Battlestar Galactica: Kobol’s Last Gleaming (1 and 2)

Here we are at the first season finale. Originally, I was going to do two reviews for the two-part finale, but it made more sense to me to keep them together. We will have to see how this works out in the future.

A note to first time BSG watchers; these aren’t the reviews for you. I plan to write about the show with the ending in mind. If you haven’t seen the show, you will be spoiled on stuff that happens at the end. You’ve been warned.

Man, I had forgotten just how good this finale is; sure, the first part is mostly setup for the second hour, but it’s a good example of how to do a setup episode where lots of stuff happens. The second is a lot of action, but action that serves the plot and/or characters (rather than the other way around) is always acceptable. And the effects, especially the nuke going off, look spectacular.

After a mostly dialogue-free montage opening, we begin to see how all the season’s threads are coming together.

Boomer is breaking under the strain of being a sleeper agent and (with Baltar’s encouragement) tries to kill herself. She doesn’t succeed, because that’s not part of her mission, and she will complete that, whether she wants to or not.

Helo confronts Athena on Caprica, and after shooting her in the shoulder, he helps her hide from her fellow Cylons in the hopes that he can escape this awful planet he’s on.

Baltar’s feeling the pressure of his double life, and (at Head Six’s suggestion) opts to leave behind his vice president and scientist duties to visit a newly discovered planet. Of course, the Cylons have found that planet too, leaving Baltar and other crewmembers stranded on the planet’s surface.

Roslin sees visions of an ancient city on photographs from the planet, and believes this planet is Kobol, and that the Arrow of Apollo back on Caprica can lead the fleet to Earth. The real Earth. When she approaches Adama about her plan, he kindly but firmly shoots it down, leading her to act on her own. Starbuck, on Roslin’s behalf, steals the recovered Cylon raider and heads back to Caprica to find the arrow, so they can find a home.

And that’s just the first hour; the second hour takes those threads and crumples things up even further, splintering and fracturing our Fleet to the breaking point.

The biggest split occurs between ‘Mom’ Roslin and ‘Dad’ Adama, but it’s not something simple between them. They’ve been bristling all season, occasionally agreeing on policy, but even though she’s right (regardless of what Earth turned out to be, you can’t fault the prophets; they just pointed the way), she turned his *daughter* against him, and he will not forgive that easily. Likewise, she told him the solution for the Lie of Earth, calmly and rationally, and he dismissed it without a thought. She had to do what she thought was right, just as he does when he deposes her, but they’re both in the wrong,  and it’s going to be so, so long before it’s right again.

Adama was right in the miniseries, they need something to live for, but he can’t believe in Earth (it would be too painful a dream to lose), so he can’t believe that Roslin’s right. He has to be their leader, and he can’t let his guard down and believe when he does, we’re left with New Caprica.

But they need this split to happen; just as the US needed the Civil War to become one nation, the fleet needs something to rally behind. The biggest danger the fleet faces is not the Cylons, it’s each other; they will destroy themselves long before the Cylons get the chance. In the fleet, they are one people, but they are not united, and they will spend the next 8 episodes becoming united.

Another bonus of this episode I finally care about the Caprica plotline. Helo’s a pretty cool character, but all he’s done all season is run around and get caught in the rain with his sweetie who’s a machine. He discovers the truth about her, and while he is enraged, he still cares about her. He loves a machine, and that doesn’t stop just because she’s a machine; he’s the first person to make the leap, and I suspect that’s the reason he’s the only one who could make his daughter, who would make us.

Five years in their future, they will land on the green shores of an untouched planet, and they will find life. They will bring a little girl home to that world and she will give birth to us, me and you, because thousands of years ago a man fell in love with a machine and made the choice to keep loving her, even when he knew the truth.

Season One thoughts: All in all, I still think of season one as the weakest season, but even on the rewatch I can see that some episodes were better (“Six Degrees of Separataion”) while some were worse (“Tigh Me Up Tigh Me Down,” “Colonial Day”) that I first thought. But, our solid start will only lead to bigger and better things.

“Kobol’s Last Gleaming” hits all the right notes and does exactly what a season finale should do; it wraps entwines the threads from the just-finished season and sets up the direction for the next season. An A+ on plus fronts, show, and it’s only going to get better from here.

Next up: “Scattered”