A Philosopher's Blog

BSG Finale

Posted in Aesthetics by Michael LaBossiere on March 23, 2009

I was a kid when the original Battlestar Galactica aired on TV. I rather liked the show then, mainly because I was a kid. I’ve stayed away from watching the episodes again so as to avoid scraping away that glorious glow of faded memories.

When I heard that BSG was being remade for the Sci-Fi channel, I had mixed feelings. I was worried that they would do awful things that would desecrate my faded, yet shiny, memories of the original. I was hopeful that the series would be cool sci-fi. Turns out I was right-it did both.

I watched the new series on and off. Watching most episodes seemed like watching a stylish music video: it seemed cool while I was watching it, but when it was over it seemed like nothing had really happened. I think that was the main thing that kept me from really bonding with the series: it seemed to wander and ramble in ways that made it appear that the writers really had no idea where they were going or what they were trying to say. The characters also seemed inconsistent. But not, as Aristotle would day, consistently inconsistent.  They seemed a bit too random at times.

When I heard they were actually going to bring the series to an end with a planned finale, I started watching again. Some episodes were promising, some just wandered aimlessly through shallow pools of vagueness.  Then the finale arrived.

Overall, I found the finale unsatisfying.  While the action was cool (thus appealing to my 14 year old self) and the acting good, there were some rather serious flaws. I’ll say a bit about some of these.

One rather picky point is that it seemed odd that the Cylon colony was only one jump away. After all, the fleet had been on the run for years, jumping quite often. Why would the Cylon colony be so close? Has the fleet been going in a circle? Did the Cylons move the colony to chase the fleet? Were the upgraded FTL drives of the Galactica and the Raptor just really amazing?

Another picky point is the scene on the bridge in which Starbuck is putting in the jump coordinates. Adama yells at her to jump the ship, she says she doesn’t have the coordinates, and he yells to jump anywhere. Did everyone else on the bridge forget the coordinates? If so, they obviously regained their memory when it came time to contact the rest of the fleet.

I found the flashbacks to the past less than appealing. I would think that the characters would have been sufficiently developed during the course of the series so that such flashbacks were not needed. If they had been profound and important (that is, either worth seeing in their own right or making a significant contribution to the story) then they would have been fine. But, I don’t think we needed to see Adama and  Ty at a strip joint. I certainly didn’t need to see Adama throwing up on himself.

The angel and God thing did not appeal me to that much. It is not because I have anything against mixing religion or pseudo-religion with sci-fi. It mainly bothered me because it did not seem very well implemented. Perhaps the writers were trying to imitate Arthur C. Clarke here (mostly benevolent beings guiding and shaping the development of others). Perhaps not. It was hard to tell because the angel thing was rather clumsily implemented.

While the idea of having the fleet survivors (or rather just Hera, apparently) become us was something I expected, the way it was handled did not make a great deal of sense.  In the finale, the survivors just decide to give up all their technology and culture and go native. But this does not fit. Here is why.

Throughout the series, the writers made a point of presenting many of the minor characters in rather negative ways. For example, the Sons of Ares are presented as brutal thugs and are shown in this past season as folks who steal food from women and children in Dogsville. As another example, the ship captains are shown as obsessed with getting the parts from the Galactica. As a third example, the mutineers seemed quite obsessed with never cooperating with the Cylons and quite willing to murder their fellow humans to achieve their ends. I must admit, the writers did an excellent job at making these folks seem petty, selfish, obsessed and violent. In fact, they did such a great job that the decision to just give up all their technology and civilization simply did not make sense.

One of the character notes that he didn’t think they would go for Apollo’s idea  to abandon their civilization and Apollo gives a very short answer as to why-an answer that simply does not satisfy because it is wildly improbable given all that has come before in the series.  Where the Sons of Ares magically made nice by the power of the angels? Was everyone? Perhaps we can just assume that they managed to work things out and got everyone to go along with abandoning everything (medicine, technology, science, clothing and so on).

Presumably all the other survivors died off without reproducing (or their ancestors died off) since Hera is the ancestor of all “modern” people. That also seems a bit unlikely, given that there were thousands of people in the fleet. Then again, when they gave up all their technology and civilization, then their mortality rate would probably go way up.

My overall view is that the finale was okay, but could have been much better. The same holds for the whole series.

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4 Responses

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  1. kernunos said, on March 24, 2009 at 10:20 am

    When an episode was over in the first series did you feel like anything really happened? My only good memories of the first series was the ships and chicks. I don’t recall any spectacular stories.

  2. magus71 said, on March 25, 2009 at 7:04 am

    That’s the next new series on SyFy: “Ships and Chicks.”

    I’m tuning in.

    “Honey, get me a beer!”

  3. kernunos said, on March 25, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I tell Melissa it’s Battlestar Prophylactica because if they didn’t use em they would be in babies up to their armpits by the final season.

  4. kernunos said, on March 25, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Oh, and one jump could be many places. That is 360 degrees by 360 degrees. That is a lot of space. Science fiction movies and series usually have a problem being scientifically consistent anyway. They should have hired some good physicists like the ones that made ‘Traveller’.


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