Monday, January 19, 2009

Battlestar Galactica "Sometimes a Great Notion": The Plot Thickens

Battlestar Galactica (SciFi) returned to finish off its ten-episode closing of the story. And now that the series seems to have found its way – after being lost so long in a quagmire of too many pointless personal storylines – I’m almost sorry that this is the beginning of the end.

First, a quick recap of the episode "Sometimes a Great Notion", more comments from me afterwards:

When we last left the rag-tag members of the Battlestar Galactica (in the epsiode ”Revelations”), they had found earth, but it wasn’t quite the earth they expected. What they found was the desolate remnants of a largely populated planet, which had been reduced to wreckage and radioactive soil. Needless to say, they were disappointed. President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) picks up a lone plant that she finds sprouting from the ground. There are no signs of human life. It appears the planet was nuked about 2,000 years ago, and they realize they traded one nuked planet – Caprica – for another. Admiral Bill Adama (Edward James Olmos) wants to call it a day and just leave to look for another home.

Meanwhile, Dee (Kandyse McClure ) finds a pocket watch in the sand with a bag with a ball and jacks and she takes them back to Galactica with her. Roslin wants to get out and she seems to later spiral into a depression, not taking her meds, burning the Pythian prophecy scriptures book, and isolating herself from everyone.

But before they abandon all hope, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff ) decides to try to find the source of the beacon signal that drew them to Earth. She and Leoben (Callum Keith Rennie) find an emergency locator beacon, and also some debris. Close by, they find wreckage from a Colonial viper, with the number "757 NC” to which Starbuck states the number on her viper is 8757 NC. Worse yet, there is a body in the viper, with blonde hair, and wearing an ID tag that clearly says “Thrace”. As the “hybrid” once told Starbuck she was the harbinger of death and that she would lead them all to their end, she freaks. Horrified, she wonders if that is her body in the viper, then who is she? Later, she burns the body in a pyre.

Also still on earth scoping out the situation are the Cylons, who find bones and a metal helmet which looks like a Cylon centurion helmet head. Roslin concludes that the 13th tribe settled here and created their own Cylons, with Apollo (Jamie Bamber) adding that, like on Caprica, the machines rose up and killed their masters. But, all of the bones found on Earth are Cylon bones, which imply that the 13th tribe was made up of Cylons, Centurions and “skin jobs.”

Roslin is horrified, and when Apollo says she must tell the Quorum something, she walks away silently, and Adama tells Apollo, "Carry the ball."

Adding to the unsettled feeling, both Tyrol (Aaron Douglas), Anders (Michael Trucco), and Tory (Rekha Sharma) who are still back on Earth, begin to have what they believe are memories of life on earth, and they realize that they had lived there before – before all the devastation 2,000 years prior.

Back on the Galactica, it seems that depression is setting in with the crew. Apollo and Dee seem to have a nice evening together and it appears maybe they are going to recapture their love for each other. After Adama gives a speech to all members of the fleet to help motivate them to continue on to look for a new home, tragedy strikes. Despite the fact that Dee told Apollo that their “date” was the most fun she's had in a long time, she hangs up a locket, her ring, pulls out her weapon, and shoots herself in the head. The death seems to devastate Apollo and Adama.

This causes Adama to obtain a gun from a crew member, and he takes it into see Tighe (Michael Hogan) who is drinking, just like Adama has been. Adama and Tighe argue about Tighe being a Cylon, and Adama thinks that Ellen - Tighe’s dead wife – may have realized that there was something wrong with Tighe and why she was always looking to other men. He’s clearly trying to pick a fight. But Tighe is on to Adama, and won’t use Adama’s gun the way Adama may want him to. They both end up just drinking more. But later, Adama instructs his crew to look for the closest G, F, or K-class star system nearby, and to ask the Cylons if they want to come along for the ride. He promises the fleet he will find a new home.

Back on earth, Tighe talks to D’Anna (Lucy Lawless) and she’s decided to stay on earth. Later, when Tighe walks into the water – is he going to just end it all? – he puts his hands in the water and picks up some debris. It triggers a memory of him in a suit, in an area that appears to have been bombed. In his memory, he sees Ellen lying under a pile of rubble, and back in the water, we see him groping at the water as if he is trying to dig Ellen out. But in his vision, Ellen tells him all will be OK, everything is in place, and they will be reborn together. As there is an explosion in his vision, Tighe find himself back in the water, with Tighe saying, "Ellen, you're the fifth."

I thought this was a very well crafted episode. It seemed to answer some questions, while raising a few more. If Ellen is the fifth, then what does that make Starbuck, who is alive, yet what seems to be her dead body was found in a wrecked viper? And if the other 4 are having memories of earth before the devastation, could this mean that there are more of them than the “final five” who may have been "resurrected"? Is it possible that they are all decedents of the 13th colony and they are all Cylons? Would it be odd if the people they are looking for are really themselves? Still, it is clear that some of them have been there before and may have the answers buried in the memories.

I was not surprised to see members of the fleet reflect a sense of defeat and hopelessness, but Dee’s suicide took me completely by surprise. I suppose I should have seen it coming – she was happier than she had ever been, and probably assumed that it was the best she would ever feel. With their arrival on earth a huge disappointment, her actions signaled what many in the fleet, including the leadership, was feeling – a deep sense of loss, that everything they had worked for, fought for, and died for, turned out to be dashed, with no hope remaining. Still, it almost seemed selfish of Dee to take that way out, in essence, adding to the despair of the others.

And who is – or what is – Starbuck? If that was her body in the viper, then how did she become “resurrected” and whose hands? She always felt someone was guiding them to Earth, and maybe she knows there is some power out there who is waiting in the wings – somewhere – or who is watching over them, sometimes taking a direct hand in guiding them. Somehow I think that Starbuck will have the answer to it all.

These final 10 episode are off to a great start, and I am looking forward to wherever the story will take me. Somehow, I have a sense things will end out well for them if they can just all hang in long enough. It would be a great reward for people who stuck with the series even through the bad times.

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