Sunday, March 22, 2009

Preliminary Observations on the Battlestar Galactica Series Finale (Spoilers Ahoy)

First things first, I liked it. A lot of people on the internet don't seem to, however, and I am maybe going to trash talk them just a little.

Maybe you bought the hype and maybe you didn't, but where do people get the idea that the ending to a story is going to be artistically meritous? Or that writers will answer every goddamn question you have? Or that the ending will in any way reflect a particularly clever solution to the overwhelming odds against which the heroes have been struggling?

It's unfortunate that it takes a great deal more skill to end a story effectively than it does to write plot twists and terrible situations for your heroes to deal with. The story isn't even going to be tense once you've hit the climax anyway; all that you really can do is heap on the sentimentality and hope it gets the ol' tear ducts into gear. With Hera secured, and Cavil's cylon base suffering from accute thermonuclear explosiosis, the Colonials pretty much win. Didn't really matter where they jumped to, as habitable planets are common enough in-canon that in another 6 months tops, they could all settle down in Kamloop-- I mean, uh, New Kobol, or whatever? And that would be that. Earth was, of course, the most poetic place to end the saga, but even an ambiguous fleet-in-space ending wouldn't really change their chances of survival *that* much.

I did feel that finding Earth again sort of cheapened the whole of the fourth season, because I was beginning to think that the show really had started to reflect Adama's attitude vis-a-vis prophecy. That the pursuit of prophecy had inflicted such a high cost in lives and offered little more than a few thousand years' reprieve for humanity before another holocaust was reason enough for humanity to start charting its own course. I thought that leaving Earth as a dead planet wisely left the connection between real humans and BSG humans obvious, but ambiguous enough to be open to broad interpretation and speculation.

I didn't think that the inclusion of the divine was all that bad, to be honest. I'm an Atheist to be sure, but 1) BSG is FICTION, so God is allowed to exist (he can even be wearing a funny hat!) 2) The show didn't pull faith and God and prophecy out of its ass, like you'd think judging by the  vitriol being thrown about in the comment threads. BSG has always been a show with a mystical, mythical side to it, and to overlook that in the series finale would ring very untrue to the show. I admit that SF gurus love for things to have adequate explanation, but the show already did artificial gravity that works even when every other part of a ship fails AND faster-than-light travel*! What's God on top of that?

*While the exclusive use of projectile weaponry in the Galactica universe was intended as a verisimilitude thing, I mostly tend to see it as an aesthetic choice, given the whole artificial gravity and FTL thing.

And Kara's disappearance was a little abrupt, sure, but nothing burns me like the Lee/Kara shippers who feel like the show cheated them out of something because they didn't settle down and have hundreds of fat children. Can you imagine anything less true to the characters? I mean, I guess they could have decided to abandon all of their technology...oh, wait.

Actually I find the whole luddism/amish/neo-primitivist bit much easier to believe than everyone else seems to. The colonials have undergone a hell of a lot of suffering because they abused their technology. They have been living in rancid tin cans for FOUR YEARS. I'm not sure anyone was particularly sad to see the fleet go to its fiery end, because I know I wouldn't ever want to use it again after such an ordeal, I think. So maybe the total abandonment of tech is a bit of a stretch, but they were at the same time making a point of breaking a violent and destructive cycle. Recurring themes (technological ones, too, it's not just Bob Dylan!) are a...well recurring theme of the show, and I think it's fairly well established that while it's no guarantee the ideas won't resurface later if they start fresh, building up from colonial tech is a surefire way to wind up with angry Cylons...again.

Which brings me to the very end, which some people are interpreting as some kind of anti-science message. Bullfeathers! Look at that montage of robots that plays during the epilogue. Not a one of those robots looks anything like a cylon! They look friendly, they look colourful and curved and there's even one dancing! When the angels say that "technology [has] gone rampant", they're really just reacting to the general state of the world; our industries are taxing the ability of this beautiful world to sustain us, and we must be mindful, as we must be mindful of any and all of our creations. From the beginning: "There comes a day when you can no longer hide from the things that you've done". What I think they are saying is that there is hope for humanity, that we need only learn to live in harmony with each other, with our creations, and indeed with all creation.

And as long as we can manage that, the cycle will stay broken.

-LOUD has happened before, and LOUD will happen again.

P.S: Kara/Lee shippers? YOU'RE STILL WRONG.

P.P.S: <3 Adama/Roslin. ^^ so cute!

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