Saturday, March 21, 2009
After four years of wandering through the cosmos and reflecting modern society through an only slightly heightened lens, Battlestar Galactica ended its run last night. I was turned onto the show by my friend Scofe relatively early on; after the miniseries but before it became a critical darling. Over four years, I was often thrilled, sometimes challenged, and occasionally frustrated, but I remained engrossed throughout.
So, did the finale live up to the high standard the series set? While the high points of the finale easily matched any of the other high points in the show's history, there were some missteps that I wasn't so wild about. Spoilers follow, so consider yourself fairly warned.
First off, I loved that they wound up on prehistoric Earth. Great shout out to one of the original show's central concepts but done in a completely new way, with our Earth being the "second" Earth. Very cool. Then came the idea that everyone was going to forsake their tech and their old lives and live among prehistoric, pre-verbal humans as some sort of.......mentors, I guess. Breeding partners? Gods? Not really made clear. The thing that didn't work for me was that I had just spent four years watching this society turn on itself and argue and disagree at every point, and now they all just make one big decision to live like reallllly dedicated Survivor contestants for the rest of their lives. No one refuses? No one decides to hide a gun in their knapsack? No one keeps their wristwatch? This show was known as the anti-sci-fi show for the way it made issues more complex, and yet they go for a resolution that seems a little too pat, a little too free of complexity. Also, 38, 000 people dressed in synthetic fibres with buttons and snaps and plastic are walking around during a time when loincloths were haute coiture and there's no trace of them left? Surely we'd have dug up Chief Tyrol's belt buckle somewhere and gone WTF?
Next comes the spiritual stuff. Unless it was used in an allegorical or metaphorical way to comment on our own society, I have never cared one iota for any of the spiritual stuff on the show. To me, it smacked too much of every other sc-fi show's obsession with creating a slightly cheesy mythology, a la Star Trek, Babylon 5 and what have you. So, when Kara Thrace disappeared, apparently an agent of "God" since her resurrection, I felt a little gypped. Firstly, her whole thing doesn't make sense. She dies, and "God" resurrects her to lead the Colonials to Earth, right? She slowly has to go through a whole emotional journey to gain the inner strength to follow her calling, yadda, yadda, yadda. Well, if "God" was going to zap her away once she finished her task, why make her go through the journey at all? Why make her have to work so hard to make sense of the info her phantom dad was giving her? The only reason to make her do any of that is to make her grow as a person, which is kind of wasted when you zap her back into the afterlife or whatever. So why do it? To keep the audience interested and guessing. I believe it would have worked much better had she stayed, but was now completely untroubled by how she survived, or what she was. Because if she was simply an agent of "God", meant to accomplish a task and no more, then why make her uncertain at all? What does that teach any of the other Colonials? What does it teach her? Just seemed like they had no idea how to explain her resurrection, and wanted to inject some ambiguity. All of which is fine, but it felt forced and arbitrary to me.
Still, the vast majority of the finale I absolutely loved, don't get me wrong. Those couple of things I didn't like will always bug me a little, but there was so much more to enjoy. One of my favourite moments had to be when Baltar broke down after admitting he knew how to farm. Even though he was a weasel, it was a really great journey we went on with Gaius, and I was moved to see him finally at peace, finally a decent man who was happy with who he truly was.
Finally, enjoy the clip below, which merges my favourite element from the 1970s BSG and the modern series: