Welcome to Earth. Please ignore the radiation. Please ignore the fact that you are standing amongst the ruins of a great civilization. Please ignore the fact that getting to Earth was your goal since the fleet was cobbled together in the wake of the Cylon sneak attack. Please ignore the fact that Earth was a made-up lie by one William Adama just to give you some kind of hope until, suddenly, it wasn’t a lie any more. Welcome to Earth, the legendary Thirteenth Colony. How was your journey?
As the main characters of Battlestar Galactica wander dazedly around a desolate shore in the last scene of Season 4.0, it looks like the reality of Earth is far, far worse that the lie Adama assumed they’d always be living for.
Because Earth? It sucks. And so not the solution they were looking for. So now what?
Which, of course, is what we are going to find out in the next few months, as Battlestar Galactica comes to its end. And since we are on the cusp of the final set of episodes of a season cruelly and artificially torn in half by the powers that be at Sci-Fi, I think it’s a good idea to take a quick look at the episode that got all of the major cast members to to Earth. And being fully devastated with they found when they got here. Or "here," as the case may be. Did I mention that, perhaps, Earth wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?
Of course, Earth is a big place. Perhaps they might try landing somewhere else on the planet. Or perhaps not. Hopefully, that will be one of the things addressed in the coming weeks.
So here’s the thing: all season long, Four of the Final Five Cylons – Tory Foster; Saul Tigh; Sam Anders and Chief Galen Tyrol — have been freaking out in every which way ever since they were activated by a highly stylized cover version of Bob Dylan’s "All Along The Watchtower" at the end of Season Three. We don’t know who the Final One of the Final Five is. Though we sure do have some guesses, don’t we? Some of the Cylon Skin-jobs ( Leoben, Six & Sharon) think so highly of these Cylons that they’ve rebelled against some of the other Cylon Skin-jobs (Bro. Cavil, Simon and Doral) over the issue of even discussing the existence of the Final Five.
Absent from the war: D’Anna, who caused it in the first place by first repeatedly killing herself for the admittedly awesome rush of resurrection and, as if that wasn’t enough, having visions of the Final Five. She knows who they are. But the other Cylons didn’t want to know — it was "forbidden" (by who?) — so they had her entire line "boxed," put into cold storage forever. That’s how it works with fundamentalists: it’s not so much that they don’t want to hear a dissenting viewpoint, it’s that they don’t even want others to hear a dissenting viewpoint. Buh-bye, Xena!
BTW, the Cylons may be sexy killer robots from outer space, but ye gods, they’re ruthlessly efficient when they want to be. One second D’Anna was freaking them out; and the next second, every single copy of her was deactivated. The logistics involved with this must be mind-boggling. Do they get Centurions (aka "Cylon Classic") to go whack all of the copies of the boxed model on the head all at the same time? And how is a secret vote like that eve taken? Do they ask all of the D’Anna to leave all of the rooms on all of their Baseships "for a few seconds please?" The whole thing seems like it would be an administrative nightmare. Imagine the paperwork!
Which is why when they unboxed her, they only unboxed a single copy, not her entire line. Either that, or the BSG production crew was trying to save some CGI time. Or maybe Lucy Lawless gets paid by by how many onscreen versions of her are in each episode. Not that it matters how many copies they unboxed, because D’Anna, she is a mixer. At the beginning of the episode, and just a short time after being unboxed, she’s told the Final Five Minus One that she knows who they are, and decided to hold Roslin, Baltar, Helo and others as hostages in order to force the Four to leave the Colonial Fleet and join with the Rebel Cylons. The goal? Skedaddle on to the green hills of Earth without the Colonials. Because Earth, you might have heard, is a Paradise and The Answer to Everybody’s Hopes and Dreams.
And the Final Five Minus One apparently know how to get to Earth, which is news to them.
Knowing that D’Anna knows their identity just about tears it: Tory, who has reveled in her new Cylon powers from the start, almost instantly pops out of the closet and joins the Rebels on their baseship. (Which leads to Baltar adding yet another entry to his mental list of "Sexy Killer Robots That I’ve Banged.") Tigh finally has the breakdown he’s been verging on all season and confesses everything to Adama ("it was that godsdammed Dylan, Bill: I like his songs, but can’t stand his singing"), which almost immediately mind-melds his emotional breakdown to Adama, who spends the next segment of the episode drinking and crying and drinking some more, while Tigh gets stoic and tough.
Oh, and the Final Five Minus One all heard some kind of feedback loop staticy noise. The noise seems to be coming from the Viper that Kara Thrace swore that she’d been to Earth in, but nobody really believed her because they figured that she was nuts, a Cylon, or both.
So while Tigh is confessing his Cylonosity to Adama, Sam & Chief have brought Kara to that Viper and are trying to convince her that something has changed without outing themselves, which works awfully. Luckily, Tigh has given them up as well, and when Sam & Chief are arrested as Cylons, Kara gets intrigued. Now that it’s actual Cylons and not lame-ass humans who told her something is different with her ship, she’s all "I gotta check this out!" and hops into the ship. Home again: the cockpit of a ship; the only place where Kara Thrace ever feels comfortable.
At this point, she’s pretty much the only one who is comfortable, because all hell has broken loose. Acting President Lee Adama knows that you’re not really President of the Twelve Colonies until you’ve tossed at least one Cylon into the cold vacuum, so he’s threatening to airlock Tigh; D’Anna is powering up a shitload of nukes to finish off humanity once and for all; Adama is crying like a baby; back on the Rebel Baseship, Roslin sends Baltar to reason with D’Anna and she’s all "Dude, did you forget that part where we blew up humanity?"
But Starbuck? Our crazy, fracked-up Kara Thrace, who was called the "harbinger of death" to her face by the Hybrid? Kara, who is only really Starbuck when she’s in the cockpit of a spaceship? Starbuck is having fun, because she is getting to use her superpower — interacting with a spaceship — in order to save the day. Noone could ever do things she does when she is flying a ship. So, naturallym she’s going to twirl some knobs, twiddle some dials, listen to some beeps and boops and find the way to Earth.
But that’s the easy part, so not only does she figure out how to get to Earth, she also manages to save her old frenemy Tigh from getting airlocked. Then, during a dubiously timed sequence considering that — for all we know — D’Anna is just seconds away from nuking the rest of the Colonials, she convinces Lee that she really, really this time knows the way to Earth. Really! Because that spaceship was Kara Thrace’s phone booth; and after coming out of it, she had no choice but to save the day.
Somehow, offscreen (which is annoying), a truce is made. Did Baltar convince D’Anna to hold? Unclear. Maybe in a deleted scene? At a parley with the Rebels, Lee preaches change and hope and peace and love, and manages to convince D’Anna that they should all hold hands and go to Earth together as one big happy family of Decimated Humanity and Sexy Killer Robots From Outer Space.
Kum-ba-yah, motherfrackers!! When you’re going to the Thirteenth Colony, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. Oh, and take a Geiger Counter.
Adama, still in the grip of the Tigh’s drunken self-pity mind-meld, demurs. He’s not so sure this is a good idea. But then Roslin shows up, fully on board with the plan, and Adama is transformed back into big inspirational speech-giver in world-record time. First he quietly tells Lee and Roslin that they have to "roll the hard six." Which, hopefully, will be the last we ever have to hear that phrase. Then, as prepare they jump into Earth’s orbit, he asks Roslin to give the order for the jump to Earth (which sure seemed like an Edward James Olmos’ ad-lib), and then gets on the horn to address the entire Fleet: "Today, our journey is at an end! No more will every episode’s credit sequence have the words ‘in search of a home called Earth’ onscreen just before the poundy-drum spoiler montage! I don’t know what will be in its place, but it will be awesome! Because Earth will be awesome!!"
Cheers and hugs all around! Starting with Adama and Roslin, then shots of various people in the fleet celebrating with their loved ones, including Tyrol with his child; Athena & Helo with Hera; Baltar with his harem; Tigh with his booze.
Finally, against all odds, after all of these years of tears and pain and death, the break into Earth’s atmosphere!
What could possibly go wrong?
Refresher Course by Jim Connelly