The Ninjabot

Retro-Torial: A Late Look At The End of Battlestar Galactica

Posted on July 7, 2013 at 8:02 am by Will Wells


Almost ten years ago, a friend of mine said to me “oh my gods, you have to watch Battlestar Galactica!”  He sat me down, showed me the pilot, and… I wasn’t impressed.  It looked good enough, and the acting was good, but it seemed a little dark for me.  Too many nukes and personal betrayals.  Too much paranoia and hopelessness.

Now, to make it clear, I wasn’t comparing it to the original.  I have never seen the old school Galactica.  This was just my impression from the pilot as a “new” sci-fi series.  Compared to Babylon 5 and Farscape, two of my favorite series, it seemed to lack a levity and heart.

I ignored Battlestar during its four year run.  I didn’t even think about it again until a month ago.  I was flipping through Hulu Plus when I saw it was available.  I could watch the entire series as part of my current subscription.  So I did.

I finished it today.

What a strange series it turned out to be.  I could not have imagined how utterly weird my ride was going to be as I watched “33” on Hulu a month ago.

I will take a moment here to put up an obligatory Spoiler Warning.  I’m talking about the final episode of Battlestar Galactica here.  You have been warned.

Let’s start with Starbuck.  Near the end of season 3, she died in a gas giant, only to return to life at the end of the season closer.  Later, she found her corpse on “Earth”.  Now, here, at the end of the series, on the new Earth, she says her goodbyes and then literally vanishes into thin air.  Of all the moments that completely threw me about the final episode, that has to be the biggest.  Has Starbuck really been a ghost – a living, breathing, swearing, fraking ghost – for a full season?  Wow.  I don’t know how to respond to that.  I’m not upset, just… shocked, maybe?  Flummoxed?

Speaking of being flummoxed, let’s talk about Hera being mitochondrial eve.  I’m not so much surprised that she became that, given the series set it up quite well, but that the series actually had the balls to say that all of us, here, now, living on this world are actually descended from Helo and Athena (the pilots from Galactica, not the actual deities of those names).  That’s a ballsy move for a TV show.

On the death of former President Roslin… I don’t have much to say.  The darkness that put me off the show in the first place returned with her death.  Why Adama didn’t give her that ring earlier, I do not know.  He was aware that she didn’t have much time.  The gesture would have meant a lot to her – so having him not propose, but showing the audience the ring, is a blatant attempt to tug at our emotions for a situation that did not need anything extra.  It came off as manipulative.

I just noticed, I’m looking almost exclusively at the very end of the three-parter.  I think that’s because it was those last several minutes on Earth that felt so off the rails.  The epic battle that filled 90% of the three episodes was suitably epic and pretty much what I expected by this point.  Galactia takes on one last combat mission and they pull out all the stops.

Meanwhile, the post battle resolution is what I’m reacting to because that’s where the already weird went off the loony train.  And that’s not necessarily a criticism.  During the past month, I went from not much liking Battlestar Galactica to being a fan.  That’s right, the show converted me.  Much of that had to do with good acting and characterization, but what really got me was the weird.  I love weird shows.  My love of Farscape should be evidence enough of that.  Harvey 6 helped sell me on the series, and Roslin’s visions did the rest.  By the time we got here, I was right there with them in the Opera house.  That weirdness felt earned.  Right.

Ghost/angel Starbuck and the Galactica crew intermingling with Neanderthals didn’t feel earned.  Considering all the history and buildup, “it’s a miracle” just doesn’t cut it.

But that’s just me.  And, even if I didn’t like Hera being mitochondrial Eve, I did enjoy seeing the Harveys standing around in modern New York reading about it.  It gave them a truly ethereal presence.  Also, the moment when Caprica 6 and Baltar realized they could both see the Harveys was hilarious.  I’m glad that finally happened.

So here we are.  I liked the series.  I didn’t love it, but I grew to be a fan.  The ending was good, if a little… too weird, right there at the end.  And I like weird, so that’s saying something.

No ratings this time.    Goodnight, Earth.

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