Battlestar Galactica: Series Finale

      16 Comments on Battlestar Galactica: Series Finale

Hm.  So.  Okay.   (SPOILERS AHEAD)

bsg_logoI’ll probably write a full recap of the Battlestar Galactica series finale later this weekend, but felt like I should just get my general impressions out, and give a few people a chance to say their “I told you so’s”.  Because, yeah, bottom line, that series finale wasn’t what I was expecting.  The first hour was kick ass action.  The second hour was … something.  A happy ending, I guess you could call it.  But did the happy ending have to be so LONG?  I mean, these characters have all been through hell, so I’m perfectly fine with their story ending on a peaceful note.  But really … an hour of smiling and hugging and romping in fields and talking about building cabins and delivering trite lines?  Wouldn’t half an hour have been enough for that?  Maybe even 15 minutes?

So my impression of the episode as an episode — which is usually my primary standard for judging this show, one week at a time — is that it started strong and ended weak … and slow.

As for how the finale wrapped up the series as a whole, I’m afraid my opinion isn’t much better.  And it pretty much boils down to one word:  Angels.  Not metaphorical angels.  Not people from the future who have so much knowledge that they appear to be angels.  Not a race of beings called Seraphs who travel in a Ship of Lights and are so advanced that they could be construed as angels by humans.  Actual angels.  From God.  Head Six, Head Baltar, and Undead Starbuck were apparently all angels, carrying out the will of God.  And the will of God was apparently to … I don’t know … let the Cylons blow up the Twelve Colonies, then torture the fuck out of the surviving humans for a few years, so that by the time Starbuck jumps them to our Earth (which is the fake Earth), humans and Cylons are ready to live without technology and might not make the same arrogant mistakes they made on Kobol, Caprica, and Real Earth.  Something like that.

Because God is apparently willing to send angels to get Gaius Baltar’s rocks off, and to tell him what to do, but not willing to talk to somebody else in all of human history (pick your planet) who could actually do something to change the course of things BEFORE they get so bad.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not entirely against a “God ending”.  I kind of suspected it would be the case, although I was hoping for something more scientific or time travel oriented.  But there’s a smart way to use God in a story like this, and a lazy way to use God.  And this was kind of lazy to me.

In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” — which, let’s face it, was one step away from a sci-fi story — George Bailey is visited by a guardian angel, who shows him an alternate future, and based on that, George decides to change his future for the better.  That story works, because in the end, it’s George who decides his own fate.  But in this story, we’ve got Angel Starbuck living as a human for months, actively changing the “fate” of the other characters, and we’ve got Angel Six actively manipulating a very manipulatable Gaius for years.  That’s some extremely hands-on “angel” work there, seemingly saved for mankind’s 11th hour, when it can do the least good possible — helping mankind find a new planet where they can possibly fuck things up again, but in the meantime, they get to shit in a hole in the ground, instead of on a toilet.

So.  Yeah.  There you have that.  I still love the series in general for the many hours of great TV it gave me.  But color me a little puzzled by Ron Moore’s choices right at the end there.

What did you think?

16 thoughts on “Battlestar Galactica: Series Finale

  1. Jill a.k.a. The Nerdy Bird

    I was happy with the fact that the whole thing turned out to be “our” history but the Starbuck thing did not sit well with me. I’m kinda ok with Head Six and Head Gaius being angels but not her, it just didn’t feel right in the scheme of things. And they didn’t even address Daniel at all in the last episode. I actually would have liked a scene with all of the Cylons together (even if it was a mind thing) considering their history in the show overall.

    Plus, the whole thing was very uneven to me. The first hour BLAM then second hour, calm and serene. If they were separated as two episodes I wouldn’t have felt that way obviously.

    I was kind of annoyed that all the flashbacks from last week and this episode basically amounted to a big waste of time. Besides Gaius’ where we learn his father was a farmer, the others didn’t really give us anything we didn’t know that would make any kind of difference. And why show that Kara and Lee were magnetic from day one if they weren’t going to end up together?

    Adama leaving to be with Roselin as she died, ok. Not coming back ever when you still have family alive? Whua?

    In general, I did like it though. The opera house conclusion worked well and seeing Chief choke the life out of Tori was great. Roselin saying goodbye to the doctor was really touching. Thinking back to the entire journey it’s crazy thinking about how much they went through. I feel like I was in the war with them. It’s not exactly how I would have wanted it to end but….I want to say it was “good enough” but that seems underwhelming for a show I’ve loved so much. So maybe I didn’t like the finale after all. I need to watch again.

    By the way, I spouted all this here because I don’t know if I’m going to write about it myself.

  2. GeekBoy

    I’ve still got it on the TiVo, and I’ll probably watch it again. Maybe I’ve been too hard on it. But like you say, if nothing else, the two halves were very uneven. Or “the second two thirds” if you want to go with Ron Moore’s assertion that the three hours should have been watched together. But I don’t think that would have changed my point of view about the last hour. For as much as went on in the first half, the climax to that didn’t feel satisfying enough to make the second seem appropriate. Or something.

    Don’t get me wrong, there were many moments I liked, particularly in the first part, which I’ll get into if/when I recap the episode. And I kind of liked the idea of them ending up on our Earth, because that came somewhat close to what I had in mind with my whole “time loop” theory. But overall, the execution — the pacing, the dialogue — left me feeling unsatisfied. And the angels. The goddamn angels.

    As our friend Lisa pointed out: “Isn’t what happened pretty much the story of Scientology?”

  3. kyle

    Reminded me a little of the ending to Return of the King. Definitely a little too long, but I guess they wanted us to see what happens to all the key players. I think any show like this is in a bit of trouble coming up with a satisfying ending, though.

    Other than Kara, I think I was pretty fine with everything. Her story still doesn’t really add up, and I wish we got a better explanation.

  4. bad dog

    I think you summed it up perfectly when you said: “Hm. So. Okay.”

    If you took it on its own terms, it was fine.

    Ron Moore said during the “Last Frakkin Special” that he was pounding his head against the wall trying to figure out how to end the show and then, and yes I’m paraphrasing, he had an epiphany, “It’s not about the plotting. Nobody cares about the plotting. It’s about these characters. Everybody loves these characters.”

    Um. Wrong, guy. Thanks for producing the show and all that, but you frakked up and it would have been best to hand the keys over to somebody else to land the bird at the end.

    The secret to this show wasn’t the plotting or the characters. It was seeing people you cared about endure tough situation with incredible stakes, every episode, and feeling by the end like you went through the eye of storm with them.

    So: If you had any expectations higher than what most of the second half of the fourth season has been delivering, it was not fine.

    I adjusted my expectations before the show, and so I thought it was fine.

    Not great. But fine.

    There was one bright spot, which is that they arrived in our past. It satisfied the original series’ premise that “Life here, began out there.”

    There were times when I groaned out loud in actual discomfort at some of the outright goofy things happening. When I saw Ron Moore at the end, I also groaned. When the humans decided to scuttle the fleet and live in huts, I groaned. When Starbuck played the notes as the coordinates, I groaned. When Starbuck said her journey was complete and disappeared, I groaned. When the “angels” talked to Six and Baltar at the end in the second to last Touched by an Angel moment, I groaned. I groaned that all that fighting was going on to save this little girl. I groaned when Cavil shot himself. I ended up scratching my head at so many things, such as the point of most of the flashbacks, which were there apparently mostly to waste time.

    Could have been fantastic. Could have been literature. Could have stayed pure.

    But okay. It was fine. Nice try, Ron.

  5. GeekBoy

    Bad Dog, I think it’s funny that after a season spent disagreeing vehemently about the merits of this show, we’re pretty much on the exact same page regarding the series finale.

    In that respect, well done, Ron Moore. Well done.

    It is disappointing that he didn’t really have a plan. That’s one of those things I kept giving him the benefit of the doubt about, and I’m amazed that he thought it was okay to come this far, and think that he could wing the ending as if he were pulling an all-nighter writing a term paper due the next day. Yes, I love the characters, but to be honest, if the series had only ever been about characters, I wouldn’t have grown to love it the way I did.

  6. bad dog

    Yes, I think we’re on the same page–must be divine intervention! (cue Six theme …)

    The main reason I came to love the characters was because they were in an impossible situation and doing whatever it took to survive, shedding pieces of their sanity and humanity along the way to get the job done. The 2nd half of the fourth season seemed to have forgotten that and instead of BSG we got LOST. I stopped watching LOST in the middle of its second season because it got so stupid and manipulative I couldn’t take it anymore.

    I realized all along that it’s a TV show and the writers did tons of stuff in the past for dramatic effect without a plan, only to have to suddenly tie it all together in a short amount of time. But even so they could have gone in a lot of directions that would have been cool. In my opinion they phoned it in instead. They winged it. What would I have done differently, you ask? Here’s the short answer: All along, I would emphasized realism and given up the goofy mysticism, because once that door was opened, it became a crutch. And I would have stopped making everybody I care about Cylons (or something else in the case of Starbuck), because once they became Cylons, I stopped caring about them, even Tigh, previously probably my favorite character. And I would have made the character arcs make sense. (That’s all for Galen? That’s it for Lee? So many things now look stitched together.)

    So no, it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t that good, either, and I think Moore missed a major opportunity. He doesn’t think so, though. He got his gratingly cute little cameo at the end that hit me like a dentist drill hitting a nerve, so you can tell he felt quite proud of his legacy. He should be proud, I guess–at least for the first three seasons. He made TV history with an incredible show that broke so many of the dumb rules that hold back the medium. He transcended the genre and really tapped into the post 9/11 zeitgeist. Sci fi looks easy but it’s actually a very hard genre to get right, and he (mostly) nailed it. Not just that, but he emotionally drafted us into the crew. I hope he will have many imitators. I just hope they leave out the goofy crap, stay true to the show’s original tension, and give it the same 100% the last day as they give the first day.

  7. GeekBoy

    Well, for what it’s worth, I don’t think the spiritual content was an afterthought. Based on how much spiritual content there has been over the course of this series, I’m sure it was Moore’s intention all along to have that be the point of it all. And on the surface, I don’t have a problem with that … if it had been executed well. I don’t think you need to throw all science out the window to make a “God ending” work. In fact, he didn’t — he conveniently gave us the whole “Mitochondrial Eve” thing — but that was for the epilogue. The conclusion/climax of the story was spirtual hoojy-boojy, “Because God said so.” And that’s what I found lazy. You can add God to the equation without taking control of the outcome away from your characters. Too much of how things ended up was the result of the characters I’d grown to love being manipulated like chess pieces.

    Ironically, Bad Dog, I think LOST has been solid and focused for the entire past season and a half. Ever since the network gave them an end date for the series (which is in 2010), the show has been hitting on all cylinders, carefully unfolding a mythology that it seems has been mapped out and that generally has the right mix of character and plot in most episodes (with the exception of a stray clunker here and there). It keeps giving answers — and even though it often raises new ones, it still feels as if the show is on a downhill run now, with the answers outweighing the questions. Also, the introduction of the completely inscrutable Ben and Juliet characters has done a lot to keep the show interesting, even when Jack and Kate make you want to bang your head against a wall. If you’re feeling brave, you should consider picking the show up again at Season 3.

  8. bad dog

    If they were supposed to have landed 150,000 hours year ago, boy did they make a big mistake giving up their technology. They pretty quickly became hunters and gatherers with almost no knowledge beyond making primitive stone tools, barely any language, and an average lifespan of about 30. Plus since humans migrated out of Africa, all the other settlers must have died off on the other continents. Not a very happy ending, at least for the descendants of the fleet.

  9. GeekBoy

    Yeah, but it is giving up technology the same thing as becoming pre-technological? Isn’t knowledge of what’s possible technologically, as well as a high school and/or college degree — presumably in physics/chemistry/medicine for some of these people — enough to give them a huge fighting chance over the elements? Sure, there’d be a big die-off rate, but I still have to think they’d have a survival advantage, wouldn’t they?

  10. Jenny

    What would god like us to call him/her? “Science?” “Love?” “Ted?” I am no closer to an answer on this. Would any angels care to help?

  11. GeekBoy

    This response from Ron Moore just annoyed me all over again …

    Speaking of that bird, you just know the fans are going to have a field day debating the fate of Kara, who seemed to have become an angel. People will ask why, for example, if an angel saw its dead body, it would react as strongly as Kara did when she came across her corpse in the Viper. How will you explain that away to fans who didn’t see it coming or might take issue with it?

    Ron Moore: I don’t know that I will. We made a conscious decision to say, “We’re going to leave this opaque.” You can certainly say that she’s an angel or a demon or some other form of life. We know from the show that she died a mortal death, she was brought back to life in some way, and then she fulfilled a certain destiny and guided them all to Earth. What does that mean? And who is she really? It was a conscious creative decision to say, “This is as much as we’re going to tell you, and she’s connected to some greater truth.” The more we try to answer what that greater truth is, the less interesting it becomes, and we just decided to leave it more of a mystery. I am sure that there will be a cadre of people who are angry that they never got a more definitive answer, but we just decided not to do that.

  12. Tara

    I actually really liked the finale, except for 2 minor details.

    First, and my apologies for getting all girly, but I would have liked for Starbuck and Apollo to live happily ever after. However, since as it turns out she was, you know, DEAD and all, I guess I can see why that wasn’t in the cards.

    And I didn’t quite know what to make of head Caprica and Baltar being on Earth 150,000 years later, wondering if the cycle was going to start up again.

    But on the whole, I think the characters all made the journeys they needed to make, or were destined to make. That’s sort of what the flashbacks were about, at least for me.

  13. Flaming*Gobs

    I can not add to the ending better then bad dog and Geek. It was terrible. This could have gone so many different ways that were entertaining and Moore just mailed it in. It was even insulting to see him put himself in the end. Finally Moore made a masterpiece, redeeming himself from how Star Trek ended up, and he did it again at the end. Maybe they can go back and re-write it and film it again?


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