Saturday, August 29, 2009

BSG: All Of This Has Happened Before, But It Won't Happen Again


So tonight after four years of watching Battlestar Galactica, me and a group of friends finished the show with the second last episode, and the (almost) 3 hour series finale. I'd waited so long for everyone to catch up that I'd almost forgotten the story, but nonetheless, the marathon ensued - with croissants in the shape of cylon-raiders, nachos in the shape of a supernova, and pizza.

What struck me immediately was how satisfying the ending was, and also how much it aligned with the theories my friends and I formulated way back at the start. There are of course critics aplenty, but the finality and message was loud and clear, and left very little to the imagination. (I believe I'd be pretty spot on saying that Kara Thrace's 'exeunt' was and is the main reason for the 'MAJOR CLIFFHANGER!' outcries in the fan community).

One surprising and very well played aspect was Gaius Baltar's role in the endgame. While I had initially envisioned him becoming a Jesus-like character as the show neared its end (and almost saw that happening with his 'harem' of monotheistic believers growing steadily), I now picture him actually personifying humanity itself throughout the series.

His portrayal of the man that is intelligent and confident (and cocky because of it), charismatic, but undoubtably confused and lost as well, and who hides an insecure and very much unpredictable personality beneath his fine suit and slicked back hair, is enough to support the idea. He makes decisions to further himself rather than all, and only towards the end when he realises that he must start thinking about the greater good does he shift his perspective and find that he discovers that which he has been searching for ever since he abandoned his lineage back on Caprica; True, unconditional acceptance and love (given it is from his cylon-lady, but as long as we're talking metaphors...).

Now call me old-fashioned, but ain't morals what every story should really be about?

Baltar's redemption was in fact a big factor in both the character's personal resolution, and the series resolution; Had he not decided to be selfless and stay on board Galactica to fight, he never would have been present to talk down Cavil when Hera was being held at gunpoint. It was Baltar, ultimately, who broke the cycle and set humanity free, while committing his 'one, heroic act' that wasn't for personal gain.

The settlement and colonisation of the final 'Earth' was, as I said above, an aspect which was called from the beginning (sorry Mr. Moore, I love your work!), but has nevertheless been exciting and interesting to watch develop. From the moment Elosha first spoke of the 'writings of the twelve lords of Kobol' and we heard the names of the starsigns there were tingles of familiarity. When the tomb of Athena was opened and the statues, Aries, Taurus, and Capricorn were shown the feeling grew stronger. When we heard that each planet had its own native tongue, it's own set of beliefs, and it's own ... well racial differences, it became a no-brainer that these renegades - the tattered remains of humanity - would find a new home, and they would plant the roots of our present day human civilization there. (I did really enjoy the opera house montage also and couldn't help thinking 'wow, they set that up early' as the final events unfolded, a neat touch for sure).

As much as I loved the little 'outro' with the modern-day metropolis however, I felt that the series could very well have ended with Adama's reverie on the mountain top. Explaining the obvious is inevitable in a world where attention spans are short and people aren't too sharp, but having the message shoved down your throat is a little annoying nonetheless. Yeah, we make the same mistakes over and over ("all of this has happened before, all of it will happen again"), yes we should abstain from decadence and not forget the past, yes, love is worth more than money and power etc etc. But after all is said and done, that's a nitpick I'm willing to ignore. Overall, the series was pretty awesome, and the finale left me humbled, impressed and admittedly a little teary-eyed.

I feel everyone should see this show from start to end. They should see it if not for the simple reason that it's bloody well written, casted and directed, but also because obviously there's a cautionary message that's relevant today (I'm not talking about us creating killer robots either).

If you haven't delved into the world that is BSG, well, you shouldn't be reading this, but if you have read this and haven't watched it. Go do that. It's worth it!

Jimzip :D

7 thoughts are now mine:

Meghan said...

I love BSG. One of my all-time favorite shows. I agree with you about how well-written and brilliantly acted it is, etc. But I am going to have to respectfully disagree about the finale (specifically Part II of Daybreak)--it infuriated me to no end. I hated it so, so much.

Why... well, Jacob on TWOP explains it way better than I can, he and I basically agree on everything televisonary. His recap is here:

and if you click the link for "In a hurry? Read the recaplet.." that basically covers everything I hated.

And like Jacob, I'm in no way saying I am not a BSG fan. It's just so deeply unfortunate that they made such an amazing, brilliant series and then ended it with ... that.


(ETA: Tried to add html tags, it wouldn't let me anyway, i wish blogger let you edit comments.)

Jimzip said...

Haha. Wow, well I thought the post might have some disagreements.

Though I think he has a couple of good points (Tigh's 'WHOO!'-ing annoyed me) I must say there were things there that don't deserve to be in a recap. You can make anything sound dumb with sarcasm, I could make Sherlock Holmes sound dumb with sarcasm, but I think he's mostly angry that the series didn't end like he'd have liked, and on that point I can agree somewhat. The dialogue promoting character (even plot) development *was* weaker than it should have been, and there was a distinct lack of involvement from those we expected to be showing their colours. The president was one of them, yes. But in a way, what could she have done? She had 48 hours to live, and most of them were spent drugged up and barely mobile. I dunno. I was fine with her exit, it wasn't forced empathy, it was a fitting exit. She's not a gunfighter, she's not a revolutionary, she was a teacher, and she, like many of the other characters in the show, never once got to sit down and take a look around amidst the chaos, even just to appreciate what she had through it all. That's why I feel her death was almost poetic - clichéd maybe - but fitting. I dunno, that's going to be a point of contention for sure.

When he says "Caprica Before the Fall was fucking classy", I think most of what Jacob is picking apart is precisely the point. The aim was to show the decadence, the dirt, the unfortunate mess that humanity had become. This all brings back the line 'maybe we don't deserve to survive' to ring home a little louder. It wasn't subtle, and it wasn't trying to be. Caprica before the fall was the very image of everything civilization should attempt to avoid. Humanity's choice to begin again in at the end was the right choice in that light, the remnants of society had seen absolute horror and destruction as a result of our race's ignorance. It's a hippie viewpoint, but those themes underlined the whole show so it couldn't have come as a big surprise.

I'm not silly enough to think that my viewpoint is the only viewpoint, but that's my HO. :) I have to say that afterward, I mentioned to my mate that I felt the buildup and execution of the Galactica/Pegasus battle had a *much* bigger impact on me. I didn't care for the gunfights at all in the finale (the Battlestar ramming the colony was interesting but not as entertaining).

Anyway, I could go on, but I'm sure you've heard the other viewpoints a hundred times already.

Hey it was good seeing you guys at the cafe the other day, we should party again soon!

Jimzip :D

Meghan said...

I guess I most strongly objected to the idea that there's only a black and white view of the "evils" of humanity, assigning moral character to the general pathway of a species which is ultimately guided by the same things all other species are (sex & resource acquisition), a matter in which individuals have very little choice... but I've always tended to focus more on ultimate rather than proximal causes... Also the sloppy plot resolutions, like all of the answers were "God and the angels did it" which felt like a huge cop-out. Mostly it just felt like a big deus ex machina slash simplistic moral fable, which disappointed me because the majority of the series addressed issues of human nature (individual & species) with a lot more depth and complexity than that.

Meghan said...

... which, admittedly, is a tendency of our art forms (movies, literature, tv, religion, etc) especially endings,, because it feels better to wrap everything up and make a neat ending to a neat story. We like endings and explanations, and our stories are given them. (Often with "because of God" as the explanation.) It's just that I take less comfort out of that than I do admitting that's all bullshit and our brains' conception of morality and happy endings doesn't match up with the reality of humanity and/or the universe. And I admire it when a good show/book/whatever manages to avoid the pseudo-feel-good ending and face all the depressing (to our brains) stuff and show how there's still joy and hope along with all that. Like, for example, the Six Feet Under finale. Unlike the BSG finale.

Jimzip said...

Yeah. I get where you're coming from now. :)

Sitting in the cafe and just spoke to John - he echoes a lot of what you're saying. (We both agree that the final montage could have been left out too haha).

Jimzip :D

Luke said...

Hahaha, when I saw the heading I thought it was going to be a reference to the movie remake they're now planning.

Have to agree with Meghan a bit - just not to the same degree (I wouldn't say I hated the ending, but I certainly didn't love it either). I don't know if I'm being too harsh or not.

If it was a story I'd written - I would rule out the starbuck thing on the grounds of it being a massive cop out. That said, I could never write anything nearly as awesome as battlestar - so I'm left to wonder if perhaps the kara twist was simply more genius that's just gone above my head.

Jimzip said...

No probably not. You and Meghan are probably much better critics than I. It was probably a case of me being happy that they actually played it out as I'd imagined more than me actually enjoying the mechanics of it.

The more I sit and think about it, the more I feel it was rushed and somewhat sloppy. I just hope I don't soon look at my own post and say "what was I thinking?" ... haha.

Jimzip :D

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