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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
Battlestar Galactica: Sometimes a Great Notion

Battlestar Galactica

"Sometimes a Great Notion"

TV episode

Written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson

Directed by Michael Nankin

Original air date: January 16, 2009


Where go the remnants of humanity when their hopes and dreams for Earth turn to dust?


Read the summary of the episode at the Battlestar Wiki


Didja Know?


    The opening titles show the fleet at a population of 39,651, down 14 from the previous episode "Revelations", without explanation. One death in that episode was the Galactica crewman who was spaced by D'Anna aboard the rebel baseship. The others are unexplained, though possibly suicides in the fleet after Earth was found to be an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland at the end of "Revelations" (though only the landing parties seem to know about the condition of Earth at the beginning of this episode; the fleet itself learns of it officially through an announcement by Apollo in front of the Quorum). It is implied in our current episode that virtually everyone in the fleet has become despondent after this discovery and some even suicidal.

    Dee commits suicide in this episode, but is seemingly not one of the 14 deaths above, as Apollo is seen to erase the "1" from the "39,651" on the population board in the president's office on Colonial One near the end of the episode.


The title of this episode, "Sometimes a Great Notion", is borrowed either from the 1964 Ken Kesey novel of the same name or from the lyric the novel derived its title from, in the 1933 song "Goodnight, Irene" by Lead Belly (Huddie William Ledbetter, 1888-1949):


Sometimes I lives in the country
Sometimes I lives in the town
Sometimes I haves a great notion
To jump into the river an' drown


This episode runs 3.5-4 minutes longer than the average BSG episode. 


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


Colonel Tigh


Sam Anders

Dee (dies in this episode)


President Roslin


Admiral Adama

D'Anna Biers


Leoben Conoy

Tory Foster

Specialist Figurski




Specialist Tyrol

Caprica Six

Number Eight

Number Six

Lt. Gaeta

Ellen Tigh (in photo and vision only)

Bill Adama's uncle (mentioned only, deceased)

Lt. Hoshi

Specialist Marcie Brasko

John Cavil (mentioned only)



Didja Notice?


Although the preamble plays at the beginning of this episode, the main titles do not. I guess the producers wanted to use that extra 30 seconds for story this time.


Baltar's study of the ground and ruins of Earth indicate a nuclear war occurred about 2000 years ago, leaving the water and food chain contaminated. The rebel Cylon teams discover the same thing.


At 9:00 on the Blu-ray, human/Cylon teams investigating the ruins on Earth find the head of a Centurion-variant, indicating Earth human(oids) may have developed their own version of Cylons that rebelled against them, leading to war and nuclear annihilation.

Earth Centurion


During the flashback visions Tyrol and the others have about their past on Earth, depicted are numerous humanoids who all look different from each other. Since the "current-time" human and Cylon investigations of the planet indicate that the humanoid skeletons found on the planet are all Cylon, these Cylons must have had much more than just twelve humanoid models. Also, these humanoid Cylons, unlike their current counterparts, were apparently capable of producing children.


When he finds the broken remains of a guitar on Earth, Anders begins singing the lyrics of "All Along the Watchtower", the song that four of the Final Five Cylons in the human fleet heard in "Crossroads" Part 2. His flashback here indicated he used to play guitar in his life on Earth. Did he also write that song? Or was it a song he borrowed from someone else? According to Ron Moore's audio commentary for this episode, the scene was meant to suggest that he wrote it on Earth 2,000 years ago.


At 31:48 on the Blu-ray, a couple of people appear to be marking the walls of the Galactica corridor with the bird-like symbol of the cult of Baltar.


At 32:00 on the Blu-ray, as Admiral Adama stalks down the corridor with a pistol in his hand, notice that the pilot sitting on the steps on the right-hand side cautiously moves his hand to his own holstered sidearm! It seems he was a bit worried the old man was about to go on a shooting spree!


The pistol that Adama pulls out of the locker in Colonel Tigh's quarters is a Vektor CP1.


Adama tells Tigh of an uncle who had a farm that he would visit in the summers as a kid. Adama's father, Joseph Adama, had just one brother, Sam (seen in episodes of Caprica), who would have been Bill Adama's uncle. Sam, as depicted in Caprica, did not live on a farm at the time and doesn't seem like the type to start, but who knows? It's also possible that the uncle was on his mother Evelyn's side. Yet another possibility is that that it was an uncle by marriage into the family, possibly even Larry, the man who was Sam's husband.


When Starbuck walks in on Apollo in the president's office, she has a gauze bandage on her neck for unexplained reasons. According to Ron Moore's audio commentary for this episode, a scene was cut where she suffered an injury from a tree branch or something while looking for the source of the Colonial signal on Earth's surface.


    Starbuck apparently reports that she lost the Colonial signal she had detected while on the surface of Earth. Of course, we the viewers saw that it led to the crash site of her original Viper 8757-NC which contained her own corpse. It seems she doesn't want anyone to know about that, now unsure herself of what she is (though Leoben was there with her to see the corpse).

    It seems she may have been about to tell Apollo the truth about what she found, saying, "I need to talk. I've got to tell somebody," but is then told by Apollo about Dee's suicide, which most likely forestalled any other conversation between them for the moment.


At 40:02 on the Blu-ray, someone has spray-painted "FRAK EARTH" on a Galactica bulkhead.



Lt. Hoshi is assigned Dee's former position as communications officer in CIC.


Returning to CIC with Tigh, Adama orders Lt. Gaeta to find the closest G, F, or K-Class star system. These star types are the same classifications used by astronomers in the real world to designate stars believed most likely able to have systems bearing life. 


At 41:39 on the Blu-ray, Apollo goes through a box of Dee's personal effects. It looks as if the labeling on the box originally had the name "Dualla D." on it and was altered to make the second "D" look like an "A". Dualla was nicknamed "Dee" based on the first letter of her last name; her actual first name, not frequently used on the show, was Anastasia. Dee box


At the end of the episode, Colonel Tigh walks out into the ocean. Was he going to commit suicide by allowing himself to be pulled out to sea to drown as hinted at by Adama's story of the foxes pulled out to sea on Caprica and by Tigh's conversation with D'Anna just prior (D'Anna: "Don't you ever want to stop fighting it, Colonel? Hmm? Don't you just want to stop all of this?" Tigh: "And just ride the tide out to sea.") Fortunately, he sees a vision of his wife Ellen in the water as he walks out from the shore and he realizes both she and himself lived on Earth 2,000 years ago...meaning Ellen is the last of the Final Five...and may have been resurrected.


In Tigh's flashback to life on Earth, we hear that both he and Ellen had their same first names as they do now. The last name is not revealed.


Notes from the deleted scenes on the Blu-ray release


Helo and Athena attend a gathering of the cult of Baltar to listen to him speak. 


Unanswered Questions


What happens to D'Anna after this episode? She chooses to stay behind on the wasteland Earth and is not seen again.


Ellen Tigh was tested by Baltar with the Cylon detector he'd made in "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down". He seemed to say at the time that her result was "green" (human). Did Baltar's test fail to detect that Ellen was Cylon? Or was his remark just part of his decision that it was easier if everyone's test was green (as he did with Boomer's test in "Flesh and Bone")?


Memorable Dialog

we traded one nuked civilization for another.mp3
the Thirteenth Tribe was Cylon.mp3
...and called it Earth.mp3
that easy to read?.mp3
if anyone can give them a reason to go on.mp3
what am I?.mp3
I was wrong about everything.mp3
sit down, Cylon.mp3
I'm getting off this merry-go-round.mp3
we'll be reborn.mp3

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