The final ten begin counting down, as the Galacticans and the Cylons deal with the burned-out cinder of earth that was.

Cast

Edward James Olmos as Admiral Adama

Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin
Katee Sackhoff as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace
Jamie Bamber as Lee “Apollo” Adama
Michael Hogan as Colonel Saul Tigh
Kandyse McClure as Lt. “Dee” Dualla

Grace Park as Athena

James Callis as Dr. Gaius Baltar

Tricia Helfer as Number 6
Aaron Douglas as Chief Petty Officer Galen Tyrol

Lucy Lawless as D’Anna Cylon

Premise

Depression sets in as the characters realize the sought-after earth is an uninhabitable, radioactive wasteland, marked by buildings and possible tributes to post-apocalyptic earths past1. The “final four” Cylons find themselves drawn to particular places on earth, and we learn the identity of the fifth—although it’s apparent there were once many more of their kind. Meanwhile, Starbuck stumbles upon an unsettling mystery.

High Point

Despite questioning Kara’s actions, they result in some very powerful moments. Dee receives a convincing parting. Adama walks down a corridor of despair to confront Tigh. This episode delivers consistently powerful narratives of a society in crisis.

Kudos to the show’s creators for actually having the existence of the final five Cylons, integrated into the colonies without anyone’s knowledge, actually make sense.

Low Points

Starbuck’s decision to say nothing about her discoveries makes dramatic and psychological sense, but it still strikes me as contrived. She has a critical key to understanding the mystery of earth, learned at a critical point in human history, and she says absolutely nothing, and conceals important, testable evidence?

A nit: I recognize that earth-that-was might not be able to support human life, but they imply it has no life. Obviously, it bears plants and a breathable atmosphere, two thousand years after the nuclear apocalypse. Not only do plants count as life, such an ecosystem must contain other living entities.

The Scores:

Originality: 5/6 Many questions remain. Two of the biggest:

What, exactly, happened to Starbuck?

What, exactly, happened to earth?
Did Cylons created by the original colonies found earth, only to die in a civil war?
Did Cylons created by the original colonies found earth, forget they were artificial, and then create mechanical Cylons who rebelled, with the results we see?
Are the “Final Five” remakes/reborn from that time, or originals from two-thousand years ago who integrated with the former colonies’
Cylons?

Effects: 5/6. Great, as always, but some of the CGI backgrounds look like, well, CGI background.

Story: 5/6.

Acting: 6/6. The actors received one of the bleakest Galactica scripts thus far, and manage to pull it off without overplaying their parts. Some of their actions seem infantile-angsty, but not in context. This is how many people deal with extreme stress and the loss of hope.

Emotional Response: 6/6

Production: 6/6.

Overall: 6/6. This is an excellent episode. At the same time, the show has come some way from what its fans once knew, and one hopes the remaining episodes will find new directions.

In total “Sometimes a Great Notion” receives 39/42

Notes

1. The line “You might not like what you find” comes straight from Planet of the Apes, while the guitar-as-artifact has a precedent in Rush’s 2112.

The other obvious allusion may be found in the title. Sometimes a Great Notion, a novel by Ken Kesey, only tenuously connects to this episode; both feature a hardline patriarch and a fractured family during hard times. However, that title is itself an allusion, to the folk/blues song “Goodnight, Irene,” in which the line refers to the singer’s depression and thoughts of suicide.

Ron Moore discusses the identity of the final Cylon, and other matters, here.