‘Battlestar Galactica’: The end
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At the moment, I can’t think of a show that has gone off the air recently with more pleas from viewers to continue and reverence from its creators, critics and backers than ‘Battlestar Galactica.’
Ron Moore was right about seeing all three hours of the finale together. Like a long-distance runner, it seemed to take the first hour to hit its stride. Once it did though, it broke out into an Usain Bolt-like gallop, stretching its neck out at the finish line before taking its time to cool down for the last 20 minutes or so.
We talked last week about how we already knew who the characters were after so many seasons, and how flashbacks were possibly unnecessary. I still stand by that in terms of when we got to see their backstories, but viewing everything in its entirety, you can appreciate the relationships and understand the decisions made throughout the series with much more clarity. Anders’ quest for perfection, Adama’s battle against retirement, Lee’s and Kara’s immediate and forbidden attraction, and Laura’s loss and eventual resurgence all played into who they became later. Mary McDonnell said that watching the finale made her want to go back and watch the whole series now because it created an awareness that may not have been previously there. True.
SPOILER ALERT for those who don’t get that this is a recap and commentary on the finale!
So, picking up from last week’s episode, now is when the running begins. After giving the presidency to lawyer Romo Lampkin, and giving the fleet to new Admiral Hoshi, the battle for Hera and humanity unfolds on three dramatic fronts. Adama, Tigh and the Galactica crew jump right into point-blank view of the Cylon base star, and each begin to fire. The space fight, with all of the damage that seemed to have been inflicted by both sides, was spectacular to say the least. The effects people went above and beyond with a cinematic quality worthy of the ‘Star Treks’ and ‘Star Warses’ on the big screen.
After Anders, who was hooked up in the CIC, successfully got the other hybrid controlling the Cylon base star to stop firing, Cylon raiders and vipers went at it as well. All the while navigating through an astroid belt and mindful of a black hole nearby. That’s just ... wow.
Galactica used itself as a weapon, ramming into the base ship. Awesome. Lee Adama and Starbuck led separate physical assault teams onto the base star with Helo and Athena and friendly Cylon centurions. The battles between the different types of Cylons were pretty comical. And, along the way, Boomer came through. She killed a No. 4 Cylon (Simon) and helped give Hera back to Helo and Athena. Noble. Then Athena shot her, and she deserved to be shot, and she knew it.
The visions. Finally, the Opera House is revealed. As the boarding party is ambushed, a scared Hera flees after Helo is shot. I wondered if this was the end for Helo as he pushed Athena away and told her to go get Hera. Laura Roslin, who had given herself massive amounts of drugs to stay effective during the battle, got a vision of Hera being lost, so she ran after her. As she and Athena searched for Hera, images of the little girl and Roslin and Athena cut between the base star and the opera house. Laura thinks she has her, but again, Hera runs.
In steps Six and Baltar -- yes, he stayed behind and they fought side by side. They finally recognize that each of them sees a mental image of the other, but don’t have time to dwell. Both are astonished to see Hera just standing in front of them. As Six, Athena and Roslin converge, Six is first to grab Hera, and she and Baltar retreat with her.
I got a bit lost here, but it’s probably a mystical lost. The duo stepped through an airlock, and suddenly they were on the CIC. Won’t try to explain it, but it happened, and when they arrived, they looked up to see the final five standing there in glowing glory. Yay, it’s over! D’oh! In steps Cavil as he grabs Hera.
Now, two things happen that were out of character, but fit perfectly. Not so much out of character, but against what we’ve known. Baltar, through his gift of flowery speech, manages to say the right things about the Cylons and humans needing each other, sharing, or ultimately dying off. The question of who God favors most is brought up, and Baltar says He doesn’t have any favorites. Cavil buys it all, and a final truce is born.
Though it soon shatters. The final five agree to give the Cylons resurrection, but they have to mind-meld through Cylon goo in order to share the data. Two minds who shouldn’t mix, Galen and Tory, do. When Galen finds out Tory killed Cally, he severs the connection, and kills Tory. Galen Tyrol was always, to me, the steady heart of the ship, and to see him go straight instinctual -- wow, but ultimately understandable.
This causes panic, and shots ring out once more. The truce is ended, but because of a slip of Racetrack’s hand aboard a Raptor with nukes, the Cylon base ship is destroyed. Galactica needs to go quickly as asteroids batter them. Starbuck has to jump the ship, but to where? To the coordinates provided by the mysterious song.
Which turns out to be Earth, or a planet with Africa- and Australia-shaped continents. Make of it what you will.
After all that action, a slower, drawn-out ending plays out. Those under Adama decide to forsake technology, and allow Anders to pilot the ships into the sun. The group seeds the planet, setting up small civilizations in different parts of the world, eventually agreeing to help the tribal natives already on the planet. Starbuck disappears (literally). Lee wants to explore. Galen wants solitude. Helo and Athena want to teach Hera to hunt and other things. Ellen and Tigh just want to be together. Six and Baltar will be farmers. Laura Roslin finally dies as she and Adama sightsee on the new world, and Adama buries her next to where he decides to build a house. The 150,000-year jump (and Ron Moore cameo) didn’t really help us know exactly what ‘head Baltar’ and ‘head Six’ are (keepers of fate? angels?), but it at least ended with a notion that what the ‘BSG’ characters did affected future change probably for the better.
Sorry for the length, but it was a two-hour special, and it was the end of an epic series whose scope went far beyond the Sci Fi Channel audience. I watched it at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with a few hundred ‘BSG’ fans, media, cast and crew. Mary McDonnell spoke and was eloquent. Edward James Olmos spoke and was inspirational. Ron Moore spoke and was emotional. Eloquent, inspirational and emotional are not words generally associated with science fiction programs, and I watch and love a lot of them. The other elements of action, space travel and advanced technology etc. are present, but it’s the eloquence of the storytelling, the inspirational tone of the show, and the contemporary emotional range of the characters and situations that will, like Olmos said in a speech preceding the screening, probably never be matched by anything those associated with the show ever produce. Lots remained unanswered ... but I didn’t care. There were standing ovations for the cast, writers, crew and even network executives by a crowd that could’ve been jaded by having seen every nook and cranny of the show. I haven’t felt a sense of loss like this (not only from TV but from society) since ‘Buffy’ ended, so here’s another ovation from me.
-- Jevon Phillips
P.S. Among the crowd in the after-mingling, I spied Magda Apanowicz, a Canadian actress who will play Lacy Rand in the new ‘Caprica’ series. Her enthusiasm and reverence toward writer Jane Espenson, and later toward Grace Park, were fun to see. Hopefully that show can stay afloat, and not sink in the wake of ‘BSG’ expectations. Good luck!
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Photos: Sci Fi Channel