BSG: Sometimes a Great Notion

So. What were you expecting? Some peace? Sunshine and lollipops? Rainbows? Of course not. What we got is what we go for in the first place: to have Ronald D. Moore and his small, brilliant band of fiends pluck out our collective eyeballs and hand them to us like so many hard-boiled eggs (oops! Season 3 spoiler alert!). And then to snatch back those eggs and dice them up into little tiny pieces right before our one remaining eye(s). (I apologize; that analogy didn’t work at all.)

I’ve never cared about who the final Cylon was, or what the prophecies foretold, or whether they were true, how the 13th Colony came to be, or, even now, how it was destroyed. I don’t care about theories, and I can’t tell you what I think any of it means, whether the humans are all Cylons or whether I am a Cylon myself. What I’ve always cared about is who these characters are, separately and as a whole, and how what touches one of them touches them all. How the decisions each of them make have consequences that may not be apparent for months or even years to come, and how in the meantime life—or their very peculiar semblance of it—keeps going, whether they like it or not. The terrors and the simple dailiness of their everlasting struggle, and how not every question they ask is immediately (or ever) answered. And how every time I think that we must finally have reached the bottom, those crafty makers are somehow able to dig down even deeper and show us a new shade of black that’s even blacker. Surprise! Despair in Battlestar Galactica has no bottom.

First up: Dee. Oh, Dee. While I admit that I have never loved you before, I loved you last night, because your ending was perfect, that wordless breakdown on the beach leading to that shell-shocked murmuring on the Raptor and then the perfectly sensible soothing of an innocent child.  The child you wish you still were, knowing nothing? Cradling a child’s toy in your own small hands. Your gentle handling of Lee, always leading him in the best direction, even knowing you were never his first choice. Giving him what he needed to keep going when you were gone. Your always telling the truth, and when the truth—or what you believed to be true—finally gave out, well, for that I will go to Mr. Thomas Hardy:

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die

Oh, Dee. I will miss the way you shined.

And then: holy cats, which was worse, watching Roslin implode or Adama pop another cork? I’m having trouble choosing. Roslin has finally lost all ground, and it was terrifying. Laura Roslin without hope? Unthinkable. Every horror she’s endured, every horrible decision she’s had to make and every lie she’s had to tell, she was able to justify it all in the search for this One True Thing. Her promise. Her entire reason for being. And what does Laura Roslin see now, when she closes her eyes? She sees that maybe dying is the right thing to do, after all. That maybe they would all have been better off if she had died when she was supposed to, way back in Season 2. But we know already that she doesn’t have a taste or the aim for guns, so instead she will let herself fade away. Or will she? Who knows? It’s a cliffhanger!

Adama, of course, has it no easier, because for him the punches keep coming and coming, and they are body blows. Laura—for all the blame she will put on herself—is still somewhat at a remove; for her it’s about the whole. The promise she made to her people. For Adama it’s all personal; this is his family. And we know, too, that sooner or later, when it’s personal, Adama goes down in a fight, and goes down hard. And so he did, faced with the death of another daughter, one he can see with his own eyes is never coming back.  Which is what drives him to seek out his oldest friend, even one he knows by rights he should no longer trust, and tries to force him into pulling the trigger. Knowing, probably, that there’s no way Tigh will give in. And it’s such a lovely note, I think, that as we near the end, they keep letting the one who historically has always fallen reach out to save the other. To show that sometimes the center will hold, however tentatively, simply because of what surrounds it. These two brave men, the depth of their friendship, their knowing of each other, it’s a continual wonder.

And what of poor Kara Thrace? Has any character been as completely and repeatedly and systematically beaten down than Starbuck? What do you do when you stumble upon your own charred remains in a field, when you rip your own wedding ring and dog tags from your own devastated body, when even the guide who’s been leading you down this very path finally throws up his hands, turns in horror, and flees? What do you do then? Well, I suppose you gather up what’s left of you, drag it across the sand, stack it upon a pyre, and send it back to the sky. And then you swallow it down deep, silently, and let it rot along with everything else. And then you go on. And Starbuck, since you have finally stopped writhing around on the floor and screaming, I can finally say it: thank you for being so frakkin’ awesome.

I’ll say thank you, too, for the reveal of that lying, cheating, foul-mouthed, drunken, brazen, tragically comic, comically tragic Ellen Tigh as the Final Cylon, because it was the one turn of events last night that actually came as a relief. It felt just, and appropriate, and how much worse would it have been (for character and viewer alike) if it had been yet another character we had trusted and loved? Also, by that time, I had officially reached the end of my own fragile rope, and the passing of Ellen Tigh into the hands of her own enemies suited me just fine. In fact, I applaud it. I like the symmetry of it, the fractures it exposes, as well as the connections, how we now have to go back and rethink a character we had written off for most of the past two seasons, and one we had overlooked as an extraneous, if amusing, nuisance all along. (Or maybe that was just me.) I also love the fact that the people she hated as a human being—the ones she always dismissed as uptight and self-righteous and deathly dull—are the very same people she would have hated as a Cylon anyway. Of course I also like that it absolves Tigh of his greatest sin, because how much more can one guy take?  How much more can any of them take?

I guess we’re about to find out.