In short: being spoiler-free is amazing, everything turns upside-down, and everybody picks a new side to be on. As the President lies dying, we are told the stories of two parallel insurrections: one, a teacher's strike which Roslin resolved back on Caprica toward the end of the world, in defiance of her lover Adar's wishes; the other, a Cylon-sympathetic group within the Fleet that is stupid in precisely the same way as your recapper. In both cases, Roslin takes them in her two hands and shakes them up like a snow globe, revealing that her current gravitas and negotiation skills -- not to mention the habit of doing whatever the hell she wants -- were always a major quality. She makes an executive decision to abort Boomer's child, which is supported by basically everyone but Helo, of course, and Boomer, who loses it so totally.
On the threshold of death, Roslin comes close to discovering a memory in which she saw Gaius and Six canoodling back on Caprica. The miracle cure is earned as well as it can be via one million obstacles, both violent and bureaucratic, but basically amounts to injecting Roslin with the blood of Boomer's baby and curing her cancer. (Slow clap starts here -- I told you I didn't care how they got it done.) Only time will tell if the medical stuff will give her superpowers over and above the ones she has had all along, and I know you hate the idea, but it makes me laugh: I wanna see Slayer Roslin picking up metal desks and Raptors and hurling them around when she gets frustrated.
Gina has set herself up on Cloud Nine as the mind-blowingly beautiful leader of the shadowy Cylon sympathizers, who promise several times to stop sabotaging everything and then continue to sabotage everything. Roslin, nearing full recovery, enters into talks with the group, and what with the Cylon blood and her own history of revolutionary empathy, this will probably prove to be the most interesting storyline yet. Chip Six returns -- hooray! -- acting the part of the jealous ex, and convinces Vice President Baltar that Roslin will never trust or respect him, resulting in Gaius's delivery of a nuclear warhead to Gina's quarters. Idiot. Oh! And Roslin has the ring-a-ding sexiest gams I've ever seen on a political figurehead. You go, Madame President!
This one's going to be pretty long, because there's a lot going on as we gear up for the post-Pegasus onslaught of storylines. We begin 189 days ago, also known as The Last Day Ever, not to mention one of the busiest days a person has ever had. Such a busy day Laura Roslin had! First she got inoperable cancer, then she solved a union crisis verging on bloodshed, then she watched some people making out hardcore in public, then she got dumped and fired, then took a trip to a museum, then the whole world ended, then she got LBJ'ed, then she killed a few thousand people, then she freaked out for a while, and then she may or may not have grabbed a nap. And she did all this with total class, while looking -- at worst -- a little tired, with everybody treating her like she was completely slow the entire time. Jack Bauer's like, "Lady, I gotta hand it to you."
So, 189 days ago. Laura's hair is very dark, sitting in her doctor's office, because it's Caprica and it's always crazy bright on Caprica. Especially in flashbacks. Caprica was beautiful once. Now it's yellow. There's a very echoey, very still silence here. The doctor informs her that her cancer is malignant and metastasized. Outside, in the fountain square that characterizes most Caprica flashbacks -- particularly, and this is important, when it comes to Six and Gaius -- Laura dangles one very shapely leg in the water and thinks about how she's got incurable cancer and a probably incurable union strike going on. The palimpsest that goes on in this episode is impressively comprehensible: moving forward from last episode, where dialogue from each scene bled into the others, in this episode you might be confronted with dialogue from two different scenes while alternating visuals from two or three others. It's a credit to the vision of the show, and even more so the adeptness of the editors, that it never becomes overly confusing.
For Laura -- well, for everybody really -- this episode is just a series of endings: the end of love, the end of life, the end of the world. Approaching zero, they all signify the same amount. I'm reminded of a story told by Connie Willis in introduction to her marvelous story "Daisy, In The Sun," about how Edward R. Murrow saw a fire engine going by during a respite in the London Blitz, in the middle of the day with no planes overhead, and it took him a while to think it out: regular house fires don't stop because the world is ending. Your apocalypse is not on hold for the Big One. It's the reason that Maus and Jarhead and Sarah Bunting's essay "For Thou Art With Us" and Fast Food Nation are beautiful, and better than history: because they highlight the fact that political meaning doesn't exist in a vacuum, that while the political informs the personal, it couldn't exist without it. And I would say that there's something even bigger on the line, which is that one approaches zero as a limit -- all apocalypses are equal. There's no relativity to pain. And that's why the cancer, and the Cybrid, and the Big One, and the breakup, and getting fired, are all mixed together, in the episode and in her head. Because there is no difference. Your apocalypse is not on hold for the Big One, it is equal to it. Why should we care about the Teachers' Union, or Adar's term as President, when we know what's coming? It's a viewpoint we don't get in this show, a whole lot, because the action takes place in the equivalent of the West Wing: the peanut gallery only speaks in screams and yells and bombs, and often seems incomprehensible to us, because we are with the ones in the know.
Billy stands above the gurney, looking down at Roslin, on the threshold between the past and now, and death and life and sickness. Back at the fountain, on that last day, Roslin meets with Navlin Stans -- blonde curly hair, a Culkin plus a Busey -- who represents the Education Alliance, meeting with Roslin as the Secretary of Education to discuss his group's standoff with the government. "Once our chief negotiator got a billy club to the head, we figured Adar's government had written us off as a lost cause," he says, and she takes a moment to think. "I was a teacher long before I was Secretary of Education, and causes are only lost when we give up." She doesn't smile as she says this. She looks across the garden square, notices Dr. Gaius Baltar with a beautiful blonde, hard as a shark. As they wheel her into a makeshift lab on the Galactica, she smiles up at Billy. She looks like she's made of paper. Cottle worries and grumpuses around above her. Billy leans in, scared, and she smiles weakly. "Oh, Gods..." she whispers. She can feel it coming. We pull back, off-kilter, sickening, on Billy holding her hands. The camera straightens and a doctor steps through before us -- he nearly looks into the camera before he closes the plastic curtain, cutting us off from Billy and Cottle and Laura. Credits. 49,598 souls in the Fleet, for now.