Monday, March 23, 2009

So say we all!

The series is finally over!  Here are some parting thoughts, all of which are


I'm awarding myself 40% correctness on my pre-airing prediction.  Rosalyn's dream did essentially come true, but it didn't play out literally like I had imagined.  And I was wrong about it being Boomer in the end.  Still, I'm really glad that they did incorporate it.

On the whole, I was thoroughly satisfied with the finale.  The first hour was simply amazing - I believe that was the best battle scene that we've gotten in the entire series, and it has had some memorable ones.  The sight of Galactica frakkin' RAMMING the Colony was incredible.  I was glad to be watching with a crew of devoted BSG fans, and everyone let out a "Whoop!" when, following the initial "Thud", there came the belated "Cruuuuuuuunch" as the ship plowed its way in.

The rescue was amazing as well.  I thought it was a little odd that all the best pilots were acting as marines, but hey, they did a bang-up job, and the job called for marines anyways. 

Man... Athena shooting Boomer was an incredibly powerful moment, one that touched off a surge of emotions that I still haven't fully processed.  Ever since Boomer rescued Hera, I was wondering if the show would allow her to be redeemed.  I think that ultimately, she was redeemed, but was not forgiven.  Would she have lived in calmer times when the fate of humanity was not on the line?  Perhaps.  Was justice served?  I guess so.  It still tore me up, even while part of me was cheering.  Once again, BSG manipulates me towards approving morals opposite my real-life beliefs.

I thought that the show was very savvy to do the flashback of Boomer and Adama after the shooting instead of before.  This was we had fully surprise during that whole arc, while ultimately getting the same sense of closure and understanding about what happened.

The endgame of the Human/Cylon conflict - promising resurrection, allowing a brief hope of peace to flourish, and then having it all come apart as the cycle of violence and retribution continued - was another thing that tore me up.  After such a long conflict, I thought it would be a beautiful note to end the series on for the two sides to come together.  Again, BSG mirrors our own world, and doing that would argue for similarly unthinkable actions in our own times to achieve a greater good... helping out your enemy is anathema after blood has been spilled on both sides, but beyond a certain point nobody can truly win through additional conflict.  Well, we all know how that turned out.  It is an interesting thought experience to wonder what would have happened if the Five had successfully transferred Resurrection.  Maybe Cavil would have kept his word.  Maybe not.

And the final resolution of the series... wow.  I was totally blindsided by the Earth thing.  Some of the people I've chatted with are kind of upset about it.  For the most part, I like it, because of the way it ties into our own experiences, seeming to further drive home the point that BSG is not purely fantasy, it's meant to in some ways reflect our own world.  I really want to re-watch the mid-season finale to decide how mad I should be about the fake-out.  If I remember correctly, I think that the planet they show has Earth colors (blue with clouds), but I don't recall them showing continent shapes.  On the other hand, I could have sworn that they showed Galactica flying past Neptune, Saturn, etc. on their approach.  Eh.  Either way, ending up at Earth was the right thing to do, I'm just curious how much of the trickery was through cleverness and how much through falsification.

The winding down on Earth felt satisfactory.  I was pretty amazed to note that no major characters died - even Helo, who I had given up for dead, made it to the end.  That's one prediction that I majorly missed out on.  I couldn't totally buy the idea of people giving up all their technology, but at least they addressed it head-on in the show - "I find it hard to believe that there's so little fuss about us giving everything up and becoming a primitive tribal society!"  And all the character moments felt really sweet and satisfying.

One thing did really strike me during the finale, though: now, I'm not going to read too much into this, but it felt a bit jarring to have a happy ending where an almost entirely white group of advanced, civilized people colonizes a black planet.  It's even more peculiar when I think back and realize that Ron Moore had killed off almost all the non-white characters this season.  Dee committed suicide, Gaeta was executed... Athena isn't white, but there are a lot of her running around, so it would have been hard to kill all of them off anyways.  Again, I'm not at all accusing the show of racism or anything, but it was a pretty striking image to end the series on.

I was really happy with what they did with the hallucinatory Gaius and Six.  I don't think we've seen hallucinatory Gaius for a while, so that was a treat on its own.  And in general I just really enjoyed the meta, spiritual angle they bring to everything.  The words felt a bit to mumbo-jumbo Hollywood-religious for my tastes - "Oh, there's this greater being out there who's controlling things, but I don't want to call him/her/it 'God', it's really more of a life energy force that we can't describe..." - but the overall idea was interesting.  In particular, I dig the idea that the prophecies and visions and such were not literally true in the sense that they happened exactly as described, but rather that they were true in the sense that they really did have a supernatural origin.  The purpose of the prophecies was to make people behave in certain ways, and in that way they succeeded.

I also thought it was interesting that, at the end, "All this has happened before and it will all happen again" was NOT, as I sometimes had believed, a description of a literal chronological repetition, Wheel of Time style.  I had imagined that at some point there would be time travel or something, and the seeds would be laid for the exact same events to be played out again.  Instead, we learn that this phrase is more about the axiom that "Those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it."  The saying is a warning that the bad times have come before, and that once again events are moving towards the same mistakes, misunderstandings, violence and conflict.  The phrase ends up having a more conventional meaning to it, which I think actually is more powerful than the metaphysical one I had imagined.  Again, things that tie into our own human experience are more valuable.

And the final scene?  Wow!  I thought it was amazing.  Loved the Ron Moore cameo, loved the sight of hallucinatory-oh-wait-they're-real Six and Gaius strolling arm-in-arm in our present day.  It's one of those rare moments that can jolt us out of our blinkered existence and begin to grasp the amazing times we live in.  Just think about it: we can learn about our ancestors, gain a picture of what happened six thousand years ago, can construct new life-forms, can construct artificial life-forms, can destroy the planet, can travel in outer space.  Wake up, planet: we ARE living in a science fiction world.  Now, play us out with Jimi Hendrix and dancing robots!  Wooooo!


Wow.  Just wow.  Pulling off a finale is always hard.  The better the show, the more pressure there is to do something amazing.  I think that Moore and crew succeeded - no, triumphed.  I have my niggles, but I'm not in the mood to quibble at an amazing end to an exceptional series.  Good show, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. I just saw the finale last night, and likewise, I was very impressed with how they had pulled it off. Here are some of the things that I really liked:
    - The flashbacks, which seemed superfluous in the previous episode, made a lot more sense and provided a deeper understanding of the main characters
    - Some of the small moments, such as when the Doc shed his gruff demeanor for a moment, or when Baltar became tearful after talking about cultivating land, and how Six reassured him.
    - The fact that in the end, the Earth that they found was our Earth. I had an inkling that they were going to end up on a prehistoric Earth, but I thought it would involve them time traveling back to before Cylon-Earth was nuked. I just looked back at episode 10 and indeed, they didn't show any continents. Lots of clouds and soft blending between land and ocean. Very clever indeed :-)

    Anyway, I'm glad the show had the ending it deserved.