Sometimes a Great Notion
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- Kara Thrace learns that the dire predictions of the Cylon Hybrid might be correct, and a devastating discovery plunges the Fleet into chaos and despair.
- The leaders and central staff of both the Fleet and the rebel baseship wander about aimlessly on the planet Earth, whose surface has been utterly destroyed in a nuclear conflagration for some time. Saul Tigh stands on a desolate beach, staring out at the ruins of buildings, their mangled shortened skeletons jutting up from the lands ahead in jagged spires. Gaius Baltar and Samuel Anders stand about the ruins in confusion, as does Anastasia Dualla, who stoops at the water's edge to mournfully examine it.
- Lee Adama grimaces as he looks about the dead landscape as Laura Roslin picks up a short rounded prickly plant, the only visible life found on the world.
- Helo reports to Admiral Adama: Other scouts report in from around the planet. The destruction is the same all over. No signs of human life and no responses to any hails. D'anna Biers confirms her rebel Cylon scouts have had the same findings.
- The Final Four Cylons accompany the senior Colonial scouting team.
- Kara Thrace stands on the surface holding her Viper's Colonial emergency locator beacon, with a Leoben, trying to home in on the signal only it can read, the signal that lead them to this world. The signal of the transmitting beacon is fading from a low battery. Leoben believes it must have been transmitting for a long time.
- Baltar has a team confirming that the radiation from the holocaust has embedded itself in the plant life and water chain. Helo gives a more detailed version of Baltar's findings: the planet was nuked over 2,000 years prior. Adama directs that all be instructed not to ingest the water and plants. Caprica-Six remains on the surface until early in Act 2, and digs in the dirt.
- Roslin quips, "It's perfect. We traded one nuked civilization for another." Adama orders his Raptor to leave.
- Dualla finds a watch in the dusty soil, and some children's jacks. She is near a breakdown as their Raptor returns to Galactica.
- The hangar deck is filled with people, anxious for any news on the new world. But Roslin, typically someone who can manage to say anything in the darkest times, can only mutter to Adama, "Get me out of here." Lee Adama tries to placate the crowd's confusion and questions, shouting that the news will be revealed in due time.
- Kara Thrace and Leoben continue to narrow in on the Colonial signal when she finds the beacon: a standard issue Colonial device used for all aircraft, part of their inertial navigation system.
- Leoben finds some wreckage and reads off the number on its charred skin: "757-NC." Kara immediately becomes agitated. "The number on my ship is 8757-NC," she says--referring to the Viper that she flew back to the Fleet after she was apparently killed.
- On Galactica, the Agathon family plays together happily as Dualla comes over to babysit little Hera Agathon. While Dualla says to the Agathons that she "looks forward" to spending time with the child, she later tells young Agathon as her parents leave, " You have no idea what's happened, do you? Today's just another day."
- On the planet, amidst some seemingly human skeletons dug up, Caprica-Six and others find something very unexpected: the remains of a head of what is obviously a type of Cylon Centurion, similar to the old original model from the First Cylon War, but clearly not the same.
- Aboard Galactica in Baltar's lab, Caprica-Six confirms that other Centurion helmets were found with about 250 skeletons from four sites around the planet as well. A Number Eight confirms that, while the Centurion design is similar, they have never seen this design before.
- Roslin notes that, apparently, the Thirteenth Tribe created their own Cylons (paralleling Graystone Industries' production for the Twelve Colonies of Kobol two millenia later). Lee Adama completes her sentence: Like on the Colonies, these Cylons also rebelled against their masters.
- Baltar notes that they dug deeper to test the skeletons themselves. The astonishing fact, confirmed by his Caprica-Six, is that the every one of the skeletons themselves are also humanoid Cylons. The Thirteenth Tribe were Cylons.
- After the meeting, Lee Adama asks Roslin what she will say to the Quorum. But a visibly disheartened Roslin has nothing to say at all. Admiral Adama tells his son to "carry the ball" for Roslin.
- As the admiral and Roslin leave, Tigh asks to speak to his friend, but the scene is unclear if Adama stops to listen.
- Back on the planet, Galen Tyrol is attracted to a fragment of wall. As he gets closer, he hears echoes of ghosts saying things like "Fresh fruit, get your fresh fruit!" He sees a human silhouette on the wall, looking as if it were painted there. Surrounding the silhouette is weathered writing, barely readable. Tyrol touches the silhouette--and is thrown into a vision of the world as it once was, and Tyrol as he once was, wearing glasses and a sportcoat as he passes through a bustling marketplace of open carts of fruit and flowers and other goods. He stops to buy an avacado himself then continues walking. A massively bright flash of light appears as Tyrol shields his eyes--
- Tyrol stumbles back, falling to the ground.
- Elsewhere, Kara Thrace questions that, if her Viper is scattered about this planet, then who flew it here, and how did she herself get back to Galactica. Leoben cautions her, telling her, "You might not like what you find." Thrace is perturbed by his words as Leoben has been, typically, very optimistic in his words to her in the past. She questions if the news would be more disturbing to her, or to Leoben himself.
- In the ready room, Lee Adama stands in thought as Dualla appears, asking him why he hasn't boarded a readied Raptor for his Quorum briefing on Colonial One. Adama laments the many pilots that had once sat here, many of them lost forever over a dead dream. He doesn't want their sacrifice to be meaningless.
- Dualla tells him that his expression reminds her of what he looked like when his father said that he would execute the New Caprica rescue with Galactica alone. When he wonders what to say to the Quorum, Dualla tells him to tell the truth. "If anyone can give them a reason to go on, it's you. Apollo." As he leaves, hesitant, he asks her to meet him for a drink later. She accepts.
- Kara Thrace finds a large piece of wreckage, overturned. She and Leoben turn it over. It's a Viper cockpit, the burnt remains of its pilot still helmeted, still inside. Cautiously, she lifts the head to find it had blonde hair...her hair. Thrace retches.
- As tears well up, she reaches inside the flight suit of the body to pull out the dog tags. In clear letters, the tags read "K. THRACE." A ring, her wedding band, is also attached to the chain. Leoben steps back in fear as Thrace asks for an explanation. "I--I don't have one," he says. She recalls what the Hybrid said, that she would be the "harbinger of death." She yells to the Leoben as he walks away, unable to answer her question, "If that's me sitting there, then what am I?!"
- Samuel Anders finds the remains of a stringed instrument, probably a guitar. He holds the neck piece, placing his fingers on it as if to play as he recalls a song: "So let us not talk falsely now, 'cause the hour is getting late." He drops the neck and runs to find Tyrol, sitting placidly by the wall and the vision. They both share their visions, both realizing they lived there, in that area, once. Anders recalls that he played that song for a woman he loved. They are joined by Tory Foster, who also recalls that he played that song for all of them.
- "That was me," Tyrol says, pointing to the flash-silhouette on the wall.
- Anders angrily questions the paradox. Why they were all still alive? How did they come to the Colonies, to believe they were human? "Two thousand years is a long time to forget!" he says.
- In Admiral Adama's quarters, Laura Roslin sits on the floor. She has set fire to one of the pages of the Sacred Scrolls, specifically, the Pythian Prophecy, turning successive pages to burn each into ash, one by one.
- Adama arrives to ask Roslin to help figure out a way to shore up the Fleet's quickly sagging morale. She is passive. He tells her that she'd missed her doloxan treatment. Roslin "didn't feel like it," she says, refusing to reschedule. "You just gonna...lie down and quit?" Adama asks. She laments that he took her advice to leave their Colonial solar system, of all the men and women who had died for what appears to be a fruitless series of visions.
- In the twilight, Kara Thrace creates a funeral pyre, burning the corpse of herself found in the wreckage, sitting alone as the flames consume it.
- Lee Adama and Dualla come back from her date as he humorously (and drunkenly) recalls his report to the Quorum. "We are no longer enslaved to the ramblings of Pythia, no longer pecking at the bread crumbs of the Thirteenth Tribe...We are now free to go where we want to go, be who we want to be." Dualla smiles back warmly as they kiss. They stop kissing mutually, both stopping from it getting further. Dualla bids Lee goodbye and enters her quarters. Inside, Felix Gaeta watches her as she hums. "You're glowing," he says with slight amazement. Then he makes a comment on how Earth is a waste of a planet. Dualla chides him for bringing up the subject. "I want to hold on to this feeling for as long as I can." She looks at a childhood picture of herself in her opened locker, taking off her pendant. "She has no idea what she has ahead of her," she says of her younger self. Gaeta leaves as Dualla stops humming briefly looking at him leave in the mirror, then resumes humming. She looks at a cameo of her parents and then calmly places her wedding ring on the locker hook.
- Without any hesitation at all, Dualla pulls out a sidearm from her locker, places it against her temple, and fires.
- Diana Seelix arrives inside first, with Gaeta not far behind. Both are aghast at the sight of Dualla's body, blood pooling around her hands. They call for medics repeatedly in fear and distress as the scene ends.
- Lee Adama stands by the shrouded body of Anastasia Dualla in the ship's morgue as his father enters. "She kissed me goodnight 45 minutes ago, and there was joy in her eyes. So tell me why would she do this?" Lee asks. The admiral's stony face melts into a drunken expression. "I don't frakkin' know," he slurs out, taking out a bottle of alcohol to offer to Lee, who refuses it. Anger rising in his face, Lee leaves, passing by Gaeta outside without a word.
- Inside, Admiral Adama looks under the shroud momentarily, covers Dualla's body, as he cries, holding her head, asking to himself, "What did you do?" He kisses the body, saying, "I let you down. I let everybody down."
- Adama comes out into a corridor, demands a sidearm from one of the marines standing there. Adama storms down a corridor as others stand or sit expressionless. Two men are fist-fighting, crossing Adama's path. He ignores them as he heads to Saul Tigh's quarters.
- "Sit down, Cylon," Adama says angrily after pulling out Tigh's sidearm, arms it and drops it on a table. Adama pours both of them a drink, but Tigh slowly pushes it away.
- Tigh tries to apologize about his revelation of being a Cylon, but Adama is beyond angry. "Is that how it worked? They program you to be my friend? Emulate all the qualities I respect. Tell me jokes...and I laugh at them."
- Tigh counters that he wanted, chose to be his friend. Adama throws insult after insult about Ellen Tigh, angering Tigh to pick up the sidearm to shoot his friend. "Do it! Or I'll do it myself!" Adama says, pointing his own sidearm to his temple.
- Tigh's gun is pointed at Adama's forehead, but he hesitates pulling the trigger. Adama goads him, "Go on," but Tigh realizes, returning Adama's insult as he rips out the gun's magazine and safes the weapon. "I'm sorry, Bill, but this is the one time I can't help you." Adama drops his gun and reaches for a bottle, but Tigh tries to stop him.
- Adama drinks from a glass anyway as he speaks of his uncle as a kid in the summers spent there, of foxes that would attack his henhouses, of the dog hunts that chased down the foxes at night, forming into a team, forcing the foxes toward the river. Half of the foxes would fight, the others would try to cross the river. But some of them would turn with the current, swimming away into the sea. "Because they wanted to drown," Tigh adds. "Maybe. Or maybe they were just... tired."
- Tigh, uncharacteristically, becomes the sober one giving the other a dressing-down, telling Adama that he can't be like the foxes lost to the sea, reminding him that he is the commander and Tigh is still the XO of the ship, that killing himself would not help himself, or the ship.
- In the presidential office aboard Colonial One, Lee Adama slowly wipes away a numeral "1" from the census board as Kara Thrace arrives. At some point on the surface, she sustained a laceration on the front-right quadrant of her neck. Kara had officially reported that she lost the signal, but needs to confide in him about something. Before she does, Lee tells her the news about Dualla. Both can only wonder why Dee killed herself. Kara presumably decides not to tell Lee about her discovery.
- Adama passes by more passive crewman and some graffiti: "Frak Earth", sprayed on the wall as he heads to CIC, where he meets up with Colonel Tigh wearing his service uniform and rank insignia for the first time since being granted amnesty by then-Acting President Lee Adama. Ordering Lt. Hoshi to Dualla's old communications station, Adama directs Gaeta to find any nearby stars compatible with habitable planets, and Hoshi to invite the rebel Cylons to their next destination. Adama addresses the Fleet, telling them that, while Earth is no longer a choice, he will find them a new home. "This is a promise I intend to keep."
- Saul Tigh, still in service uniform, organizes the evacuation of the survey crews on Earth in preparation for their search for a new home. On the beach, he greets D'Anna Biers. She doesn't want to leave, deciding to stay behind, believing that the cycle of life will keep going on as dreadfully as before. "...and it beats the hell out of being out there with Cavil. Gonna die in the cold and the dark when Cavil catches up with us." Tigh tries to give encouragement, but Biers asks if he ever wanted to just give up, reminding him of Adama's story of the penned-in foxes.
- Tigh thereupon begins to walk into the bay. Chest-deep in water, he continues down. Hearing faint screams, he reaches down and lifts a mangled post box hatch from his apartment building's lobby two thousand years ago. Holding it, he has a vision of the end of his former life. He wears a civilian business suit, his face is clean shaven but bloodied, and he has both of his eyes. A voice calls out, "Saul!" from the floor in front of the post boxes. There he finds Ellen, trapped under debris he cannot move. His present-day self thrashes about in the bay while remembering his past self frantically pulling the lighter debris from around Ellen. As more bombs detonate, Ellen delivers a prophecy: "Saul, it's okay. Everything's in place. We'll be reborn... again. Together."
- The vision fades as Tigh realizes the truth. "Ellen... Ellen! You're the fifth!"
- Katee Sackhoff noted that this episode could have served as the series finale had the WGA strike gone longer. However, the strike ended with sufficient time for production to resume; the previous episode was aired as the mid-season finale, with this episode airing in the first quarter of 2009.
- The scenes were among the last shot and were shot during the crew's shut down party due to the 2008 Writers Strike, so Sackhoff was unable to attend.
- The title of the episode comes from the novel Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey, which itself quotes the blues song "Goodnight, Irene". In the song, the singer contemplates suicide: "Sometimes I get a great notion / to jump in the river and drown."
- The last Cylon is finally revealed in a vision Colonel Tigh has of the past: it is his dead wife, Ellen Tigh.
- While "The Face of the Enemy" webisodes were released before "Sometimes a Great Notion", they actually take place several days after it.
- According to Moore in his podcast, his wife Terry believed that Dualla was the Fifth Cylon right up until she shot herself. She had long ago stopped reading show scripts beforehand.
- The alarms sounding after the nuclear attack during Tigh's flashback are identical to the two-tone, randomly-overlapping red alert klaxon heard on battlestars in the original series.
- The Cylons have testing methods which can distinguish between human and Cylon remains.
- The Thirteenth Tribe Cylons were apparently all unique models and included children, based on the jacks found by Dualla, which fittingly resemble baseships.
- Saul Tigh also had the first name "Saul" in his past life.
- The destroyed city serving as the "home base" for the Colonials and Cylons remains unnamed, however when Col. Tigh wades into the water, what appears to be the pedestal of the State of Liberty atop the former Fort Wood can be seen in the distance to the right of Tigh's back. This lends further credence to the speculation originating with "Revelations" that they are in the vicinity of New York City, and adds to the two episodes' homage and references to The Planet of the Apes which ends with Col. Taylor's discovery of the statue's damaged upper portion. Coincidentally, Fort Wood's shape is known as a "star fort".
- Dee's decision to spend her final hours with Lee is in keeping with her deleted engagement scene in "Unfinished Business". In accepting Lee's marriage proposal, Dee acknowledged that the marriage would not survive Lee's continued feelings toward Kara Thrace, and that the Cylons would likely find and kill them all anyway; nevertheless, she wanted to spend what little time she could with him and happy. Her suicide echoes sentiments she expressed to Apollo in a deleted scene in "Black Market," in which she implied the despair and uncertainty of current events was almost too much to bear and that she sometimes wishes she would have been killed in the attacks on the colonies, and thus not have to deal with it anymore.
- The episode (including the final scene of the preceding episode, "The Hub") include extensive homages to the final act of The Planet of the Apes:
- Astronauts discover a post-apocolyptic Earth; the view of which bore striking resemblance to New York City.
- Leoben warns Kara, "You might not like what you find," quoting verbatim Dr Zaius' admonition to Col. Taylor.
- Kara has been declared "the harbinger of death", a description of man from the apes' sacred scrolls carried by Dr Zaius and read by Dr Cornelius.
- A central character, Dr Gaius Baltar, has been a scientific, religious and political leader; his forename is nearly identical to Dr Zaius who was the apes' scientific, religious and political leader.
- Cylon Galen assists human astronauts in their survey of post-apocolyptic Earth, just as chimpanzee Galen did in the Planet of the Apes television series.
The Thirteenth Tribe and the "Final Five"
- What was the source of the nuclear attacks on Earth? (Answer)
- How did the Final Five come to be living in the Twelve Colonies 2000 years after their deaths on Earth, without their memories and unaware of being Cylons? (Answer)
- How will the Cylons in Cavil's faction respond to the discovery of the identities of the Final Five? (Partial answer)
- What similarities and differences exist between the method by which the Final Five were reborn and the Significant Seven's process of resurrection? (Answer)
- Did the Thirteenth Tribe Cylons have any influence on the development of the Significant Seven 2000 years later, or was it mere parallel evolution? (Answer)
- How did the Significant Seven come to be aware of the existence, though not the identities, of the Final Five? (Answer)
- Are there other survivors of the Thirteenth Tribe besides the Final Five? (Possible answer)
- Does the presence of children among the Thirteenth Tribe indicate that they reproduced among themselves? (Answer)
- If the Thirteenth Tribe reproduced biologically, did the Final Five have Cylon parents, grandparents or other ancestors on Earth? (Answer)
- Given the speculation following "Revelations" that the survey site at the end of that episode and the start of this, was in Brooklyn, with the remains of the Brooklyn Bridge in the background; and given that the writers paid an homage to Planet of the Apes with Leoben's Dr. Zaius quote; is the thick, stubby structure in the background toward which Colonel Tigh wades at the episode's end, the pedestal on Liberty Island? (Answer)
- What is Kara Thrace? (Partial Answer)
- Was the corpse found in the field that of the "real" Kara Thrace? If so, how and when did her Viper crash on Earth? And how did so much of her Viper and body remain relatively intact after seemingly being completely disintegrated in the gas giant? (Answer)
- Why does Thrace keep the dog tags and wedding ring found on the body? (Possible answer)
- Will Thrace or Conoy tell anyone about their discovery? How will others respond to this information? (Answer #1, Answer #2)
- Will Tigh reveal Ellen's status as the final Cylon? How will others react? (Answer)
- With D'Anna Biers remaining behind on Earth, who will take over as the leader of the rebel Cylon faction? (Answer)
- Will D'Anna Biers stay on Earth? (Answer)
- Were the Thirteenth Tribe Cylons generally aware of Cylon resurrection/reincarnation, and the cyclical nature of Cylon life, or was Ellen Tigh unusually prophetic? (Answer)
- Three refers to "the bones of [her] ancestors", yet no Significant Seven models are depicted in either flashback scene, and early Colonial Cylons (Graystone' creations and Centurion Model 0005s) were created two millenia after Earth's destruction. What is the lineage of the Significant Seven? (Partial answer)
- Did Baltar's Cylon detector successfully identify Ellen Tigh in "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down"? If so, did Baltar withhold that information from D'Anna Biers during their search for the Final Five? If he did tell her could this have been what she meant when she told him "you were right" in Rapture? If he didn't, what were his reasons?
- On that note, were any of the Final Five successfully identified as Cylons?
- Does Tigh retain the mailbox hatch from his apartment building, and does Anders retain the guitar neck which he had dropped?
- How was dead Thrace's hair left unburned while her facial flesh was charred beyond recognition?
- Are the visions/memories experienced by the Final Five on Earth perfectly accurate?
- Did human/Cylon hybrids ever occur when the two races cohabited Kobol, or is Hera the first of her kind in all of history?
- Did Anders originally write "All Along the Watchtower", or did he merely cover it?
- Were the robot life forms of Kobol called Cylons, a term invented by Daniel Graystone, or by an equivalent name native to their era? Did the thirteenth tribe refer to themselves as human or "Cylon"?
- Is the uncle with the farm that Admiral Adama mentions Sam Adama or a maternal uncle?
- Chicago Tribune interview with Ronald D. Moore:
- Ronald D. Moore has confirmed that Dualla is dead and that Ellen Tigh is in fact the Final Cylon.
- Moore indicates that Ellen Tigh was the Cylon whom D'Anna apologized to in "Rapture".
- In his podcast commentary to "Sometimes a Great Notion", Ronald D. Moore confirmed that D'Anna Biers stays on Earth and that her story has ended.
- Also in his podcast Moore says that Kara Thrace did actually die when her Viper was destroyed, not some trick.
- Moore states that there was an intention in the Director's Cut (but dropped) to subtly imply that Anders wrote "All Along The Watch Tower" himself, and not as in reality, Bob Dylan.
- Moore admits that the scene just before Dualla's suicide was intended as an emotional "sucker punch" to imply that Lee and Dualla were perhaps going to get back together.
- Moore said Admiral Adama used the actual real life star system classifications of F, G, and K when he orders Gaeta to search for appropriate star systems that could support human life. These are indeed considered by real-world astronomers to be the most likely candidates for life-bearing planets; the Sun itself is type G.
- 'Leoben Conoy echos to Dr. Zaius' final caution to Col. Taylor at the end of The Planet of the Apes: "You might not like what you find." Like Taylor, Kara Thrace is a time-traveling military astronaut surveying post-apocalyptic Earth (possibly also in the outskirts of New York City), and the "harbinger of death."
- Saul Tigh upon seeing Ellen Tigh in a flashback on Earth:
- "Ellen - You're the Fifth!"
- After finding her body, Kara Thrace shouts to Leoben Conoy:
- "What am I?!"
- Laura Roslin's assessment of Earth:
- "It's perfect. We traded one nuked civilization for another."