Battlestar Galactica: Sometimes a Great Notion

Some thoughts from Jess Lynde ...

There is a great article over on the Chicago Tribune about last night's BSG. I didn't find it spoilery, but read at your own risk, as it does address that final reveal. It is quite lengthy, but includes an interview with Ron Moore and thoughts from the episode's writers and directors. Here's the link:

http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2009/01/final-fifth-cylon-ellen-tigh-battlestar-galactica-dualla-dee-.html

Some good stuff from Ron in the interview, especially regarding the final reveal of the episode. But I think my favorite part of the article is this bit from David Weddle about his inspiration for the title and the theme of the episode:

"The day the staff finished putting the cards up on the board with Ron, and the day before we began writing, I flashed on my favorite American novel, Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey. It is a much underappreciated and towering work. Anyone interested in fine literature and great story telling should read Kesey's masterpiece.

"The book opens with a childish rhyme that enunciates the theme of the book and what to me was the theme of our show. `Sometimes I live in the country. Sometimes I live in the town. Sometimes I get a great notion. To jump in the river and drown.'

"In Kesey's book, the hero---Hank Stamper, an Oregon logger---does constant battle with the river that runs past his home, a river that has claimed the lives of pets and loved ones and comes to symbolize the vast and indifferent power of the universe that both gives life and cruelly snatches it away again. In his notes to himself as he was writing the book, Kesey scribbled something that has become one of the shorthand phrases Brad and I use while writing scripts. Kesey wrote: "Try to make Hank quit." By that he meant: take this strong, heroic character and pile one misfortune on his back after another until he finally falls. What happens in that moment? Does he despair? Does he get up and go on? For me, there is no more defining moment for a character.

"We tried to do this with almost all the characters in this episode: Adama, Laura, Kara, Lee. We ripped everything out from under them then sat back to see what they would do. What were their individual breaking points? And if they did break, would they stay broken or grope toward a recovery?"

***

Interesting stuff. I like the dark place to which they took this episode. Dee's suicide was heartbreaking, but made absolute sense. When you've lost everything and all hope is stripped away, someone is bound to break. Dee was a powerful choice, given that she's always been the quiet, calm center, refusing to give up and providing strength to others. If Dee can't continue, where does that leave everyone else?

There were a number of great scenes and shocking moments in this episode, but I think my favorite scene was when Adama, Laura, and Lee returned to Galactica and faced with all the hopeful faces of the crew, Laura simply couldn't say anything. Powerful stuff. My second favorite scene was when Leoben freaked out after finding Starbuck's body and admitted he was wrong about Earth. Even crazy, faith-driven Leoben doesn't know what to make of Kara. Whoa!

I've got tons of questions about the 13th colony, the timing of its destruction, and the final five. And, of course, what the heck is Kara? I'm looking forward to where it goes from here.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice link Jess. Thanks for posting it. It looks as if Ellen definitely is the final Cylon and that earth is in fact the proper earth. Nice to have these things confirmed....though kind of scary at the same time. I just love the dark turn the series has taken.

Anonymous said...

I saw in the LA Times this morning that Kate Vernon (Ellen) was going to be in 7 of the final 9 episodes. When she was revealed, my first impression was "But she is dead. What is the purpose of having the fifth Cylon be a character who is not going to have a continuing story". Glad I was mistaken. She is obviously the key to the final five (when she told Tigh that everything was set up and that they would be reborn it seems that she was the only one that knew what was afoot). Ron Moore had said that the fifth was not in the final supper picture and D'Anna had said that only four of the final five were in the fleet but people still kept guessing that it was Roslin or Gaeta etc. Glad it was someone unexpected. When Ellen was first on the show, I thought she might be Cylon because she was such a disruptive influence but I no longer thought that was likely after her time on New Caprica. Good choice for the fifth I think.

Dualla - I was totally shocked when she killed herself. I really liked her (mostly in the pre-Apollo phase). For the first time, I was actually rooting for her and Lee to get back together. I think her death was meant to show the profound despair of the humans. Everybody is in complete shock.

I am confused about the time line. The 12 tribes left Earth 3600 years ago? Earth was nuked 2000 years ago. Don't understand how all this ties together. Who nuked Earth? Was it humans? Was the Cylon attack on the twelve colonies revenge? I have no idea what is going on.

Starbuck - yeah, what is she. We are fresh out of Cylons she that can't be one. She really freaked out Leoban - he seemed genuinely scared when they discovered the body. That was amazing. He had always been completely certain of what was to happen (All of this has happened before...).
So the final five were indeed different. Members of the thirteenth tribe - Cylons. Not sure what to do with that.
I loved Laura burning the pythian prophecies. So much for religious visions!

I liked Lee and I usually don't. Screw Earth, screw the thirteenth tribe. Discard all the superstitions and go find a planet to call your own.

All in all, this episode was so dark that it made the previous four seasons seem like light hearted fare. I am almost afraid that the next nine will have trouble living up to this one. It appears Zarek is going to initiate some sort of rebellion. I want more Ellen and Starbuck.