"This must be what the Pilgrims thought when they landed at Plymouth Rock." That was the first thing to cross my mind during the final scene of Friday's "Battlestar Galactica" mid-season finale. And then....
...well, the state of Earth during that first encounter was much worse than, say, the climate of New England, but was anyone really surprised? That giant cross-fleet celebration came about 10 episodes too early. And given that this entire show is a post-9/11 allegory, it's hardly surprising that the buildings of Manhattan -- apparently, those were the ruins of the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground -- so eerily recalled the shell of the World Trade Center.
So. An expectedly bleak ending to one of the most tense, well-executed episodes I can remember. I especially loved the long, fraught standoff sequence, particularly the moment when One-Eye Tigh, standing in the airlock, turned to Lee and growled, "What are you waiting for, Apollo? Do it!" Part of me really thought he would. This show doesn't shy away from darkness, to say the least. And across all of TV, has there ever been a recurring scene more disturbingly metaphorical than the flight of the airlock victim? Hurtling, alone, into the vacuum. Wow. I need a Valium.
Among the other highlights of the episode, for me:
* Baltar, suddenly sounding sane and rational as he tried to talk D'Anna down.
* Adama, usually so cool in a crisis, finally losing it over the news that his best old friend was a Cylon. When I interviewed Edward James Olmos this spring, he talked about the very real feelings of anger and betrayal on the set when the actors learned the identity of the Final Four. I think it showed through in this scene.
* Starbuck, who has apparently worked through her Soylent Green phase ("We're going the wrong waaaaaay!"), taking the news of Sam's Cylon-ness with shock, but no violence. Didn't she once say she would put a bullet in his head?
* The fact that we now have at least one answer: They've landed on future Earth, not past or present Earth. The obvious choice, I suppose, but it makes sense; as the ships soared through that atmosphere, I wondered how we humans would actually react if a bunch of other people and machines-that-look-like-people suddenly showed up in the sky and said, "We're home!"
And now? We wait. And wait. As reader Julia points out, Ron Moore has said publicly that new episodes -- let's call them the Final Ten -- won't arrive until 2009.
So watch it again. If you've got the time and the laptop, watch it while reading this: Series composer Bear McCreary's account of his score, which seems even more brilliant the more I know about it. (He hired a choir to sing text written specifically for the composition, translated variously into Samoan and Latin. How often does that happen on TV?)