After a long–really, really, really long–break, Battlestar is back with a vengeance. The season four premiere aired last night, and it gave me some new thoughts about just whom that final Cylon might be. Beware if you haven’t seen the episode, as spoilers follow!
Season three began with a big leap forward in time, and we missed a lot of events that occurred during that jump. Consequently there was a lot of catching up to do in order to make heads or tails of the third season, and we even eventually had a flashback episode to fill in the details. All that time jumping and out of sequence storytelling wrecked a lot of the season three narrative for me, so I was very glad to see season four picking up literally at the same moment season three ended. The newly unveiled Cylons are still reeling from the revelation, Lee is still agape at the reborn Kara on his Viper’s bow, and Gaius is being hustled through hallways into hiding.
One of the big cliffhangers at the end of season 3 was the return of the previously blown-up Kara Thrace. Two months after watching Starbuck’s Viper explode in a horrifying conflagration, Apollo opens season four by staring in shock at Kara smiling at him from a neighboring Viper. Upon their return to Galactica, we learn that Kara has no idea she’s been “dead” for two months. She think she’s been gone for just under seven hours, which is backed up by her ship clock. The clock isn’t the only funky thing about her ship; the Viper Kara returns in is a brand new one with no signs of battle, and the nav computer is empty, with no record of where she’s been.
According to Kara, she followed a Cylon into the vortex way back in “Maelstrom” and then took some hits before blacking out. The next thing she remembers is flying over what she believes to be Earth. She backs up her claim with photos she shot of Earth from her ship, and she describes a big gas planet with rings that presumably is Saturn. She surmises that she must have blacked out again, because she doesn’t know how she ended up back with the fleet in her new shiny viper. Despite the nav computer being wiped, she does have a “feeling” for how to get back to Earth.
Lee embraces Kara when they’re back in the hangar, as does Anders. Admiral Adama is warier, and appropriately so. When people return from the dead, they tend to be humanoid Cylons, aka “skinjobs.” Despite his concerns, Bill really wants to believe the returnee is in fact Kara and that her story is true. Kara’s main naysayer is Roslin, who seems convinced Kara is a Cylon and that her return is part of a Cylon plot. Roslin refuses to follow Kara’s instructions for finding Earth and instead orders the fleet to continue jumping along the path of the Eye of Jupiter.
Throughout the episode we see Starbuck struggling to remember where she’s been and what the deal with her “feeling” about Earth is. It’s all part of her special destiny from the previous seasons, but eventually even Kara questions the veracity of her experience. Maybe she is a Cylon, or maybe she was captured by Cylons and implanted with fake memories. Whatever the case, she is convinced that the fleet is jumping in the wrong direction, and the farther they get from Earth, the more her “feeling” will diminish.
It is to preserve that “feeling” that she breaks out some Sarah Corvus-style kung fu on her guards and even knocks Anders out. At the end of the episode, we have Kara breaking into Roslin’s quarters and holding the President at gunpoint with the intent of either convincing her to turn the fleet around or assassinating her.
The Next-To-Final Four
Another big element of the season three finale was the big reveal that Saul Tigh, Chief Tyrol, Anders, and Tori are four of the final five Cylon models. There had been hints that Chief might be a Cylon, and he even suspected as much in previous seasons after having strange waking dreams and beating up Cally in the hangar. But he’d convinced himself that he was a human, as had all three of the others, so the revelation at the end of the season was a big shock for all.
None are as affected by the revelation than Saul Tigh. He’s lived his life as a career soldier and is devoted to killing the Cylons. In season three he even killed his own wife for collaborating with a Cylon. And now he finds himself in the position of being a robot himself. His fears play out at the beginning of this episode in a daydream that has him shooting Adama in the eye. I must confess that I was completely tricked by this and thought he’d actually done it. That just goes to show you how unsafe every character on this show really is.
Tori is in CIC with Tigh, Roslin, Adama, and the rest of the command staff at the opening of the episode. When we found out that Anders, Tigh, and Chief were Cylons, the revelation was surprising but made sense. Tori is the one that comes out of left field. I have to assume that there’s some specific reason she was made a Cylon, because the BSG crew wouldn’t waste one of the final five special models on someone who until now has been little more than a background character. I expect to see a lot more of Tori this season and am intrigued by what direction her character will take.
Anders has an interesting experience just after learning he is a Cylon. As the revelation arrives, the fleet comes under attack. Adama scrambles all the Vipers, and Anders is thrown into his first real combat situation. We get one of the brief moments of humor in this episode when Anders is in the cockpit trying to convince himself he’s not an evil Cylon. He’s repeating his name and birth information over and over, and we hear Seelix bark, “Get your thumb off the transmit button, Sam!” Soon enough, he’s in the midst of the fray and is about to pick a raider off Seelix’s six when… his guns won’t fire. For a brief moment I was convinced that Anders’ programming was about to kick in and that he was going to kill Seelix, who was flying in front of the raider. Instead, the Cylon turns and “stares” at Anders. The red scan line locks onto him, and we see Anders’ eyes flash red. Immediately afterwards the entire Cylon fleet turns and runs. Did the Cylon recognize Anders as one of the Final Five, prompting the retreat? Or was the whole attack about the signal that seemed to transmit between Anders and the Cylon. I tend to believe the raider uploaded something to Anders that we’ll see more of later.
After Anders’ encounter, we see that the four new Cylons are meeting in Tigh’s quarters to discuss the situation. Absurdly, I want to call them the Finer Things Club, after Pam, Oscar, and Toby’s book club on The Office. One has to wonder whether the rest of the crew will notice and think it’s odd that Chief, Tigh, Anders, and Tori keep sneaking off at the same time.
The Cult of Gaius
The final piece of the season 3 cliffhanger had Gaius Baltar being whisked away by women who were taking him somewhere safe. We pick up precisely there in this premiere. It seems that a cult has formed to worship Gaius, complete with a Walmart Christmas light shrine. The group is hiding in an unused area of Galactica, and they are convinced that Gaius is some sort of prophet. True to form, Gaius is going to take full advantage of this situation. If you’re going to throw a character into a confined space with a bunch of young women who blindly worship and adore him, Baltar is your man.
Gaius is back to being awkward, shady, and slimy–all the traits that made him such a fantastic villain in season one. His facility for slipping in and out of explanations for his bizarre behavior is what the character is all about, and that’s something that was missing from Baltar after the New Caprica incident at the beginning of season three. As a bonus, he’s hallucinating Six again. For me, Six always is at her best when she’s in Baltar’s head. She loses something when she’s corporeal and interacting with everyone else.
This time Six instructs Gaius to teach these people that the old gods worshiped by the Colonies are false and that there is one true God (ie: the Cylon God). The followers swallow this amended faith without question, and Gaius furthers their conviction when he prays to this God and offers his own life in exchange for the sick boy’s. The boy, Derek, becomes well after a close call on Gaius’ life, cementing the cult’s belief in him as a prophet.
The Final Cylon
There’s a lot of talk throughout the episode about the Final Five. What matters to the viewers is really just the Final One, and I’ve become convinced that it’s Laura Roslin.
Last season, I was positive that Gaeta was a Cylon, and revealing him as one would have been a fitting surprise. He’s a bit of a secondary character, so it wouldn’t have been a waste to use one of the remaining five slots on him. Now that we know four of the five, though, the last one has to be big. The only remaining characters big enough to provide that kind of impact would be Adama, Apollo, Starbuck, Baltar, and Roslin. Starbuck, with her resurrection and new shiny Viper, seems too obvious. Apollo has present human family and couldn’t be a pure Cylon. Adama has an established military career and family and has been in the public eye for a long time, and I just don’t believe he’s a Cylon (although that didn’t stop Tigh). Baltar has had plenty of Cylon suspicion cast his way, but after season three I just don’t see him being a toaster.
So that leaves Roslin. In this episode she talks with the Six in the brig and asks if Kara is a Cylon. Six does not give her a direct answer and says she is programmed not to think about the Final Five. Eventually she stands, looks meaningfully at Roslin, and tells her that the Final Five are close. Roslin takes this to mean they are in the fleet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Six means one of the Five is in that same room at that moment.
We also can’t discount Roslin’s Cylon dreams. Back in season one, she dreamed prophetically of Leoben. And later she enters a shared Cylon dream at the Opera House with Six, Hera, and Sharon. Tyrol was having weird Cylonish dreams prior to his discovery, so why not Roslin?
And finally, the Final Five seem to be an ostracized group from the rest of the Cylon race. Why would they be shunned like this? The Cylons are very spiritually devoted to their one true God, and they see the Colonial pantheon as heresy. Wouldn’t they shun a Cylon model who would end up being prophesied by Pithia to lead humans to Earth? Roslin’s faith goes against everything the Cylons believe, giving them good reason to be apart from this different brand of being.
But then, I’m usually wrong about these kinds of things (see Heroes Season 1 when I was convinced that Peter was Sylar). I don’t have an answer for why Hera’s blood would heal Roslin, and there are probably other details I’m forgetting, but for now I say the President is a frakkin toaster. We’ll just have to see how it all pans out.