Battlestar Galactica: Some Disappointment & Final Opinions

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 22nd, 2013 at 3:14 pm,

bsg comment post 00 p Battlestar Galactica: Some Disappointment & Final Opinions

The series finale of Battlestar Galactica (BSG) has come and gone. The fact that I’m going to talk about it means this article may contain SPOILERS for the seriously time-delayed viewer.

I’m sad. BSG was my favorite show and I really enjoyed writing about it and exchanging thoughts with all of you. Depending on your expectations and philosophies, the series finale either thrilled you or flat-lined your experience. For some, it did both.

Going into the finale I already had my conjectures and was looking for answers. We were told repeatedly that we would “know the truth.” Yet we were left hanging with non-answers when all was said and done. Between the network setting us up for “knowing the truth” and Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore planning on an ambiguous ending, we the viewers were caught in the middle of a writer’s vision and a newtwork advertising ploy.

When I wrote a post reviewing the finale of Battlestar Galactica, some of the reader comments ranged from fantastic perspectives to rather pragmatic thoughts, and the resulting conversation was pretty engaging. The finale had massive potential to confound and dissuade viewers but what I found it did is leave some viewers feeling empty.

I wanted to see if I could clear up or clarify some points, and to further that end I dug up some interesting things from the interviews various publications conducted with Ronald D. Moore in the last few years. Let’s get on with looking at those tidbits.

Our Promised Ending

Back in 2007, Ronald D. Moore indicated that Battlestar Galactica had a built-in ending. He said they made a promise to the audience of finding Earth and the creative staff was duty-bound to deliver.

Personally, I felt that the finale’s approach (finding a random planet and having Admiral Adama call it Earth because that “was the dream they were chasing,“) seemed to fulfill that purpose. Yet it felt fluffy. They had already found Earth and it was charred. The dream was (literally) fried. Try a new name!

This was so-so. I can live with this.

Daniel And The Rabbit Hole

The extra Cylon, Daniel, turned out to be a rabbit hole.

The intent behind the Daniel model was to create a polar opposite to Cavil. Instead, they drew us into another line of curiosity as we started wondering about Daniel.

I was definitely pulled into the premise of a Daniel model. Even to the point of noticing that there’s a Daniel in the prequel, Caprica. What gives people? So much energy was put into the final 5 that this Daniel model just seemed to be an extension of the premise of there being mystery Cylons.

Having a polar opposite to Cavil might have worked if they were in conflict with each other for our viewing pleasure. Cripes, that might have given us another Cylon to root for.

Quit doing that to us, Mr. Moore. Oh wait, the show is over.  In that case: I didn’t like this rabbit hole.

Other Rabbit Holes?

One other rabbit hole Moore admitted to was in a scene where Head Six physically lifted Baltar off the ground. I was completely sucked in by that scene (It happened, I believe, back in April of ’08), and I waited for this new contingency to develop.

But, it seems that it was some oops on the part of the show’s creators and they never wanted to go anywhere with it.

So why the heck show us something like that? Why are we getting these few, but HUGE mistakes from this seasoned staff of creators?

I didn’t like being led on and that was exactly what that was.

Not Holes, But Loose Strings

Egads, loose strings? Whole coils of rope is more like it!

Other Battlestar story details that were left dangling in the wind:

  • Why Roslin was in mental projections with the Cylons.
  • Why Roslin almost fainted when 4 of the final 5 became self aware of themselves.
  • Why didn’t they give Roslin more of Hera’s blood?

Sheesh, if I dwell on this, the list would go on and on (and I do add a couple later on).

I didn’t enjoy not having answers when I was told I was going to. Plain and simple.

What Happened To The Colony?

In case you’re wondering, everyone (Cavils, Simons and Dorals) on board the colony ship died.

At least that’s what Moore’s intent was. He wrote it so that when Racetrack hit the Colony ship with his nukes, the Colony ship gets knocked out of its precipitous orbital location near the singularity and the Colony ship gets pulled down into the black hole. SWEET!

But that scene was cut from the episode. Who was that editor? This feels like another rank amateur mistake on what could have been a piece of serious closure to that part of the show.

I’m not happy left having to scour for interviews to learn these things.

Cavil Offing Himself

Cavil offing himself was Dean Stockwell’s Idea.

Originally, Moore had Col Tigh and Cavil fighting. The scuffle was going to end with with Tigh throwing Cavil over the railing in the CIC and Cavil would die. Stockwell talked to Moore and said that he felt it more in line with the character if he took this escapist route out of the situation. Moore okayed that.

I would have liked to have seen Tigh kick someone’s ass… But that’s just me. Cavil’s method of situation extraction was, to some extent, perfect for him. Kudos to Stockwell.

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  1. I liked the BSG ending pretty much. I only agree with the author about “Why the hell didn’t they give Roslin more blood from Hera” and I have another loose end? Why the hell would anyone abandon absolutely every piece of technology to live as a cave man?!? And in the series everyone chose that? Yeah, sure. But hey, it was much better this way, then spending another seasons with personal dramas and political debates ;) So I’m pretty cool with the ending.

  2. BSG needs to win a best drama Emmy for crying out loud. The finale was so satisfying and just perfect. I’ve read a lot of criticism about the finale and I just didn’t have the same reaction to it. I guess I understand some of it but ultimately I LOVED that Head Six/Baltar/Kara were meant to be mysterious and not extensively explained. I don’t see it as a copp out at all. And I’m an athiest too so it’s not about loving the whole God/angels concept…I’m just with the writers in that leaving an air of mystery to these characters actually enhanced the show.

    I really have no complaints. I started watching the series over again last night. Scifi or another network needs to come up with a fantasy/scifi show to fill in the chasm that BSG left behind :(

  3. I don’t particularly understand why so many people have gotten so into the whole Daniel thing, RDM admits it was presented in a way that sounded more significant than it actually was, but the Daniel information was only ever meant to do 2 things. 1) explain why, if the Final Five do not have numbers, the Significant Seven are numbered 1-6 and 8. 2) Create Speculation about what path the Cylons might have taken if there had been a voice to counteract Cavil’s hate mongering. And the information provided did EXACTLY that.

    As to the Kara as Harbinger of Death, I think that is people, and this was probably deliberate on RDM and co’s part, misinterpreted what that meant. A Harbinger is a messenger, and she is Death’s messenger because she is dead. And, I think the interpretation might be correct that she is key in making the Cylons(some anyway) accept their own mortality. And the “Lead them all to their end” line is, in the best tradition of oracular prophecy, extremely vague. Them is never explained, it could be Cylons, Humans, or Both, and there is the fact that it says end, not death, end, which can mean something good or bad. Since she leads Humanity and the Cylon rebels to the end of their journey, I would say that prophecy is fulfilled nicely, and like all prophecies only really makes sense after it occurs, Kara’s assumption that it is a bad thing leads the viewer to assume that as well. Similarly, it should be remembered that the Pythian Prophecy about the dying leaders says that the leader will lead them to their new home, it doesn’t say Earth, it is Laura who assumes it means Earth and gets depressed when it doesn’t.

    Just my two cents

  4. Jon,

    My 3rd cent: I think we got sucked into the Daniel thing because of the idea that RDM was dropping clues here and there, and we were scooping up clues, or what we thought or hoped were clues, to help us figure out this pickle pied puzzle they were giving us.

    But yet, it was funny how he dropped a few things throughout the seasons, not meaning for them to have any real meaning at all, and the viewer picked up on the items and went with them.

    His bad, our bad. Great combination of bad… or was it? Maybe he dropped intentional red herrings to drive us nuts, and keep us intrigued.

    I say that because when you drop an item into a story, I presume you have editors that go over things and they would have caught discontinuities. Yet some of the bigger red herrings never got caught… so I think they were mind-frakking with us. (Do I add a k when pluralizing frak? Come to think of it, as I look at parallel examples, maybe not. Hmm. )

  5. Hello Bruce S.,

    Your article on the series finale of BSG is one the best BSG postmortems on the net.

    From a writer’s perspective, one plot element I can’t understand is the ‘abandoning of technology.’ Since the show’s characters all grew up using – and needing – machines to live their lives, it’s logically inconceivable Adama, a practical man, would have gone along with the idea.

    Having cast members wander off to the four corners of the earth with backpacks in hand (how many pairs of clean underwear is that?), like refugees from a bad production of the Sound of Music, totally undermines the ‘reality’ BSG prided itself on.

    Love to hear what you have to say. Keep up the great posts.

    Regards,

    Derek S.

  6. People, take note: Now that’s how you start a comment! :P

    I wasn’t fond of the idea of that which is left of humanity turning their backs on technology.

    Have you ever had a group of 4 or more people come to a decision and all of them comply with it? Nah. Never mind how many thousands of people might work out…

    But hey, if humanity was so burned out, who knows. It’s all creative freedom and in the end, we still did love the ride BSG gave us.

  7. Hello Bruce,

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, I agree, BSG was quite a ride.

    But, no one I know could drop out of modern life, and suddenly wander off into the wilderness and hope to live. Let alone a crew of thousands who aren’t exactly survivalists. They would be reduced to bumming flints off the Neanderthals within a week :>)

    Regards,

    Derek S.

  8. If you read interviews with Ron Moore about the finale you will find out that he never intended that the humans were going to abandon technology all together. They decided not to build any cities or in any way to recreate what they once had, as that is what had apparently lead humans(and cylons) several times over to inadvertently destroyed themselves. They would still use what supplies and technology they had so as not to die off(which I agree, if they went the Ludite approach and abandoned all technology completely they would, very quickly) and as those supplies and equipment ran down and ran out they would have the opportunity to slowly wean themselves from technology. Since this life would be a difficult one(although by no means impossible) the ships were destroyed to prevent anyone from trying to find another inhabitable world to recreate their old society.

    Also, if you look at the extended chronology of the series, they would end up losing their technology regardless. The previous two exodus, from Kobol to Earth and from Kobol to the Twelve Colonies, in both cases it took that people 2000+ years to get back to the point of creating artificial intelligence, meaning that even if they tried to reclaim their societies, they ended up losing most of their technology anyway. This is reinforced by what they set up on New Caprica. Granted, conditions on that planet were not ideal, but the tech level of that settlement was considerably less than their civilizations technical expertise and it seems likely that within a generation or two they would have run out of their original supplies and equipment and would have ended up just being farmers.

    The issue is the fact that, regardless of a people’s actual technical expertise, you can’t create anything from nothing, even if you have the raw materials, you need the right equipment, which also cannot be fabricated from nothing. Technology is very much a house of cards, if one is unable to make a certain component or machine part than the next level of technology cannot be attained. It is therefore inevitable that the people settling on earth would have ended up, within a generation or two, once their existing machines succumbed to wear and tear, would have ended up farmers anyway. Therefore the importance of the decision not to recreate their civilization is not one of abandoning technology, but one of trying to remove from the minds of their descendants the drive to recreate what they once had, since they knew such ambition to improve technology had always led them into trouble.

    Sorry for the long post.
    Jon

  9. Hello Jon,

    Neat post, Jon. But, I have to say – and again, from a writer’s perspective – “if it’s not on the screen, it doesn’t matter what was on the page.”

    The way the first US-run of the series finale of BSG presents itself is all we can go on. Interviews about Mr. Moore’s intentions aren’t part of the final product.

    So, all the finale basically gives us are crewmembers strolling off into the sunset with only a duffelbag and a pair of good walking shoes. There’s no mention of any depots of stored food, weapons, shelter, clothing, medicine, etc.

    From what is seen and heard in the finale, the logical conclusion is that the crew would have starved to death, as the Neanderthals were a hunter-gatherer society, and could not support the influx of tens of thousands of new mouths to feed.

    Mr. Moore may well have ‘meant’ for some technology to be retained by the survivors, but that’s not what ended up in the final print.

    My bet is he’ll correct, and then extend, the finale’s storyline with a SciFi miniseries once he gets out from under the high expectations of ‘Caprica.’ I wish him luck, as he’s clearly a creative and talented man.

    Regards,

    Derek S.

  10. The scene when we see Adama sitting on the rock talking to Roslin as the sun rises over the grave he made with his own hands… The words… the cinematography… the score…. perfect!!! I wept!! I still get choked up remembering it.

    No screen moment has ever touched me the way that did.

    Thank You Ron

  11. ChiefTom:

    Nice retrospect. Most were so caught up being distracted by the details falling out from the culmination of the mysteries in the story, that some missed some of the more poignant moments in the ending.

    Thanks for reminding us Tom.

  12. The problems I had with it were not so much the ‘openess’ that Moore left but the stuff he got just plain wrong.

    1) If the final five can regenerate, and age as Saul and Ellen did over their twenty years of knowing Bill Adama, then their resurrected bodies starting points would have to be at the age when Bill Adama first met Saul and Ellen.

    The bodies in suspension couldn’t age with them or they wouldn’t last 2000 years.

    But Ellen Tigh is resurrected at the SAME AGE as when she dies. That just doesn’t work. She should be younger. Saul had hair when he met Bill – 40 years of aging left him bald.

    Ellen should have been 40 years younger. That’s a terminal flaw.

    2) Saul Tigh fought the cylons. Really? So let’s get this straight. The cylons dropped him and Ellen onto Caprica with fake memories after the new skin jobs (inc. Cavil) wanted them to suffer and see the world destroyed, following the cessation of war.

    The skin jobs were only built after the final five turned up and contacted the other cylons – during the war. So how the frak did Saul take part in combat alongside Bill, if at the same time he, Ellen and the other three were negotiating with the cylons to stop fighting so they could show them how to resurrect. Or did Bill never serve with Saul? How did that slip past? Bill constantly reminds us that Tigh has made tough calls in combat conditions. Was he doing that in peace time? They certainly wouldn’t have been fighting pirates, smugglers or terrorists with Battlestars (the only ships they’ve served on). You may have noticed the Somali pirates of late do not attack battleships with good reason.

    If it were the case that they didn’t serve in combat, the military don’t just let people wander into service with no record and no peers vouching for them, saying “I fought the cylons”, no matter what they claim to remember.

    3) ‘Destiny’. If Starbuck had a destiny to lead people to earth, she wouldn’t have died. On account of death being the final part of your destiny. Oedipus doesn’t die and THEN kill his dad and marry his mum. It has to happen sequentially. There were three ‘Fates’ in greek myth, the final one being the one who cuts of the thread of your life.

    4) The important part about Sci-fi is the first part. Rational scientific explanations must exist for the genre to work, even if we have to fictionalise some of the rules (the second part). Otherwise it’s just fantasy, with magic and elves etc. In Star Wars ‘The Force’ is a simple, effective way of allowing fantastical elements to exist in a sci-fi setting.

    Deus ex machina, the old greek way of having a god drop out of the wings to explain a nonsensical plot at least involved a god.

    Moore/Eick have created Plot ex machina. They don’t specifically say there is a god/gods which would allow us to have a rational, albeit fictional, explanation for the magical, physical reappearance of Starbuck, her magic knowledge of earth, her magic Viper with its lock onto her actual dead body.

    Leoben, who ‘knew’ she had a destiny, suddenly has no knowledge of this destiny he knew she had. Nothing. The other cylons knew she had a destiny too. But no.

    What it seems they didn’t know, was that in the future she would magically reappear after dying, and magically save humanity with her father’s magical music. So. What was it they thought was going to happen? Why is no-one bothered? OK, Earth is frakked, they need to find another planet. Well a new Earth might just pop out of the ether mighten it? A new Starbuck did and everyone seems cool with that.

    In summary, up until the final season, BSG had been consistently well written, well thought out and one of the best dramas ever acted out on the small screen.

    Opportunities for connecting plots – Kara being the child of Daniel and inheriting her knowledge of Earth seems blindingly obvious – were just let go.

    The ending wasn’t dark, as Olmos predicted, but it was obfuscated by lazy, lazy writing, with little care for viewers or the narrative.

  13. I think that they didn’t give Roslin Hera’s blood because it was only a property of the blood being from the fetus that worked. I don’t remember this striking me as a loose end. I think it was the episode where the the mother achieved resistance to a disease of some kind from the fetus. I think there precedents for talk between the blood streams of mother and fetus in some cases; even cancer has been transferred in very rare cases (recently proven having previously been though impossible). Thanks.

  14. I guess I’m rather fortunate in that I didn’t watch BSG at all while it was on, only watching the entire series straight through over the last month. For two seasons, IMO BSG was one of the best SF series out there, and as Roger Ebert said, “the best thing on television at that time.” I started having problems around season three when characters started acting out of character in order to serve the plot. Rosalin’s shifts from caring, to manipulative, to out and out Cavilish (I guess you could say it comes with the office, but it really seemed to come and go).

    I think the Duke really hit it on the head. Good SF extrapolates technology into the future and then speculates on what the ramifications of said science might be on whomever. The foundation of BSG hits that dead center, but then when you listen to the commentary tracks you get the idea that the science didn’t matter that much to Moore and co. except as a springboard to the dramatic elements they wanted to tell. This is all fine and good, heaven knows too many SF shows have precious little real characterization, but when you do a SF show while trying not to be looked at as an SF show you really have to jump through some hellish hoops to make everything make sense. So the cylon side of the equation really gets short shrift.

    Writing without a plan will get you into trouble. Many novelists will tell you this. Thing is a novelist can chuck the errant chapters and go back and start over, a television series doesn’t have that luxury. Moore many times bemoans the fact that he’s writing for television, when he pictures each eps as a mini-movie. Many times he states that he didn’t want to make the show like “television” the thing is after watching you understand he means genre tropes. Many of the things that I felt go awry with the series is due to just that problem, the incorporation of soap opera tropes, with the wrong people getting together, cheating, babies with questionable parentage, even people coming back from the dead. Some people might have thought this was high character development, but I thought it made characters that started out acting like competent, albeit flawed adults begin acting like high school kids. For an example I think the character of Callie was incredibly butchered. I’ve heard people say it was a poignant portrayal of mental illness, but nothing in her character for three seasons hinted at her having a mental illness (in fact nothing up until that particular ep). Then in order to rectify a plot problem that never should have been made in the first place, they throw the character under the bus by saying she had an affair. How many ways can we make a sympathetic character further unlikeable? What was the purpose of Sharon killing the Six just because she comforted a little girl? (I know it was so the base ship would jump, but it’s still relied on having a character do something that made no frakkin’ sense.) He also forgot the prime dictum: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but only because fiction has to follow rules”. I don’t mind being made to think about what has transpired after watching or reading some entertainment (e.g. Inception, but the answers still need to be there. Was Thrace an Angel? Well if she was why didn’t she know it?

    Oddly enough the god question didn’t bother me as much as it did some, because when you watch the entire show, so much is made of religion, and prophecy throughout the first and second seasons that can’t be explained in any logical fashion, or would lead you to believe that it is more than mere mythology, that you have start giving credence to the idea that it might play a bigger part than just superstition.

    I think the idea of the second Earth was actually quite inspired. Even with the first BSG from the 70′s most fans figured that the Galactica crew landed on Earth in the distant past and gave rise to the ancient astronaut legends and myths which is why BSG 1980 made no sense whatsoever. My question though, is if Hera is Mitichrondria Eve, and she was the only hybrid child, what happened to the offspring of the 39,000 other colonist dropped all over the planet? What happened to the ones that might have “gone native” so to speak and flourished there? The human race was going to survive regardless once they started settling. What was the purpose of the hybrid child, one of many red herrings that led nowhere?

    The flashbacks of the last eps even when you watch the dvd without commercial breaks still seem like padding. The Roslin backstory really didn’t seem to have a lot to do with her character in the “now”. We saw all these characters at the start in the mini-series, and we watched them develop over four years to get to the point they were by the end. Anything further to tell me about them should have already been revealed throughout the series. The best flashbacks that worked for me were the flashbacks of the characters who died like Boomer. It told us something that we “needed” to know. A rather nice epilog.

    Lastly, being dark is not edgy, and if you rely on the dark gloomy equation enough times, it becomes a trope in and of itself. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the incarnation of BSG, but there are some glaring flaws. I think it raises the bar, and I really hope other shows rise to the occasion and try to top it.

  15. I just spent the last month watching every episode. Never watched it when it was on TV. I thought it was fantastic, from beginning to the finale. The genius loose end that was tied up for me by this ending was the fact that I always wondered how they could speak English, and how would they communicate once they reached Earth. If they were dropped into the present day, there would have been no method to communicate. However, since they were dropped in 150,000 years earlier, they delivered and taught the English language to Earth. So, we watched the entire show in the native language of the people that came here — now that’s cool! I’m sad that the ride is over. Can’t wait to see “Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome”

    • “They taught the English language to Earth”

      English evolved from many other languages that havent been around for 150,000 years, including Latin, French, Arabic, Saxon, ancient Greek. So the they couldnt have taught English to Earth!

  16. It seems as though only Saul and Ellen of the f5 age. If they all had their memories erased and put into the colonies then Sam and the others could Not have been aging for 40 years.

  17. JUST TORTURED MYSELF BY WATCHING THE WHOLE GALACTICA SERIES. I ENJOYED THE SHOW AS A TEEN SO I THOUGHT I’D LIKE IT.

    I OFTEN YELLED OUTLOUD….”IS THERE A FREAKING GAS LEAK ON THE BATTLESTARS?!” IT SEEMED AS IF THE ONLY SANE PEOPLE WERE CYLONS!

    LIST OF PSYCHOTIC SCHIZOPHRENIC PSYCHOPATHS: STARBUCK, ADM. ADAMA, KAT, COL. TIGH, ELLEN TIGH, CALLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY PRESIDENT ROSLIN!!

    THE LIST OF ISSUES I HAD WITH THE SERIES IS RIDICULOUSLY LONG. BUT MOSTLY,
    IT COMES TO THIS: IT SEEMS AS THOUGH THE WRITERS NEVER EVEN BOTHERED TO
    WATCH THEIR OWN SHOW!

    SCI FY LOVERS LIKE MYSELF ARE FORGIVING, BUT WE SIMPLY DEMAND THAT THE SHOW FOLLOW IT’S OWN RULES. FOR INSTANCE DON’T KILL PEOPLE OFF AND THEN
    USE SOME RIDICULOUS DEVICE TO RESURRECT THEM (CYLONS EXCEPTED OF COURSE)

    I THINK THE CHARACTERS WE WERE SUPPOSED TO EMPATHIZE WITH WERE THE VERY
    PEOPLE WHO WE WE CHEERED WHEN THEY WERE KILLED! I SAID YAY: ADM. ADAMAS
    DEAD! NO? CRAP!, YAY STARBUCKS DEAD! NO? CRAP, YAY ROSLIN’S DEAD! NO?….

  18. I had an affair with Number Six ( Tricia Helfer ). Nobody will stop me or my agenda. April is being trained by me and nobody will stop us.

    Rita Klich Alabama

  19. I agree. This scifi series could have been one been one of the best ever. Sadly, it was systematically destroyed as it progressed for the reasons you cite … and for reasons you don’t. Were we lied to? You bet. Did the writing crew attempt to tackle very important social and political topics? Sure they did … but anyone can “attempt” that …even talking monkeys. It’s not the attempt that deserves applause, it’s how it’s handled that matters … and in that, RDM and his writing crew failed miserably inalmost every attempt (be it topics regarding genocide, abortion, democracy, aristocracy vs the rest, etc.)
    Unfortunately we’re seeing more and more of this type of sloppy (who gives a crap about the plot) writing from Hollywood. It goes gand and hand with the massive egos and culture that have taken hold of the industry.

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