This review will contain major spoilers for Episode 411 of Battlestar Galactica.
After 271 days, Battlestar Galactica has returned for its final ten episode arc that will bring us to the conclusion of the series. This has been a long time coming, and there has been a huge buildup of anticipation. Who is the fifth Cylon? What happened to Earth? What's up with Starbuck? What will happen next? This episode helped to answer a number of questions, but in doing so, raised more, and I suspect that the next ten weeks will be just as intense and rewarding as this episode was. It certainly lived up to the anticipation.
In the last episode, humanity finally reached earth. Had that episode ended about three minutes earlier, it would have been the perfect end to the entire series, minus a couple of things. Humanity reached Earth; cue the dramatic and heartwarming music. Three minutes later, it all comes back down. Earth, as we find in the episode, is a wasteland. We discover that two thousand years prior, there had been a conflict of some kind, and the skeletons that they recovered were Cylon. Tyrol, Tigh and Anders begin to remember flashes of their lives on the planet, and Starbuck finds what brought them to Earth - her own Viper, with her own body in the ruined cockpit. This has a huge impact on the fleet. Moral seems to have plummeted, Roslin is depressed and burning her bible, and Duella committs suicide. And our fifth Cylon turns out to be Tigh's wife, Ellen.
Throughout the series, I've seen just how dark the writers can make the show, even from the beginning. Lee had to destroy a passenger carrier. Cylons are tossed out the airlock, Kara is experimented on, the Cylons come and enslave humanity, and so forth, but this is easily the darkest turn, and one of the more brilliant things that they could do to the show. Take humanity's, and our entire ride, and turn it to ashes. This episode was very bleak, and I've often said that nothing can surprise me with this show any more. It certainly did, this time around, and I'm wondering where we'll go next.
There are several storylines that have just been opened up, that we'll hopefully see some conclusions to. Will we see Ellen again? What happened to Cavill's fleet? What will Admiral Adama do with the fleet? And so forth - we have plenty of things to do with the next ten episodes. I'm especially interested in seeing what will happen with Kara's storyline, because she's been central to this entire arc, finding earth, and the shock of finding her own body on Earth, and also discovering that she is NOT the final Cylon comes as a bit of a relief and a shock, but also brings in an unknown to the series - what happened to her and her Viper?
This episode also pulls itself into some of the things that had been said before in the show: What has happened before, will happen again. It certainly seems that there had been a massive civil war, that there were humanoid Cylons and Ellen's cryptic saying at the end of the episode: We will be reborn together, all tie in together. I suspect that we will be seeing more of this theme over the next nine or so weeks as the show wraps up.
The episode wasn't perfect - it seemed a bit scattered to me, bouncing between a number of stories, and that could have been cleaned up a bit more. I had put my money on Starbuck's mother being the fifth Cylon, but that doesn't seem to have been the case. The worst thing, however, has nothing to do with the episode - it's back to waiting another week for Episode 412. I have high hopes for the remainder of the series, and this episode has done nothing to suppress that. If anything, it's brought my anticipation up a notch.
But, Battlestar's back. And it's good. So say we all.