyrol, Dualla, and Tigh – all standing or walking around like zombies. Caprica 6 touches Tigh’s arm from behind, but the emotion dies there as Tigh doesn’t respond.
The camera pans past ruined structures that could possibly be ancient buildings, but they’re in too much of a state of disrepair to tell. We pass a forlorn Leoben, and finally an anguished Starbuck, before the camera pulls back and shows us a wide shot of the devastation – the entire place is destroyed, and based on the radiation in the soil, it appears to be because of war.
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT
– Did the alliance really land on Earth? We never see any actual continents in our space-view of Earth, like we did at the end of Season 3. Is it possible that they are not actually on Earth?
– Earth or not, what caused the devastation? Is this going to be a life-lesson for our humans and Cylons? In other words, “See what devastation is wrought from war?” We can see some powerful statements being made here, and given the subtle manner in which the writers have commented on modern issues in the past, we’re sure they’d handle it with aplomb.
– Who is sending the colonial emergency signal that is only being picked up by the Viper? Is this person on the planet? Are they the final Cylon to be revealed? This would jibe with what D’Anna said about there only being 4 Cylons on the fleet, but we’re not entirely sure she’s telling the truth.
– Is that the Brooklyn Bridge?
– Is it 1st Quarter 09 yet?
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Posted by Perrin on June 21, 2008 1:19 AM
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