SCI-FI HD - 16th January 2009 - 10.00pm
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR UK VIEWERS
Depressed yet? Much as we all love BSG for its gritty honesty, the latest episode, picking up from last year's mid-season finale, is perhaps the most depressing yet. Four years to get to Earth only to find it an irradiated landscape of hopelessness is a bit of a bummer but the next 45 minutes or so offers little further comfort, more jaw-dropping revelations and a very sad exit for one of the characters.
Starbuck is deeply troubled about what or who she is.How this affects the family of characters is pretty much what writers Weddle and Thompson are interested in and the journey we go on is rather bleak indeed. As bodies are unearthed and examined we get a tantalising hint that the thirteenth tribe not only created their own Cylon centurions but they were Cylon hybrids too, wiped out 2000 years ago on Earth. Whilst there isn't much time spent examining the reactions from D'Anna, Leoben or Tory, the writers go hell for leather with further revelations. Starbuck and Leoben track the signal the fleet has followed and make a rather shocking discovery. The remains of Starbuck's Viper is scattered across the surface and after further searching they both find the charred remains of Starbuck. What this means is anyone's guess. Leoben is, for once, utterly terrified and Starbuck herself is deeply troubled about what or who she is. It's a hair-raising scene, adding more fuel to the argument that Starbuck is the figure of death one of the Hybrids told her she was.
...burning the book of propheciesBut really the writers were more interested in Dualla. They picked her to demonstrate what happens to an individal in the fleet reacting to and trying to process the fact that their long, bloody journey has brought them to a radioactive cinder. Dee is there right at the top of the episode, devasted and struggling to come to terms with it all. I suspect that most viewers were quite puzzled as to why the writers followed her, then showed her rekindling her relationship with Lee (something I think we all were rooting for as a symbol that life would carry on) and seemingly overcoming her turmoil. Perhaps it was an attempt to hoodwink you into believing she was the final Cylon. She then simply shoots herself in the head after leaving Lee. It's upsetting (Dee's been there since the pilot episode) and seems pointless. But it isn't. It is an honest reaction from someone who sees all hope crushed into pieces. Her last moments with Lee were simply something for her to cherish before pulling the trigger. Her suicide is the central act around which all the other characters spiral into hopelessness. Adama confronts Tigh and attempts to get the recently revealed Cylon to shoot him (a quite stunning scene between Eddie Olmos and Michael Hogan) and Roslin, the ever excellent Mary McDonnell with nylon wig still in place, retreats into a child like denial, shrinking with fear and burning the book of prophecies.
"It's okay. It's okay. Everything's in place. We'll be reborn -- again. Together."More intrigue follows with Tyrol, Anders, Tory and, finally, Tigh all remembering former lives on the Earth. Tyrol indulges in a flashback/flashforward to a market square just as it gets nuked, Anders recalls a musical instrument he played (Bear McCreary using those wonderful musical motifs that woke the Final Five in the first place) and Tigh, walking waist high into the sea has a glimpse of his wife Ellen crushed beneath a building and revealing to him that they'd both be re-born eventually. This prompts Tigh to point the finger and claim Ellen as the last Cylon to be revealed. Unfortunately, if that is the reveal, well...it's excruciatingly disappointing. You're not telling me, after whipping us all up into a frenzy that probably would have generated enough electricity to provide the energy needs of a small country, that the producers seriously thought Ellen would be the right name to pull out of the hat just now? I don't buy it. It throws away all that careful plotting and build up over the last four years. And it caps a seriously good episode with a silly anti-climax. If true, then the writers and producers are very brave men and women to allow the build up to collapse into nothing. I still don't buy it. It's bonkers.
Despite that rather non-plussed ending, the episode demonstrates why BSG is so highly regarded. Full of great character moments, intriguing revelations about the overall plot arc and amazing performances that remind you why you watch the series. The excellent cast are in top form here, the aforementioned Eddie Olmos, Michael Hogan and also Katie Sackhoff in a particularly intense scene as she is silhouetted against the sky and builds a funeral pyre for the dead Starbuck, disposing of the evidence. A visually striking moment in an episode that weighs down the audience as well as the characters. Let's hope they find their way out of this eloquent sadness.
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