The last leg of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica aired last night. If you haven't seen it yet and intend to, you might want to avoid this post for now.
Eight months ago, I suggested a possibility for who the final Cylon model is. Based on the information available at the time, I had concluded that the final model must be someone who wasn't on Galactica when the four had heard the music. What I didn't have at the time (it came a few weeks later) was D'Anna Biers's revelation when she arrived in the colonial fleet that the final Cylon wasn't in the fleet at all. That actually rules out several people I'd considered in that post, but it doesn't eliminate my favored choice. In fact, it only made me more sure by eliminating the only other serious contender I was considering.
Even though I've given a spoiler warning, I want to save discussion of the details for after the jump, but I can say first that it looks like I was wrong in my May post about the significance of the numbering of the twelve models. Models 1-6 and 8 were the known models before the last scene of Season 3. The final five consisted of a group of four revealed at the end of season 3 plus one unknown, not revealed until the end of last night's episode. I suggested that maybe the four known of the final five were models 9-12 and the unknown one was model 7, a number often significant in numerology. But according to Wikipedia, Ron Moore has said that the final five aren't numbered. It also looks as if what sets the final model apart from the four we've seen is nothing significant in terms of origins. It's just that not all of the final five are still with the fleet, for reasons that have nothing to do (as far as we can tell) with how the final five got into the fleet to begin with. I don't think that's a big enough spoiler to have to put it after the jump, since it's based partly on Moore's statement and partly on information I was thinking through in my post back in May, not on what happened in the episode.
I do want to raise a question about this statement by Moore, though, before I muse on the details of last night's revelations. How can it be that the final five have no model numbers, and yet the seven we know do? It may be that the two groups have completely different origins. I get that. But why are the ones we first knew about numbered 1-6 and 8 if there's no number 7? If they're not going to number the final five, they at least need an explanation of why the seven are numbered the way they are, or they're going to look pretty foolish for setting things up that way and not thinking to work their revised storyline into an explanation for it (because I'm pretty sure the idea of the final five being different is a later idea, after they'd already numbered Sharon's model as Eight). I was almost expecting a downer after the excellent final episode of Stargate Atlantis last week, and there were certainly low points to this episode (most of the scenes focused on Adama, Roslin, Lee, and Dualla). But I'm looking forward to the rest of the season in a much greater way than I was at the end of the opening episode of the season back in March.
(Was it really that long ago? There's got to be some moral rule about spreading out two halves of the same season that much.)
So I was right that Ellen Tigh is the final Cylon model. It just made the most sense. I was pretty confident that any character not on Galactica who could be the last model had to be pretty significant, and I thought she would be the most interesting choice among the possibilities. Once you rule out those in the fleet who aren't on Galactica, it becomes even more likely. There are a lot of dead characters, but only a few are significant enough, and she provides the most irony and plot-twistiness, so she's the best choice.
All I had to do was think through it the way the writers must have done. It just wouldn't have the same effect with Billy, Jammer, or Kat. Cally was dead by then, so it could have been her. She was major enough, but I was pretty confident they wanted to keep Cally and Tyrol's kid as the second Cylon-human offspring. I would have been surprised if they had lost Cain's status illustrating the lawful-evil character alignment to illustrate how low humans can get. They could have created Kendra Shaw for the purpose of making her the final Cylon, but she again illustrates the kind of lawful-evil you can get with a human being, and I thought they'd want more payoff with someone who goes back a bit further.
Several questions arise as a result of last night's episode:
What's with the Starbuck fake-out? We were supposed to think (again) that she's a Cylon, to explain how there could be two copies of her. But we knew she's not a Cylon, because D'Anna said quite clearly that there were only four models of the final five in the fleet. Are they going to go with gods or God on this? It can't be normal resurrection, because the other body was there, although there was nothing like a DNA test. It's possible that this body wasn't her, but we still need an explanation of how it got there and how she escaped. It's possible that the original is dead, and she's simply not Kara Thrace, but somehow she's not a Cylon either, or at least if she is she's unknown to the twelve.
One issue is that Baltar was supposed to have used his Cylon test on Ellen, and I believe Col. Tigh would have been tested too. I thought they were testing all the command officers. I don't remember if Saul was tested before he had his working Cylon test that discovered Boomer (remember that he pretended to have one in the miniseries, which he used to "detect" Doral, whom he at the time thought was just a patsy but was in fact a Cylon after all), but Ellen hadn;t appeared until after the Cylon detector was working. It's possible, though, that the Cylon tester only worked on the seven because of the differences this episode hinted at.between them and the five.
I'm skeptical about whether this is really Earth. Tigh said something that made me wonder. He said something like, "So a bunch of Cylons managed to find this planet, and they settled here and called it Earth?" It's almost as if the writers want us to wonder if they were just calling it Earth, and the real Earth is somewhere else. They didn't find it by the original method of finding Earth but by a method related to however Starbuck returned. But they did say the constellations checked out, so it's got to be close enough to the right location to get the stars to match up to what Kobol had for Earth's location. If it is the real Earth, is it before humans were there (i.e. long in our past), and the Cylon remains were long gone so as not to affect Earth archeology in our time? Or is it far in the future, so that no human remains are around? Either seems pretty unlikely, so they do have some explaining to do. With the eternal recurrence theme, I wonder if they're going to suggest that Kobol was just one stop-off in the long cycle, and that humans had eventually come from Earth, but Cylons later found it and settled there.
One interesting thing about this episode is that the flashbacks the four were remembering involved people who didn't like like any of the twelve models. If they weren't all Cylons, why were there no human remains? They seemed to be there at the end of the line. But if they were all Cylons, then why have the Cylons insisted that there are only twelve models? Are there only twelve now but were more before?
How do the Cylon models fit together? We've been led to believe that Razor told the origins of the human models from the Twelve Colonies' original centurions with an intermediate stage: the hybrids begun at the end of the first Cylon war. But now we discover that five of the twelve models seem to have come from an earlier cycle of Cylons. Are the other seven also from that era? Were all the human-form Cylons from 2000 years ago unique, or were there just more of them than survived? Did the more recent Cylons have help forming their human models? What of all that experimentation with the hybrids? Was that not what really led to the human-form models? Did the final five arrive at the Twelve Colonies in time to end the war and begin making more human models, but somehow the human models got away from them? Or is the invasion of the colonies part of the plan of the final five that our versions of them don't know about and would be horrified that they had a hand in? Did something happen to turn the seven against humans? Are the five part of that, or are they on the other side of a feud? There must have been some reason why the seven are programmed not to think or talk about the final five, so they must have been involved with them at one point.
I wasn't surprised that they would reveal some information and show that there's a lot more to be answered, but the writers have managed to raise a lot more questions than I expected with this episode, even though they answered the most burning question in many people's minds, i.e. who the final model is. I was lukewarm about much of the first half of this final season, mostly because I thought the human storylines were almost all either uninteresting or really annoying, but the Cylon side of things held my interest, especially as the season went on. They've fully managed to reinvigorate my interest now with this start to the back half of the season. I only hope it stays this interesting. I still didn't think much of most of the human characters, but it was easily overshadowed by the overall storyarc contributions and the continued growth in Cylon characters. This show could go either way with me, depending on how they finish it. If it's a poor ending, I'll consider the whole show a missed opportunity that started brilliantly and had more great moments than poor ones. If it ends well, it will redeem the mediocre middle of season three (which nevertheless started and ended well) and start of season four (which did pick up as they focused more on Cylons and human interactions with Cylons).