Sunday, March 22, 2009

Battlestar Galactica “Daybreak” Series Finale - Will History Repeat Itself?

All photos SciFi

I’m a little late on my commentary about the series finale of “Battlestar Galactica”. There was so much to digest, yet so many things remain unanswered. We’ve all heard the saying, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." This seems to be the case with the people of Battlestar Galactica, as the closing thought is that if humanity is not careful, the cycle can be repeated.
Last week, I gave you my comments on the part one of Battlestar Galactica’s “Daybreak” finale, and this two hour conclusion answered some question while leaving a few on the table. Generally, I liked the finale and thought that it was a fitting close for the series, but there are some things that I didn’t quite like. More on those issues later.

First, a brief overview of what happened. Admiral Bill Adama (Edward James Olmos) had decided to take the Galactica to find Hera (Iliana Gomez-Martinez) and recover her from Cavil (Dean Stockwell), who is on a Cylon ship close to a singularity (a black hole). Baltar (James Callis) has decided to stay with Galactica and help fight the fight. The Galactica teams all plan their attack and after getting everyone ready, they make their jump to the singularity and virtually right on top of the Cylon ship. They meet immediate fire, but as they have Sam Anders (Michael Trucco) hooked up to the Cylon technology, he can communicate with the Cylon technology on their ship, and he shuts down the Cylon’s ability to fire their weapons. The Galactica also rams the Cylon ship, giving them entry to the Cylon ship. Boomer (Grace Park), having second thoughts about kidnapping Hera, kills the doctor who is experimenting on Hera and takes Hera away. When Boomer runs into the Galactica team, including Helo (Tahmoh Penikett) and Sharon (also Grace Park), Sharon gets Hera back and kills Boomer. But things get messy when the team finds themselves under attack and Hera runs off.

President Roslin (Mary McDonnell), who is dying an being held together by lots of drugs, senses Hera is in trouble and runs off and finds her, all the while having memories of her previous Opera House visions. But once Roslin is also under attack, Hera takes off again. Baltar and Caprica (Trish Helfer), who now seem to be able to see the inner visions of each other that they have had in the past, find Hera, and they also rellive their Opera House memories. When they manage to get Hera to the bridge, Cavil is already there and manages to get hold of Hera. The final five offers Cavil the technology of Resurrection if he returns Hera, and he does so. But when the final five get their minds together –using Sam as the conduit - to collect the information for the Resurrection technology to transmit it to the Cylons, and as they are all connected with each other’s thoughts, Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) discovers it was Tory (Rekha Sharma ) that killed his wife. Tyrol then kills Tory, breaking the connection and the transmission to the Cylons. This causes an immediate reaction from the Cylons on the ship, and Cavil kills himself as he knows there is no way out. While all this is going on, Bill Adama orders them to jump and tells Kara (Katee Sackhoff) to get them out of there. The musical message from “All Along the Watchtower” that Kara was trying to decode the week before, trying to find a solution with numbers, realizes that the music is the number code for the jump coordinates. She enters them and the ship jumps, barely staying together. They find themselves at a planet with a moon that looks very much like our Earth, the continent of Africa very visible.

They land on the planet and know that this must be their last stop, as the Galactica can’t take any more jumps or anything much else for that matter. They plan to make their lives there, separating into various groups to live in areas around the world giving them better chances for survival. There are humans already there, but very primitive ones, and they don’t seem to know how to speak. They give the Cylon Centurions the base ship and set them free, hopefully never to return and cause trouble. Bill Adama goes off to be on his own and takes Roslin, who dies en route. Adama buries her and picks that area to build a cabin. Baltar and Caprica also go off on their own, Baltar finding a good place for farming. Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber), now permanently separated from his father, has a nice talk with Kara and she feels that her work is over. While Lee is talking to her and turns away, when he turns back, Kara has disappeared into thin air.

As we move forward 150,000 years, we see a modern day New York City, complete with Times Square. Baltar and Six/Caprica are walking around, talking about how it seems that the people have found themselves in the same place again, and with technology becoming more commonplace and ingrained in everyone’s life. Will they just go through it all over again, like the people of Caprica had to do and even those apparently before them? The hope that this time, we will have learned enough not to.

During all this action, we see numerous flashbacks to Caprica life by some members of Galactica. Lee and Kara recall the night when Lee first meets Kara, and his brother gets drunk and passes out, and Lee and Kara almost decide to have a little “fun” of their own. After Kara disappears, Lee later remembers the pigeon or dove that came into his apartment and then flew out an open door. Roslin remembers a blind date with someone who turns out to be a former student, and later she blows him off to accept a political position. Bill Adama, Tighe (Michael Hogan) and Ellen (Kate Vernon ) find themselves in a strip club partying on, getting plastered. Baltar recalls when Six first asked him for access to information that eventually is what causes the fall of Caprica. It seems like all their lives at the time were somewhat of a mess, or headed that way.

Here’s what didn’t sit quite right with me:

1. The Galactica ramming into another ship. While this seem to throw a lot of people around, I wondered why no one took precautions to strap themselves in somewhere while the ship collided. I also wondered why, if a person can get killed in a simple car accident these days, that the act of ramming a vehicle like the Galactica into another with such force as to tear a hole into it that there weren’t many deaths just from the jolt of the impact.

2. References in previous episodes to Kara being the “harbinger of death” now seem even more vague. The death of who or what exactly? Was it life as they knew it? It seemed to me that when they originally wrote the whole “harbinger of death” line that they weren’t quite sure themselves as to what it would mean. It certainly didn’t seem to be the horrible thing that it was meant to be, seeing that they seem to have found a place where they could live in peace.

3. Kara’s sudden disappearance. I suppose we are to think she was some sort of angel, and when her work was over, she just poofed off into nothingness. It seemed as if she was an angel that could be seen by everyone, why not allow her to stick around a little longer and let he have a happy life with Lee? I guess angels are allowed to be corporeal until a serious relationship comes along.

4. Why did Adama go off on his own? After all he did to mend fences with his son, why leave him now and go at it alone? Why would he not want to first help the rest of the human race get established, and then fade off into the sunset?

5. Why did Hera keep running away? I still don’t get why a child who had been held captive and was finally in the arms of her mother and father would take off. Likewise when she took off from Roslin.

6. The whole Opera House vision seemed to be another thing that when they first brought it out, they weren’t exactly sure where it was going to lead. As the flashbacks to the respective visions occurred, overlaid on the present action, it seemed like someone had taken great pains to try to make the vision make some sense. It seemed more like someone tried to shoehorn a size 9 foot into a size 7 shoe.

7. Adama, Tighe, and Ellen in a strip club. Sorry, that seemed just so "off" to me. And I never liked Tighe, and I disliked him even less, as all he seemed to be able to due in the club is yell.

8. Baltar and Caprica both being able to really see the “people” – or are they angels – that they used to only see in their heads. This scene seemed more comical, and as as result, it was very out of place.

9. Baltar’s Angel speech on the bridge. It seemed weirdly out of place as well. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for all the other people standing around the area with guns to just shoot Cavil in the head? And why would Adama allow the often-untrustworthy Baltar to speak for all of them, and about angels no less?

What I liked:

1. The few references to the original Battlestar Galactic series. I swear I heard the sounds that the original Cylons made. It was obvious, though, when Galactica and the rest of the ships headed into the sun, that one could hear pieces of the original theme. Nice.

2. The scenes where Galactica attacked the Cylon colony. It was action packed, with plenty of centurions and plenty of gunfire. I still don’t buy the whole Galactica ramming the ship thing, but I can look past it since it brought such an intense attack.

3. Roslin’s death was very well done. Death is usually so trivialized on television these days that this one seemed to actually have real meaning. I honestly felt sad when she passed away. Mary McDonnell did an excellent job in this whole series, but these last few episodes, she played the role of a woman - succumbing to death, yet fighting every way she could until she didn’t have to anymore – very well. Emmy worthy, although I think sadly they will ignore her.

4. I enjoyed all the flashback scenes, and wish they would have done this more often in the series as it seemed to add such depth to the characters. Knowing what they had, and what they were going through while living in Caprica before its destruction seemed to make their quest for earth even more desperate. It also explained why they decided so easily to chuck it all and start over with a much simpler, less complicated life.

5. The cameo by Ronald D. Moore, the writer and producer behind the re-imagining of the original series. He could be spotted in the last segment, at a newsstand.

6. The ending. Out of all of the bad times they had during their search for Earth, the ending had great hope. Sure, in 150,000 years they may have been getting back to where the are in a position to start the conflict all over again. But the idea that maybe subconsciously they have learned from all this and that they may not be destined to repeat it meant that a cycle can be broken. Maybe those feelings of déjà vu, or the appearance of what may be “angels” in the series are really deep seated memories that have been passed along over the eons through their DNA, and somewhere in there is a warning message that may stop the human race from completely turning themselves over to technology.

All in all, it was a great finish to a very good series. It made up for that one season or more where the show just seemed to languish in the dark, depressing doldrums. The finale gave a glimmer of hope for them. And you never know, if they haven’t learned from their past mistakes, someone can resurrect the series at some later time, and just start all over again.

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