"Felix, please. I just want to hang onto this feeling for as long as I can." -Dualla
There's so much to talk about with "Sometimes a Great Notion" -- so many new theories to analyze, so many mind-blowing possibilities, the revelation of the final Cylon model -- but I want to start off with the part of the episode that, in the early going as I watched it, didn't seem to belong: Dualla's story.
For half the hour, as I watched Dualla and Lee grow closer together, go out on a date, flirt, etc., I kept asking myself, "Why are they spending so much time on this? Now is the right time to rekindle the Lee/Dualla romance that nobody cared about before?" Then I began to wonder if they were focusing on her so much because Dee was the final Cylon.
But, no. It was something much more shocking, much more devastating, and much more real: Dualla was there as a worst-case scenario for how people in the fleet are reacting to the discovery of the ruined Earth. All that chipperness, all that banter with Lee, the kiss... all of that was just her attempt to have one last good moment before she died, for the last thought to go through her head before the bullet to be a happy one.
As much as I love to speculate on the nature of the Cylons, the prophecies, the opera house and all the other stuff that Ron Moore promised he'd get back to, what really grabs me about the show (as I discussed in today's column) is its humanity, the way its characters react to situations the way you imagine real, contemporary people might.
How would you react if you had been living a horrific existence for years on end, and the only thing keeping you going is the hope of one day finding this wonderful place called Earth -- and then that hope gets taken away when Earth turns out to be ruined? I like to think I can handle myself well in a crisis, but I could very easily see myself committing suicide like Dualla, or curling into a fetal position like Roslin, or getting drunk and trying for a suicide-by-Cylon-cop like Adama. This is a brutal, brutal development on what wasn't the happiest show to begin with, and I'm glad team "Galactica" (led here by writers David Weddle and Bradley Thompson and director Michael Nankin) didn't flinch from that.
Nor did the actors. At this point, I almost don't need to lay the superlatives on Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell and all the rest, but because it's been a long time since we've seen them play these roles, why the hell not? Roslin becoming so small and frightened on the Galactica flight deck sent a chill through my bones, as did the sight of Adama drunker than Tigh and all but begging for his own death. Those two -- and Michael Hogan, and Jamie Bamber and Katee Sackhoff and Lucy Lawless and everybody else -- bring it, week after week, episode after episode, and as the stakes for the characters has risen, so has the intensity of their performances. I'm in awe.
I'm also trying really, really hard not to devote my every working brain cell to figuring out the explanation for all we learned in this episode.
And, again, ELLEN IS THE FINAL CYLON?
Actually, that last wasn't that shocking. That's not a complaint. It's just that we've been wondering for nearly two years who the final Cylon is, and therefore I'm sure all of our mental photo arrays have stopped on Ellen's mug shot sooner or later. But it still packs a punch: as if it wasn't enough that Saul knew he had murdered his wife for collaborating with Cylons when it turned out he was a Cylon, now it turns out that they were both Cylons. And the scene itself, in which a contemporary-looking Ellen has enough awareness of the grand plan to say this:
"It's okay. It's okay. Everything's in place. We'll be reborn -- again. Together."
What. The. Frak. Is going on here?
The TV critics press tour ended a few hours ago, and therefore my brain is in no condition to properly try to explain much of what we saw in "Sometimes a Great Notion," but you're very smart people, very passionate about this show, and I suspect you'll be able to pile up the theories while I recuperate.
In the meantime, some other thoughts:
• Mo Ryan did an interview with Ron Moore about the origins of making Ellen the final Cylon, and other backstage decisions behind this episode. If it's not up now, it should be sometime later tonight.
• Though most of the characters were understandably despairing over the nature of Earth, I like that some of the characters were able to either bottle up their feelings or focus on the good things in life. Seeing Helo and Sharon playing so happily with little Hera was a nice contrast.
• I also love that they let us hear Lee's big speech to the fleet not as he delivered it, but as a joke between Lee and Dualla at the end of their date. Some of that is probably a budget thing, but it also allowed us to hear the inspirational words in an unexpected context.
• Bear McCreary's score is another element of the show whose genius almost goes without saying at this point, but I particularly enjoyed the furious drum pounding as Kara burned the corpse of the other Starbuck.
• The episode also did a great job of showing the fleet's grief in smaller ways, like how the extras in the corridors of Galactica always seemed so upset, or angry, or just worn out. Like the graffiti says, "Frak Earth."
• With Dualla's death, the number on the whiteboard is down to 39,650. Anyone remember what it was at at the start of the series? After New Caprica?
What did everybody else think?