Over the past few days, I’ve read a lot positive and negative comments about the finale of Battlestar Galactica. As one of the few who were seemingly completely satisfied with the ending, I feel the need to discuss my thoughts in an open forum, and it doesn’t get much more open than the internets (use the Google to find me…God, I hope bashing Bush never gets old)
Anyway, as I’ve said many times over the past year (to anyone who would listen), Ron Moore and David Eick seemed to be following a plan with BSG that took the major plot points of the one season of the classic Battlestar as a template for the new show. Those major points, and their analogous new episodes I shall list here:
-Fall of the Twelve Colonies: Classic ‘Saga of a Star World,’ New ‘Miniseries’
-Finding Kobol: Classic ‘Lost Planet of the Gods,’ New ‘Kobol’s Last Gleaming, Part I’ through ‘Home, Part II’
-Discovery by Pegasus and Adm. Cain: Classic ‘The Living Legend,’ New ‘Pegasus’ through ‘Resurrection Ship, Part II’
-Ship of Lights/Count Iblis: Classic ‘War of the Gods,’ New…the entire series?
It is the last one that is most closely tied in with the finale of ‘Daybreak’ (both parts). As it is revealed that the Six that Baltar would talk to that only he could see and hear (like Al from Quantum Leap), and that the Baltar vision both he and Caprica Six would have, are actually some sort of beings who have been helping them and the fleet along, hoping to guide them towards a better future. And also that Starbuck, after she seemingly died, was brought back for a specific purpose. I’ll come back to these points in just a moment, because first I want to address what seems to be one of the biggest sticking points: the decision of the Colonials to renounce their technologies and settle down on our Earth and blend in with the natives.
I think this was a perfectly logical way to end the Colonial’s journey for a few reasons. I think it does make sense from a pure storytelling perspective and from a practical one. In context of the story, the entire point of the series has been “All this has happened before, and will happen again” and trying to break out of the cycle. The final five were revealed to be people from the original 13th colony who had traveled to the 12 Colonies in hopes that they could prevent the terrible destruction that had visited their world (the original Earth), but they were too late. And in trying to prevent a future war, accidently set in motion the events that would destroy the Colonies. As Lee Adama makes clear in his little speech on why they should give up the technology, if they were to keep the technology and take over the planet, it would most likely just continue the cycle. If they were to give it all up, they would give everyone the chance to start again, and hopefully when the civilization once again reached the point of the “Singularity,” the point when true Artificial Intelligence is reached and the systems can learn and evolve on their own (look it up), we will all be in a better position to avert the apocalypse (this anxiety is present in much of our science fiction, look no further than The Matrix and The Terminator films).
So in the context of the story, it makes perfect sense. From a practical standpoint, let’s play what if. What if instead of reaching Earth in the distant past, they reach Earth (our Earth) and it’s more recent, or even present day or even near future? Essentially you would leave open the door for future series in some alternate reality in which the Galactica reaches Earth…then you just have the disaster that was Galactica 1980 all over again. Instead, the way Moore and Eick ended it, you have a morality tale that squares with our own human history (but what about wreckage of the Raptor that Adama had, etc…I’ll get to that). As for people who ask the question I just parentheticalled, well, I just say you’re over thinking it, and if you really want an answer, well Adama set the autopilot and crashed it into the Sun like the rest of the fleet. But again, I think you’re missing the forest for the trees if you get that nitpicky.
So with that now settled, I would like to turn my attention to the previously mentioned point, that of the revelation of the true natures of, what had been referred to as, “Head Six” and “Head Baltar.” Call them angels, spirits, or whatever, it becomes clear that they were operating for some source, power, whatever that had instructed them to do what they did. And playing against them in this game was the original Cavil cylon, who we had learned earlier, was behind the mind wipes of the final five, planting them in the fleet and many other devious things. He wanted to wipe out humanity so the Cylons could be ascendant.
This does mesh well with the general tone of the original series’ “War of the Gods” two part episode. On the one hand there is Count Iblis who is our devil/Cavil figure (originally there had been a scene of him with cloven hoofs, but it was pulled from the aired episode), and he is warring against the beings of the ‘Ship of Lights,’ who are beings who have ascended to a higher plane of existence (if you are familiar with Stargate SG-1 think of the Ancients). They hope to guide humanity to a better existence.
Also like the episode “War of the Gods,” is the obtaining of the location of Earth. The return of Starbuck at the end of Season 3 leads to this…twice. First the original Earth, destroyed by conflict of man against machine, and then to the new Earth, our Earth. Also of similarity is that Starbuck returns in a pristine, shiny viper. When, in the original series, the pilots who had been taken by the “Beings of Light” return to Galactica, their vipers are in similar condition.
From this, it can be seen that Ron Moore, when writing out this ending, had these episodes in mind. And that all along, he was following the large plot structure of the one season of the original series. But rather than the rather obvious, in your face, religious angels that we had in the original, we have the rather enigmatic, obtuse, and not always ‘good’ angles of “Head Six” and “Head Baltar.” In the payoff of the Opera House visions, we do see that all along it was to protect the future of humanity, Hera, who would lay the seeds of our modern humanity (as seen in the tag of the near future and the discovery of our most recent ancestor).
But an ending with such religious overtones? That seems to be a sticking point for some. In a science fiction show that prided itself on realism, a metaphysical ending? I didn’t have any problems because the entire show had religious themes. From the Colonial’s pantheon of Gods, to Roslin’s faith and Moses-like figure, to the Cylon’s one true God, the series is littered with the religious. The only lingering question for me is: with all of the strong allegory of religious conflict, and parallels to 9/11 and Arab/Judeo-Christian conflict, what, if anything, can we read into this ending? My initial thoughts are that by the refutation of the name “God” at the end, it is a message of pantheism (if I’m using that term correctly). That religion is putting a specific name on something which doesn’t want or need to be named (though anthropomorphizing it in such a way contradicts such pantheistic readings seemingly).
I’m not an expert in such matters, but a reading of the ending that encourages unity rather than division seems to be perfectly in line with the shows message as a whole. In the end, in order to survive, didn’t humanity and cylon have to come together? Wasn’t that the whole point of Hera? Exactly.
So, those are my thoughts. Yours?