All things considered, the previous episode was poorly received by the majority of the fans, with many elements considered over the top or simply out of character. This episode is equally challenging, but the forward momentum of events and the improvement in characterization should help overcome the oddities of the format.
Covering roughly the same period of time as the previous episode, the focus of the story is on the Human-Cylon Rebel alliance and Roslin's personal journey. The alliance was never going to be an easy sell, and the sudden jump away from the fleet and Natalie's reported death make things a lot worse. Roslin, still operating in "survival at any cost" mode, wants to take down the resurrection hub, grab D'Anna, and grill her for information before letting the Cylon Rebels see her. What that might cost anyone else is simply not her problem.
Except, of course, that every time the basestar jumps, Roslin finds herself having visions of her own death, with a bit of scathing commentary from Elosha, the priestess who previously helped Roslin with matter of faith and who was killed in "Home: Part I". Elosha chastises Roslin for losing sight of her own humanity, in turn threatening the survival of the species. The implication is that her decisions could risk everyone around her because she has lost the ability to care about anyone else. This, in effect, makes it impossible to see what is best for those in her charge.
It may seem a reach, but this ties back into one of the ongoing themes of the series, introduced right back in the miniseries. One important question has always been: is Humanity worthy of survival? Have they sown the instrument of their own destruction because they deserve to be destroyed? The argument for Roslin is that her methods and choices undermine any argument for Humanity's continuance.
From a certain point of view, this has already been demonstrated. Destroying the hub and leveling the playing field wouldn't have been possible without Adama's decision to trust Kara, something Roslin vehemently opposed. Roslin has often been stubborn, and to some extent, Adama's conversion to her side over the course of the series has given her a sense of superior entitlement. One can only imagine what her reaction will be to Lee's position when she returns. (A turn of events that, at this point, seems to have been incredibly preemptive. since the appointment was decided in two days!)
Elosha's message was a simple one: Roslin needs to find a psychological and emotional lifeline to keep her humanity intact. Her understanding and resolve is put to the test when Baltar, in a dubious plot twist, reveals his guilt over his role in the destruction of the colonies. Roslin's first reaction is to let Baltar bleed out and die for his monumental crime against humanity. Elosha guides her differently: with the survival of Humanity at stake, every life is worthy to be saved.
I'm not sure I believe that Roslin would convert so quickly, in a sudden panic to save Baltar's life, but it does represent a small turning point. She still betrays the alliance with the Cylon Rebels, but she saves Baltar's life. It's a foregone conclusion that his survival, perhaps in tandem with his conversation with the Centurion, will be an important piece of the resolution puzzle.
And while the process wasn't necessarily pretty, it's the final step for Roslin and Adama's relationship. Watching the final moments of the episode, I was reminded of the political and personal tension between Roslin and Adama in the first season. This episode harkens back to "Resurrection Ship: Part II" on several levels (the circumstances of the battle, the discussion on why Humanity should survive, etc.), and that was a huge turning point for the two of them. In that respect, this episode gives us a sense that the journey really is coming to an end.
I liked the return of D'Anna, who has defied any attempt to make her little more than a pawn in the game now that things have changed, and I like the idea that Humans and Cylons are now more similar than ever. It continues to point to the possibility of the two species merging for survival. Elosha's presence seems to indicate that the connections to prophecy continue to be meaningful, and recent visions and prophecies have been in line with the concept of a combined future.
I must also give kudos to Bear McCreary for the score, especially during the impressive battle scenes, and similarly, the effects team. I recently made a belated switch to HD and this episode was visually stunning. It's good to have an episode where the underlying drama rivals the presentation. With the season hitting a lengthy hiatus after the next episode, I can only hope that the momentum continues in the right direction.