Monday, March 23, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: Journey's End

All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.

First off, let's talk the series finale. It's difficult for me to describe how I feel about the final two hours of Battlestar Galactica without coming off as a total schizophrenic. I thought the initial hour was brilliant and remarkably tense (at some points I had to pause it and walk away because I just couldn't take it). But I thought the second hour was overlong, heavy-handed, and cliche. But I still enjoyed it.

In a way, my feelings of both satisfaction and dissatisfaction seem kind of perfect. Battlestar Galactica has always been a show concerned with duality. Human/Cylon, monotheism/polytheism, science/faith, destiny/free will; the clash of opposites is sort of what drove the show for 4 years. So it makes me feel a little bit better about my mixed feelings.

Things that I loved: the whole "All Along the Watchtower" song having a point; it allowed Starbuck to enter the coordinates for the colonials to find Earth. The real Earth; our Earth. My jaw literally dropped when Galactica jumped into orbit of a gorgeous green planet and there, clear as day, was the African continent. They had finally found home. And I like that it was in our distant past. They had arrived on Earth when the most advanced civilization had yet to discover verbal communication. I think we all knew the show would find a way to link to our history and our planet, and I liked how they did it.

--I also loved how the shared dream involving the Opera House was resolved. Everyone wandering through the ship looking for Hera, arriving at the CIC with the final five watching above. It was a beautiful sequence that gave me shivers.

--The battle scenes were phenomenal. While it would have been nice to have a better idea of the layout of the Colony and how the colonials were planning to actually get to, whatever. It was totally badass. Seeing Lee command a squad of centurions was...weird, but in a "physical representation of the symbolism of Hera" way. Meaning, cylons and humans had literally come together and were fighting to preserve their joined future.

--Chief killing Tory. That bitch totally got what she had coming to her.

--Galactica shuddering after her final jump. The show is called Battlestar Galactica, and at the heart of it, is the ship herself. She carried the last hopes of humanity for 4 years and never let them down. Seeing her almost shake apart was physically painful, and I found myself urging her on. In the end, she made it through for her crew, and rode off into the sunset. Well, rode INTO the sunset and got burned up in the sun, but it was still noble and fitting.

Alright, so let's talk about things I didn't like. The last hour seemed to suffer from Return of the King-itis meaning we got ending after ending as we bid farewell to each character. While it's nice to have everyone get a proper send-off, it also dragged the show along. There are only so many sweeping shots of the African plains a girl can take. And while I don't like saying goodbye to anyone, it seemed a little lame that so few major characters bought the farm. Roslin's death was poignant, but she was essentially the only major character to die. And her death was not unexpected, but it just seemed too tidy to have all our major character spared.

--Lee's big plan to have everyone spread out far away from each other on earth without any technology. This was a total, wha? moment for me. This kind of thing sounds good in theory, let's start over, live off what we have on our backs, but in reality? Dumbest idea ever. Yeah, wait until you need a doctor and the nearest one is 100 miles away, Lee. I'll bet you wish you had kept a raptor.

--Angels and Demons. I can't explain why, but the confirmation that everything was part of God's plan to save Hera, that Chip Six and Chip Baltar were angels (or demons?), and that Starbuck was an Angel or at least clearly an agent of some kind of higher power just seemed...disappointing. Religion has always been a part of Battlestar Galactica, but throughout the show it was more of a mystical and ambiguous aspect. Having it become the absolute real answer to the question of "why?" just seemed too easy. Maybe because the show has been so rooted in the science of science fiction, it just seemed like kind of a cop-out to tie it all by saying: see? Everything was part of God's plan! Live happily ever after now that you have fulfilled your purpose. Oh, and current people, try not to invent robots that will want to one day kill you!

I do find some consolation in Ron Moore acknowledging that this outcome would be difficult for some fans. In an interview with TV Guide he said,

"There's a certainly a section of science fiction fandom that has always had a problem with [the spiritual aspect of the show]. They resolutely didn't want supernatural, mystical or divine presence in the show whatsoever, and were sort of put off by that, or at least had trouble accepting that. But I just thought that was part and parcel of what we did. It was our take on this part of this particular universe, and to me, it was as important in the end as it was in the beginning."
And you know what? Fair enough. It's his story to tell and this is how he imagined it. So I'm not going to sit here and say he was wrong, but I will say that I found the end a bit incongruous with the whole of the series.

So that's it. Not to use a cliche but the end was truly bittersweet. Despite the controversy with the reimagining of the classic series, we were treated to 4 years of one of the most gripping, dramatic, human, and truthful television series ever. All we can do now is hope that Battlestar Gallactica finally gets the recognition it deserves in the television community with awards, etc.

I think it's clear that this show has changed the face of science fiction forever.

So say we all.

End of Series Quiz:

Favorite Episode: Kobol's Last Gleaming (Season 1, Episode 13)

Favorite Character: Admiral Adama

Favorite Quote: "We need to get the hell out of here and we need to start having babies." President Roslin on what the human race should do after the destruction of the Twelve Colonies.

Gone Before It's Time: No. The show went out at the height of its creativity, and you can't ask for more than that.

At Least We'll Always Have....DVDs! And Caprica! And The Plan!

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