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.
Head Six and Head Baltar?
So what are Head Six and Head Baltar?
Moore said he never made any intentional effort to identify who or what they were. He said they could be angels or demons. They were always there for whatever purpose, whether it was good or bad.
I’m starting to think that there is so much incongruity that the incongruity was planned! Can you really plan for incongruity? Either way, it sounds like the Head spirits were planned scape goats. Or was Six’s red dress significant in some way?
I get writing something and letting it develop organically, not knowing what is going to happen. I really do. I do it all the time (I’m writing hobby novels that will never see the light of day). But we need to put bows on our packages, Ron. That’s what we all expect these days from our presents.
The flashbacks in the finale were intended to connect us more to the inspirations or inner thoughts of the characters. Filler. Kind of like that jelly in jelly donuts.
I didn’t mind flashbacks. I mean, it is a character driven show so that makes sense. They filled in some fascinating moments of the characters past.
Now that I know that some of those flashbacks may have sacrificed other integral scenes that would have furthered the episode, like watching the Cylon colony ship get sucked into a black hole, I’m thinking that after 4 seasons, we already knew enough of some of this stuf. It could’ve been skipped over.
Although: I did enjoy the filler on Laura Roslin’s intense family tragedy.
Kara Thrace’s “death” was a shock, but her coming back had me pegging her for a Cylon. Of course now we know that’s not the case. Moore said that Kara is whatever you want her to be. Whether it be an Angel, Messenger of God or whatever. He said that if they went beyond what they had, and tried to define her, it would have taken something away from her and make her less interesting.
For me, Thrace’s story had a ton of loopholes, such as the child Kara drawing symbols of destiny. In the last few episodes, we watched this guiding “whatever” still in a self-discovery phase as she hallucinates about her father teaching her the music. But then that experience was cheapened when I find out the ghost was seeing ghosts.
Yes, it put her in the right place to put in “whatever” coordinates to jump away from the Colony Ship, but it all seemed more like a fortuitous guessing game than a guiding destiny that leads them to “Earth.”
This didn’t pan out for me at all. If Thrace’s story had been given a little bit more substance, maybe it or she would have meant something. Instead she just pops out of existence. Add this to the Head ghosts in the end, and we have an awful lot of writer escape routes.
Actually, after all was said and done, Moore predicted that “… people are going to be pissed.” Good call Moore. Your insightful talents are still top notch.
Did Anyone Have A Different Idea For An Ending?
Moore said that David Eick had a different idea for an ending!
Eick wanted everyone to arrive on present day Earth and when all was said and done, the White House would end up nuking the Galactica. Dang…
Were The Writers Writing On The Fly?
Yes, they were.
It’s an approach Moore likes because he feels that writing on the fly gives the writers a more instinctive approach to where a story is going in that moment.
He knew the exact ending he wanted and felt that getting to that ending was the ride he intended for everyone to take. He admits there were loose threads (NO SH**!!!) but then says most shows have them.
The Logic Of It
I have to admit, if we accept the ideology of loose threads, then the finale definitely made the show exemplify that premise. What happened to “The Plan” the Cylons had? What happened to Kara Thrace leading humanity to their doom? Did everyone really dispense of all their technology to live out their lives? I can’t imagine out of 30 thousand humans, everyone went along with that. Were these just other loose threads?
If we can really write awesome stories and not worry about endings and wrap ups, I think many of us have a future in screen writing!
I loved the trip that Battlestar Galactica took us on from day one. This show was intensely character driven. We followed everyone down their formidable paths. We watched them persevere, despite the apparent odds. Despite the personal loss. After dealing with threats to humanity as a whole, we watched humanity deal with looming social issues. When the social issues came to rest, personal issues were explored. The finale delivered humanity (what was left of it did) to their safe haven. Regardless of the little things that distracted us. The lack of answers that we never received, or were hoping to receive.
In the end, life has no real answers. It’s the journey that counts. We always add labels to events. It makes them more sensible. I think Battlestar Galactica reflected that perspective. And that reflection made the whole finale more palatable, otherwise, the last 15 minutes would have cheapened the entire ride for me.
Yet through the 6 years and the 4 seasons, the show was about the characters. We watched the characters develop and deal with life while they were in the middle of a harsh scenario.
I Hate Being Lied To, But Still Liked The Ride
To some extent, a part of me feels like we were lied to. We never got answers. We never got resolutions to some pretty big open threads.
But disappointments aside, you do have to admit that the ride was pretty intense. When all was said and done, Battlestar Galactica definitely got us talking. That in and of itself is something to consider. How many shows keep us talking after they end?
So now I have one final curiosity. How will The Sci-Fi Channel fill this gap that is being left behind by Battlestar Galactica?
Will we be treated to replays? Will this be the new Twilight Zone marathon on holidays? Or will they find a new show that might be pretty good, get 3 seasons from it and draw that out to 6 years? Maybe Sci-Fi’s Ghost Hunters can try to deal with the Head Six and Head Baltar mystery.
Thanks for reading this Screen Rant. I can’t wait to hear some of your reflections on my opinions of the Battlestar Galactica finale and other details that I know I left out. Or did I?