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My thoughts on the finale of Battlestar Galactica

Posted by phduffy on 2009-03-26 08:18:07
1 forum posts

I originally posted in the comments at but I thought I'd also post it here:

This is kind of long, apologies:

Overall I'm disappointed. I think the ending to this show means that if you go back and watch this again, you'll realize that most of what happened doesn't actually make sense. (It was part of God's plan that Baltar set himself up as the leader of Vichy France?) I had a number of problems with the resolution, some of which are continuity based, and some of which are just me not being satisfied with the resolution. In other words, I thought some of it didn't make any sense, and I thought some of it made sense, but I didn't like it.

The start of every episode of the series tells us that the Cylons have a plan - what was that plan? I know some people feel that this has been answered to their satisfaction. I do not. And I don't want to hear that the TV movie coming out in the fall is going to explain this. Come on.

What was the importance of Hera? What if she'd died on the Cylon baseship, what would have changed? The only piece I've heard about her is that she helped Starbuck remember the music to All Along the Watchtower, which is also somehow the location of Earth. But if Starbuck's an angel, why would she need that? And I have problems with Starbuck being an angel, or whatever it was that she was. In fact, I don't care what Ron Moore says, once the show's over I don't really think that his opinion is any more valid than mine, so I'm going to say that yes, that piano player was her father, and yes, she is the first hybrid. (Still doesn't explain the extra 3 Vipers though).

Why did Hera's blood cure cancer? The good news about this part is that since Hera ended up as the mother of humanity, humans no longer have to worry about getting cance…. Wait….

I don't buy for a second that all of humanity agrees to give up its technology. Some people? Sure, but the others would want to keep it, and maybe do something like… oh, I don't know, move back to 12 colonies, Kobol, or New Caprica, where certain infrastructure already exisits? You can argue that people wouldn't want to relive the horror that those places represent, but I promise you that there's a certain segment of every population that's horrified by change, and would love the comfort of home, even if home isn't home anymore.

I understand that Moore was going for 'history repeats itself', and I'll buy that in terms of humanity continually struggling to deal with technology, but I don't buy that things like All Along the Watchtower, Shakespeare and 12 Greek Gods would repeat exactly.

A couple of pieces that I would have liked to see handled differently, but which weren't wrong. Aren't Chief and Tory supposed to have a huge long lost love? I would have liked more conflict before Chief killed her. The other piece is about the non-Cavill 'bad' Cylons. They're only 'bad' because Cavill lied to them and controlled them, it would have been nice to see them realize that Cavill's screwed them over from the start. I mean, the original Cylon revolt was supposed to be because they were sick of being controlled by humans - well, Cavill did the same thing to the other Cylons.

And I think this brings me to where the show went off the rails for me - it was a few episodes ago when we learn that there isn't a great Cylon plot, just one crazy old Cylon pissed off that he's not a robot. That's the motivation behind the whole show. Once this had been set up, I don't think there was a way to write a satisfying explanation. This wasn't a grand plot, or a religious war (despite the angels), just the revenge of one small petty man.

The ending also got me thinking about the nature of serialized television. It is extremely hard to pull this kind of thing off and have all your clues pay off, and to be internally consistent. I think Battlestar came close, but didn't quite get there. In fact, I can't really thing of any multi-season shows which have tried to tell one over-reaching story, which includes mysteries and clues, that have pulled if off.

If I can digress (and why not, this is already long enough), this actually reminded me of the Matrix. And not just because of woman in the red dress who may or may not exist. I know a lot of people who were disappointed in the second movie, but I was excited by it. Primarily because it left so much open. What was Neo, how were things going to be resolved, etc. I even thought that, like Battlestar, Love was going to matter to the resolution Then it turned out that the ending was stupid and offered explanations that I didn't believe - such as Neo being able to talk to the machines in the 'real' world. I don't care how many times people try to justify it, I will never believe that that is an acceptable explanation. I'm not quite as extreme about Starbuck, but my feelings are similar.

Finally, there's the question of whether or not an unsatisfying ending has any consequences for the rest of the series. In general my position on this is no - the new Star Wars trilogy doesn't make the original any less awesome. However, there are exceptions. To really geek out, the comic Rising Stars, by Babylon 5 creator JM Straczynski has a second act which completely invalidates the first. You thought events were happening for reason A, turns out it's reason B, and it completely invalidates the entire comic (for me anyways). I think it's going to be very very hard for me to watch old episodes of Battlestar and not get upset every time I see Head-6 lead Baltar down some cowardly path, and I have to accept it because it's allegedly God's plan
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