The message of "Home, Part 2" is one of forgiveness and reconciliation. After all that has happened — the betrayals and the philosophical divides — the simple fact of the matter is that these people need each other too much to let these differences keep them apart.
The episode is a rich, fully satisfying hour that provides some noteworthy resolution to the series' mythological elements while also establishing new questions for the characters. Thematically, this marks the end of season one, a full seven episodes into season two. It's like a bookend that resonates all the way back to the miniseries. At the end of "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2," I wondered how — or even if — things could ever be repaired between these characters. This opening arc for season two has managed to show just how bad things can get and yet how wounds can indeed be repaired. This is done about as plausibly as possible under the circumstances. The writers have permitted many of these characters to forgive. My one hope, however, would be that that they do not forget.
The opening sequence echoes the brilliant opening from "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 1," where the perspective cuts between characters as a musical piece provides the emotional backdrop. Adama makes plans to travel to Kobol as Roslin's party traverses the rainy terrain, with Sharon as their guide. ("We know more about your religion than you do," she notes of the Cylons.)
Surprisingly, "Home, Part 2" tackles even more character threads than I might've expected given that the plot must answer the question of what lies within the Tomb of Athena. This episode is even more character-oriented than part one.
For example: Baltar. As is the case much of the time, while the other characters are off discovering ancient tombs and repairing relationships, Baltar is off in his own little self-obsessed world with Six. In this particular case, in what is a fascinating scene, Baltar's hallucinations take a particularly sharp left turn that threatens to eject him from the vehicle. After appearing to him naked and being (rightfully) mocked for it, Six appears as a sweatshirt-and-ponytail version of herself, who laughs hysterically. The moment of transformation has an effectively jarring effect, as if Baltar's already-screwed-up reality has further shattered into something entirely unexpected and, thus, frightening.
The transformation goes beyond Six's look and also into her personality. Tricia Helfer performs this version of Six a little closer to ground level (although still exaggerated); instead of cooing in his ear, she laughs in his face and tells him that he is indeed quite crazy. She tells him she is in fact not a chip in his head, and dares him to have Dr. Cottle do a brain scan to settle the matter. As always, James Callis is amusing to watch squirm under these bizarre circumstances; it's funny to see Six back him into a corner, at which point Baltar turns 90 degrees and keeps on backing up.
Frankly, Six as a character is in need of a shake-up. (Even Baltar is noticing: "Do you have any notion of how ridiculous you've become? Prattling on about this mythical baby of ours?") It might be interesting, for example, to see various permutations of Six at war in Baltar's mind. Whether something like that will happen remains to be seen, but I for one hope this is not the last we see of ponytailed Six. The mystery of what exactly Six is (or whether Baltar is simply nuts) is still far from solved, but the writers at least seem to quell the notion of her being Cylon-installed technology. The writers also finally confirm that the Baltar/Six child isn't literally theirs but actually the Sharon/Helo child. I must also point out the harbinger of having Baltar identifying the Sharon/Helo child as his own.
On Kobol, the characters camp in tents as they make their journey toward the tomb. In a particularly good example of this series' commitment to characters, there's a sequence where we hear conversations going on in these various tents. Many conversations are commentaries on the other characters. Roslin sits alone, poring over scriptures. Zarek comments to Meier about how "losing that priest really frakked her up." They discuss a possible plot involving Lee's assassination, and Meier suggests a plan that recruits Sharon. Helo and Sharon sit together, trying to imagine some sense of normalcy to their relationship, which may be an exercise in hopeful thinking. Sharon has memories from the other Sharon, and feels a sense of family with people that she never actually met. Lee expresses to Kara his distaste about Helo and Sharon: "Gives me the creeps — seeing him acting like that with her." Surprising, how much ground this scene covers, demonstrating all the fragile relationships and hints of collision courses.
Adama, Tyrol, and Billy arrive on Kobol. The need for reunifying the fleet is demonstrated vividly via microcosm by the level of emotion played in the scene where Adama is reunited with his son and with Kara. That these scenes don't shy away from the emotional angle is an example of how this is more than simply a plot point but a character arc about abandonment and reconciliation. Similarly, Roslin is reunited with Billy.
We get a significant scene of resolution between Adama and Roslin that hearkens all the way back to the debate they had in the miniseries, where Roslin convinced Adama to flee rather than stand and fight. With news now that there are resistance movements on the Colonies, Roslin wonders if it was the right decision. Adama believes that it was, and that every day of life since they decided to flee is a gift. I liked the story's notion of having these two reanalyze their original differences of opinion in its larger goal of bringing about this reconciliation.
Then there's the whole Sharon issue, one of enormous multidimensional complexity. As an attempt to draw her into his plot to assassinate Lee, Meier tells Sharon how the other Sharon was killed in cold blood, and how "everyone just let it happen." Sharon's subsequent conversations with Helo reveal her distrust in anyone's ability to see her as anything but a toaster. The fact that Adama gave Cally only 30 days in the brig for killing the other Sharon is a point Sharon specifically cites as his belief that Cylons are merely toasters. The irony, of course, is that she was not privy to the soul-searching Adama had in coming to that punishment (see his scene with Tyrol in "The Farm"), and his acknowledgement that Sharon was indeed more than just a machine.
And how about the scene where Tyrol tries to talk to this new Sharon? Talk about your awkward situations complicated by sci-fi circumstances. There's the issue of what exactly Sharon does and doesn't remember from her other self, and the presence of Helo makes this into the most bizarre of would-be love triangles; I liked Helo's subtle observation in this scene, as if he's sizing up all the possible angles.
And there's also the intriguing ambivalence in the scene where Adama first sees Sharon and reacts viscerally, throwing her to the ground and choking her. He intends at first to kill her, but then releases her and clutches his chest. What does this mean? Is it the rage he feels in his chest that he spoke of bursting in "Home, Part 1"? Is there something else going on here? What about the fact that Sharon seems to know that he stood over the other Sharon's corpse and asked "Why?" This scene supplies hints but gives no specific answers. It does seem possible, however, that Sharon may remember more than she is letting on.
After three-fourths of an episode filled with character development, we finally get to the Tomb of Athena, where Sharon makes a very deliberate choice of turning Meier's assassination plot against him in a way that she hopes will earn her some trust in everyone else's eyes. She shoots Meier when she easily could've shot Adama, and then hands the gun to him. As trust goes, I suppose this is a start, although I was glad to see that by the end of the episode Sharon is still not considered a friend and is locked up. Her future is still very much in question.
The big payoff in the Tomb of Athena is itself depicted fairly straightforwardly, and the Arrow of Apollo shows the characters a map room of constellations as seen from Earth. In terms of tone, visuals, and atmosphere, this scene is just about perfect in its simple, low-key way, supplying the necessary sense of emotion and awe as our characters figure out what they are seeing. It's a payoff worthy of what has been set up in this arc; it definitively ties the BSG mythos into the Earth's zodiac. (Whether this was already done in the original series I don't know, but it works here.) The only thing I continue not to understand (and this goes all the way back to the miniseries) is exactly how the 12 Colonies were spatially arranged. I'd previously thought the suggestion was that they were all in the same star system (impossible as that may be), but the suggestion here is that they lie in completely different constellations.
The episode ends with a big speech by Adama and a slowly building applause for Roslin's reinstatement. It's a cliche of sorts, but one that this arc has earned with its depiction of struggle and hardship and gradual realizations. The feeling is that some semblance of normalcy can now resume. "Home, Part 2" is a stellar resolution to a stellar story arc.