Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak (extended)

The end, again.

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.


It’s been a week of endings for me. Earlier last week, Jim and I also finished our DS9 rewatch, and we finished the first (and sadly only) season of the FX show “Terriers” (a one-season classic).

I won’t dwell too long on the DS9 finale, but without giving anything away, it’s my favorite sci-fi series finale. It’s not perfect, but the pros far outweigh any of the minor quibbles I have. That sums up a lot of the series finales I’ve seen, but what puts “What You Leave Behind” at the front of the pack is the last shot; again, no spoilers here, but that wordless shot wraps all the emotion and love and loss into one long take that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about. After seven seasons, I came to love and care for those characters, and while the goodbye is bittersweet, I cannot think of a better parting image than the one we got.

 

I really, really wish I could say the same thing about BSG’s finale. I love this show, I’ve loved it for a short but passionate time, and while parts of the finale are moving, the very last shot of Head Six and Head Baltar walking through a crowd while images of our pre-Cylon robots prance about is just a preachy lesson fans of the show did not need to hear.

First time around, I had more problems with the finale, but now, after all this writing and thinking, I’ve come to terms with Baltar’s big speech (which didn’t bother me all this time around), the Galactica Opera House, Racetrack’s post-death nuke blast, Cavil’s suicide, all of it fits somehow better now, but I can’t make my distaste for the last few minutes go away.

 

But it’s ok; from now on, for me anyway, “Daybreak” ends with Adama sitting at Laura’s grave, talking about their cabin and all the plans he has for the new world she and Kara brought them too.

In that spirit, no more dwelling on the bad parts.

See, they made it. The humans finally got their act together and proved that while they have their faults, they can do enough good that they deserve survival. From across the fleet of the last survivors of the 12 colonies, men and women volunteered for a crazy mission to rescue a little girl with an unfortunate tendency to get kidnapped.

They carried out this borderline suicidal plan, and they succeeded. The humans and Cylons both were finally able to look past their shared history of death and betrayal to save their shared future.

 

These people have lost everything, but they never lost that, the thing in them that occasionally lets them put the good of the many above the good of the one.

 

And for all their sufferings, and all their trials, they are better than who they were before. The flashbacks show us a shiny, glittery world where Lee almost sleeps with his brother’s girlfriend, Gaius yells at and fights with his cantakerous father routinely, a drunk driver kills Laura’s family, Adama feels no shame in vomiting in an alley behind a stripclub, and on and on and on. It was a terrible place that needed a new beginning, and thanks to what’s left of that world, now they have.

 

The best pieces of the humans and the Cylons will live on while the horrors evaporate with age. The whole series has been about the fresh start and a new beginning, and you don’t get newer than this.

Stray thoughts

  • I started this gargantuan project over a year ago, and while it doesn’t technically wrap up until next week, thank you for reading this and making the BSG journey with me. There have been times when this felt like a chore, but I never really wanted to give up. BSG has always rewarded the effort I put into it, and I hope it (and my reviews) did the same for you.

  • This was also the first time I’ve seen the extended cut, and while I was hoping the team would ditch the epilogue, I was pretty happy with the new scenes. In fact, the new additions felt as seemless as the ones in the extended cut of “Pegasus,” my personal favorite of the extended episodes.

Next up: “The Plan”