Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Battlestar Galactica Finale

In another one of the weird left turns this blog occasionally takes, I really wanted to get my impressions of the end of Battlestar Galactica down in my blog, after having a few days to mull it over, but also while it was fresh in my mind.

I'd self-deprecate about taking the time to write about a mere TV show, and a science fiction show at that, but Battlestar wasn't a TV show or a sci-fi show. It really was the best show on television.

Was. Now, it's over, although there's a little more coming (The Plan).

BSG wasn't the first show I'd come across that was by turns brilliant and so painfully stark that it was nearly unwatchable. If I wanted to spend 45 minutes watching a show that would make me wish I hadn't, I'd pop one of the Shield DVDs and watch that. What made BSG unique was that even at its darkest, it was always working towards a point in the future and of course, RDM and the writers managed to continue to make you care about all the characters, even the ones you hated (except Laura).

I don't have the time or the inclination to bury the whole show in one short blog post.

But the finale- the critics have written about it, and the fans have written about it, and the reaction has certainly been mixed.

Here's my thoughts- first, it delivered exactly what it had to delivered.

After four years, a show about a futuristic aircraft carrier delivered a toe-to-toe (or rather toe-to-foot) battle. There had been some question as to whether the old girl would even make it to the final showdown, but it did, and the cleverness here was that rather than the air to air fight between Vipers and Raiders that so often had typified all versions of BSG, they concentrated on the assault on the Cylon colony and the Battlestar herself. This deck to deck, hall to hall fight was exactly what I think every fan wanted. After so much, how could we not fight to the bitter end ?

And even when halfway through, we seemed to be reaching the truce that we'd have to reach for the Galactica and her crew to survive, we got one final twist. Having gone back and started watching the whole season again, it was clear the writers had done their homework, and remembered the characters inside their drama, and when Tyrol killed Tory, its perhaps morally reprehensible, but at the same time, it's not just understandable, it's perfectly human.

What remains unclear is why Cavil kills himself. I know that's not a throw-away either, yet the whole point of the truce was Cavil's attempt to get the resurrection technology back, so...

For an hour, we got carried through the twists and turns that have made BSG exciting. The battles have always been the easiest part of the show. It's been unfailingly the people that have made this show hard to watch.

And then the Galactica makes that last fateful back-breaking jump, and suddenly, everything changes. Gone is the omnipresent threat of the Cylons. The Galactica comes up over the moon and there it is, our Earth. Not their Earth, but ours, 150,000 years ago.

And this, of course, is where many in the disgruntled fandom of the show groan, because suddenly the dark veil lifts. Personally, I think that of all the endings they could have chosen, this one is by far the bravest. The show that has for four years defined bearably- just bearably- dark, suddenly moves into the light.

Just look at the way the scenes are shot. Out on the serengeti, in the bright slunlight, talking, and loving and just living. Baltar cries about farming. Lee talks about exploring the word. And Adama goes all Highlander and buries his dead love in a cairn and builds a cabin on the mountain-top. This is not exactly what we in the BSG are used to. There are no guns, no knives, no knock downs or drag outs, no trials. And when Lee suggests the survivors just spread their wings and diffuse into what will become our distant pre-history ? Everyone agrees this is a good idea. The darkness isn't just lifted. It's seared away.

Yes, a little far-fetched, and maybe that's saying something about a series where robots have spent four years trying to stamp out or frak the remainder of the human race.

If that last hour has a weakness, it was that it seemed horribly rushed, the agreements and the final dislocation of the human race rushed. But how much of that could any of us have really taken. The dissolution of Starbuck and the final resolution of her relationship with Apollo, Laura's death, and of course, Baltar and Six finally coming to terms, all of that gets completed and that's all we really need after all. Apollo's supposition that all of this has happened before, but all of this doesn't have to happen again, turns out to be true.

Then comes the message- that final message that we'd better be careful- that we should think twice about how human we make our robots. And yes, maybe that was a little heavy-handed.

But in the end, the ride was worth it. And better, for three years, I've been telling Darren that Baltar was their saviour. And I was right.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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