'Battlestar Galactica': All along the watchtower

You're forgiven if you, like me, felt like dozing during the first 45 minutes of "Battlestar Galactica's" season finale. This season, we had the death of Starbuck, the path to Earth revealed, the fleet torn apart on lines of class and collaboration, and yet the first 45 minutes of this year's last episode were a B-grade "Law & Order" retread.

And then came the last 15 minutes.

Yes, there will be spoilers. Please, if you don't want to be spoiled, back up and read our many great posts about other shows. Okay? Then let's move on.

The trial: It's always nice when characters remember the past episodes, especially this season when so many filler stories had President Roslin, Admiral Adama and others following the whims of each inconsequential plot. Tonight, Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) took the stand for one of his better performances, reminding the judges and audiences just how many times the main characters acted, like Baltar, against what should be the main concern of the fleet: survival.

Apollo's testimony was entirely illegal, of course, based on our system of law, but (surprisingly) he's been there for the major decisions and could testify to the amount of humans killed in the name of what Roslin and his father deemed necessary. It's no surprise, then, that Gaius Baltar (James Callis) was found not guilty of the relatively mild crime of signing a death list while Cylons pointed a gun at his head.

What came next, though. Ah...

Saul Tigh, I owe you an apology. Four characters were revealed as Cylons, including Col. Tigh (plus Roslin's aide Tori, Starbuck's husband Anders and, most surprising, the beloved Chief Tyrol) and yet when the Cylons cut the power to the fleet and jumped into the same space, Tigh (knowing he was a machine and a traitor, mind you) dressed down the other new Cylons and reminded them of their duties to the fleet and the human race. His simple speech made my hair stand on end and my eyes prickle: A drunk, a Cylon, what he most loathed, he still hesitated not at all to perform his duties.

And Starbuck. Yes, Starbuck returned, Viper and all, appearing to Apollo (who, despite resigning his commission and being exiled from his family still manned a ship when the Cylons appeared) with a beatific smile and a simple statement: "I've been to Earth. I know where it is. And I'm going to take us there."

The song the new Cylons heard, by the way, and the song played over the final launch are a cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." Starbuck and Apollo must be the two riders sung about, but are they also the joker and the thief? It'll be 2008 before we find out.

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