"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer/what the frak just happened?

WARNING: MASSIVE, GINORMOUS, POTENTIALLY LIFE-THREATENING BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SPOILER ALERTS LIE AHEAD. IMMEDIATELY STOP READING AND GO WATCH MORE BSG INSTEAD OF READING THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED THE SERIES.

OK, with that out of the way: after nursing the incredibly slow Internet connection I have in my can for the last two weeks, I finally downloaded and watched the last four episodes of BSG, thus completing the journey I started many months and one house ago. I’d heard that the series finale brought a certain amount of closure without necessarily answering every little question the show raised. That was a fair assessment, in my opinion, and perhaps the feeling of mild disappointment I feel is more wistful at the great show ending rather annoyed by the questions that still have no answers. Initially I was concerned at where the fourth season would go after the mid-point, when the Galacticans and their Cylon buddies discovered “Earth”, only to find the object of their long search so badly ravaged by nuclear war that it was uninhabitable. We had a few surprises with the revelation of the 12th Cylon (and I found myself in mild agreement with certain National Review contributors in The Corner, who argued that the Final Five seemed chosen more or less at random), but things were just puttering along until the mutiny.

THAT was a great story arc; given the strains the human survivors had been under since the destruction of their homeworlds, a bloody uprising was inevitable at some point. I was a little disappointed that Gaeta chose the wrong side; I can see the loss of his leg at the hands of a Cylon who then became an ‘ally’ making him bitter, and let’s be honest, when he decided to serve in Baltar’s administration on New Caprica, we knew that he had a little of the weasel in him anyway. And we finally found out what Tom Zarek would do if he ever gained real political power; and it was exactly what we knew, and the Galacticans feared, would happen. In the aftermath of the mutiny, the mystery of Starbuck deepened, as did the significance of Hera and the Final Five, until things came to a head in the series finale. I had only a few wishes for the show’s end: I wanted one last space battle, I wanted to find out just what the frak Starbuck was, I needed to know why Hera was so damned important that everyone kept dreaming about her, and I wanted obvious loose ends (like Tory killing Cally and getting away with it) wrapped up.

For the most part, I was satisfied. I got my last space battle; and initially I felt it was too short, until my roommate complained that as I watched that episode he heard nothing but gunfire and explosions for 45 minutes straight. Space battle: check. Hera turned out to be our Eve, the first carrier of the genes we consider ‘human’ (which means we’re all part Cylon. Cool). I was hoping for a little explanation as to why she seemed able to predict future events, or heard the same weird music Starbuck did; the most I got was that it was part of ‘God’s plan’, though I suppose being the forebear of modern humanity fills a fairly large chunk of divine providence. Hera: check. Tory’s crime was finally revealed through the Cylon ‘mind meld’, and Tyrol lost no time in meting out justice in the form of snapping her neck. This disrupted the mind meld, which, incidentally, also violated a human/Cylon truce that had been negotiated not five minutes earlier; shooting inevitably erupted, but the Cylons got a nasty surprise in the form of nukes released by a ghost Raptor whose pilots were already dead (God finally choosing sides?). The Colony was destroyed, and, given that the Cylons no longer had resurrection, a home, or any leadership at this point, it’s safe to assume that the remaining scattered Cylons will eventually die out/break down/cease doing whatever it is they do to be considered alive. So, Cally was avenged, and the threat to the last vestiges of the 12 Colonies was removed. Loose ends: mostly checked (more on that in a second). Thus, we are left with the Colonials settling on Earth (Earth 2? 3? I’ve lost count), cutting ties with their past by sending the remnants of the fleet into the sun, and preparing to mingle with the independently evolved primitive humans already there. There were some genuinely moving moments, like Laura Roslin finally getting to see the promised land (but not live long enough to enjoy it; Moses, anyone?). Starbuck vanishes as well, much as she probably would have wished to go: in a instant, with little fanfare, her long-awaited fate finally fulfilled. We get a glimpse of humanity’s future: it’s us, and the Baltar/Six angels muse on whether we can halt the cycle of violence between man and machine. Six is optimistic, because even though “all this has happened before, and all this will happen again”, breaking the cycle is, too, part of God’s plan.

So: I enjoyed the end of the show, and was sad that we had so short a time together. I do have a couple more things to look forward to: the TV movie “The Plan”, which looks at the attacks on the 12 Colonies from the Cylon point of view (directed by none other than Edward James himself, who promises that once you watch this special, you’ll need to go back and reevaluate the whole show); and the prequel “Caprica”, which takes us back a couple of generations to the creation of the first Cylons and the rise of the Adama family, among others. I honestly don’t have terribly high hopes for that show, but I’ll give it a try.

NOW: on to the questions which still have no answers. I’m looking for answers folks. You know who you are.

1) Starbuck. What the frak? So the producers decided to make her an ‘angel’, and she fulfilled her mysterious destiny that was written in strange songs and paintings. That, I have no problem with. But. BUT. She was also supposed to be the “harbinger of death”. She was to “lead them all to their end”. We heard that at least three times. So just what death did she harbing? Whom did she lead to their end? I don’t think it was humanity, because she led them to a new beginning on a new planet. Was it the Cylons? That was my theory as the whole harbinger line was repeated again and again. And the Cylons do, in fact, appear to take a lethal blow with the destruction of their Colony; but she only plays a supporting role in that. AND, if her destiny was to lead humanity to Earth, why did we spend so much time focusing on her dreams and premonitions about the CYLON Earth, not the ‘final’ Earth? She painted the supernova, was sling-shotted to the Cylon Earth by her ‘death’, believed she’d FOUND the real Earth, and started getting jacked up in the head every time the fleet jumped farther away from Cylon Earth. Her ghost Viper pointed back to the Cylon Earth. But when everyone gets there, Cylon Earth is a nuclear wasteland, and we had to start over with the whole All-Along-the-Watchtower-notes-lead-us-to-real-Earth story. Maybe finding Cylon Earth gave us clues to finding real Earth, and I need to watch those few episodes again to see what I missed; but I feel like much of her ‘destiny’ was a wild goose chase.

2) What happened on Kobol? Really? And how did the 13th tribe know what clues, and where, to leave to guide any of their brethren to Cylon Earth? At first, we thought Kobol was mythical, as were its gods; turns out it was real, and physical evidence of co-existence with these ‘gods’ was available (the arrow, the cavern of constellations you plug the arrow into, the opera house, etc). A cataclysm befell Kobol, and all the tribes were dispersed. What happened to the ‘gods’, and what were the gods? As for the 13th tribe, they left a multitude of clues regarding the course they took to reach Cylon Earth (beacons, temples, the arrow, etc). My question is: did they already know exactly where they were going and leave clues after each jump for others to follow, or did they retrace their course and drop the clues later? And since the Final Five magically recovered their memories, why could they not tell us more about Kobol?

3) The angels. At various points, we have a Six angel, a Baltar angel, and a Kara Thrace angel. And then the Thrace angel, for one episode, get her own angel squared (the piano player). Now this question may have no solid answer, and I’ll probably have to re-watch the series to get a better understanding of what role the angel played, but what I want to know is, um: what role did they play? If they’re helping guide God’s plan, why does it seem like some days they’re working for the Cylons and others for the humans?

4) The original note. At the end of the premiere, someone left a note in Adama’s cabin telling him that there were 12 different models of Cylon (remember)? Just curious as to who was kind enough to leave that for him.

OK, I think that’s enough for now. BSG, I will miss thee, and while I wasn’t always sure where you were going (or completely happy with where you arrived), I enjoyed the ride. You have forever dethroned Star Trek: The Next Generation as my favorite pure sci-fi series on TV, and I will not miss the former. TNG was the United Nations in space, and while it had many great moments, it’s pretty much what one might expect a galactic UN to be: non-judgmental, shallow and sticky-sweet in its morality (when it has any, since religion of any kind is absent), where much is discussed but little is binding. BSG is all too human; judgment abounds, morality is complex and frequently sour, and things are often binding with brutal finality. Yet even with all humanity’s flaws, the divine is present and acknowledged, as it has been through all human history; and, in the end, even the most corrupted, self-interested character can find redemption if he seeks it. You have raised the bar, BSG. You are gone, but not forgotten. So say we all.

5 comments:

Winefred said...

Thanks for the warning, and the massive gap. We're still years behind. Any other news for your backward parental units to read?!

Bree said...

Oh. My. God. Seriously?! Could you BE a bigger geek?!! Poor Tommy.

The Accidental Blogger said...

Kara Thrace is, I think, the bringer of death in the sense that, after this journey, all the Cylons will die and never again experience resurrection.

I was also surprised they left Helo alive; I figured at least one of the major human characters wouldn't make it out of that sequence.

I was really puzzled by the direction they went at the end; for such a grim show, the conclusion was far more upbeat than I expected. I'm actually glad, in one sense, in that I think we should be optimistic about the future. It does seem a bit out of character.

I also cannot wait to see the pre-series that will be airing next.

Cincinnatus said...

Okay, first of all, yes, I could be a bigger geek. I could be into LARP, D&D, and WoW; and while I actually know what all those things are, I don't do them. Tommy's fine; we played some Guitar Hero and worked it all out.

As for BSG: I'll buy that theory about what Kara harbinged. I simply expect something more, I don't know, apocalyptical.

I felt that Helo was headed for the morgue too. But I'm glad he pulled through; he was one of the truly good guys, even though his emotions sometimes led to questionable decisions.

I rewatched some of the final episodes with a few squadron-mates today, and may have to revise my final opinion upward. The show still drifted a fair bit in its last season; but they put out quality material to the end (and I need to get what I call the Super-Cylon Remix of "All Along the Watchtower"; I love it).

I have only modest hopes for "Caprica"; I'll give it a couple of episodes. George Lucas has cured any desire I have for prequels. "The Plan", however, should be good stuff: more gravelly EJO, more space battles, and more Six. . .

The Accidental Blogger said...

Also, did you see EJO and Roslin at the UN? He got the general assembly to chant 'So Say We All'. How crazy is that?