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Battlestar Galactica: Sometimes a Great Notion

Starbuck: "If that's me lying there, then what am I? What am I?"

Cheese and crackers. Can you say intense?

This episode was like a string of powerful negative emotions, one after another, as virtually everyone hit bottom. Confusion, bitter disappointment, intense grief, anger, despair. Dee's suicide was so powerful and unexpected that I actually shrieked out loud. The Adama-Tigh scene with the booze and the guns was sort of amazing. Even Roslin gave up. She burned the Pythian Prophecy, her Bible, and stopped getting her diloxin treatments. The foxes choosing to drown in the river because they were so tired.

Ellen is the final Cylon? Or was? She used to be my favorite possible Cylon candidate, right up until she died. It explains why only four of them were activated. She's an older woman, too, which fits my more recent demographic theory (which is why I was sure it was Roslin). Tigh and Ellen were a matched pair in more ways than one.

But if it really was Ellen, then what happened to Starbuck? When she found her own dead body on "Earth," still strapped into her old viper, I immediately concluded that Starbuck was the final Cylon. If she isn't, how was she duplicated? Wasn't she downloaded?

And what planet did they actually land on? It wasn't our Earth, unless it was way far in the future. The Final Four remembered living on that planet, and Ellen, as she was dying in the past, told Tigh they would be born again together. But in Tyrol's vision, the people behind him in the crowd were unrecognizable. Other Cylon models? Cylon individuals created through sexual reproduction, like Hera and Nick? That planet and its secrets were fascinating. Like D'Anna, I rather wanted them to stay – but not to just lie down and die. To keep touching the broken ruins and the ocean and digging for artifacts so that they could learn more about the thirteenth tribe.

But Lee was right that it was time to move on and find a planet the colonials can actually live on. Hopefully before anyone else commits suicide.

Bits and pieces:

— No credit sequence, but the cast was the same. The opening saga sell was nearly the same; they exchanged "seven are known, four live in secret" with "seven are known, four live in the fleet." "Eleven are known" probably lacked drama. What will it be next week?

— Were the ruins they were exploring the famous temple they keep talking about? I was totally creeped out by Tyrol recognizing his own blast shadow.

— Leoben just followed Starbuck around. His obsession with her used to be threatening, and now it's endearing. He looked completely freaked when she found her own body. Maybe he's not obsessed any more.

— Dee pretty much represented all of the colonials. She was a symbol of the depth of their despair.

— Hoshi got Dee's job.

— "Frak Earth."

— This week's survivor count: 39,651, with Dee's death making it 39,650. The last number we got was 39,665, and I only counted one death in "Revelations," the hostage that D'Anna tossed out the airlock. Who else died? What did I miss? I'm also wondering if the number includes Cylons. By this time, it should.

Sometimes a Great Notion is the title of a brilliant book by Ken Kesey. My late sister was a fan of his. Kesey is probably best known for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I was going to write about what it meant in relation to this episode, but Jess Lynde did it already and saved me a lot of work.

— Roslin: "Perfect. We traded one nuked civilization for another."

Gripping episode, and really depressing. Battlestar Galactica is back,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Good stuff as usual.

    I also yelped a little bit when Dee popped herself. I imagine there will be a major plotline related to that, because she was just so joyful right before. I totally enjoyed her scenes with Lee, even though I don't like them together.

    My favorite parts had to do with Starbuck and Leoben. After killing him countless times on New Caprica she has, in the last 3 or 4 episodes, accepted him, and the foiling of their relationship with Dee/Lee was amazing. Especially when she pulled her own dog tags and Leoben freaked out. I like them as a couple.

    Something you may have missed, but I thought was important, was that in prior lives (prior? is that right?) on Earth Tory and Sam (I hope I got those names right) were friendly. Possibly a couple.

    I think this episode, even more than the rest of the series, was about relationships. Adama/Laura, Lee/Dee, Leoben/Starbuck, Adama, Tigh, Tigh,Ellen, Tory/Sam, Laura/Religion...etc...

    And the image of the president burning the 'bible' (Pythian prophecies) was amazingly powerful.

    Great, emotional episode. Totally worth the wait.

  2. Hi Billie,

    Only with BSG can you call an episode "really depressing" and it be considered a ringing endorsement.

    Bleak, but brilliant!

  3. Great review, Billie. You hit on several other quotes/moments that really struck me. Especially the Chief's blast shadow and Roslin's quote about trading one nuked civilization for another.

    I was kind of thrown for a loop when Ellen was the final Cylon. I just didn't see that coming. But now that I've had some time to process, I think I'm OK with it. It certainly does add an extra layer to her relationship with Saul (strange that they had the same names in their previous incarnations). More than anything, I'm glad that they got the reveal out of the way so early. Now we can just enjoy finding out what it means and where it takes the story from here.

    Moments before Dee killed herself, I had this feeling that's what was coming. She just seemed too happy when singing and chatting with Gaeta. Too "at peace." It didn't fit with her earlier mindset and I suddenly realized that's where things were headed. Powerful stuff. Gaeta and Seelix trying to help her nearly reduced me to tears, and the scene with Lee and Adama saying goodbye to her was great.

    I, too, wanted them to stay at Earth a little longer so that we could learn more about the Cylon colony. But given the state of affairs on Galactica, I think they definitely need to move on.

    Thanks for the nod on the Ken Kesey material, but David Weddle (co-writer for the episode) deserves the credit. I just quoted his explanation for all to see. Great stuff.

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

  5. Soory, wrong paste in the prvious post. I was sending that link from Jess to a couple of friends and accidentally posted it.

    You really should be required to produce a psychologists note attesting to your mental stability before being allowed to watch this show. Of course, maybe you could take cheer because no matter how badly your life sucked at least you are not a member of the rag-tag fugitive fleet. But talk about emotional blows – one right after another. I was almost rendered catatonic when Dualla shot herself. The one moment of what seemed like happiness punctuated with a bullet to the brain. Ronald Moore is an evil, evil man.
    The list of casualties was long: Roslin, both Adamas, Dualla, Starbuck, Leoban, Tigh, Tyrol, Anders, Tory, the crew of the Galactica, even D’Anna (and me). But what a powerful episode. It brings new meaning to the term “hurts so good”.
    I especially liked the disillusion of Leoban and Roslin. As anyone who has been paying attention to my T:SCC posts, I am not one for religious visions and seeing them implode is always fun. That is not to say that I do not have empathy for the two of them. I have always thought that Leoban was perhaps the most interesting Cylon, at least from the mythology standpoint. He was always so sure about “All this has happened before and will happen again” but I think he fundamentally misunderstood what that really meant. He was at a complete loss about Kara’s body and his freak-out was fascinating (and the shot of Kara burning her own body was just amazing). What can you say about Roslin. In effect, she is following Dee’s lead and committing suicide, just via a longer course. At the end of the episode where she was lying on the floor, clutching the sprout, was heart breaking. Can she come back? I hope so.
    As to the fleet, all we have seen so far is aboard the Galactica. These are the most disciplined group in the fleet and things are just falling apart even there. This is their second major disappointment in the search for a home. First New Caprica, now Earth. Morale throughout the fleet has to be sucking in a major way.
    I am interested to see what they do with Ellen. Kate Vernon is in 7 of the final 9 episodes but in what capacity I do not know. Will she just be haunting Tigh or will she have a corporeal presence (and how could she – she is dead).

  6. Hey Billie,

    Love your reviews.

    The missing #'s in the population figures could be the ones killed by Sharon in the webisodes.

    Keep up the good work.

    I think Ellen is a swerve and Starbuck is a good example of cloning via missing body parts.

  7. What is a swerve? I am unfamiliar with that term.

  8. Wow, another great episode, however bleak. Poor Dee - she just lost all hope. The scene in the morgue with a drunk Adama got to me more than anything else - to see the old man lose hope was disquieting to say the least.
    I hope they stay on Earth a little longer too - I want to learn more about the colony.

  9. Woow, finally comments!
    I think I'm following Baz's path, after so many recommendations I finally pushed play on the miniseries and found a miracle in the BSG world. I'm following the "alphabetti spaghetti" viewing order btw and your reviews Billie, were great pieces of read after the episodes and perfect material to rethink the key moments and motivations. Thank you!

    About the episode: The Tyrol flashback was amazing. I think we'll have a timeloop here. It happend thousands of years before, yet the 5 survived, escaped, found Kobol, the thirteen tribes were born, cylons were created, war, exodus, mission to find earth... Will this be the meaning of "al this have happened before"? Human race destroyes itself on a permanent basis? Creates its own enemy, even tough we are all the same? Interesting.

    Apart from it: How on earth -pun intended- could they identify the cylon origin of the bones in hours? This was the main concern in S1 if I remember that it was hardly doable.


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