Not every show could survive a midseason break of more than six months, but then Battlestar Galactica isn't every show.
It's an ever-evolving mythology, possibly a new teched-out version of the Book of Genesis. Production for its fourth and final season was interrupted by the writers strike in 2008, breaking the narrative rather neatly in half and providing the adrenaline rush of a midseason cliffhanger of serious proportions.
When we last saw the crew of the Galactica, they had narrowly escaped an about-to-turn-deadly face-off with the D'Anna-led Cylons because Starbuck realized her Viper was picking up a detector signal from the long-sought Earth. Peace was made and the fleet made the jump, finding not the Thirteenth Tribe sanctuary they have sought for so long, but a nuclear wasteland.
The review DVD of Episode 11, the beginning of this final run, came with a very polite note imploring "writers and editors" to not reveal several key twists of the episode — essentially all the major stuff that happens. Also, as a precaution, the folks at Sci Fi network removed the final scene of Friday's episode which contains the big reveal — presumably the identity of the final Cylon, which executive producer Ron Moore has said will occur in this episode.
Frankly, Sci Fi, I am a little hurt. Still, one has to write something. So here we go.
Battlestar has never been a bright and breezy show. Its characters are, after all, the few survivors of a nuclear genocide wandering the universe in search of sanctuary from the still-not-satisfied Cylons. So everyone has a lot of emotional baggage. Then there's the whole lighting issue — while the crew of the Enterprise preferred primary colors and an airy mod atmosphere, the Galactica has a much dimmer palette — amid the interstellar murk, gray remains the new gray.
That said, Episode 11, "Sometimes a Great Nation," makes every previous episode look like The Music Man. Dark, despairing, despondent, all the big D words would work here. Earth is, indeed, uninhabitable, and the Thirteenth Tribe turns out to be not exactly what anyone was expecting.
At one point, President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) burns the prophecy of Pythia — she burns the prophecy! — and Adama (Edward James Olmos) contemplates ending it all, though not before he and Tigh (Michael Hogan) finally go at it with matching snarls, guns and brimming glasses of what appears to be Scotch.
As events unfold, it becomes clear that just as Cylons were not precisely what we once thought, so time seems to open itself to interpretation.
Clearly, this is that infamous hour before dawn, with the big reveal offering a new direction. But as Battlestar fans know from this whipsaw ride through myth and imagination, whatever you think is going to happen next is usually something else entirely.