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The End is the Beginning (BSG Spoiler-ama)

06 Apr

I was really afraid of how they would end BSG . And it wasn’t because it was going to be over. I loved the show, but was ready for it to be over, ready for there to be some closure. I’ve seen a lot fo shows that I loved cancelled without an ending (Hello, Pushing Daisies!) and was glad that wasn’t going to happen to this one. But after spending four years of my fannish energy on this show, and bothering anyone who would listen (and many who wouldn’t) about my reactions and speculations and obsession with Starbuck, I was really hoping it was going to be worth it. It’s hard to look back on a story without it being colored by the ending, at least for me. Bad endings can ruin the whole experience, leaving you as a reader or a viewer with that most heartbreaking of all thoughts, “what was the freaking point of that?”

It’s been popular to dump on BSG for some of the turns it has taken in the past few seasons. Fanboys and fangirls (both of these labels are badges of honor, btw) have objected to a lot of things, the more mystic elements that have taken center stage, the focus on Cally, who went from spunky to whiny over the course of one episode and never really went back, the mystery of Starbuck’s return, and, of course, the reveal of the final four (later 5) model cylons with the use of “All Along the Watchtower”.

The popular opinion was that the show was just kind of meandering through plot-space (sort of like the fleet itself), and there was no hope for an ending that even made sense, let alone one that would allow us to look back over the series and see a coherent, satisfying story.

And that’s really all I needed from the finale …

I knew it wouldn’t be a happy ending. I was prepared for that. This show has been the darkest show I’ve ever watched long term, but it was never callous about it. And it warned you up front. I mean, this was a show in which one of the main characters snapped a baby’s neck in the first episode and yet somehow STAYED SYMPATHETIC!

This show was about hard choices … it never promised you a warm feeling at the end, unless that warm feeling came from being splattered with fresh blood.

So … this ending? Like I said, I had prepared myself for just about anything. I was prepared to see every one of the surviving characters gunned down as they assaulted the Cylon colony to rescue Hera. I thought the most likely outcome was that many would die in the rescue, and that Hera would turn out to be some new dangerous thing, or to have been turned by Cavil, and end up destroying the people who rescued her, and the entire fleet would just keep wandering, let loose into the cosmos to slowly die of attrition. That was the ending I was preparing myself for. It would not have been satisfying, but it would have fit. The last thing I expected was hope.

Yes, bittersweet, gut-punching hope, but there it was …

First, what I didn’t like:

Hera wandering away from the battle, to be followed by Roslin, Athena, and finally escorted into CIC by Baltar and Caprica Six in an imitation of the opera house dream from season three. I got it, but it was really, really forced, and as it was happening, I thought “I wonder if they just thought that they had to make this mean something, so came up with this at the last minute.” This was confirmed by the podcast.

The total lack of protest to the idea of abandoning all technology at the end, even basic medical equipment. Of course, to be fair, it didn’t actually get into what they could be keeping, so it’s possible it was more of a slow process. Or that these discussions happened off-screen.

We never got to see what happened to Baltar’s girl army. I kind of hope they moved to a greek island and became the amazons, but probably not.

What I loved:

The battle sequences. They saved the best for last. Galactica slamming into the side of the colony, the good centurions with red strips battling Cavil’s centurions. Boomer killing a Simon to rescue Hera and bring her to Athena and practically begging Athena to kill her.

The fleet being left in the hands of Hoshi; Romo Lampkin, of all people, being appointed president.

Baltar and Six: “You can see them too?”

Tory’s protestations before the final five mind-meld: “remember, we’re all cyclons, and we all make mistakes,” knowing they were all about to see what she did to Cally.

Racetrack and Ghost, who were the ones who were in the middle of just about every important event in the series without ever getting credit for it, accidentally nuking the colony even after they were dead, and inadvertently forcing Galactica to make the jump that led to home.

Starbuck … using the notes as coordinates, begging to know what she was and getting a sort of answer, and leading humanity to its end … and its new beginning.

Adama putting his wedding ring on Laura’s hand when he realized she had passed.

Mixed feelings:

The flashbacks. I agree with their narrative purpose, showing us who these people had been so we could better appreciate where they ended up. But I’m not sure they gave us that much new information. We already knew Kara and Lee had been secretly in love with each other since even before Zack died. We’d tread the ground of Adama and Tigh’s friendship. We knew Roslin was essentially alone and emotionally vulnerable even before her diagnosis. And Boomer’s single flashback, coming just before Athena gunned her down …random and kind of pointless. We already knew about her struggle over the series, her relationship with Adama. The “one she owed him” could have been about trying to make up for emptying a gun into him during the season 1 finale.”

Baltar – Six – God: Yes, there was a grander plan. I like that. But … I don’t know, I guess, is my only reaction. And the scene at the end was superfluous at best.

Kara … ooh boy, Kara. She was brought back from the dead as an angel of light, as a sort of physical version of the Head-Six and head-Baltar. But I think she was still herself, just reborn. I wish she could have stayed around at the end … I don’t mind never getting a definitive answer on her, but I think she deserved better than to just vanish. My pet theory (and I know this is stupid) is that she becomes something like a guardian angel to the people of earth, but continues to mess it up. She could be responsible for technological leaps, sort of like a misguided Prometheus, inspiring warrior-goddess legends, like Artemis, and even manifesting aspects of herself in like-minded young women throughout the ages, inhabiting people like Joan of Arc. Perhaps someday she can dress in drag and become first officer on a whaling ship. No, I am not writing fanfic on this subject. Feel free to steal the idea.

And so … it wasn’t note perfect, but as rotten things go into perfume and an old barn looks even more lovely for the paint-fractures on the boards, it was perfect because of the things that were wrong with it and not in spite of them. This was a coherent story … but its creators did not allow any grand master plan to get in the way of the inspirations inhaled along the way. That’s how most great stories are written, with an end-point in mind, a rough map of the mountain, and a yearning to be surprised.

This time, we were surprised by hope. I think the writers were too, but I am glad they followed that instinct. Perhaps they were led by an angel of light …

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Posted by on April 6, 2009 in culture

 

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