Revelations may be only the mid-season finale for Battlestar Galactica's final season, but it unmistakably heralds the end of our journey. In many ways, some journeys have already been completed, and the episode's subtle and not-so-subtle nods in these directions are breathtaking and tragic. In light of the series' impending conclusion, the slightest of moments become bittersweet and meaningful, while the grandest boast proudly, "The face of this series has changed forever." As the Cylons and Colonials seem bent on mutual destruction, Col Tigh takes matters into his own hands and tells Adama the truth, offering himself as a sacrifice on the altar of truth and justice and the Colonial way. The moment is perfect, from the heartbreaking acting of Michael Hogan (noble to the last) and Edward James Olmos (in one of his rare displays of emotion), to the swelling music, and this being the mid-season finale of the final season, all bets are off.
But for every grand moment, there is one just as beautiful in its subtlety. Chief Tyrol, one of the most quietly self-assured characters throughout the first three seasons, is broken and re-made in season 4 into a lost wreck, reminiscent of The Dark Knight's Joker, at odds with the insanity of the entire world. Anders has the audacity to be surprised by the guards that come for him, but Tyrol laughs, appreciating the bitter irony of the situation. His haggard nod to Tigh is another understated, powerful moment, thanks to the reserved acting of Aaron Douglas.
The tension builds with expert precision... Tigh in the airlock alone seems doomed, yet when Anders and Tyrol join him, their safety in numbers is assured. Nobody would kill off three major characters with untold stories in one fell swoop -- so Anders and Tyrol are forced to leave, once again raising the stakes. Tigh yells, "What are you waiting for Apollo, do it!" and for a split-second the death of this tragic character is imminent, unavoidable, and wholly appropriate.
Before the choir-accompanied arrival at Earth is complete, however, another of the series' journeys is finally over: D'Anna repeats the religious mantra "All this has happened before," and Lee takes a bold step, replying, "But it doesn't have to happen again." And then the scene that everybody's been talking about since Revelations aired... its mind-frakking value is off the charts. It artistic beauty as a single, lasting image, is iconic. And the subtle moments it leaves us with are frightening -- for years we have watched these characters on their admirable search for a home they never knew, and now they are presented with the reality that that search had been for nothing. The sacrifices made have been for nothing. As we watch the characters adjust to their lot, clinging to each other when it seems they have nothing left (Tori's hopeless gesture; Caprica coming to Tigh's side), it's the embittered Tyrol that has the last, empty laugh.