As much as I love to speculate on the nature of the Cylons, the prophecies, the opera house and all the other stuff that Ron Moore promised he'd get back to, what really grabs me about the show (as I discussed in today's column) is its humanity, the way its characters react to situations the way you imagine real, contemporary people might.
How would you react if you had been living a horrific existence for years on end, and the only thing keeping you going is the hope of one day finding this wonderful place called Earth -- and then that hope gets taken away when Earth turns out to be ruined? I like to think I can handle myself well in a crisis, but I could very easily see myself committing suicide like Dualla, or curling into a fetal position like Roslin, or getting drunk and trying for a suicide-by-Cylon-cop like Adama. This is a brutal, brutal development on what wasn't the happiest show to begin with, and I'm glad team "Galactica" (led here by writers David Weddle and Bradley Thompson and director Michael Nankin) didn't flinch from that.
Eric Goldman of IGN:
What's really surprising about this episode is that there are some huge revelations in it – by the end of the first half, some amazing things have been revealed that completely uproot the backstory on the series. On the heels of the discovery of Earth happening with ten episodes still to go, perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised, but it's really amazing and impressive to realize there are still several episodes to go and we're learning the things we are already. Not to say these revelations close doors – instead, they raise some major new questions to mull over as we head into the home stretch of this wonderful series.
Cory Johnson at 411mania:
The biggest question this season is going to face will be how they can produce an ending for this show that works. The way that Earth was suddenly no longer the panacea they were hoping for felt a little like a bait and switch tactic, but the explanation was so great, it doesn’t matter. There are a lot of unresolved issues to work through in the final nine episode, so either way, the ride should be worth it.
John Annese of the Staten Island Advance:
Sometimes, you just have to take a step back and say, "Everything's going to be alright." Well, unless you're a character on Battlestar Galactica. Then you're pretty much hosed.
MaryAnn Johanson writes:
Oh, man, I am still trying to get my head around this one. Talk about bombs dropping... Ellen. Dualla. Starbuck. The distant pasts of the final four. I barely know where to begin even thinking about it, never mind writing about it.
And I can’t not think about it. It’s not like you can just sit there and tell yourself, “Well, I’ll simply wait to see how things develop over the next nine episodes. I don’t need to turn it all over in my head and wonder about how things will turn out. The episodes are completed, everything is set in stone, it’s all a done deal. It’s merely that I don’t yet know what the deal is that’s been done, but all I need is to be patient and hang on from week to week.” No: you can’t not think about this.
Elizabeth Brown, Associated Content:
Things couldn't be looking worse for the weary refugees in episode one of the final ten. They traveled across an entire galaxy only to find that Earth was destroyed in a nuclear attack almost 2000 years ago and remains completely unihabitable. The opening episode shows the leaders of the scrappy survivors starting to completely lose their minds as they realize that the original inhabitants of Earth were apparently cylons. With all hopes of reuniting with the rest of their species dashed, the crew spirals into depression, mania, desperation and a whole lot of suicide.
Ben Scarlato, a transhumanist writing for the IEET observes:
As the final half season of Battlestar Galactica opened with one of the darkest episodes ever, it gave me a lot to think about regarding death, immortality, and hope even in the worst of situations. Even if you happen to assign a low probability to the possibility of a high-quality future for ourselves here in 2009, it is worth dedicating a lot in pursuit of that future when its realization is of great value and permanence....
The proper response to even devastating tragedy is not the seductive embrace of death and its incomprehensible oblivion, but rather perseverance even when it seems all hope is lost. The appeal of immortality lies not in continuously experiencing the pain and disappointment of life, but in looking forward and having the time to eventually create a situation that allows for a thriving life filled not with sorrow but with the things we cherish. A better place may be a long away for the Colonials, but by clinging to life it’s nonetheless a possibility for them.
Adama’s Cylon allies would seem to prefer a mortal life to an immortal one, but at least the mortal Adama has the wisdom to cling to life in the hope of a better future even when life is at its worst.
Sam J. Miller writes about Roslin's loss of faith:
Poor Roslin. Last night, she finally had the breakdown that she has never allowed herself to have, going back to the initial attack, because she was immediately thrust into the role of president and had to focus all her energy on keeping morale up, giving the people hope, keeping the comforting wheels of government bureaucracy turning. She never got to grieve for all the things she lost, or mourn her murdered loved ones, because she had to heal everyone else’s grief by giving them something to believe in. Something called Earth. Now that Earth has been reached, and instead of the answer to their prayers it turns out to be one more horrific nightmare, she is confronted once more by The People, demanding that she make everything okay, and she breaks. Finally, the superhuman mask of The President cracks, and she let’s herself feel all the pain and bewilderment she could never afford before.
Andy Grieser of Zap2It and Asma Ahmad in North by Northwestern provide recaps. Other reviews from Galactica Variants, The Young Turks, Examiner.com and Galactica Science has a few interesting observations on Earth.
And check out an exclusive set of excellent behind the scenes photos taken by director Michael Nankin during the filming of Sometimes A Great Notion in The L.A. Times.