Season Four, Episode 10
Airdate: June 13th, 2008
When Battlestar Galactica ended its third season, it had left two primary questions for the fourth and final season to answer: who is the final Cylon, and when will humanity reach Earth. By the end of “Revelations,” it had answered one of these questions, but it had more importantly done what the season had been somewhat slow to do: to take the third season’s cliffhanger and elevate it to the show’s grandest scale.
This isn’t to say that the rest of the fourth season was a failure in this regard, but the reveal of four of the final five Cylon models was always going to remain small until the entire fleet knew their identities. While episodes like “The Ties that Bind” show the ramifications of this not-at-all simple fact on certain individuals, and the entire season dealt with the internal psychological turmoil (or discovery), it never felt like the season could really take off until more people were aware of their identities.
And in “Revelations,” this became true: as the show ramped up the interest in discovering the final Cylon model, resurrecting D’Anna and bringing the question of Otherness between humanity and Cylons into greater focus by bringing the two sides into a tenuous alliance, it seemed like the ideal time to throw all caution and secrecy to the wind and reveal their identities to the entirety of the fleet.
What follows is an episode that brings together the show’s inconsistencies and makes them feel enormously small: Lee’s rush to political power doesn’t matter when he feels like the right person at the center of this situation, Starbuck’s mystery Viper emerges from the show’s blind spot to play an integral role in their search for Earth, and the delayed (and much anticipated) emergence of Tigh’s true identity to Adama lives up to the hype. It doesn’t answer any major questions about these issues, perhaps, but it feels like the drama we knew would eventually come at the start of the season had finally made it.
What elevates “Revelations,” and makes it the selection for the Time Capsule, is the episode’s final shot: tracking across to reveal all of the show’s characters on the charred landscape of the planet they searched so long for, that shot changed the entire shape of the series. The search for Earth began as a lie meant to buoy the faith of humanity in the face of a great threat, but it became more and more real as time went on to believers and non-believers alike; to have it be this radioactive distance after all of that excitement, all that talk of destiny, was the series elevating to a new level. While Season Four was solid, it was not until the finale that they really brought the show to a whole new place, if one that they’d been building to for a very long time.
Let’s hope that the conclusion to the season (starting January 16th) continues this trend.
Related Posts at Cultural Learnings
[For more details on the Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule, click here!]