why are we here? because we’re here. roll the bones

I intended to touch on the Cattlecar Fantastica season finale in the tail-end of a larger media blow, but I have a suspicion the comments may “blow up.” And not in a Cylon-baseship way, or in a Saul-Tigh-ordering-young-men-to-die-for-New-Caprica way. I mean, in that way of the Internet. So BSG gets its own post.

Spoiler-free Abstract: I found the series finale satisfactory. I mean that in the most precise sense of the term – not damning with faint praise, not rolling my eyes as I type it. The writers threw a lot of baggage atop the show’s rickety cart over 5 years and 4 seasons. Come the showdown, they rightly decided to pick up the pace, letting a few pieces fall off along the way in the name of making good time.

Also, just for the sake of discussion: if you thought that the BSG series finale sucked unforgivably, could you name one series finale that you found satisfactory? That really transcended the level of craft it had displayed in prior episodes, unified every loose plot thread in one artful tapestry, and succeeded as an hour of TV to boot? I can’t. I don’t watch a lot of series finales, but the few I can recall – The Wire, Arrested Development, Sports Night have been “good enough for my money.” I think a lot of BSG fans had some remarkably unrealistic expectations for this episode.

Riddle me this: if the writers of BSG were capable of the transcendent plotting and writing that the Internet seems to expect of them, why weren’t they doing it in the last 19 episodes? Did you think they were saving the good ideas for the end?

Spoilers under the cut:

The Good: The vignettes on Caprica City were engaging and unexpected. I liked seeing the familiar faces in a simpler time, watching their (comparatively) strifeless lives. The only backstories I didn’t like were Adama’s, Tigh’s and Ellen’s. I don’t get what aspect of the interview Adama was objecting to – other than a Luddite revulsion to polygraphs, the same reactionary technophobia that carried him through the first Cylon War and probably got him stationed aboard the Galactica in the first place. And I didn’t buy Ellen’s moment of sappy sentiment, staring lovingly into Saul’s eyes in the deafening confines of a strip club.

Also, the space battle was awesome and nothing more needs to be said about it.

Robot on Robot Action.

Robot on Robot Action.

The Ambivalent: Getting the Cylons to a cease-fire, only to have them open fire aboard the bridge, seems like padding to me. The end result’s the same as if the Cylons hadn’t agreed to a truce. And for all the tension and fatalism going into the Galactica’s final battle, you’ll note that only one person we care about died in the shooting: Boomer. Two if you count Racetrack. But this would have been an excellent opportunity to sacrifice some minor characters to up the stakes, like Helo or Hot Dog.

I’m not as bothered by Starbuck’s abrupt departure as I would have been by a jury-rigged solution that tried (and failed) to justify her presence. It’s clear the staff wrote themselves into a corner with her (“so she’s not a Cylon. And she’s not one of the Original Cylons, like Tigh and Galen. And she definitely died. So … hm”). Given that, I’m content with the sleight-of-hand that shuffles her off stage. It’s not perfect, but it will serve.

The Bad: Okay, so the prophetic vision that Roslin, Boomer, Baltar and Caprica Six have shared since the second season was a dream-symbol for … the walk from Galactica’s port wing to the bridge? Really? The crucial destiny that Hera served by getting to the bridge, in Baltar and Caprica’s hands, was … to get taken as a hostage by Cavill? Who gives her up anyway after Baltar talks him down and Tigh offers him immortality? And then reneges on that deal, opens fire, and dies anyway?

(Also, Cavill shooting himself bugged me. I don’t react well to blithe mutilation, like the end of Kill Bill or Scarface, at all. Cavill’s willingness to kill himself out of petulant spite strikes me in the same nerve. At first I thought he was just “taking a shortcut” back to the resurrection box in the Colony basestar, but I forgot he doesn’t have one)

But, yeah, the “truth of the opera house” turns out to be pretty lame. As I’ve said before, prophecy is the dumbest literary device ever to enter fiction. In fact, I’d be really interested to see someone run a complete throughline of the show’s prophecy to see how it turned out, starting with the Scrolls of Pythia and ending with Kara punching in Earth’s coordinates. “And lo, a dying leader will get better, but only for a little while, and she will lead humanity to a planet everyone thinks is Earth, but is actually the last Earth that your ancestors came from …”

The final conversation between “Six” and “Baltar” in New York City, 2009, was exceedingly lame. A slow pan over Manhattan, without any dialogue whatsoever, would have accomplished the same effect more profoundly. As it is, their preachy commentary on the cyclical nature of humankind smacked of bad genre literature. The kind of thing that BSG was supposed to transcend, y’know?

Overall:

Homer: Well, we didn’t get any money, but Mr. Burns got what he wanted. Marge, I’m confused. Is this a happy ending or a sad ending?
Marge: It’s an ending. That’s enough.

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2 Responses

  1. Six Feet Under’s finale was shocking but satisfying. Moving, even.

    But your point is taken about finales never being able to surmount fans’ expectations. I think every fan wants a different ending, especially the shippers.

    I was more looking for *redemption* of this season’s back-half. A more delicate treatment of the ideas that surfaced in the series — whether it’s politics or human nature or the characters themselves — but I just didn’t pull anything new from the finale. It wasn’t challenging.

  2. ‘Pushing Daisies’ had a lot to tie up, but its finale held up extremely well in my opinion.

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