The Battlestar Galactica Finale


Ironically enough, after it was all said and done, the main problem with the BSG finale was Earth.

The first hour and a half or so of "Daybreak Part 2" was Battlestar at its best. Sure, there were some minor quibbles (the idea that Romo Lampkin would be made president is completely insane, but he was the only recognizable character available to put into that role), but overall it was exactly what you'd want from a show like this -- wonderful character moments and breath taking action sequences.

The opera house sequences, in particular, were great. Seeing Baltar and Six reunited was just about pitch perfect, and in many ways I felt like theirs was the best story of the show, from start to finish. The initial romance, their individual trials, and their eventual reunion (and continued relationship) was nearly flawless from start to finish, which isn't something I can say about all the other stories on this show.

In fact, while it was problematic in context (more on that in a minute), Baltar's "I know something about farming" moment with Six nearly brought me to tears. It was absolutely perfect.

Why was it problematic in context? Well, first and foremost it was problematic from a purely personal standpoint, in that it was the ONLY moment I was nearly brought to tears. This was the finale of a show I consider to be one of the two best to ever air, and I only had one moment that even brought me close to crying. Laura Roslin died, and my eyes were as dry as they ever were.

How can that be? Well, there's the other context issue of Baltar's "farmer" moment, but let me back up a bit and hit the big picture for a moment.

The finale fell flat because it was OUR Earth. Suddenly, a show that was so careful, so nuanced and subtle about the real world issues it addressed, was shoehorned into something horribly obvious and contrived. Suddenly, it was an 800 pound gorilla of a morality tale. Even worse, it comes very close to ending on "beware of robots, they are bad," which completely belittles the greying of the human/Cylon conflict that we've gotten for the last few years.

Even worse, by making it OUR Earth it also makes it Earth or, to put it simpler, it makes the "Earth" of the 13th tribe a cop-out. It's a cheat. Imagine if the planet they find at the end, the planet that Starbuck leads them to, is just a habitable planet where they can start over, humans and certain Cylons living together in something resembling harmony. They've already come across a couple of habitable planets before now, so there's no reason to think they couldn't find another one at some point. By making it OUR planet, they make it another Earth, which in turn makes the end of the first half of the season a complete fake out.

On top of that, they then had to shoehorn (there's that word again) the show into OUR history, and to do so they had to make some really incredible leaps over, around, and through logic. So not a single one of the 38+ thousand survivors said anything like, "hey, you know that machine we had that turns algae into food? Maybe we should hold on to that, what with the fact that we've been living on ships and cities for the last few years and have no experience hunting and/or gathering." It would be utterly impossible for the survivors to hide all traces of themselves in the evolution of our planet. It just wouldn't happen.

Hell, for that matter, how does that work? They're already evolved to where we are. Wouldn't they continue to do so? Wouldn't that mean our Earth should be really, really advanced by now? And what happens to those primitive tribes? At some point, they'll face off against each other as they repopulate. How would that work? Just saying "we're not going to build cities" isn't going to stop future generations from building cities.

Just writing about this all is driving me insane. It makes absolutely no sense even within the context of the show itself. It's mind boggling.

Imagine, though, had this not been OUR Earth. Imagine if the remaining survivors just finally found a habitable planet. And, while they attempt to live their lives in a more humble manner, eventually a society is built up around them that resembles what they had before. You would get the same basic ending (hopefully without the robot montage), the same question about the cycle continuing on again, particularly since we know there are Centurions out there somewhere. What would have been wrong with that?

Placing the ending on OUR Earth completely upends the show, and completely kicked me out of a world I was really invested in. It kicked me out so far, in fact, that Laura's death was more like a dream than a reality. It had no impact on me because I was still trying to come to grips with the complete 180 the show had taken, a 180 from "good" to "bad."

In my opinion, Laura shouldn't have even made it to the new planet. This show has always been about these characters battling against overwhelming odds just to keep hope alive. That's why they went after Hera -- to keep hope alive. Imagine Baltar and Six walking away with Hera, back into the CIC, and then, as the only ones left alive, escaping in a Raptor with coordinates set by Starbuck. The Cylon colony and Battlestar Galactica go boom, Baltar, Six, and Hera find the new planet, mark the coordinates, then jump to the meet point for the fleet and tell them what they've found. Again, we get the same ending as before, but now with more meaning, with something that reflects the show as a whole.

For that matter, the opera house sequence that I praised earlier (mostly for how seamlessly it was brought back) completely falls flat in the finale. Why? Because Hera ends up with her parents in the end, and Roslin is right there, too. The dream is ultimately another fake out. As ominous as it's been made out to be all this time, in the end it meant nothing at all.

Thankfully, I don't think 45 minutes of complete insanity will change my opinion of the show as a whole. On one hand I should be thankful we didn't get an entire final season that was sub par (like The Wire). On the other hand, I was hoping for something closer to the finales of Six Feet Under or Angel, both of which managed to sum up the shows perfectly -- both of which managed to make me cry.

We were already engaged. We already felt like the show was about us. We didn't need that to be literal.