It may not have felt like it, but “Daybreak,” an episode equal parts excellent and disappointing, was the first half of Battlestar Galactica’s two-part series finale. At long last, questions will be answered! Skulls cracked! Revelation fulfilled! Well, not just yet.
The episode was, for the most part, padded out with flashbacks that wrapped up a few details and gave us some minor insight into the motivations of the characters. We got to see the death of Roslin’s family and her entry into the world of Caprican politics, as well as Baltar and Six’s first tryst, which culminates into a run-in with Baltar’s abrasive father. In a moment of blatant fanservice, we see Apollo and Starbuck’s first meeting: dinner at Zak Adama’s house right after he and Starbuck got engaged.
The stripping of Galactica is well underway with the requisite rumblings of existential dread from the military men and women about to leave the ship behind. Adama is finishing his move to his new quarters on the baseship, and Galactica has just about been picked clean. Meanwhile, at the Colony, Hera is being uncooperative and Boomer seems to regret her decision more and more. Hera refuses to eat, so Cavil orders Simon to put a feeding tube in her.
Baltar confronts Apollo and asks for a spot on the quorum for his (newly-armed) cult, but Lee is having none of that. The memory of Baltar’s last foray into politics is fresh in Apollo’s mind, and he chides Baltar for his selfishness: “In all the years that I’ve known you, I’ve never seen you make one truly selfless act.” Gaius, duly chastened, replies honestly: “You’re right. I wouldn’t trust me either.”
Starbuck, still puzzling over Hera’s composition, finally confesses to Adama about finding her corpse on Earth. “I don’t know what I am,” she confesses. “I know what you are. You’re my daughter. Don’t forget it,” Adama retorts. After a visit to Anders’ holding tank, Starbuck was apparently able to glean the location of the colony from him, and Adama comes around on the idea of rescuing Hera.
Adama gives an impassioned call to arms in the hangar bay detailing the rescue mission (and that it’ll probably be a suicidal one for the ship and most of her crew,) and gives anyone still willing to go a chance to volunteer. The Colony is perfectly situated in a gravity well near a black hole, meaning that there’s only one safe place to jump into the area: at point-blank range. Naturally, the Colony’s firepower will be trained on that spot.
Apollo goes first, followed by the Five and a teetering Roslin, now freed from life support. Caprica Six shuffles to the volunteers, even as most of the crew and remaining Cylons opt to stay behind. Gaius has a chance to finally make good on that one selfless act, but hedges (complete with a pained look of introspection) and stays with his cult. “Let’s get to work,” Adama grunts as the credits roll.
The endgame has begun; Galactica and her crew are quickly crossing the threshold of no return. And yet after all the build-up, the Colony rescue mission seems a little anticlimactic. Sure, we know that Hera is vaguely essential to the Humans’ and Cylons’ destiny, but is this really it? Will the colonists ever find a home, and will they make peace with the intractable Cavil? There hardly seems to be enough time to tie up every loose end, even with the two-hour finale next week.
The show’s writers have always been willing to let certain plot points dangle in the breeze (Head Baltar? The space-age era satellite Galactica found in Season 3?), and one can’t help but be left with the sinking feeling that too much is going to be left to a spin-off series or the rumored theatrical adaptation/sequel. The world of Battlestar Galactica is ending. Let’s hope it goes out with a bang, not a whimper.