Final Comments from TPR
We debated about whether or not to make any series-ending comments, but have obviously decided to do so. For now, these comments will be posted with the season finale, but will likely move elsewhere eventually. We are referring to these as "final" comments, but we do reserve the right to revisit these comments once some time as passed since the finale.
We found the first two seasons of Battlestar Galactica some of the most riveting television we'd ever seen. Though it was inconsistent ("Colonial Day" comes to mind, the cat and mouse game with Cylons as well as the tensions within the fleet were thrilling. Batlar's Inner Six continually put Baltar in hilariously awkward situations. We even enjoyed the Caprica-bound arc with Helo and Athena. Encountering the Pegasus in the second season demonstrated what could have happened to the Galactica had there not been a strong civilian influence in the fleet. Mythology was also doled out in small, but intriguing and well-thought out dollops.
As the second season wound down, the writers' realized that the chase couldn't go on forever, so they did something courageous. They decided to take the show in a new direction in the third season before it got stale, so there was not one time jump, but two along with a planet-side occupation and a glimpse of Cylon life on a baseship. Unfortunately, life on the Cylon ship was usually just an excuse to use Tricia Helfer, Lucy Lawless and Grace Park as little more than eye candy.
The third season also detoured Kara, Lee, Dee and Anders into a repetitive soap opera which undermined the characters. Our comments on this storyline were blasted by Lee-Kara shippers, but we stand by how the scripted lack of decisiveness and immaturity damaged their characters especially. It was more like a pair of clueless high schoolers rather than two married (to other people) adults. Lastly, the middle portion of the season seemed to pay homage to Lost with a series of flashback-filled episodes which were mostly disappointing.
Though the attempt to "reset" the series had been ambitious, the third season was marked by a great deal of unreached potential thanks to poorly executed storylines. As a result, the show's ratings eroded at a steep rate. David Eick and Ron Moore then decided to be proactive and go out on their own terms, so they decided that the fourth season would be the last. They cranked up the storylines late in the season with Kara dying (though we never really believed that Kara would "stay" dead) and four members of not only the fleet but the Resistance turning out to be Cylons.
With the reveal of four of the Final Five and the unexplained return of Kara, the show took yet another turn in the fourth season. Over the course of the previous three seasons layers of prophecies, visions, mythology and mysteries had built up, that the fourth season would have to cover a lot of territory. After an amazingly quick resolution to the cliffhanger, the fourth season then developed agonizingly slowly for the first four of five episodes with the Cylon civil war largely took place off-screen to our disappointment and Baltar gaining a cult of young nubile women.
Fortunately, the pacing soon picked up and the consistency of writing actually improved overall thanks to the fourth season having continuous storylines and almost devoid of standalone episodes. The first half of the season largely dealt with the Final Five's identity crisis and the search for Earth, both of which were found out by midseason. Earth did not turn out to be what everyone expected and so an already dark show got darker with depression and even suicide running through the fleet even as Adama started to take notice that Galactica was falling apart. A mutiny led to the most unflinchingly intense episodes since the episodes marking the return of the Pegasus .
Following the mutiny, the writers took care of the Final Five and Earth mysteries with the mother of all exposition episodes. It seemed a bit forced and a nearly desperate effort to pull many threads together very quickly, but worked out surprisingly well even if it has to be watched two or three times to take it all in. Ellen then returned to the fleet as the Fifth along with Boomer. While the munity episodes were the most intense episodes of the season, we felt that "Someone to Watch Over Me" which featured Kara and Boomer was the most emotionally raw episode of the season and perhaps the series (we're still deliberating on that). Boomer's kidnapping of Hera set in motion the final storyline that culminated in the series finale.
Along the way, Cally died, Dee committed suicide, Felix Gaeta and Tom Zarek became self-appointed military and civilian leaders of the fleet briefly before being executed, the rebel Cylons received representation in the fleet and Hera's position as the only hybrid child was reaffirmed by making Hot Dog Nicholas' father and having Caprica Six and Tigh's unborn child die (from sadness?).
The Series Finale:
First of all, the first time we watched the finale, we came away disappointed in the third hour and it's seemingly dead end for the series. The whole sequence with Earth (the second one) was just not what we were expecting and threw us quite a bit. However, we actually warmed to the finale with subsequent viewings. We can't quite explain why except that our expectations changed once we knew what would really happened and we were able to enjoy it for what it was, rather than be disappointed in what it was not. We do feel that the flashbacks were gratuitous, but ultimately did not take away from the finale since they serve as bookends to the finale's main storylines.
We thoroughly enjoyed the tense second hour as Galactica went back to grittily fighting Cylons like had been the hallmark of the first and second seasons. Plans are made, speeches are given and Romo Lampkin and Louis Hoshi become President and Admiral of the fleet, respectively, which almost seems to tip off that they won't hold those positions for long since we have little confidence that either could handle those positions. Then the full-on fighting began with spectacular special effects that included old and new model Cylon Centurions battling it out. Even in the midst of the fighting, there were character moments and humor that nicely balanced the intensity. We even liked how Galactica and the CIC literally became the Opera House, the stage and the balcony to explain away that vision.
However, once Baltar, Caprica Six and Hera reached CIC, we do feel like the finale made a left turn for about five minutes. It was nice to see Caprica Six and Baltar of all people standing up to Cavil, but why would Cavil, who previously stated he loathed religion and the frailties of the human condition, ever consider let alone listen to Baltar's religio-babble? Fortunately, Tigh's offer of resurrection was exactly what Cavil was looking for and the only thing that we would have expected him to bite on.
Just when the show looked to have found a very neat, Star Trek-like resolution, it all went wrong. Tory (and Cavil's entire Cylon faction for that matter) paid for her having murdered Cally when Tyrol grabbed her and literally choked the life out of her. All hell breaks loose yet again, punctuated by Racetrack's corpse dooming the Colony with nukes. The seemingly ever-present song (at least in the fourth season) was explained as containing the coordinates for a habitable Earth.
The sequence on Earth was bittersweet to say the least. Roslin and Adama got to share some quiet moments before she finally passed away. After his fate looking to be very much in doubt, Helo survives and so the one long running family unit got to "live happily ever after" even if it undercut Inner Six's prediction that Caprica Six and Baltar would raise Hera, a sidestep that we didn't mind. Lastly, after wandering through what became utter religion nonsense (more on this below), Baltar returned to his roots as a farmer.
Kara's destiny apparently was to find Earth. twice. Also thanks to Lee's readily accepted proposal, her bringing the fleet to Earth did turn out to be the harbinger for the death of human civilization as it was known. Her destiny fulfilled, she first bid good-bye to Anders, then to Adama and finally to Lee before disappearing without any explanation of what her second incarnation had been. We're thoroughly disappointed with the lack of an explanation, but in the end it might have been best choice by Ron Moore. Any explanation would likely have been polarizing among the fans, while this way the speculation can continue ad infinitum.
However, the lack of explanation about Kar was not our biggest disappointment with the Earth sequence. Our biggest disappointment was actually addressed by Romo Lampkin and then brushed aside. Lee's suggestion that the fleet's survivors abandon their technology and "live off the land" just doesn't fly to us. Not everyone in the fleet has been privy to what those on Galactica have experienced and the mutiny already proved that not everyone has the same opinion. This story point just seemed to be some quick and easy utopian solution by Ron Moore. We can't believe that 38,000 people find a resource-laden planet right there for the taking and every single one of them willingly give up technology to "go native" in the spirit of "breaking the cycle." There had to be some people who would have looked at the planet as a reward for all their misery and to be taken full advantage of.
The last thing we have to comment on is the final scene set in modern-day New York City which goes hand-in-hand with Baltar's fourth season religio-babble. Now, we admit to having faith in God ourselves so we enjoy science fiction that acknowledges the role of faith and religion in the human condition, but we reached a point where we wish that Ron Moore had just left religion out of Battlestar Galactica and instead explained all the mysteries away with god-like, but ultimately fallible aliens.
Unlike Babylon 5 , which masterfully incorporated faith and religion by having characters espouse clearly defined theologies, Battlestar Galactica tried to pull together a hodge-podge of ideas which came out as utter nonsense. The "one true god" spoken about so often by Inner Six turned out to be an ambiguous "it" which apparently doesn't even like being called 'god'. Meanwhile, we never ever bought Baltar's religious conversion, any of them. We credit the actor for doing his utmost to sell the lines that he was given, but his efforts were regularly undercut by subsequent writing. The humanoid Cylons did appear to demonstrate a defined faith, but in the end, it too was undercut by the final scene with Inner Six and Inner Baltar.
Now that we've vented about the religio-babble, we do have to say that the finale ended up being about as good as we could have expected based on the writing of the previous four years. The finale echoed the series, exhibiting brilliance as well as misdirected potential, which possibly makes it a more fitting end. We're of the opinion that storytelling choices starting with the time jump at the end of second season through the reveal of the Final Five ended up putting the writers in an ever smaller box. The final few episodes and the finale were a valiant effort to tie off the series in a relatively satisfying manner.
A Few Words from TPR:
We want to thank everyone who has frequented the site. We further thank those who have made efforts to contribute to the site or challenge the accuracy of what we posted. Your feedback only made the site better for us and hopefully for other visitors. Lastly, we've received a few emails since the finale thanks us for our efforts that also seemed like good-bye notes. We'd like to let everyone know that we're not signing off any time soon. There's 'The Plan' in the fall of 2009, which will actually mark the end of all Battlestar Galactica. Also, even though Caprica won't arrive until 2010, we're already working on a Caprica website which will appear soon. We'll be around and we hope you will be too.
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