This Is a Blog: My BSG Addiction: The Ending

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My BSG Addiction: The Ending

In order to get over my addiction to "Battlestar Galactica," I'm going to talk the show to death until it's out of my system. What originally started as a one-off essay is too big for just one post. This is Part 12.

It's Over, Okayyy...

Right off the bat, before I tear the thing apart, let me say I thought the ending was pretty good. When they pulled the wool out and it turned out the fleet's original destination was a barren wasteland, the show set itself a very high bar. They still have to find a new home and it has to be just as satisfying. They do accomplish that, despite all my little problems. By choosing to break the cycle of violence and denounce technology, Lee defines the entire series. Looking back, the show is about these 40,000 people fighting over humanity's soul. They fight the big fights, argue back and forth over some core human values, and in the end they give humanity hope that when they finally do create Cylons once again, there's a good chance they'll treat their creations with proper respect. According to the show, they last 20 times as long as those who left Kobol, so maybe it all worked out.

The ending itself isn't the problem, though. It's how we get there. Instead of slowly paying off all the through lines over the course of the final season, the show takes a drastic left turn and uses its remaining time to single-mindedly setup the finale at only its most base levels. Maybe the show came to an abrupt end and there was no time to wrap things up properly, but this is what we got. Perhaps a production rush explains certain plots that seemed promising that never actually paid off and some sudden, unexplained twists.
The Tyrols have a baby. Tyrol turns out to be a Cylon. Cylon/human hybrids are the key to the survival of both species. Interesting. Sounds like Hera maybe isn't everyone's last hope. Oh no, wait, she is. Turns out Tyrol's baby is actually Hot Dog's. There goes that super exciting plot thread.

Galactica survives because Adama learned from the Cylon War, therefore, he won't ever allow his ship's systems to be networked. Tigh let them do it just once, and a Cylon virus took over the ship. All of the sudden, he lets Tyrol spread goop all over the ship that fills holes and also miraculously networks the ship's systems. Like magic, suddenly the morality of networking gets flipped on its head and everything works out for the best.

Having given no indications of being suicidal, Dualla blows her brains out. Eh, she was unimportant anyway. Now that we've purged ourselves of all the unimportant characters, let us off to the finale.

All those flashbacks were so promising, right? I can't think of a single piece of useful information we got out of them. If they had thought of it earlier, I would have loved to start seeing these flashbacks earlier in the season. Maybe seeing our characters before the fall would have helped fill in those hopeless gaps in the home stretch. If by the finale we had spent enough time in these flashbacks, we could have seen individually what the promise of New Earth means to the survivors. Maybe we could have even flashed all the way back to the Final Five during their time on Old Earth, so we could see what led to their downfall and use that as a counter-point to what our guys decide to do.

Back to the Cylon upgrades for a second. If the point of them is to show that Adama letting go of his stubbornness paid off, why didn't we see how these Cylon improvements helped them rescue Hera? Nitpicky maybe, but that seems like a pretty important detail.

I thought justice was pretty important in this world. The last time we see Tyrol, he kills Tory and destroys a human/Cylon peace accord that's only about 30 seconds old. Does he get to settle on New Earth, or is his punishment that he has to help Anders pilot Galactica into the sun?

Possibly the dumbest thing in the Matrix trilogy is how in the end, Smith embodies all the evil in the Matrix, so Neo just has to defeat him and everything's totally cool. Is that what was supposed to happen when Racetrack nuked the Cylon colony? Was every single One, Four, and Five just chilling there? The hybrids all have prophetic abilities, did none of them see it coming and jump away? The ending is sort of predicated on the idea that everyone not fit for a world where humans and Cylons can co-exist dies. That goes for humans and Cylons. Zarek and Gaeta die, along with all the mutineers who died during the attempted coup. Hell, come to think of it, no one ever talks about the surviving rapists from the Pegasus, do they get to enjoy paradise too?

Anyway, the ending depends on the idea that the human/Cylon society can flourish because no one ever finds them. With 150,000 years and a base-ship full of centurions out there, everything just goes fine. There isn't even a single One out there with a base-ship and a single-minded mission to destroy the defenseless Luddite humans. That's probably too nit-picky, but like the cheapo end of the Matrix trilogy, that seems like a pretty important detail. It would be cool if it turns out the centurions, as a thank you for their freedom, spent the millenia patrolling the solar system, making sure their liberators are never disturbed.

I'll end on a positive note. For Roslin, Adama, and Baltar, their stories wrap up so nicely. Roslin succumbs to cancer while she takes in the quiet beauty of the planet she helped bring her people to. Adama's role in the world is so tied into running his ship that without a military, he simply has no place. It's so poetic that he finds a quiet spot and is clearly going to build his cabin in memory of the woman he loves. The image of him overlooking the valley as his people enjoy paradise is straight out of the Bible. Moses had compromised so much of himself to lead his people that he couldn't reap the benefits. He was a savior. He had no place once the journey was through.

Which brings us to Baltar. I've already explained how I think he was the most deserving of salvation. The last remaining question about him is how much he bullshitted his way to power. The cult that formed around him came from his manifesto, based on the story that he was born a poor Piconese farmer. Not only does that turn out to be true, but it turns out the part of himself he most denied is about to become the part that will serve him the best. After his long journey, he finally gets the peace he deserves.

Continue to Part 13

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