Battlestar Galactica #102: Sometimes a Great Notion

"It's perfect. We traded one nuked civilization for another."
SO SAY WE ALL: Earth's disappointment sends everyone into a turmoil and depression.

REVIEW: When I think of the modern-day Battlestar Galactica, this is the episode that first comes to mind. Dualla's death affected me that much. So let's start there. She's a stand-in for the fleet's reaction to finally getting to Earth only to find it nuked, lifeless, and uninhabitable. Despair takes hold, and for many, it may be the last straw, the last hope extinguished. Other people face that despair, whether it's Roslin burning the Pythia, laying the blame on her shoulders and skipping on her treatments, or Adama creating a situation where Cylon Tigh could shoot him (as a sleeper or out of anger). Even D'Anna's choice to stay on Earth and die among the bones of her ancestors, while not painted as despair, is still an instance of a character giving up. But Dualla's story is more subtle. We return to her often. She finds jacks, children's toys, buried in the radioactive mud of Earth. She babysits Hera and happily bounces her on her knee. She rekindles something with Lee. It seems she's on the road to finding that hope again. But after a great night, wanting to "hold on to that feeling", she kills herself. Even when you know it's coming, it still hurts. (In fact, I thought it happened much closer to the finale, so I was still hoping it wouldn't occur here.) For Dualla, it's never going to get better than this last snatch of happiness. The others are a little obtuse about not knowing her reasons, but they're reacting to the contrast of that smiling last day and its irrevocable end.

Dualla's story is what we remember, but the main thrust of the story, meanwhile, offers a lot of revelations. Based on the remains found on this Earth, the 13th Tribe was Cylon  - so not OUR Earth then - having gone in a different direction than the other 12 for more obvious reasons. Further more, the Final Five were members of this Cylon race, and indeed, standing on the planet, the Four start remembering their lives there thousands of years before. Tyrol finds his Hiroshima shadow on a wall and remembers the nuclear explosions. Anders remembers singing All Along the Watchtower (implying he wrote it on that historical cycle). And eventually, Tigh will remember that Helen was a Cylon too, the last of the Five to be revealed, and her telling him as the world ended, that the moment had been prepared for. This is the first suggestion that the Five had found a way to "download" and would go on to found the humanish Cylon society of the current era. We have a lot of questions, but the answers seem within our grasp. Not so with Kara finding her own body in a crashed Viper and giving herself a Viking funeral. That's a bit of existential angst she'll have to live with still (and that she's keeping secret for now).

As humanity hits rock bottom, it bounces back. A part of me would have liked to see Lee's speech to the Quorum instead of being told about it - cuz I like his spin on things, humanity freed from prophecy, forging its own path - but it is eclipsed by Adama's who, in his darkest hour, refreshed by Tigh's pep talk and perhaps also wanting - needing! - to give Roslin something to live for, returns to C.I.C. and reminds the fleet that the original Colonies of Kobol had worse ships, no clues to follow, and still managed to find not one, but 13 homes. It's a feat that can certainly be replicated. And with that, the show enters its final act. In those moments, Roslin looks at a small plant she picked up on the planet surface and sees its meaning for the first time. From these ashes, they will be reborn. It's a revelation that comes a little too late to touch Dualla, but maybe the rest of humanity can be saved.

CAPRICANADA: As with the previous episode, the beach and also grassland scenes were filmed at Centennial Beach. Kara and Leoben in the marshy woods, that's Beach Grove Park, about five minutes away.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: The fleet's last leg mirrors the voyage the 13 colonies undertook centuries ago.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: There's no opening headcount, but we do see the white board in the president's office and it says 39,651, 14 down from the previous count. A deleted scene would have revealed 14 suicides to account for it. Lee changes that last 1 to a 0, counting Dualla as a 15th death.

VERSIONS: The deleted scenes include Caprica-6 asking Tigh if he found something on the beach, intercut with pictures of him looking at pictures of Helen just before Adama comes to see him, implying the he had a feeling before the actual ending; a different take on Kara and Leoben following the signal; Baltar speaking to his congregation and revealing there have been 14 suicides in the fleet, and will probably be more, the sermon interrupted by Caprica who he welcomes with some ire from the churchgoers - Sharon and Helo invite her to sit with her, and Baltar uses Sharon to prove that we're all the same to God, and in a prayer effectively asking forgiveness of Six (Roslin was listening to this broadcast as she burned her book, in this edit).

REWATCHABILITY: High - Full of revelations and giving the show one last mission, Sometimes a Great Notion also comes with a memorable and heartbreaking sucker punch.

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