Battlestar Galactica, the much praised “re-imagining” of Glen A. Larson’s classic 1970′s science fiction series of the same name, came to and end this week. I was hooked on the new show since 2003′s astounding mini series that introduced us to the new cast of characters, including advanced Centurions, Cylons that looked like humans and a female Starbuck. These are my thoughts and rantings on the three hour series finale, “Daybreak”.
It started well. Adama decides to delay the “retirement” of Galactica to mount a rescue assault on a well defended Cylon colony. This mission is what Battlestar was all about, humans desperately fighting evil robots from space. It had incredible sequences of capital ships exchanging fire at point blank range, fighters engaging in an asteroid field in a nebula around a black hole and you have to love the brutal Centurion-on-Old Centurion-on-Skinjob-on-Colonial fighting. There are big budget movies that don’t look this good. Anyway, I’ll not delve too deeply; suffice to say it’s classic stuff that harks back to the lauded beginnings of the series.
But it all went a tad downhill after that action packed start.
I really couldn’t take the whole “dump the fleet into the star” idea. I shall now rant about this at some length.
Firstly, battlestars shouldn’t go gently into that good night, even if they are accompanied by a riff of the awesome original Theme from Battlestar Galactica. They’re supposed to go out like the Pegasus, firing and ramming Cylon base ships (or something else equally epic), preferably with the commander still at the controls, firing the guns until the last moment, throwing rocks when the ammunition runs out. They don’t just peacefully sail off into the great spacedock in the sky.
Secondly, it makes no sense in the context of the story. There is precedent in the mythology as we’ve been told the original colonists from Kobol “burned their ships” when arriving at a new world. But the surviving colonials aren’t colonists, they don’t have the skills to survive on a wild planet without technology. Even if all their ships were wrecks like the Galactica, incapable of leaving the system, surely there’s something from them that could have been used? A Raptor or two for transport? Medicines? Tools and machines to be adapted for farming? Weapons for hunting, or as defence against predators and the tribes of early humans?
Worse than dumping the fleet though was dumping what little they did seem to bring down to the surface and abandoning the notion of society altogether, even as they discussed plans to build a new city. What was the point of Apollo’s struggle to form a new government of the people, only for he himself to cast it all aside mere moments after finding a home?
If a splinter group had kept technology and gone to live on an island (that was later destroyed by flood, let’s say) I could perhaps have accepted it, but all 33,000 of them suddenly going feral? Sorry, but no. Starbuck is a resurrected angel that God sends musical visions to? Sure. Adama and Tigh are instantly cured of alcoholism? Why not. But Baltar and Six, of all people, becoming subsistence farmers? Pull the other one.
Furthermore, the way they seemed to split off into small groups to go and live separately would seem to me like a sure fire way to get dead, dead quick on an untamed, alien world.
Rant over, now for some positives. I thought the flashback scenes that were scattered throughout the finale added real depth to the characters involved. The Adama / Roslin ending was well handled, as was the final scene between Apollo and Starbuck. Religion and guidance by a “higher power” has been a driver throughout the series, so I can even accept the closing coda with it’s blatant dig at modern civilisation.
It was a happy ending overall; the rag-tag fleet found a home and called it “Earth”, and they would seem to have (somehow) thrived from there on.
Much was left unanswered though. Off the top of my head:
- Were humans and Cylons still at war?
- Where did the rest of the Cylons go anyway?
- The 12 colonies weren’t totally destroyed, why didn’t they head back there?
- How does “cinder earth” have the same continents as the final earth?
- Why was the child Hera so important anyway?
The Cylon’s had a plan. But it was God’s plan really. Except it doesn’t like to be called that. I think. Whatever, it’s still more of a plan than the writers had (by their own admission) and I’m sorry to say that it showed. I didn’t really enjoy the second half of this final season, it all felt very random and disconnected, the episodes immediately prior to the finale especially so. It went from space opera to soap-opera-in-space, with too many plot threads that went nowhere and a fresh amazing revelation or Byzantine plot twist every week that, in the end, became confusing and unbelievable.
The creators knew the series was ending, so there’s no excuse for not having the main story arcs properly planned.
“Daybreak” isn’t quite the last thing we’ll hear from the revamped Galactica though. A forthcoming two hour special, “The Plan” (teaser video here), will tell the same story as we’ve already seen, but this time from a Cylon point of view. There’s also the loosely related prequel series “Caprica”, set some 50 years before the events in Battlestar Galactica, but I can’t say the previews I’ve seen of Caprica so far are making it a must-see. Both “Caprica” and “The Plan” will be screened later in 2009.
So, in summary, the Battlestar Galactica finale: for me, mostly good, but with one glaring, unacceptable frak-up and a lot of loose ends. She was a fine show, some say the best in the fleet, but I don’t think she quite got the send-off she deserved.
So say we all?