Battlestar Galactica – End Of

September 28th, 2009

And beware of spoilers ahead.

Hmmm. Watched the final season (or half season) of the new BSG not long ago, a show that I loved the first couple of seasons of, but had mixed feelings about the third. So did they pull it all together in the final episodes? Well … not really.

There was still much too much of the religious and cylon-related blather, joined now by much incomprehensible waffle regarding the cycle of human/cylon violence and the role of the key final five cylons in everything. And nothing. I guess they’d painted themselves into a corner where they had to try and make it all make sense and, well, they didn’t really. Not for me, anyway. One can’t escape the feeling that they picked as the final five – and especially the much-touted fifth – a rather random mixed bag of mostly second string characters, which didn’t produce much of a “frak me! It was them all along?” reaction, at least from this viewer. More of a – “what, her? Oh.”

The result was that the show then focused on these characters a lot more than it really should have, at the expense of the characters the show originally focused on and who were actually a lot better on the whole. Starbuck was sidelined. Admiral Adama did a lot of tortured gurning but not much glorious implacability. Apollo barely showed up in the last few episodes, and when he did his ludicrous hair was really stretching my suspension of disbelief. Baltar was literally treading water for two whole seasons so he could then show up for a much touted final moment that proved to be relatively insignificant. They laid some good action sequences on at the end, but for a show that weighed in heavily with the prophecy and portent the payoff was rather lame, and buried under an awful lot of philosophical mumbo jumbo, and made one think that they weren’t really ever thinking much more than a season in advance, and just couldn’t pull all the strands together when they needed to.

A lot of things were rushed, and a lot just didn’t make much sense once you thought about them. Didn’t really believe they’d give up all their technology to live as primitives. Oh, but building a log cabin’s apparently alright. Why would Adama snr. abandon his son and friends for no apparent reason, rather than living just down the valley, or whatever? And, for that matter, would the hardboiled political and military pragmatists who’d led the fleet through its first couple of seasons really have gone on a suicidal rescue mission for the sake of one little girl? The subplot about galactica falling apart seemed pretty unnecesary really, but took up an inordinate amount of time with many, many similar shots of people welding.

At times, when it focused more on the human issues – the politics, and violence, and treachery, it was firing on something like all cylinders again, but unfortunately that only served to remind me how frakking great it was when the cylons were just the unknowable other, the enemy within and without against which the human response was measured and assessed, and every episode was full of launch tubes, sweat, doubt, fear, and the endless threat of nuclear annihilation. Bad hair was a constant throughout but, you know, it seemed to denote drama in the earlier episodes, and gritty reality. Here it just made me think of a disco…

Posted in film and tv by Joe Abercrombie on September 28th, 2009.

22 comments so far

  • Clambeard says:

    Agreed. I found the conclusion so bad that it almost ruined my enjoyment of the previous episodes. God did it? Really? I stuck around for years for this?

    The ending makes all of the choices the characters made meaningless, along with the suffering and deaths of 14 BILLION PEOPLE. This was all done to teach us the lesson not to abuse our robot servants?

    This might have worked if it had been coherent, but I agree with you that it seemed like they were just throwing stuff at the wall. It seemed clear that the writers didn't have it all worked out but were winging it. Not cool.

  • NoneSuch says:

    The last seasons were pretty bad. I didn't mind the prophecy/religious sideplot when it could be explained through logical means and was peoples personal belief rather than anything magical, but when they confirmed it was god I just face palmed.

    Why can't Sci-fi just be Sci-fi sometimes? I miss the first few seasons, where it was all about politics, people and the fear of the cylons.

    I also agree that it was obvious they were writing it on the go, and deciding major plot lines as they wrote it. It was almost as if everytime they had a cool idea they just shoved it in without checking if it was consistent with the plot or actually made sense when related to what else was going on.

    It's a real shame as they could of done so much more with the series. Atleast it's never as bad as what they did with heroes xD

  • JenMo says:

    I'm still angry and annoyed how the series ended. Not just the final episode, but the whole last (half?) of the season was hit and miss.

    The second to last episode, where it was all pre-cylon attack on the colonies, and showing the characters lives, and the pivotal crossroads many characters were at, was interesting but didn't belong in the final episodes of the show. Really that was first or second season stuff. By now we know the characters and understand their motivations, and that episode didn't change my ideas of any of them.

    And Mrs Ty is going to be the final cylon? Why bring her back? I was glad when she died, and her death made Col. Ty being a cylon the only truly tragic and surprising one of the five.

    Baltar, Caprica 6, and Starbuck are angels? Really? And they found Earth, but it was a burnt out husk, so they find another primative planet and call it "Earth" as a joke? The missing link in human evolution is a single cylon/human child?

    I can only shake my head and mutter "why"

  • Clam, NoneSuch
    I thought it was good at times, even very good, but then something would happen which made me remember how consistently good it had been and I'd feel all hollow inside…

    As you say, Tigh was the only one of the four revealed at the start of the series that was really worth doing. I was waiting for the final one to be something big, like Adama himself, or Roslyn. That might have been hard to make sense of, but at least it would have shown the balls they never seemed to lack early on. But Mrs. Tigh? Are you kidding me? They didn't even squeeze any real drama out of the reveal of it – it just came to Tigh in a vision? Had she been waiting in his quarters or some such, providing him with a suitable drunk head fuck moment, I could have seen it a little. But came in a vision? Boooooo.

  • Anonymous says:

    Like Lost their whole pitch was to get one season, lets be honest both were left field pitches that surprisingly were taken up by chanels.

    They had no idea about an 'end', didn't really care. They wrote a pilot, with a series written based on the pilot being successful.

    In their wildest dream you think they would have run so long?

    The whole last series especially was weak, while the mini series and first was outstanding.

    Like Lost when they have killed off interesting characters and start inventing other inferior characters, then worse bring back dead characters, you know things are getting bad.

    Should have done a Serenity and finished the series with some style.


  • Anonymous says:

    I agree, it could have been a great series, but ended up a mixed bag/

    Can I ask a quick question? Just finished reading "Redemption Falls" (I enjoyed it, an odd mix of Firefly/Capt Jack and the pirates from Starxx but it all came together quite well). I noticed an endorsement on the cover from your good self and have always wondered how these occur. Do the publishers or the authors ask you? What happens if you don't like the book?
    Swindon Nick

  • Bryce,
    Inevitable result of the format, more often than not – they need to have ongoing plots but they also need to be able to close it all out quick. Inevitably, as a series go on things get messier. Very few are those shows that really maintain quality and focus throughout. Off the top of my head I can think of the Wire …

    And the Wire.

    Retribution Falls, yeah, if you click on the reading tag on the sidebar you should come upon my more in depth consideration. And yes, typically I'm asked by my publisher to look at the odd book, if they think I'll like it and it's of a type where my readers might be interested (therefore my endorsement might be of some use). So I've blurbed for Richard Morgan, Chris Wooding, and Stephen Deas, all from my UK publisher, and all of whom I know personally to some degree. Doesn't have to be my publisher, though – Jeff Vandermeer's US publisher sent me his Finch and I gave them a blurb cos I liked it a lot. And I've been sent a few things by US or UK publishers that I didn't like enough to say anything about.

  • JenMo says:

    Well what BSG has over Lost is this: BSG has always said, we're going 4 seasons, and they will get to Earth. They had an end in mind. Maybe they even knew what they were going to do at the end. Just kind of seems like they wrote the end and the beginning, and didn't quite know how to make the two connect. Lost has seemed, well lost, from early on. The creators tried to pull off the "we're being vewy vewy secretive" vibe, but it became clear that there wasn't much as far as the series having direction.

  • JenMo,
    I know what you mean, and I think the first 2 seasons of BSG were better than Lost has ever been, but in a way I prefer what they've done with Lost in terms of structure – they keep everything mysterious, they bring in new mysteries, they blindside you with stuff you could never possibly see coming and constantly change the rules. But at least they don't try (at least up to where I've seen, which is the end of season 4) to ponderously explain everything. That's where I think they really went wrong with BSG. There's nowt so boring as a weak attempt to tie together at great length a load of stuff that just don't go together. Better to leave it mysterious…

  • enjai says:

    The ending was pretty lame and the luddite "let's be farmers" conclusion seemed like a huge stretch. Also given how early they arrived it means they had zero impact on civilization, rendering the entire show retroactively pointless.

    Still, season 2 up until they escaped new Caprica was probably the best run of sci-fi/tv I've seen.

    I strongly suspect/hope that the writers of Lost will have a far more satisfying conclusion. It was looking a little frayed at the start of season 3, but has been running along very nicely ever since. Plus Lost has always been about the weird shizz, while BSG wasn't.

  • Elena says:

    I think Clambeard said it best–the end has almost ruined me on the series. Season three blundered around with a lot of throw-away episodes post escape from new caprica–that was where it started to go downhill. Season 4 had some good and bad and in-between moments. I actually kind of liked the battlestar falling apart, but thought it should've been handled as an actual real threat that needed a creative solution, not the cylon version of duct tape. weak. And the whole giving up technology to live hand in hand with the cylons and cause untold years of human misery and disease and pillaging of the earth as we redevelop the same technologies, all of which could have been avoided with a thoughtful, ground-up civilization? FRAK THAT, I'm going with the centurions. at least in this universe we have the consolation of knowing that when those mofos show up again, they're not going to leave any survivors.

    on my shortlist of worst endings ever.

  • Brushy says:

    The biggest, utmost, maximum, ultimate, greatest, top-great-crap is that machines believe in God and religion. That is the most ridiculous rubbish I have ever heard. I fear that my electric toothbrush will pray in the mornings and I will have to use my manual toothbrush again. It will reveal itself as the 7th Cylone. However, I am amazed that they did not tell us in the final episode that all the characters are Cylons. Mr Joe, I am glad that you noticed the terrible hair of Adama. Please promise, most seriously and honest, the next one of your Northmen will not run around like that. He will never get sex looking like that. Never Ever.

  • Cordas says:

    I dunno, I think you are being a touch harsh. In order to have any conclusion the show had to change and characters had to change.

    Personally I am glad they picked mostly second string and nobodies for the final 5, having them all be important cast would have struck me as too much co-incidence to be 'real' and would have sucked. That said I am still curious how Saul Tigh was one of the final 5, given that he had served with Adama prior to the 5 turning up from 'earth'.

    As for the conclusion, yeah it did stretch my credibility to breaking point… but I couldn't/can't/haven't been able to come up with an ending that would have been anything but a cop out.

  • Brandon says:

    I don't know if it's because I'm more forgiving of television than I am of books, but I didn't find the last season to be as soul-rendingly awful as a lot of people. It wasn't anywhere as good as the first two seasons of course, and there were a lot of plot-holes… but eh… I can't really get mad when it's the work of a bunch of different people who ultimately have to answer to "The Man" about issues as fundamental as whether or not they get to finish telling their story this season.

    It felt to me like they got so bogged down in answering stupid questions like "How can there be a final five when Sharon is number 8 and 8+5 = 13, and we were told that there were only twelve cylon models!!!" they forgot the important issues.

    What I liked about the show is how it asked questions about what makes us human. Then it followed up on it by making all the characters identifiably human. It didn't have stupid cardboard hero characters like "doctors who pound on a dying person's chest because they won't lose another one." It had characters who would just do something so profoundly human that it was devastatingly real.

    As for the cosmic spacey stuff… I was hoping the Galactica was going to fly out somewhere, and find a group of the other 5 Cylon models having a war with another group of humans who had been "created" by those Cylons as our humans had been created by the skinjob Cylons. Then we'd find out that "All this has happened before and all of this had happened again" meant that two groups of what are basically people have been creating and subsequently fighting each other for eternity, and any respite or semblance of purpose while wonderful, is brief at best.

    Then, instead of saying "God did it" you could get into arguments about causality and fate vs free will. Those were the questions that I really liked in the first two seasons, but like I said I thought it was still a decent show when it went out. It didn't live up to its promise but I couldn't get upset about it.

    However, you can't argue with the Galactica jumping into Atmo over New Caprica and shooting out Vipers. For a person who is already overly sensitive to all things Fantastical of Science Fictional, that almost made my head explode.

  • Stephen says:

    I love the show, but the thing that bothered me from about season 3, was that the final 5 were not planned from the start. They sort of looked at all of the characters and then said, ok who are 5 most unlikely, as opposed to, this is who it was all along, and if you go back and look you will see clever clues, or you will now second guess their intentions. The one that made the least sense and still irritates me really is Tighe. Second behind that is the Chief, the other 3, well, not so much bothered to honest. Seemed silly. Torrie, ohh, who, oh right, the secretary person to the President, ah right. The one after dead billy, yeah, ok. Eh? Why?

    The last two episodes were a let down and also the final thing with the opera house, it was C and C all along? Really? They couldn't come up with something better than that? Prophecy of the dying leader who would lead them to earth, lots of that going on for ages, and then, kind of ignored.

    For the record, some of the best sci fi on TV since Firefly and before that SAAB, some amazing acting, amazing characters and development, but some were massively underplayed. Baltar for definite. Amazing moments when it looked as if he was a messiah or even a cylon.

    Biggest gripe for me – there was no giant plan. Look at B5, look at Lost even, despite how much I bitch about it, they know where it's going, they know how it ends or begins if you prefer, but this, for all my love of the show, I think it let itself down in the planning stages and as mentioned, tried to wrap it all up neatly. Only mystery was Starbuck and to be honest, she was so damn annoying by the end, I didn't care and was glad she dead, or would die at some point.

    Silver lining, BSG The Plan is coming out soon, it goes back to the beginning, or nearly, its directed by Adama himself and it looks the dogs wobbly bits. Caprica, hmm, still unsure, but I hope this one TV movie makes them consider more in the future.

  • Kernos says:

    I have an entire set on DVD for sale (red-ray). I could not even finish the part 2 of the last season and will never watch it again.

    I am not interested in human problems in my escapist activities which is what I use TV for. The series reeked of sentimentality in the strict sense. Dont try to force my emotions!

  • I think you hit the nail on the head, Joe — by prioritizing the Final Five plotline, they ended up sidelining the characters that drove the show. I was particularly disappointed in the phasing-out of Apollo. I didn't feel like there was any closure for his character, either — "I want to explore!" That's it? After all that, all the internal conflict, the confusion about his future and his destiny, the tension between him and his father, the battle to save humanity, the unrequited, unresolved romantic drama with Starbuck…he suddenly finds inner peace, Starbuck's a ghost-angel and he decides to become Jon Krakauer? Does anyone else feel like Apollo got screwed?

  • With LOST the producers who took over after the pilot (Cuse and Lindelof) had a problem in that JJ Abrams had basically given them no information as to what the Island was, what the monster was and so on. They had to figure it out themselves, as they didn't want the show to collapse under the weight of an inocoherent mythology as Abrams' previous show ALIAS had done and as BSG was about to do. They then had the problem that the show was never meant to be this mega-hit, which had them stringing the story out for much longer than they had otherwise planned. However, from the middle of Season 3, when they got the end-date and were able to outline and block out the story in much greater detail, the show show back on track with a vengeance and the quality shot up. A couple of dodgy moments in late Season 5 aside, the show is as strong as it has ever been going into the final season.

    Something I have also seen is CAPRICA's pilot episode, and was surprised at how good it was. A different writer and a different style from BSG really seemed to work for the pilot movie. Whether they can sustain that in the series itself is unclear, but I am quite hopeful for the series.

    In addition, the reason why the Cylons have a religion is explained more than adequately in CAPRICA's pilot episode.

  • JC says:

    Well, there's nothing more to add. It wasn't that bad compared to other shows but it certainly didn't live up to the standard set in earlier seasons.

  • Alex says:

    I found myself a bit bewildered by the end…i think i need to watch them all again as the series went on for so long, and especially the mid series 4 gap that i kindof lost the plot.

    I did think the way everyone agreed to abandon technology was ridiculous and fairy tale. It didnt ring true with the realisticly petty, conflicting mutinous bunch of survivors that had been with us from the beginning. Also they did a suicide mission for one child…what happens if a in month or so the same child (or another one) comes down with tetanus: "Well no problem we can sort that out in a jiffy i the medical bay….oh, wait…yeah the kids fucked."

    That said, it was an amazing show, and the final action scenes were incredible.

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