It’s right there in the title:  “Part 1.”  Of course this was going to be all setup for next week’s final confrontation, so knowing that was our expectation, Ron Moore went on a bit of different route.  Here’s the thing: it doesn’t necessarily take an apocalypse caused by Sexy Killer Robots to make life totally suck.  Life can do that all on its own, as we shall see.

Edward James Olmos gets to do the previouslies, which are:
    •    Starbuck found her own dead body on Earth, which sucks, and after making the mistake, or “mistake,” of confessing her deadness to Gaius Baltar, he outs her.
    •    Samuel T. Anders gets a bullet to the brain, and Starbuck, having been given the transcription to “All Along the Watchtow--  Is anybody paying attention?  Is there anybody who is watching this last batch of episodes who is a NEW viewer of Battlestar Galactica?  Because DO NOT start here. Start with the mini-series, for frak’s sake. Sheesh! 

Right.  Because they’ve been messing with the opening sequence all season, this time, the previousies go directly into the opening credits --

(39,516 survivors in search of a home.  Home.)

-- which skip the poundy-drum spoiler montage, and instead start with a God’s (or, Gods’) eye view of an entire galaxy.   Shots of water hitting water and a bird on a ledge are interspersed with a slow zoom into a beautiful blue planet.  Not Earth.  Caprica.

Caprica City 
Before the Fall

Ladies and Gentlemen, before the final battle that determines the fate of humanity and cylonity, it’s time for some origin stories.  A look back at the idyllic life our heroes lived on Caprica before being nuked by the Sexy Killer Robots from outer space.  Because those lives?  Not so idyllic. Either that, or "Before the Fall" means late Summer, when the temperatures have gone down but the days are still nice and long.

While it’s a bit jarring – with only a few exceptions, Battlestar Galactica has always relentlessly moved forward, meting out the pre-apocalypse flashbacks on a need-to-know basis, probably mindful of the fact that the consensus Worst. Episode.  Ever.  (the infamous “Black Market”)  revolved around a retconny Caprica-based flashback that they were trying to use for a thematic comparison to a present situation – opening this episode with 15 minutes of flashback works tremendously.

For one thing, we never get the feeling that we’re suddenly venturing into Lost territory: that the apocalypse was somehow a good thing for any of these people.  In fact, we also see that – cylons or no – none of these people’s lives were in a place where they were all that happy in the first place.  Would they have preferred these lives to the, you know, End of The World?  Duh.  But the doesn't make them happy. 

Hey look!  That’s Bill Adama!  And he’s wearing a suit!  He’s also not too happy, because he’s listing his credentials (“billions of cubits” this, “thousands of lives” that) to a doughy white guy in a suit, and the doughy white guy ignores Adama’s awesomeness and says “It’s one hour of your life.  Look sometimes, there are things you just gotta do.”  I’ve been using that same argument with Rox about spending all weekend writing these endless recaps, and she gives me the same skeptical look that Adama gives the doughy guy.

That’s all we see of Flashback Bill this week, and my guess is that “hour of your life,” isn’t a military obligation, but rather a civilian obligation – something to do with Zak, I’m guessing – because neither Flashback Bill nor the doughy guy were wearing uniforms.

Hey look!  It’s Dr. Gaius Baltar and a smoking hot blonde chick who’s about a foot taller than he is! In the back of a stretch limo!  Oh, and Baltar?  Is a pompous ass.  Plus ca change.  She's rubbing the inside of his thigh and he's saying things like “You’re a hooker?  I just thought I was doing great with you!”  His escort, in who knows how many usages of that word, calls him “Doctor,” and he says “you can call me Gaius.”   And then proceeds to confess that he forgot her name.  Niiiiice.  Instead getting mad, or even answering, she jumps right on top of him.  Since we didn't catch her name, let’s just call her “Body Six.”

(Sticklers might say, why not call her “Caprica Six?”  Because, Sticklers, “Caprica Six” was the honorific given to her by the other Cylons after she died in the nuclear attack.  And also, what’s up with this whole name business anyway?  They had a relationship, so at some point he would know it.)

Over the years, do you think that James Callis would pump his fist in the air when he first read any script that involved his being molested by Tricia Helfer?

However, before we can see yet another Baltar-Six sex scene, his cell phone rings, and he becomes immediately – and truly – concerned with the news that he’s hearing.  That’s weird: Baltar concerned.  He tells the person on the other side of the phone that he’ll be right there.

Hey look!  It’s Laura Roslin!  And she and her sisters have just finished throwing a baby shower!  She seems happy, though that might just be the champagne. She probably shouldn’t get used to it.

Hey look!  It’s Kara Thrace! Cooking dinner!  And guess who’s coming to dinner?  Natty dreadlock?  Nope, it’s Lee Adama!  Come to visit his brother Zak, and meet his brother’s girlfriend, Kara.   And the attraction between Lee and Kara is an instant live-wire jolt.  Fans of continuity might like the fact that the Eye of Jupiter is already painted on Kara’s wall, and Zak is played by the same actor who played him briefly in the very first season.  Hope he wasn’t waiting by the phone.

Lee and Zak seem incredibly nervous around each other.  Maybe because Lee has stolen Zak’s girlfriends in the past?  Or maybe because Zak is the apple of their father’s eye?  Or maybe they really don’t like each other all that much.  Sometimes, you just don’t like members of your family.

Especially when those people remind you of whom you used to be.   For example, Flashback Gaius has a crazy, bitter, invalid father – Julius -- who torments nurse after nurse after nurse.  In fact, Julius just stabbed the latest one with a steak knife, so she’s out of there.   She’s a Vegan, so she’s got to go home and blog about the fact that her problem wasn’t so much with being stabbed, but rather being stabbed with a knife that had once touched meat. 

As Baltar starts berating his father, Body Six walks in.   That gets his dad’s attention.  Baltar tries to shoo her back to the limo:  “go on, be a good hooker, and stay in the limo like I told you.”  Dad starts leering at her, while simultaneously talking about how Baltar is ashamed of his humble roots and his old father.  Baltar cranks up the anger, ineffectually striking his dad, which only increases the taunting.  Body Six looks utterly freaked up at the whole situation, no doubt thinking: “we are going to nuke you crazy frakkers SO hard!”

Eventually, Baltar has his driver take Body Six home, and decides to stay at home with dear old dad.

As predicted, Flashback Roslin’s happiness comes to a quick end: the Caprican Police knock on her door and inform her that her father and sisters were killed by a drunk driver.  Roslin responds with what I think might be the only false note in this entire episode:  she walks to a public fountain, wades in, and lets the water from the fountain fall upon her while she strikes a Jesus Christ pose.

We see the same shot of water falling on water that we saw while zooming into Caprica, and transition to a very slowly dripping IV.  We’re back on Galactica, and the IV is slowly dripping into the dying Laura Roslin. And, as we pan up to her vitals monitor, it flatlines, and she dies.

No. Not really, but I really thought that they were going there for a second.

Speaking of dying, the gutting of the Galactica is going apace, overseen by Lee Adama with sadness and compassion.  The last thing to go:  the thingamajiggies that help propel the Vipers into space, because they are the “heart" of Galactica, the thingamajiggies that provide it's major function.  Also, it’s a plot point. 

After the commercial, we see Bill Adama in his quarters packing stuff in boxes, which are helpfully labeled.  I guess that they’re hiring movers?  So if you need to reach him, the Admiral’s quarters are going to be Deck 74 of the Cylon Baseship.  However, be advised that his phones and email are going to be down for at least a week, because Cylon IT is really really backed up because of  this last-second move.

Life of Baltar.  Paulla (whose last name, according to Battlestar Wiki, is hilariously “Schaffer”) is excited: apparently some kind of tipping point has been reached in the number of Baltar’s followers, and Paulla thinks that Gaius should ask for representation in the government for him and his followers.  Gaius consults with Head Six, and she agrees with everything that Paulla says.  In fact, says Head Six, scarily: “Humanity’s final chapter is about to be written.  And you – you – will be its author.”  Yeahhhh, OK, creepshow.

Back on pre-Fall Caprica, Body Six is equally scary. Flashback Baltar has brought home another conquest or hooker or groupie, only to find Body Six just sitting in his front room.  If she acted like this while she was still alive, no wonder he pretty much took it in stride when she started appearing to him after she died.  Baltar is just about to call the cops when she says that she found a nice place for his cranky old dad to live.

Not only that, she insinuates that she, er “encouraged” his father to go live at the nice place in that special Body Six way.  On the whole, Gaius thinks that it’s a fair trade, probably glad that his dad got some, and is obviously impressed at how she pulled the whole thing off.  Not so impressed, however, that he sends the other girl home or anything.  I mean, c’mon, there are limits.  Nevertheless, we have the first glimmer of the ruthless way that Body Six gained Baltar’s trust enough that he gave her the launch codes.

I read some speculation that the nice place was essentially Puppy Lake, but it doesn’t make sense: she’s trying to build a relationship with Baltar – gain his trust -- and while he despises his father, I doubt that Baltar wants him dead.  So that’s too much of a risk for Body Six to take. 

On Galactica, in Sam’s Hybrid Haven, Kara has figured out something very, very important: Music is Math.  Sam, currently unplugged, has no comment.

In CIC:  Tigh tells Hoshi that Adama plans to fly the very last Viper that leaves Galactica.

In the Brig:  Karl Agathon and Galen Tyrol are discussing their twin Sexy Killer Robot lovers.  Specifically, they’re talking about trust.  As in “Should you trust a Sexy Killer Robot?"  Tyrol is currently agin’ it.   Because he’s trusted one again and again, and is – in his own words – “a frakkin’ idiot” -- for doing so.  Helo is currently pro-trust.  Because he just betrayed the trust of his Sexy Killer Robot by banging Tyrol’s Sexy Killer Robot.   Who then stole Helo’s child and spirited her to Cavil’s Holiday Camp. 

Has anybody noticed that Cavil’s Holiday Camp looks like a Basestar mated with a giant Space Starfish?  Or is that just me?  In any event, Cavil is mean and evil and has no truck with anybody who isn’t also mean and evil.   So he makes fun of Hera’s continual drawerings of dots – despite the fact that those dismissed dot drawerings  are probably the Key to Life, The Universe and Everything he’s so desperately seeking.  In other words, music!  It’s always music.

Oh, also, he’s about ready to have Simon do some kind of invasive thing to her, involving a drill.  Because he’s, you know, evil.  And she’s the key, and her DNA is going to unlock their future.  Or so he thinks.  Boomer is going along with all of this, but you can almost see her wavering.  Cavil can’t, of course, because he trusts her.

In the hallways of Galactica, Hot Dog is carrying his child, Nicolas, in one arm and a folder of pictures in another.  As Adama walks by in the other direction, the pictures fall on the floor, and Adama notices that they are from the Memorial Wall.  They’re pictures of pilots who died on Galactica.  But there are still a few pictures of others on the wall. Pictures of people that nobody cares about anymore.

Including, Adama soon discovers, a picture of Athena and Hera.  After thinking about that picture for a few minutes, Adama is suddenly infused with a purpose – or at least a question – rips the photo down from the wall and strides out.

Hangar Deck.  More like Haranguer Deck, because now it’s Baltar bothering Lee, asking for the Life of Baltar to be represented in the Government.  Lee’s having none of it; and instead rounds on Baltar for outing Kara as dead and stuff.  Baltar parries by pointing out that with Lee, it’s always about Kara, and asks for five minutes of his time.  Lee assents.

Sam’s Hybrid Haven.  Adama and Kara are talking about Kara’s discovery about the connection between music and math, but her inability to do anything about it.  Play Sam the godsdammed song, Kara!  The actual song! Adama  asks Kara if what Baltar said is true.  Kara says, yes, she knows what it’s like to be dead:  “I found my body and I burned it on Earth.  I don’t know wha I am.”

Adama asks her to plug Sam back in, and then says:  “I know what you are.  You’re my daughter.  Don’t forget it.”   And they plug Sam straight into a flashback.

Hey, it’s Sam Anders!  In a locker room hot tub!  It’s pre-Fall Caprica and, he’s being interviewed by a blonde TV reporter about his mad pyramid skillz.   At first he starts up with the usual jock non-answers, but then suddenly veers off into more abstract territory; talking about his sport as more than an art than anything, and how he’s always looking for a Spaulding Gray Perfect Moment.

Which, yeah, is something that every athlete craves and understands, but hardly ever discusses and almost never reaches:  that perfect moment where mind and body are acting in concert almost like you’re some perfect combination of man and machine, and you can do anything, like pilot a spaceship.

As he’s talking, w flashforward to Sam the Hybrid -- not quite yet the pilot of Galactica -- spouting poetry about perfection and Kara.  Which he does a lot, apparently.  Adama, who is really more into detective stories, just wants to ask him a question.  Or have Kara ask him a question, as the case may be.  We don’t actually see the question, but it’s apparently a combination of “should/can we go find Hera?”  I’m wondering if “duh” is in a Hybrid’s vocabulary.

Lee is giving Baltar that five minutes of alone time Baltar requested.  Baltar starts talking like one of his wireless services: the end of Galactica represents the end of the life they once had and the beginning of a new life, and he wants that new life to be good for everybody.  One of the keys to a good life for everybody:  Life of Baltar having representation in the government.  Of course,  Baltar isn’t doing this for himself, he’s doing it for the people.

Yeahhhh surrre.  Lee doesn’t trust him.  He assumes that Gaius Baltar always has a selfish angle in everything he does; challenges Baltar to give him one example of a time where Baltar did something unselfishly.  Baltar can’t, and in fact has enough self-knowledge to say “I wouldn’t trust me, either.”  Besides, he still has all of those guns.

Back on pre-Fall Caprica City, Flashback Lee is piss drunk. We don’t know exactly why.  Is it because he’s attracted to yet another one of his brother’s girlfriends?  Or is because after his brother died?  Or maybe it’s because of a fight with that mystery woman from “Black Market.” 

In any event, no matter the reason, Lee Adama is falling down, bottle smashing, pigeon-chasing drunk.  Good thing about that last one, because there is a pigeon in his apartment.  Which of course, represents — I dunno, a pigeon in his apartment.  Lee chases it around his apartment with a broom, smashing more shit up in the process.  He doesn’t seem so happy.

There’s been some speculation – fear, really – that drunk Flashback Lee is the responsible for the death of Flashback Laura’s family.  I don’t think so, for three reasons:
   1.    Like I said earlier, this isn’t Lost, which is all about connecting seemingly disparate characters prior to their mutual disaster.  And we aren’t told that the timelines of all of the flashbacks are even close.  BTW, I love Lost, especially now with all of the time-travel, but it's a completely different show.
   2.    The Caprica City Police said that the driver was in stable condition, which means that they – and, by extension, Flashback Laura – know who the driver is, and it would be retconny beyond belief to have it be Lee and never ever been mentioned previously.
   3.    Just because he was drunk in his flashback and her family was killed by a drunk driver  in her flashback doesn’t mean anything: people are always drunk on this show.

Haranguer Deck.  Wordlessly, Adama and Starbuck spread a huge roll of red tape right down the middle of it, and Adama asks for everybody’s attention.  He’s all: “Remember when Hera was kidnapped?  And I cried a lot instead of going after her?  I’ve decided that I was a fool to cry. ”

Then we cut to a montage of various cast members spreading the word that Adama wants to go on one more last crazy mission:
    •    Hot Dog telling the other other pilots.
    •    Dr Cottle finding out from one of his nurses.  In front of Laura Roslin, who flatlines and dies.  No, just kidding.
    •    Ellen discussing it with the ever-skeptical Tory, and declaring that the Five are going.  Just like that?
    •    Lee’s on the phone with someone or other expositioning like crazy: it’s going to be volunteers only, and even the mutineers are invited.  In Hell, Gaeta is all, man, I coulda fought some more cylons after all!
    •    In CIC, Tigh says that they’re going to put Galactica on auto-pilot (or whatever), because everybody is supposed to head down to the Haranguer Deck to declare their choice.  It would be hilarious if Cavil showed up to attack now!
    •    In their quarters, Helo and Athena argue.  While she’s still utterly despondent and thinks it’s too late, he’s hopeful for a rescue.  Because he’s Helo, and that’s what he does.

In Sickbay, Laura Roslin has a flashback. It’s been three months since the accident that claimed her sisters and father, and Flashback Laura is on the phone – with someone or other – who wants her to get back in the game.  The dating game.  Either that, or join the Adar campaign, which is just ramping up, I guess.  Those are her only choices?   How about going to see a nice game of Pyramid? 

Since Flashback Laura Roslin hates politics, she makes a deal to go on a blind date.  With Sean Allison?  WTF?  Should I know this name?  Too much confusion. Even Roslin is confused, causing her to flashforward to Sickbay, where she flatlines, and dies.  Just kidding, instead, we see her put on her battle wig.

Haranguer Deck.  Adama is standing on a ladder, flanked by Starbuck and Lee, and speechifies to a very full house.  Here’s the deal: he’s going after Hera; on a Raptor by himself if necessary, but he’d really rather take Galactica.  So whaddya say, kids?  It’s so crazy that it just might work.  Though in reality, it’s probably sure death.  So there’s that.

Then he points out the red tape line running right down the middle of deck, and as everybody parts to reveal the Red Line of Sure Death, Adama says that volunteers should go to the Starbuck side of the Line and everybody else should go to the Lee side.  Adama actually says “starboard” and “port,” but naturally, Starbuck represents the crazy, hopeless cause, and Lee represents the safer, more rational choice. 

(Beat . . .)

(Beat . . .)

(Beat . . .)

Adama, in his most hoarse and commanding:  “MAKE YOUR CHOICE!”  

Lee Adama steps across the Red Line of Sure Death.  At that moment, he becomes Apollo again.  And so much for representing the safe choice.

The Tighs step across.  As if there were any question.

Hot Dog steps across.  Cottle steps—not so fast, there, Doc.  Adama stops him and says: “We can’t afford to lose a doctor.  Go on back, Sherman, thank you.”  But the “thank you” is drowned out by everybody watching going: “Hey, Cottle’s first name is Sherman!!”

Caprica Six steps across the Red Line of Sure Death, all the while looking straight at Adama.

Tyrol grabs Tory and they step across. 

And now people are walking back and forth all up and down the Red Line of Sure Death, making their choice one way or another.

Some people, of course, didn’t have to move, because they just happened to be on the volunteer side when Adama gave his speech.  Helo and Athena, for example.  Other people didn’t have to move, because they just happened to be on the wussy side when Adama gave his speech.

Like Gaius Baltar.  You can see the struggle in his face, especially after Caprica walks across – can he do the right, unselfish thing just this once?  Or is he, you know, Gaius Baltar, and cannot change; as both Lee Adama and Caprica Six have pointed out in the past couple of weeks.  The answer? “B. Cannot Change.”

Now nearly everbody has made their choice, and that’s probably a good thing, because here comes Laura Roslin, hobbling through the crowd.  Adama spots her and glides over to escort her to the proper side of the RLoSD.  As she walks by Baltar, he can’t even look at her.

In the end, only about a quarter of people have volunteered, but they consist of nearly all of the characters we know by sight, except for Baltar and Cottle, but I can’t imagine they won’t play a part.  Especially since that you know and I know that to fulfill the vision of The Opera House, Gaius Baltar is going to have to have a last-second change of heart and go along on this mission.  Right?  Or is that prophecy as much bullshit as Pythia’s turned out to be?

A recon Raptor jumps near Cavil’s Holiday Camp, and the pilots – Racetrack and Skulls, both newly released from prison for participating in the mutiny – discover something very interesting about it: Cavil has parked it near a Black Hole.  “But that’s impossible!” says The Doctor.  Oh wait, wrong show. 

Is the Hole as black as Cavil’s heart?

We’re going to find out, because there is one safe jumping place near Cavil’s Holiday Camp – a little bit too near, and probably where Cavil is going to have all his guns pointed it.  Doesn’t matter: they’ve made their decision, and while they know that it’s going to be as dangerous as all hell, that’s where they’re going.  Now, they just need a plan.

“Let’s get to work,” says Adama.

To be continued.

One more week.  Two more hours.

Jim Connelly writes about Popular Culture and Technology for Medialoper