BSG: Islanded in a Stream of Stars

“Sometimes I wonder what home is. Is it an actual place? Or is it some kind of longing for something, some kind of connection?”
—Laura Roslin
“One of us here is living proof that there is life after death.”
—Gaius Baltar
“This ship has never let us down. So we’re gonna send her off in style.”
—Bill Adama
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“In the mountains north of here, there’s this little stream that comes down and through this lake. The water’s so clear, it’s like looking through glass. I’m thinking of building a cabin...”
Go back now and watch that scene in “Unfinished Business,” go back and hear the music, and see the sunlight shining on Laura Roslin’s long red hair, the smile on her beautiful face, the way she looks at Adama as she tells him this. The way he watches her tell it. The rest of us knowing already—halfway through Season 3, long before they admit it to themselves—that there’s no way she’s hanging a sign on any cabin that doesn’t also have his name on it.
Now watch her tell it to him again here, as she’s lying in a hospital bed, bald, frail, dying. Having lost everything there is to lose, no cabin, no New Caprica, no Earth—and yet, she says, Here you are. My home, at last. Both of them knowing it’s true, because sine qua non times two and all that. Then watch the way he smiles, ever so slightly, when she tells him that she knows he loves his ship more than he loves her—which she accepts, because she’s not stupid—and that it’s time for him to do the one thing he’s never been able to do—which is to nut up and let go. Because she’s also the only one he’ll listen to.
And then someone please throw a warm blanket over me, and toss me the Kleenex—and maybe some Scotch or whiskey or whatever sad people drink to be sadder—and turn out the light as you go because baby, I am done. Over, out, done. And we haven’t even gotten to the end yet.
Mostly it was the callback that caught me off guard, because after so much time and so many other opportunities passed by—Ronald D. Moore even mentioned that long-lost joint in the podcast for “A Day in the Life”—it never came, and we all moved on. And eventually they let this relationship go where I wanted it to anyway, and made it that much more worthy for the waiting, because we all had to earn it, them and us, or them and me, if you’re one of those watchers who doesn’t give a crap and just wants to get back to Baltar talking about religion or Lee pining for Kara or Cylons blowing shit up, which is fine, too, but I watch the show for this.
And what all of this is about is letting go. For Adama, Galactica is Laura, and it’s home, and it’s family and it’s his past, and all the best things he knows about himself, the measure of who he is as a leader and a friend and a man, godsdammit, and talk about an awful lot of pressure for one rickety old bucket to take. Frankly I’m surprised we made it this far. But she’s going, all right, and hopefully with the kind of fireworks that spell out “CAVIL HAS MOMMY ISSUES” while she blasts straight through the heart of that creepy Colony and the music trumpets across the sky. At least that’s what I assume “sending her off in style” means.
But wait! It’s not just the Bill and Laura show, is it? It’s also Baltar coming face to face with Caprica Six again (someone will have to remind me the last time that happened: on the Baseship, back in Season 3?), and realizing he still loves her, then realizing she thinks he’s as much of an asshole as Laura does. And she’s not far wrong, as he’s awfully quick to cough up Kara’s secret and tag her as an angel in front of everybody in order to impress his old gal pal with just how different and deeply committed to God he really is. And I have to say, Baltar is the #1 reason I can think of not to mix science with religion, because he wields all those powers in some mighty scattershot ways. (I also strongly preferred his mad scientist to his mad prophet, because scientists are allowed to be oddball in ways that fundamentally scare me in preachers. But then to stay on that track, I have to conveniently forget how he handed over that nuke back when he was a scientist, and destroyed the Twelve Colonies, and also how he sold them up the river as president. So mostly it’s a nuance kind of thing, because obviously he sucks at all of it. But just to be reminded of his Cylon detector? Made me long for the good old days.)
Of course, Kara thinks he’s an asshole, too, but she’s not above seeking him out (or peeing right in front of him) in the hopes that he can give her the answers she’s still not getting from Sam, who by now is neck-deep in one of those Cylon hybrid chambers in some locker room, and plugged right into the Cylon-covered bones of Galactica herself. I can’t even guess what that’s going to mean, but currently it’s shorting the circuits and causing him to recite the lyrics to a well-known children’s song about buckets and holes, along with the now-familiar hybrid refrain that Kara Thrace is the harbinger of death and will lead them all to their end. Awkward! Also genuinely sad, as Kara realizes he’s the one she really loves. All of this finally leads her to accept that maybe she’ll never know what she is, and maybe it doesn’t matter anyway, and then we get one of the sweetest Lee and Kara exchanges we’ve ever seen, in the Memorial Hallway, where he tells her it doesn’t matter either, and she hangs her own photo back on the wall next to Kat’s.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the ship, Helo and Athena are out of their collective gourds over Hera, with Helo begging his wife to hate him and then begging Adama to give him a recon Raptor to go search the stars, and all to no avail. (Here I’ll even forgive Adama for telling Helo he doesn’t condone suicide missions, since he himself is King of the Suicide Mission, but he’s dealing with some pretty tough personal problems as we’ve already discussed.) That bit about Athena hating him might be at least partly true, though, and I would now like to nominate Grace Park as the single best crier I have ever seen on TV. Seriously, she’s amazing. No matter who she’s playing, I’m automatically crying right along with her, and then cursing us both.
Finally, in other parts of the galaxy, Boomer is slowly jumping her way back to Cavil and his evil Colony, and scaring the crap out of Hera as she goes. I mean, it’s gotta be nice getting out of that crate and all, but I don’t suppose being stuck in a Raptor with an angry lady who has your mother’s exact face and none of her people skills is all that comforting to a four-year-old. Especially when she pulls out the needles! Luckily they are able to bond over their shared Cylon projection abilities, and we’re dropped right back into last week’s dream house, where Hera imagines cupcakes and Boomer imagines that maybe she had her daughter, too. Which leads to—I don’t know, maybe Boomer will get to be a hero after all? I don’t care what anybody says, I’m keeping my hopes alive for that one.

BSG: Someone to Watch Over Me

Adama: “Did you love her, Chief?”

Tyrol: “I thought I did.”

Adama: “Well, when you think you love somebody, you love them. That’s what love is. Thoughts…”

—from “The Farm”

“Sometimes lost is where you need to be. Just because you don’t know your direction doesn’t mean you don’t have one.” —Slick

So! We’re back on solid ground this week, and I’m feeling both relieved and guilty for having doubted in the first place. What’s so easy to forget—with the impatience and anticipation of watching it all spool out in such fits and starts over so many years—is how well the makers of this thing are able to raise a storm right up out of the quiet every damn time. And in doing so make you doubt your own doubts, or at least question what you would have sworn five minutes ago was true. And then remember that you should never, ever trust the quiet. And to be very careful what you wish for.

Because I really believed Boomer. Toss in the kitchen sink, a beachfront condo in Miami, and a solid gold Cadillac riding a rhinestone bridge to the stars, I would have bought it all. Because duplicity has this face, and it looks just like Grace Park, who looks just like Athena, and she wears the sweetest smile. So I wanted Boomer to be different this time, and actually still sort of believe that she is. Or not different so much as the same, I guess. The old Boomer. I wanted to believe that the part of her that was once Sharon Valerii is part of her still, and it’s the one part Cavil can’t rewire, even as she ultimately uses it as a means to achieve his own horrifying ends. That she loves Tyrol as much as she hates him, that she used that vision to both soothe and punish him.

Because Boomer doesn’t forget. Not when she’s bashing Athena in the head, not when she’s frakking Helo on the floor in front of his own wife, not when she’s snatching Hera from daycare and stuffing her in a crate. And certainly not when she’s taking Chief by the hand and giving him a 3D tour of a life that will never be his, a gift from the heart that she then uses to curse him. Along with building dream houses, she also remembers him once telling her that what they had was nothing: “You’re a machine, I’m not.” That this turned out later not to be true didn’t make it a lie. The redemption and the love, the jealousy and the hate, Boomer is all of these things, all of these contradictions, everything messy that makes us human and makes her a Cylon, and everything that makes the space between those distinctions so very narrow now that we’re nearing the end. Love is love and hate and is hate, and each is a little bit of the other, and revenge has its way with both. And so does forgiveness. Over and over and over.

So much of the tragedy in this show is wondering what might have been. What if Zak hadn’t died? What if Gaeta hadn’t lost a leg? What if Baltar hadn’t been a tool? What if they hadn’t settled on New Caprica? What if Laura’s cancer hadn’t come back? All these impossible, tantalizing paths, all of them leading to a different kind of lie. So Tyrol’s tragedy was waiting for him in that dream house all along, and you see it there in the small pause he takes in the kitchen as he stands in front of the cupboard, just before he opens the doors. Willing wineglasses to be true. Willing himself to believe that in some other world he has his Sharon, and their daughter, that he gets to see her, and touch her, the beauty and the cruelty of that—of letting him believe, just for a second, that he still has something to hold on to. And then to have it all torn back again in a way that hurts not only him, as deeply as possible, but so many people in so many unfathomable ways. Realizing what he’s helped set in motion, just by wanting, watching him go back alone to search through that dream house and come up in a nightmare. Of all the sad things we’ve seen on this show—by now too many to count—that may even be the saddest. The look on his face, the way he clutches his head in his hands as he falls to his knees. All those tornadoes, all of those hurricanes, swirling right at his feet.

And what a counterpoint it was to Kara, whose own nightmare finally brings her some measure of peace, or at least a guide forward that’s also a critical connection to her past. Wasn’t it lovely just to see her smile again? To sit back in a chair and put her feet up and breathe? Happy and sad all the same time. “It made me think of someone chasing after a car,” she tells Slick at one point, this father who left her behind, this daughter who is always chasing after something. But his music is already pulling her in, helping her remember everything she’s buried. Everything she needs. It feels right like this; her guides (Sam, Leoben) don’t have her answers, and Hera can only offer more clues. She has to find her own way through the dark, and she does it by reaching into a box of things that once belonged to Starbuck—who knew where she was going, who always had a mission—to reclaim the only thing that still matters to Kara Thrace. And in the end she starts putting it together with the help of a hybrid child and a one-eyed Cylon and her own dream father—who may also be a Cylon? TBD!—and the way the pieces of that music joined to fill in the puzzle, weaving together three seemingly disparate threads all at once?  Kudos to Bear McCreary, and Katee Sackhoff and Bradley Thompson and David Weddle and Michael Nankin. Brilliance, in Galactica form. Everything I doubted last week and keep taking for granted, just by forgetting.

And how about that Madame President, huh? That scene where she signs what’s essentially Boomer’s death warrant? I hated her then, for the very first time. Believe him! I told the TV. Give Boomer a chance! Have some faith, for gods sake, be human! Because she was wrong, I knew it, Chief begged her and she refused—a personal favor to me, he begged—and I was actually glad to see her shaking, even though she never flinched. Where she stores this stuff, I don’t know, but it looks like it’s taking an enormous amount of effort just to sit up straight these days. Turning a page, holding a pen, drawing it across a line, every movement taking its toll. Of course Adama would have let Boomer live, but Laura never lets “personal” win, even now. Which is why they are so perfectly each other’s better half, and why I worry about what’s to become of him when she goes. “You need to clear your head” is now her mantra—a plea, an accusation, and a command all in one—and even now she can do it herself better than anybody. See things clearly. Maybe that’s the part of her that’s Cylon. And the part of her that’s now falling into—what? A coma? Heart failure? How many ways is she still connected to this little girl? How many ways are their fates still tied together? When will we finally get to hang at the opera house? It’s all a wonder, to be sure, but I’ll say this: as much as I’m an adult who recognizes the difference between fact and fiction, and understands the gulf between what is real and what is decidedly not, I don’t know how to watch Laura Roslin die. That might be the one thing coming that I personally cannot bear.

BSG: Deadlock

“How many dead chicks are out there?”

—Hot Dog

Really? We couldn’t have packed most of the events of this episode into 15 minutes and then moved on to something else? We needed to watch growly Adama stroke the walls of his ship 35,000 times in order to understand what’s at stake if he loses her? We needed to see 35,000 chummy scenes of him bonding with Tigh in order to understand that they are in deep, utterly platonic man love? Which we’ve known for, oh, four or five years now? And ditto the 35,000 times the Final Five (plus Six!) voted on whether to stay or jump ship? Yuck. I don’t mind the talkies, but this one suffered from a serious lack of urgency: a weird stop on forward movement in half the storylines combined with lightspeed narrative unspooling in the other half. So we’ll make this short & sweet & epically crabby, and then you can holler at me in the comments, because the less time I spend thinking about it—and my fear that Tricia Helfer is going to stab herself in the eye with her own cheekbone soon—the better.

First up: LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. Right? That’s the point? Because I was scared I might have missed it. Ellen loves Saul who loves Ellen for all eternity but loves Bill and the Galatica more, and also Caprica Six, at least since he got her pregnant, only not enough to save the baby we’ve been talking about for almost a year now, and who is eliminated from the storyline just in time to bring back Samuel T. Anders. So what was the point of this miracle conception in the first place? To prove that love is all? That love is pain? That love withheld, or not felt deeply enough, kills? Or that BFF love kills babies, specifically? Maybe I would’ve felt all of this more keenly had we seen any kind of development or real connection between Tigh and Caprica Six, who from what I can recall went straight from angry brig sex straight to babies and living together and being in LOVE. And now the whole thing feels like a writer’s device, designed to…what? Who knows. Does Six move out now, so Ellen can move back in? Do they all live together in his cozy little XO quarters, or does Tigh move in with Adama and the Prez? Tricia Helfer certainly knocked those miscarriage scenes out of the park, as did Michael Hogan and the partially-evil-again Kate Vernon, and they’ll probably pick this up again next week and make it brilliant, but I was curiously unmoved by the whole thing.

Plus, I hate to say it, but do you remember how on “Remington Steele” nobody would ever actually call Pierce Brosnan “Remington,” because it was such a stupid fucking name? That’s sort of the way I feel about “Caprica.” I mean, I get that it’s an awesome otherworldly name for a planet and a brand new SciFi series and all, but as a given name for a person whom we’re not actually supposed to laugh at, it’s a little preposterous, and especially when Mary McDonnell tries to say it with a straight face. Although I love that “Caprica” of all people—one of the primary annihilators of the human race—is the one who has to remind Laura Roslin how to be human, re: babies and maternal love. But then Laura’s never been all that up with people anyway, or even the tiniest bit maternal, even before she was injected with all that hybrid blood and kidnapped that hybrid baby.

Anyway, damn, I love Laura Roslin, and especially that pissed off look she shot at Adama when he pulled the flask from his pocket and handed it to Ellen. But how did she have nothing to say when Baltar came looking for guns? I’m curious to know exactly how much was left on the cutting room floor here, because it sure seems like some pretty big moments got clipped in favor of a lot of repetition and strange character backtracking—what with Ellen morphing back so completely into Season 1 Ellen, and Baltar taking up his goofy, hormonally inspired preaching mantle again, and Tyrol suddenly pretending the last couple of weeks didn’t happen. We’ve seen that his last connections to humanity have been stripped away, but then why set him up as Galactica’s big savior over the last three episodes? Why bring him back into the fleet’s fold? Why bother making him Chief again? Because I don’t think I dreamed that shit up, and now it makes no sense at all.

But hey! I like the circular logic of Tyrol heading straight back to Boomer, when it was his own human wife who killed her before he learned he was a Cylon, too. Although it seems weird that we’re going to focus so much on Boomer now, after we’ve practically forgotten her over the past two years. And I do love how the Cylons are turning out to be just as emotionally stupid, if not more so, than the humans. But I suppose it’s their manufactured humanness that made them so stupid in the first place.

Speaking of which, did Adama really just arm Gaius Baltar and his band of religious sex hippies? With little discussion and zero argument? And again, I understand that he’s now drunk from whatever the space version is of “sunup to sundown,” but how many times do we need to be reminded of it? And how many times in three minutes can the guy refill his own glass? We get it: the old man is LOSING HIS MARBLES. And overlooking the fact that his own girlfriend was once made part Cylon in order to save her life. And that nobody was raising much of a stink back then, when the President of All Mankind was “blended.” Right? That’s what we’re all freaking out about now? We get that, too, so let’s please move on.

Oops, last question: where do the Cylons get all those clothes?

BSG: No Exit

“I think we have to accept who we are.”

—Admiral William Adama

“You are not a mistake. If you could just accept yourself as what you are.”

—Ellen Tigh

“I need to be something.”

—Kara Thrace

“Saul, stay with the fleet. It’s all starting to happen, it’s the miracle, right here, it’s a gift from the angels. Stay with the fleet!”

—Samuel T. Anders

I’ve watched this episode three times now: once as it aired, while I practically fermented in a stew of hatred; once with Ronald D. Moore as my personal guide, where for the first time I hated him, too; and once at a rate of approximately one scene per hour, during which I typed out nearly every line of dialogue spoken by Anders, Cavil, and Ellen, and it was that third time that I actually fell in love. And in addition to finding that I no longer absorb information as quickly as I once did, here’s what I think I learned. Forgive the mess of my own brain dump, and feel free to correct any of it in the comments. And may the force be with you all.


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Once upon a time, there was Cavil. John, you see? That most pedestrian of names, but portentous, as well, a name with heft, Biblically speaking, chosen for him by his mother (whom he later fucked), who named him after her own father (and whom, by the same transitive property, she also sort of fucked). PAUSE HERE FOR COLLECTIVE SKIN CRAWL, and then remember these are still mostly robots. Anyway, this sadist, as Ellen calls him now—the same John Cavil we first met as a priest, who helped create his own brothers and sisters, only to kill one of them and box another with nary a second thought when they stepped out of line—has managed over the years to recode himself into the One True Evil. Whose heart’s desire is not to be made more human, which was the original intent of the Final Five, but ALL MACHINE. And therefore heartless. Who tells his maker, in essence, I was great and you made me small. Whose sole driver is obsessive jealousy and hatred, and whose only notion of justice comes in violent retribution—indeed, the classic attributes of small men. But is this Ellen’s fault, for being the ringleader? The Final Five’s, for making “free will” the ultimate goal? Humanity’s, for creating the Cylons in the first place? All of the above? You tell me.

Still, it’s nice to have an actual enemy again, isn’t it? One we don’t have to bother empathizing with? Because while I get his whole whiny point, the guy’s still an irredeemable asshole who, from what I can tell, killed and zapped the brains of his own creators and then orchestrated the annihilation of the human race, and all as payback for being named “John.” Yes, I’m oversimplifying here, but still: nuclear temper tantrum! But like Laura last week, a lot of Cavil’s dialogue felt way over the top to me in this one. I mean, I can accept the grandiose speechifying and monumental declarations—his anguished cry of “I don’t want to be human!” was heartbreaking—but “I want to see gamma rays”? “I want to smell dark matter”? Two lines of dialogue no one could deliver credibly, and the line I officially cannot cross without giggling like a schoolgirl.

And here’s another thought: if he had no feelings programmed into him in the first place, would he be able to see, or hear, or experience any of these things anyway? If he’d been numbed in the same way that he lobotomized the Raiders, would a star going nova mean anything at all? Isn’t his reasoning inherently faulty, in a circular logic kind of way? Again, you’ll have to tell me; I just gave myself a headache.

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Once upon a time, there was—holy good gods almighty—Ellen Tigh. Previously Our Lady of the Perpetual Hangover, now our proverbial Earth Mother, come back in ways all unexpected and almost unrecognizable, deeply warm and intelligent, thoughtful and forgiving, and yet. Hand the girl a drink, jack; she was made part human herself, after all. Right? (While the Final Five created the eight skinjobs to be “as human as possible,” didn’t they already possess those attributes themselves? I’m really asking here.) What a marvelous trick to pull with this character, to bring her back so completely opposite of what she was when we first met her, the drunk flirty party girl nobody could trust, not even Saul. But he loved something in her even then, something he recognized—beyond the shared love of booze—which adds another layer of poignancy to their “parting” on New Caprica. Both of them moving blindly through false memories yet bound inextricably together (although I guess it was Cavil who rewired them that way when he sent them out amongst the English). And she really does fit in here as the greater link that’s been missing in this story so far, an obvious Other Half to the Cylon equation—she is the heart to Cavil’s fist—and the sort of naturally formidable foe that got sucked into a vacuum when he boxed D’Anna.

She’s also clearly a leader in a sense that none of the other Cylons are (apart from Cavil), and the only one who could convince Boomer that there was another way. And how amazing was that scene, where Boomer asks her “Who would I want to love?” and then the camera cuts right to Tyrol? What a sweet callback to something so long forgotten, after so much time and so much loss. Ronald D. Moore! Please make it happen. Not everybody needs to be miserable on your Great Big Important Show that we love so very much.

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Once upon a time, there was Samuel T. Anders, who was big and strong and very manly, who played ball for a living and became a star, who was handsome and naïve and maybe even a little of a lunkhead. Which is to say he lived like a jock, going by instinct and not so much by brain (sorry, jocks; I know it’s a stereotype). But when the world ended those instincts served him well, and he took to the woods to form a resistance, because he was a natural leader back then, too. Just as he was on New Caprica, the man you put in front because everyone else will fall instinctively in line behind him. A hero, who rose again and again, who learned that he was a Cylon but never really changed sides. The sort of man who stands tall and stays true, and who loved Kara Thrace most of all, even after everything. Also, not really a man of words, so when the words came they took even him by surprise, and the stories that he told…. Well. He cracked that lid wide open and spilled all that he could, and in the end that cost him, too. This Longshot. A fighter.

Oh, Sam. Please come back.

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Once upon a time, there was a Quorum, eleven democratically elected representatives (plus Lee!) from the Twelve Colonies who sat around a table under the heel of the president and bickered all day long. Eleven morons, really; even Laura Roslin admits she kind of hated them, although it wasn’t her fault they were written that way, and she certainly didn’t pull the trigger. Eleven mortal souls who also did what they could, given what they had, everybody doing their best to sustain a system that never really existed. Because there was never actually a way for them to govern, was there? And no authority to govern with? There was Admiral Adama and Madame President, and eleven little mice nibbling around at their toes. And now not even that.

Thus Lee Adama finally gets to make some damn sense when he tells Laura the only way to move forward is to accept what’s true: the Twelve Colonies no longer exist. What they have left is what they have to work with, which is a fleet made up of ships whose citizens represent nothing more than those ships. No more Caprica, or Picon, or Aerolon (which sounds like a great deodorant). And what can Laura do now but say yes, go form your little team and do everything your way? Telling him he’s smart but still managing to point out his inherent dumbness, which is why I adore Laura and have always hated Lee. But he’s growing on me, the scrappy little bastard. And she really is going off to die, huh? Son of a bitch.

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And finally: Once upon a time, there was a ship called Galactica, and my, she was yar. Or was she? Not as much as we thought, apparently, as she was fading before we even stepped aboard. Fifty years old! That’s like a million in ship years. But like most of everything else, she was all we had, and she did her best, through all these long journeys and terrible battles, when she held us safely in her hands, when she was all that stood between Us and Them, when she stayed behind, when she jumped ahead. Waiting patiently, like the rest of us, to go home.

Oops: EARNESTNESS ALERT, coming a little too late to save you.

Anyway, this ship that started out all human will now live as something else: another guess, another compromise, another hybrid. “We have to accept who we are,” Adama tells Tyrol, because sometimes things don’t go the way we planned them, and sometimes we make it up as we go along. And sometimes we take a drink, pop some pills, and roll that hard six on the chances of our own frakkin’ survival.

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Here are some scattered notes I took while watching, most of which are actual lines of dialogue, but also some fairly basic plot points that I needed to set down for myself, to clarify things that might be remedial learning for closer viewers. Obviously there’s a lot I haven’t paid enough attention to over the years. Take it for what you will.


Centurion values included a belief in a living god.

“The Temple of Hopes” —from the algae planet, in “The Passage” and “The Eye of Jupiter”—was built by the 13th Tribe three thousand years ago when they left Kobol. Ellen says they stopped and prayed for guidance during their exodus, and then God showed them the way to earth. Cavil calls it “a monument to your vanity, the Temple of the Five.” He accuses Ellen of somehow leaving behind the exploding star as a revelation to D’Anna: “a carnival trick, to reveal your own faces.” Ellen says no: “We didn’t plant anything there; we backtracked the path of our ancestors, found their temple. The One True God must’ve orchestrated these events.”

Ellen: “The five of us designed you to be as human as possible.”

Cavil’s disgust at being limited by his humanoid body: “My five creators thought that God wanted it that way.”

Ellen tells Boomer that what the eight humanoid models gained made it worthwhile. “He’s wrong, Boomer. There’s no need for remorse, or blame. We didn’t limit you. We gave you something wonderful: free will. The ability to think creatively, to reach out to others with compassion, to love.”

The eight humanoid models can’t procreate biologically, so Cavil tells Ellen they need to rebuild resurrection. (Hera – human / humanoid; Baby X – Final Five / humanoid) Cavil says, “They destroyed the Hub, but they don’t even know about the Colony. All your equipment is still there.” (Colony?? Let’s go there!) But Ellen tells him she needs all of the Final Five to do it, and even then it might not work. Cavil assumes she’s lying and threatens to pull it out of her brain himself (“The recipe for life everlasting.”).

On the memory wipes of the Final Five:

Ellen: “Why send us to live among the humans?”

Cavil: “I wanted you to see what they’re like up close and personal, so I gave you all grandstand seats to a holocaust.”

Ellen: “But we didn’t die. And then you decided that we hadn’t suffered enough. So you picked me up, put me on a transport, took Galen’s confession, played resistance fighter with Sam, tortured Saul, but didn’t kill him. You had a dozen chances, but you wanted to wait so that when it finally happened, when we’d download back, we’d be ready to admit we were wrong, and pat you on the head for giving us the right amount of suffering, the right amount of punishment, all weighed out. Then we could give you the approval that you’ve always craved. See, you claim to be a perfect machine but you’re driven by the most petty of human emotions.  Jealousy, and rage. I know what you did to Daniel.”

Daniel (Number Seven) was destroyed permanently by Cavil; he contaminated the amniotic fluid and corrupted all the genetic copies. Ellen: “Daniel was an artist, so sensitive to the world.” And thus her favorite.

Ellen to Cavil: “I love you, because I made you.”


The Final Five reinvented resurrection;  “organic memory transfer” came from Kobol along with the 13th Tribe. It fell out of use after Cylons started to procreate naturally on Earth, and the Final Five worked together to rebuild it. Ellen was the one who made “the final intuitive leap” that allowed them to resurrect.

The Final Five knew that Earth would be nuked, and downloaded their memories onto an orbiting ship when it happened. They set out for the Twelve Colonies but hadn’t yet developed jump drive technology, so they traveled at “relativistic but subluminal speed”; i.e., time slowed down for them, while thousands of years passed on the Twelve Colonies.  Their intent was to warn the other tribes (humans?): “We knew they would continue to create artificial life, and we needed to tell them, treat them well, keep them close, but by the time we got to the colonies, they were already at war with the Centurions. It was too late.” = First Cylon War

The Centurions were trying to make flesh bodies and had already created the Hybrids, but nothing that had survived on its own. The Final Five made a deal with them: stop the war, and we’ll help you. So the First Cylon War ended, and the eight skinjobs (humanoid models) were born. = the Final Five gave them resurrection.

Tory: “The humans on Kobol made us.”

Tigh: “We share the blame with the humans.” Frakkin’ humans.

Cavil was the first humanoid model; he helped the Final Five build the other seven. He then “rejected mercy” and turned on the Final Five; first he trapped and suffocated them, then wiped their memories when they downloaded into new bodies. He implanted them with false memories and sent them to live with the humans, believing they were human, starting with Tigh, right after the war. (QUESTION: Didn’t Tigh fight in the First Cylon War, with Adama?)

BSG: Blood on the Scales

“The truth is told by whoever’s left standing.” —Tom Zarek

“I know who you are, Felix. I know who you are.” —Gaius Baltar

At last a day of reckoning has come, and tyranny brings even more blood than we might have imagined, and not in the ways we might have guessed: the Quorum executed at Zarek’s command, that noble lunkhead Anders shot and possibly dying, renegade lawyer Romo Lampkin taking revenge with his omnipresent pen, and rather nastily at that. (Am I wrong or did he actually gut that marine wide open? I hate to go back and watch it again.) In the end all is resolved and yet nothing is at peace, as we see the cracks have taken hold, that the ship itself is beginning to split apart even as its people are coming back together, however tentatively. Every second of this show carries a weight these days, every lurch forward leading us toward something inevitable, and inevitably more tragic.

That I could weep for Felix Gaeta; who would’ve thought? Then again, who would’ve imagined that Gaeta, of all people, an architect at heart, this civilized man who placed such faith in knowledge and deliberation and measured so carefully each step along the way, who would’ve guessed that his instincts would always be for shit? That in trying to do right, he would manage to choose the wrong side over and over again? Of course he would’ve spent his childhood dreaming up impossible things and then grow up to set them all aside in favor of easy logic: Baltar, the duplicitous Eight, Zarek… wake up, Gaeta, wake up!

Ah, well. In the end, perhaps his greatest failing was having no eye for nuance, no ability to see beyond the facts as presented, and imagining the scales of justice tilted only one way. Thinking that because Roslin was guilty of cheating, Baltar was somehow worthy of winning; that being in love—or lust, or sex, or whatever—meant you could trust anybody on New Caprica who looked like a Boomer. Or, finally, because he believed that Adama was fundamentally wrong to form an alliance with the Cylons, he was justified in helping someone like Tom Zarek blow it all to hell. Or that he might be able to absolve his own sins by punishing the same sins in others. Oh, Gaeta, wake up! There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your high-minded half-assed frakkin’ philosophy!

But then, too, how fitting was it that Gaeta’s own sad end should be the one thing that finally makes Baltar get up out of bed and face his own responsibilities and failings? Gaeta’s last miracle, I suppose: neutering Baltar and splitting open his conscience. But to die alongside Tom Zarek? Yuck. At peace or not, that seems like the cruelest fate of all.

And then there was the simple, single-minded lunacy of Tyrol, crawling through the belly of the bucket alone, on his own belly, inch by hideous, stinking inch. What a lovely thing. After all, hasn’t Tyrol always loved machines best? And I’m not talking as a Cylon; I’m talking about who he is, at his core. They are his first language, the fleeting Blackbird, the Vipers and Raptors, the Galactica itself, the gears and levers and the great, churning engines, everything that makes them go. They are the only thing he relates to anymore. And so he and Kelly lament the battered ship’s old glory together, and so he brings Zarek’s escape to a halt with his own hands and blood, and so he is the first to see that they’re tearing apart from within, in ways they haven’t even conceived of yet. In so many ways, time is running out.

Of course time is running out for Laura Roslin, too. How can it be otherwise? Now that she’s bossing not only her own people around, but also her sworn enemies, while summoning every ounce of life left in her failing body to rain down vengeance on Tom Zarek’s poor, blow-dried head. Does the fact that she’s fighting now mostly to save the man she loves make her any less of a leader? Or make her actions, and the force of her intent, any less fearsome? I do have to admit, though, that I found much of her dialogue and delivery glaringly clunky in this episode; god knows my deep and abiding admiration for Mary McDonnell is front and center in my love for this show, but something felt way off here, right up until her final scene. But that in no way diminished the beauty of watching her turn from such righteous fury into something so small and fragile and human at the end, her relief at seeing Adama again so great that she had no words for it, and no way to touch him without falling apart. And it’s hard not to imagine, as he takes her in his arms and leads her away, that he’s finally bringing her home to die. But I will gladly be wrong about that.

Anyway; my heart was rended, and stepped on, and crumpled up into a tiny little ball of wailing tears by the time the credits finally rolled, and I’m finding that the closer we get to the end, the longer I pray a week will last.