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Talk Back: "Battlestar Galactica" Mid-Season Premiere ("Sometimes a Great Notion")

And so The Mystery is solved.

Those of you who read my advance review of this week's season premiere of Battlestar Galactica ("Sometimes a Great Notion") know that I was prohibited by the network from discussing any major plot points from the current installment, which kicks off the final batch of episodes of BSG before this gripping and intelligent series takes its final flight among the stars.

But now that the episode has aired (likely to the sound of a collective gasp from fans around the country), we can get down to the business of discussing the head-trippy revelations that this week's episode of BSG, written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, unearthed.

Ellen. I'm sure everyone here wants to talk about the fact that we finally learned that the Final Cylon was in fact Ellen Tigh, who was killed by her husband Saul back on New Caprica... for collaborating with the Cylons. Tigh, of course, later learned that he was a Cylon and he poisoned Ellen after she aided the Cylons, unaware of the fact that she herself was also a member of their race.

And that, readers, is called irony. I think that the reveal about Ellen has a perfect symmetry and logic to it and adds yet another shading of tragedy to Saul and Ellen's relationship. It also explains why D'Anna knew instantly that the final member of the Five was not in the fleet, as she knew that Ellen had died on New Caprica. Just what this means for Tigh and the others remains to be seen but given the Cylons' capability for resurrection (after all, she was killed BEFORE the Hub was destroyed), it's entirely likely that Ellen is out there somewhere.

Earth. I absolutely love the fact that the Cylons are actually from Earth and are the thirteenth tribe. Less clear, however, is how the Final Five managed to arrive at the Twelve Colonies roughly 2000 years after the nuclear holocaust on Earth... and are we to believe that we then (i.e., the human race) are in fact Cylons? Curious that. The setting and look of the world that we see through Tyrol's eyes before the blast looks suspiciously like our own world right now. I'm also still very unclear how the thirteenth tribe were Cylons, when the robotic race was supposedly created using technology sixty years before the action of the mini-series (which will provide the basis for the spin-off series Caprica). Unless we are using the notion of paradox, how can something exist thousands of years before it was created? Or are we talking about two different things when we say "Cylon"? One being a race of skinjobs and the other being the metallic centurions? Hmmm....

Kara. I'm not sure what to make of Kara's discovery on Earth but she and Leoben definitely managed to trace the Colonial signal to Starbuck's old Viper... which contained the corpse of, well, Starbuck. Wha-huh? It definitely seems as though Kara did die in the explosion in the supernova during Season Three; after all, the Viper was hers, the body had blonde hair and had her Galactica dog tags and her wedding ring. So what gives then?

Seeing as we seemed to see time fold upon itself right before Kara died, I think that somehow she was downloaded to a new body using Cylon technology when the Viper exploded. But how had they managed to grow a new body for Kara? Well, Simon did have genetic material from Kara and they had extracted her eggs and blood samples back on Caprica, so it's entirely possible that they were able to grow a new body for Kara and set up the system to download her memories and personality. The base star's hybrid claims that Kara was the "harbinger of death," so there's no way that the Cylons wouldn't have prepared for the inevitability of Kara's death along the way. However, even Leoben seems fairly freaked out by the discovery of the wreckage. Thoughts?

Dee. Poor Dualla. I was completely shocked by her suicide, especially coming on the heels as it did of her "perfect moment" with Lee, one in which she seemed happy and finally regained her smile. But as soon as she started humming and took off her wedding ring, I knew that Dee was a goner. She seemed really quite shaken by the discovery of the jacks down on Earth and I don't think she could quite process the fact that another race of people--and their children--was wiped out in one fell swoop. So she engineered a perfect moment with her ex-husband and died happy, a smile on her face. Think this could open the door to yet another romance between Lee and Kara? I had a feeling, after seeing her pick up those jacks, that Dee would either be the Final Cylon (seeing as how the others were so visibly affected by what they saw/touched on the planet) or would be dead very, very soon. Sigh. I'm going to miss Kandyse McClure.

Lee. The scene where Lee adjusted the tally of survivors, removing the number 1 with his finger on the board after Dee's suicide, was heartbreaking. Unable to give into emotion, Lee lets a single tear trickle down his face before he's interrupted by Kara. I never thought that Lee and Dualla would really reconcile but the first half of this episode makes you believe that there might just be a future for them together, until Dee picks up that gun. Lee has undergone such extraordinary character growth and development since we first saw him in the mini-series and I am very curious to see where his character is taken by the writers now that he's gone through Dee's suicide.

Adama and Roslin. Likewise, the scene between Adama and Tigh, with its discussion of the fox riding the tide out to sea, was remarkably well done. Having lost nearly everything he believes in and thrown over the edge by the discovery of Tigh's true identity and Dee's suicide, a drunken Adama brings a sidearm to Tigh's quarters and tries to push Tigh into pulling the trigger on him. How can he go on leading the Galactica after everything that's happened? Similarly, I loved the scene where Roslin arrives back at the Galactica and can't bring herself to say anything about what they found on Earth, before she's swarmed by everyone seeking answers. And then Roslin's dreams quite literally go up in smoke as she burns the Pythian prophecies as she sobs. Have all of their hopes and dreams really turned to ash? Still, the final image of her on the ground with the small flower she took back from Earth offers at least the promise of renewal. They can find a way to start over again, to rebuild, to find a new home. Where do they go from here?

D'Anna. Very interesting that D'Anna, out of everyone, would choose to remain on Earth. Yes, she claims that she doesn't want to die out in the cold, running from Cavil. But I think that there's got to be something more going on here, a mystery that needs to be solved. D'Anna isn't one to shie away from confrontation, even without the Hub to turn to, so why decide to remain on Earth alone? Hmmm. Just what is she looking for on the planet? And when will we see her next?

So those are my thoughts but I'm curious to know what you thought of this week's episode. Were you surprised by the reveal that Ellen was the Final Cylon? Did you gasp when Dee shot herself? And does do Baltar and the opera house fit into all of this? Talk back here.

Next week on Battlestar Galactica ("A Disquiet Follows My Soul"), Tigh tries to deal with the revelation that Ellen was the Final Cylon; Kara continues to harbor her secret; division among the crew of the Galactica could lead to mutiny and an all-out civil war.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Eh.

Underwhelming.

Hope it picks up.
Anonymous said…
How about this? There were centurion helmets in with the cylon bones on earth; one of the recurring themes among the cylons is that it has all happened before and will happen again. So, what if the Earth cylons, like the 6's, unleashed their centurions and that action led to their demise (there's no indication of why the holocaust happened, could it have been an uprising among the earth centurions?), perhaps as it will for the present cylons?
Anonymous said…
"OldDarth" - Seriously? I thought it was an incredible episode and a perfect opener for the final season. Dee's suicide was devastating as was the reveal that Kara was in the burnt out Viper. And then, of course, the fantastic reveal that Ellen is the final Cylon. I thought it was exciting, heartbreaking, and just plain brilliant.
Anonymous said…
GREAT EPISODE! Really enjoyed your thoughts too, Jace. Looks like we're in for quite a ride this season!!!
Anonymous said…
One of the best hours of television I've seen in a long time. Wasn't disappointed in the final cylon reveal at all -- and the questions around Starbuck makes things even more interesting. Plenty of "Holy Frak!" moments, and Dee was the best one. Purely awesome, and here's why: http://narwilliams.com/blog/
CL said…
"Unless we are using the notion of paradox, how can something exist thousands of years before it was created?"

Are we taking it on faith that humans actually were the ones to create the cylons? Sure, it's what they all believe. Doesn't mean it's true. And if this show has taught us anything, it's that what we believe to be true isn't true at all.
Anonymous said…
Wow. Really. Wow. I look forward to seeing how all of this plays out. I loved all the reveals dealing with Earth. I also found Ellen as the final cylon to be satisfying: it was unexpected, but it made sense. And yes, I gasped when Dee shot herself.

As for Kara, what stood out in her scenes for me was Leoben's leaving. He's always believed in "Kara Thrace and her special destiny." But he leaves.

I also have a confession. Everytime someone said "Where do we go from here," I wanted to break out into song. Or, I expected the cast to break out into the song from "Once More with Feeling."
Anonymous said…
The most surprising moment of the show was after Kara finds her corpse in her crashed raptor, and Leoben just freaks out and runs off. Leoben, who was always kind of a mad prophet, with a firm but twisted grasp on the truth, had no idea what was going on, and was even scard.

That says to me that all our old questions and assumptions about the show have to be thrown away, as something bigger is going on than we've ever guessed.

Something so big that when we find out who the final cylon is, it is deliberately underplayed, because it doesn't really matter anymore, and it never did.
Jace Lacob said…
Jason,

The final cyclon still matters but the fact that RDM and Eick revealed it so early in the season means that it's not the crucial answer that we've been waiting for. In fact, it does signal that there are bigger mysteries at work here more than just someone's identity (the solution to which became emblematic in the fanbase) and that, yes, something even larger than just Ellen is about to be revealed. It's only one piece of the puzzle but it's a roadmap of things to come. More troubling: the Final Five came from Earth, Kara died on the planet, and D'Anna is staying put.

But what is Ellen's masterplan? Why did she happily die, knowing that she and Saul would be reborn and all of the pieces were in place? It's that conversation that we should be focusing on.
Anonymous said…
Awesome ep! I never thought it would be Ellen but I think it's great that they managed to fool us into thinking that it could have been Kara. I'm not sure what/who Kara is but I was SHOCKED by the ship on the planet and creeped out that Leoben was so scared when he saw Kara in the cockpit. I guess we don't know for sure that the humans created the Cylons but I thought that's what Caprica was about??? But maybe there are Cylons like the in the original, the reptile creatures that made the robots: "The Cylons of the 1978/1980 series are not the mechanical foils seen throughout the series, but an advanced reptilian race who created the robots (who were referred to as Cylons within the show) to serve them, maintain their vast empire and to man their military forces in the face of a sudden population drop that eventually led to the Cylons' extinction — seemingly overnight."

So maybe the 13th tribe were something else that wasn't totally human and then they had technology that the humans used all those years later to build the robot Cylons? But I dunno.
Anonymous said…
The long layoff may hurt but frankly this episode was pretty underwhelming for me. More anguish, more drinking, more guns to the head blah, blah, blah. Haven't we seen enough of this already?

The reveal of the final Cylon was also a letdown. A character that I never cared for. She's the final Cylon? OK. I guess. I'm less interested in who the final 5 were and more why they were Cylons. And this reaching back 2000 years stuff is not floating my boat too much right now.

Still, given the show's track record, I'm confident things will pick up.
Anonymous said…
@Old Darth: you're kidding, right? This was one of the best eps of BSG so far. I love that Ellen is the 5th and puts things on New Caprica into perspective. Go watch SGA if you want less intense stories.
Anonymous said…
I'm with you OldDarth. It might be the long layoff, but it all felt very played out to me. As if the logline for the ep was-- Earth sucks and the whole fleet is suicidal over it! Why aren't the characters asking the same questions we are: "Wait, the 13th Colony were Cylons? WTFrak?!" Instead they're all just mopey.
Anonymous said…
Excellent to have show back. I was expecting dee to touch the picture on locker door and have flashback like others to reveal she the final cylon, not for her to redecorate her locker blood red. maybe ellen was talkin about the resurrection ship when she mentioned the pieces being in place, so they will live again and again etc. seeing as the 13th conlony were all cylons, is that why there were 12 models? to send out to each colony? so many questions :) the cylon helmets found with the bones, did they turn on the skin cylons and destroy them? that why the new centrurians had it programmed into them so they couldnt turn again? until number 6 switched it off? this is tv at its best like lost, keepin you thinkin after the show has finished :)
Anonymous said…
Is it possible that Ellen is an aged Starbuck? Kara could still be the fifth...
R.A. Porter said…
Yeah, because what I do when I find out that the only thing I've been living for for the past five years is dead and gone, I wanna get all Columbo. No need for tears and moping. It's time to whip out my magnifying glass and take a look around.

This was a fantastic episode, an amazingly heartrending look at humans brought to the breaking point. People for whom hope is negated. Reading Mo Ryan's interviews with Ron Moore, Michael Nankin, and Bradly Thompson/David Weddle really highlighted some of the moments of extreme pathos for me. To see how they made our heroes fall under the pressure so we can watch their reactions, especially with actors of this caliber, is truly a treat.

For some more thoughts on the characters and their journeys, with less emphasis on the mysteries, there's this review.
Anonymous said…
does anyone else think Ellen is just an aged 6 model?? The Admiral said to Tigh, "I knew you when you had hair".. just another theory to throw out there.
Jace Lacob said…
Anonymous,

Nope. Ellen is *definitely* not an aged Model Six. :)
julian. said…
I want more Gaeta. And to find out if he's going to go all freaky-deaky on everybody. And I also want him to gay it up some more. He and Lt. Hoshi were cute in the webisodes.
Anonymous said…
@R.A.Porter: Yeah, because nothing says moments of extreme pathos like having the writers *highlight* them for you.

And yeah, because what I do after discovering that the lost tribe of my race is actually a robotic enemy that I supposedly invented, I wanna get all Deer Hunter. No need to ponder the significance of the revelation, or what it might mean for the future of our race. Better I just get drunk and put a gun to my head. Or in Adama's case... two.
Anonymous said…
I was also completely floored by Leoben's reaction to Kara. Is there any word on whether Callum Keith Rennie will appear in future episodes? Or is this it for Leoben?

-Sarah
Jace Lacob said…
Sara,

Leoben's not going anywhere. :)
Anonymous said…
Amazing episode. Ellen wasn't that much of a surprise for me - Dont you guys remember back in Season 1 Baltar had to use the Cylon detector on her and 6 or Baltar said something like - "I guess anyone can pass as a human these days" and 6 asked if Ellen was a Cylon and he said - "I'll never tell"... I was more surprised when Tigh killed her because I thought she'd eventually wind up being a Cylon.
Starbuck is my main focus now - I just get the feeling that there is some kind of looming ancient secret that will all come together with the end of this series. I can't wait for the next episode.
Anonymous said…
Why does everyone always assume that "Cylon" means they're all the same?

We've never heard the word "robot" used on BSG. Same as RADAR. And "Mayday!" Never heard those words either.

What do we hear? Radar (or something like it) on BSG is called "DRADIS". "Mayday mayday!" in an emergency is now "Crypter Crypter!"

And "robot" is called "cylon"

They're all basically "robots" in the sense that their initial origins was not by normal biological evolution. They were a construction of some sort, modified deliberately over time.

But, until I see differently, I consider Ellen, Tigh, Tyrol, Anders and Tory to be a type of artificial life form created somewhere in the prior time, 200+ years before, possibly on Kobol or elsewhere.

They are not - in a directly way - related to the subsequent humanoid robots (sixes, eights, etc.) and their predecessors, the robot-y robots which the Colonials created. Not at all.

The two groups of "robots" were created in totally different millennium by different groups of constructors, be they human or some already existing artificial life form that had transcended to full self-awareness (as MAY be the case on 2nd Earth).

The Final five do NOT share the same programming that the current robots have. They are from two utterly different eras.

BUT... there appears to be a connection between the older and newer in some way. I'm making a guess that possibly the Colonial cylons found the older technology - on 2nd Earth? - and used similar approaches (and model design, re: the helmet in the ground).

But, other than that, they are two completely different groups with no shared history. We know a good chunk of the Colonial cylon history. We know almost nothing about the history of the robots - almost all wiped out, I guess, 2000 years before - from which the "five" descend.

That's my take, anyways!
Anonymous said…
PS, Like an Anonymous, I was also totally floored by Leoben's reaction. It means SO much. All the Colonial cylons, with all their planning, and with all Leoben's spiritual awareness, certainty, blah blah blah - with all that, they are totally bugging out about what's going on.

No one - "human" or cylon - knows what the hell is happening.

I love that!
Anonymous said…
I can't believe anyone found this a "yawn" - this episode was awesome!! it brought me back to the first two seasons where I could hardly wait for Friday.

I am wondering, if Starbuck found her dogtags on her "body", was she also actually wearing them at the time? why didn't post crispy Kara check?

is it some kind of space time continuum?
Anonymous said…
You're all wrong...well, almost...
Anonymous said…
My guesses:
Who nuked the cylon planet? The humans.
How did the 5 cylons come to Caprica? They went with the humans who killed their civilization (they took a detour over Kobol, of course, which was destroyed in civil war).
Why did they do this? To be able to revive their civilization. They needed another civilization (the human one) sufficiently big/evolved to be able to do so.
What happened to Kara? Probably the same that happened to the final five. She is now the sixt of the final five.
Anonymous said…
How about the theory that Kara's ship crashing on to the Planet WAS the nuke that distroyed the Easth? Woudl lead to her being the harbinger of Death.
Anonymous said…
Vipers don't carry nukes, and I think a massive nuclear srtike destroyed the Cylon earth.
I also have a hunch that the worst has still to come for Kara...
Dare2bu said…
Thought the Show was awsum. But did anyone ever wonder that if there were 13 tribes. then maybe that means there are 13 cylons too. It would then help explain Kara being a cylon.

Just a thought.

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