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Sunday, March 22, 2009
BSG: we're all going to die, so just give up
Fiction can be about a lot of different things.
It can be about the characters, it can be about the setting, it can be about the journey, it can be about the mystery, it can be about a message, it can be people and setting just as props supporting entertainment & humour, or it can be in visual media just about how it looks. The only thing different in science fiction is that it can also be about technology.
The big complaint against classic science fiction is that it was, in fact, more about the technology, or about the setting, than it was about the characters.
Star Trek: The Next Generation was a classic technology-driven show, all ray guns and tractor beams and particles and fields. (Which would have been ok, had it been about actual science and actual space, instead of just made-up gibberish about polarised tetrions.)
Deep Space Nine was a more character and plot driven show.
Where things can go wrong is when you start one way, and end another.
For example, The Matrix series starts out with some incredible ideas and visuals, cleanly executed plot, heroism and triumph,
and then in the 2nd and 3rd turns into a bunch of gibberish with people having underground raves, pointless special effects, and a nihilistic "all this has happened before" explanation by The Architect (hmm, sound familiar?)
Oceans 13 you think you're trying to follow a particular plot, and then at the end it's, oh audience members we were just showing you the con, suckers, thanks for paying for our vacation in Europe.
Battlestar was clearly and deliberately not about the technology, it was about the characters, the mysteries, and preserving the last surviving remnants of civilization.
Now *some* people watched it just for pure entertainment. For them an ending with "a bunch of stuff blows up and god did it" is fine.
For those of us following the story arc, the mysteries, and the survival of civilization though, Ron Moore pulls the rug out from under us.
The only thing I can figure is he had the vision of modern-day earth as his grand finale, and then he had to get rid of all the inconvenient truth of BSG in order to do his nice clean break with the past.
Why do they have to throw away all of their technology?
A: Because modern Earth doesn't have any of it
Why do they all have to (effectively) commit suicide?
A: Because nothing remains of their civilization in modern Earth
In essence, in order to tell his preachy final story about Fear the Japanese Robots!
Ron Moore had to KILL EVERY CHARACTER POINTLESSLY.
* Those characters you've been following? Essentially they all end up as different versions of Cavil, saying "Frak!" and blowing their heads off, like Dualla did earlier on when a pocketwatch made her think "well, this was all a waste of time".
* Those mysteries you've been following? Err, a wizard did it, whatever.
* The last remnants of civilization? Err, civilization sucked, let's throw it all away and all die of disease, starvation, and murder by rather more skillful native populations.
* 35,000 surviving humans, having beat impossible odds? Ah fuck em, there are already humans on the planet, so the colonists should all just go off in some tiny unsustainable scattered groups and die already.
* Faster than light technology, space travel? Yeah we better toss that in the garbage too, err I mean the sun.
The only ones who come out of it well are the (presumably) immortal killer robots. They get to keep all the technology and explore the universe.
The humans? Fuck em.
Which gets you all nice and tidy to Live from New York, this was all pointless, thanks for the mitochondrial memories, the end. PS fear the robots.
So in order to get to this final few minutes of badly written, preachy, junk,
you have to turn the ENTIRE PAST FOUR YEARS from a noble, character-driven adventure,
to an exercise in nihilism.
From a message of imperfect humans striving for survival against impossible odds to: fuck it, fate determines everything anyway, civilization is terrible, you might as well just say Frak and blow your head off suicidal nihilism.
Thanks Ron Moore.