The title of episode is "Sometimes a Great Notion," which is a direct reference to Ken Kesey’s second novel, the one you probably haven’t read, but it’s really a reference for Kesey’s source for that phrase, Lead Belly’s version of Goodnight Irene:
Sometimes I have a great notion / jumpin into the river and drown.
What happens when the dream you’ve based your entire life upon turns out to be a cruel, cruel lie? Sometimes you give up. You jump into the river, let it take you where it will.
I won’t do this every time, but here is the prologue:
Twelve Cylon Models
Seven are known
Four live in the fleet
One will be revealed
Tonight! Oh wait, that last bit wasn’t in there.
Petty Officer Anastasia "Dee" Dualla does the voiceover for the previousies, and here’s what they want you to keep in mind while watching this episode.
We’re back on Earth, having skipped the normal opening theme song. It’s a different show now, so the credits are superimposed over the next few minutes, all of which take place on a desolate Earth, and start with Tigh looking out over the gently lapping waters of earth.
Well, maybe they just picked a bad spot: Vancouver can be rainy and miserable at times. But nope, both Human and Cylon scouts report that it’s like this everywhere on Earth. No signs of human life. But plenty of radiation!! And, naturally, some plant life, as Roslin plucks a little green flower from the muddy, ugly soil.
Digging through the sand, Dualla finds some jacks and breaks down in tears.
Back on the hangar deck of Galactica, the crew of the ship anxiously await Roslin & Adama as they emerge from their raptor. In their minds, they’re already planning their new lives as Earthians. But Roslin is speechless, she’s got nothing to say to anyone. So she just shakes her head, and Adama leads her on a perp walk through the confused crew, who are shouting questions at her just like reporters trying to get the scoop.
But at the same time, they all know what the scoop is, just from her demeanor.
Earth. Starbuck & Leoben are using a handheld tracking device to find the source of the signal that brought them to Earth in the first place. They find a piece of wreckage of a spaceship. Her spaceship.
Galactica. Just in case you thought that this episode was nothing but darkness, here’s a moment of happiness which isn’t fraught with anything at all! In their quarters on Galactica, Helo & Athena are playing with Hera, as Dualla comes to babysit her. Holding Hera, Dee marvels at her innocence: "You have no idea what’s happening, do you? Today’s just another day."
To Hera, sure, but not to everybody else. It turns out that the Cylons found remains of Centurions on Earth. Roslin: "So the thirteenth tribe settled here and created their own Cylons." Oh, you poor, poor deluded woman. Nope. they ran tests, and it wasn’t so much that the thirteenth tribe created Cylons, but rather that they were Cylons.
Let’s let that settle in for a second. In a universe where "the idea of Bob Dylan" exists, the inhabitants of Earth are — well, were — Cylons.
Ich bin ein Cyloner!
That’s just about it for President Laura Roslin — the dying leader is done with not trying to die. When Lee points out that someone has to tell the Quorum something, Adama gently tasks Lee dealing with the realpolitik of the situation. Lee Adama has not given up.
But he’s not sure what to tell the Quorum. How to spin this? Lee discusses this with Dualla, and they connect for the first time in ages. Because when you haven’t given up, you still look at things with clearer eyes. And clarity is what’s needed, according to Petty Officer Anastasia "Dee" Dualla, who tells her ex-husband to tell the Quorum the truth. And she tells him that he needs to step up. Because she sees that he hasn’t given up. Then, they make a date, because when you haven’t given up, you need to live your life.
Back on Earth, Tyrol, aimlessly wandering the wreckage, sees a nuclear shadow on a wall which is about his shape and size. So he touches it, and has his revelation. Wham! Galen Tyrol is projected to Earth, 2000 years ago, where he’s sporting some pretty awesome hipster glasses. As Hipster Tyrol buys some produce, he is nuked right back to the present.
After finding the piece of wreckage, Starbuck wants more than ever to find the full raptor the piece came from, but Leoben — who has spent the entire run of the series telling Kara Thrace that she has a destiny, and pushing pushing pushing her towards that realization, is suddenly getting cold feet. This doesn’t seem to be what he had in mind, and he isn’t so sure he wants to know what’s going on.
And he’s right: Starbuck & Leoben find the raptor. But they also find the half-decayed remains of, er, Starbuck. Starbuck — braver than you or I — reaches in and pulls the dogtags from the body she is 99.8% sure is hers. And sure enough, they clearly say "K. Thrace." Leoben is physically repelled back a step or two. And just like that, the tables have turned: he’s afraid of her now.
At this point, a logical guess would be to guess that Starbuck was the last Cylon. Clearly she "died" in some manner. That’s certainly one explanation, except that she would have been outed already.
Leoben tells Kara that he was wrong. Then Kara tells him what the Hybrid told her: that she was the harbinger of death. That she would lead everybody to their end. That’s too much for Leoben: he just says "she told you that?" And gives up. He just turns and walks away. And as he walks away, Kara just keeps asking him "What am I? What am I? What am I?"
She’s a wild card, of course. Now, she just has to figure out what her value is.
Time for Anders to have his revelation: he finds a guitar neck in the muddy dirt. He then fingers it, and recites: "Let us not talk falsely now / because the hour is getting late." Samuel T. Anders is Bob Dylan! But way better looking. But apparently, he played in public, because Tory & Tyrol, who’ve both shown up in the scene, remember him playing for them. They all three realize that they all lived on Earth 2000 years ago.
Then they all died in a planet-wide nuclear holocaust. Film by Michael Bay.
Speaking for the audience, Anders asks: "How did we get to the colonies? Come to think that we were human? 2000 years is a long time to forget." Especially considering you were hit with the unforgettable fire.
Speaking of fire, back on Galactica, Roslin burns the scrolls of Pythia. She’s given up. After telling Adama that she was wrong about everything, she sends him away, and she burns page after page of holy scripture. Gods are dead.
As night falls on Earth, Kara Thrace builds a pyre and burns her own remains. She just sits there, watching. But just from the look on her face, and her body language, she hasn’t given up. She has a mystery to solve.
Back aboard the Galactica, after their date, Apollo & Dualla are recapping his address to the Quorum. He’s spun it as an opportunity; now they’re free to wander space forever! It doesn’t really matter, nobody bought it anyways. What does matter is that they’re awful cute, as they chime in together on "go where we want to go, be who we want to be." They start kissing, but then she disengages; and sweeps into her quarters all the while looking at him with love through her beautiful eyes. I really think that these two crazy kids could make another go at it.
Except for the part where she puts a gun to her head and blows her brains out.
Which leads us directly into an ill-timed KFC "Frak Pak" sweepstakes commercial.
After the commercial for the Kentucky Fried Chicken Fuck Pack sweepstakes, Lee and Bill are standing around Dee’s body in the morgue. Lee can’t believe it, and wonders why she killed herself. Because she gave up, dumbass! But that seems to be a foreign concept to Lee Adama. But not Bill Adama, who is drunker than shit, and offers some of his hootch to Lee and Dee. They both decline, which, not coincidentally is what Adama is doing — declining — and despairing that he let everybody down. Bill Adama has given up, and Dualla has given him an exit strategy.
In the corrodors of Galactica, Adama commandeers a gun and walks to his old buddy Tigh’s quarters, not even noticing that he isn’t the only one who is desparing. People are wandering about dazedly, on fighting, or just sitting on the floors staring into space the way that Democrats would have done had Obama lost the election. He pounds on Tigh’s door. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!
Confrontation time! Saul Tigh is drunk, same as it ever was, but Bill Adama is drunker. Has this ever happened? Adama is a mean, mean drunk. "Siddown Cylon!" But that’s just the beginning. Bill goads him by going after him: "Did they program you to be my friend? Emulate all the qualities I respect." Tigh sloughs it off, so Adama picks up a picture of Tigh and his dead wife, Ellen. Tigh’s eternal weak spot, his absolute — but not blind, never blind — love for Ellen. Adama continues: "Smarter than me. She knew from the beginning there was something wrong with you, that’s why she went around fracking half the Colonial Fleet. Searchin’ out trying to find a man. With real blood in his main vein."
By the way, Olmos utterly kills in this scene. Give this man an Emmy right now!!
Naturally, Tigh is enraged, and pulls a gun on Bill. "Go on, do it!" Adama orders, as he pulls a gun on himself: "Do it, or I will." It’s a suicidal Mexican Standoff! At that point Tigh realizes that Adama came to his quarters for death by Cylon. "Sorry Bill, this is one time I can’t help you."
Naturally, after they fight, Adama & Tigh then sit and philosphize, same as it ever was. Adama tells a story of foxes, that when cornered on a riverbank, swim halfway out, and then just let the current take them out to sea. They’ve given up.
Aboard Colonial One, Lee subtracts a number from the whiteboard of death. Dee. Which is when Kara finds out that Dualla had given up.
Adama, however, has given up giving up for a time, and he and Tigh head back to the Galactica CIC, having made a decision to get the hell out of Dodge. They’re going back out into space, and everybody’s invited, even the Cylons. And since we are nearing the end of a key episode, it can only mean one thing. Speech time! While Bill Adama is addressing the Colonial Fleet, we see a montage of various key cast members: Lee with the jacks Dee found on Earth; Starbuck clutching her "K. Thrace" dogtag; Baltar sitting with his followers, and Roslin, lying on the floor in a fetal position, clutching the flower she pulled from Earth’s soil.
One last time on Earth, Tigh is leading the evacuation, telling everybody to get a move on, when he comes across D’Anna. She’s staying on Earth. She’s giving up. And asks Tigh if he ever wants to give up. "Don’t you just want to stop all of this?" Tigh looks thoughtful, and says "and just ride the tide right out to sea."
Tigh is standing on the water’s edge. He wades in. But it doesn’t feel like a giving up. There are other reasons to jump into the river. Like baptism. Saul Tigh is finally getting his baptism as a Cylon. Man, that water looks cold, but don’t worry about the awesome Michael Hogan — most of the rest of his scenes are close-ups, so it’s doubtful that he had to go into the cold Canadian water.
Saul Tigh, though goes in up to his chest, and then he has his revelation of being on Earth 2000 years ago. It’s the aftermath of one of the nuclear attacks, and a bloodied two-eyed suited-up Tigh is wandering the corridors of an office building looking for . . . Ellen, of course. Always with the Ellen. Then another nuclear flash.
And Ellen Tigh says: "It’s OK. Everything’s in place. We’ll be reborn again. Together." Another blast sends us to the present, and Tigh is back in the water, having realized the the love of his life — lives, really — Ellen Tigh, is the final Cylon.
I started this off with a Lead Belly quote, but I’m going to end it with an apropos lyric by Sinead O’Connor: "If you said jump in the river I would, because it would probably be a good idea."
Also a good idea: Ellen Tigh as the final Cylon. I had my money on Cally, but this is way way better. Can’t wait to see what happens next.