BSG - Season 4 - Episode 12
BSG - 4x12 - Revelations - Originally Aired: 2008-6-13
After the rebel Cylon baseship rejoins the human fleet, D'Anna sparks a standoff by seizing Roslin, Baltar, and their entourage as hostages. She announces that she will hold these hostages aboard the baseship until the four Cylons hidden in the human fleet return safely to their own people. Tory Foster defects immediately, but the other hidden Cylons keep quiet.
Back in command aboard the Galactica, William Adama consults with Lee, who is still acting as President in Roslin's absence. According to prophecy, the hidden Cylons will reveal the route to Earth, and Roslin has secretly ordered Adama to destroy the baseship — even with her aboard — if that's the only way keep the Cylons from claiming Earth for themselves. The human leaders thus face two grim alternatives: if the hidden Cylons defect, the humans must destroy the baseship to prevent the Cylons from finding Earth, but if the hidden Cylons stay underground, the hostages will suffer. As if to prove this point, D'Anna executes a hostage and threatens to kill more unless the three remaining Cylons join her. In response, Lee orders Kara Thrace to plan a hostage rescue mission.
As preparations for the dangerous mission get underway, a Cylon musical signal summons Tigh, Tyrol and Anders to the mysterious Viper that Kara flew back to the fleet after her mystical journey to Earth. Intrigued, Tyrol and Anders ask Kara to help them examine the Viper. Tigh, meanwhile, resolves to stop the impending bloodshed at any cost: he finally tells Adama that he is a Cylon. Adama breaks down in fury and grief, incapacitated by this unimaginable betrayal. Lee takes charge and orders Tigh marched to an airlock to await execution. There, Tigh reveals the identities of Tyrol and Anders, who are arrested before Kara's horrified eyes. As Anders is dragged away, he begs his wife to study the Viper. Stunned, she retreats into its cockpit and starts flipping switches.
Lee radios D'Anna that if she doesn't release the hostages, he will execute Tigh, Tyrol and Anders. His resolve is steely despite the painful shock of seeing such well-known faces awaiting death at his hands. D'Anna similarly refuses to back down, targeting the civilian ships with the baseship's weapons. If the three Cylons die, so will thousands of humans.
Seconds before an apocalyptic battle erupts, Kara discovers that her Viper is receiving a locator signal that no other ship in the fleet can detect. If it's from Earth, then Anders and Tyrol have fulfilled the prophecy by giving her a crucial clue to the planet's location. Faced with this awesome possibility, Lee and D'Anna hesitantly make peace. Lee offers amnesty to Tigh, Tyrol, Anders and Foster, and D'Anna releases her hostages. Then, with Lee and Roslin's help, William Adama pulls himself together and orders preparations for a jump.
The fleet and their Cylon allies follow the signal to Earth. What awaits them at the end of their long journey, however, may break their hearts. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- This episode was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form.
- This episode placed #6 in Time Magazine's Top 10 TV Episodes of 2008.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39665. Down eight. (Probably due to the battle at the hub.)
- Tory volunteering to go to the basestar under the guise of providing Roslin with medical care.
- D'Anna introducing Tory to the other Cylons.
- Tory revealing herself to Roslin and Baltar.
- Tory: "You had no idea, did you?" Roslin: "No." Tory: "It might be worth pondering what else you've been wrong about."
- Tigh revealing that he's a Cylon to Adama.
- Tigh volunteering himself as a hostage.
- Adama enraged in his quarters.
- Adama's nervous breakdown and Lee consoling him.
- Anders and Tyrol being arrested as Cylons.
- Lee threatening D'Anna that he'll airlock Tigh, Tyrol, and Anders.
- The nuclear standoff.
- Starbuck dissolving the standoff by revealing that the new Cylons just accidentally revealed the location of Earth.
- D'Anna: "All of this has happened before--" Lee, interrupting: "But it doesn't have to happen again."
- D'Anna agreeing to set aside their differences to go to Earth together.
- The fleet jumping to Earth.
- Adama running his hands through radioactive soil.
- The slow pan across the landing party revealing a massive destroyed city behind.
The almighty Earth episode doesn't disappoint. Even better, it wasn't even expected. What started as a tense standoff between two people bitterly distrusting of one another, yet ever entwined ends brilliantly on a truly revolutionary act of trust between them which pays off with nothing short of finding Earth together! Truly epic. But of course on Battlestar Galactica, the grass is never greener on the other side.
I knew in the early days of the show that the best way the show could depict Earth, if ever, would be to portray it as a devastated wasteland. It was obvious that the writers originally chose to consider the place a fantasy to add as much darkness to the drama as possible. What better drama than dangling a fictitious carrot in front of all but two of the characters? But eventually the writers decided that having it really exist could be more useful as a plot device for the kind of dark drama that BSG is.
Having Earth really exist opened up even more potential for dark storytelling because instead of milking the idea that the carrot is fictitious, which was done quite well in the first season, the story gave even the show's two doubters (Adama and Roslin) cause for hope. Armed with that, the second, third, and fourth seasons marched on only to finally do the one thing darker and more disturbing than revealing to tens of thousands of refugees that their promised land doesn't exist: it's revealed to tens of thousands of refugees that their promised land is just as devastated as the homes they fled.
Indeed, the brilliance of this episode lies with its thematic consistency and powerful message. As stated before, on Battlestar Galactica, thematically the grass is never greener on the other side. What this leaves our characters with is the harsh reality that they will have to solve their own problems, work out their own differences, and make their own promised land. No hidden treasures await, no glorious saviors, and no larger than life external solutions. And what could be better?
Anything else would simply be deus ex machina, regardless of how well earned that contrivance may have been. To earn it and then deny it for the sake of good storytelling is simply outstanding writing. And to top it all off, this incredible event, something that easily could have served as the series finale, was done in the middle of the season leaving plenty more episodes for some much needed epilogue and closure to tie up the numerous loose ends and finally put our characters on the road to solving their problems, rather than running from them.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From S8 on 2008-07-22 at 11:40am:
You don't think Revelations was a little abrupt? We've spent 3 seasons piecing together obscure clues as to the whereabouts of Earth, but ultimately we use a magic compass that suddenly appears in what is still largely a mystical viper.
What was the point of the maproom? Of the Eye of Jupiter? Does the "roadmap to Earth" involve a crewmember spazzing out and dying on a gas giant, only to resurrect with a magical viper and then find a Cylon basestar that forces the revelation of hidden Cylons who can tell someone to "hey check out that viper"?
Was that the roadmap? I know that "all this has happened before..." but I can't imagine it was all supposed to "happen again" with such specificity. It feels very deus ex machina to me.
The episode was very fun to watch, and its production values were great, but the plot progression was unsatisfying to me.
- From Kethinov on 2009-12-16 at 4:04am:
The abruptness is a good thing, not a bad thing. The series had been dragging up until the last few episodes. I agree that the mystical viper was deus ex machina; I was assuming that they give it a rational explanation in the subsequent episodes. Unfortunately the explanation we got was wholly unsatisfactory, but that doesn't change the fact that this episode by itself is a masterpiece.
Its message about how the characters will be forced to solve their own problems, work out their own differences, and make their own promised land was the most powerful theme of the show. It's a shame the writers forgot that in the series finale and instead decided to violate this theme by delivering a larger than life, external deus ex machina solution to the characters' problems from the grace of god after all.