Sometimes a Great Notion

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Sometimes a Great Notion
"Sometimes a Great Notion"
An episode of the Re-imagined Series
Episode No. Season 4, Episode 11
Writer(s) David Weddle
Bradley Thompson [1]
Story by
Director Michael Nankin [2]
Assistant Director
Special guest(s)
Production No. 413
Nielsen Rating
US airdate USA January 16, 2009 [3]
CAN airdate CAN January 16, 2009 [4]
UK airdate UK January 20, 2009 [5]
DVD release
Population survivors
Extended Info Season 4.5 Premiere
Episode Chronology
Previous Next
The Face of the Enemy Sometimes a Great Notion A Disquiet Follows My Soul
Related Information
Official Summary
R&D SkitView
[[IMDB:tt{{{imdb}}}|IMDb entry]]
Listing of props for this episode
[[frakr:{{{frakr}}}|Satirical view of this episode on WikiFrakr]]
Promotional Materials
Watch this episode's promo (on-wiki)
Online Purchasing
Amazon: Standard Definition | High Definition
iTunes: [{{{itunes}}} USA]


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.[6]


Act 1

  • The episode skips a teaser, beginning with the "Twelve Cylons" opener and the cast credits appearing as scenes of the devastated Earth appear.
  • The leaders and central staff of both the Fleet and the rebel baseship wander about aimlessly on the surface of a planet 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. Downloaded Three confirms her rebel Cylon scouts have had the same findings.
  • The Final Four Cylons - including Tory Foster who had defected to the rebel Cylon baseship - accompany the senior Colonial scouting team. None of the three Final Four soldiers wears rank insignia on his fatigue collars.
  • 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.
  • Roslin quips, "It's perfect. We traded one nuked civilization for another." Adama orders his Raptor to leave.
  • Dualla 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.

Act 2

  • 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 (Viper) is 8757-NC," she says--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 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 what occurred in the Twelve Colonies of Kobol). 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 a form of 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?!"

Act 3

  • 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 us.
  • "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 form 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.

Act 4

  • 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 other 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.

Act 5

  • 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 fox 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.
  • On Colonial One, Lee Adama slowly wipes away a numeral "1" from the census board as Kara Thrace arrives. 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 Dualla did what she did. Kara presumably decided 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. Ordering Lt. Hoshi to Dualla's old communications station, he orders Gaeta to find any nearby stars compatible with habitable planets, and for 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, wearing rank insignia for the first time since being granted amnesty by then-Acting President Lee Adama, greets Downloaded Three as others evacuate back to the Fleet. 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 Three asks if he ever wanted to just give up, reminding him of Adama's story of the penned-in foxes.
  • Tigh later appears to be walking into the sea. Chest-deep in water and continuing down, he has a vision...of destruction in a building, a wall of apartment mailboxes behind him; he is wearing a civilian business suit. He hears Ellen, finds her trapped under debris he cannot move. As his real body pulls a post box hatch out of the water, Tigh tries to clear the rubble around Ellen. She tells him, as more bombs go off, flashing bright, "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.[7] 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.[7]
  • 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."[8]
  • 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.


  • The Cylons have testing methods of their own which can distinguish between human and Cylon remains.
  • The Thirteenth Tribe Cylons were apparently all unique models and included children, based on the child's playthings found by Dualla.
  • Saul Tigh also had the first name "Saul" in his past life.


  • What was the source of the nuclear attacks on Earth?
  • What prompted Dualla to commit suicide?
  • Was Ellen Tigh able to resurrect after her death in "Exodus, Part II"? If so, is she with the Cavil faction?
  • Did Ellen Tigh resurrect between the events of the Miniseries and Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down? If so, how did she get aboard Rising Star?
  • Was Ellen Tigh aware of her Cylon identity?
  • Was Ellen Tigh the one who Number Three apologized to in her vision? (Answer)
  • What is Kara Thrace?
  • Is the corpse found in the field the "real" Kara Thrace? If so, how and when did her Viper get to Earth? And how did so much of her Viper and body remain relatively intact after seemingly being completely disintegrated in the gas giant?
  • Why does Thrace keep the dog tags and wedding ring found on the body?
  • Will Thrace or Conoy tell anyone about their discovery? How will others respond to this information?
  • How will the other Cylons respond to the discovery of the identities of the Final Five?
  • 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?
  • What similarities and differences exist between the method by which the Final Five were reborn and the Significant Seven's process of resurrection?
  • Did Thirteenth Tribe Cylons have any influence on the development of the Significant Seven 2000 years later, or was it mere parallel evolution?
  • How did the Significant Seven come to be aware of the existence, though not the identities, of the Final Five?
  • Are there other survivors of the Thirteenth Tribe besides the Final Five?
  • Does the presence of children among the Thirteenth Tribe indicate that they reproduced among themselves?
  • If the Thirteenth Tribe reproduced biologically, did the Final Five have Cylon parents, grandparents or other ancestors on Earth?
  • Did Baltar's Cylon detector successfully identify Ellen Tigh in "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down"? If so, why did Baltar withhold that information from Number Three during their search for the Final Five?
  • With Number Three remaining behind on Earth, who will take over as the leader of the rebel Cylon faction?
  • 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?
  • Will D'Anna Biers stay on Earth?

Official Statements

Noteworthy Dialogue

  • 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, Starbuck is a time-traveling[9] military astronaut surveying post-apocolyptic 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:
"What am I?!"
  • Laura Roslin's assessment of Earth:
"It's perfect. We traded one nuked civilization for another."

Guest Stars


  1. Mentioned by Ron Moore in the podcast for "Revelations".
  2. Confirmed by Bradley Thompson
  5. TV guide in ScifiNow Magazine and Sky Magazine.
  6. Episode description was unintentionally accessible on until recently. Descriptions were noted on other websites before being removed, and editor confirmed them several days ago before removal from
  7. 7.0 7.1 Roadrunner - Newsdump from Burbank convention (backup available on (in ). (19 November 2007). Retrieved on 20 November 2007.
  8. Ryan, Maureen (17 January 2009). Chicago Tribune: 'Battlestar Galactica's' Ron Moore addresses the shocking developments of 'Sometimes a Great Notion' (backup available on (in English). Retrieved on 19 January 2009.
  9. To her, her disappearance and reappearance were brief; to everyone else's perspective, she was gone weeks.