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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

So Say . . . Well, I . . . Because "We All" Said So Some TIme Ago

A handful of thoughts on the ending of Battlestar Galactica. 5p01l3rz, obviously!

I really liked Battlestar Galctica a lot, although I don't think I ever loved it. Just when I might've gotten to that point, the first season ended with the "1 Year Later" bullshit. I never quite got over that, which is unlike me. (I am, generally speaking, a very adaptable TV viewer.)

We were well behind in BSG viewing pretty much all season. I don't think I got spoiled for much of anything, which has a lot more to do with being out of the fandom than good behavior on anyone's part.

My interest really dipped to a low in "Revelations," as the nuked Earth seemed so very obvious. The byzantine explanation of the final five and their place in human–cylon history was not helping. When we picked back up "Sometimes a Great Notion," I was frustrated with all the shortcuts taken to Dee's end.

It isn't that I find a suicide at that time unbelievable. It isn't even that I didn't buy that Dee would take her own life. In fact, I pretty much knew from the moment we saw Dee's reaction shot on Earth that she was done for (didn't necessarily know it would be such an overt suicide). But her whole story line takes place against a kind of emotional green screen. By the time we have the bizarre scene with her romping with Hera, Helo, and Athena, I wondered if the problem wasn't Dee, but that everyone else in the main cast had suffered some kind of head injury that prevented them from seeing that she'd snapped. And, well, the best thing I can say about that episode is that Lucy freakin' Lawless and her nightmare hair finally got left behind.

I liked "The Oath" and "Blood on the Scales." It was good to have Gaeta finally do something—some culmination of behavior that had been bizarre and erratic since he served as President frakking Baltar's aide de camp. There was plenty of fury to go around on both sides. Zarek's slaughter of the quorum could be viewed as annoyingly directive (LOOK! LOOK! HE'S THE BAD GUY! DON'T ROOT FOR HIM!), but that gun was on the mantel when Zarek was introduced: Whether he's a guerrilla or a freedom fighter in today's paper, his tactics will always be brutal and uncompromising. Oh, and I loved the return of Starbuck—MY Starbuck, devoid of emo and bubblegum.

Unfortunately, "No Exit" killed any momentum that had been built, at least for me. Talky, talky. Obvious. Boring. Stale metaphors. Yes, I have couch trauma related to No Exit, specifically, but I don't think it was all in my head. "Deadlock" didn't do a great deal to pick up the pace, either. Part of the problem was poor Ellen's schizophrenia.

I've no idea when they decided that she was the final cylon, but boy was that decision covered in phlebotenum. I don't fault Kate Vernon, who did very well occupying an entirely new character we'd never seen before. I fault the whipsaw writing that tried to reconcile her as the real brains of the five with her long-running, completely-toxic-but-somehow-a-great-love relationship with Tigh.

But then I loved almost all of "Someone to Watch Over Me." Ok, I loved about half of "StWOM." Ok, I loved the Starbuck parts. The crushing monotony of the briefings. The sudden memory that the more fucked up things get, the funnier she gets.

But then there's Chief. What. the. Fuck? In addition to not buying for a frakking second that he is so completely undone by Boomer's reappearance that he can't think straight, I found it staggering that the script for the episode barely acknowledges the fact that Chief presumably beats another 8 unconscious to make the substitution in Boomer's cell. When we then add in the torture porn of inherent in juxtaposing the Boomer/Helo sex to the bruised, bloody, and bound Athena in the closet . . . UGH. Please, writers, work out your own mommy/woman-who-done-you-wrong issues on your own time.

I'm just going to skip "Islanded in a Stream of Stars." Honestly, I can't remember much about it, and the Boomer Beating/Beat Off material of "StWOM" leads pretty well into what I liked and disliked about "Daybreak."

The flashbacks to before the fall could have gone wrong, but on balance, I liked them and appreciated the pieces of characters that they slotted into place. On a technical note, using long shots in most of these flashbacks caused me a lot of "Is that Lee or is that Anders?" confusion.

I know there's a lot of dissatisfaction with the Kara/Lee nookie close encounter, and I appreciate and get the criticisms. However, it kind of worked for me. I buy the fact that Kara loved Zak in her fucked up, damaged way. But I also buy that Kara is and always has been exceptional, in both positive and negative ways, and so is Lee. In contrast, Zak is a nice guy, but plodding. Ordinary. Mediocre.

It's not particularly admirable in either Kara or Lee that in the moment, they'd forget about the little people (and it's a pretty tired, ethically suspect convention) but I believed it. Anders' monologue about perfection shed more light on both Kara and Lee than it did on him. (That's my bias, certainly. Michael Trucco's performance never elevated Anders to anything more than a Lee also-ran as far as I'm concerned.) Plus, I'm sorry, but no one's chemistry comes close to rivaling that off Bamber/Sackoff. I am shallow.

Beyond that, most of my likes/dislikes are bullet-pointable, and so I shall bullet-point:

  • Nice of the writers to leave Chief completely out of "Islanded in a Stream of Stars," and then casually reveal, "Oh yeah, Chief's complicity with Boomer? We knew about that." Um, what?
  • Hated Kara-as-Angel. Hated the Angels in general. Hate hate hate the tired SciFi (SyFy, syphilitic) trope of postcorporeality being the ultimate stage in unilinear human evolution.
  • Poor Cally's kid! (Does he even have a name?) Everyone forgets until the last moment that his mom got airlocked My Two Dads both go off on the suicide mission.
  • And speaking of our belated recall that Cally got airlocked. . . . I've been hating on Tory for a good long while for a variety of reasons, Cally's quickly forgotten death being chief amongst them, but I hate that her end came Tyrol's hands, given the events of "StWOM." Nice that Boomer buys it for her sins, Tory buys it for her sins, Dee buys it for . . . well, I don't especially know why Dee drew the suicide card, and Tyrol gets to finish the series with a manly act of violence against his former lover. In general, the clumsy inattention to gender in the last few episodes really annoyed me.
  • WTF? on Cavil deep throating his own gun.
  • Yes, I know that President Badger made no sense whatsofrakkin' ever, but it made me laugh. Plus the dog makes it, which means I don't have to hunt down and kill every last person associated with the show. A domesticated dog in the mix 150,000 years ago probably shouldn't screw with the timeline of animal domestication TOO much, and dogs do come first.
  • Not that anyone but me cares, but the setting of the fleet's arrival on Earth 150,000 years ago means that we might attribute the successful diaspora of anatomically modern humans at the expense of archaic Homo sapiens to interbreeding with the fleet. That's a pretty punk-ass unifactorial explanation. The ZK, at 1:26 into "Daybreak," paused the TiVo, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, "This may be hard for you." It's fortunate that the script didn't go too far down that road.
  • Mary McDonnell is such a star. I just loved her performance at every single moment in the series, even when the writing for her was shit. Like everyone else, I was completely undone by her scene with Cottle, and I just love her.
  • I'm glad that Helo survived, even though I'm not sure how he did. Helo may be the one character whose moral compass remained more or less intact through the whole series.

And that's about the it.

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