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Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Sometimes A Great Notion’ And ‘A Disquiet Follows My Soul’


This is the 34th in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘The Hub’ And ‘Revelations’” here.

Spoilers ahead.

These two episodes play out the despair that grips the rag-tag fleet upon learning that Earth is an uninhabitable ruin, reaching a low point with Dualla’s suicide. Kandyse McClure gets a nice exit from the series, one played more subtly than many past deaths to convey how warning signs for suicide are often absent.

“Sometimes a Great Notion” is named for a novel by Ken Kesey (who also wrote One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and was a character in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test). That title was inspired by Leadbelly’s folk-blues classic “Goodnight, Irene,” in which the great notion is jumping into a river to drown. Here, the episode ends with Tigh walking into the sea, but with a surprise ending.

“A Disquiet Follows My Soul” suffers by comparison, which was probably unavoidable. The episode becomes a little too expositional because the directionless fleet requires a plot reset. The series seems similarly, if temporarily, adrift. Such is the cost of not making the final season a pat narrative about the discovery of Earth.

‘Sometimes a Great Notion’

On Earth, Helo and D’Anna report there are no signs of advanced life. Baltar determines there was a nuclear war 2,000 years ago. Starbuck and Leoben search for the colonial signal that brought the fleet there.

Dualla finds a child’s ball and jacks in the dirt. A Six discovers a version of a Centurion helmet. Baltar’s tests of skeletons reveal the 13th tribe was Cylon.

Tyrol places his hand on the ruin of a produce market, triggering a vision of his past life on Earth when the nuclear war began. Anders has a similar vision after finding a guitar neck, as does Tory (though the triggering event is unmentioned).

On returning to Galactica, Pres. Roslin merely shakes her head “no” at the assembled crowd and has Adm. Adama quickly escort her from the hangar.

Dualla finds Apollo in the pilot’s room, wondering what to tell the Quorum. She recommends honesty without spin. They discuss the good times they had as a couple. She accepts Apollo’s invitation for a drink that evening.

Starbuck and Leoben find the source of the signal is the wreckage of Starbuck’s Viper… and her corpse. She reveals the Hybrid called her the harbinger of death; Leoben backs away. As night falls, Starbuck burns the corpse on a funeral pyre.

Adama finds Roslin burning the Book of Pithia. He says she is needed to boost the fleet’s morale, but she is in as much despair (or more) than anyone, believing the scriptural prophecy and her entire administration has been a futile tragedy. She sends him away and weeps.

After a pleasant evening with Apollo, a seemingly happy and tipsy Dualla returns to her quarters and shoots herself in the head. Apollo is distraught. Adama grabs a sidearm, proceeds to Tigh’s quarters and tries to provoke Tigh into killing him. Tigh refuses and the two men reconcile.

Adama returns to the CIC. He orders Gaeta to begin looking for nearby systems with possibly habitable planets. He also seeks to contact the rebel Cylons to learn whether they want to continue with the humans.

Tigh returns to Earth to contact D’Anna, who seems inclined to remain and die on Earth. The talk shakes Tigh enough that he walks into the sea. The act triggers a vision of his past life on Earth, revealing the last of the Final Five Cylons was his wife, Ellen.

‘A Disquiet Follows My Soul’

Adama grimly plows forward through his morning routine.

In the sickbay, Tigh and Caprica Six view a sonogram of their child. She remarks the pregnancy proves the Cylons can live without resurrection (quietly disturbing the nurse). Gaeta, seeking a refitting of his prosthetic leg, complains that the Cylons – including Tyrol’s child – get better treatment.

On Colonial One, Adama, Zarek, and Apollo stonewall the press about the rumored alliance with the Cylons, the future roles of the Four Cylon models serving the fleet, and the identity of the final model (though Apollo lets slip the final Cylon was female). Afterward, Zarek tells Adama he will oppose an alliance with Cylons.

Nevertheless, Adama, Tigh, Apollo, Helo, and Gaeta meet to hear Tyrol’s proposal that the fleet’s FTL drives be upgraded with Cylon technology that would triple jump length and increase the odds of finding a habitable home. The upgrades would require Cylon assistance. The rebel Cylons also want full membership in the fleet to ensure protection from Cavil’s faction. Adama agrees to present the plan to Roslin, despite Gaeta’s objections.

Roslin effectively has abdicated the presidency. She has thrown her medicine in the trash and is found jogging around Galactica instead of taking treatment in the sickbay. She tells Adama she intends to live a little before she dies.

Tyrol’s son is diagnosed with a kidney problem, forcing Dr. Cottle to reveal a Viper pilot callsigned Hotdog is Nicky’s biological father. Tyrol attends an angry sermon from Baltar. When Hotdog appears, Tyrol punches him, but ultimately includes him in tending Nicky’s bedside.

Zarek obtains an 11-1 Quorum vote requiring the permission of each ship for Cylon assistance with the proposed upgrades. Adama overrules the vote, declaring the upgrades are a military issue.

The fleet’s tylium refining ship breaks off from the fleet and jumps to an unknown location, though the ship communicated with Zarek before leaving. Adama has Athena arrest Zarek.

In the brig, Adama throws down a thick folder of documents ostensibly proving Zarek has been selling the Vice-Presidency. Adama warns that he will expose Zarek’s corruption to prevent him from playing a political martyr. Zarek reveals the location of the tylium ship. Adama gives Tigh the folder, which was filled with laundry records.

Adama dispatches Athena to escort the tylium ship back to the fleet. Meanwhile, Zarek and Gaeta shake hands regarding some conspiracy against Adama.

Adama receives word of the tylium ship’s return while in bed with Roslin. She shows some interest in the news until he asks whether she cares, at which point she laughs.