Battlestar Galactica

Season 4 Episode 16


Aired Friday 10:00 PM Feb 20, 2009 on Syfy

Episode Fan Reviews (17)

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  • Too much hysterical nonsense

    After the mind-blowing exposition marathon of the previous episode, which left the fandom in a whirl of discussion over the true history of the Cylons, it makes sense that the implications would need time to filter into the final arc of the series. It also makes sense that the arrival of Ellen Tigh would force the revel Cylons to make a decision about their own future. As it turns out, that decision was already made; the Cylons, like the Humans, are simply resisting the inevitable.

    The repair/rebirth of the Galactica is about as blatant a metaphor as it gets, but it works as an ongoing theme. Right after the mutiny, the Galactica is ready to tear itself apart at the seams. The only solution: use organic Cylon technology to fill in the gaps and bring it new strength. Which is a nice way of communicating what many had speculated as early as the second season: the Cylons and Humans will only survive if they forge a future together.

    To prove that out, however, certain things had to be resolved. First and foremost, there was the small matter of Caprica-Siz and her unborn child, which held the potential for pure Cylon reproduction. The writers try to frame the loss of the Cylon child as something brought on by Ellen's typical destructive behavior, but it's far more likely that it was just the inability of the Cylons to mate. (And thematically karmic, given what Caprica-Six did at the beginning of the series, just before the Cylon attack.)

    This brings up an interesting point of continuity. If Ellen held the belief that a Cylon/Human hybrid was the hope for the future of the Cylons, then is it possible that she and the Final Five intentionally designed the skinjobs as unable to reproduce biologically? Is it possible that the Final Five understood the principle that Tigh voices in this episode from the beginning, and the skinjobs were specially meant to be more compatible with Human genetics? (The cloning/replication process of the skinjobs aside, of course.)

    After all, in her own way, Ellen admits that "pure" communities of either kind, Human or Cylon, will ultimately destroy themselves. Humans always seem to come along and build Cylons, and if Earth is any indication, Cylons eventually follow suit. If one accepts the theory that the Lords of Kobol were the surviving Cylons of an even earlier cycle, then Cylons themselves might have attempted to foster a pure Human society that could break the chain. But, as seen, the Humans disregarded the warnings and created artificial life, and the rest is history.

    The "majority rule" concept has been around for a while, and ultimately led to the Cylon civil war, once it was thwarted by the boxing of the Threes. It helps to explain why the Cylons continued down the path of creating a biological hybrid, even after Cavil convinced them to eliminate the 12 Colonies. If Cavil had been fully in charge, it's unlikely that the breeding experiments would have taken place. If anything, Cavil would have pushed the Cylons towards more lethal and efficient mechanical forms. The fact that Cavil was unable to fully control the path of the Cylons coming into the decimation of the Colonies does much to explain his grab for control of the Cylons in the wake of the New Caprica debacle.

    In terms of what's coming, the "blended future", Baltar's predicted role has come to pass, though a bit later than expected. It's certainly not an easy alliance to forge, given the histories involved, but it does make sense. Baltar has a massive following, and now that the old religion of the Colonies has fallen in the wake of the discovery of Earth's true nature, his movement is the natural (if disturbing) replacement. It's still not clear what his religion is all about, but it does bridge a philosophical gap between Human and Cylon in its talk about the one loving God. And as Baltar says, it is the only remaining Human solution to the breakdown of Human society.

    If nothing else, it's a stopgap solution, something to help the Human population come to terms with what it will take to survive. The Cylons are becoming more and more Human as they adopt Human rituals. The fact that Cylons are putting pictures of their dead on the wall, right next to the pictures of victims of the Colonial holocaust, is a poignant sign. Perhaps most telling is the unspoken implication: there hasn't been a confrontation about it, and no one is tearing down the pictures. In other words, despite the friction between both sides, this new practice has been accepted. As Adama says, the process has already started. Lee and Laura don't have to voice their acceptance of it to make it real.

    On the one hand, the likelihood is that this alliance and eventual "blended future" will allow Humanity to survive. On the other, that survival is, from a certain point of view, the final capitulation to the Cylons. In essence, the series will probably end with the rather dark notion that the Cylons did exactly what they set out to do. The fact that this allows Humanity to continue in some fashion doesn't change that fact. And that goes a long way towards explaining Adama's self-destructive binge of late.

    Considering how much of the episode was actually focused on Ellen and her whirlwind tendency to disrupt everything, I haven't said very much about it. That's because Ellen has always annoyed the hell out of me, and I'm not convinced that her character logic adds up. Part of the problem is that the episode felt like it was edited using a blender. I can only assume that this is one of those episodes that had to be butchered to get it down to time. The producers made it clear at one point that many of the final episodes would need to run long or be cut dramatically, and based on the haphazard storytelling at play here, this would seem like a prime example.

    Ellen seemed to be trying to prove a point about Tigh's true allegiance: Bill Adama, the Galactica, and the Colonial Fleet. He's never been particularly unclear on that point, so I'm not sure why it had to be reinforced under such circumstances. Perhaps Ellen wanted the other models to see that any decision to leave the fleet would only fracture them more? Whatever the case, Ellen's motivations seem like their all over the map, and that makes it hard to follow.

    The Liam connection was very moving, of course, and it makes perfect sense. Bill and Saul have been carrying each other since the very beginning, which is why Adama fell apart so completely when Saul admitted that he was a Cylon. It also explains why Adama has been able to accept the notion of a "blended future". His dearest friend has been a Cylon all along, and chose not to abandon him or their friendship. How could Adama turn his back on that?

    Ultimately, this episode suffered from two fatal flaws. The focus on Ellen Tigh and her chaotic, destructive personality is off-putting and frustrating, especially when there is so little time left for resolution. But more importantly, the episode just felt like it was crammed into an hour when it needed much more time to tell its story organically.