Music. It’s the music. It’s a character unto itself in Battlestar Galactica, and the series has only become more adept at using music to increase the power and magnitude of its stories. I can’t make this entire review about music, but it’s what struck me most powerfully while rewatching this last episode of season one, “Kobol’s Last Gleaming Part 2,” where we will see the shape of things to come.
1. The pull of home, the pull of the familiar, the pull of where we come from
We ended part one of this episode with Starbuck disregarding the orders of her Commander, and heeding the words of her President, by heading home, to Caprica. President Roslin appeals to Starbuck’s faith, something familiar, something from home. Boomer has spent the majority of season one struggling with the idea that she may be a Cylon. It’s something that has continued to haunt her everyday life, she can’t escape it. Unfortunately, Adama sends Boomer on a highly sensitive mission. One that will send her back home, to a Cylon basestar; her objective is to drop a nuke and destroy the ship, and she accomplishes that mission, but not before encountering various copies of the Sharon model. Her greatest fears have been confirmed, since Baltar could not confirm them for her. Sharon goes home, and it leads to the biggest tragedy of the episode.
2. Legislative vs military control
The name of this topic is boring and straightforward, but I couldn’t find a better way to convey these thoughts, so it will stay boring. We see a development of conflict between Adama and Roslin when the President coerces Starbuck to return to Caprica. Matters spiral out of control, almost unbelievably quickly, and we wind up with a team of Marines, led by Tigh and Lee Adama, sneaking aboard Colonial One to arrest the President. Roslin is smart. She knows how to gain the favor of the public. She does it when she has the press present for her phone call with Adama and she does it when the marines storm Colonial One. A system of checks and balances is important, but when it’s only two systems, there’s bound to be conflict. Lee plays an important role here; he’s struggled to follow his own belief system, the advice his father has given him, and his drive to be as successful as Starbuck.
Gaius Baltar. A man filled with personal struggle, who in turn makes me personally struggle with his importance as a character, with my desire to hate him, and with my love of the conflict he develops within this series. We’ve seen in prior episodes that Baltar believes himself to be an instrument of God, and that belief only intensifies in this final episode of season one. He is led out of a fiery Raptor crash by a Six, wearing all white, bathed in white light. Which leads me to my next thought, which is…
When Gaius Baltar is led out of the Raptor by Six, he lands in a clearing, arms spread, legs together, very Christ-like. At the end of the episode, in one of the best musically oriented scenes, Six leads Baltar into the ruins on Kobol, where he sees it in its full, past, glory. It’s a theater and Six leads him to the stage, while music is playing, and both are bathed in white light. Six tells Baltar life has a melody. (music!) She tells him, “You are the guardian and protector of the next generation of God’s children.” (The music is killing it here.) “See the shape of the face of things to come.” (The music is still killing it.) “Isn’t she beautiful Gaius?” (Yup, you guessed it, the music still killing it.) We don’t see what they see, but I know what they see. I’m not sure it’s obvious for a first watch. Maybe it is. On the savior front, at the conclusion of the episode, we flash back between Baltar and Six kissing on stage, and Commander Adama, lying on a table in the command center, bleeding out, in the same arms splayed formation as Baltar from the start of the episode. Do the humans and Cylons have different saviors? Does this defeat the purpose of a savior? As one should unite people, not divide. Which takes me to…Continued below
5. Sharon Valerii
I’ve discussed Sharon’s actions prior to this thought, but I have not discussed how she’s involved in the climax of the episode, the cliffhanger I remember. I watched this series way before Game of Thrones, or various other series that make it their mission to always double-down on the crazy unexpected. The end of this episode blew my mind 14 years ago, and to be totally honest, it did again this week. Not in the surprise kind of way, but in suspenseful build up kind of way. Knowing what was coming didn’t ruin the payoff. Sharon has (finally) fulfilled her mission as a Cylon…by shooting Commander Adama, twice, in the command center of Galactica, as he is going to shake her hand. It’s expert TV making, and I can’t get enough of it. I will talk about this scene until the day I die.
We’ve been set up to see the “shape of things to come,” and be aware that “all of this has happened before and will happen again.” But what we don’t know is what, exactly, these things mean. Man, the music. I can’t say enough about the music. Throughout this episode we get short, alternating scenes, just like the fifth and final act of Macbeth. This ramps up the pace and the suspense. I was on the edge of my seat, couch really, for the majority of this episode, despite having seen it before. (Do I compare most things to Macbeth? Yes.)
I didn’t talk about Starbuck at all, but she has some bloody fight scenes with a Six, and Starbuck doesn’t need Helo to save her; she saves herself. My last thought on this season is that it’s been said it is man who creates his own hell, his own devils; that the evil is in him. All men are sick because they are tainted with the universal disease of Original Sin. The humans are fighting amongst themselves. The humans are fighting amongst their own family. The humans created the Cylons and are now fighting with them, and we don’t really even know why the Cylons engaged them in war in the first place. What does this mean for our humans? Where are they headed in this story? If all of this has happened before, is man always creating his own hell?