Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak parts 2 and 3 (spoilers!)

So the greatest TV sci-fi series of all time (sorry, Star Trek) comes to and end... on Earth! Without wishing to sound smug, I strongly suspected that it would turn out BSG was set in our past and that the colonials were, in fact, our ancestors. I had also theorized that the planet they originally thought was Earth actually wasn't, but it was only that, a theory among many. Actually seeing it realized in last night's episode was still a pleasant surprise.

So in summary, Galactica jumped into the jaws of the Cylon colony, rammed it, boarded and Hera was rescued. Cylons led by Cavill fought their way to Galactica's C'n'C to recapture Hera and there was an armed stand-off, broken when the final five (well, four of them), promised to give the Cylons the secret of resurrection. They linked with Anders to transmit the data to the colony, but this meant they shared their memories and Tyrol learned Tory had killed Callie, at which point he broke the link (and Tory's neck). Cavill thought he was being betrayed and a firefight broke out in which Cavill blew his own head off.

With raiders piling in on Galactica and the colony exploding thanks to a battery of missiles from a raptor, Adama ordered Starbuck to jump to anywhere. She then realised that the tune in her head was giving her coordinates. She punched them into the FTL control and Galactica jumped, breaking its back in the process but still retaining conventional engines. Just as well that the coordinates had taken them to Earth...

On the surface it was established that they had arrived in the days of early man. We were hunting and burying our dead, but were still pretty primitive. It was decided that the fleet would be scuttled, sent into the sun under the control of Anders, and that the surivivors would spread throughout the Earth, setting up their own colonies (though the Centurions were given the basestar). Tyrol decided to head-off on his own (possibly to Scotland!). Admiral Adama took Roslin for one last spin in a raptor, during which she died. He also chose to live alone and started to build a cabin somewhere. Lee and Starbuck decided to go their separate ways, with Starbuck quite literally vanishing while Lee's back was turned. Baltar, along with Caprica Six (who, it turns out, had been seeing an imaginary Baltar all along in the same way Baltar was seeing an imaginary Six), headed off to become a farmer. Tigh and Ellen went off with one colony and Helo, Athena and Hera did too.

Jump forward 150,000 years and we're in our own near future, where we learn that Hera was Mitochondrial Eve, the most recent common ancestor of all humans. Imaginary Baltar and imaginary Six, walking through Time Square, remind us that all this has happened before and all this will happen again, maybe...

Some random observations on all this...

1. Despite most of the key characters surviving, I found these episodes full of profound sorrow. There seemed great sadness in these people, who had been through so much together, going their separate ways. It seemed wrong that Adama would choose to live on his own in a cabin somewhere. You like to think of him growing old(er) wth Tigh, getting off his face on homebrew, or maybe tending his own garden with family around him, like Vito Corleone in The Godfather. Also, dating the BSG saga 150,000 years ago reduces it to a mere speck in the history of the universe. That's not a criticism at all, it's actually quite a bold thing to do, but it does remind us all of our insignificance in the great scheme of things. Haven't felt something like that since I read the Stephen Baxter novel 'Titan'.

2. The revelation that Caprica Six had her own imaginary Baltar was a very neat little touch. We don't know how they came to see eachother, even if we do now know why. There are other unanswered questions like this, but they're besides the point. We were being asked to have faith that it was all part of G-d's plan. We don't need to know how Starbuck came back to life, which just need to know that G-d had it happen for a purpose.

3. Kudos for invoking the classic BSG theme as the fleet headed for the sun. A perfect TV moment.

4. Small criticism - some of the CGI was a little too CGIey looking, unlike in earlier seasons.

5. Embarassing personal revelation - when Galactica jumped to the colony and came under immediate bombardment from cannon and raiders, I got a little teary for it... *blush*

6. Why did Adama decide in part 1 to risk Galactica and crew by going after Hera? It struck me as a little implausible, but on reflection maybe he thought it was a last roll of the dice for humanity itself after 'Earth' turned out to be a busted flush and Galactica started falling apart. It was his destiny to do it, but what got him to take the decision?

I'm sure more will come to me later, but I really must press on and do some work. For me, Battlestar Galactica concluded on a high, even if I did think it was full of sadness, which is a great achievement and a testament to the vision of the writers, producers and others who have rarely put a foot wrong over the past six years in delivering, yes, the greatest television sci-fi of all time.

Roll on Caprica...

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