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All Along the Watchtower: "Battlestar Galactica" Reaches Yet Another Crossroads

Okay, so I had already seen the season finale of Battlestar Galactica ("Crossroads, Part Two") so it wasn't like there were any NEW surprises watching it again last night, but boy was I unable to get to sleep last night after watching that (not to mention the fact that it was coupled with an episode of The Amazing Race and the series finale of Rome on HBO).

BSG has never shied away from the controversial, whether it be a daring twist in storytelling or a cutting reveal that you may never have seen coming. And last night's season finale was no exception, giving us not what we necessarily wanted, but what we needed.

I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the BIG reveal (well two big reveals) at the very end of the episode (remember: I did warn you not to miss the last five minutes), set to the haunting strains of "All Along the Watchtower," a fitting musical accompaniment for what was unfolding aboard Galactica. Yes, I'm talking about the fact that it would be appear to be that four of the Final Five Cylon models were right in front of us the entire time, all perfectly positioned to keep on eye on various factions or people within the Colonial Fleet: Colonel Tigh, presidential aide de camp Tory Foster, Sam Anders, and Chief Tyrol.

I can tell you that I was blown away. (Sure, my girlfriend turned to me earlier in the episode and said how weird it would be if they ended up being Cylons but she's prescient that way.) I loved the way the music--first appearing like traditional, discordant Cylon "music"--became a symbol of the very switch that suddenly "activated" them. But unlike the other units (I'm thinking of Boomer here), these four seem acutely aware of their responsibilities and lives rather than becoming overwhelmed by their Cylon programming. It's obvious that they are something else entirely than the other models and they've managed to avoid detection thus far within the fleet, even fighting against the Cylons on New Caprica. So what are they? And given that Adama has known Tigh for decades even, how has no one picked up on the fact that they're not human. How long has the Cylon program been going on?

My out of left field theory: the humans and Cylons are forced to unite against a far greater common threat. Taking a page out of the good book of The 4400, the final five Cylon models are seeded back into the timestream earlier than the other models (Six, Boomer, D'Anna, etc.) and are placed in key positions within the administration and military, perfectly positioned to exert some authority.

Or it could be something different altogether. But what weirds me out is that the song used to switch them over is a familiar Earth song, one slightly dated even today. How in the world is a 1960s war protest song from our planet even out there in the ether? Is it connected to the appearance of Starbuck? The proximity to Earth? Or something else, given that each of the four admitted that it reminded them of something from their childhoods. Curious.

Starbuck is, of course, alive. But we all knew that in our heart of hearts that she didn't die in "Maelstrom" after all, despite what Apollo thinks he may have seen. But she claims that she's been to Earth and it's her mission (prophesied by Leoben) that she will lead them there. But is she even human? Or is she the final fifth member of the hidden Cylons? Was she what awakened these sleepers from their slumber? And what exactly caused the massive power outage throughout the entire fleet?

Speaking of electricity, I'm still shaking from the shared visions of Laura Roslin (whose terminal breast cancer has sadly returned), Athena, and Caprica Six, which picked up that thread of the opera house vision storyline. Each of the women seek to protect young Hera (the only Cylon/Human hybrid), but Six scoops her up and she and Gaius Baltar (who miraculously managed to be found innocent during his trial) enter the auditorium where, in the balcony, the final five Cylons stand, emitting a high frequency hum and well as a palpable feeling of presence. Again, curious. But let's not forget that Roslin has Cylon blood inside of her (a result of a transfusion from Hera a few seasons back to cure her cancer); are they experiencing a shared memory or hallucination? Or is it truly a sign of things yet to come?

Me, I can't believe we have to wait until January 2008 for Season Four of Battlestar Galactica, especially when they've given us such tantalizing clues to feast on. But hopefully that reported 2-hour movie (which may or may not be based right after the events of "Crossroads") will fill in a few gaps. Otherwise, it's going to be a long wait for winter.


Unknown said…
I have lots of BSG love stored up from season 1 and even early season 2, but the last few eps have sorely drained the reservoir.

Please, are we really expected to believe that the Cylons perfected undetectable human analogs 30 years ago--just 10 years after the first war? (Or did they come from 1960s Earth, pre-implanted with the latest tunes?) Yes, they'll turn out to be goody-two-shoes Cylons (because the bad ones "don't talk about them" and don't even know what they look like) but c'mon.

Of course Starbuck's alive. What an anticlimax that was. I couldn't even manage a "Yay" it was so predictable.

Lastly, this delusional/mythical stuff is getting on my nerves. I love Chip Six and even Chip Baltar, but if we have any more dreams, hallucinations, or premonitions, I'm going to scream.

Don't get me wrong, I still love BSG, just less than before. I hope they use this [wicked long] inter-season hiatus to sober up, get their groove back, and start writing tighter, more interesting scripts. We know you can do it, Ron!
Stealth said…
"young Hera (the only Cylon/Human hybrid)"

Nicholas Tyrol?
Anonymous said…
I thought last nights show was great!!!!. I also intend to go back and watch the other shows that I was sort of that thrilled about to see if there was more going on than meets the eye.

I think it is apparent that these Cylons are part of a Cylon resistance. That is at some point there was faction that broke off because they disagreed about how how to treat their creators

As to tigh and his age and timeline problems. Do we know reallly that much about early Cylon development. Could it be like cloning experiments here? People sort of doing their own thing. Perhaps some were more advanced than others and Tigh is a very early model that "evolved".

Second why is everyone assuming that the Cylon fleet that arrived is THE Cylon fleet that has been tracking them?

Third, Can you imagine the reaction of the other Cylons when they find this out. I highly suspect that Cavil knows more than otehr Cylons. Thus his leadership in boxing the 3's after she had seen the faces of the 5. HE seemed weirdly nonchalant about it.

4th- Don' read to much into the song. ALready we know that the composer was instructed to do a song that was not in a earth type Universe but BG's. Hell people already have in the Colonial fleet.
There were definitely some rough spots in this season of BSG but the final few episodes (and especially the finale) made it all worthwhile. I knew Starbuck wasn't dead but that didn't lessen my excitement to see her in the final few frames because so many questions still exist about her disappearance and her role in all of this calamity.

This show has continued to evolve and grow and amaze me and I can't wait to see what they have in store for us next season!
Anonymous said…
4 new cylons, or are they....

We're never officially told that they are cylons. Tyrol finally speaks the word when they all meet, but there is nothing that unequivocally states that they are cylons. The music is an interesting twist, but I looked up "watchtower" to see what interpretations there were, and what meaning the creators of galactica may have meant to inject into the show by including it. Here's the link

It's pretty in depth, but it keeps pointing out two repetitive themes. The simplicity of the song, and the song being a harbinger of confrontation and change. Looking at the conclusion of the finale, I would have to agree with this interpretation for this circumstance.

Baltar is Not Guilty....

Well, you had to know this would happen. He's much more interesting free, than in a cage. 'Nuff said.

Kara is alive...

Yeah, saw that one coming. Her arrival isn't so much of interest, but the fact that she claims to have been to earth (not so farfetched given the pullback at the end that shows earth a cosmic hop, skip, and "jump" away) that's interesting. Earth is near, and so is her music. Yeah, I think Kara's a cylon, but so what. Seems like everyone gets to be a cylon tonight.

Roslin/Athena/Six's vision....

We've known since Athena got pregnant that the baby was going to be big news. Still no hint as to what, but obviously she's to play a big part in what's to come.

And finally Lee...

He grabbed his gear, and headed for the hangar deck as soon as the alarms went off. As much as he denies being his father, he's certainly his father's son. Lee's not quitting the service any time soon. He loves strapping a Viper to his back and jetting off into the cosmos waaay too much.

Suffice to say, I'm foaming at the mouth waiting for the new season.
Anonymous said…
Hold on campers. Hera is not the only hybrid. The Chief has a kid right? Put that in your viper and smoke it.
Anonymous said…
I watched the season finale again tonight. I like the way that they had the characters actually say lines from "All Along The Watchtower" when they are slowly remembering the song.

A couple of them say "There must be some kinda way outta here", or "There's too much confusion".

I love the scene when the switch clicks and the four of them start heading for the meeting place. As the scene switches from one person to the next, each says a little bit of dialog. Separately, it sounded like normal dialog (except the chief talking about the joker and the thief), but put it all together and they say:

"There must be some kinda way outta here, said the joker to the thief. There is too much confusion, I can't get no relief".

I'm a Hendrix fan. When I first heard this, I thought it sounded familiar, just like the melody of their humming sounded familiar. But because it was out of context I couldn't quite put my finger on it ... until the song hit full blast at the end.

They staged the scene beautifully.

The version of Watchtower they did at the end was great. I need to get a copy of it.

The other excellent stroke of genius in the show was how they were building up the trial of Baltar as the big season finale. Even in the podcasts Ron Moore was talking about how they knew all season that the finale would be about Baltar's trial.

Turns out, the trial was all smokescreen. The REAL story was in these bits of music and what was going on with the people who could hear them.

Anonymous said…
If anyone wants to know which verison of All Along the Watertower it was done by Bryan Ferry.
zosa said…
here is a great blog entry from a creative force behind the Galactica music...including the version of Watchtower:
Anonymous said…
i was watching bsg again and caught them saying verses from the song (all along the watchtower) awesome how they sneek it in. loved this season to bad i have to wait till jan 08 for the next.
Anonymous said…
"Bryan Ferry"?! Are you insane? As correctly pointed out by the post after yours, it was created from absolute scratch by Bear McCreary - the standard composer for the series.

I really have new found respect for TV series composer, the cover was absolutely fantastic.

According to Bear's blog post, he was told to include the song, so clearly the lyrics DO have meaning. He was told to include all lyrics, but the melody was his to re-create.
Jace Lacob said…
Anon and all,

I should add that the inclusion of "All Along the Watchtower" was always *intentional*, as it was explicitly mentioned as THE song in the BSG script for "Crossroads Part Two."
Anonymous said…
All Along the WatchTower was first released in 1967, exactly forty years ago.

The First Cylon War ended exactly forty years ago.

There are no coincidences in television.
Anonymous said…
I'm a little confused... am I to believe that Bob Dylan is a Cylon? Regardless, intentionally placing such a famous song is no coincidence -- that's perhaps the first crossover from real Earth into the BSG experience.

It does beg the question, though... if Earth were actually settled as the 13th colony, what happened to core of technologically advanced part of humanity? Crash landed with all records destroyed? Brought here by time travelling Cylons? They're the Illuminati [fnord!], secretly keeping us in the dark and every so often, letting some new tech out: PS3, electric cars, The Spork, etc.

So many questions...
Anonymous said…
am i the only person thinking that they aren't really cylons? i just thought it was a bit of a coincidence that of all the people chosen to be 'cylons' all lived on new caprica for that year - not the galactica. maybe something happened to them there...
Anonymous said…
I think you might be on to something. I was also thinking they might not really be Cylons. It's very possible that they are simply humans and at some point, while on New Cap, the Cylons found the time and the means to reprogram them for some dark purpose. Otherwise, the fact that the Chief has had a child sort of defeats the purpose of Hera being "the only" Cylon/Human hybrid on the show. Of course, they have always alluded to the idea the Hera was just the first of a new generation.
Anonymous said…
I'm actually more inclined to believe that it's Roslin who's Cylon, not the 4 that can hear the song. Why 4? Why not all 5 for crying out loud? Maybe they have something to do with their mythology? Anyone thinking that Starbuck is a Cylon? I don't. If she died (or not), and anyhow re-appeared after being on Earth, maybe these 4 are more like her? With a destiny of some sort? Otherwise it would've been a *really* long shot for the Cylons to put them there in the first place (how in the world they could have known they all shall end up on BSG?). If it is a part of the human mythology, on the other hand, it could be more meaningful and make slightly more sense.
Roslin has shared a vision with Six and Athena -- something there?
The 4 that can hear the song only suspect that they are Cylons, they don't know that for sure.
I, for one, believe that them being Cylons is sort of easy and obvious solution. And BSG was never about the obvious... What do you think?
Vivec said…
Ron Moore has since explained that they really are cylons. I suppose the writers could always do a 'gotcha!' but it doesn't sound like it after reading his interview. ""
Anonymous said…
I am with Anonymous - I do not believe that these four are cylons. If the cylons have really only gotten close to perfecting the human copies - what about the age of Tigh - hard to believe that they would have had a prototype 40 yrs ago. Not to mention Nick Tyrol ! I think it is a tie-in to the original series from '78. Final ep - Starbuck Apollo and the Girls go to that old astrodome and detect a signal from earth. Galactica is huge, and metal - and I believe the music they hear is the ship acting as a huge antenna in space - a new vision of the old series. Series one followed the original series pretty close - i think it is a throwback to breathe more interest into the series. Bugger having to wait til Jan 08 though - that sux !
Anonymous said…
come on dudes ,its just a tv show;besides i have real cancer ,not like loras one and probably gonna die before the next season starts.quit tv ,head out to streets,find your own caprica6 and live a nice life;before too late.bob dylan is abastard who has papers of some weapon company while singing about world peace and other love things.jimi gave the song its soul .wish i meet hendrix up in the sky ,laughing to bob dylans lies.last thing to add,there is just one way outta here and its in a box:)
Anonymous said…
I jumped ahead from the end of season #2 to the Crossroads episodes. Never heard the Watchtower song before, so it didn't give me an "aha" moment.

If Tyrol is one of the Cylons, how come he wasn't affected by the radiation on Ragnar? I seem to recall that one Cylon there was suffering from the affects and that Tyrol was on the station overseeing the ammo transfer. Oh well.

So, I'm wondering if the Cylons home world really is Earth? That's the world they found and made their own that was mentioned in the beginning of the miniseries?

The music in the nebula has me stumped. I'm wondering if their radio, etc. is picking up broadcasts from Earth way out in the Nebula and that the nebula is bouncing the signal back and forth. How far is that nebula from Earth? Can't determine it from the high-speed pullout and zero in thing they did at the end. It looks like the Horse Head nebula. For a signal from Earth to reach to that nebula, would take how long?

Starbuck alive? I didn't know she was dead. But then, I haven't seen anything between the beginning of Lay Down Your Burdens and Crossroads. Maybe she got picked up by the Ship of Lights. ; )

Please, don't let Dr. Zee show up. I couldn't stand to see the fleet find earth and have it be 2007 or 2008.
Anonymous said…
ok they are cylons, its not that they suspect watch it again. Sol says ''after all this time it was just the flip of a switch'' getting his memory back of being a cylon they all did.
and i'm just guessing at this part but i think thay where some part of a resistance because they all apart from the woman have an ingrained hate of the cylons.
Anonymous said…
Another thing supporting the Five Unknown Cylons being "seeded back into the timestream earlier" is that Saul Tigh fought in the FIRST Cylon War. Is it just me or does that not mean that the Cylon/Human project has been going on at least as long as Cmdr Adama knew him. How else would that work?
Dragon said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dragon said…
Does anyone know the artist performing the song " All along the watchtower " in this last episode?
Anonymous said…
The artist performing the song is Bt4, and the song will be released on the BSG Season 3 soundtrack in August 2007, around the same time as the DVDs (and before the new direct-to-DVD movie).
cmblake6 said…
Leoben said it. "This has all happened before, and it will all happen again".

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