Sunday, March 25, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Let us not talk falsely now

Spoilers -- big, big, giant honking spoilers, the kind you should run screaming from if you're time-shifting or waiting to watch the season on DVD or whatever, or if you ignored my prior warning to pad your recording for the extra few minutes, because you are going to hate yourself if you read this stuff without having watched -- for the "Battlestar Galactica" season finale coming up just as soon as I ask this important question: Are you experienced?

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?
What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

There's only one way out of this, and I think it's that a third party is manipulating both Cylons and humans. To what end, I couldn't fathom. But both sides feel like puppets at this point.

Anonymous said...

Are these four really the Final Five? After all, only Xena knows the truth and it could be that at least one or two of the ones we knew before are in the final group.

It does seem obvious now that Laura is the only one left to be a Cylon, but I wonder if Ron Moore is going to go there.

Actually, my thoughts still aren'st coherent on this, because I was hoping against hope that Tigh wasn't a Cylon.

The Balter trial outcome was expected for the reasons you laid out and so I wasn't shocked. I even half-suspected that Starbuck would reappear at the end, but instead as a Cylon.

And now the fall movie will have so much more meaning if it is to be set in the past.
A drunk Cylon. Who'da thunk it.

Anonymous said...

Great thought on the episode. I'd add that there was obviously something else going on in the final scene with Starbuck, since Lee was hearing her voice across the vacuum of space and her ship wasn't quite working on Draedus. Was it something similar to the mysterious Cylon ship in Maelstrom that only Starbuck and Lee (briefly) could see?

Just a great episode, one that managed to redeem much of this meandering season. 2008 is so, so far away.

velvetcannibal said...


There are a million ways to make it possible, and I don't care how it happened. STARBUCK.

I like your Maureen Ryan discussion. I've been theorizing along the same lines too, but not going so far as thinking all humanity doesn't exist. That would really blow my mind. But at this point there's not much thought left in my head. CYLONS. I know I called some of them last week, so I wish they'd been slightly less obvious about it. But I LOVE that these are people who hate cylons so much. What is a Cylon? What is free will?

And I take some pleasure in knowing that Cally is married to a cylon.

I'm glad they still left the fifth a mystery. I like that we have options for who Three apologized to in her visit to the opera house. Was it to Anders, who she tried to kill in Downloaded? Was her apology to Tigh, whose eye was removed?

Forget it. All I want to think about is STARBUCK. STARBUCK FOREVER!

Way to blow it wide open again, RDM. And thank you for lying to us for months.

Alan, thanks for managing not to spoil these episodes in any way. I truly appreciate all the time you put into this blog, and I'm sure this arc was a true test of your confidentiality abilities. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The last 10 minutes or so, I was so freaked out my fingers and the tip of my nose started tingling. The first time Tigh said "There must be some kinda way out of here," I figured it was an ad lib they left in for some reason, maybe. Should have known better. Man, that was just... man.

So, if Tigh knows he's a Cylon, and he knows what happened to Boomer when her "switch" flipped, why is he allowing himself near Adama? And whatsherface near Roslin? And the other two near the frakkin' Vipers?

Loved when Lee noticed Romo's discarded cane. And oh yeah, when he ran into Starbuck, who I figured wasn't dead because Sackhoff signed a confidentiality agreement not to talk about what happened to Starbuck, which they wouldn't have done if she wasn't coming back.

Anonymous said...

I think the Cylons just broke the forums on TWoP. There will be insanity now.

velvetcannibal said...

And the TWoP forums are down until tomorrow! Oh no! Where will I go to read reactions of people freaking out?

Todd said...

I believe that Tigh has only TOLD people he served in the Cylon wars. And doesn't his backstory involve being the only survivor on a ship or something?

He and Adama met post-Cylon wars, so he could easily be a plant.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Todd, that would still require the skinjobs to have existed 40 years ago, during the first war, which goes against what little we know (or assume) abou Cylon history.

Mac said...

Did you notice that Tigh used another "Watchtower" line (in addition to "There must be some way out of here") in his conversation with Adama? He said, "There's too much confusion."

Anonymous said...

And considering how Tigh looked in the flashbacks to his younger days, the most important question of all: If the Cylons know how to induce male pattern baldness, do they know how to cure it?

Anonymous said...

W.T.F!? I think BSG just broke my brain.

"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief."

If Sal MF Tigh is indeed a Cylon, there's obviously something not exactly right about the version of events stating that "Cylons were created by man. They rebelled. They evolved."

And season 4 doesn't air until 2008?

Anonymous said...

I think we're getting a little misdirection on Saul MF Tigh and the other three--I believe they're Cylons about as much as I believed Starbuck was dead.

Also? She seemed ethereal to say the least. What if she's Dark Starbuck?

Anyway, brilliant episode, very tense. I can't believe we have to wait until 2008 for more.

Anonymous said...

Where is Ron's podcast? He should know that we want a peek inside his head after this. There's not even a message stating that it's been delayed. And now the Scifi forums are wonky too. Tigh's reveal really has wreaked havoc on the cyberverse.

Anonymous said...


My first thought when we saw Starbuck was that Lee was dying, and she was who he would see at his death. Or that perhaps Lee was the fifth cylon.

Way interesting that Tyrol and Boomer were together when neither knew they were Cylons.

Michael Hogan deserves Emmys. What a performance.

Is it 2008 yet?

Anonymous said...

Alan, you sly dog, I can't believe you kept...ya know...ALL THAT to yourself.

I can only generate questions at this point. Working backward: How could Lee hear Kara across the vacuum of space? What IS Kara -- she's a Cylon who downloaded? Or does Lee now have a Chip!Kara in a Chip!Viper?

Bob Frakkin' Dylan was a member of the 13th tribe? Or a Cylon? Or Jimi Hendrix was? (Actually, that almost makes some kinda sense....being an alien robot might explain how he could play so good...)

If Nicky IS a hybrid, why isn't he toddling around the Opera house with Hera?

Saul MF Tigh? They are so making this up -- there's no way --

2008? Frak me.

Anonymous said...

As everyone knows, BSG loves playing with the Biblical allegories - the Israelites, Baltar as Jesus, etc.

Tonight, my wife pointed out another allusion - St. Paul's original name before he converted was "Saul." According to the mighty wikipedia, Saul Tigh was named "Paul" in an earlier BSG script.

Speaking of apostles, is Anders = Andrew?

I'm going to go consult my dusty bible. In the meantime, I hear Ron D. Moore cackling in a backroom somewhere...

Todd said...

Does that essentially make Nicky (child of Tyrol/Cally) and Hera the new Adam and Eve?

Anonymous said...

Alan, I agree with you on the contrivance of Lee Adama being called to give testimony. As a lawyer, I am always irked by television writers whose knowledge of courtroom procedure is derived from watching television shows also written by writers who no nothing about procedure. Sure, this is a sci-fi epic taking place outside of Earth. The prosecutor takes exceptions rather than making objections at trial; the defense attorney cites "precedents" rather than cases (which are precedent, but it is awkward to say "precedents" like that.). But, they were doing things differently to distinguish it from the legal system we know. Fine.

But as you point out, it was lame to have Lee take the stand, and no Earth or Caprica court would have allowed a lawyer to go under oath to make a defense closing argument. Once Lee refused to address the issues of potential bias on the tribunal, that would be it. He doesn't get to argue. Really, what's the point of going under oath to state opinions anyway?

But what really got me is the super defense lawyer's utter failure to even cross examine Gaida. How lame is that? This guy was set up as the Clarence Darrow of Caprica, and one lie by Gaida scares him off? Sure, it was just a plot device to get Lee on the stand, but both of those courtroom developments just seemed awkward and odd.

The only reason I can think that they did it that way is because they wanted Lee to make the speech but they wanted him to be forced to do it. This was, he gets to say what is on his mind but it is not of his own volition. I think they could have found a way to express that and still have him do the closing.

They undercut the super lawyer's abilities by having him fail to ask Gaida even one question. A smart lawyer could have boxed Gaida in which some questioning (and certainly would have probed Gaida's attempt to kill Baltar, et cetera, as evidence that he would say anything to condemn him).

Anonymous said...

"I'd add that there was obviously something else going on in the final scene with Starbuck, since Lee was hearing her voice across the vacuum of space and her ship wasn't quite working on Draedus."

Just watched it again, and the audio switched back and forth between him hearing her in his headset and her inside the other Viper. Althought that still doesn't explain where she got the Viper...

Okay, either the Sci-Fi Channel's site is lying (they say the episode reveals all 5), or we're supposed to assume Starbuck is the fifth. Which would explain how she's still alive. Was she resurrected on Earth? Or did she visit it on one of those Cylon spirit journeys or whatever they call them?

None of them knew they were Cylons, and even the other 7 models don't know they're Cylons. (Wonder which one Deana talked to just before she died?) So whatever their purpose is, somehow it's beyond either camp. Hell, four out of the five don't seem to have any idea what's going on, or why they've been activated now. I want to watch the next episode now, please. Where's my time machine?

Oh yeah, and how come Tyrol's kid hasn't had the same health problems as Hera?

Anonymous said...

That was a modern Earth at the end with lights and evidence of modern civilizations?

Anonymous said...

They didn't zoom in to that level of detail, but it was obviously North America. They should have kept zooming in until they got to Ron Moore sitting in front of his computer, reading the blogs and message boards and laughing hysterically.

Anonymous said...

The great thing about the episode is that after last week I expected Tigh, Anders, and Tory to be Cylons and that Starbuck would return in the closing seconds. And I was still totally blown away. That's a perfectly crafted episode.

Finísima Persona said...

I guess we all agree on the first four Cylons being Tyrol, Anders, Tigh and Tory... with the fourth being Starbuck? Or Roslin? Remember Mrs. President had a brief episode of "brain freeze" just prior to the power shutdown. That, plus the visions that were previously attributed to the chamalla tea (where can I get some of that, BTW?) would make a case for her being the fifth, right?

I'm going to browse the lyrics for All Along The Watchtower now... A man has to find something to do until 2008, so don't judge me!

Anonymous said...

My money is firmly on the fact that if the 4/5ths are indeed Cylons they are a sort of Meta-Cylon well beyond the skinjobs.

It reminds me a lot of the Elder Race business in Babylon 5, actually. They are the literal ghost in the machine in that they have found a way to reconcile the two warring factions .

SJ said...

Xena's (Number 3?) last words to the Final Five where: "I'm really, really sorry".

Who could she be saying it to? She had no connection to Anders, Tory or Chief, so it could be Tigh...she probably knows about him being tortured on New Caprica.

The most interesting aspect is that the 7 (now 6) skinjobs don't know who the final five are.

velvetcannibal said...

You know, there's this short novel I've loved forever, (even though the thing itself isn't that great) and the concepts are very much like what you're talking about. If we are the cylons, I mean. The Starlight Crystal. It's by Christopher Pike, of all people. Just the idea of there being a chosen woman who leads everyone and shapes the future so everything that has happened before will happen again. The similarities are striking. I'm explaining badly, but if you've read it you'll know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

This may also explain one of the things that's always bugged me about the show: They're supposed to be in this faraway galaxy and Earth is just a legend, but they wear suits and ties, and drink whiskey, and have old-timey radios, and have all these English-language idioms, and all the other crap. Which can be jarring at times. But it makes sense if they're descended from us, right? This is all set in the far future, and the colonies are a diaspora of humankind?

Because there's no way Moore is going to pull a Galactica 1980 on us. I give him more credit than that.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can recall, the people that left for Earth a long long time ago (in BSG time) was the thirteenth tribe. We may share the same ancestors, but they are not our descendants.

Anonymous said...

Then how the heck do they know our songs?

Anonymous said...

I never for a minute believed Starbuck was definitely dead (curses, I neglected to put money on this) -- it's straight out of the old Star Trek book that if you don't see a body, you're totally not dead.

(Also, there was a line in that episode about "I'm going to show you what's between life and death" which also completely convinced me that Kara's the fifth Cylon, with Xena's traveling between life and death and so on and so forth.)

Lee on the stand suddenly turned into an orator. Good for him.

Anonymous said...

I thought the show was awesome tonight.

The everyone Cylon theory is appealing since I havent quite figured out while in present day Eart I can read details of Greek Civilization 2000 years ago. But the "Colonials" even though in the space age have to resort the "scriptures" for something I thing is isn the same time frame.

Other thoughts

(1) I hope to God these are Cylons. If not I will be dissapointed because the acting was so good in that scene. THey knew to a moral certainty.

(2) Why are we assuming this the Cylon fleet that has been tracking them. Could it be another? Could itha ce a bunch of Chiefs, Tighs, etc racing around

(3)I think Cavil knows more about what I think is the resistance and the "5" than he is letting on. IS that why he prob led the movement to box the 3's. BEcause she knew

(4) we really have no clue as to Cylon Development do we? I mean people could have been wotking on this far sooner and Tigh might have been to first to "evolve as they say

(5) What really happened on Korbal. Were the Cylons developed there early on and maybe this caused the exodous? Are the resistance Cylons and perhaps their Human friends already on Earth


Michael said...

I had figured that D'Anna's apology to one of the Final Five was Tigh, as his torture was the only thing I can remember that she (as a Cylon) would have had to apologize for.

On the other hand, while I had heard the rumor about Chief, Tigh, Sam, and Tori going to be Cylons because only they could hear the music, the same rumor had said that Baltar was going to be acquitted when Gaeta admitted on the stand that he was a Cylon and he was really running the show, not Baltar. So that rumor had Gaeta as the fifth, but that part was obviously wrong.

In the opera scene with Six, Boomer, and Hera, wasn't that Baltar with them? Or maybe it was just Six's hallucination of him.

Anonymous said...

Great final! More!

I've read alot of comments on other boards (sorry! :0) and I just can't help but think...

Looking back at the previous BSG episodes in the 70's - surely the "Ships of Light" have to come into it at some point?

There's so much room to move in the story without contradicting the BSG universe, have the writers said they'd be true to the story or unique in their own way?

The ships of light are a plausible addition to the current BSG series..

Maybe Kara has come back in this way, the4 "suspected" cylons - because I don't know about you, but I thought, what? how do they come to that conclusion?? Boomers switch was more obvious, this is just, OMG we're in the same room, we must be Cylons... mmkay..

Once again, as with Kara's susposed death, it's easy to assume that what is presented is the truth..

The hardest part is looking for the cues which link to the future truth that actually happens..

Whatever the answer, I hope Tigh isn't a Cylon, that bastard is too good to be a Cylon..!

Eric said...

If we're looking for parallels with the song (and I am, at least) then Kara's not alone out there.

"Two riders were approaching. The wind began to howl..."

So is the second rider Kara's ghost Heavy Raider? (Scar?) "The wind began to howl" certainly fits in with the Maelstrom that Kara disappeared into.

Or are we looking for The Question and Nite Owl?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the writers even know who the fifth Cylon is or if they are waiting to do a big reveal.

At this point, I think the ONLY satisfying conclusion would be the "we are all cylons" or "we are mostly cylons" idea that has been discussed. Otherwise, I think the all the episodes prior to last night are tained in some way, as you know they didn't envision Tigh or the Chief as Cylons from the beginning of the series.

Anonymous said...

I think RDM has turned this into the X-Files. It has such potential if he kept the plot lines more linear, but now he has twisted things up so much, that its almost impossible to make sense of whats happen in the past and the present. If you watch a show for 4 years and the creators just toss out half of the rules, whats the frakkin point?


Eric said...

Finally it's obvious- the Final Cylon is John Locke!

Anonymous said...

Eric, you are so wrong. The final cylon is Linderman.

Anonymous said...

Overall, it was good, but also weak in places. For example, I agree with Alan that Lee's speech should NOT have been from the witness stand. It really should have been the closing argument. It was distracting to sit through it and think, "This isn't how a court case goes. Yes, it's space, but still..." And the minute Lee saw the bogey on Dradis I knew that'd be Starbuck.

Also, I really want to strangle the marketing people. By telling us that someone would be a Cylon and someone would find Earth, the big surprises actually weren't. As the episode progressed, I couldn't help but go through the checklist: Tigh's a Cylon, check. There's only a minute left, so someone needs to find Earth... Oh, there's Starbuck. She found Earth. Check.

I was annoyed at the use of All Along the Watchtower. It took me out of the Galactica universe, and I find a rock song tie back to real world Earth really cheesy. I liked the version musically, but dramatically it annoyed me. And watching the vipers fly out while the song rocked in the soundtrack reminded me of how Homicide morphed from artistically using songs well to being more like, "We need to do a musical montage in EVERY EP!"

And there was a moment in the show where it borderd on self-parody. But I can't remember which scene.... Darn you, aging process!

The good parts: Well, the show won't quite be the same, will it? It looks like, plotting wise, they have a hell of a third act planned for the show.

Laura calling Adama to have him yell at her to get out of bed was very cute and well done.

Loved how quickly Baltar reverted to his old, arrogant, self-centered pre-trial self, and Lee and Romo ditched him.

The discovery scene for the final four was well done - they all looked appropriately freaked out. And Michael Hogan did a hell of an acting job.

And, of course, Starbuck's return. And she seemed pretty blissed out, so I gotta wonder if it's really, really her? Or if she's just found inner peace....

Now all that's left: Why were four of the five separated from the rest of the Cylons? Has Tigh always been a Cylon, or was he a human who got replaced by one? What's with the freaky religious group and Baltar? Why did the power go out? Part of a Cylon attack plan, or a religious event thingy? Is Roslin really a Cylon, too, or did Hera's blood affect her to share Cylon visions? And what significance, if any, is there that there are actually TWO Cylon-Human hybrids, beyond the possibility that Hera can have play dates with Nick?

And, as to why Nicky isn't having the same health problems as Hera: Maybe because he's younger and the health problems don't kick in until later?

Anonymous said...

Are you sure? I thought it was McDreamy

Alan Sepinwall said...

Laura calling Adama to have him yell at her to get out of bed was very cute and well done.

Thanks for reminding me of this bit, Niffer. In an episode with such Big! Revelations! at the end, it's easy to forget about little moments of brilliance like this.

Anonymous said...


I did a song analysis this morning. From where I sit, the lyrics are a bit more complicated and have a larger span of focus than just the immediate events of that episode.

Of course I could be wrong, but heck, what else am I gonna do with all those English Lit classes?

Anonymous said...

Can't Hendrix be the fifth Cylon?

Though Locke is a pretty good choice as well.

I just hope Kara hasn't found a *hatch* that leads to earth. ughghhghg.

How about "butterfingers"! My favorite line of the ep.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Rob Owen from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an interview with Ron Moore that discusses the events of the finale. Among other things, Moore is talking like these four are definitely Cylons -- but then, he's the same guy who lied to us (or did he?) about Starbuck being dead, so he could just be a genius fabulist.

Anonymous said...

Another thought....

In the revealation scene, as Anders and Tigh were going through the list of things they had suffered at the hands of the Cylons, I wondered if the Cylons, or whoever is behind the Grand Plan, set them up to suffer, and how that was similar to what Starbuck's mom did to her. Before you can see the light/find your destiny, you have to go through
Total Hell.

Anonymous said...

I know the promos said the final five would be revealed and all that, but let me just go way off the reservation here: Might Tigh, Chief, Sam and Tori be descendants of the 13th colony?

There are holes in this theory, of course. But given that they were all hearing an Earth-original song as they approached the nebula, which was clearly having an effect on the fleet's systems (flickering lights as Adama was shaving and whatnot), there could be some kind of beacon deal in the nebula somewhere that the 13ers could hear.

Or, it could mean that the folks who fled to Earth were actually skinjobs, and there's more to Cylon history than we know, as Alan has laid out. That, at least, was my immediate thought -- Tigh et al could only assume they're Cylons because that's the only explanation that's within their realm of understanding. The 13th colony stuff is so removed from their experience that it wouldn't ever occur to them.

And, was it me, or did Kara's Viper look a little, I dunno, off? Sort of like the ones in the '70s series? (I've never paid attention to whether there are different models of Vipers within the fleet, and if so, never mind.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

And, was it me, or did Kara's Viper look a little, I dunno, off? Sort of like the ones in the '70s series? (I've never paid attention to whether there are different models of Vipers within the fleet, and if so, never mind.)

That's Kara's usual Viper. As a nod to the original series, the miniseries established the old '70s design as a model that had been put into mothballs, and would be part of Galactica's transformation into a museum. When the Cylons attacked, they destroyed all of the contemporary Vipers (except Lee's), and Adama had Starbuck and Tyrol dust off the old classics, since they didn't have wi-fi connections that the Cylons could hack. There are some other Lee-style Vipers in the fleet now, but they're all from Pegasus, I believe.

Anonymous said...

I really wouldnt tread too much into the song and how it relates to Earth.

I mena the Colonials engae in boxing, smoke, get cancer, go to bars, appears that despite being in the space age prob just past the 8 track 30 years ago, etc

I think again this is a great episode and it appears these are really Cylons but maybe different.

Anonymous said...

I think we're in "The Cylons killed Laura Palmer" territory now.

If we're supposed to literally believe that these four heard the words of "All Along the Watchtower", and understood this entire society speaking English? Or did they hear a translation of AATW? Or should I just never think about that? (A commenter as Jim Henley's believes that it's simply that they're picking up radio broadcasts from Earth. Why they only get the one song, I don't know.) Or they only heard the music, but they somehow know the words. Which are probably thus not actually in English, but in "Colonial". That's...semi-ok.

Why is Gina still wearing that cocktail dress, as a military prisoner?

[Alan -- for posterity, I think you want to revise this sentence from your review -- you have two Tighs and no Tyrell:

If it was just Anders, Tigh and Tory, I would accept it almost unquestioningly, but Tigh complicates things.]

Filipe Furtado said...

I agree on Lee. It should have being the closing statement, but Bamber did a great job selling the speech. Too bad that they disn'g gave the producers some 15 extra minutes like last season, there were still a cople of rushed things on the trial. Lampkin should have questioned Gaeta, at least he had to stabilsh that the guy tried to kill Baltar a few days ago (also they could have bring Six on stage to testify that baltar sign the death warrant with gun over his head). Anyway, Gaeta's perjury was pretty much a meabns to a double end (to put Lee on the stand and to give a concrete proof that Lee was right about the trial). And speaking of weird things how the hell were Helo acting as XO, when he was made the new CAG a couple of episodes ago?

D'Anna could have being talking to Anders. She almost kill him in Season 2's Downloaded. It's curious that no one has mention this yet, but in Eye of the Jupiter it was stablished that the temple were the final five were had different meaning for both humans and cylons. Maybe the final five also have a function to humans and another to the cylons and that's the reason why they are so different. And yes, Michael Hogan deserves an Emmy.

I'm really glad that Callie is married to a Cylon. She deserves it. And Roslin hatred of Baltar has get to such heights, that I'm hoping she's the final cylon. As it stands I guess, it's 50/50 between her and Starbuck.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Why is Gina still wearing that cocktail dress, as a military prisoner?

Because clothes, like everything else in the fleet, are allegedly in short supply. Plus, if they put her in fatigues, we might start confusing her with Gina? I dunno.

Alan -- for posterity, I think you want to revise this sentence from your review -- you have two Tighs and no Tyrell:

So fixed. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Plus, if they put her in fatigues, we might start confusing her with Gina?

Ooh, burn! One loses track.

Anonymous said...

D'Anna might have had some regrets about what they did to Kara, too.

"I wonder if the writers even know who the fifth Cylon is or if they are waiting to do a big reveal."

See: Last 60 seconds.

"I liked the version musically, but dramatically it annoyed me."

I thought it was amazing. The unreality of it, as the four of them are staggering through the ship, not really knowing what they're doing or why... It gives me chills just thinking about it.

"is this entire society speaking English?"

Yeah. Because they're us, in the future. And all they've got to remember us is myth and legend. That's my theory, anyway. It would explain all the Earth-like clothes and idioms and the rest of it, too.

Anonymous said...

That was not the Hendrix version of the song, though, was it? It was a remake? If so, by whom?

Alan Sepinwall said...

"Galactica" composer Bear McCreary on the "All Along the Watchtower" backstory.

Jason said...

One question people aren't asking is, WHY did the "final five" switch get flipped?

I assume this is something bigger than the Cylons, something that has to do with what happened to Kara and with their presence at the nebula, which is the next signpost on the way to Earth.

But if, after all those years, these four characters had their "switches flipped," there's got to be a really good reason.

Loved the last shot that definitively tied everyone to Earth, for real, too.

K J Gillenwater said...

Jim Treacher,

I've always been of the belief that the Galactica folk are us in the past. They believe in Greek-type gods...which I think they bring to a pre-industrial earth. The Cylons are always talking about the one God--which makes me think Christianity has not yet hit earth.

If this "has all happened before and will happen again," maybe we can pull from that that the 'lost tribe of Israel' thing correlates directly with the Bible on earth. There has been a persecuted minority who rises up and triumphs in the end with the help of God. And this will repeat itself on earth????

Plus, I find it odd that no one has mentioned there are 12 cylons models, just like the 12 apostles. (maybe it has been mentioned here or somewhere else...just not recently...)

I don't know...there's all these pieces, but my brain just can't seem to pull them altogether in a cohesive story....

I just don't see Galactica arriving at a modern earth. That would be too bizarre and too jarring. Easier for them to transition into a pre-industrial society without being suspected. If it were today, we would detect their arrival in no time....

Anonymous said...

Yet another thought:

Remember when D'Anna went to the human oracle on New Caprica, and the oracle began spouting stuff not just about the human gods, but the Cylon god as well, indicating that the two religions were linked?

Well, maybe Roslin is sharing visions with Six and Athena not because she's the fifth cylon, but because she's having religious visions again, only now she's having visions connecting the human religion and the Cylon religion, which would kinda make sense because they're near the nebula and freaky things are happening.

Alan Sepinwall said...

A co-worker pointed this out to me: Season 3 gag reel, and around the 2:30 mark, Katee Sackhoff gives an interview that suggests (perhaps jokingly, perhaps not; you'll understand by the context) that Kara's supposed to be the Fifth of the Final Five.

John said...

Kristin, I go back and forth about whether they're us in the past or us in the future, but I lean strongly toward their being us in the future. I think that if they reached Earth with enough of a population to enduringly establish the pantheon of Greek gods, etc., then they would have retained enough technological knowledge to establish a much more advanced civilization than the Greeks were. It's hard to believe everyone would somehow forget their knowledge of faster-than-light travel and all the rest. I imagine the ragtag fugitive fleet arriving instead at an Earth far enough removed from our current ongoing ecological disaster that it's again somewhat livable, perhaps populated by a lingering band of humans to whom the long-lost visitors from space will seem as fearsome as the Cylons.

As for this episode: Whoa. Well done and mind-blowing. And Alan, thanks for the link to Bear's fascinating post on the music.

Anonymous said...

Well, McCreary's blog entry blows a big hole in the "future" theory. Dangit!

Anonymous said...

And I'm with John on Earth being barely livable and we're all gonna die. You know, nobody's ever looked into how much of global warming is caused by Cylon infiltration...

Jason said...

Clearly the cylon god / human gods thing, the "final five" versus the mythological human five, Laura's visions and the visions of the two Cylons... these all suggest some deep links between humans and Cylons. Given how much weight has been given since the beginning to the birth of a human-Cylon hybrid baby, I have to assume that the show's third act really is going to be about the unification of the Humans and Cylons.

The details of the revelations are still kicking around Ron Moore's head, but I would assume that the circumstances of the Final Five have to do with attitudes about merging Cylons with humanity. Remember, the Final Five are basically Cylon renegades. It's hard to see the whole picture (because they don't want us to!) but clearly the religious issues on both sides and the quest for combining human and Cylons are at the core of the show and presumably the Cylons' "plan."

Anonymous said...

anyone want to bet Saul is Number One?

Anonymous said...

If we're cataloguing the Watchtower lines, I think Anders was the first, with "No reason to get excited" (after being called away from his discussion with the Chief), right?

I'm leaning toward the theory that the final five actually predate the centurions by a long time, and that humans and cyclons are much more closely intertwined than we've been led to believe. The endgame here has to be some sort of rapprochment, and the "unification" theory lends itself to that outcome (as well as to the show's spiritual concerns).

R.A. Porter said...

I say kudos to Ron Moore for learning from Star Trek's mistakes. Kara dies: Katee's pulled from the credits. Picard is assimilated: Stewart's still in the credits. Had Ron Moore been running Trek back then, we all might have actually believed that Picard was gone to the Borg forever.

Add to that Mr. and Mrs. Ron flat-out lying on the podcast and the "death " and return of Starbuck played out beautifully.

As much as I liked the version of Watchtower, I thought it was far cooler when there were just bits of lyrics floating about. Right up until Tigh's "...said the joker to the thief" it might have gone unnoticed - I know I hadn't put the pieces together yet - and been that much more interesting as a reveal next season. Still, the original theme that McCreary melded with Watchtower was haunting and kept the mystery going for a good long while.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the gag reel clip of Katee Sackhoff saying, "I'm a Cylon, and I die" comes from a video interview that posted last summer. I remember laughing about it back then. Since Ron Moore has said today that they didn't decide on the five Cylons' identities until recently and that Kara's "death" was essentially a spur of the moment decision, I doubt the video meant anything more than Sackhoff joking around.

I'm still trying to process all that happened, though I really liked your commentary. I liked the use of "All Along the Watchtower" -- until the cheesy cover version kicked in at the end, which ruined the effect. The acting was stellar throughout, playing up that growing sense of dread.

I also seem to be the only one who is convinced Kara is NOT a Cylon. Having her be one along with the others feels way too convenient for me (they all just happened to be on the Galactica at the time?) Gender odds would suggest the last one is a woman -- we currently have 7 men and 4 women -- but although Roslin is the most likely candidate, that doesn't feel right either. I'd almost rather this last one be a completely new character, without all the baggage and need for retroactive continuity.

Eh, whatever. I'm ridiculously easy to please, and Kara's return is all I care about!

alex eben meyer said...

my day has been ruined (wonderfully) reading the various reactions to the season finale. of course now i will have to go and draw all the characters for bsg. until then, this will have to do...

Jason said...

Okay, so here's my theory.

The "final five" are not just individuals that happen to be in key places in Galactica's hierarchy. That's way too coincidental. Let's play the whole Cylon-Human hybrid thing out to its fullest: in ancient times the "final five" gave up their original nature and became human -- individual, mortal beings. They became the historical "five" from the human side of things at this point. All of their descendents are essentially hybrids of humanity and the final five.

At the chosen time, when humans reach the nebula on the way to Earth, two things happen. First off, there needs to be a signpost to carry them on to Earth. That's Kara. Secondly, it's the signal for the descendents of the Final Five -- one representative from each of the five has their "switch flipped," because at this point in the journey it's somehow important for them to remember the truth about the five, and the importance of the integration of the two sides of the whole, the cylon and the human.

I'm not sure how the 40-year time scale of the Cylon Wars and the ancient temples fit together; Perhaps the first Cylons were originally created by the humans on Kobol, and led to the abandonment of that world. The new colonies eventually built new Cylons ("this has all happened before") but the original cylons were already out there.

My best shot.

Anonymous said...

I think the final five cylons were created by the previous group of humans: "This has happened before and it will happen again"
This group of humans and cylons will eventually be gods to the next group and lead them to earth again. Its like a formula or something.

Anonymous said...

Couple things I noticed only on 2nd viewing (thanks, iTunes!):

The lyrics to "All Along the Watchtower" concern two main characters, one of whom is a thief. Who was introduced in the last three episodes? Lampkin -- who's chief characteristic, aside from the shades, is ....he's one hell of a thief. It gets pointed ou at least once in each of the last three episodes.

(And ain't Baltar a "joker"? )

Also: During Lee's final speech on the stand, at one point he says something in defense of Baltar, and the crowd gets loud -- and we pan to Faux Reporter, the one with the sick kid she wanted Baltar to bless. She appears to be shouting *with* the crowd, like she's a Baltar-hater.

A second later that girl shares a lingering, intense look with ... Laura Roslin. Who just had a glimpse of Baltar clutching Hera in the shared vision/dream with Six and Athena in the Opera House....

What does Faux Reporter say to Baltar when she rescues him? "I'm taking you to your new life"? How many different things could *that* mean....

What if Ms. Reporter isn't the religious crazy she seems, but Roslin's operative? Actually -- what if she's both? Roslin's a religious crazy herself.

Finally: That vision of Earth at the end? Okay, it's nitpicking, but I paused it: Califorinia's where it is today, so is Baja California, Florida. Africa is invisible on the other side of the Atlantic. Take plate techtonics into consideration and at least one of those things would not be true many years into the past -- or the future --

dark tyler said...

The 2-parter finale should have been shown as just that, during the same night, so as not all surprises would be blown like that. From last week's cliffhanger it was pretty obvious Tory, Tigh and Anders were Cylons, the outcome of the trial was inevitable, and Kara's return with the news of her finding the Earth was something many people (even on this blog, three weeks ago) had predicted.

All these came as no surprises IMO, but the fact that 4 of the final 5 Cylons are placed so high in the fleet's chain of command (and the realization of it, as both Tory and Tigh took their places) was shocking enough for me. Can't wait to find out what the hell is the Cylon's endgame.

Plus, the Earth right around the corner? Wow. Just... wow. Now all I want is for the show to end in Season 4. It's obviously drawing to its close, and we don't want to enter Twin Peaks/Lost/X-Files territory, now do we?

Anonymous said...

Roslin is convinced that she is the person who will die/lead the colonials to Earth. Kara has already "died" and it now appears that she will be the one to lead the colonials to Earth. Maybe the president is sadly mistaken.

I don't believe that Roslin or Kara would be cylons -- how about dead Ellen, Saul's wife. Maybe she is about to return?

BlueNight said...

Bad idea for Season 4: merge with Stargate.

Have the Terran/Asgard ships meet Battlestar in orbit. With the superior crisis adaption capability of the US Air Force (who've already killed at least one dark god), the Cylons should be no problem. Plus, Richard Dean Anderson's light-hearted sense of humor would make the mood less oppressive around the bridge of the Galactica.

Unknown said...

Re: Lampa not cross-examining Gaeta...

He made the right call in not crossing Gaeta. It was Gaeta's word against Baltar's, and you could tell that Gaeta was more than ready to counter any argument that Lampa would have brought forward. It wouldn't have done any good to try and break Felix; it MAY have been done but the payoff wasn't worth the work.

Rizzle said...

I wanted to pick up on the theme of the nebula interfering with the fleet's systems. I think it's even more. The name of the episodes is "Crossroads." I saw in an interview the Moore mentioned the physical location was important in Anders, Tigh, Chief, and Tory having their switches flipped. Tigh mentioned that the music was "in the ship."
I think the ship is acting as some kind of antenna and the nebula is the source of the strange signal.
This really meshes with the Cylon's history going further back than we know. As the fleet jumped closer and closer to the nebula, the music got clearer and clearer, as if some trace of Man's and Cylon's origins was emanating from the nebula.

Anonymous said...

Now, why are we assuming that Cylons can not replace a human at infancy? I mean if there is no way to test medically the difference btween human and cylon - one could replace say anders when he was 2yo or maybe Starbuck was given to her mother?
And maybe these 5 are good cylons?
and didn't Starbuck in the original series died at was resurrected?

Anonymous said...

The 12 models harken more to the 12 tribes of Israel, to which Jesus' 12 apostles were a nod. Some numbers emerged as special in the bible, as well as other ancient texts - 7, 40, 12. In that view, who is Jacob, whose 12 sons named the tribes? Is Adama not Adam, but Abraham? He had two sons, perhaps favoring the younger one. With his long hair, Baltar is looking Jesus-ish, but he reminds me more of David - low born, smart, determined not to lose what he's gained, faithful in his way.

Anonymous said...

I just watched the episode and had to post: to answer some other posters
Hera was ill with some common human childhood illness that the Cylons couldn't cure, but Dr. C could. So Nicky getting sick with the same thing would be irrelevant.

Cylon and the 12 colonies of Kobol (human religion) has always been interlinked: temples and markers throughout the series are the same maybe interpreted differently.

The revealled four cyclons are different than the other 7 cyclon models. So the rules we think we know about cylons don't necessarily apply. How and to what purpose? I still need to ponder that.

Anonymous said...

What an epsiode - I'm in australia and acquired the episode. I actually hadn't realised it was the final of the season until afterwards when I was thinking - Man that was one of the best.

No matter what the outcome is in Season 4 the amount of possible twists are infinite - So I say we stop trying to guess whats going to happen and sit back and watch pure genius at work

Anonymous said...

On the Cylons aging issue, who ever said that the cylon organic bodies never aged and got old? It seems obvious that they would, such that if Tigh were a younger looking cylon 40 years ago, he'd look 40 years older now. The WAY they would always look the same if they so desired, would be to download into a new body - kind of a fountain of youth. Make sense?

Anonymous said...

I kinda figured Tigh was a Cylon. In the episode where they were torturing Baltar with that drug and he had a vision of the final five, one of them had an eyepatch on the same eye as Tigh does.

Anonymous said...

How did a cylon father a child? Or is it only hard to be a cylon mother to a half-human child?

Anonymous said...

this could be a Matrix kind of deal with an Architect driving this whole thing.
Or better yet there could be generations of Cylons doing this over and over. like they say "this has happened before"

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the orignal BSG series from the 1970's where Apollo and Starbuck were in an observation gallery looking for signs of Earth, but left just before the computer screen displayed a transmission of the first man from Earth on the Moon? That was the summer if 1967, which is also the year All Along the Watchtower was released. Coincidence? We'll see.

Anonymous said...

This might sound like a stretch but this 'song' they're all hearing could be some kind of symptom even of a sexually transmitted disease.

The chief was involved with a Cylon
Tigh's wife slept with a Cylon
And Tara and Anders were sleeping together when Anders used to be with Kara (who was not only alone with Leoben but was interfered with on Caprica)

On a side note... am I the only one who thought the plot was fine but the directing of this episode was shite?

Anonymous said...

Late to this having only just seen the episode. Adama is the 5th Cylon. He states "I Know" to Tigh when he Tigh tells him of the music in the ship and in an earlier episode 'secrets and lies' I *think* a cylon discovered in the fleet and executed wispers to Roslin "Adama's a Cylon"

Anonymous said...

I was just re-watching Kara's death scene... and I put it in slo-mo. There is a big flash in her cockpit (electronics going or something else?) they cut to the outside where you see her in the cockpit, move to the front and flames start... then back along the side, showing the cockpit again... AND NO ONE IS THERE! Then they zoom out and blow it up. I think she got out somehow.... and we will find out in the next season.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone stuck on Tigh and the other three being Cylons?

Is it possible that they are in fact the five priests who worshiped "The one whose name cannot be spoken," mentioned in the scrolls?

Afterall, both Cylons and Humans believe in a repeating history.

Also, the scrolls mention a dying leader who will lead the fleet to Earth. Do I need to remind you guys that Cylons don't die? The theory that any of these people are Cylons is completely rediculous and I hope the writers do not reduce themselves to such sophomoric devices.

Anonymous said...

...continued from previous...

Also, that would explain why Number 3 apologized to one of the Five Priests who she thought was one of the Final Five, namely Tigh (for removing his eye). Keep in mind, Three goes blind after recovering from her visit.

The temple was built before Cylons existed; that eliminates the possibilty that what Three was seeing in the Temple was the Final Five.

I've got more to post, but time does not permit. Think guys...