Battlestar Galactica Revisited: 1.13 Kobol's Last Gleaming Part 2
Ronald D Moore's re imagining of the 1970's sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica set a gold standard, both for sci-fi and TV reboots. The darker, grittier re imagining, that saw a fleet of human ships fleeing the dreaded Cylons in search of Earth, won a whole host of awards and critical acclaims over its seven-year run. With the series looking to go through another quasi-reboot under show-runner Michael Lesslie, we look back at the first reboot that defined the early days of twenty-first century television. We wrap up our look back at season one with Kobol's Last Gleaming Part 2
Season finales of Battlestar Galactica are notorious for tearing up the rule book and changing the status quo of the show forever. While Kobol's Last Gleaming Part 2 might not have the jaw-dropping cliff-hangers of Lay Down Your Burdens and Crossroads, it is still one hell of a finale, wrapping up a breathtakingly great first season and providing plenty of pay off for everything that has been building up since the mini series.
Starbuck arrives on Cylon-occupied Caprica as her story lines converges with Helo's in a violent showdown inside the temple of Apollo. It's great to see Helo finally make contact with another member of the crew, coming after her brutal fight with Six that sees Starbuck also beaten to death as she faces off against the Cylon model. SZeeing Six in action is a great contrast to the gentle revelations surrounding Kobol-bound Six as she leads Gaius Baltar to his destiny as protector of the new God's children. Sharon's reveal that she is pregnant with Helo's child is a huge twist, finally starting to pay off the the Cylon's plan in the most surprising way possible; maybe their goal isn't to destroy all of Mankind, but to shape them in God's image. Without Helo to father the impending half human, half Cylon Child and without Gaius to protect them, the Cylons might never evolve. The direct converge of the Kobol and Caprica story lines really gives Helo's season-long journey some purpose.
As for the other Sharon, Kobol's Last Gleaming Part 2 really feels like the culmination of her slow realisation - and transformation - into a Cylon. The irony isn't lost as Adama sends her to destroy the Cylon base star on Kobol pretending to be a Cylon sleeper agent. Season one has portrayed her slow and steady descent into madness, Grace Park giving a deeply vulnerable and sympathetic performance. Seeing her confronted with her duplicates on the Cylon ship is the moment that pushes her over the edge. And the look on her face after she realises she has just shot Adam speaks volumes. She might be a Cylon. But unless she is activated, she still feels and acts human in every way. With everyone bearing witness to her latest act, this is the end of the road for the tragic sleeper agent.
The conflict between the presidency and the military also comes to a head this episode as Roslin admits to sending Starbuck away on a secret mission and faces down Adama's call for her to resign. There is a palatable tension running through the episode as she waits for Colonial One to be boarded. Poor Billy and Dualla are stuck on opposite sides of the conflict as they become their leader's voices of communication. The desperation in Kandyse McClure and Paul Campbell's performances really speaks to the hopeless and futility of what is happening; all attempts to keep humanity going - to marry Democracy and military - have failed. They are the people caught in the crossfire.
The final breach on Colonial One, as heavily-armoured military go gun to gun with Roslin's bodyguards, threatens to turn the President's arrest into a bloodbath. It's a hold your breath moment, made even more tense by Apollo turning his gun on Saul and standing at the President's side. After a season of ups and downs, it's a shattering break in the father and son relationship, Adama facing yet another betrayal. Saul's triumphant arrest of Apollo and Roslin after she stands down also speaks to his arrogance, something which will become a greater issue in the opening episodes of season two. As for Roslin, ending up the season behind bars is another moments that has been - inevitably - coming for quite some time.
The tension even runs through the events of Kobol as the survivors of the crashed raptor. The escape from the flaming wreckage makes for an intense start to the finale, Gaius only escaping from the flames after Six appears to him all dressed in white, a symbolic angel coming to save him and lead him to salvation. Battlestar Galactica does symbolic imagery well. It's almost a surprise that the bloody, injured crew are still left on Kobol by the episode's end, another loose thread that will carry through into season two. This is a finale that cannot be unpacked so easily in the start of the next episode.
Kobol's Last Gleaming is a staggering success of a finale, culminating in the shocking assassination attempt on Adama's life by an activated Sharon. The sight of Adama bleeding on the white console is a haunting piece of imagery to leave season one on. Coming off the showdown with Roslin, the surprises on the Cylon base start, Six's reveal to Gaius, the reunion of Starbuck and Helo and the revelation of the human-Cylon child, there us plenty to digest as the credits roll.
With it's shorter episode span than seasons two and three, the first season is perhaps the most tightly focused run of the episodes in the show's history. Kobol's Last Gleaming Part 2 is as tightly paced as those episodes preceding it. The shocking twists and dramatic tension make for the best episode to date.
While at the time, there was a long and agonising wait until season two, our Battlestar Galactica Revisited will return shortly, as we pick up with season two in January...