Everybody who hasn't seen the episode is gone, right?
Are we clear?
Okay, that's enough. Insert whatever profane expression you want to here, because I uttered damn near all of them after that last 20 minutes. So which revelation was the biggest stunner?
Was it that Starbuck seems to be very much not dead, after all?
That Baltar got off?
That we know the identity of not just one of the Final Five, but four of them?
Or that Saul Mother Effing Tigh is apparently a Cylon?
Are you frakking kidding me? I've had nearly a month to process this and it's still making my brain hurt.
Let's start with the Final Four -- or, rather, if we believe that that's what they are. If it was just Anders, Tyrol and Tory, I would accept it almost unquestioningly, but Tigh complicates things. Saul Tigh fought in the first Cylon war -- back in the days when the Cylons were all allegedly of the toaster variety -- has known Adama for more than 40 years, has very clearly aged over that time. We know there can be elderly Cylon skinjobs -- see Brother Cavil -- but presumably Cavil has always looked like that. So unless there is a whole lot we don't know about Cylon history and physiology, like the fact that the skinjobs existed well ahead of when humanity thinks they did, and that they can change their appearance over time, then something's not right.
But what, exactly? It can't be a coincidence that these were four of the five leaders of the New Caprica insurgency (the fifth being Laura Roslin, and isn't that damned interesting?), but Tigh's the only one we know of who spent any time in Cylon custody. So if they're not Cylons, why are they all hearing the same Jimi Hendrix song? (Much more on that, by the way, below.) Why are they all drawn to the same room on Galactica, and why are they so convinced that they are, in fact, Cylons? It can't be just the song -- though, with the right drugs involved, Jimi's music can make you think you're a god -- so what? Did they somehow implant chips in all of them? (This could also be how the Cylon fleet is really tracking the fleet, and not via the fuel ship's energy signature.) If so, when?
And if they are Cylons, how does that work? We know that sleeper agents can have memory implants (see Boomer), so maybe Tyrol's ultra-religious parents don't exist, and maybe Anders is so great at Pyramid because he has robot parts. But what are the odds that four members of the Final Five would A)survive the initial genocide, B)survive months or years of battle with the Cylons (in Anders' case, stranded in an occupied radioactive wasteland), C)survive all the deaths associated with New Caprica (including Gina's nuke), and D)end up leading the resistance against their secret brothers and sisters?
Maureen Ryan and I talked a little after we both saw all four episodes, and she has a bunch of theories, including the idea that there's been an ongoing Cylon civil war, and maybe even that everyone is really a Cylon, that humanity ceased to exist a long time ago and the Cylons have been having the same civil war over and over again, causing so much destruction that, by the end, they've forgotten who and what they all are. (UPDATE: For more on Maureen's take, visit her fine and dandy blog.) I don't know if I go that far, but I think of the number of times that characters on this show (usually the religious nuts like Leoben) talk about how all of this has happened before and will happen again and I wonder: how long have the Cylons been around?
Or maybe the explanation is this: the Final Five didn't always look like this, but after a massive philosophical disagreement with the other seven about what to do to their human creators, they built new bodies for themselves based on pre-existing humans, downloaded into those bodies along with memory implants to convince themselves that they had always been Tigh and Tyrol and Anders and Tory, and left their old bodies and friends behind.
I don't know. But I do know this: all four actors in general, and Michael Hogan in particular, were amazing in that scene. I love the idea of them finding out that they're Cylons and deciding that this doesn't change anything about who they consider themselves to be and where their loyalties lie:
"My name is Saul Tigh. I am an officer in the Colonial fleet. Whatever else I am, whatever else it means, that's the man I want to be. And if I die today, that's the man I'll be."
A-frakking-men. Goosebumps galore at that. Some of this is obviously echoing the Boomer arc from season one, but I feel like there's a lot of mileage left in the concept, whether these four are really Cylons or not.
Meanwhile, is Laura the fifth? Again, she was the only resistance leader not in that room, but she's also suddenly projecting herself into the opera house, which Caprica Six seemed to think was impossible. So either Laura's also been a Cylon this whole time, or Hera's blood is turning her into enough of one that she can pull certain Cylon tricks like projection.
Or is Kara the fifth? That's certainly the easiest explanation of how she survived the Viper explosion, but then it would make her entire backstory and all the flashbacks in "Maelstrom" into a lie. I'm okay with dismissing what we know of Tyrol's childhood as a memory implant or something, but Kara's biography is too important to who she is for it to be dumped -- especially after we devoted her entire "death" episode to it.
And I have to applaud Ron and Mrs. Ron for being able to so casually lie through their teeth about Kara being dead during the "Maelstrom" podcast. As you all know, I was sure taken in by the death, and I was apparently wrong -- unless the Cylons do have the capabilities to make duplicate bodies of humans, which ties back in to one of the theories for how Tigh could be a Cylon. Or maybe it's Occam's Razor, and the phantom Raider we saw in "Malestrom" somehow picked her up right before the explosion (though, as I recall, the canopy was still intact when the ship blew, so it didn't seem like she ejected).
Again, my brain hurts. So let's move on to the rest of the episode.
I think it was inevitable that Baltar would be acquitted, because he's too valuable a character to shove out an airlock, or even to turn him into Hannibal Lecter in a cell forever. As things went, I think the writers did a good job of showing how three of the judges -- including Adama -- could have been swayed to vote that way, and of course we have the benefit of knowing that Baltar's sins go much, much deeper than the charges in this trial. (Laura suspects his role in the genocide but has no proof, Caprica Six ain't testifying, and the only people who know about Baltar and the nuke are Baltar and a dead Cylon.) In that speech on the witness stand, which was brilliant except that it was on the witness stand (we'll get back to that), Lee made some excellent points about the hypocrisy of this trial.
So there's a general amnesty for everything that happened on New Caprica, except where Gaius Baltar's involved? So he and Laura and Adama are all completely innocent and untouched by what happened in the military coup storyline that bridged seasons one and two? So Helo disobeys orders and ruins their best chance of eliminating the Cylon threat forever because he's having a crisis of conscience, and it's no harm and no foul? At this point, it's all about degrees of sin, because everyone's dirty in some way or other. Everyone in this gang they claim to call a civilization.
Really, the only thing I would have changed about that speech was the fact that Lee was delivering it as testimony. When you do a courtroom story, even one in a sci-fi setting where the rules maybe aren't exactly the same as they are in 21st century America, you're relying on our knowledge of the basic frameworks of the legal system and of the last 100 years of legal dramas, and I don't care if Adama wanted to hear what he had to say, there ain't no way that defense counsel's assistant would be allowed to deliver sworn testimony in which he gave a speech about why their client should be found not guilty. Better that Lampkin had decided to have Lee deliver the closing argument because the judges would be more kindly disposed towards Lee than himself. Same exact speech, same sentiments, and you don't have the audience spending the entire time distracted by why the prosecutor doesn't object every five seconds, the judges' earlier ruling be damned.
But that's my only major complaint to an otherwise brilliant finale. A very inverse bell curve of a season, huh? Genius at the beginning and end, and lots of mediocrity in between.
Some other brief thoughts:
- In the podcast for "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part II," Moore said that his original idea for what Baltar would find in the ruins of the temple was a room where a Jimi Hendrix song was playing, and Dirk Benedict would show up and ask Baltar if he recognized the tune, and Baltar would say he did, and Benedict would say, "Hi. I'm God." Moore said he moved off the idea because he had no idea what any of it meant, but clearly the Hendrix part stuck in his head ("All Along the Watchtower" is technically a Dylan song, but everyone knows Jimi's version the best), and I have to assume he knows exactly what that means now. Does it mean that this show takes place far, far into our future, or far, far into our past, and that "All Along the Watchtower" is a folk song that survived the 13th tribe's voyage across the galaxy?
- And so farewell to Romo Lampkin. As I said a few weeks back, I grew to like him over time, but I wish he could have been proven thoroughly wrong on something, you know?
- God, Gaeta really hates Baltar. First the stabbing, now the perjury.
- So how many episodes into season four before Apollo's resignation is rescinded?