If you haven’t seen the show, or the most recent episode, and you care about that sort of thing, don’t click to the next page. There be spoilers, and lots of them; you’ve been warned.
I’m breaking the rules a bit with this review, mainly because I broke my own formula already, so why stop now. For starters, I saw the finale with some friends, a first. Another first, I watched the show live, with commercials and occasional break-time speculation. I realized quickly that this is a not a show that benefits from commercial breaks; the flow kept getting interrupted and it’s hard to get as sucked in when every five minutes the story’s interrupted.
With that in mind, I decided to not only watch the episode again before I write my review, I also decided that I was going to watch all three parts together, which is really how they should have been seen. Yes, I’m smart enough to remember what came before, but this time, I was betting the parts need to be together.
Boy, I was so right. Stupid Sci-Fi Channel.
The first hour is a long goodbye to the characters we came to know and love over the four seasons of the show; the second hour is the space battle we’ve been waiting for since “The Hub” blew up resurrection technology (totally awesome, the Galactica as battering ram); and the third hour is the end of the line for our characters, but not for humanity. Yes, those who believed in the ‘everybody’ dies theory were right; after 150,000 years, everyone we know on the show is dead, but that’s life for you.
After the first viewing, sans “Part One,” I was mostly happy but a bit turned off by some elements, mainly the showdown with Cavil in CIC (the-villain-talked-down-through-a-compelling-argument was clunky and just didn’t work for me) and the final scene of Head Six and Head Baltar wondering if humans will be able to break the cycle and play nice with our toys. And even if the last scene left me a bit cold, I did like that while it appears the cycle is broken, all the parts are clear; humans are created, they create, they fail, they die, they are reborn to create again…guilt and redemption, over and over.
I also have to say that while I really have never watched the show for the religious aspects, they were out in full force and it totally worked.
“Part One” showed us life before The Fall, the expulsion from ‘paradise’ helped by two sinners, Gaius and Six. Of course, it’s not really that story, because, as we saw this week, Caprica was no paradise. It was a corrupt and broken world, and the two sinners, guided by a mysterious “one whose name cannot be spoken” (“Taking a Break From All Your Worries”), forced the survivors through Hell to earn a heaven. And what saved them? Their love for each other, of a little girl stolen from her family of 39,000.
Another nice surprise of the episode is the biggest surprise (and that there was something surprising after all the months of guesswork) – Starbuck really was that angel Leoben saw (“The Road Less Traveled”), which makes total sense. Starbuck the White fulfilled her destiny, brought humanity as they knew it to an end and returned to wherever she came from. After the show, one of my friends (Hi Matt!) suggested that Kara might be “It,” or at the very least, the child of the “one whose name cannot be spoken.” Starbuck as Jesus? And we all thought it was going to be Baltar…
Speaking of him, his inherent self-disgust, translated from his disgust with his roots, finally yielded some positive results when he stayed behind and fought beside his fellow sinner to rescue their future. Gaius frakking Baltar put himself on the line for the good of everyone. He’s earned that step, but he’s also earned his punishment; life as a farmer, all his life efforts running from his past put to rest. Maybe nobody blames the flood (“The Hub”), but the “one whose name cannot be spoken” sure did.
I knew Roslin was going to die, hell everybody knew, but I liked how they handled it and I loved Bill’s last gift to her, a flight over a new world they loved and died for. Her death scene amid all that living fit in well with her flashback of the empty life she sought on Caprica. If not for the bombs, she never would have lived again…something that fits with all of them.
Adama, after burying both his women (“Islanded in a Stream of Stars”), gets the rest he needs with his love at his side. Home was not a place to find; it was right next to him, until the end, until she died. And the blatant flashback to “The Hub?” I’ll admit it, it got to me.
Some other things I loved:
1) Best line of the episode: “Lay off the ACS? You betcha Galen” – Hybrid Sam
2) The Viking-style sendoff of the Fleet, getting rid of the ghosts (or pigeons, or ravens) in their lives and purifying themselves for the road ahead.
3) The red stripes painted on the ‘good’ Centurions; a nice touch. Also, when the raiders jump from the ship, they blow the entire deck out. Nice continuity there, visual effects crew.
4) Boomer as Vader. She made a choice and stuck with it, the lesson all Eights must learn (“Faith”). A good sendoff for a character I always felt got a raw deal.
5) Romo Lampkin and Lt. Louis Hoshi put in charge of the Fleet – the future put in charge of the redeemed; one saved from personal demons (“Sine Qua Non”) and the other rescued from a woman lost to hers (“Pegasus”).
6) I did like that Callie’s murder, and subsequently Tory’s murder, came to light in such a way that a positive came from it (resurrection technology is not the answer, which they all learned, one way or another).
7) Helo, Athena and Hera, together and happy again. They’ve earned it.
8) Chief’s vote to abandon the fleet (“Deadlock”) explained. Kind of. When betrayed, or hurt, he runs and jumps to the nearest path, hoping this one or that one won’t hurt him. From the human side, to the Cylon side, to the Final Five side, he just keeps jumping, until he learns that he’ll never be hurt if he leaves them all behind.
9) The truth of the Opera House, left up to interpretation. I believe the truth that Roslin saw was that all sides must come together to save Hera, the hope for all of them, the larger message being the point of the whole show: the humans and the Cylons are supposed to be together, to work for their future together. “The Plan” could change that of course, but while the truth is nothing Earth-shattering, it was a beautiful sequence.
10) The New Earth as the opposite of New Caprica – here the last pieces of Colonial life disburse on a new world and our free to grow the lives they want. New Caprica failed because there was no room to change or grow on that planet (plus Baltar was in charge) but here, life begins anew.
For me, what I’ve loved about “Battlestar Galactica” is the characters and their journeys, and from a character standpoint, the finale’s amazing. Seeing the whole picture of their lives has been a privilege and I think the finale served the characters well.
Yes, I had some issues with “Part Two;” it wasn’t perfect (sorry Bamber, but I don’t agree). It was uneven and sad and occasionally frustrating and thoughtful and moving and filled with quiet moments of humanity that kept me watching.
It was “Battlestar Galactica,” in all its messy glory. And I love it still.