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Battlestar Galactica: Sometimes a Great Notion


Battlestar Galactica

Sometimes a Great Notion

Season 4 , Episode 11

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Of course, tonight's episode should take its real title from a piece of graffiti on the wall of the Galactica: "FRAK EARTH."
Battlestar Galactica has always been, you know, dark. But tonight, right when the Americans and the world are swept up in a pre-inaugural hopefest - when even a plane crash is good news - our favorite space humans and their new robot pals have hit rock bottom. And they don't take it well.
The mid-season finale gave us one of the best cliffhangers of modern times. After spending the whole series searching for Earth, the humans and their nemeses/allies, the Cylons, have finally found the place. And the place is a mess. We learn that a nuclear war two thousand years ago wiped out the whole population, and today, the planet is still radioactive. So, what next?
Let's start with the intriguing new mysteries we'll be exploring this season. We find out that the Thirteenth Tribe indeed landed on Earth and had a pretty cozy civilization, with toys, and fresh produce markets, and guitars that sound like electric sitars. But we also learn something new: these humanoids weren't human - they were Cylon. Somehow, very quickly, the scientists of the combined fleet have figured out that the Thirteenth Tribe was made up of Cylons. Who blew them up? What's the significance of the robot facemask they find in the rubble - which resembles, but is not, a centurion helmet? We also learn that three of the final five Cylons were there when the missiles flew: Anders, Tyrol, and Tory Foster all reminisce about the good old times back before they became a charred stain on a wall. How'd they come back here?
You'll remember that Starbuck is the reason they found this place. Now we know how: after she vanished in a poof of smoke in season three, she apparently came to Earth and crashed in flames, dying in her jettisoned cockpit while the rest of her Viper kept transmissing a distress signal - the signal that led them to Earth. There's just one problem: if Starbuck died on Earth, then who's this other Starbuck who's been hanging out with the fleet and skippering their sewer ships and having art school flashbacks with Leoben (who is so overwhelmed by her discovery that he finally gives up and flakes out on her)? Oh, and is she the harbinger of death? I know one thing: after a fairly flaky and erratic season last year, the character is handling this new burden with a new backbone. And the scene where she puts herself to rest is a gutpunch.
But not as bad as Dualla's final scene. While Starbuck and the Cylons are finding new little threads to follow, most of the fleet is ready to call it quits. Dualla is traumatized by the remains of the Earthling's kids' toys, and the hopeless, empty future in front of her. She has one more sweet, perfect date with Apollo, savors the moment as long as she can - and shoots herself in the head. 
Which leads to an even bigger bummer, as we realize once and for all that Adama - as well as Roslin - have just had it. When Apollo is in the morgue, grieving over Dualla's body, Adama comes in, serious and solemn. Apollo turns to him, ready for that grave, comforting advice we all love from the ship's father figure. Why did she do it? Lee asks. Adama sighs, blurts out, "I don't frakking know!" pulls out a bottle, and offers Apollo a swig. Apollo declines.
Roslin's not much better. Again, I'm fascinated by the way these characters have gone to seed - that every great leader eventually has to decline, that the parents become decrepit to make room for the children. We know Apollo will step up and take the reins. But seeing Roslin surrender? That's something else. When the first shuttle comes back to Galactica from Earth, everyone's crowded around waiting to hear what it's like. Does she sugarcoat it? Does she tell them the truth? Roslin doesn't do anything: the leader of the fleet, the one who fought cancer and stayed strong to get everyone here, has just seen the whole thing go poof. And she crumbles, in public, just muttering, "Get me out of here." Later, she takes her prophecy book and burns it page by page, robbing the eventual Earth Museum of Colonial Space History of its prize artifact, and even the WALL-E-esque plant stem she brought from the surface isn't giving her hope.
George W.'s final address last night was stiff, but this is how he felt on the inside.
So what's next? Adama sobers up with support from Tigh, who's not having any of this blubbering or suicide-talk when there's a fleet to run and exactly 39,650 people left who need a leader. So he sets a course for the next star system, whatever the hell it is. Time to keep looking for a place to settle - just like the Thirteenth Tribe did, so long ago (and look how that turned out). Dualla's replaced. Life goes on.
And oh yeah, Ellen Tigh was the fifth Cylon, and she and Saul were behind the whole Final Five scheme. WHA?!
Rating: A-
- So how have you guys been? Did you have a good summer? See any good movies?  
- What was most shocking tonight? Dualla killing herself? The wig on Starbuck's corpse? Or Adama wheezing the words "main vein"? 
- Kentucky Fried Chicken is advertising a "frak pak." I'm not sure they know what that means. 
- My mom happened to watch tonight's show with me, and I did my best to catch her up on the storyline and the show's general gestalt. But when Dualla shot herself? My mom got confused: she thought someone had come up from behind and shot her. Sorry, mom, this isn't CSI. These folks are their own worst enemies. 
- D'anna reminds us that Brother Cavil's still out there. Foreshadowing noted. 
- Hey, so where's pregnant Six? 
- Apologies for the cross-promotion, but I have to mention our interview with Michael "Tigh" Hogan this week, who's a fantastic and (his words) "jolly" guy with some amazing stories from his theater work.
- Hey, if I bet anyone any real money or beer or anything that Hot Dog was the fifth Cylon - well, I had my fingers crossed, okay?