The old girl broke her back; She’ll never jump again.

This post was published more than a few years ago (on 2009-03-22) and may contain inaccurate technical information, outmoded thoughts, or cringe takes. Proceed at your own risk.

I just wanted to get down my thoughts on the finale of Battlestar Galactica while they're fresh in my head. Keep in mind that my mind is like a sieve, and I've likely forgotten critical points presented earlier in the series, and I may need to be gently reminded by your thoughtful comments.

There will be MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE FINALE IN THIS POST, so please do be aware of that before moving on. Spoilers begin after the jump.

I liked the finale in many ways. The final battle was amazing. The resolution worked, for the most part, save that I thought Cavil's end was a bit out of character (apparently this idea came from Dean Stockwell). The long goodbye was moving and well deserved, and wasn't too long at all, though the robotics montage was a mite heavy-handed. For a show that was admittedly made up as they went along, the finale brought a remarkable sense of closure. I was deeply invested in these characters for the last five years (I came in late), and I'll be sad to see them go. I'm glad they got the sendoff they did.

My biggest problem, though, was with the fate of Kara Thrace. Producer Ronald D. Moore explained in an interview that they decided not to explain it, because it was "more interesting" that way. Even so, he gave the thrust of it in his interview:

Kara, I think, is whatever you want her to be. It's easy to put that label on her: Angel, or Messenger of God, or whatever. Kara Thrace died and was resurrected and came back and took the people to their final end. That was her role, her destiny on the show...

I can understand the complaints of people who said that in the end, it seemed this Deus ex Machina was introduced to have her pull these coordinates out of her arse (or, at least, out of the notes to All Along the Watchtower) to find a new planet and save the human race. There are others who then point out that the concept of god/gods was woven throughout the entire series, and in particular that the Cylon God could be seen as a literal translation of Deus ex Machina --- the God in the Machine. But perhaps those who complained about the inexplicability of the final events were, like me, of an atheist bent, and assuming this was a science fiction series, and not fantasy, thought that eventually we would get an explanation for all this "god" talk that amounted to some flaw in the Cylons' original programming, some artifact of their desire to be more human, instead of being something real in that universe. The fact that it turned out to be real dealt us a blow, and we felt betrayed.

Even internally to the series, it doesn't make as much sense as I would have liked. Head Six (the Six that Baltar sees in his head) and Head Baltar (vice versa) were seen only by their respective hosts --- at least until the finale when they each saw both of them. Still, only they saw them. This was consistent throughout the series, and --- I thought --- pointed to some mental flaw in Baltar and Six that led them to see these visions as, perhaps, mental extensions of themselves. The Head characters never physically interacted with the real world. Their interaction was always of the "angel/devil on your shoulder" type.

But Kara was seen by everyone. She interacted with the real world in a physical way. One could easily assume she was a real, live person. She wasn't the figment of anyone's imagination. For her to disappear in the field as she did, and Ron's admission that they meant her to be an angel or some sort of resurrected Christ figure, makes sense neither way. She didn't have the same restrictions of the Head characters; but if she was resurrected in terms similar to the Christian mythos, it didn't make sense to have her old body and Viper still be in a decrepit state on Earth. Resurrection is taking the old and making it live anew, yes? ...not making a cloned copy that's fresh and shiny. This internal inconsistency leaves a most unsatisfying taste.

Looking back, I often thought that this show was working toward saying something about the idea of gods and the way us humans are wired to accept the supernatural --- to find meaning in places where there are none. To show us that man or machine, we are both flawed in this belief. But that was not the case. To find out that the supernatural exists is this world as reality instead of just a mental fantasy was a disappointment. A black mark in the heart of what was otherwise an incredibly beautiful and compelling show.

3 thoughts on “The old girl broke her back; She’ll never jump again.”

  1. Yeah, the thing is… Moore covered all of this ground on Deep Space Nine. It’s nigh impossible for me not to compare the two series, because they do hit so many of the same points. And my overall reaction (though I did enjoy BSG) is that DS9 is the superior show. The mystical elements there were presented in what I think is the perfect way for such things on an SF show: you could choose to believe they were the gods of the Bajoran people, or you could choose to see them as powerful aliens who lived in the wormhole. It was a nice spin on the old “any science advanced enough will appear to be magic” situation. I was expecting something similar from BSG, and did not get it.

    Overall, I think they pulled out of what was a very disappointing last season-and-a-half, and these final 10 really worked for me better than the show had since mid-season 3. I had some problems with it as well (most notably the whole earth thing being an apparent rip from Douglas Adams), but I enjoyed it for the most part. Oh, and you’re dead on about the very end being extremely heavy handed. I expected Head Six and Head Baltar to turn to the camera and say something directly to us. Ugh.

    Final analysis: a good ride, but not a keeper. Not quite good enough to stay on the DVD shelf, I’m afraid.

  2. Yeah, DS9 was very different from the other series. The characters were flawed, sometimes just plain ugly… and since the station was, well, stationary, they had to deal with the repercussions of various conflicts instead of just riding off into the sunset each week.

  3. That’s interesting — I never really finished watching DS9. I think I left after a couple of seasons and came back for single episodes here and there (including the finale), but never really felt compelled to watch it on a weekly basis the way I did with BSG. I think a lot of that has to do with the way the characters were presented.

    As much as I love Star Trek — as I was introduced to it at a very early age, and it really sparked my love of science and science fiction — the characters in BSG seemed more real, more human. People I could relate to in a way that I can never fully relate to the “conflict only comes from outside” edict of the Star Trek universe.

    Of course, maybe DS9 expanded to include more of the deeply flawed characterizations that I find so compelling — I never watched the whole series, so I’ll readily admit I could have missed something significant.

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