[BSG] Jammer's Review: "Revelations"
- Note: This review contains significant spoilers.
Battlestar Galactica: "Revelations"
A deadly standoff ensues when D'Anna holds Roslin and others hostage
and demands Adama turn over the secret Cylons aboard Galactica, who
supposedly know the way to Earth.
Air date: 6/13/2008 (USA)
Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by Michael Rymer
Rating out of 4: ****
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
D'Anna knows who the Secret Four Cylons are. And she's not telling.
She's a narrative wild card. She wasn't part of the alliance
negotiated between the Colonials and the rebel Cylons. She came late
to this game, and she's setting new rules. And because she has
leverage and uses it, the situation quickly becomes a standoff that
threatens to spin out of control.
D'Anna holds the Colonials, including the President Roslin, hostage
aboard the basestar. She makes an announcement: She will hold the
hostages until the Secret Four are turned over to her. But this
creates a real problem for Admiral Adama and President Lee Adama.
They don't even know who these four Cylons are. The only ways this
stalemate can possibly end is either in bloodshed or with the secret
Cylons turning themselves in.
Now let me quote myself from my review of the second-season BSG
episode "Sacrifice": "At this point in my movie- and TV-viewing life,
I'm almost willing to say that any pitch that can be summarized
as 'hostage situation' should be thrown out by whomever is
potentially producing it." Good thing I used the word "almost" in
that sentence, or else I'd have to eat those words. "Revelations" is
the most riveting hostage standoff in recent memory. Old conventions
can be made to work in your favor if there are real stakes involved.
And the stakes here couldn't be bigger: Lives of major characters
hang precariously in the balance, as does the secret surrounding
And because this is a BSG hiatus launcher, there's no telling what
will happen or where the story might end up. The season-ending
cliffhanger used to make me groan because it was an obligatory
cliche. But BSG has for me single-handedly revitalized the
cliffhanger with its track record of shocking unpredictability. The
suspense level is amped up in "Revelations" in part simply because I
knew it was a midseason finale.
One interesting point worth pondering: D'Anna says four Cylons are in
the fleet. Not five. Does that mean the final Cylon is *not* in the
fleet? Is the final Cylon a character on the basestar? Or is D'Anna
When D'Anna makes the rules of the game clear, it creates a real nail-
biter. She knows who the secret Cylons are. They know who they are.
And we know who they are. But all the other characters must play this
deadly chess game in the dark. Immediately, the secret players start
quietly jockeying for position. Tory, the other wild card here,
craftily gets herself aboard the basestar by offering to take Roslin
her medication. Tigh tries to stop it, but he can't without giving
himself away. (Once aboard the basestar, Tory swiftly burns her
bridges. When the president tries to reason with her, Tory's response
is: "I'm done taking orders from you.")
Tigh immediately becomes the key player here, because he's in Adama's
inner circle as the rules of engagement are being established. It
puts Tigh in the bind of all binds. The screws continue to tighten
and options diminish: D'Anna proves she means business and airlocks a
hostage, promising more will follow. (There's an inspired extreme
long shot where a tiny body goes flying across the screen amid the
fleet.) It could be that in this chess game, the only way to ward off
the disaster is if Tigh outs himself. Watching this unfold is
Meanwhile, Tigh, Anders, and Tyrol try to figure out how they might
know the way to Earth. Supposedly they do know, but they have no more
information about Earth, until...
The radio static and musical signals return in the minds of the
Secret Four, like at the nebula in "Crossroads." They are drawn to
Kara's Viper. They don't know why. So they must solve the mystery
before the hostage situation explodes. To buy time, Tigh marches into
Adama's quarters, where he...
In one of the most edge-of-seat scenes on this series, Tigh confesses
everything he knows to Adama. "*I am a Cylon*." Adama tries to
explain it away, using all the facts that we as viewers would
ourselves use to debunk this belief. It's a fruitless endeavor. Tigh
*knows* he's a Cylon. And with this knowledge he puts himself forward
as the most possible valuable leverage to use against D'Anna. It's
brilliant. It's selfless. It could very well cost him his life. And
it's 100 percent Saul Tigh.
The ensuing Adama emotional nuclear explosion that occurs is a raw
and heartbreaking performance by Olmos. It depicts nothing short of
utter devastation. This man has a breaking point, and we've passed it
and then some. Tigh's outing turns Adama's world upside down. Not
only is Adama's best friend of 30 years a Cylon, and not only has
every military decision Adama ever made now the punch line of a cruel
cosmic joke, but now Adama has to put Tigh in an airlock and use him
as currency. "I can't kill the bastard," Adama sobs to Lee. He
literally cannot do it. So Lee steps up to address the crisis in his
On the macro tier of the story, the brilliance of "Revelations" is
how fate assembles a big picture from the jigsaw puzzle of all the
characters in order to not simply point the way to Earth, but force
the humans and Cylons to do it together. In addition to the Secret
Four, this puzzle can only come together with the involvement of
Resurrected Kara and her Viper (which begins receiving a mysterious
signal, and is the only piece of equipment that does so); the
renegade Cylons; and even Baltar, who reasons with D'Anna long enough
to cause a crucial delay. And, of course, a higher power to make all
of these coincidences play in perfect concert. Sure, this is all a
construction of clever writers, placing the available pieces where
they best make sense. But it's done well and done organically, and
the spell of the story is never broken.
Ultimately, Tigh is in an airlock with Lee's finger on the button,
who demands D'Anna stand down -- and it doesn't look like she will. I
honestly didn't know whether Tigh would live or die -- I really
didn't. Airlocking Cally in "The Ties That Bind" made possible this
scene's palpable sense that anything could happen. It generates
unbearable suspense, even while making use of that old standby:
crosscutting back and forth to a character who's desperately running
through hallways with crucial information to stop something awful
And how awesome is Saul Tigh? He has no regrets whatsoever about his
choices here. He stands up straight and prepares to face death like
the man he always has been. As the moment is drawn out, Tigh looks
straight at Lee and says, "What are you waiting for, Apollo? *Do*
it." It's a great line that elevates this character (and Michael
Hogan, who plays him) into a stratosphere of awesomeness.
But Kara's word of her discovery stops everything at the last
possible moment. As quickly as the crisis seemed headed beyond the
point of no return, it's completely defused. She has found a signal
leading back to Earth. Lee negotiates a halt to hostilities with a
Yes We Can speech; everyone can go to Earth together. In a way, for
this brief moment, Earth has saved everyone.
I must also admit I was blindsided by the idea that once this
agreement is reached, *we are going to Earth right now*. I really
didn't see it coming. I expected another clue to Earth, not the full
solution. Again, it's a testament to this series defying
expectations. The moment of truth has arrived, Earth is in reach --
and yet here's a character kernel not to be overlooked: Adama is
still deflated, his spirit crushed. It takes Roslin to lift him back
But we're not kidding around. We're going to Earth! We get it all:
the spine-tingling epic sweep, the dramatic musical score, the shot
of the fleet in orbit of a blue planet, Adama making a grand fleet-
wide announcement, characters celebrating and hugging. Nice stuff.
Even nicer: Tigh sits alone with a bottle. Even Earth is not going to
solve all our characters' problems. And then...
There's that doozy of a final shot of a devastated Earth. Adama picks
up that first handful of dirt, and a Geiger counter clicks away. In
addition to the implications of this scene, I must praise the
technical skill. It's a tour de force of stage direction that gathers
all the characters in a single, wordless tracking shot. I could
easily write another 500 words on just this shot and how it breaks
down all the characters and silently, implicitly comments on all of
them. But why do that? You get the picture, and can form ideas of
your own. One thing is certain: The dejection is palpable.
What happened to Earth, what does it mean, and what do we do now?
This ending is not a cliffhanger; it's another brilliant, giant
question mark -- the biggest one yet on this series. If there's a
major statement being made here, above all else, it's that there is
no quick fix in the "Battlestar" universe. For this extended journey,
the destination, and all hope, has resided on Earth. Now they have
found it. But apparently finding it has resolved nothing.
Earth may have allowed the Cylons and Colonials to come together, but
now they are here, and they are going to have to deal with each
other. Earth is not going to save these people. They will have to
Somehow. I don't know how.
Copyright 2009, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is
Jammer's Reviews - http://www.jammersreviews.com
Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...