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Battlestar Galactica: No Exit

Ellen: "What are you doing?"
Boomer: "Forgiving you."

There was so much information in this episode that I kept saying to the screen, "Slow down! What was that again?" And in fact, this is the revised version of my original review because I missed so much the first two times I watched this episode. The third time was the charm. It was just too frakking complicated.

1. The Five worked together at a research facility; they were descended from the Cylons made by the humans on Kobol. The Five were told the end was coming; Anders said they saw warning signs in the form of people no one else could see. Sounds like Harveys to me.

2. They reinvented resurrection, which had fallen out of use (really? people had given up immortality? I have a hard time believing that), downloaded, and escaped back to the Twelve Colonies. The trip took thousands of years because Einstein was right about that relativity thing.

3. The Temple of Hopes was built by the Thirteenth Tribe three thousand years ago when they left Kobol; they prayed for guidance there, and it led them to Earth. The Five stopped there on the way back but didn't leave that vision for D'Anna; according to Ellen, "God" must have.

4. The Five discovered that the Centurians at the Twelve Colonies believed in one true god, so they thought the cycle would be broken. They stopped the first Cylon war by giving the Centurians what they wanted; they created eight Cylon models – the seven we know, plus one called Daniel, whose copies were destroyed by Cavil. (That explains why the model numbers skip from six to eight. Why more males than females, I wonder?) Daniel was Ellen's favorite. Is the original Daniel still alive? Ellen said the copies were contaminated; nothing was said about the original.

5. Cavil, whom Ellen called John, was made to look like Ellen's father; she treated him like a son who had gone bad. Cavil hates being humanoid with the power of a thousand burning suns. He decided to punish the Five by killing them, downloading them without their original memories, and giving them a front seat to the destruction of the Colonies. (You like humans, huh? See how much you enjoy being one. Moohahahaha.) He was also the one who tortured Tigh, which makes sense now. As does his role as the instigator of the Cylon civil war. Cavil stopped sleeping twenty years ago. Maybe that's the reason he went nuts. I bet the annihilation of the colonies was Cavil's idea, too.

This explains everything, really. And it even makes sense. "All of this has happened before and will happen again." And the parent/child human/cylon thing. Ellen and Cavil are like the flip, twisted side of Roslin and Adama. Dean Stockwell and Kate Vernon deserve gold acting stars for their masterful job in carrying an episode that was nearly all exposition. I never liked the original Ellen. I like this one, though. It's funny how I didn't think she was beautiful before, but now I do.

Michael Trucco did a fabulous acting job in this ep, too. Anders remembered everything – but only because of brain trauma. And now he's brain dead. (When he seized, he looked inhuman. Very creepy.) Let's hope there's a Cylon miracle coming. Maybe Boomer and Ellen should have brought along one of the Simons at gunpoint. Who knew?

Meanwhile back at the fleet, I thought it was so sad that the Galactica was literally falling to pieces from poor workmanship and unexpected stress. I also thought that Adama would re-think his knee-jerk reaction to Cylon technology to fix it, and he did. What choice does he have? Who would defend the fleet with the Galactica gone? The Cylon base ship? The Galactica is the heart of the fleet. She has to stay alive, as much as the humans do.

I loved that Boomer decided to rescue Ellen. It was like a big payoff for her character. I never did understand why she allied with Cavil. Maybe the writers did it for just this reason. It's okay with me.

Bits and pieces:

— Whole new saga sell. "This has all happened before, and it will happen again. The Cylons were created by man. They rebelled. Then they vanished. Forty years later, they came back. They evolved. 50,298 human survivors. Hunted by the cylons. Eleven models are known. One was sacrificed." I loved how they included the old Cylons from the original series (although, yes, the footage was from this series).

— This week's survivor number: 39,556. Forty-seven dead.

— Roslin finally passed her job on to Lee, even though she planned to stay on as a figurehead. It was time. He'll do just fine, and maybe she can have some peace before she dies.

— This week's Most Obvious Symbolism was Ellen offering Boomer an apple. I originally thought of Snow White, but a number of people wrote to me that they saw it more as Eve, and they had a point. There was also Anders' internal damage mimicking Galactica's. And parallel plots about destructive, irrecoverable brain surgery.

— Back on Earth, Tory and Tyrol were in love. Tory Tyrol? You know, that might explain a bit why Tory was so eager to kill Cally. I also liked Boomer mentioning love or something like that and the scene shifting to Tyrol. I wonder if Boomer still loves Tyrol?

— The title of the episode was "No Exit." It's also a famous play by Jean-Paul Sartre that I had to read as an undergrad. The most famous bit from it is that "Hell is other people." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Exit

— Starbuck told an unconscious Anders that she thought she was Cylon number seven. That kind of fits.

— Ellen still likes the booze. Oddly, Tigh has given it up because the smell makes Six nauseous. I'm liking Tigh so much now that he and Six cooing about their baby has become kinda cute.

— If Saul Tigh was resurrected without his memories forty years ago, I assume his new body was a lot younger. Can they do that? I didn't think they could do that.

— Adama was chugging aspirin with his booze. Another hint that he's not well.

— Since Ellen and the other creators reinvented resurrection before, won't they be able to do it again? This has all happened before...

— The comedian who does the PC/Mac commercials played the brain specialist. That was kind of twisted.


Roslin: "It's time I let someone else do the heavy lifting."

Anders: "Whoah. Oh, wow. Everybody's glowing." Including Starbuck. Hallucination? Did it mean something?

Boomer: "He's teaching me to be a better machine. To let go of my human constructs."
Ellen: "What about the swirl? Has he taught you that, yet?"

Cavil: "I don't want to be human. I want to see gamma rays. I want to hear X-rays. I want to smell dark matter."

Anders: "If the Cylons embraced love and mercy, then the cycle of violence could end." So that's the end of the series in a nutshell, right?

Ellen: "You should have brought a tumbril." Nice reference there. A queen being taken to her beheading.

Certainly not as exciting as last week, but it was really nice to get so many answers. Almost too many. Can there be too many?

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


  1. Nice review.

    But Cobal is spelled Kobol, as in "Kobal's Last Gleaming" - the finale to season 1. And the inclusion of the old Cylons from the original series, is actually footage from the fairly recent Battlestar Galactica movie "Razor", but it was nice that they included them for that.

  2. Great Review...
    But I think the Final Five are descendants of the original settlers, not the original settlers from Kobol

  3. Good review, Billie, but I don't think you have Point 1 of the history quite right. The way I understand it, the humans of Kobol created their own version of the Cylons, both toasters and skinjobs. At some point 3,000 years ago, the Cylons (both kinds) left Kobol and went to find their new home, Earth. Along the way, they stopped and built the Temple (later called the Temple of the Five) to seek guidance for their journey, then continued on to find Earth.

    On Earth, the skinjobs began to procreate the traditional way and so ressurrection technology was no longer needed. I'm guessing Cylons began to have a huge diversity in appearance and such, not just a few models. (So Ellen probably did have an actual father, in whose image she created John.)

    Somewhere along the line, our Final Five (who I believe were born later and not among the Cylons that originally left Kobol) began to work together to restore ressurrection technology, because they could see trouble brewing on the horizon (presumably with their metal kin). When the holocaust came, those five downloaded into a ship in orbit and headed for the colonies to warn them about the dangers of treating your metal Cylons badly. But they got there too late.

    I agree with you on Ellen being more likable in her current incarnation. Although, I was beginning to feel a bit sympathetic towards her before Saul poisoned her. I'm also starting to enjoy the Tigh-Six scenes. Their joy about the baby has become infectious, I guess.

    That episode had so much information my mind was fairly blown by the end. The EW reviewer described it like opening the Ark of the Covenant and having your face melt off from the overload of knowledge. I think that is apt. :)

  4. Quick follow-up:

    The Chicago Tribune blogger did a Q&A thing with a couple writers for 'No Exit'. See the link below and click on the top article under Maureen Ryan's stuff.


    I'm only part way through it, but one of the writers mentions the Final Five being on Kobol, so I'm still fuzzy on the history. I think it is hilarious that they just gave this HUGE information dump, which we've been craving, and we still can't suss out exactly what is going on!

  5. Jess already got out what I remembered about the story in regards to point 1.

    Funny you thought of Snow White. I thought it was an Adam/Eve reference. Ellen is Boomer's creator and offered her fruit from the tree of knowledge. She was revealing the truth of things to Boomer. Which is a flipside really to Cavil being the serpent in the garden of Eden. Cavil sabotaged Daniel, he trapped, suffocated and seems to have been instrumental in getting the Cylons to begin the holocaust.
    C-A-V-I-L....Evil, Devil?
    His rebellion at the design of his creator(s) mirrors Lucifer rebelling against God, talking some angels to join him as he thirsts for power.
    Personally IF Moore has given it half as much thought as I just have, I'd be impressed.

  6. I thought this episode was brilliant, but one thing not mentioned by anyone yet:

    If Ellen made John in her father's image than the stuff on New Caprica was just...icky. Memories or not.

    Are we going to see Adama start to fall apart? I would think that the comparison they would want to make would be Adama falling apart (booze/pills) to Galactica falling apart. The man is the ship and the ship is the fleet so the man is the fleet.

  7. I thought I'd figured it out, but now I'm completely confused. Maybe the light will dawn in future episodes. Even if there are only five of them.

  8. Sloth15 I had been completely happy to repress that little bit trivia about the show. Oedipus much?

    This is the chronology as I absorbed it.

    1. The thirteen tribes left Kobal
    2. The thirteenth tribe left to find a different home dubbed Earth.
    3. They stopped to prey at the eye temple thing.
    4. They settled on the planet discovered by Galactica.
    5. They created the Cylons, who rebelled.
    6. The humans left that planet to continue their search for Earth leaving the Cylons alone.
    7. The robotic Cylons started a civil war with the Skinjobs requiring them to create the resurrection ship.
    8. The robotic Cylons destroyed that world, but the final five escaped back to the colonies.
    9. The final five used the perfected resurrection technology as leverage to stop the first Cylon war 50 years ago.
    10. Cavil betrayed the final five and orchestrated the holocaust starting the current chain of events.

  9. My question:
    So when is everyone going to wise up to the 8's? Boomer shoots the admiral, Sharon (pre-Athena) betrays her sisters because she is in love with Helo, Athena shoots Natalie, Boomer first betrays all the other 8's and sides with Cavil and then betrays Cavil to help Ellen escape. Really, anyone in authority that allows any 8 near a weapon is guilty of gross deriliction of duty. They really need to be boxed!
    Well this was the episode I have been waiting for and I was not disappointed. Still some unanswered questions (Hera for one - I mean they besmirched Callie's good (?) name so that Nicky would not be a hybrid so they must be going somewhere with that plot point, what with all the opera house dreams etc) but they delivered on so much of the mythology. Ellen is a cool Cylon, the primary mover and shaker (along with Cavil) of the entire Cylon story since before the apocalypse. I started warming up to her character during the New Caprica episodes but now I find her one of the most interesting characters in the show. I love strong, witty women and she is certainly in that mold. When she was about to be probed by Simon, no whining or begging. Just controlled dignity. Love her.
    I am also really enjoying the Tigh/Caprica 6 interaction. So normal and mundane yet representing one of (what I think) the underlying themes of the show - the difference between humans and Cylons is just not that great, at least when they are not trying to destroy all humans. Tigh and Carica's joy in the simple pleasure of feeling the baby move about is so uplifting on an emotional level and is suprisingly resonant. This show just continues to get it right.

  10. I understood the history the same way Jess Lynde did. They did say in "Sometimes a Great Notion" that all the bones found on Earth were Cylon and that the thirteenth tribe was therefore a Cylon tribe.

    The quote on the Chicago Tribune blog about the Final Five on Kobol seems to me to be a mistake, Ryan Mottesheard probably meant Earth. He said that we saw them on Kobol, and I don't recall ever seeing the actual Kobol on BSG.

  11. Whew!!! I'm glad I'm not the only one confused by the chronology. I'm pretty sure it was deliberately vague in places...just to confuse. Still more to come me thinks.

  12. Ok, I thought I had it straight and then you guys confused me. I'll have to go back and rewatch.

    Maybe it is just because she is no longer a whoring drunk, but I agree with those above, Ellen IS prettier now.

    I've been waiting for a while for them to reveal the extra cylon model. Maybe the 13th is Daniel, maybe not. I'm working on a theory that the 13th used to be a 'Daniel' model, but the model was reprogrammed to be Starbuck. Starbuck is masculine, has a connection to the cylons (resurrection,) and has been shown to be artistic (the constant drawings of the eye.) There is also some real life symmetry there in that Starbuck was a dude in the original series and is now a chick.

    This may be an obvious jump or one way outside the box, I can never tell. Course, they could also reveal a 14th model (13 colonies and one for Kobol) and it wouldn't surprise me.

  13. I'm pretty sure Jess Lynde's chronology is right. The humans made made cylons on Kobol, and those cylons became the the 13th tribe on Earth. The Final Five are just five scientist skinjobs that happened to work together on the resurrection thing.

    It gets a little fuzzy for me after that, though. Why did the final five create the new skinjobs when they got to the 12 colonies? How did they end up living as humans? How did they all just happen to survive the haulocaust?

  14. I revised my review and added stuff as well. Usually, watching something twice is enough; this time, it just wasn't.

  15. I don't get it anymore, I'm really confused...even more after reading all of the above

  16. Haha reading all the comments above (most made before You re-wrote your review Billie) is rather confusing....

    Though I think I agree with your chronology as it's written now. this was a totally confusing info overload, but I loved it. I've been hoping for more chronology of the final 5 and this was perfect,

    Can't wait to see Sauls reaction to Ellen returning home ;)


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