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Monday, March 23, 2009

TV Watch: Battlestar Galactica Series Finale

I'm not sure it is possible to talk about this without being pretty spoiler-ific. If I had to write a summary, it would be simply that it was good, great and places, but overall the finale proved a successful cross-section of the show.

In short - there were some kick ass action scenes, some drama bordering on melodrama, some religious muck and occasionally the thing that just doesn't make any real sense, and possibly never was supposed to make any real sense.

So that said, into the spoilers.

While I thought the whole "who is a Cylon" routine was pretty neat, it was also something of a sideshow compared to the rest of show's somewhat weighty subplot - finding Earth, survival of all mankind, who Kara's sleeping with, etc. The finale intersects a lot of the action with the Opera House dream, and there's a sliding percentage of the show's metaphysics which creep in as the action goes on.

I liked the finale, but I think I could have used that percentage growing a little slower. By just slightly over half of the two hour episode, it feels like we're in epilogue mode. Much of the falling action here just feels very convenient, especially the colony's decisions about their new Earth, the destruction of the fleet and so on. It's a very tight package to prove the bigger point the show has been building, that Galactica's overall plot is based on a repeating cycle between two opposing forces.

The finale started with my favorite parts of the show - the military scifi stuff, and ends with my least favorite - a weird combination of A Space Odyssey and some bits that feel like the throwaway parts of a Heinlein novel.

But even my least favorite parts felt like they resonated well, and especially when tied with the many Caprica flashbacks we've been getting recently - the show at least ends on solid footing.

A great episode, all in all, and a great season to finish the show.


Josh said...

As an aside (or addendum), when I poke around the net, I think the biggest complaint people have is the questions left unanswered. What was Kara? How is it Baltar could project? And so on.

And I'd agree, not my favorite thing about the ending either. However, there were several character speeches warning us this was probably going to happen, with "God(s) did it" likely being the end result.

Which, in some cases, it was. Even in the future, some things need to be taken on faith, the show is saying.

I guess it didn't annoy me much because I felt the show contained it pretty well, but I get the criticism all the same.

sterno said...

I find that the ending of a movie, tv show, etc, is always what sticks with me the most. If you have a really good show with an iffy ending, I'm usually left with a bad impression. If you have an iffy show with a good ending, I'll tend to like it.

I think the episode started well but as it got more metaphysical my bullshit detector started going through the roof. There has always been a mystical element to the show, but it always felt like it had a practical explanation. Like Baltar's visitor could have been a hallucination, a cylon controlled vision, etc. Nope, turns out it's an angel... okay...

It's actually the exact opposite of Babylon 5 in this respect. In B5, the super powers in the universe are seen as mystical creatures, angels, and devils. But it turns out, that they are not. They are just really advanced creatures and yet ironically more child like than the younger less advanced species. Frankly B5, though a little dated now, ruined me for a lot of other sci-fi shows that don't think things through at that level.

I've developed this tremendous skepticism for sci-fi show mysteries. Call it the X-files effect. I loved X-files, and I was so eager to find out what was behind it all. Turns out it was a giant pile of ill conceived bullshit with no rationale or logic. Just endless mysteries to get ratings. Blech. BSG is certainly better than the X-files in this respect, but the ending still felt rather hollow.

I just hope Lost doesn't go with the "it was angels" cop out :)

sterno said...

Oh and one other thing, the best episode of the entirety of the BSG series is still the first one. I've never seen an episode of TV that was that intense. The humans trying desperately to escape the merciless mechanical perfect hunt of the Cylons. I wish the finale had been at that level, but frankly that's a very very high bar.

Josh said...

Yeah, I've never been a big fan of the religious aspects of the show, mostly because I didn't feel they were as realized as the military and ethical portions.

Or in other words, they felt like excuses for leaving plot holes open, which it still feels like they were. Honestly it seems like a portion of the show the creators cared about more than the viewers.

Course, I guess the only defense I'd give to the writers is that if you really *did* want the answer to be "God did it", how do you sell that best to viewers?

sterno said...

The flaw with the writers wanting it to be "god did it" is that it somewhat negates where they end the show. They leave the show with this whole, we are the next phase of the cycle and asking if we will be any different. Then I guess they imply that dancing robots are going to get connected together via skynet and kill us all. Or something...

If it's a divine plan, then the cycle will continue, non? Unless the deity of choice doesn't want it to continue, in which case it won't. Once you make it all part of a divine plan, it yanks the self determination out of the equation and kinda ruins it.

Josh said...

Yeah, it's a tricky little corner. Does Baltar get absolved because God(s) say it so? If so, doesn't that kind of negate his arc as a character?

And I do have this fear with Lost, although I think they've made it a little more core to the show (ie, less military action to fall on). Hopefully we'll get better than "the island did it."

Winkyboy said...

Overall, I loved it. My one complaint would be that it was very stupid of the survivors to say, "we've got to learn from our mistakes" by trying to forget all they know. You learn by remembering. They should have kept all the tech. Ugh.

As for the Head People that most are now claiming to be angels, let me start with the disclaimer that while talking about a science fiction show, it no way relates to my personal beliefs. That said, I don't see that there's any evidence of "God doing it" at all, really.

The head Six and Baltar say at the end, "It doesn't like being called that. [God]" and this directly implies the theory that I've pushed for all along: There are no more humans in the show - the most there could be would be hybrids. I posit that the cylons evolved so much that not only did they kill off their creators, the first humans, but they reinvented themselves as them. THAT is the loop that continues to happen.

Anyway, when it's all said and done, the entire series only jumped the shark a couple of times but was, in a credit to its storytelling strength, able to recover and continue on to a great ending.

Josh said...

I dunno, when Kara disappears into thin air, after having reappeared from thin air, to lead everyone to the great MacGuffin in the sky ... I think that's a pretty big "God did it" plot point.

I suppose we could take the ending as "Baltar and Six are immortal, or long living, due to science" and just watching mankind evolve over a few thousand years. But let's not forget that the angels angle comes from Baltar himself, although he doesn't realize he's included in that club at the time.

But yeah, there could be very Asimov-style "technology is magic after all" explanation at work as well.

Winkyboy said...

The way I imagine it, whatever entity that some recognize as "God" and/or "angels" in the show may have evolved to the point where they are part of a subspace internet-style conscience. That way all the other people - being machines, mind you - would be able to see or hear them when the signal is sent to them. A lot like the way the cylons "project" -- it's just a more advanced projection, not needing to share physical touch and in fact able to transverse galaxies, perhaps universes.

AubidadedBallad said...
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Devid said...
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Devid said...

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