Air date: 2/13/2009
Written by Ryan Mottesheard
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"No Exit" may contain more information, confirmation, revelations, and answers than any singular episode of Battlestar Galactica ever made. This is a hard-core mythology episode, wall-to-wall with explanations and exposition, some of which is imparted at breakneck speed. I was riveted by nearly every minute of it. This episode may not have the visceral impact of an episode like "The Oath," but it compensates for that with a pure assault of details that will make your brain explode at the possibilities. This is fascinating material that does no less than reveal (or confirm) nearly every remaining secret involving the mysteries of the Tribes of Kobol. (That is, until the rug is ripped out from under us by whatever twist comes next.)
Let it be said, the issues that weren't dealt with regarding the mutiny at the end of "Blood on the Scales" do not get sufficiently addressed here, in my view. And if they don't before it's all over, that will be a mark against the season at large, but mostly against "Blood on the Scales." But I will not hold that against "No Exit," which proceeds full-speed-ahead toward the end of the series, and does so very effectively.
The story information pummels us on two fronts. On one front, we have Anders, who was shot in the head and has a bullet lodged in his brain. While being prepped for brain surgery to remove the bullet, his memory from his long-ago days on Earth comes rushing back. He tells Kara, "I remember everything."
On the other front, we see what happened to Ellen Tigh, the last of the Final Five, after Saul poisoned her in "Exodus, Part 2." She was downloaded and resurrected aboard a Cylon ship, where she had an extended dialog (to the tune of 18 months) with Cavil.
Both storylines are equally fascinating and equally jam-packed with answers, answers, answers. The beauty of all this is how it grows logically from what's already been established. BSG's mythology, I'm finding, is pretty much rock-solid. I think the secret to success is that the mythology basically plays fair with us. Even through all the twists and turns and curveballs the writers have thrown at us, the mythology has not egregiously violated any rule that came before. It has merely added new rules and puzzle pieces on top of what was there. The result is a tapestry that, miraculously, makes perfect sense when you step back and look at the big picture. What we see in "No Exit" doesn't come so much as a shock as the next logical progression and reasonable development of many threads whose groundwork had been clearly established, most recently in "Sometimes a Great Notion."
And yet it's still a thrill to watch it all unfold. This is an hour filled with aha moments. When we learn, for example that the evolution of the Centurions was accelerated during their 40-year absence after leaving the Colonies because they came in contact with the Final Five, it makes sense. It fills in a gap that seemed somewhat inevitable — so much so that I had guessed it in my review of "Notion." It was guessable precisely because it's based on a solid foundation where logic does in fact apply.
Ellen's storyline picks up from her resurrection POV (a process that, visually, owes plenty to the Matrix films), and is brilliantly realized as a concept and as performed by Kate Vernon: She's at first horrified and lets out anguished shrieks, but then gradually becomes calm as she processes the memories now resupplied to her. She suddenly knows who and what she is. It's an intriguing transformation, sold with zero words.
But first, let's put all the cards on the table in a nutshell of the overall mythic chronology: The 13 Tribes left Kobol 3,600 years ago after a war between man and Cylon. The 13th Tribe — all biological humanoid Cylons — went to Earth; the other 12 founded the Colonies. The 13th Tribe, who were capable of biological procreation, built their own mechanized Cylons and were destroyed in a holocaust 2,000 years ago. Just before that holocaust, however, the Final Five were warned and reassembled the ancient technology of resurrection ("organic memory transfer") before the bombs fell. This technology was originally invented long before, on Kobol.
The Final Five were resurrected on a ship orbiting Earth just after the holocaust; they then embarked on a journey to the Colonies to prevent the same fate (an uprising of persecuted Centurions), from befalling the 12 Colonies. Because they didn't have FTL technology and instead employed some other method of near-light-speed travel, the effects of relativity (or whatever; I'm not a physicist) caused time to slow down, and they aged only a short time while 2,000 years passed. By the time the Final Five met the Colonial Centurions, the first Cylon War had already happened and the Centurions had left the Colonies. The Final Five tried to teach the Centurions, who were already experimenting with humanoid Cylons (hence the Hybrids) how to embrace human qualities and agreed to help them construct the humanoid Cylons in exchange for a promise of peace between Cylon and human. But something went horribly wrong.
That "something" is the crux of the drama here (apart from the reams of information). What went wrong is that after the humanoid Cylons were constructed, Model No. 1 (Cavil), whose given name was John, rebelled and killed the Final Five. When they downloaded, he blocked their real memories, gave them human identities, and put them on the Colonies, where his plan for revenge (the "Cylon Plan"?) subjected them to the fate of humanity. When they survived the holocaust of the 12 Colonies, he put the Final Five through still more games, which neatly explains why so many of these people have suffered such hardships, like Saul being tortured on New Caprica. He did this out of a need to prove a point, so that when the Final Five eventually did return to the Cylons and regained their memories, they would see he was right all along about the distastefulness of humanity.
My, what a neat, tidy package this is. I would call it contrived — but that word has such a negative connotation. Or perhaps we should simply embrace the word. Of course this is contrived. Truthfully, the whole series is a contrivance — but a bold and brilliant one.
Ellen's dialog with Cavil is intriguing. She and the other Final Five created him and the other seven humanoid Cylons (yes, seven; more on that in a moment). Indeed, Ellen thought of John/Cavil as one of her children. But Cavil views his existence only as a bad joke. He is a bitter, self-loathing creature who savagely hates humanity in no small part because he hates the limitations that being created in their image has brought him personally. His identity problems have left him twisted and evil. Some of Cavil's speeches reminded me of Agent Smith in the first Matrix movie, who also hated being cursed to live as a human when he believed himself to be a far superior AI being.
Cavil has great intelligence, but he also reveals a great deal of emotional immaturity. In a sense, he is a petulant child who has greatly abused his power in terrible ways. When you consider that Ellen created Cavil in the image of her father, and thinks of him as a son, and that Cavil knew this (and at the time she didn't) while having sex with her on New Caprica — well, that's just twisted and demented and disgusting and wrong. It constitutes a deviously sick joke of bizarre logic that seems all the more appropriate because Cavil thinks of himself as a machine, and of humanity as beneath him. And Ellen's presence here brings out the worst in him, even as she tries to offer him forgiveness and a road to redemption and assures him that she still loves him. Perhaps she even blames herself for all he's done.
The dialog here is great stuff. It's not simply exposition (although exposition certainly is a big part of it). It's also philosophy and psychology, and provocative science fiction. It's storytelling that examines the concept of an AI that cannot come to grips with the fact that it was designed with limitations, and instead took the worst of its given human emotions and became Wrath unleashed, which had catastrophic consequences for humanity.
Cavil says he wanted "justice" for what the humans did to the Centurions, but I think it goes even deeper than that, into the depths of his own self-loathing. The Final Five intended to stop the Centurions from destroying the 12 Colonies, but instead they may have hastened it. This notion of culpability is echoed elsewhere in the episode when Tigh and Tory argue over who's to blame for the cycle of destruction. Tory wants to blame the humans, because, well, the humans on Kobol made the Cylons, so it always goes back to the humans. You might as well argue about the chicken and the egg. Tigh is quite ready to own up to responsibility and move forward: "Maybe we share the guilt with the humans, but we don't just get to shove it off on them."
We also learn about a mysterious 13th Cylon. Again, the notion of a 13th Cylon seems inevitable in retrospect, if for no other reason than because of a need to balance the narrative scales. Just as the 12 Colonies were missing their 13th sister tribe, the 12 Cylon models are missing their 13th sibling. That Cylon was named Daniel, and was destroyed when Cavil intentionally corrupted the genetic material of all the Daniel copies. I can't shake the feeling that Daniel's destruction has something to do with what Kara is. After all, there's long been speculation she might be a Cylon. Could it be she was the phoenix that rose from Daniel's ashes? This is an intriguing hint, and I'm dying to know where it's going.
If there's a problem with the structure of the Ellen/Cavil dialog (and it's a minor one), it's that it purports to take place over the course of the full 18 months that Ellen has been away from the fleet. For that matter, I'm often left slightly lost about the amount of time that passes in the course of a BSG season. This episode also alleges that four months has already passed since the resurrection hub was destroyed in "The Hub." I don't know how that's possible, unless a lot of time — nearly the entire four months, really — went by off-screen in between "Sometimes a Great Notion" and "A Disquiet Follows My Soul." By my estimation, "Revelations," "Notion," "Disquiet," "Oath," and "Blood on the Scales" collectively only account for a few days, and this episode picks up only minutes or hours after "Blood." (I was similarly confused by Caprica Six's claim that there's been no alcohol around Tigh's quarters for weeks. Has she even been in his quarters for weeks? This again must come down to how long went by off-screen just before "Disquiet.")
Worth noting is that not everything was orchestrated by the Final Five and/or by Cavil. The role of D'Anna seeing the faces of the Five, as well as the "All Along the Watchtower" song, were not planted in anyone's programming. Ellen argues they must've been orchestrated by the One True God, which, as it happens, was a concept that the Final Five learned from the Colonial Centurions; Ellen believed that it was through God that peace could be attained and the cycle of destruction broken, so she passed it on to the humanoid Cylons.
After months of fencing, the turn in the Cavil/Ellen story comes when the hub is destroyed and Cavil wants Ellen to help build a new one. She says she needs all of the Final Five in order to do it. He threatens to probe her brain for answers. Cavil has by this point shown a capability to rise to any level of demonstrative villainy. It's finally at this point that Boomer, Cavil's own student, helps Ellen escape. (If you watch closely, the seed for this was planted at the outset, when Ellen asked Boomer to watch closely and make up her own mind.)
The Ellen/Tigh dialog runs parallel with the equally compelling adventure in breathless revelations from Anders. There's so much information racing through Anders, and he tries to impart it to Kara and the other Final Four as fast as he can. It's exciting and at the same time excruciating, because it's clear just how much medical danger Anders is in.
Again, the vast amount of exposition is wisely anchored to an emotional dilemma, namely Kara's tough spot where she wants answers as much as anyone (particularly the answer of whether she's the 13th Cylon), but has to play the role of the sensible wife and protect Sam's medical interests. Katee Sackhoff grounds these scenes in humanity, showing the emotional toll this takes.
At a key moment, when time has run out, Anders urgently tells Tigh: "Stay with the fleet!" Could Tigh's Cylon baby be the salvation that breaks the cycle? And after Anders' surgery is successful, but his brain activity stops, what does that mean? It's as if his consciousness has tried to download out of his head, and has inexplicably gone missing.
The third tier to the plot is about Galactica itself. Turns out that crack Tyrol found in the FTL room was merely the tip of the iceberg. Below decks there are cracks everywhere, and deep structural problems with the ship's main support beams. The ship is a ticking time bomb that could "fold like a book" at any moment. The metal of the ship is disintegrating everywhere because of old age, wear and tear. Adama, ever the pragmatist, restores Tyrol as chief and charges him with fixing the problem. But the only workable solution Tyrol comes up with is a Cylon technology: an organic resin that can grow into the metal and strengthen it.
I gotta tell you: This gave me a bad feeling in my gut. Very bad. We're this close to the end of the series, and Galactica is on the verge of structural collapse, and the only cure may be worse than the disease. Adama has a bad feeling about it too. He balks initially and strenuously. But like everything else around him, options have dwindled. Doing nothing isn't an option. Meanwhile, Adama's drinking and pill-popping only seem to be getting more dire. When Adama is drinking more than Tigh, that can't be good. This plot, more than anything, filled me with intense unease.
"No Exit" seems to describe the dilemma of all these people. Either doomed by their natures into repeating their mistakes, or doomed by fate while trying not to.
Some bulleted footnotes:
- Roslin grieves for the Quorum on Colonial One, which is about the only fallout shown regarding the mutiny storyline. I could've gone for more navel-gazing and at least a hint at what happened to Racetrack, Seelix, et al, but we don't get it here. We also don't get Roslin resuming her role as president. She says she will keep the title, but wants Lee to remain as de facto president. Will there even be a government from here on out?
- I dug the new "Cylons were created by man" opening. Nicely done, and much better than the similar previous openings. When it says, "One was sacrificed," the suggestion is that it was Ellen, but as it turns out, I think the one they were actually referring to was Daniel.
- When Boomer is brought in by Cavil to be an audience to his and Ellen's war of wills, and it's clear Cavil is sleeping with Boomer, Ellen says: "What about the swirl? Has he taught you that yet?"
- Daily Show Resident Expert John Hodgeman is the fleet's resident brain surgeon. Worth a grin.
- For the record, the 13 Cylon models: (1) Cavil, (2) Leoben, (3) D'Anna, (4) Simon, (5) Doral, (6) Six, (7) Daniel, (8) Sharon, and the Final Five, who are not numbered. When they labeled Sharon as No. 8, I wonder if the writers had any clue where this would end up. My guess is no. Very clever how they have filled in the blanks.
Previous episode: Blood on the Scales
Next episode: Deadlock
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.
67 comments on this post
Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 11:43pm (UTC -5)
If one is going to borrow a page from DS9, that's a darn good place to start. And since Ron Moore wrote for that show too, he's really only elaborating on his own themes.
Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 11:47pm (UTC -5)
I'm also getting the feeling that the grand mystery of BSG mythology that hit a peak in "Crossroads", is going to lose some intrigue when it's all explained in more concrete terms. That mind blowing sequence at the end of Crossroads set off an explosion of wild imagination and total bafflement about what it all means. Now that those things are being tied together in a neat little bow, it's not as interesting.
I don't mean to sound too negative, I liked this episode just fine, but it was not the riveting hour of TV the likes of the last 2 episodes, "Sometimes a Great Notion", or any of the other 4 star type episodes from the earlier seasons, most of which I agree with you on.
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 12:10am (UTC -5)
Cavil's speech about the supernova was particularly great.
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 12:43am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 2:57am (UTC -5)
Unfortunately, I wasn't as enthralled by the Anders scenes - I felt as if I were being fed the information instead of it being revealed in a more organic, gradual way.
All in all, it was a good episode, but for me it didn't have that emotional impact that truly great episodes evoke.
But I wasn't as enthralled
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 4:28am (UTC -5)
I too thought of DS9's "Rapture" episode; especially when Anders worried he'd lose his memories / visions because of the life saving surgery. And when Anders started his 'word salad' problems - I thought they'd thrown in DS9's "Babel" episode as well. This would have annoyed me beyond the telling of it if this show was being made by anyone else, but given the writers involved it just made me smile.
I love how "The Final Five" aren't the final five models, but the Final Five survivors of Earth. I love how the Final Five aren't the big bad guys but are instead the peace seeking victims. It turns so much of what was expected on it's head. I had long suspected that Cavil knew who the Final Five were and that he had a larger role to play, but I didn't see this coming. And how it all comes together here is beautiful.
And Kate Vernon. Wow. I loved her in this episode. Ellen being the final Cylon now seems perfect. I wasn't one of those who was upset about her being the final Cylon; I was one of the ones who didn't care who it was. But I'm now very happy with the choice. I was more than happy with all the performances, but that first scene between Ellen and the Centurion was just brilliantly played.
While I was disappointed there wasn't more fallout from the mutiny (Racetrack, Skulls, Silex, etc.) I like the Roslin/Lee scene, and I noticed there were a LOT of bodies in the hospital where Anders was - so I didn't feel they'd dropped the ball on that, per this episode.
And I loved the story about Daniel. If he becomes important later that's great, but if he doesn't I'm grateful that the writers explained the numbering of the Cylons, which has long perplexed me. I knew it was a gaff on their part; I'd read that in interviews. But it was great for the mythology to have that hole filled.
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 5:01am (UTC -5)
It occurred to me during the episode that, after all of the talk of the "Final Five" among the Cylons, CAVIL ALWAYS KNEW! (obviously). No wonder he didn't want any talk of them and wanted D'Anna boxed. Now I wonder if the others know that he knew, or if he kept Ellen away from everyone else. I suppose Boomer could be silent... but the others might not like his manipulation of events, or of them, by his hidden agenda.
I think it was pretty obvious that SOMETHING was going to happen to Anders at the end. As soon as he said he had something he had to tell them NOW, I knew. So the end was a bit anti-climatic for me. I didn't mind the storytelling though, because I wanted to know too :).
I liked that there is a Daniel, as well. Mucking with his organic soup could very well make him a her, and Starbuck's mother seemed to know that something was up with her, telling her how important she was way back when.
Have a great day and thanks again...
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 6:38am (UTC -5)
I'm intrigued by this prospect. We always wondered what the "plan" was. It carried out throughout all the narrative twists right up until season 4, when the prologue changed without any hint as to what happened to the plan.
Is it coincidence that the "plan" seemed to be forgotten as the Four awoke? It is coincidence that "And they have a plan" was exchanged for "One will be revealed"? Probably to both of those questions.
However, it does offer prospect that the writers may just be able to cover their asses on that one.
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 7:34am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 8:25am (UTC -5)
I was afraid this series may not have been able to pull together all its threads and end up feeling slightly flat by the end(which, I think, is a reasonable concern for a series with so many mysteries and myths). But nope. For now, this episode ensures BSG to be a truly great television series.
Like Undesirable Element, I was also reminded of DS9's 'Rapture' -- yet another best-in-series kind of episode.
Also, Dean Stockwell is chilling as Cavil. I was viscerally repulsed by him in 'Six of One' and I am even more so now. I love it.
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 9:03am (UTC -5)
There's also the issue of why she only started hearing the music after sleeping with Anders, combined with the fact that Tory and Tyrol were engaged to be married and Tyrol still doesn't know she killed Cally AND now Boomer's on her way back too. No wonder the Chief is so confused right now.
I hope they don't forget this plot line, as it could make for some compelling drama in the final few shows.
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 10:10am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 11:01am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 11:04am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
"If I'm so bad, why didn't you just fix me?!" "No, I made you perfect. You can be whatever you want to be." "Our maker is flawed. Blah, blah, blah..."
While I enjoyed the revelations of the BSG mythos, I was somewhat put off by the feeling that the whole episode seemed to be drowning in it, and that's what they wanted because there are precious few episodes left.
We see what the implications are for the Final Five and for the Cylon rebellion, but only scratched the surface for what it means for the humans. They need the Cylons and yet, despite their shared past experiences, the humans still despise the Cylons. Tigh's off the cuff analysis of how pure Cylon and pure human races didn't work in the past is compelling, but seems a little silly. The glib response is that neither races have learned the most important lesson: DON'T BUILD ROBOTIC SERVANT RACES.
I can't help but think there's another TNG, DS9, or Voyager theme in there, somewhere. Oh well, I guess resistance is futile. Maybe, there really isn't anything new under the sun?
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
The "Anders has to get to surgery right right now" thing was an obvious contrivance, allowing them to rush out the overall story, slurring over some of the important details.
Exodus part 2 was better than this, IMO.
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 3:06pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
There are many things in film and TV (and BSG) that do not *appear* to be contrived. They feel as if they could actually happen in real life, and the story arises purely from character rather than complicated twists and turns of the plot and spectacular collisions of coincidence.
What I'm saying is that even assuming all the sci-fi trappings in the BSG universe as given, the story could not possibly take place the way it does unless it was directed by a higher power, i.e. God ... but really, a clever writer. What happens so obviously happens for a grand purpose that it is clearly manufactured, i.e. contrived.
In the case of BSG, the contrivance is not a demerit but something that makes the story unique and interesting and exciting. But you can see the wheels of plot in motion. (The same was true of "The Shield.") "Contrived" is often a pejorative term. What I'm saying is that it need not always be.
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
I agree with this episodes rating, I thought it was excellent.
You've enhanced my Star Trek and BSG viewing pleasure Jammer! Appreciate it! Reading good reviews on episodes like this add to my BSG experience!
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
yes, "contrived" in a series that once prided itself on its realism.
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 8:55pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 9:58pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 2:03am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 2:17am (UTC -5)
This is one of the few stories of any kind in which the "a," "b," and "c" plots all ran in parallel, convincingly: Anders, Ellen, and Galactica all confront existential threats involving radical surgery -- and from those intertwined predicaments flow the drama and revelations.
Jammer wrote: "The dialog here is great stuff. It's not simply exposition (although exposition certainly is a big part of it). It's also philosophy and psychology, and provocative science fiction." In a word, that dialogue was LITERATURE -- much better than anything else I've seen on television in a long time.
Apropos of nothing, I'd like to pose a question not likely to be answered here. A few years ago Ron Moore name-checked a pair of Star Trek novelists named Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath, whose "Phoenix" books describe a process of "resurrection" somewhat akin to nBSG's "organic memory transfer." Is it possible that Moore copped the idea from them...?
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 3:45am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 8:44am (UTC -5)
The realism thing had to go out the window eventually, to some degree. That was announced quite clearly at "Crossroads" (and well before). At some point, the series had to be about more than a military ship protecting the fleet from attack. The mythology had to step up and offer up some answers to the backstory. Meanwhile, the military aspects have remained ("Oath"/"Scales").
@Robo: The season recap tradition ended with Enterprise. It was becoming far too much of an undertaking that far outweighed any real value which, let's face it, could be obtained by reading the individual reviews themselves.
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 8:46am (UTC -5)
" "And then this happened, then that happened, and then this happened, and then that happened." What ever happened to show me, not tell me?"
I have a feeling that this will be shown in the movie "The Plan" kind of like they did with "Razor" (actually showing the things that Fisk only hinted at in "Pegasus"). I hope so anyway, because that was a LOT of talking. Engaging as the dialog was, I would still like to see it play out on screen.
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 8:55am (UTC -5)
To which I say, so what? So they didn't have the grand answers to the series during season 2. Shocking! Are you suggesting it should've all been mapped out from the beginning? That would've merely boxed the series into being a rigid thing, rather than something that could be invented dynamically on the fly as the writers and actors discovered things about their characters.
Given the nature of television, I think the complex BSG mythology holds up brilliantly and has shown great ability to adapt to new ideas as they form.
(Oh, and for anyone who's going to mention B5, save it. I have not seen it and have no comment.)
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 10:51am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 11:37am (UTC -5)
12 tribes of humans and one tribe of Cylons lived on the planet together. And that tribe of Cylons was originally created as robots by man and evolved into their own humanoid tribe. Or were they created as humanoids in the first place?
If anyone could clear that up I'd appreciate it.
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
This might also suggest all humans are capable of resurrection given the proper apparatus is in place, and therefore all humans could be Cylons.
But who knows. I suspect those blanks won't be filled in until the finale, assuming they are at all.
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 5:17pm (UTC -5)
That may be revisionist history, but I don't know that the series actually contradicts itself on that point. I could be wrong.
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
I disagree that it doesn't have value. I like the reflection on the season as a whole. I'm sure others do as well.
An overview, or finale review, for the entire BSG (and for Star Trek shows) would be a suggestion supposing you want to continue your writing here (after TNG). It wouldn't require you to rewatch anything, considering you'd have all your other reviews here to go by. Hey it's only a suggestion and something you could do down the line (even years later), sort of nice finish to the website.
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
Don't know if that's old news, but it was new to me!
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
On the season summaries: Sure they have value. I'm not saying they don't. They're fun to read because they're a one-stop shop. But they are overly time consuming and I'd rather look to the future.
At some point I'll have to make some choices about what the future of this web site will be. Whatever it is, I think in order to continue to be relevant to an audience -- even a niche audience -- it should look forward rather than back.
Fri, Feb 27, 2009, 12:22am (UTC -5)
Ever since the first episode I assumed that Cylons were a fairly recent creation(like in the last 200 years or so) of the inhabitants of the 12 colonies. The new mythology now seems to say that the skin job Cylons were created thousands of years ago, and then they left for some reason to go to earth(I am presuming the 13 colony skin jobs Cylons were artificial life and were created by humans, or has that not been established?). So if Cylons lived with humans thousands of years ago was it simply forgotten that there were skin job Cylons and somebody on the colonies thousands of years later think it would be a good idea to create a race of robots and call them Cylons?
Does the story of Cavil placing the final five on the colonies make complete sense time wise? I can see it makes sense that Cavil could implant the Five with artificial memories of a childhood and a past, but that also must mean the 13th colony skin jobs aged like humans did(I am presuming Tigh looked a lot younger when he first met Adama). There is an age gap between Tigh and Ellen on the one hand and Tory on the other. Tigh has lived as a human for at least a couple of decades. Tory had to have lived as a human for a significantly less time or she would wonder why she hasn't aged as much.
Fri, Feb 27, 2009, 3:22am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 27, 2009, 9:47am (UTC -5)
The humans had a plan... to find Earth, they just didn't have a "Plan B". I take that back, "Plan B" was to settle on New Caprica. "Plan C" anyone?
Fri, Feb 27, 2009, 11:13am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 27, 2009, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 7, 2009, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
frakking hell. It's him.
Sat, Apr 25, 2009, 1:04am (UTC -5)
Is it possible that the people Adama was trying to save were the Final Five? i swear I heard Tyrol's voice yelling for help, and perhaps saw a somewhat younger Sam, and a younger Ellen from the quick shots of them. i think it's entirly possible... Cavil could have come back and killed them after that.
I dunno. It came to mind and I thought I'd ask, not really sure myself.
Sat, Oct 3, 2009, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
The same thought occurred to me, except that Cavil's speech is *not* found in The Matrix. That is, Agent Smith hates his job but neglects to blame his creators for it.
"Because they didn't have FTL technology and instead employed some other method of near-light-speed travel, the effects of relativity (or whatever; I'm not a physicist) caused time to slow down, and they aged only a short time while 2,000 years passed."
If if helps: suppose you could travel as fast as a beam of light. Because of relativity, you would perceive your journey as instantaneous. An outside observer would perceive the passage of time -- say, 2000 years for a journey of 2000 light years. You can't travel exactly at light speed, of course, but you could approach it. Powering a ship to that speed would still require magical engines, but at least that's a practical impossibility and not a physical one, like FTL.
Fri, Jan 29, 2010, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
Quite a marathon.
It's good to see the episodes one after the other like that, but it does tend to highlight issues that you might not notice with a week between shows and hiatus's (hiatii?) between seasons.
The main thing that has bugged me became most painfully obvious during the mutiny arc of Oath and Scales. At no point has the leadership actually tried to explain to the people just why the alliance with these cylons isn't getting into bed with the enemy.
Think about what the main characters know:
- There is a bitter split between two Cylon factions
- The rebel faction realise the war was a mistake and want to be at peace with the humans
- The evil faction is led by one particularly nasty Cylon who has caused the whole thing
- The 'final five' are not even close to being 'machines' evolved from centurion cylons. They are basically people and there's no reason to think of them as toasters
If the leadership had made an effort to publicise this information, over and over, drilling it into people's heads, there would never have been the intense mistrust and subsequent mutiny.
Especially considering how long Athena has been with the Human side, in the real world there would have been a lot of discussion about why and how she is able to change sides and why other Cylons can be trusted if they want to switch.
Think about the real world, it's not uncommon at all for a faction within a group to split and ally with the other side. This happened in WW2 a few times in different theatres. In the pressure of the war, these changes of allegiance usually work because of necessity and obviously in BSG both parties are stronger against Cavil if they stick together.
This falls into the standard script-writing phenomena of having the characters behave unrealistically to lead them into conflict and other dramatic situations. It bugs the hell out of me.
Particularly in the case of this mutiny. They could have had 90% of the fleet accept the Cylons in good faith. Gaeta could have been motivated by going a bit mad, with losing his leg to a Cylon and also nearly being executed by Tigh who turns out to be a Cylon.
If Gaeta had led a mutiny, and he had perhaps 10 guys he was able to persuade to join him (instead of 50 or more), we could still have had an exciting, uncertain munity with plenty of tension.
It's ridiculous to try and portray the entire fleet as being incapable of reason and unable to understand the difference between good Cylons and bad Cylons.
It bugs me even more because the writing has been so good in almost every other way. Moore is good enough, he shouldn't need to have people act like morons just to create tension.
Still, BSG is so much better than anything else...
I have recently watched every Star Trek series from start to finish as well and trying to compare *any* of those to BSG makes Trek look like a children's show. 'The Inner Light' in TNG is just about the only episode that measures up to any BSG episode.
Fri, Jan 21, 2011, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
This series really feels like it has been planned thoroughly from the start - unlike many other series. At first I thought it was s indeed so, but when I read that they didn't know Hellen was the last of the final five (and that she was revealed just so the question of the last of the five wasn't posed for the rest of the season) I found out that it wasn't so.
Basically they just have brilliant writers and though I believe there were some things planned far ahead, they just stitch every gap they leave up and miraculously end up with a truly brilliant result.
On the matter of the 13th Cylon, it's pretty interesting to think about this one. The final five were invented just because no more than seven Cylons were revealed at the time.
Gradually, the final five became more than just normal Cylons, which meant that they wouldn't have numbers.
This meant that the numbers didn't add up. The number of twelve Cylons was in the first mini-series. Sharon was established as number eight long ago as well. At the same time, we now only had seven numbered Cylons. Somehow, brilliance ensued and the missing Cylon was ever so gracefully introduced into the series. I believe only the Gallactica writing staff could pull such a thing off without making it feel bad...
Thu, Aug 4, 2011, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
-just to note, B5 may have been planned, but they did have to make huge adjustments throughout from the miniseries, all the way thru to the final season.
when you are dealing with miniseries turned into shows, and trying to produce long term tv, shit happens, actors decide to leave, you find good actors and beef up their role (look at Ben on Lost), plotlines turn out much more boring on screen and need to be revamped, or they run thru material faster, character get injured in real life and you write that into the show (starbuck, ivanova, garibaldi).
it is a credit that you can write 4 years worth of good tv.
BSG became contrived the moment Head Six showed up and told Baltar all this God info that no one else would know (other than the writers). but it was an enjoyable ride
just realized that BSG started as a 4 hour miniseries that turned into a 4 year tv show (then got cancelled).
my favorite show Farscape, started with a 4 year tv show, got cancelled and were able to write a 4 hour miniseries to finish up. now that show was completely absurd, yet they made 90% of the plot seem realistic in terms of their universe they built.
Fri, Aug 19, 2011, 5:56am (UTC -5)
As a testimony to the fact that it wasn't canceled, there is the fact they made a prequel series afterwards.
Tue, Sep 27, 2011, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
http : //www.ugo.com/tv/cancelled-too-soon
fyi, Caprica is a testimony to the fact that Scifi channel was looking for cheaper alternatives then the costly BSG. having that be planet base was cheaper. but it was also boring. that was then cancelled... i think the math on spinoffs are that they are cheaper, the new actor salaries are not as costly as the ones on an older show (take a look at all the spinoff that SG1 spawned).
scifi channel likes to end shows fast that cost money and are quality... it has happened before and it will happen again...
Wed, Sep 28, 2011, 4:55am (UTC -5)
Behind the scenes it may have been all about money, but I don't think so. We're both entitled to our own opinion on that matter, though.
 - www.movieweb.com/news/battlestar-galactica-is-cancelled
Mon, Nov 28, 2011, 8:18am (UTC -5)
On a plot level, “contrived” would be an understatement. The writers are really obsessed with hammering in the “this has happened before and will happen again” theme. We’re expected to believe:
1- That humans on Kobol created humanoid Cylons and then conveniently “forgot” that they’d done it?
2- That the 13th tribe “forgot” about resurrection technology and FTL drives? (The time spans given suggest that they used FTL to reach Earth, but not to return).
3- That knowing the holocaust on Earth was coming, the Final Five would go through the trouble of “re-inventing” resurrection so they could be reborn? They already had a ship and the facilities to launch it into orbit. Why not just board the ship and escape that way?
4- That Cavil would be so bitter and vindictive that he would go through all the trouble of planting false memories in the Final Five and putting them on Caprica long before the holocaust (30 years in Tigh’s case) just to “teach them a lesson”?
I could go on forever, but I think I’ve made my point.
Thu, Dec 1, 2011, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Is it possible that the people Adama was trying to save were the Final Five? i swear I heard Tyrol's voice yelling for help, and perhaps saw a somewhat younger Sam, and a younger Ellen from the quick shots of them. i think it's entirly possible... Cavil could have come back and killed them after that.
I dunno. It came to mind and I thought I'd ask, not really sure myself. "
No, I don't think this is possible. When Bill Adama found those people, either the treaty had not been signed yet or he didn't yet know about it. The Centurions signed the treaty with the Colonials because the Final Five had reached them and had offered them flesh bodies and ressurection tech if they would stop the war. Therefore, at the time Bill Adama found the trapped people, I don't think there would have been time for the Final Five to create the promised flesh bodies, bring them to maturity, nurture them and allow time for Cavil to become all bitter and twisted and wipe out his brother Sevens - all before the Centurions stopped fighting. I think the Centurions probably stopped fighting first and THEN the FF carried out their promise. That leaves a 40-ish year gap between the First Cylon War and the first appearance of the FF-created humanoid Cylons, which makes sense timewise - plenty of time for Cavil to go all nasty and carry out his plan.
Those people he found - those were just the unfortunate future victims of the Centurion experiments. Also, Cavil killed the Final Five by suffocation. That room did not look airtight.
Sat, Dec 3, 2011, 4:14am (UTC -5)
I was astonished by Kara's selfishness. Anders is about to go under and she rambles on about her guilt, her conflict, her sense of identity, her... Like Lee, once he turned politico, Kara also became a pretty boring character ever since she started having those "visions," and it culminated with her unexplained Earth odyssey. In fact, Baltar, too, morphed into a non-entity when he became the god-botherer-in-chief. It's a great pity B.S.G. neutered those three characters who had been interesting and provocative as pilots, C.A.G. and chief scientist respectively. I mean, some disliked "old" Starbuck, but at least they had strong feelings about her. Ever since she became this heavy thinker and philosopher, laden with all the mental scars, conflicts and emotions, she's been nothing but soporific.
Adama solidifies his status as a caricature: He dismisses Tyrol's suggestion on how to repair the ship out of hand, but gets all emotional when he sees cracks in the bulkheads in his bathroom and proceeds to make a complete about-turn. So much for being level-headed and judicious.
The "drama" with Ellen was confusing. Not only was the timeline all mangled, but--though I admit to not have paid my undivided attention to the proceedings--I am also left with only a hazy idea of who created whom, when and where, and who's mad at whom and about what. Ellen was not an intriguing character ever before and, even if she is given a more stimulating plot, I doubt she will be more engaging this time.
I liked "John's" musings on the deficiencies of the human sensory systems (why can't we see gamma rays?). It puts into perspective religionists' claims about the supposed perfection of the human body.
BTW, I don't think I ever commented on this before, but Cottle has to be--after Tigh--my favorite character, what with how he nonchalantly walks around the ward with a fag handing off his mouth and his deadpan deliveries. Love the guy!!
All together, an average show in my book, certainly nowhere near four stars. Sorry. Brendan characterized it nicely as 40 minutes of spoken exposition: That's never something to write home about.
Sun, Mar 25, 2012, 5:51am (UTC -5)
By having some semblance of a plot outline beforehand, rather than making it all up week by week. Fictional does not automatically equal contrived.
Being a fictional television program isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card for plot holes and macguffin use. To suggest otherwise is an insult to the plenty of well planned and well thought out fiction out there.
Ron Moore and Co. shat the bed in this department. Episodes like this are examples of good retroactive clean up, not good overall writing.
Mon, Jul 1, 2013, 11:52am (UTC -5)
I don't mind that in snippets sometimes. But here, it is nearly the whole episode. Especially the parts where Anders was talking bothered me. We just have all information thrown at us, and are expected to just nod and say, "Okay. Yeah. Sounds good."
Several times I had to just pause it and try to understand the timeline of exactly everything they are saying. Wow. Super-complicated. I'm still not sure I have my head wrapped around it all. And that's not a good sign. At least, it's not a sign of good writing, that's for sure.
Interesting. But I hope in the future they avoid having characters just sit down and tell a bunch of stuff. That didn't work for me.
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 6, 2013, 4:42am (UTC -5)
On the religious front, the question of who is god is also contemplated. Is Ellen god because she did create the 8 cylons? How did the Centurians come up with the concept of the one true god? And did the believe in one god versus a pantheon contribute to the rebellion(s)? Looking at human history, it is a mixed bag how religion affected the abolitionist movement. On the one hand you had the Wilberforces of the world, but on the other you had plenty of preachers that justified slavery based on their scriptures. Or is BSG's point about how religion is born out of free will, again validating Cylons not as machines anymore but creatures even capable of having religious belief?
On another note, I didn't really follow John's rant about wanting x-ray eyes and such. There are all sorts of instruments to measure and display the eletromagnetic spectrum. We can see infrared, microwave, ultraviolet, via instruments that translate such spectra to the visible spectrum. If I wanted to see IR, I can just put on a set of goggles that display far IR signature. Or was he really wanting to be a god, as in wanting to fly through a supernova? I guess I second Ellen's point that free will is magnificent. But is also terrifying as it leads to humans and Cylons doing horrible stuff. And was the sentience inhibitor created and put on by the 8 or the final five?
Wed, Nov 6, 2013, 4:56am (UTC -5)
Man, this show is amazing in how deep it probes various aspects of humanity.
Thu, Sep 17, 2015, 12:47am (UTC -5)
I don't think this episode explained any of the mythology of BSG: That there's way too many outlandish coincidences, there *MUST* be a higher power actively pulling strings. That's what many of us have problems with-- that the show drifts from SF to fantasy. It's as if -- in TNG -- the Q meddled in every third episode, but we were never introduced to Q.
This episode explained the actions of the Cylons -- it did not explain the actions of the universe they live in....
I'd say Cavil/Anders explained the backstory, not the mythology.
The really confusing thing about the backstory is this: If the Final 5 created all of them (and Ellen clearly interacted with 7), how comes only Cavil remembered the Final 5? We know how Cavil wiped the Final 5, but how about all the other models?
RE: 4 months. Maybe between Hub and Revelations? It was never defined how long it took the rebels to rejoin the fleet after blowing the hub. I can't imagine Adama sitting in a Raptor for 4 months....
Great scene between Adama and Tyrol at the outset: Tyrol: "I'm a Cylon" Adama: "It's OK. So's my XO"
Sun, Sep 20, 2015, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
It's this nugget that really made me chuckle:
"[Go] back far enough and some germ gets blamed for splitting in two!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA He is SO right about that!
Sat, Jun 20, 2020, 11:08am (UTC -5)
Good episode and I only have one minor point to add. Though I doubt the writers had this in mind, it seems that Cavil has committed two genocides. The Human genocide was the second, Daniel/7 was the first.
Regarding Daniel, this was more than murder. Cavil did not kill an individual, nor even a “version “ (We have at least two versions of 8 and who knows how many of 6). This was not a boxing like D’eanna. Cavil permanently ruined the whole line of 7/Daniel’s. At best this is mass murder and arguably genocide as the clear intent was to purposefully eliminate an entire line of opposition, all of whom are related to each other. It seems to me that each model is far more than an individual, more like an entire race, given that there are different versions of each model. They are even capable of having internal dissension, witness the 8’s. Thus, eliminating the Daniel/7’s is far more than just murder and really more than mass murder. It was the destruction of an entire related group of people.
I think the Daniel backstory really gives us an idea of just how twisted, evil, sadistic Cavil has become. If he can turn on one of his own, why not commit a second genocide as well.
Great insights into the arch villain of BSG.
Tue, Aug 4, 2020, 10:03am (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
Submit a comment
◄ Season Index