by Tony Dayoub
New episodes of beloved shows are starting to trickle in now that the writer's strike is over. One with a rabid cult and critical following premieres its final season tonight. Ten years from now when Battlestar Galactica is being revisited by masses, don't say we didn't told you so. Critics from publications as diverse as Entertainment Weekly to The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker to Time, have all singled out this series as one of the best in TV history. Not just one of the best science fiction series, mind you, but one of the best dramatic series of all time. And why shouldn't they? This is not a retread of the cheesy 70s series that starred Lorne Greene and Dirk Benedict. This is an engaging allegory to our current "war on terror" that will be reexamined in the future the same way classics like M*A*S*H still are today.
Start with the man who first developed this incarnation, Ronald D. Moore. He took the original's premise - a small group of human survivors trying to escape the genocide being committed on them by their former robotic servants, the Cylons - beyond the previous show's limited narrative concept. While the first incarnation used that premise as an excuse for Star Wars-like adventures in space, Moore (who originally wrote for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, another wartime sci-fi gem), used the horrific annihilation of the humans to explore the nature of war, fear, and responsibility towards the atrocities faced in humanity's fight for survival. After Deep Space Nine's series finale he transferred to Star Trek: Voyager. Frustrated with his time writing for Voyager because of what he deemed at failure to capitalize on that show's similar premise - a ship of humans stranded in a faraway galaxy - he left to begin writing for other shows like Roswell, and Carnivale. But he never forgot the lessons he learned writing for those shows, and used them to enhance the new show he was to shepherd. Healthy doses of religion, politics, and sexuality helped the show transcend its silly origins. Torture, child abuse, suicide bombings, rape... issues seldom explored in the sci-fi arena made their way onto Galactica, and propelled it to critical acclaim even though mainstream popularity eluded it.
Now in tonight's episode, the premiere for its final season, will all of our questions start getting answered? Let's work our way backwards through some of last season's mysterious revelations.
Starbuck lives?! - Hotshot fighter pilot, Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), had died earlier last season. However in the season finale's climax, she flew out to meet her former commander and lover, Apollo (Jamie Bamber), to reveal her discovery of Earth, the long-sought homeworld of humanity's thirteenth tribe. But where'd she get the new, unmarked fighter she was flying? And is she really a Cylon in disguise?
The Final Five Cylons - We've known for some time now that there are 12 models of Cylons that resemble humans. Throughout the series, we've gotten to know seven of them. But in last season's finale, we discovered that four of the final five (whose appearance is a mystery even to the rest of the Cylons) are characters among the survivors we've grown to love. Three of these - Colonel Tigh (Michael Hogan), Chief Tyrol (Aaron Douglas), and Sam Anders (Michael Trucco) - were Cylon resistance leaders under the Cylon occupation. And the fourth - Tory Foster (Rekha Sharma) - is a member of the Colonial President's (Mary McDonnell) staff. Who is the final Cylon?
Gaius Baltar - Baltar (James Callis) helped the Cylons obliterate humanity's first twelve colonies. After surprisingly being acquitted of his crime, he has gathered a cult following. Will he be humanity's unlikely messiah?
Lee "Apollo" Adama - After struggling to meet his father's expectations in the military, has he found his calling, following in his grandfather's footsteps as an attorney?
President Laura Roslin - Prophecy says that she will lead her people to a new home called Earth. Will the return of her cancer cause her to fail to meet her destiny?
Admiral William Adama - Adama (Edward James Olmos) has never failed his people. But as one of the Cylons foretold to Starbuck back in the first season, "Adama is a Cylon." Was it just a dirty trick? Is the Admiral the final Cylon? Or could it have been he was referring to Lee or even his new wife, Dualla?
Hopefully this season will finally answer all of these questions. Any speculation from you readers? Please comment below.
The season premiere, "He That Believeth In Me", will be broadcast at 10 p.m. tonight on the Sci-Fi Channel.