"Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2"
Air date: 4/1/2005
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by David Eick
Directed by Michael Rymer
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
As a general rule, I'm tired of cliffhanger season enders. Cliffhangers have long since become cliché. The newer template of serialized cable television — as evidenced by shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, or The Shield — has managed to get away from the network presentation of the cliffhanger season cap. Cable series now often treat seasons as book volumes where certain plot lines are resolved in some form, even as new plot lines are set up. Usually they end on a note of quasi-resolution rather than a note of "to be continued."
Not "Kobol's Last Gleaming." But I'm certainly not complaining. I'll take any cliffhanger as purely entertaining — and that promises to be as life-altering — as what we get in "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2." Not only does the episode end on a true "Mr. Worf, fire" moment of unexpected shock, it's like five cliffhangers all at once, united in the big quagmire that is the story. Just about every character ends up in the jackpot, and for some characters, things will never be the same (or at least I would hope not). This is a cliffhanger for which there will be hell to pay. How is this all going to play out? One legitimate concern is whether season two can pay off what has been set in motion here.
Let's start with Helo and Boomer on Caprica. Not the season's best story structure, I'll grant you. Basically, they've been running around in the background of 13 episodes. Dramatically, aside from Helo recently learning Boomer is a Cylon, this has been a long road of relatively inconsequential events. It has allegedly encompassed 51 days, but it feels more like a couple weeks. And what's Helo's brilliant plan? Still to get off the planet and get back to the Galactica. What in the world makes him think Galactica is going to be anywhere to be found after nearly two months?
Whatever. Helo and Boomer go to the museum that holds the Arrow of Apollo — the same Arrow that Starbuck has jumped all the way back to Caprica to retrieve on behalf of Roslin. Is it a coincidence that Boomer has brought Helo here? Or do the Cylons also have a plan involving the Arrow? If they do, why have they waited 51 days to go after it? And is it a coincidence that the Cylons have taken orbit around Kobol right after the fleet discovered it?
Aboard the Galactica, the situation quickly deteriorates. Roslin, having gone around Adama and betrayed his secret to Starbuck, admits her complicity. Adama immediately asks for her resignation. She refuses. Oh, and she's called the press to hear everything unfold. Noting that "she's dangerous," Adama intends to board the Colonial One and force her to step down. Both think the other is bluffing, but make preparations in case they aren't.
Who's to blame for this situation? In a way, everybody and nobody, but I guess this is ultimately about crossing lines. Clearly, Roslin crossed a line by going to Starbuck. But the choice, ultimately, was Starbuck's to make; Roslin didn't force her to do anything. By demanding her resignation and sending an armed party to arrest her, is Adama justified, or is he himself now crossing the line in bypassing due process of the law? One wonders how anything can ever be the same again when the head of the military sends guys with guns to arrest the head of the civilian government.
Don't forget — we also have a stranded Raptor team on Kobol and a Cylon base star in orbit. The new plan is to send a Raptor with a Cylon transponder to go nuke the base star. With Starbuck gone, Adama chooses Boomer to fly the mission ("I need every pilot") with ECO Racetrack (Leah Cairns). For obvious story reasons Boomer needs to be on this mission, but would Adama really send her in light of Boomer's suspiciously "accidental" shooting of herself? Perhaps this is what trusting your fellow soldiers is about, but one wonders if Adama asked himself the question.
The stranded team on Kobol is mainly concerned with basic military survival tactics, and I liked the story's continued commitment to character details. Lt. Crashdown is in command, but he's clearly not nearly as experienced as Chief Tyrol, who has better instincts about where the team needs to be going. There are early signs of some friction/competition here, even as Crashdown realizes he's wrong and Tyrol's right. Meanwhile, Six plays the part of guardian angel for Baltar, saving his life at one point, and then promising him answers. She leads him to some nearby ruins of the Kobol opera house, in a sequence that's visually and musically arresting.
Starbuck arrives on a very Cylon-occupied Caprica (although most of the Cylons seem to be in orbit), and there's a nifty FX shot of her Raider flying through a ravaged cityscape of damaged skyscrapers. She quickly finds the museum and the Arrow, but is just as quickly ambushed by a copy of Number Six. This leads to the best brutal beating between blonde babes that I've seen since the fight between Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill, Vol. 2. The stunt work isn't nearly as elaborate or inventive, but as a simple, dirty, dusty, grueling, violent slugfest, it's well done and entertaining. The music made me think of Black Hawk Down. Starbuck can't really go head-to-head against a Cylon, but that doesn't stop her from trying, and I enjoyed her spirit, even if the dogged underdog is nothing we haven't seen before. The fight ends the only way it can (and the only way Kara can win it), with a reckless, desperate explosion of Starbuck madness. Yes, Kara should probably be dead from such a fall, but I'm heartened by how on this show even the slugfests end in a way true to character.
Helo and Boomer happen upon Starbuck just in time to watch gravity become her (painful) best friend. Speaking of Helo/Boomer, Sharon reveals to Helo that she's pregnant, and that what they had together was important for spiritual reasons. The entire season on Caprica has basically been building up to this discovery, and the sci-fi/religious implications and questions are endless. What does this mean? Why do the Cylons want hybrid children? Do they require humans to conceive? Why destroy a civilization in order to replace it in the same image, complete with hybrids?
All of these questions are tantalizing. The one hesitation I have is that they seem like they could potentially have arbitrary answers (or, for that matter, none at all), like the X-Files conspiracy plots or Enterprise's Temporal Cold War. The Cylon master plan is either seriously flawed (couldn't they have engineered a love/sexual encounter in far simpler ways?) or spiraling out of their control. One interesting idea is that maybe Sharon is a wild card capable of more independent thought than the Cylons anticipated. There's certainly evidence to support that theory.
Like, for example, Sharon being capable of blowing up the Cylon base star orbiting Kobol. Faced with a malfunction, Sharon and Racetrack are forced to land their Raptor in the base star docking bay, and Sharon must remove the nuke from the side of the Raptor and arm it. While doing this, she's confronted by a small army of naked Sharon copies (who emerge from strategically placed shadows). This is a truly eerie scene, and Sharon's response ("This isn't happening") is pretty dead-on. The gentleness of the Sharons toward Sharon is especially disturbing, as if they're simply incapable of harming one of their own. Why do they let Sharon go? Do they even know that she's planted a nuke on board their ship? They don't appear to, anyway, until it's too late. Sharon gets into the Raptor and they leave. KA-BOOM.
Back on the Galactica, Roslin doesn't show any signs of standing down as the boarding party arrives, and the unfortunate prospect of the system collapsing is demonstrated through a nice touch where Dualla and Billy ask each other if their respective bosses are really going through with this. As if the Cylons weren't enough trouble, now human beings are suddenly on opposing sides of internal strife. Lee's major decision grows out of his speech on democracy in "Bastille Day"; he pulls a gun on Tigh at the last minute and stands not exactly with Roslin, but against a military coup that is terminating the current government. The volatility of the standoff prompts Roslin to back down. Adama has her put in the brig, in a scene of dialed-down straightforwardness and quiet regret.
And then, after all that, comes the shocker: About to be publicly congratulated on her successful mission, Sharon pulls a gun and shoots Adama in full view of everyone in the Galactica CIC, leaving him bleeding to death. It's so swift and unexpected that it could not have been predicted.
So, aside from the obvious drama circling the "will Adama die?" question (gee, what do you think?), the reason this works as a cliffhanger — and works so well — is because it cannot be undone. It has huge consequences for the characters, who by the end of this episode are scattered all over the place.
For starters, the cat is out of the bag — Sharon is a Cylon and everyone knows it. There's the added complexity that the Caprica Sharon seems willing to defect (and is pregnant, which has endless possibilities), even while the Galactica Sharon shot Adama on what looked like autopilot (will she even remember doing it?) after destroying the base star.
We have Adama out of commission, meaning Tigh will have to step up into full-fledged command. We have Lee in handcuffs for mutiny, having gone against his father, who now lies badly wounded. We have Roslin in the brig for willfully undermining a military decision. We have what appears to be no working government for the fleet.
We have Starbuck, Helo, and Boomer on Caprica, in possession of the Arrow of Apollo, which might or might not mean something bigger. We have a military team stranded on Kobol. And, as usual, we have Baltar off in his own little world, being taken on journeys of God and destiny by Six, who foretells Baltar as the one to watch over the new generation of God's children — the hybrids.
That all of this actually makes sense and holds together and seems to emerge from a single coherent narrative with a consistent through-line, and has artistic ambitions without coming across as pretentious, and has a large dose of mystery without seeming aimless — well, that's pretty damn amazing.
Heck, "Kobol's Last Gleaming" is enough to convince me that cliffhangers are still worth doing. This episode, and the season in general, makes me feel more like a cheerleader than a critic. So be it. The cards lie where they fall. Hopefully season two will not be afraid to fully confront this intriguing shuffled deck.
Previous episode: Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 1
Next episode: Scattered
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43 comments on this post
Sun, Jun 1, 2008, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 9, 2008, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
It was BECAUSE she was suicidal. He needed someone to go on a mission that there was a great liklihood of not returning.
Tue, Jun 10, 2008, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
I think that because there isn't actual proof she was suicidal, and she didn't admit, he chose to treat as she wanted, as if she wasn't.
Sat, Jul 26, 2008, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
Sending Boomer to destroy the Basestar undermines Roslin's dilemma in the previous episode. It was strongly implied (and stated explicitly in a deleted scene) that the Raider would not return from the mission. Except the Raptor delievered the nuke and returned safely. Therefore, Roslin had no reason to worry: the Raider could've destroyed the Basestar, returned, and then retrieved the Arrow.
Probably the biggest plot hole in the season, next to Baltar forgetting to tell anyone that he discovered Boomer was a Cylon.
Wed, Jul 30, 2008, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 26, 2008, 1:00am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 13, 2009, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 16, 2009, 9:56pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 16, 2009, 11:52pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 24, 2009, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 24, 2009, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 3, 2009, 10:45am (UTC -5)
Now, hundreds of nude Grace AND Linda Parks??? I would have the same look on my face as Baltar.
Mon, Dec 20, 2010, 9:47am (UTC -5)
I don't want it to seem like I didn't enjoy this episode, because I did, but for some reason I thought that a lot more things would be resolved (maybe just because of my general expectations towards episodes whose titles end in 'Part 2').
Sat, Feb 12, 2011, 12:53am (UTC -5)
And as for it being "impossible" for Adama to survive... says who? People survive being shot in the chest all the time. Even the head, as recent real life events have shown. And it's not as if he's up and in command again the next episide, there is an appropriately difficult recovery period for him.
Seems like you're nitpicking details on two of the best scenes of the season!
Sun, Apr 3, 2011, 9:08am (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 3, 2011, 10:00am (UTC -5)
This episode has a lot of similarities to "Chrysalis" from Babylon 5. Both show the characters heading off in new directions, both involve someone getting shot. Although I like BSG better than B5 in general, in this case I think I enjoyed "Chrysalis" much more.
Wed, Apr 20, 2011, 8:51am (UTC -5)
Easy 4 star. I am not sure if this was better than 33, but it is at least equal. I agree with Jammer, there were so many plot points that could have turned cheezy, and yet they ALL worked.
And that last scene, OMG. I literally almost fell off my couch. yes, obviously we all know he is going to live (even though I haven't seen any episodes after this one yet), but the shocker of it, the way the direction played with our expectations. did anyone else notice that the question was Adama going to shake boomers hand? for a second it looked like he was going to cold-shoulder her, then his had comes out, then BOOM. I was just about ready to go to bed, but I had to sit there for 20 minutes for my heart to slow down.
This is the first time since "Mr. Worf, Fire", I have been blown away be the ending of a TV episode like this. And I gotta admit, Starbuck was not annoying this time out. That alone is worth 4 stars. I keep waiting for moley-duck-face to die, but is never happens.
As for the boomer-choice on the mission. I have to side with the "picked BECAUSE of the suicide" camp. I think it was almost glaringly obvious. Plus, some posters here seem to think Adama didn't know it was a suicide attempt. Are you kdding me? people don't accidentally shoot them selves in the face in a suicidal fashion as often as is commonly thought. Plus, I don't think she was trying all that hard to hide it. I mean, Balter walked right in on her. No, Adama knew it was a suicide attempt, and whether it was because he thought she had a death wish, or he wanted to give her a chance at vidication, or both, the suicide attempt was abosolutely the driving force behind his choice of her.
But then again, Adama has tended to pick injured pilots to do jobs they are completely unqualified to handle, HELLO STARBUCK.
But I digress, AWESOME EPISODE!!!!
Sat, Nov 12, 2011, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
A superlative episode.
Sun, Feb 12, 2012, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
Baltar not telling anyone Boomer's a cylon wasn't a plot hole.
It absolutely is, and a huge one. The sole reason given for Baltar withholding the fact of Boomer's identity as a cylon was because she was sitting across the table and he was afraid she'd "go into cylon mode" and kill him.
So then why didn't he, after lying to her, wait for her to leave and then immediately contact Adama with the information? Baltar gets to show off a successful cylon detector, thus boosting his cred, and saves the fleet (and more importantly, himself) from the threat of a cylon agent.
Instead, he keeps the information to himself and lets a cylon agent walk freely among the fleet, after several recent incidences of confirmed sabotage, with nary a second thought.
Please explain how that's not a plothole.
Btw, I know this comment was made a while ago but I just started watching this show for the first time and, though I enjoy it, I'm having an increasingly hard time coming to grips with the many gaping plot holes.
Wed, May 30, 2012, 4:24am (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 15, 2012, 1:54am (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 15, 2012, 1:57am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 19, 2012, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 25, 2013, 5:31am (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 21, 2013, 12:28am (UTC -5)
The pregnancy didn't surprise me once Planet Caprica Sharon started puking a couple episodes ago. Indeed, has any woman ever thrown up on television and NOT discover she was pregnant?
But the show jumping between several key stories really had me in suspense and was just amazingly done.
Can't wait for season two...tomorrow night !
Tue, Nov 25, 2014, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
I think Adama saw Sharon despondent. Obviously, he doesn't know why, but might suspect it's over her relationship with the Chief. An important, dangerous mission might be just what she needs.
Adama has an inner circle of people he trusts, and he'll ask a lot / give a lot to those people. Just don't betray his trust......
Fri, May 15, 2015, 3:04am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 11:44am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 8:15pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 3:44pm (UTC -5)
Way to miss the essence for the concretes.
There may be no guns, but there an awful lot of dead main characters.
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 6:20pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 15, 2015, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
h t t p://dilbert.com/series/67-Dick-from-the-Internet
But I see I was mistaken, lol.
Sun, Dec 11, 2016, 9:47pm (UTC -5)
Now that ive finished season 1 some things they should have done a) Boomer and Helo should have been a couple from the start b) They could have been on the run and end up in some city bunker making babies (at which point CapriBoomer falls in love with Helo for real). When Starbuck comes back to Caprica she finds them somehow(thus realizing Boomer is a cylon). The end result is the same but the journey to that point would have been more consistent and less pointless and contrived.
Other than the Tigh me up drivel, it was an excellent season of television minus this Caprica storyline that should have been better.
Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 5:18pm (UTC -5)
This one is firing in all cylinders. The politics of Roslyn and Adama, the religious, the action, the foreboding, the opera house. Baltar has some absolutely hilarious moments.
The mysterious Kobol. Boomer and Crashdown accidentally jumping too close to Kobol— a small crazy moment that’s played exactly like that: a serious screwup
Apollo and Starbuck trading fist sandwiches. Similar to the Boomer/Crashdown scene, it’s great because it’s relatively minor, but makes this world seem real.
Roslyn becoming a converted believer is quite striking. Yes, she’s taking a hallucinogen (!) but she really does seem to fulfilling a prophecy in apocalyptic times.
And Roslyn convinces Starbuck of her prophecy. Roslyn doesn’t trick Starbuck, she tells her the truth. That’s all great stuff.
Then Adama launches a coup against Roslyn as a result of that. And his position is unarguable from his point of view: this woman is batshit crazy and using her office to waste critical resources.
Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
The follow up Raptor mission, where three Raptors jump right in the middle of a fleet of enemies is a wonderfully realized example of the perils of this technology.
And Billy is a fabulous young lieutenant for Roslyn. He respects her but believes (like Adama— but with more reason) that Roslyn is crazy. There’s no hidden agenda. He values their attempts to put a functional government in place.
Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
And that’s one helluva place to be.
Sat, May 8, 2021, 2:31am (UTC -5)
Regarding the comments about Adama's supposed chest wounds and should-be death; if you watch the scene, you'll see Boomer shoots him twice in the stomach. I'm not an expert in such things, but to the best of my knowledge, it takes a certain amount of time to bleed out from this type of injury.
I'm not sure why dude above seems to think Starbuck should be seriously injured in the fight, because quite frankly, she IS seriously injured in the fight. The only discrepancy here is, as someone else mentioned, the rebar impaling six that apparently doesn't also impale Starbuck. I enjoyed the melee due to the way they portrayed six's speed and agility. She looked like a genuinely terrifying threat, just as Leoben did in the interrogation room.
Someone else states that Rosalyn trying to commandeer the raider is a plothole because if she had just waited, it would have successfully destroyed the basestar and returned for more missions. This is a ludicrous suggestion because no one had any way of knowing this ahead of time. It is certainly not a plothole by any stretch of the imagination. You could argue that Rosalin's idea was foolhardy by comparison, and that would have plenty of merit. But it's not a plothole.
Overall, great finale for the season! I remember when I first watched this back in the mid 2000's. I was floored. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait during the offseason to continue with season two.
Sat, Dec 10, 2022, 4:02am (UTC -5)
The look in Boomer's eyes while the episode's score plays in the background, is so complex. It's sad, shocking, disturbing, and existential... she did it, but her programming seems to keep her in a state of cognitive dissonance. I can't help but find her character tragic, being an instrument for something malign but unaware, and the truth finally coming to the surface after an entire season of her existential dilemma. And the truth is horrific.
The writing and acting is so rich and complex, as well as the camera work and the music. It's just so well done.
Thu, Jan 19, 2023, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
So Adama terminating Roslin's presidency -- suppose he could have pulled off a military coup for any reason he chooses. Lee has a point about not sacrificing democracy (taking his father's listening to one's instincts comment). Lee putting a gun to Tigh's head reminded me of the brilliant scene in "Tacking Into the Wind". Adama has his people and Roslin has those loyal to her, but she surrenders ultimately.
As for Sharon detonating the nuke on the basestar -- think she wanted to meet some Cylons and figure out what's up with herself, so she disabled the release mechanism for the bomb. Did not expect her to shoot Adama though... So I'd imagine Adama's out of commission for most of Season 2.
The fight between Kara and No. 6 was one of the weak points of the episode but it's fairly typical in these shows. Hard to believe that Kara survives... And what of Apollo's arrow when Kara/No. 6 fall off that ledge? I assume Kara has it. And of course Sharon has to announce to Helo she's pregnant, but there's more to this than just her feelings for Helo. That Cylon-human baby is something of an achievement for the Cylons one has to feel.
What exactly did No. 6 show Baltar after they walk into that auditorium-like place on Kobol? This whole part was pretty weird, as Baltar is finding out why he was chosen by God.
4 stars for "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2" -- no question about it. Just very well thought out, enough though-provoking stuff to go along with so much compelling action. Really so much packed into this 43-44 mins. The main cast of characters is now all over the place -- on Caprica, the brig, in hospital, on Kobol etc. Will take some time to get everything back into an equilibrium state. I thought this was a brilliant bit of TV.
Sat, Jan 21, 2023, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
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