March 29, 2009

Daybreak

Well, it's finally over. As I wrote before, TV is something you watch at your leisure, and this weekend The Wife and I got around to watching the series finale for Battlestar Galactica.

I really did think it was the best series on television, and with a few exceptions, the shows were uniformly well-written and creative. I can understand why the writers brought the story to a conclusion and I'm reasonably satisfied with the tying together of the mystical elements of the story -- something finally happened with that Opera House motif they'd been working. I also was amused by the cameos of the producers in the final scenes. I'll look forward to "The Plan" and the new series, Caprica, when they come out. But none of it will have the same intensity as the Battlestar Galactica that just ended.

Spoilers from the final episode follow. Stop reading now if you haven't seen it yet. If you have, I'm curious if you share my gripes.

First, Starbuck's status was never really clarified. Was she a ghost, an angel, or what? Clearly she was something metaphysical. But if so, why did she have to die at all? This plot thread seems to have been needlessly complicated.

Second, we now have some idea of an objective existence of the Six and Baltar avatars that appeared to Baltar and Caprica Six, respectively. I was somewhat pleased to see them redeemed and accepted back into society at the end and to see that they weren't completely insane. Although the idea that their avatars were angels -- and smarmy ones at that -- felt oddly dissatisfying on its own. Kind of a deus ex machina (pun intended), one of many relied upon to tie up the storylines.

Third, if Helo and Athena could have a baby, why couldn't Baltar and Six? Never explained. I can accept that Cylons can't interbreed amongst themselves and I can accept that they can interbreed with humans. So that's why John McCain and Six never successfully produced offspring; that's why Boomer and Tyrol didn't, either. But what was so special about Helo that only he could breed with a Cylon mate?

Fourth, they created a new Six character, Natalie, and then never did anything at all with her. I guess she got to be Boxey's babysitter.

Fifth, if Hera became our "Mitochondrial Eve," why weren't genes from the other thirty-nine thousand colonists transmitted to present-day Earth? The writers made a point of indicating that colonists were placed on multiple continents and far away from one another in their settlements, although it would seem that most of them settled in Africa. It stands to reason, then, that DNA from a fraction of the 39,000 other colonists (and multiple copies of the three Cylons that went with them) would survive in present-day humanity, as well. But instead, Hera is supposed to be the mother of all modern humans. Doesn't stand up.

Sixth, how cool was it to see the old-style Cylons in combat, working side by side with the new Centurions? Damn cool, that's what. All in all, a very pleasing final battle between the Colonials and the Cylons. And a nice throw-in of the old theme music, too, when the fleet got run into the sun to prevent detection by any Cylons that survived the final nukes. Counteracting that, though, was the action-and-flashback style of the last episode, which would have been way, way, way more effective if we'd seen those flashbacks in previous seasons and then in this It's not clear the story was arced in that much detail, though.

I don't pretend I could have done it much better than they did. The multiple plot threads had become excessively complicated. But whether the characters figure out how all the threads tie together is irrelevant -- the audience should, at the ultimate end of the story, be able to see how everything fits. I think I would not have killed Starbuck off and then brought her back. And I'd have given a little more back story on "All Along The Watchtower," and how that keyed in to everything.

Overall, though, the writers produced something very new with the premise; they tackled all sorts of interesting issues, both social and political. They kept things seeming credible and engaging, and did a good job coming up with characters we could all enjoy getting to know. It's kind of odd that so many of the major characters turned out to be Cylons or got killed off. But mainly, it's too bad that like all good things, Battlestar Galactica had to come to an end.

2 comments:

DaveBuck said...

Uhm, John McCain has TWO eyes.

His Lordship said...

I thought I was the only one who believed that Col. Tigh looked like John McCain.

I did not like the fact that Starbuck was a ghost... I think the writers just found a sloppy way to wrap up that plotline. They could have come up with some sort of Cylon clone/saboteur instead.

Similarly, I thought that sending the fleet to crash into the Sun on autopilot was a militarily and technologically ridiculous decision. Had I been in charge of the fleet I would never have gotten rid of all those vessels. That's not it, they could at least have kept the MRI machine, a few Vipers, etc. I think again, the writers did a sloppy job wrapping up the plot lines, probably because they ran out of episodes to go from point A (a fleet en route to Earth) to point B (back to primitive living conditions in prehistoric Earth and ancestors of modern humans).

Also, they use English throughout the show. Not just spoken english, but also written english. Funny that thousands of years later, we speak and write the same language. I would have preferred a different back story, where the 12 tribes actually came from Earth before settling on Kobol. That would explain why so much of the culture, language and technology of the Colonies is visually almost identical to features of our current civilization. So in other words, it would have made more sense to me had the Battlestar Galactica story been in our future rather than in our past.

Overall, I LOVED the show, I watched all four seasons on DVD, in the span of six weeks. Couldn't stop, it was quite an addiction.

Baltar's daydreams were annoying though. So were the dreams about the opera house. I guess I'm too grounded in the material world to appreciate gratuitous fantasy.

Anyway, besides these minor things, I put it way at the top of my all-time favorite TV shows.