battlestar galactica: daybreak

Battlestar Galactica is finally over. I’m okay with it. Right now I have very mixed feelings about how it ended, and I want to get my thoughts out before I dive into the online discussions.

First, let me review my predictions. If you are afraid of spoilers and you haven’t seen the finale yet, stop now.

1. Death is the way home/Earth is an afterlife: didn’t happen.
2. The Colony is near Earth: nope.
3. Galactica as battering ram: yep. Obvious.
4. Boomer helps Hera escape: yes.
5. Baltar and Six died on Caprica: no.
6. Helo and Athena die to let Baltar and Six raise Hera: no, thankfully.
7. Baltar stays on the “suicide mission”: yep.
8. Roslin’s health tied to Hera’s: no.
9. Ellen kills Cavil: no. In fact, Cavil’s death is anticlimactic as it gets, and didn’t feel believable to me.
10. They go through the black hole: nope. I’m still not sure what the hell that was even for.

So I was 3 for 10 on my predictions. I don’t mind being wrong, though I think some of them might have improved and explained some elements of the finale and the episodes leading up to it.

On to what DID happen.

– The flashbacks were very cool but only some of them seemed necessary. We see Adama turning down a desk job to fly Galactica and demonstrating, as if we didn’t already know, how important to him his word is. We see Roslin losing her family and frakking a younger guy before deciding to go into politics, and this is the one that seemed especially superfluous to me: I guess her character turns here seemed too subtle. We see Kara and Lee showing that they’ve been near-missing each other since they met, and always will. And we see Six helping Baltar’s father in what might or might not be a selfless act, and Baltar sticking his neck out for Six “for love,” which we could have inferred anyway, I think. So I’m glad they were there, but in terms of storytelling they were a bit redundant.

– A big old firefight between humans, humanoid Cylons, and Centurions old and new! I want to say it was exciting, but mostly it was mildly cool. I guess I knew the battle wouldn’t be lost or won on a military scale, so it was just robot porn. Again, welcome, but not really the focus of the episode.

– Boomer saves Hera. And we get a kind of unnecessary flashback to explain that a scene we’ve never seen before, in which Adama and Tigh are pretty abusive to her, is the reason why she’s sticking her neck out now. It’s not “I owe Adama one” because she, you know, SHOT him in season 1. It’s because he gave her another chance to fly her Viper correctly. It’s not because she loves Tyrol and wants to see him survive; it’s not because she doesn’t want to see Hera sliced and diced after all. It’s just a little weird to insert this character point here and now. But I’ve always liked poor Boomer, even through all the bad stuff she’s done, and I hated to see Athena gun her down, even though it probably had to happen.

– We learn The Truth of the Opera House. But there isn’t much to it, frankly. There’s really no significance to the moment I thought would be scary, when Roslin and Athena lose Hera and Baltar and Six take her through this apparently doom-laden door. It’s just a vision of Galactica after all, a fateful moment but not one that really required Baltar and Six to take Hera. Anyone could have brought her onto the bridge, provided that Baltar had been there to give his little speech.

– We learn the Truth of the Angels and Starbuck, which is no truth at all, but a vague allusion to God, made worse by its agnostic bent: is it God, or Gods, or just a force of nature that somehow has sentient emissaries (the angels) and can raise the dead Starbuck as semi-angels (substantial and visible to everyone, yet capable of vanishing when their work is done — I guess like Shelly Godfrey). It’s not that I object to agnosticism (quite the opposite), but the actions of this “higher power” have been so specific and intentional that the “force of nature” explanation I’d prefer in real life doesn’t seem to fit here. And as I feared, this is not a REAL explanation. “God did it” doesn’t really cut it for me. It feels coherent, but so does “the authors wrote it that way.” So BSG officially leaves the realm of science fiction, if it hadn’t already.

– Baltar talks Cavil down. Cavil decides to trust the “parents” he murdered. Yeah. Didn’t quite buy this either. I thought Cavil already HAD the secret of resurrection; he just didn’t have any more copies of himself. I guess maybe he didn’t know how it worked, he just ran the machines. In any case, he seemed awfully easy to convince.

– Tyrol breaks the chain and Tory’s neck. Poor Tyrol: all his women kill each other. I kind of liked things going “wrong,” here, though it’s kind of convenient, as is Cavil’s suicide, precluding any payoff to his monologuing in “No Exit.” Why would a fierce machine like Cavil just decide to give up and turn off? Not that I was sorry to see it happen, but his character didn’t get a lot of resolution.

– Racetrack blows everything up and forces Starbuck to jump Galactica, leaving the dramatic potential of the black hole completely untapped, a total red herring. So “All Along the Watchtower” was a way to get to Earth. How did her dad know it? Was it just a song repeating through history — first Anders, then Dreilide Thrace, and later on Bob Dylan? And jeez, RDM, why THAT song? Couldn’t you have picked something a little more melodic and mythic-sounding? I guess the lyrics sort of fit, but most of the time we encounter the song in the show it’s an instrumental. Oh well.

– And yay, here’s real Earth. It was here, a million light-years away, this whole time! Who knew? This is more or less the ending many people have predicted for a while: the BSG crew end up on “our” Earth in its distant past and influence its development, probably entering into its myths as well, since Apollo, Athena, and Hera all survive. The loveliness of this ending almost makes up for its glibness. So everyone really agreed to give up all their technology and start over? They really thought they’d have a better chance if they spread out over the world instead of staying together and pooling their skills? Nobody thought it would be a waste and an awful risk to fly all their ships into the sun, especially now that the Cylons are over? And what did they do with all the plastic stuff they had, the artifacts that wouldn’t biodegrade, and that Raptor Adama flew off into the wilderness? We’re supposed to believe no modern humans ever found that stuff? Just repeat to yourself: it’s just a show, I should really just relax.

– BSG’s unsettling trend of killing off its women continues. Tory dies (though I’m not sure I mind), Roslin dies, Kara is revealed to have been dead all along. This is quite a raw deal for the Adamas, but a rawer deal for our favorite female characters, who just peter out. And what’s the deal with people just deciding to go off by themselves on unfamiliar planets? First D’Anna, now Tyrol, Bill, and presumably Lee as well? Would you really do that, just go off by yourself and probably starve to death if you couldn’t develop hunting skills fast enough? Seems like suicide to me, but I guess it’s a more elegant version.

– So I don’t really see how Hera was the key to anyone’s survival, except Roslin’s. I guess she helped Kara with the song, and she helped create a situation where the Good Guys could confront and win out against Cavil’s forces. But biologically, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why she was special to humanity’s survival, since humans could already have kids. She was key to the Cylons’ survival, sort of, since presumably all the kids she had were part Cylon, if less and less as time went on. And who did she mate with, anyway? The human children of the survivors of the fleet? The children of Caprica Six and Baltar? The indigenous human tribes?

– We learn that Hera is actually Mitochondrial Eve. This isn’t the same as being an origin point for all of modern humanity, but it does, if I’ve understood this confusing concept correctly, mean that all of humanity has her mitochondrial DNA. Which we could maybe think of as a Cylon trait. So we’re all part Cylon today. That could be cheesy, but I’m cool with it. I’m even okay with Ron Moore being the guy holding the issue of National Geographic, and with the implication that our modern advances in robotics MIGHT someday lead us to make Cylons who will rebel and start the cycle over again. What I’m not okay with is the awful, awful dialogue between the Angels spelling all of this out for us. It would have been far more effective without most or all of that. I did like the “it doesn’t like to be called [God],” but I’m not sure I got “silly, silly me” — I’ll have to watch it again to see what he was talking about.

So there we have it — the end and the new beginning. The mythic part was satisfying, for me, and I didn’t feel quite as let down on the mysteries part as I’d expected to, though it was still cheaper than I’d hoped for. Character-wise, I’m not sure yet how I feel.You notice that of the major couples, no human-human pairings survived? I guess that stacks the deck for “us” to be part Cylon. I knew they wouldn’t live forever, and that not everyone would live happily ever after together, but it still felt pretty hollow and sad. Still, if I were into “favorite couples,” I was always rooting for Helo and Athena most of all, so I was glad they made it.

I’m glad it’s over. Not because I wanted it to end, but because I wanted it to end well. It didn’t end perfectly, but it ended well.

6 Replies to “battlestar galactica: daybreak”

  1. Two things my husband pointed out:
    1. “It doesn’t like being called that” may have referred to the fact that God was in fact a machine, having no sexual characteristics to classify ‘it’ as a ‘he’ or ‘she’.
    2. Cavil shot himself because he didn’t want to die at anyone else’s hands or die slowly. He stated earlier in the season that on occupied New Caprica he’d gotten gunned down at one point and laid there bleeding to death slowly until he found a shard of glass to slit his wrists with and how he never wanted to be in that situation again.

  2. Im really glad this show is over mainly because it sucked! The old battlestar was alot better! The story lines where alot better cyclones where robots not people.. I think they should have stuck with the old more than they did in making this series… I was very disapointed in the remake of this show. My expectations where a whole lot higher I was let down!

  3. Shouldn’t Ellen have known the way back to earth since she has all her memories of leaving earth?

    What was up with starbuck, how is she the harbinger of death?

    hela, as mentioned, was a waste of time. it would have been far more realistic to have an abortion the minute they found out she was part cylon. Come on people, evil robots trying to kill humanity somehow got you pregnant, and you say “i want to keep the baby – that’s a good idea – for me, my sanity, my mental health, and the rest of humanity, it a good idea”

    Just awful, this show just awful…… I never watched twin peaks, i never watched lost, and i never should have watch this crap.

  4. @Andrew:

    Ellen – it depends on whether she was navigating the ship on the trip out. 🙂 I’m gonna guess she wasn’t. Being a passenger on a plane flight to Antarctica doesn’t mean you could fly it.

    Starbuck – yeah, it’s not really that clear. I’m assuming we’re supposed to understand that she brought humanity to Earth, where “pure” humanity died out and all surviving bloodlines were descended from Hera, a half-Cylon.

    Hera – remember that the mother was one of the “evil robots,” so it wasn’t “evil robots got you pregnant.” There was in fact a lot of controversy about what to do about Hera, so I’m not complaining about the realism there.

    And obviously, I don’t think the show is just awful. I just think that the first two seasons were amazing and the last two were just pretty good. And I loved Twin Peaks, but it’s a very different kind of show; it’s very intuitive and you either like and get it or you don’t.

  5. Andrew: Ellen might have had an idea about the whereabouts of the destroyed first Earth. She wouldn’t necessarily have had a clue about the whereabouts of the habitable planet they decided to _call_ Earth.

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