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Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Goodbye, Battlestar Galactica

Well here we are, the end of an era. Battlestar Galactica is over, which has made a lot of people very angry for various reasons.

Spoilers ahead.

I'm too young to have seen the original Battlestar Galactica when it was on television, and I never watched the reruns. I'm not into it. The "reimagined" series ignited my interest, however, and I've watched the show since its miniseries became the backdoor pilot for a new television series.

To this day, my favourite episode remains "Kobol's Last Gleaming", the first season finale. It represents the best aspects of Battlestar Galactica's storytelling techniques: the high stakes conflict, the spiritual and ethical themes interwoven into the story, and of course, the effortless use of the episode's score to enhance the most emotional moments of the episode. Tonight's finale was cast in a very similar vein to the first season finale, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.

The show has received massive amounts of criticism in the last half of this season. To be fair, the Writer's Strike caused the last season to be split in half, placing much more tension on the mid-season premiere than the writers had originally intended. From there, it was a slippery slope into the lands of Exposition, Retconning, and Plot Device that left many fans confused and upset. And I'd have to agree--the last episodes of season four, for the most part, are among the most terrible episodes in Battlestar Galactica's run.

To the creative team's credit, the finale did tie up most of the loose ends. It left just enough loose ends to keep things interesting--although it's strongly implied that a "God" exists, we don't learn exactly who Head Six and Head Baltar are--angels from on high? More importantly, we're left wondering about the exact nature of Kara Thrace. Allusions to Mormon mythology aside, I understand those--like my dad--who are dissatsified with the lack of closure for Kara. But I wonder if an answer is actually superior to the question? Speaking of answers, however, I enjoyed the answer to the opera house vision. They dealt with that very artfully, mixing prescience with Cylon projection.

The first hour of the finale was just, in the vernacular, "frakkin' awesome". It was full of head-spinning action, Cylon centurions on both sides, old-school Cylons, and Baltar had a gun! Cavil had some great last moments, including when they almost had a chance for a Cylon-Human-Cylon peace.

I will never forgive Galen, no matter what Tigh says. And I will never sympathize with Boomer or forgive her for her choices. She had a chance for redemption until she kidnapped Hera.

Baltar, on the other hand, was more interesting. Right to the end he served his own self-interest--I have no doubt that he chose to go on the rescue mission to show himself that he could be heroric, and to save himself from being the pet of that annoying cult of his. I know I would have done the same thing in his place. Yet Baltar and Caprica Six manage to reunite and understand their place in "God's plan" (if such a God exists). I loved the moment when Head Six and Head Baltar appeared to both of them.

The second hour was much like that part in Lord of the Rings between the end of the book and the last page--useless conclusion, in other words. Yes, it's important for closure. I didn't enjoy the idea that they would "abandon technology"--but whatever, I suppose if Lee thinks it's a good idea, it's got to be a good idea--right?

Overall, however, Battlestar Galactica's final episode redeemed the series for the problems with the episodes preceding it. We received resolution to most of the major storylines. And we got some sweet special effects and amazing action scenes.

For those of who are reading this and haven't watched an entire episode of Battlestar Galactica, you may be wondering why I watched this show. You may not even like "that sci-fi stuff." You might think it's uninteresting, or you might be passionately opposed to such "juvenile" tastes. The key to understanding a fan's passion for Battlestar Galactica is to understand that it is science fiction--it's the type of science fiction you get in novels by masters of science fiction, as opposed to the adventure-based space opera you find on television (sorry Stargate).

Science fiction is all about exploring ourselves, as humans, and our responsibilities as a species and to the universe. Battlestar Galactica showed us that science fiction television shows can be set in space, have killer robots, yet be relevant to current events. I'm not going to launch into an extended diatribe about how it tackled "relevant issues"--you can read blog posts aplenty about that, sure. If you doubt it, however, just remember that the cast of Battlestar Galactica were at a panel at the United Nations. Over the course of its four-year run, the series took a look at difficult issues about humanity--a laundry list would not do it justice.

Sure, Battlestar Galactica couldn't keep everyone happy. That's to be expected. Yet it resonated with enough people that it generated great debate. Yes, Battlestar Galactica is one of the best television shows ever because it made people think--not just about plot lines and character arcs, but about what it means to be human, what it means to evolve, and to question the nature of our world and our beliefs. Many television shows strive for such a legacy--few achieve it.