TV Review: 'Battlestar Galactica' Season Four

The fourth and final season of "Battlestar Galactica" picks up where the last left off, with most of our major characters questioning the notion of identity.

Foremost are, of course, the four new Cylons revealed last season -- Col. Tigh, Sam T. Anders, Chief Tyrol and the president's assistant Tori (notice a pattern?). Starbuck, suddenly alive, wrestles with the possibility that she's also a Cylon, or perhaps a clone. Baltar, found not guilty of war crimes, tries to find his place among a new group of followers. And Apollo, having sprung Baltar from execution, adjusts to life as a civilian.

The Sci Fi Channel warned reviewers not to spoil any "oh frak" moments, but aside from a spectacular space battle at the outset, the tone of Friday's premiere is one of quiet reflection. Sure, there's the final-scene cliffhanger, but knowing these characters, most long-time viewers can probably write next week's opening scenes and not be far off.

That's the thing, though, isn't it? The characters feel like they no longer know themselves, and yet each acts absolutely true to his or her personality. Tigh is steadfast, Tyrol is gruffly in charge, Tori parses every word to lie without lying, and so on. Being a Cylon isn't, as one character points out late in the episode, like flipping a switch. They've all been Cylons while living these lives and developing these traits.

Will this apply to the fleet as a whole, and the search for Earth? In other words, what is the soul of the fleet? It's already tested in the premiere, with the bonus confrontation of technology versus spirituality versus other spirituality.

Speaking of which while skirting spoiler territory, Baltar's storyline feels out of place. The imagery is drenched in a 1970s feel, with a heaping helping of camp. Witness, specifically, one pose Baltar strikes unintentionally. The whole affair jars against the other parts of the episode, which is a shame. Gaius can be a fascinating character, and it'd be nice to see him in a role that doesn't beg for the sitcom title "Oh That Crazy Baltar!"