Having negotiated the writers' strike, Battlestar Galactica
is back for its fourth and final season - and about fracking time too! We've slipped under the Cylon radar and managed to see the first three episodes of the new series, so read on for our preview of what lies ahead. Although we've taken care not to reveal too much detail, those of a spoiler-phobic disposition may find it better to avert their eyes from the following paragraphs, packed full of juicy hints about upcoming developments.
It's worth having a quick recap of exactly what key plot strands were left hanging in the air at the end of the third season, before the trip back in time for the events of 'Razor'. In particular, two deliciously major twists whetted the appetite during the finale.
Firstly came the grand reveal of the four Cylons lurking aboard Galactica, as the drunkard Colonel Tigh, Chief Galen Tyrol, presidential aide Tory Foster and Starbuck's long-suffering husband Samuel Anders all instinctively came together after picking up the same Jimi Hendrix song in their inner ears. They had no idea until then of their true nature but it could have been far worse - just imagine if their Cylon brains had picked up Aqua's 'Barbie Girl' instead! Secondly, Starbuck made a sudden reappearance months after Apollo saw her apparently die when her Viper exploded.
This leaves things nicely set up for the new season, with two major questions demanding to be answered in the near future: just who is the final Cylon lurking aboard Galactica, and will anyone ever find the mythical place known as Earth?
Fortunately, the excellent hard-as-nails quality of the show hasn't diminished if the new instalments are anything to go by. They are dominated by a sublime performance by Katee Sackhoff
as Starbuck, who finds herself with a huge battle on her hands to convince the Galactica crew that she is the same aggressive but brave soul they once knew. Her cause is not helped by the fact that her Viper is in pristine condition and her demands to change the fleet's course even involves her putting a gun to the head of a certain authority figure. Starbuck is also joined on the ship by her long-lost sister - Caffé Nero. Okay, bad joke.
There's a major Cylon-centric twist that is particularly powerful and visceral. There's tension in the air between Number Six and Dean Stockwell's Cavil, over the latter's unethical attitude towards the Cylon Raiders. Be prepared for some jaw-dropping scenes, in addition to Cavil picking up a love interest along the way. Well, that depends on whether you believe Cylons are capable of love. Perhaps a 'non-platonic snog' may be a more apt term.
The fun and fiendish Gaius Baltar certainly has a lot on his plate these days, or rather on his bed. Indeed, he gets jiggy with someone who actually exists for a change, although the unfortunate female cries during the act of coitus. We won't reveal her identity, so by all means go ahead and speculate whether it is President Laura Roslin or not.
Richard Hatch is back to his sneaky ways as Tom Zarek, passing on some classified information to a new colleague with a devious intent. The third episode, 'The Ties That Bind', features one of Galactica's crew members discovering the truth about three of the Cylons lurking on board the ship, but takes a rather shocking course of action immediately afterwards. But what is the fourth Cylon up to? Let's just say that he's jumped ship, not long after making eye contact with a Centurion.
Don't feel as if you know that much about what lies ahead, for some of the descriptions are deliberately ambiguous and may well lead you to draw the wrong conclusions. The real fun will arrive in April, when you can watch the fabulous show enter the home straight on Sky One. Stay tuned to Digital Spy for the latest news, previews and reviews on the show - or else we'll arrange for you to go on a pub crawl with Saul Tigh.> Click here for our look at Starbuck's fight with Apollo on Battlestar Galactica