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Battlestar Fodder

Battlestar Galactica: Key Points from "Sometimes a Great Notion"

After hearing several snarky remarks about how dark BSG has become (things like "The new season of Battlestar Galactica: Because last season wasn't morose ENOUGH" - /me rolling eyes), I'd like to start this post with a quote from David Weddle - one of the writers of this episode - because I think it informs the events of the premiere, as well as the rest of the season I'm sure:

"As we began outlining Episode 13, Brad and I felt very strongly that the show should focus almost exclusively on the emotional fall-out from the fleet's discovery that Earth was a radioactive cinder. During the outlining process, the staff - as we always did - kicked around other possibilities. Should the fleet find a ray of hope by the episode's end? Another piece of prophecy in Pythia, a vision, or a clue among the ruins that would send them on another leg of their journey?

Brad and I did not want to do that. We wanted to take the time to examine what happens to people when their dreams are shattered, when everything they held as true turns out to be an illusion. After a blow like that, how do you pick yourself up from the floor and go on? Are you able to pick yourself up at all?

This is perhaps the most universal theme you can explore. For the people of the ragtag fleet, the dream was Earth. For those of us here on Earth, the dream could be many other things. It may be the house you saved all your life for but now can no longer afford to make payments on. The career you fantasized about since high school, went to college to prepare for, finally landed and loved, then lost when your company downsized. The woman or man you met who seemed to be everything you ever wanted to find in a lover, who betrayed your trust or left you or died. The flood waters that swept your entire neighborhood away. The war in a far away land that took your son or daughter or husband or wife. The spot on an X-ray that now wants to eat you alive."

Now that you can see that the show creators aren't just being dark for dark's sake, let's take a look at the key events from this week's incredible, and gut-wrenching, premiere:

- There's apparently no life left on Earth

Near the beginning of the episode, as everyone stumbles around in a daze of agony, Helo reports to Adama that no signs of life have been found on the entire planet, and D'Anna confirms it from the Cylons as well. The destruction is global. From measurements taken, it appears the planet was nuked over 2,000 years ago. I'll get into how this fits into the history of the colonies in just a moment.

- Discoveries about the Thirteenth Tribe

Caprica-6 makes a startling discovery on Earth among the bones they've been digging up - an old-style Centurion mask buried in the dirt. While the Centurion helmet is similar, it's a model she's never seen. Later #6 reveals that more helmets were discovered from 4 other similar sites around the planet, buried with over 250 skeletons that they excavated. Roslin theorizes that the 13th Tribe must have created their own versions of the Centurions, which rebelled against their masters in a very similar manner to the 12 Colonies' history. Baltar also notes that they tested the skeletons as well, which turned out to be humanoid Cylons - this means that the entire 13th Tribe was humanoid Cylon! Producer Ron Moore has since confirmed that these would have been all separate models as various in number as humanity, not just 12 models as we know them today.

I think a little historical context is in order here. From what we've learned so far, we know that in the beginning, all 13 of the tribes lived on Kobol (at least, that's as far back as we've been told). Around 4,000 years ago, The 13th Tribe (now known to be all Cylons), left Kobol - for reasons unknown as of yet - and eventually found and colonized Earth. It is evident that at least some of them returned to Kobol at some undetermined point, since we have evidence of their influence (the Tomb of Athena on Kobol that gives Roslin and the others a starmap to Earth, the flags of the other 12 colonies have Earthly signs of the zodiac, the colonies original names, etc.). As of this episode we now know that while on Earth the 13th Tribe, entirely Cylon, created their own versions of robot Centurions that ended up rising up against them, eventually leading to nuclear holocaust around 2,000 years ago. From the flashbacks of Tyrol, Anders, Tory, and Tigh, it appears that the Final 5 were living on Earth during this time period, since most of their flashbacks involve the moment of nuclear attacks commencing.

Also around 2,000 years ago, the other 12 Tribes - supposedly made up of humans - leave Kobol due to some sort of unnamed calamity (another nuclear fallout possibly? All this has happened before, all this will happen again?). They eventually colonize 12 planets that are in the same star system a good distance away from Kobol. The 12 Colonies produce their own versions of Cylons, the early models of which rebel against their masters, leading to what we know of as the First Cylon War. At the end of this war (around 40 years ago), the Colonial Cylons went off to establish a world of their own. They return 40 years later as humanoid Cylons and nuke the 12 colonies.

Questions remaining from these discoveries:

- Were all of the 13th Tribe - humanoid or Centurion - destroyed in the nuclear attacks on Earth, or did some escape?

- So, are the Final 5 originally from the 13th Tribe? It would seem so, but how do they end up in the 12 Colonies 2,000 years after their deaths, their memories wiped?

- Is there any link between the 13th Tribe Cylons and the Colonial Cylons?

- I also wonder how the 13th Tribe, with their origins on Kobol living amongst the other 12 tribes of humanity, came to be in existence in the first place, but I'm not sure that question will ever be answered since it's ancient history.

- Kara Thrace Finds Herself

In yet another major revelation of this episode, Starbuck finds the waning beacon that has signaled their way to Earth, only to find what appears to be a corpse of herself in a burnt up and destroyed Viper (which also has the same markings of the ship she returned in). For the first time Leoben looks scared of her, and now even he is unsure of himself, not knowing what any of this means. Starbuck ends up burning the corpse, yet keeps the dog tags and wedding ring she found around the corpse's neck. She tells no one of her discovery.

Now our question about Starbuck has turned from "How did she survive her ship's explosion?" to "Why are there two copies of Starbuck?" Is she a surviving member of the 13th Tribe? For some reason that just doesn't feel right. Is she Aurora reincarnate? Is this the fulfillment of The Hybrid's prophecy, that she would lead the fleet to their doom? Only time will tell - I have a feeling they are going to let this one play out unanswered for a little while.

- Dualla Meets Her End

In a more surprising twist than the final Cylon reveal, Dualla offs herself after what is seemingly the beginning of a reunion with Lee. Alas, it is merely the final night out of someone who has been rocked so severely by the discovery of a scorched Earth that she can't bear life any longer, and had already decided in the shuttle flight off the planet that she was going to do it. The testing of character that Weddle mentioned at the beginning of this post has claimed its first victim.

- And Finally...the Last of the Final 5 is Revealed

I've seen quite a few complaints over the interwebs that the reveal of Ellen Tigh as the 5th Cylon was underwhelming. I for one am glad that the producers and writers didn't go for the "AHA! Gotcha!" shocker-type reveal, and instead went with what felt more natural to the storyline. If you think about it, it makes the most sense. And in typical Ron Moore fashion, it is going to add a new layer of complexity to the already fragmented relationships aboard Galactica. Indeed, Ron Moore has since confirmed that Ellen was the one D'Anna was speaking to in the Temple of 5 when she apologized.

So, questions that are born from this reveal:

- Was Ellen in the dark about her nature like the others? It appears so, upon recollection, but we'll not know for sure until the show gives us further back story.

- Did Ellen resurrect after Tigh killed her back on New Caprica?

- Will she be angry with Tigh when she returns?

It is definitely going to be a harrowing ride over the next few weeks, as I'm sure we will witness more of the fallout from our beloved Capricans' shattered dreams. Who will rise to the occasion, pull themselves up by their boot straps, and try to grab onto some hope in this despair? Admiral Adama appears to be on that road after descending into his own pit of darkness. Roslin, after burning what is essentially her Bible, clings to a fragment of plant-life from the barren planet. Who will be shattered, and who will prevail? It will be painful to watch, my friends, but riveting television nonetheless.

Tell us what you thought in the comments!

Posted by Perrin on January 16, 2009 5:56 PM
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After watching this past week's episode, I have to say that I was at first disappointed. A dead woman is the final Cylon, main characters offing themselves, Thrace on her way to madness... I was very upset that everything was turning out so dark and depressing. Then, I gave it some thought, found this post, and I have to say I begin to see how the writers are trying to put us in the shoes of the Colonists, help us to feel hopeless the way the Colonists would feel after discovering Earth.

I have a feeling the 'old style' Cylons met up with the 13th Tribe somewhere out in space after the first Cylon war with the Colonies, possibly had a common goal (to kill their masters) and decided to help each other.

Also, I wonder if Kara doesn't try to go find the Leoben who now knows her secret... not sure how she'd be able to blackmail him into keeping her secret... and kill him. Or is she going to seek out the Hybrid at this point?

And, was there only the one Hub??


-- Posted by: Sharon Murphy at January 20, 2009 1:33 AM

GREAT recap! Thanks!

Question: When Starbuck "blew up" in front of Apollo... didn't she pretty much blow into smithereens? And they weren't anywhere near Earth, right?

Or am I not remembering it correctly.

Or are we supposed to assume that her ship floated round and round and round again and landed on Earth?

-- Posted by: Chad at January 20, 2009 4:10 AM


Thanks for the comments! I'm not sure who Starbuck could turn to at this point. It's evident the Cylons think she's important (they've said so in the past), but I'm not sure any of them really know WHY she's important. My mind keeps going back to "The Farm" where Starbuck is taken into captivity and we overhear Simon telling a #6 that they plan to remove her ovaries, but Starbuck escapes before this can happen. I'm not sure if that scene will be important in the long-run but it keeps coming up in my thoughts.

-- Posted by: Perrin at January 20, 2009 10:51 AM


HEr ship did explode violently, but I don't think we're going to find out what truly happened for a while yet (maybe not even until the finale).

-- Posted by: Perrin at January 20, 2009 10:53 AM

Good recap. I thought it was a very good episode and did not mind the dark tone one bit. Seemed appropriate. As for the Ellen reveal, I guess I'm not bothered by that either, as it just opened the door for more intersting mysteries/questions. Also, it is clear that there are much bigger reveals to come on other topics, like what the frak is Starbuck? Is she a lord of Kobol like you asked in your recap; is she another (13th) Cylon, or is she something else? Are there more cylons than the so-called 12 models? Could Dualla be a cylon? Although she was already bummed, she seemed extra distraught when she looked at the inside of that pendant that she found on the planet. They never showed us what she saw, but could she have saw a picture of herself?

-- Posted by: Hurley at January 20, 2009 5:31 PM

"...witness more of the fallout from our beloved Capricans' shattered dreams."

Dude, they're not just Capricans. They come from all over the 12 Colonies..

-- Posted by: sungoddess at January 22, 2009 9:04 AM


True, I just call them Capricans in general for some reason. Guess I need to switch to Colonials...

-- Posted by: Perrin at January 22, 2009 3:44 PM

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