Sunday, March 22, 2009

BSG - Damn

BSG's finale was Friday.

As expected, it dealt heavily in spirituality, cycles of life, and individual relationships. It also involved a good deal of introspection and recollection. Oh, and giant space battles.

I've seen a bunch of critiques along the line of "loved the first half, hated the second." To them I say - it's a shame your brain doesn't work.

Okay, spoilers from here on out. You've been warned.

The first half was the climax. The second half was the denouement that any work requires to be complete. We've spent 4 seasons with these characters, and I think giving them 40 minutes or so to reflect on their lives and plan their futures is well-deserved and brings an excellent sense of closure to the series.

The first half doesn't actually warrant too much discussion. It was an episode. A very good one, but nothing much beyond the usual quality of the series. An obviously bigger budget, and a few retrospective moments that filled in holes. That's not to say it didn't have some memorable parts.

Athena talking to Boomer in the Baseship, and Starbuck's "can we please not tell her the plan?" line was great. I love these little twists of the convention where characters actually realize how idiotic a particular action would be.

Boomer's rationale for returning Hera was also interesting to me. While it might seem trite that she "owed one" to the Old Man, it speaks to Boomer's storyline more deeply than that. You have to go back to the first season and her anguish over realizing what she was, and how devastated she was to have nearly killed Adama, who she very much considered a father figure. The brief flashback filled in the final piece, and made the choice of where her loyalities were clear.

Baltar choosing to stay with the fleet as his one selfless act was also cheered. My friend instantly dubbed Lee Adama the most powerful man in the universe for being able to convince Gaius to do that. Lee simply tossing Baltar the gun was a nice touch too. No thank you, no good job, just acceptance without question.

I also like that they cleared up my question of "what happens if they don't return?" Admiral Hoshi is a bit silly, but President Lampkin was inspired.

The false peace and promise of resurrection worked well enough as a MacGuffin to Tyrol discovering what Tory's role in Callie's death. The chief strangling his once-lover to death and nobody stepping in to stop him was well-done. Cavil's suicide was somehow fitting and humourous. He'd realized his last hand had played out and that he'd lost. His was a final act of his free will, and a middle finger to the face of his creators.

I do wonder though - why did Galactica jumping while embedded in the colony not cause more damage to the Cylons? Boomer jumping in a raptor NEAR Galactica caused a huge amount of damage... a Battlestar doing the same should be severe.

I love how they managed to keep things mildly ambiguous at the end. Was Kara an angel as well? Were Six's Baltar and Baltar's Six angels? Or were they something more? While it seemed obvious on Earth when everyone was splitting up, it was drawn back into question in the epilogue. I didn't catch it until the second viewing, but the discussion between Six and Baltar hinted that maybe they were more than simply messengers.

The discussion of the random events of complex systems over time being part of "God's plan" suggested a few things. It very much had the feeling of the stories of wagers between God and the Devil. Put Six in a red dress, and Baltar in a crisp suit and perhaps the roles become clear. Look back at the series and see how Six seemed to influence Baltar towards his own selfish motivations and how her influence often caused Baltar to endanger all of humanity, and it would appear she was trying to influence her side of the bet this last time around. Baltar's appearances to Six were seldom seen, but when they were, he was comforting and her actions often led towards reconciliation with humanity and the "right" thing. Once the end game had been reached for this round, they backed off. Baltar's speech about God being a force of nature that didn't pick sides, and that good and evil were created by man, not divine beings, mucks of the water a bit more. The final line of "You know he doesn't like that name. Silly me. Silly, silly me." shows a playfulness between them. Especially since Six was glancing below the beltline when she said "God's plan". The more I think of it, the more I think Baltar and Six were more than "angels."

In an odd way, it reminds me of Robert Hewitt Wolfe's original plan for Andromeda, where Trance was a light-bringer, or "Lucifer", but was not the devil. There was no inherent evil, merely an interpretation by humanity. I wonder if this discussion happened a few times between Moore and Wolfe while working on DS9.

So where does that put Kara? There are those who call her an angel as well. There are those who suggest that mantle was only taken when she returned. An absent father, a spiritual mother, a life of confusion, service, sin, and redemption. Saviour and destroyer both, she was literally resurrected. She had a destiny from birth, and the most spiritual of the Cylons saw her for what she was. Hell, her father appeared to her and offered comfort and direction when she was most lost. To say Kara Thrace was the Christ-figure in this allegory wouldn't be far off. In many ways, she was the most human of the cast, and constantly struggled to find herself. She was capable of incredible love and fiery anger, of reckless abandon and steel-eyed resolve. She was flawed, she was human, and in the end, she led humanity to the death of its old ways and hope for the future.

One of my favourite scenes in Dogma is when Rufus gets in Bethany's face during her crisis of faith. He asks how she'd feel if she was a 12-year old boy who just discovered he's the son of God... how long would she think it would take to get over that? How about 18 years? Pointing out the gap in Jesus' life in the Bible. It took Kara 4 seasons to come to grips with her role and find peace, even she wasn't consciously aware of that role until the very end. I think of her much like first season Boomer - a sleeper agent, unaware of her purpose, but with one programmed nonetheless.

This spirituality didn't bother me in the least. Sure, it had strong Christian themes, but I think much of it was broad enough that it spanned the concept of spirituality more than religion specifically.

There were moments of the sublime throughout the ending. Lee and Bill saying goodbye, then Kara saying goodbye to Lee, followed immediately with Roslin dying right next to Bill. The Adamas were completely alone, having lost those who they loved most, and being at peace with that. For in reality, they'd been alone the entire time, only finding those whose company they truly desired near the end of the road.

Anders' farewell to Kara was well done as well, and developed a deeper meaning once Kara disappeared. Seeing Helo alive was a relief as well.

But the most touching moment of the last act had to be Baltar saying, "I know about farming you know..." and breaking down. One line, wonderfully delivered brought his character full-circle, and even further down the road of redemption.

The final homage to the original series was touching as well with the fleet heading into the sun. It's much better than everyone arriving at Earth in 1980, that's for sure.

I also liked most of the ending. One of the complaints I'd seen out there in the past was the fact these humans from another galaxy shared many idioms and cliches with us. Cigars called stogies, curses that were the same, slang that was no different. The ultimate example was of course All Along the Watchtower. I suppose, being the descendants of Cylons (and who's to say that the Sixes, Eights, and Twos didn't procreate? Or maybe Galen got busy with the natives), there could be a form of genetic memory that passed along the concepts that led to this. As was pointed out at the end, we're now close to the same tipping point as Kobol, Caprica, and the original Earth, so the circumstances may be right for these aspects to come to the fore again.

Besides, Hendrix did his cover of Watchtower months after Dylan released it. If only they knew they were covering a song that was over 150,000 years old.

Speaking of Galen - a cold, lonely, hilly island in the highlands up north? So Galen the engineer is the ancestor of all that is Gaelic? Cute.

The epilogue was surprising. Almost as if the powers that be figured it wasn't obvious enough that they were on our Earth and wanted to leave no doubt. A lot was spelled out in those two minutes, which seemed to go against the grain. The Ron Moore cameo was nice though. Ending with Hendrix's Watchtower was a nice touch, but I think the dancing robots went on too long.

All-in-all, I loved it. I thought it was a great send-off to a great series.

1 comment:

Shrike said...

I was going to write something very like this, but you beat me to the punch. Curses!