Season 4, Episode 11:
Sometimes a Great Notion
The command crew of Galactica and the rebel Cylons walk around the ruined landscape of Earth in despair, trying to figure out what their next step should be.
As they continue to look for signs of life, Roslin finds a single solitary plant and Helo reports the grim news to Bill: there are no lifesigns anywhere else on the planet. Dualla is close to having a breakdown, while Kara looks for her Viper's emergency landing beacon (which led them to the planet) with a copy of Leoben.
Baltar reports to the group that he has done soil samples and confirmed that the soil is heavily irradiated. He then explains that the planet was nuked 2000 years prior, and Bill tells the group not to drink any of the water.
Kara and Leoben continue looking for the beacon, and eventually come upon a pile of wreckage. Upon reading a barely-visible nameplate, she realizes that the wreckage is her Viper, which has been destroyed beyond repair.
Most of the command crew return to Galactica. Upon disembarking their Raptor, Bill and Roslin hastily beat a retreat while Lee fends off questions from confused crewmen, while Caprica-Six finds a Cylon Centurion's head and two hundred corpses on the planet and brings them back to Baltar's lab for study. Upon examining the head, Baltar and the Cylons confirm that it is unlike any Cylon they've seen before.
Baltar eventually confirms to a shocked Bill, Lee and Roslin that the corpses they found appear to be humanoid Cylons, and that the Thirteenth Tribe created their own Cylons, which also rebelled against their masters.
After the meeting, a despairing Roslin refuses to speak to the Quorum, and Bill asks Lee to handle matters for her.
On Earth, Kara is still investigating the Viper wreckage when she finds the remnants of the cockpit. She clears away wreckage to find a corpse that has the same blonde hair as her, and is wearing her dog tags and wedding ring. Disturbed by the skeleton of herself, confusion by what is happening and Leoben's disquieting attitude towards the body, she eventually burns it in a funeral pyre.
Elsewhere, Tyrol, Tory and Anders begin to have visions of themselves living on the planet in pre-nuclear times. They compare their experiences and come to the conclusion that they somehow lived on the planet 2,000 years earlier, and that they have no memories of what happened after the destruction of Earth.
Dualla visits Lee and agree to have a drink together after the Quorum meeting. They go out to Joe's Bar and playfully talk with each other. Dualla impulsively kisses Lee and they part ways for the night. She walks back to her quarters and meets Gaeta, who asks her why she's so happy. She replies that even though Earth is a lie, she wants to hold on to her happy feelings for the moment.
After he leaves, Dualla pulls out a photo of her parents and places her wedding ring in her locker. She then pulls out a handgun and shoots herself in the head. Seelix and Gaeta run to see what happened, and are aghast at Dualla's dead body.
In the morgue, Bill and Lee are beside themselves with grief. Lee asks why she would do such a thing when she was so happy before. Bill is noticeably drunk, and tries to give Lee a bottle before the latter leaves. Bill kisses Dualla on the forehead and cries to himself, realizing that he let everyone down. He storms out of the morgue and walks to Tigh's quarters.
Bill confronts Tigh in his quarters, and pulls out the latter's gun and puts it on the table. He accuses Tigh of being programmed to be his friend, and tries to get Tigh to shoot him by insulting Ellen. However, Tigh refuses to take the bait and says that killing himself won't stop anything. Bill leaves and goes back to his quarters.
He rises the next morning to find graffiti on the walls and crewmen detached from everything going on around them. Determined, he walks to the CIC and finds Tigh wearing his uniform again. Bill addresses the fleet and tells them that while Earth won't be their new home, they will find another world to settle on. He asks the rebel Cylons to accompany the fleet and has Gaeta draw up new star charts, before sending Tigh to evacuate the rest of the survey teams on the planet.
On Earth, Tigh comes across D'anna, who tells him that she is going to remain behind and die because she doesn't want to confront Cavil and the rest of his troops. Tigh experiences another vision soon after and walks into nearby water, having a vision of himself trying to rescue Ellen from a collapsing building just before the world is destroyed.
Tigh realizes that the fifth member of the Final Five is his wife.
- Despair Event Horizon:
- Bill rises the morning after the fleet discovers Earth to find "Frak Earth" graffiti on the walls and crewmen slumped in drunken stupor everywhere. Suffering a Heroic BSoD himself, Adama passes without comment.
- Dualla, as a result of the discovery of the bombed-out Earth and her general lack of will to live.
- Dissonant Serenity: Dualla finds the Agathon family happily going about their day, which further fuels her Despair Event Horizon.
- Dramatic Necklace Removal: Kara pulls the dog tags off the body in the crashed Viper cockpit.
- Dramatic Sitdown: Bill's talk with Tigh after the latter has been revealed to him as a Cylon.
- Driven to Suicide: The discovery that Earth is a burned-out husk of a planet leads to multiple instances of this:
- Dualla, who shoots herself after going on a date with Lee and discussing her childhood with Gaeta.
- D'Anna passively does this by staying behind on the ravaged Earth, knowing full well that it's a self-imposed death sentence.
- In a more indirect way, Roslin, who decides to cease treatment for her cancer. While there's a very good chance that her treatment wouldn't have achieved much anyway, this makes it certain that she won't be around for much longer.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Bill continues to drink after discovering that Earth is a bombed-out wasteland.
- Gallows Humor:Roslin: It's perfect. We traded one nuked civilization for another.
- Heroic BSoD:
- Bill (who is already suffering from one incurred in the last episode, when Tigh revealed that he is a Cylon) has an even bigger one after Dualla kills herself, compounded with the stress of finding Earth.
- Kara gets one upon seeing her burnt body in the Viper.
- Roslin goes into one as well, burning pages from the book of Pythia and blaming herself for going on a wild goose chase until Bill motivates her to continue.
- Irony: Whereas in previous seasons, Bill would be the one chastizing Tigh for his alcoholism or behaviour, the situation is reversed here. After Bill tries to pull a Suicide by Cop, Tigh is the one to dress him down and set him straight.
- Killed Off for Real: Dualla and (inevitably) D'anna.
- Kill the Cutie: Dualla.
- Mood Whiplash: Dualla rekindles the romance with her ex-husband, has an uplifting talk with Gaeta, then puts a gun to her own head and commits suicide.
- The Reveal:
- The discovery that the Thirteenth Tribe were Cylons.
- Tigh realizing that Ellen is the last Cylon model.
- Rousing Speech: Bill gives one to the fleet to motivate them to continue searching for a habitable planet.
- Series Fauxnale: The episode would have been the series finale had the 2008 Writer's Guild of America strike continued.
- Suicide by Cop: Bill tries to get Tigh to shoot him in his grief over the latter being a Cylon, but it is eventually averted.
- Turned Against Their Masters: Much like the present-day Cylons, the Thirteenth Tribe created their own version of the Cylons 2,000 years earlier, which also turned against the humans and destroyed them all.