The Corner

BSG Is Over.

Okay, so I’m on the train back from NYC. I had a nice time on a panel discussion about conservative magazines hosted by the newly redesigned Commentary.

But you can catch all that on C-Span.

On to Battlestar Galactica . . .

I’m trying to avoid reading other reviewers and the like, but just judging from my email — never mind the obvious responses — I’m sure there’s little new to what I have to say. 

There was a lot that was very enjoyable about it. But as I noted earlier this season, even the good parts have been annoying because they remind you how the whole show was good once. If it had just turned consistently sucky, the moments of inspiration wouldn’t hurt so much.

The first half was an extended such moment. Very enjoyable right through the moment the Chief strangled his wife’s murderer. I say that even though I found a lot of the back story stuff to be actor-driven filler. It’s wonderful to know that pole-dancing is a transterran phenomenon, but I could have used a lot less explanation of the characters — we knew Adama et al pretty well already — and a lot more explanation of what the hell is going on.

The second half, meanwhile . . . I dunno. So long as you enjoyed the imagery of new earth or proto-earth or whatever we’re supposed to call it, it was cool. The scene with Adama by Laura’s grave was lovely.

But the Big Idea behind the ending was what neuroscientists call a “brain fart.” The entire crew and all the passengers as well — all 38 thousand or so humans, plus cylons — agree to become neo-Rousseauian savages who will spend the remainder of their lives taking only pictures and leaving only footprints. Oh, no, wait. They won’t even take pictures it seems because they haven’t left behind a single scrap of technology for their descendents (i.e. us) to discover –  ever. Sure, they sent the fleet into the sun in what I suppose was intended as a burning of ships upon arrival in the New World. But what about those shuttles and the rest?

Moreover, an entire show devoted to the idea that humans are flawed — and it turns out, Cylons are too — we’re supposed to believe that all 38,000 of them completely agreed to go without flush toilets, or electrical power or modern medicine or, I dunno, light bulbs because they were so tired of the deprivations of war. I don’t know, but it seems to me not outlandish to imagine that some people having spent years stinking of B.O. and eating algae rations in a cargo hold might like to go another way once they got some breathing room. Anyone up for a mojito? Seems a more logical — heck, more human — response, than “hey that war sucked, let’s all be dirt farmers in this wilderness for the rest of our lives.” But no, every last human opted to go hippy. Uh huh.

I get the coolness of discovering that this all happened long ago, though perhaps not in a galaxy far, far away. But it doesn’t really do much for me given all the writers had to sacrifice in order to end things that way.

I mean where do you begin? Starbuck was an “angel” all this time, but had no idea until a few seconds before she’s called back. Uh huh. Cylon 6, I’m told, is an angel too. Okay, why, exactly did she give a nuke to Baltar? I don’t recall her being on the side of the angels when Baltar was the tyrant of New Caprica. Apparently, 150,000 years from now, scientists discover “mitochondrial Eve” and nobody’s shocked (or able to discover) that this DNA has bits of (Colonial) humans, Cylons, and earthlings. And how come the gene that makes horny Cylon babes get glowy spines never popped up again? Recall how Earth 1.0 had sent off a virus in one of its satellites that nearly killed all the Cylons? Are there no viruses on Earth 2.0? Do the new arrivals have no diseases themselves?

The child Hera is supposed to be the key to mankind’s salvation, but it turns out she’s the dispensable poker chip for man’s salvation. And why did God(s) put the little girl through all of that in the first place, if God was going to send Starbuck back with the FTL code in her head anyway? Maybe if God told the angel-Starbuck to stay sober with her pants on a bit more, she could have figured all of this out just a bit earlier.

I could go on, but to point out plot holes and continuity problems at this point is like trying to scoop spilled milk back in the bottle by hand — while wearing mittens.

The good news is that we can forget all of those problems. Why? Because God wants you to. In fact, going by the series finale, Ron Moore is the sci-fi equivalent of a creationist. God is in every gap. Every unexplained detail can be explained by the fact that God says so. In theology, there’s an argument somewhere in there. But in screenwriting such deus ex machina punting is letting writer’s block substitute as demiurge.

Now let me be clear when I say that I actually like the idea of turning to religion and, for want of a better word, the supernatural. But it still needs to make sense (I also liked the whole “break the cycle” theme, but even this felt derivative of the later Dune books). Ron Moore is of a different opinion about this. He thinks letting actors explore their characters and work out morality tales — “ripped from the headlines” in the case of BSG, and to a much lesser extent Star Trek: TNG — makes for more compelling television. I think that what made the first couple seasons so great is that he was able to contain or restrain this tendency within the larger storyline. Once that blew up, the show squandered its greatness.


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