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Saturday, March 21, 2009
Battlestar Galactica: it ended badly
My Alternative Galactica
Acceptable Alternate ending 0
As I do with Star Trek, where I construct a new canon consisting entirely of movies that I like (e.g. movies 5 and 6 never happened), I suggest the following BSG story arc:
miniseries through to 2x19 inclusive. Then just the chunk of the finale where the ragtag fleet arrives at Earth Earth, the scene where Roslin is watching the animals and then Adama takes her for her last flight, ending with the cabin scene, Adama looks up at the stars, the end.
Acceptable alternate ending 1: add shot of Hera walking, flyover of beauty of the Earth, pan up to sky and stars, the end.
Acceptable alternate ending 2: Adama looks up at the stars, then pan back DOWN from the stars to the Earth at night classic image and show a subtitle "150,000 years later", fade to black, the end.
All of these are reasonably clean endings.
UPDATED with endings 3 & 4.
Alternate ending 3
This is not as good, but if they had just ended with 4x15 (No Exit) - basically unchanged except Cavil in one of his monologues also says "oh and I've been using projection to mess with everyone's heads", and you end with either
3.1 Hera still captive and Ellen being led off to have resurrection scraped out of her brain, The End
3.2 Ellen led off to have resurrection scraped out of her brain, but Boomer escapes with Hera, The End
Alternative ending 4
This is the least desirable compromise, but basically
4.1 end in 4x20 at false ending 0, in "the Opera House"/CIC, with less god (or at least, everyone thinking Baltar and Six are babbling nonsense), Cavil says "I'm a machine of my word", peace and reunification, and (perhaps partial or imperfect) resurrection tech. The end.
4.2 as in 4.1 peace and reunification, plus and suddenly Sam jumps Galactica with them all to Earth, see blue orb in the distance... The end. (no action takes place on planet surface)
BSG was, as I said in my favorite posting about it, "a brilliant, fractured mirror of our time".
A few core ideas: take a campy show and make it cool, play with the net up ("hard science fiction" with rules - the only exceptions being FTL and prophecy), make the Cylons indistinguishable from humans and play the terrorism angle.
But it ended with some fundamental problems that are common to the "one clever starting idea" and the hard SF approach. First off, like Lost, Heroes, and Twin Peaks, it starts off with a big engaging mystery storyline. This is impossible to pull off properly without having pre-plotted the entire series, like in Babylon 5. The best you can do without preplotting is remain smart and remain true to the story.
Galactica completely blew this. The ending is deeply disappointing. For fans who have been with it episode by episode, in this new style of very long story arc television, this is a profound dishonour to the fans.
This is how it went:
net up, net up, net up, NET DOWN and Kara is Jesus, God did it all, and God is kind of a tool, the end.
To wrap up the mysteries of a hard SF show with a bunch of handwaving religion is simply bizarre. There should be a profound story arc from Baltar and Six on Caprica, genocidal plotter and self-involved accomplice, to Baltar and Six on Earth, but it doesn't work. They tried at the last minute to construct story arcs for Tigh, Adama, Roslin, Lee and Kara, but they also made no sense. The only thing you could conclude from them is that Kara Thrace is still really pretty.
I blogged the show, episode by episode, here's a list that will take you from the beginning up to 3x11. You can use Google to find more in this blog and then and check over at Zak Adama is a Cylon for the rest.
Pretty much hated from 2x20 through the entire New Caprica storyline. Razor was pretty good. Season 4 mostly limped along. And the ending characters were just weird.
Crazy Ellen, memories restored but ranting at Tigh? Cruel and drunken Adama, drinking with Tigh in front of a Viper pilot? It just didn't make any sense.
The centre could not hold, it all fell apart.
And much like West Wing made no sense after Bush was elected and West Wing's mirror-Clinton administration no longer matched what was going on, in the Era of Obama and science, we end with a bunch of deus ex machina "god did it and god-it is kind of a jerk"?
There were FOUR HOURS (the last four episodes) to wrap things up, to come to some kind of meaningful M*A*S*H "goodbye" but instead you didn't really get a sense of anything.
Shame on you Ron Moore. You tried and for a while you succeeded brilliantly, but in the end, you took a good two-season show and made it into a deeply disappointing four-season show.
I'm going to buy the miniseries, that was the strongest part of the show, the initial, revolutionary idea. Apparently there's also a new two-hour thing "The Plan", about the apocalypse from the Cylon point of view - I think it will be a long time before I can bring myself to watch that, given Galactica's recent failings.
End of Line
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand...
- "The Second Coming", William Butler Yeats
Labels: battlestar galactica