Galactica spoilers follow. Big ones. Huge ones. Mutant spoilers created in labs by psychotic scientists to take over the world and force everyone to find out Bruce Willis is already dead. You have been warned...
Right then, that's the contractual warning out of the way. Let's get to business. Today's burning question: how do you make the reveal of the Final Cylon the least interesting part of an episode?
I guess some of last night's installment can be forgiven due to the writers' strike forcing them to film the first script written. I choose to believe that's why so much of it was stupidly heavy-handed (the fist-fight Adama ignores as he walks the halls was particularly ridiculous). The somewhat unpolished dialogue can be swallowed for the same reason.
But, still, c'mon: Ellen? Who the Hell cares about Ellen? She's been dead for more than a year, and aside from her actions on New Caprica, she did nothing of any interest whatsoever for all the time she was still alive. The way she got under Tigh's skin was cool, but that's because Tigh is cool. He was interesting when he was addicted to booze, and interesting when he was addicted to a screeching harridan of a woman. Making Ellen the last Cylon model, at this point at least, is no more interesting than it turning out to have been a bottle of Jim Bean.
Having said all that, I suspect the problem isn't in the specific reveal, so much as that the writers had painted themselves into a corner. I can't think of a single character in the series that could have turned out to be a skin-job and it not be a case of "Huh, whatever." The only possible exception I can think of would be Starbuck, but the same qualities that make her a plausible choice totally rob it of any dramatic impact (finding your own dead body; now that's dramatic).
So, yeah, colour me underwhelmed at the reveal we've been waiting for all this time. On the other hand, there was a lot of awesome stuff in the rest of the episode. It was both the right choice and a very, very brave one to have an entire episode dedicated to watching everyone fall to pieces because Earth turns out to be an irradiated Cylon summer camp (a far more interesting development than the Ellen reveal). It was particularly gut-wrenching following Dee around in her final hours. Moore has stated that her raptor flight from Earth back to the fleet was the exact moment at which she decided to kill herself. What shines through all the tragedy is that she spent what she knew were her last hours making sure Lee could carry on, making sure he could bring hope to the Quorum, even though she'd completely run out of it herself. I suspected something was up when she was so heavily featured in the episode (the writers seemed to entirely forget about her this season), but I sort of love the idea that the most optimistic and steady member of the extended cast was slowly bleeding out hope all this time, and no-one noticed. It's horrible, but it makes a twisted sense.
Speaking of making twisted sense, a lot of people have commented that they didn't buy Adama's attempt to have Tigh shoot him, arguing that it was against character. These people are wrong, for three reasons. Firstly, Adama is traditionally a man who responds to a hopeless situation by getting himself killed right in the middle of it. This is a man who was prepared to fight to the death to defend the Twelve Colonies after they'd been nuked, and the entire fleet was lost. This is a man who took a single Battlestar to liberate a planet under massive Cylon guard. When things look bleak, and the only option is to give up and slink away, Adama tends to want to just go in guns blazing until either hope returns, or he's dead.
Secondly, it's pretty easy to make the argument that Adama doesn't know what he's doing in Tigh's quarters. He's drunk, he's miserable, and both the woman he loves and his only surviving family member are wrapped up in their own grief, for Earth and prophecy and for a wife, respectively. All he has left is Tigh, his oldest friend, who is also a machine built by the enemy. He needs someone to vent to, someone who can take the pain away one way or another, and Saul is his only choice. It's just as possible that Adama's arrival a the XO's quarters is just a desperate, drunken cry for help. Bill is a deeply proud man, and it's not at all surprising that such an attempt to seek solace would come out as a vitriolic attack and demand to be shot.
Finally, and most importantly, let's go back to Roslin for a moment. Back in Sine Qua Non, Adama stepped into and launched a raptor whilst the rest of the fleet headed on. He made it very clear that there were only two resolutions to having lost Roslin (and half the air wing) that he would entertain. Either Roslin would return alive, or he would asphyxiate and die. The whole point of that episode (as revealed by the title) was that Adama wasn't prepared to live having lost Roslin.
The best line from The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the central premise to that entire trilogy, is this: "How do you hurt a man who has lost everything? You give him back something broken." That's where Adama is now. His only reason for living was Roslin and hope she represented. And now, she's broken. She won't talk to him, or let him touch her. She's lost the hope that Adama relied upon. She made him believe in Earth, and believe in her, and the first turned out to be a lie and the second she's now rescinded. Meanwhile one daughter-figure may or may not be a Cylon, the other has just blown her brains out, and his oldest friend and confidant turns out to have been the enemy all along (and the last time that happened, he got two bullets in the chest and ended up with a scar the size of a baguette).
He finally confessed to his sine qua non, got her back, and then lost her again, along with his hope for the future. This time, a Raptor isn't going to cut it. That gave him an out, a condition under which he could survive, and want to survive. This time, it's pretty much going to have to be a bullet.