Battlestar Galactica

Season 4 Episode 11

Sometimes a Great Notion

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 16, 2009 on Syfy
out of 10
User Rating
582 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Both the humans of the Colonial fleet and their Cylon allies fight against the emotion of overwhelming despair as they try to understand what happened to the 13th Tribe. Dee reconciles with her husband Lee Adama despite being devastated about the discovery of Earth. Kara finds a puzzling and disturbing clue regarding her identity.moreless

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  • Sometimes a Great Notion

    Sometimes a Great Notion was a perfect episode of Battlestar Galactica and I really enjoyed watching this entertaining episode because it had action, touching and emotional scenes, lots of character and plot development. After discovering a nuked Earth every on deals with it differently and the final four Cylons start to remember a strange yet familiar past. Clues to who the fifth and final Cylon is were given, but the ending through all notions out the window and I liked that it will keep me guessing. I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • What has happened to this once excellent show?

    I'm not sure what happened in this episode. It seems like lots of things took place, a couple of them rather shocking but all in all, a nothing episode.

    The writers have only one ace left up their sleeves: who is the fifth cylon? But this cannot form the basis of an entire show. The characters are now walking zombies, with no purpose, and although they seem to walk as quickly as they ever did, they're never going anywhere, nor do they do anything when they get there.

    It's horrible to watch a show I used to love but which is now less than ordinary. They should have found a way to wind up the series ages ago. Endless wandering is dull narrative, no matter how many spaceships you are blowing up.

    Not sure if I can even bother myself to watch until the end.moreless
  • FINALLY¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡ THE TWO MOST WAITED THINGS OF TV HAPPEN. Battlestar is back in tv and we know who the final cylon is

    After waiting months......finally its here, Battlestar galactica, the best mother fracking tv show. Every time i watch this show i understand why tv exist. I mean even so its not the best episode (is hard to say only one) the suicide of D and the revelation of the fianl cylon in one same episode its impressive. The kill one of the more lovable (not great one even so..) characters and bring one of the character we all love and hate at the same time.

    I dont now whow to say thank god for these show, i was tired with the disapointment of heroes and lost. The one and only great show on Tv is this one.moreless
  • All hope is lost when the fleet discovers Earth is nothing more than a charred nuclear wasteland. Frustration turns to nihilistic despair, and the harried survivors find their faith put to the test in this beautiful yet bleak storyline.moreless

    The makers of Battlestar Galactica have always been experts at mind-blowing plot twists which alter the very fragile and limited moments of normal order in the fleet, but the revelation of the charred & nuked remains of scorched Earth may turn out to be the greatest test of faith the human survivors have ever faced. If anything has been a constant within the show, it has been the undying faith and hope in the existence of Earth, the home of the mythical Thirteenth Tribe of Kobol, as the one shining light piercing through the dark & hostile atmosphere of endless trials & tribulations. Now, the remaining 39,000 survivors of a once prosperous society have found their travails were all for naught, and a thick fog of despair hangs in the air over the disturbing revelations. Even more frustrating is the perplexing mystery of Earth itself. The discovery of some unusual Cylon remains on the planet raise more questions than answers over who, or what, the 13th Tribe really was.

    It proves to be too much. Upon their return to Galactica, Roslin and Adama face a hanger deck full of hopeful crewmates, anxious to hear the news of their mythical refuge. Normally, the steely-eyed Roslin never shies from a moment to step up to a challenge, but here she can only shake her head subtly, frozen with the prospect of destroying the last bastion of hope for the weary travelers. "Get me out of here," she mutters to Adama, and the place is in uproar with anxious questions, only to find their beloved leaders retreat into a dark depression.

    The visuals of lost hope are powerful and stunning, anchored by the consistently solid score of Bear McCreary. Ponderous & discordant variations on the once soaring themes of the show echo the fear of the unknown displayed through the tense interactions of the characters. All of the answers they seek reveal more frustrating questions. The mood is emotionally provocative and wears very heavily. The crisis of faith, the loss of social order, the gray bleakness of Earth's nuked skies all paint a vivid and beautiful portrait of the collapse of the human spirit, but it takes its toll through watching it unfold. Perhaps this is more to the show's credit that it evokes so powerfully the very emotions it portrays onscreen, but for viewers it amounts to being stabbed in the heart a thousand times, or as Ronald D. Moore puts it, an emotional sucker punch.

    Some of the storyline feels clumsy and forced. Bill Adama's confrontation of his friend and ex-o, newly discovered Cylon Saul Tigh, falls for all of the usual clichés associated with depression in Battlestar Galactica. The Admiral snags a sidearm from a guard and drops in uninvited with a bottle of booze. Pouring enough to kill a small horse, Adama tosses the weapon on the table and barks, "Sit down, Cylon!" at the somewhat bewildered Tigh. The scene stands well enough on the outstanding acting talents of Edward James Olmos (Adama) and Michael Hogan, but the dialogue sounds crude and forced, a bit clumsy considering the show's typically high standards. Those standards certainly were not applied to revealing the identity of the final Cylon, tacked on to the last five minutes like an extra edition of the news. It comes in so unexpectedly, it feels as though the writers did it by accident. Nothing frustrates more with this show than the flubbing of key plot points, especially considering the hype many of these revelations get through the constant repetition throughout the show. In going for the surprise, the scene skipped creating the appropriate tension to buildup to the revelation, which is why it comes off as flat and uninspired.

    Despite its flaws, Sometimes a Great Notion gracefully probes the ends of the human spirit, seeking an answer to the greatest tests of faith. Highs: Provocative & powerful imagery reflected through McCreary's musical variations; post-apocalypse is where Battlestar lives; emotionally gripping

    Lows: Emotionally exhausting; frustrating revelations only raise more questions; clumsy & forced in places; one-dimensional character presentation.

    The Verdict: Powerful, relentlessly dark probe of the human spiritmoreless
  • And so finally, the Sci-Fi Channel quits playing ceaseless, self-obsessed ratings games with their most ardent viewers and delivers the second half of Battlestar Galactica's final season.

    And so finally, the Sci-Fi Channel quits playing ceaseless, self-obsessed ratings games with their most ardent viewers and delivers the second half of Battlestar Galactica's final season, a year since it was actually made. The wait has been absolutely perilous: between the end of the third season and the start of part one of the fourth, there was an agonising ten month gap and then, ten episodes in, the bastards cut our viewing enjoyment short for another ten months. The wait has been so great that, arguably, the weight of expectation on these final instalments is too much to bear. Can the production staff deliver the goods? Will they answer all the outstanding questions they've left dangling for the past four years? Will we get a regrettable happy ever after or a more satisfying, and realistic, emotional and physical bloodbath? From the trajectory that the narrative begins to take in 'Sometimes A Great Notion', it looks like the latter is far likelier. No question about it folks, this is damn tough viewing. If you like your characters to be one dimensional black and white ciphers, turn away now. If you want to see everyone picking up the pieces, holding hands and 'getting on', I really don't think the remainder of this season is going to be for you. You see, things have gone completely and utterly **** up. The Universe is fracked. There's no hope. We're all going to Hell in a hand basket and the best we can do to blot out the pain is give in to the illnesses already ravaging us (Roslin), drink ourselves into oblivion (Adama) or shoot ourselves in the head and have done with it (Dee). Jesus Christ, this is depressing stuff. The rock that the Galactica crew's hopes have been pinned on since she first uttered the word 'Earth' in the pilot is now burning the prophecies that formed the backbone of her beliefs and ain't taking anyone's calls. When your President's given up the ghost, you know you're in trouble. Kudos to Mary McDonnell for giving a superb performance throughout: she's particularly excellent when she confronts the Galactica crew (and the fleet) immediately upon her return from the nuked Earth. All it takes is a stuttered sigh and a whispered 'get me out of here' and the emotional effect is magnified twentyfold. Then there's the other major authority figure, the Old Man, who goes completely off the rails after one of his crew tops herself and has an alcohol-fuelled 'heart to heart' with Sol, which ends with him getting the XO to point a gun to his head, goading him on to pulling the trigger. Not easy stuff to watch but it's effortlessly brilliant all the same. You feel every nuance of these characters' pain and that's no small feat. The successful combination of superb dialogue and out-of-this-world performance really cannot be understated: someone give Bradley Thompson, David Weddle, Edward James Almos and Michael Hogan all the awards the world can muster. Now. And spare a thought for Kandyse McClure who manages to pull the wool over the eyes of every single one of us in depicting Dee's final moments. Granted, this is as much to do with the scripting as anything else but she's magnificent anyway. The fateful moment where she pulls the trigger is among the best, and most shocking, in the show's history. I'm still not sure I've quite recovered.

    Some have accused 'Sometimes A Great Notion' of being slow to start; I couldn't disagree more. The narrative movement certainly isn't fast paced but that's hardly the point. This episode is about the repercussions of having all of your hopes and beliefs completely and utterly obliterated in an instant. Time is therefore needed to take stock of the situation (the opening ten minutes), work through the pain (the next thirty) and come to some form of conclusion (last five). The considered narratalogical structure, to this writer, is exactly what is needed. And in any case, amongst all of the emotional trauma, we discover that the 13th tribe were all Cylons (didn't see that one coming), that the final five lived on Earth in its last days, that Starbuck's Viper is on Earth with Starbuck's body in it (how is THAT one possible?) and, possibly, the identity of the final Cylon. If it is Tigh's ex-wife, I'm happy. It could be a red herring, of course, but time will tell. So yeah, a pretty darn packed hour, all things considered. And when you combine these revelations with the unquestionable strength of the character-led material, you have an absolute corker of an episode. As if any further evidence were needed that Battlestar Galactica is the best science fiction show on TV, here it is in one bitter, twisted, difficult package. Watch and weep.moreless
Sonja Bennett

Sonja Bennett

Specialist 2nd Class Marcie Brasko

Guest Star

Kate Vernon

Kate Vernon

Ellen Tigh

Recurring Role

Aaron Douglas

Aaron Douglas

Galen Tyrol

Recurring Role

Michael Trucco

Michael Trucco

Samuel Anders

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Tyrol: We died in a holocaust.
      Anders: Then why are we still alive? That happened 2,000 years ago. How did we get to the Colonies? Come to think that we were human? 2,000 years is a long time to forget.

    • Helo: Baltar just confirmed it. The planet was nuked about 2,000 years ago.
      D'Anna: Squares with what our teams have been finding all over the planet.
      Roslin: It's perfect. We traded one nuked civilization for another.

    • Kara: (regarding the Viper wreckage) If you've got an explanation for this, now's the time.
      Leoben: I don't have one. I was wrong.

    • Dee: (to Hera) You have no idea what's happened, do you? Today is just another day.

  • NOTES (3)

    • This episode began shooting around the time that the Writers Guild of America went on strike in late 2007. The actors had to work without the guidance of Executive Producer Ronald Moore and had no idea if and when further episodes might be written. The assumption was that if the strike continued for several months, then this episode would have served as the (unplanned) finale of the series.

    • The usual opening credits sequence was not shown with this episode. Though the number of survivors in the fleet was not seen at the beginning of the episode, the whiteboard in Roslin's office was shown later on. Lee Adama erased the last digit of the number 39,651 with his finger.

    • Kandyse McClure read the "Previously on Battlestar Galactica" line for this episode.


    • Sometimes a Great Notion

      The episode title is a reference to Ken Kesey's second novel (1964), which focused on a particularly stubborn Oregon logging family that cuts down trees during a union strike. Episode co-writer David Weddle told Maureen Ryan of The Chicago Tribune that it is his favorite American novel.

      Weddle said that the "swimming fox" story in the episode was based on real-life stories of wounded and distraught animals swimming out to sea to their deaths. He first learned of the phenomenon from Kesey's novel. The novel was adapted into a 1971 movie starring Paul Newman and Henry Fonda.

      The title of Kesey's novel itself referred to the blues song "Goodnight, Irene" (aka "Irene" or "Irene, Goodnight") in which the narrator considers suicide:

      Sometimes I have a great notion
      Jumpin' in into the river and drown

    • The Planet of the Apes
      Kara asks why Leoben is suddenly afraid of the truth. Leoben says to Kara, "I've got a feeling. You might not like what you find." In the famous sci-fi movie The Planet of the Apes, the orangutan scientist Dr. Zaius issues a similar warning to George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) about searching for the truth. "Don't look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find."