Review: BSG -“Sometimes a Great Notion” [SPOILERS]

So I got the final episodes of BSG DVDs awhile back and I finally got through seeing them. And as I watched them, I remembered that I hadn’t written about the first episode from the final ten. (Not to mention I promised I would post my thoughts about it much earlier…) As it often does, however, “life stuff” came up and I put it off. Here then is the final posting.
And so with that I say farewell to Battlestar.
bsg - last-supper
Battlestar Galactica—-“Sometimes a Great Notion”

Reacting to tragedy and disappointment is not a sudden thing sometimes. You’re taught to endure, to move on. So you go about your day and try to pick up the pieces, but eventually something happens that triggers an emotional reaction. And you can’t help yourself. You go with it, regardless of how destructive it might be.
To others. To yourself.

Sometimes a Great Notion is about the aftermath of tragedy and disappointment. It’s to the writers’ credit that they keep it underplayed. These characters have been through so much disillusioning shit that they’ve been conditioned by it, numbed by it. But then they get back to the old tin can and very quickly we find out this time is very different. Worse.

It’s instinct at this point to look to the parents of the fleet, Adama and Roslin. Adama especially looks to Laura to balance him and inspire him. Now she has no words, no solace. And she just wants to escape, hide, and wait for death to inevitably come.

As if the disappointment of the wasteland isn’t enough, the fleet’s beliefs about their own history gets an epic raspberry of cosmic irony thrown in their face when they find out that the entire population of Earth–the fabled Thirteenth Tribe–was made up of Cylons. Eat that with your damn dirty apes, Charlton Heston! It’s no wonder then that Adama makes the choice he does at the end. The whole humans versus Cylons business seems to be semantics at this point. And more to the point, after all of this shit they‘ve endured, does anyone really give a frak anymore?

More surprises. Kara Thrace discovers her own charred and burned body amongst the wreckage of a very familiar Viper. Amusingly, even Leoben is at a loss for words and backs the hell away from her. Kara does the only thing she can do under the circumstances. Burn the evidence.

Meanwhile, Dualla begins her sad march to her final fate after getting back to Galactica from the dashing of all her dreams. Her last moments are innocent and ideal as she rekindles her relationship with ex-husband Lee Adama. No sex. No baggage. Just a kiss and the hint of a tomorrow. Then she calmly removes her ring, hums her melancholy song, and after Gaeta hobbles, she emotionlessly puts the gun to her head and pulls the trigger. The first time I saw that scene, I yelled out. It’s just blam and it’s done.

The other is much quieter but no less painful as Deanna decides to stay on their wasteland of a paradise and die. All the risk and sacrifice for nothing. Still like Dualla she seems tragically content with her choice. It’s over. That’s the important thing. It’s finally over.

All that’s left now are to pick up the pieces and answer the questions. Lee implores his father for something–anything–but since Roslin is burning Pythian prophecies instead of dropping pithy sound bites of resilience, he figures inebriated honesty will do as well as anything. “I don’t frakkin’ know.” It’s a sobering and brave moment when the writers allow everything to be so dire that even Adama is pulling out a flask from his sock.

And with that one tragedy, that one reaction of despair and hopelessness, the other dominoes fall in suit. Fights break out, trash is strewn. The Admiral of the Colonial Fleet walks with pistol in hand giving two shakes of a rat’s ass about the chaos around him. He only wants to talk to his former best friend.

It’s a stunning scene of hatred and bile; Michael Hogan and Edward James Olmos give it their all. So where Adama is falling and begging for Saul to end him, Tigh for the first time rises to the occasion. Reconciling with his Cylon side has centered the embittered, alcoholic Colonel and he refuses to shoot Adama. With that the fight goes out of both of them and they decide to press on or die trying.

As Adama gives his Spartan speech, the montage shows the crew trying to process it all. Even Roslin who lies dormant still holds onto the tiny plant with all the strength she can muster. She’s clinging to life with what little she can cling to.

Which brings us back to Earth for one final farewell and revelation. Earlier in his quarters, Adama revealed to Tigh the story about the hounds who drowned while chasing the foxes–some of them voluntarily. After talking with Deanna, it seems Tigh sees himself in the same predicament. But after an episode of disillusioned disappointment and despair comes hope in the form of the past. Tigh already lost everything when he had to kill his wife. Strangely enough his wading out to death brings him back to life as a realization takes hold. Ellen is the fifth Cylon. Ellen’s alive.

And perhaps this is just the boon that Galactica–that everyone–needs.

In the commentary, Ron Moore said this is probably the best script Bradley Thompson and David Weddle have ever written for BSG and it’s hard to argue with that. It is uncompromising in showing a ship’s morale coming apart at the seams. The only way you could get the Enterprise crew to act that chaotic and self-destructive is if they were all infected by an alien virus. But not here. The meltdown happens for the most understandable of reasons. Because you just can’t take life beating you and laughing at you anymore. We don’t get a rousing Win-One-For-the-Gipper speech from the steadfast leader. He looks doubled over in pain as he tells the fleet they are going to journey on. To what end? Will there even be one? Who knows. But they’re going anyway. Because that’s what they’ve always done, what they seem to be damned to do.

And unlike so many So Say We Alls the quick cuts around the CIC show that not everyone is on board…and something is simmering to a boil. Adama may have quelled collapse, but only for the time being.

Nice hopeful way to start out Galactica’s final run. Would we expect anything less?


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