It would be difficult to imagine exactly who would go out at this moment and purchase Battlestar Galactica Season Four on Blu-ray not having seen the first three seasons, but this new release does mark the first time that the entire fourth season has been made available on Blu-ray (without having to buy the complete series release). What this season shows us once and for all is that the reimagined BSG run by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick really is a testament to the power of modern day science fiction. It is a reminder to all of us that great shows still can and do air on television (or at least they did until this series completed its run a couple of years ago).
Season four is BSG‘s last season, the one in which the wide-ranging story is finally—for better or worse—wrapped up. We get to see the culmination of the colony fleet’s trip to find Earth and to witness the reveal of the final Cylon.
The season picks up immediately on the heels of the season three finale, with the triumphant and distinctly odd and unnerving return of the supposedly dead Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Kate Sackhoff). Starbuck reports that she has been to Earth and that she can guide the fleet there.
Taking a step back, the series as a whole follow the last ragtag remnants of humanity on their quest to escape and/or defeat the evil robotic Cylons, a creation of mankind’s that turned on their maker. At the outset of the series, the Cylons destroy the 12 planets on which humanity lives (Earth, forgotten many years ago except in legend, not being one of them). The Colonial Fleet is led by President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) on the civilian side of things, and Admiral William Adama (Edward James Olmos) on the military side.
That distinction, the military vs. the civilian is one that plays an important role throughout the series, as there is often great tension between what Adama and Roslin are willing to risk and do in order to provide for the safety of humanity. That discussion is lessened somewhat in the final season as Roslin and Adama have grown close over the course of the series (they actually have a romantic relationship), but the tension is still often there.
The series has always found its best moments in its reflection of our present day society, something that season four does less of, but does not completely forego. And, the overarching questions of it all—how far do you have to go to save your species and at what point has pursuit of safety compromised your very principles and made that survival nearly irrelevant—remain very much intact.
In answering these questions, the series often portrays things in a very brutal, sometimes hard to watch, fashion. This is particularly true this season as four key members of the fleet—Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan), Galen Tyrol (Aaron Douglas), Samuel Anders (Michael Trucco), and Tory Foster (Rekha Sharma)—have to come to accept that they are Cylons (this was revealed at the end of the third season). Perhaps it is the show’s willingness to be harsh, to be dark, and to still ask and answer questions about the very nature of what it is to be human that make it a great series.
As we see in the final season, even the Cylons, have moments of doubt, moments of questioning, and moments where they are simply not sure about right and wrong. That too is one of the things that really makes the show excel. Watching the various models of Cylons sit down and discuss the universe and their plans for it is incredibly engaging (and why, once the series ended, they made a two-hour movie called The Plan, which focused heavily on the Cylons).
Throughout its four seasons, Battlestar Galactica creates a large universe and deep mythology, even if there are very few people left to populate that universe. The characters are rich and varied, and virtually without exception their storylines take interesting turns. The two best examples of this in season four are the character of Gaius Baltar (James Callis) and Lee “Apollo” Adama (Jamie Bamber). With every season of the show, Baltar’s character changes dramatically, and season four finds him accepted as a prophet and religious icon. As for Adama, he continues his move away from the military, this time out entering the political arena where he is forced to find his footing relatively quickly.