Galactica: It Is Accomplished

Battlestar Galactica’s finale has aired. It didn’t answer every question we had, but it resolved most of them. Perhaps more importantly, it gave us closure for the characters we’ve come to care about over the past five or so years.

Plenty o’ spoilers after the break.

I am pleased with how they wrapped up most of the character arcs. Initially I assumed they’d kill off one or more main characters (Apollo seemed a likely candidate), but I guess Ron Moore and company preferred the soppy goodbyes.

Accepting the show’s answers to several of its bigger mysteries requires buying into some pseudo-religious hand waving, and I suppose I did that. The conclusion of Starbuck’s arc was fine with me (sent back from the dead to lead her people to a new Earth, and after saying goodbye to Lee she just disappears), although I guess we’ll never be sure where she got that new viper. We are left to assume that the “in the head” versions of Six and Baltar were angels of a sort, ensuring that divine will be carried out.

To me the real brilliance of the episode was tying the Cylon colony into the vision of the opera house. That was really well done and felt very satisfying. And I was fine with the discovery of a replacement Earth that turned out to be the planet we inhabit, although I thought it was a bit of a stretch that two planets would have the same continental configuration.

Though there is still one more dose of BSG in our future (“The Plan,” a TV movie which delves into the Cylon’s much-alluded to scheme), the show is over. I can’t help but think about how it will stack up against what I consider the landmark of episodic science fiction: Babylon 5.

While B5 made some course corrections along the way (due mostly to cast changes and the uncertainty of whether it would be able to air a fifth season), it fulfilled the promise of playing out a complete storyline that was envisioned in advance. Its special effects are painfully dated and some of the acting is stiffer than cardboard, but the story arc told by the show was spectacular and the writing was often pure poetry.

In contrast, BSG had superb acting and astonishingly good special effects which I believe will hold up well for many years to come, but its writing and charaterization were spotty and it clearly wasn’t plotted out from the beginning. In the recent SyFy (/giggle) special on the show, Ron Moore even admitted they didn’t know who the final five were until the team sat down to write the episode that revealed them. As one of those guys who wants to believe, that kind of thing disappoints me.

But here’s my ultimate test. When the final episode of B5 aired, I wept like a baby as a show I loved came to its conclusion and I said goodbye to some beloved characters. When the finale of BSG was done there were no tears; I was satisfied and almost relieved that the show ended without screwing anything up.

So when all is said and done, BSG will be a show that I greatly enjoyed but wasn’t as satisfying as it could have been. I could have lived with lower production values and a weaker cast if the show had carried through a consistent story and vision. BSG was great television, but there’s plenty of room for episodic genre fiction that reaches even greater heights.

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