Saturday, March 21, 2009

BSG Finale: Daybreak

It's done. In a hail of orchestral manoeuvres in space, a modern re-enactment of Roslin and Baltar's vision, and Adama finally touching the rains down in Africa, Battlestar Galactica rode off into the sunset. Or, in this case, into the heart of the sun.

I could write REAMS of stuff about my thoughts on BSG as a series, or "Daybreak" as a finale, but since I already spend far too much time doing that about Lost (and there are BSG experts far, far better suited to it), I'll keep this brief, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

I don't know what the general fan feeling was about this as a finale, but I thought it was beautifully done. There was so much action in the first hour I couldn't figure out how they'd sustain it for two. But the second hour was more of the denouement of the series, letting us know the fates of most of the people we've come to care about. By the end, it was a finale that felt very... final, much like the Six Feet Under finale (which I still maintain is the best finale EVER).

I thought Ron Moore did an excellent job of closing everything down, and lives were not lost without major emotional impact. In the first part of Daybreak the week before, we saw some of the lives in Caprica before the Holocaust, with Roslin losing her family, Gaius dealing with a difficult elderly parent, and Starbuck and Apollo getting to know one another while she was dating his brother. In doing so, we come to appreciate their end -- Roslin is dead, Starbuck disappears, and Gaius returns to the trade his father taught him. The finale brought back elements of previous seasons, giving the series the feeling that Moore knew exactly what he was doing right from the beginning.

Did anyone else think Moore might have beaten Lindelof and Carlton to the punch on some issues? On the surface, Anders' final statement -- "See you on the other side" -- seems to have been taken right from Desmond on Lost -- "See you in another life, bruthah." Lost has always been about fate versus free will, and BSG has explored that many times, too. In this case, Moore's world seems to have fallen on the side of fate. Starbuck had a purpose, just as Gaius and Roslin did. And in the end, he seems to chalk everything up to a higher power (not named God, apparently, but serving the same purpose). I'm sure some fans will be in a tizzy about that, but personally, I loved it. It takes guts to suggest something like that in today's world.

• Watching the old Centurions go head to head with the new Centurions (best part: one of the good ones blows the head off one of the old ones).
• The final answer of what the whole opera house vision and Starbuck’s purpose meant, complete with big loud music and total awesomeness.
• The fact that Caprica has been seeing little pin-striped-suit Gaius all these years, just like Gaius has been seeing sexy red-dressed Caprica. That was hilarious.
• Galen avenging Callie’s death. Oh YEAH!!
• Cavil shooting himself in the head. I didn’t see that coming... (but on the other hand, it also seemed a little convenient; it’s an easy way of disposing of the character and not having to follow through on anything)
• Ron Moore’s cameo at the end.
• Giving humanity to Boomer right after she’s shot. It would have been easy to kill her off and we’d all cheer, remembering her having sex with Helo while his wife is battered behind a door and watching, but instead, we’re reminded of who Boomer used to be, and the vulnerable, fragile person she once was, and as usual, it made her death much harder to watch.
• All of the battle scenes. That was EPIC. I’ve NEVER seen CGI like that on television, ever.

Low points:
• Adama vomiting on himself. I know you’re a method actor, man, but NO ONE wants to watch that. Ick.
• No Lucy Lawless. Come on, was she really too busy to be there at the end? I’ve never liked that she stayed behind on that other planet.

And that brings me to my question, because I don’t watch BSG the way I do Lost, so I’ll have to rely on some other fans to fill in the blanks. What was that other planet they visited? Are we to believe it wasn’t Earth? This one clearly is (you can see the continents from the sky, and from the map where they point out where people will be distributed around the world). Yet when they landed on the bleak planet, you could clearly make out the Brooklyn Bridge and other NYC landmarks. Why would Moore have put in such recognizable landmarks to convince us this was Earth if it wasn’t? Is it possible they’ve jumped in time? (Yes, I’ve been watching too much Lost.) Could they have jumped to Earth in the future in the first place, and now have jumped into the past?

In the end, it turns out, we’re all part Cylon. And while I thought that’s where they might be going, I didn’t realize they’d do it like this. I loved that ending.

So what did you think? Did it work for you?


Eric Antoine Scuccimarra said...

I think the other Earth was just misdirection. It was pretty clear that they named this one "Earth" after the other "Earth." Adama gives that talk about how Earth is a dream and this planet is Earth now.

I don't think there was any time jumping. I saw some things on the old Earth that looked sort of familiar, but nothing that really jumped out at me (I live in NY so I'd hope I'd notice some NY landmarks). If there were any similarities they could likely be chalked up to "all this has happened before and all this will happen again."

I had some questions about this finale. It was totally awesome, but what was Kara? Was she an angel? How did her father know the music? (It was pretty awesome how they tied the music back in at the end). What about head Six and head Baltar? Why are they still around, in the same form, 150,000 years later?

Some complaints I had - I thought the opera house vision was kind of underplayed. To me it seemed like something they had built up for years and they needed it to mean something but didn't have a good answer so they used this. I also don't understand why Hera is the mother of all humans on the planet. What happened to the 40,000 other survivors that landed? Didn't they have children? Why was Hera so important? I thought it had to do with melding human and Cylon and that was kind of ignored.

Great episode, despite my complaints I absolutely loved it. Great action in the first half, beautiful and moving in the second half. Left a lot of questions open, but still a satisfying conclusion to one of my favorite shows.

Anonymous said...

The first "Earth" was the real one. The planet they ended up on was simply named after the idea of "Earth." They're definitely not the same planet at different points in time though.

I thought the finale was mostly fantastic and very sad. The idea of starting over without technology was actually a very logical choice. The only way to keep it all from "happening again" was to change their way of life. The Roslin/Adama scenes were touching and heartbreaking, but I don't understand why Adama had to leave everyone else behind. It would've made more sense for him to bury Roslin and then return to his son and his best friend. Instead, he's crazy old guy who lives alone in a cabin...wait a minute...HE'S JACOB!

...Ok, maybe not.

The explanation for Kara was a bit weak for me as well. She's my favorite character, so I was disappointed to see her just suddenly vanish. I believe we're to assume she was an angel sent to help the fleet find its way. An angel who killed a ton of humans and cylons, toyed with two men and went a litte batty before she helped them find their way.

Aside from those greviances, everything was excellent. Tyrol avenging Callie's death was a nice loose end that I didn't think would be tied up. The entire battle itself was very well done. (Katee Sackhoff is awesome at looking like a badass, isn't she? Ok, maybe that's my bias showing through again, but I think she does.)

I found it funny how at the end the two angels took the form of the two people (Baltar and Caprica) who caused the initial conflict to occur and better yet, that those two people survived unpunished.

My thoughts feel like they're just running together at this point so I'll end this by saying, I loved it and I'll miss it.

Anonymous said...

"In this case, Moore's world seems to have fallen on the side of free will. Starbuck had a purpose, just as Gaius and Roslin did. And in the end, he seems to chalk everything up to a higher power"

Wouldn't this mean that Moore actually falls on the side of predestination, not free will? [That's the way I saw it]

Benny said...

Hey Nik, I definitely liked it as it put 2.33 and 1.66 together to make it 4.00, there is still that .01 left for us to fill (I'm a math geek).

I really thought that the episode was longer than it was (and for the better), it seemed to run for more than the two hours. There are a few points during the entire series that were not answered that I think fan wanted an answer to. But they were not plot points and were probably left to interpretation.

Though fitting, I never expected it to end so calmly. My perspective is that it played with the similarity vs. differences in cultures around the world, but not going so far as explaining it.

There are definitely similarities to Lost, and the ending is opening into reality and that's really the ultimate tie in. Everyone has presented the show as appealing since it really represented aspect of reality in our post-9/11 world, but it turns out that it is significantly PRE-9/11.

It had happened before (Kobol/Earth I), it is happening (Caprica) and will happen again (Earth II?)... for me the finale of the show is not so much as it is pro-free will or open-ended as it is more of a determined "It is now up to you, the audience, to decide". In the end, we just watched the history of our pre-history (not that putting any facts to it), just that is is the message we know so well: Those who do not know history, are bound to repeat it.

-I also found it convenient for Cavill to kill himself (and a lot of fans found it unfulfilling), but I really interpreted it as the coward's way out, having lost faith and fearing the result.
-You're right that the first Earth we noticed looked familiar. I think it was precisely to make us feel comfortable and confused, all the while being a red herring. It was Earth (the 13th tribe's Earth) and the new one being the Earth we know.

To end it all, I just want to give a shout out to my Alma Mater, Simon Fraser University, which served as most of the settings for Caprica and a few other places.

Benny said...

@Eric: The other humans and cylons have a different DNA/molecular/biological composition and it is possible that their bodies have disappeared...

And may I just add that I was sad to hear Hendrix instead of Dylan at the end...

Nikki Stafford said...

Merc: Ack! You're totally right. I meant fate and wrote the other. Eek. I've changed it.

Benny: Not to offend, because obviously Dylan is brilliant and wrote the song, but Jimi improved it. He is the MAN. ;) I think even Dylan said he much preferred Hendrix's version, and to be honest, it has so much more power that it's the way that show should have gone out. Dylan's version would have been too quiet, I think.

Benny said...

Nikki: None take, I should have mentioned that I agree Hendrix's version fits the ending better, re-energizing the show's conclusion.

I was introduced to the song through Hendrix, but personal preference for me it's Dylan.

Benny said...


Anonymous said...

I have a few problems with the finale.

Why did Moore and Eick endorse Ludditism? Is abandoning post-industrial technology and dying of dysentery at 35 morally superior to living into our 80s in cities?

Am I really expected to accept ... whatever the heck that was with Starbuck as a satisfactory end to her story? It effectively ends her real story at her death in season three, and everything since her not-return has been the manipulation of some outside force that doesn't like to be called God.

Cavil offing himself was out of character.

The second hour dragged on too long; this would've worked better as an hour-and-a-half finale, like season two's.

Aside from all that, yes, it was beautiful.