A Spoiler-filled review of the Battlestar Galactica episode, “Sometimes A Great Notion.”

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Earlier today, we made some predictions about where the show in general and this episode in specific would go. (http://www.republibot.com/content/gentlemen-place-your-bets-how-will-gal... )How did we do? Find out below!

When we last saw the Galactica and company, the Colonials has forged an uncomfortable alliance with the Rebel Cylons (Deanna, Leoben, Six, and Sharon), and using a transponder signal that *only* Starbuck’s viper could pick up, they finally made it to earth. In the heartbreaking tag of the episode, we see that earth is a radioactive wasteland with bombed-out ruins everywhere. A long tracking shot showed us all our principles in their various stages of disbelief and shattered hopes, and then we faded to black.

This episode starts out without any opening credits, and just jumps straight in to the story.

Roslin and Adama take a raptor back up to the Galactica, while others poke around on the planet. It’s not just this one area, the entire planet is an uninhabitable ruin. “We traded one nuked civilization for another one” says Roslin. Dee seems especially shattered when she finds some jacks buried in the rubble, and keeps talking to herself. Helo tries to calm her down, and it seems to work. No one makes any announcement, but everyone in the fleet knows the news isn’t good. Roslin ducks questions, and heads in to seclusion in Adama’s quarters, where she flies in to depression and begins to burn her bible – excuse me, her ‘Pithian Prophecies.’ She stops going to her cancer treatments. She just doesn’t care any more.

On the planet, Baltar and some others are trying to figure out what the hell is going on. They find lots of human remains, and then on one beach they find a chrome-plated Cylon head. Did the Cylons blow up earth too? No! In the first massive bombshell of the evening, we find out that the thirteenth tribe – the one who left Kobol for Earth 3600 years ago, 1600 years before the others left that planet – were not humans at all:

The Thirteenth Tribe were Cylons!

Exactly what happened isn’t explained, but it would appear that somewhere just under 4000 years ago (In show time), the humans on Kobol created proto-cylons, or proto-toasters, or whatever you want to call them. They rebelled, were beaten, left Kobol, and settled on earth. Over time, the machine proto-cylons evolved in to organic cylons on their own, and their civilization is *our* civilization! What happened to destroy it isn’t know, but they figure the nuking happened 2000 years ago.

Chief Tyrol finds a wall with a nuclear shadow on it. He touches it, and collapses in flashbacks of himself on modern-day earth (Modern day-ish, anyway) buying fruit when the bombs go off, and he dies. Anders finds a deteriorated guitar and starts fingering the fret for “All along the watchtower.” Later he finds the Chief.

“Remembering things?”
“Yeah. I used to live here.”
“Me too. That song that brought us all together? I sang that to a woman I loved…”
Meanwhile, the fleet is falling apart. Morale has crashed as the one hope that kept them going for five years has fallen apart. No one knows what to do. Roslin refuses to talk to the council, no one is doing anything but grieving or going in to shock.

Dee talks Apollo in to addressing the council in Roslin’s absence, telling him that if anyone can rally them in to something aside from sheer panic, it’s Apollo. Some sparks fly between them, and he asks her out for drinks, then he does actually manage to forestall anarchy by giving a speech saying “We can choose to look at this as a disaster, or an opportunity. I choose to look at it as the latter: we are no longer enslaved by the prophecies of Pithia, we are no longer scrambling for the crumbs of the thirteenth tribe, we are free.” After their dinner out, Dee smooches Apollo goodnight, heads in to the officers’ quarters, and blows her own brains out, in the second huge shocker of the night.

On Earth, Starbuck and Leoben are looking for whatever it is that’s sending out the signal that only her viper can find. They find the remains of a colonial viper, and in the viper they find the remains of…Starbuck! (This would be the third big shocker of the night! Starbuck would appear to be the fifth cylon!) She builds a funeral pyre and burns her own corpse that night.

As you’ll recall, Adama had something like a nervous breakdown in the last episode when Tigh fessed up that he was a cylon. He hasn’t really recovered from that, though he’s functional. Well, the shock about Earth and Dee’s suicide have pushed him too far, and we see him becoming a sloppy drunk. He goes to Tigh’s quarters and tries to goad the guy in to killing him in a murderous rage by insulting him and Ellen, his late wife. Tigh almost goes for it, but then realizes what’s going on and pulls back. He then shames the old man out of some of his fear and self-pity. There’s a mortifying scene of Adama walking down the corridors of the Galactica, with crewmen strewn all about the place – some crying, some passed out, some drinking openly, some just beating the living shit out of each other, and no one raises a finger to stop them. They’ve all given up. It’s a short scene, but it’s brilliant and painful to watch.

Starbuck goes to Apollo to tell him about her being the fifth cylon, but he’s very depressed about Dee. Starbuck hadn’t heard about this, and when she learns the news she can’t tell him.

Adama pulls himself together somewhat, and gives a speech saying that their situation is no worse than that of their ancestors when they left Kobol – they just need to find a new world, and he intends to go scouting. He invites the cylons along.

On earth, Tigh is packing up one of the survey teams, and asks Deanna if she’s coming.
“What’s the point? All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again. And again. And again. I’m going to stay here and die with the bones of my ancestors, and it’s a much better death than the cold one that awaits us out there in space when Cavil finds us.”
Tigh goes in to the water, possibly trying to kill himself, possibly because he heard something in his head – it’s not clear – he finds a cylon mask, and suddenly has a flashback of the day the earth ended. He runs in to a business – a bank – that’s in ruins, and a woman is calling for him. He starts to pull her out of the rubble – it’s Ellen Tigh! As she dies, she says, “It’s ok – everything is in place for us to be reborn together.” Tigh snaps back to the present, and in the final huge shocker of the evening, he says “Ellen! Ellen is the fifth cylon!”

The end.

Wow!

So if Ellen is the Fifth Cylon (And clearly she is, or was), the what the hell is Starbuck? How did she die? How did she resurrect? How did her burned out wreck of a fighter get replaced by the one she flew back to the Galactica? How did she pass 30 or so light years in an instant, and come back again? Where was she the 3 or so months she was missing? Who is orchestrating all of this, and why did they want the humans and Cylons to find earth Together? How did any of the final five resurrect?

So how did our predictions go? Let’s take ‘em item by item, as they apply to this episode:

1) Who’s the final cylon? I thought it was Dee, and I was dead wrong about that, though they made it look like it was her in the first half hour or so. Man, am I a sucker!
2) What’s the role of Religion in this? Too early to tell, though clearly something is orchestrating these events. Who or what that force is, we don’t know yet, though it’s appearing less and less likely that it’s the “Final Five” themselves. I *was* right when I said that I felt the Kobolian backstory would figure in to it, but I was dead wrong about how – I thought the “Final Five” were some kind of very ancient AI from Kobol. Turns out they were from Earth. And while I was write about there having been a machine uprising on Kobol, I was dead wrong about it’s significance: the idea that Earth was originally populated by Cylons never occurred to me. Good job with that one, guys, I never saw it coming!
3) What’s the Theme of the show? I said it was about breaking the cycle of creation and destruction. Specifically the cycle of the creations destroying their creator. It would appear I was dead-on right about that (My only terribly accurate prediction!), Apollo as much as says that in his speech, and Deanna despairs of ever breaking the cycle and gives up.

And that’s pretty much that.

Despair, chaos, and decay – everything is falling apart, the center will not hold. The thin hope that kept these people alive is gone, and most of them simply can not handle it. In many ways, this is worse for them than the destruction of the colonies themselves. Even the rebel cylons seem devastated by this.

And this isn’t the end of it – things will continue to decay, probably at a hell of a clip!

I was, frankly, very impressed by this episode. Though not at all thrilling or pulse pounding, it was gripping just the same. We’ve grown to know and love these people, and seeing their hearts ripped out of them is hard to watch. Roslin has given up and wants to die. The final five don’t know who or what they are, really, or why they’re alive. The Rebels have no goals at all. Deanna has given up. Dee killed herself. Adama tried to kill himself. Curiously, the only people that don’t appear terribly affected by it are the Agathons, Helo, Sharon, and Hera. They’re a happy, loving family as always, and even playful. Why? I suspect the reason is that they’ve always been the moral focus of the show, and as such nothing outside can touch them. Helo and Sharon both have, at one point or another, turned their backs on their own people, and chosen the right path again and again, despite all reason to the contrary, both of them have insulated themselves from their warring species, and found love – and a reason to live – in each other. The world – all the worlds – fall to shit, repeatedly, around them and they just keep on going because the world doesn’t mean nearly as much to them as their love does.

If there is hope among any of these people, it lies in the Agathons. In the middle of this vile, mean, foul, apocalyptic series there’s something fundamentally sweet and wonderful about that, and it always has been, though it took me a while to recognize it.

Chronology issues: If modern Earth was colonized by mechanical cylons who evolved in to us, and if modern Earth was nuked “2000 years ago,” then that puts the show around 4009 AD on our calendar (Assuming all years being equal, which is a fair assumption, but may not be the case). That means that when the 13th tribe left – was expelled, it would seem – from Kobol, that must have been about 3600 years before the show, or around 400 AD by our calendar.

Well, we know there were people on earth in 400 AD, and there weren’t chrome cylons wandering around, so why is it that we – modern, real-life humans living in the real world – remember something different than the cylon colonization of the earth 1600 years ago?

I look forward to the answers for this!

What did all of you think? Leave your comments below!

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