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The End

I was quite a fan of Battlestar Galactica when it was running, but stopped watching early in Season 3 because I was on my way to DC every other week to see Bitter and couldn’t keep up. This weekend, I finally finished out the series. Now I see why the ending was controversial. I did not really hate the ending, because frankly, after Lost, it didn’t seem that bad. There were far fewer loose ends at the end of BSG than there were at the end of Lost.

I should issue a spoiler warning right here. If you don’t want to know, don’t keep reading.

The ending was pretty classic Deus ex Machina. The entire thing was wrapped up too quickly, and the ending created a number of plot issues. For one, the names of the Greek gods, and the names of constellations, being the same as we have today. No language or culture survived from 150,000 years ago. The creators of BSG have suggested that information was transmitted through a “collective unconscious,” or more Deus ex Machina, in other words. This seems weak as a way to connect the colonials to ourselves.

The colonials said they would pass on the best of themselves, but we know for a fact nothing survives from 150,000 years ago. Everything was lost; their art, their culture, technology and language. Hera we know died as a young woman, after having enough female offspring to become mother to all mankind, which suggests that she and the other colonials probably lived a short, brutal existence as primitives. It’s hard to see how this is a happy ending.

What the hell was Kara Thrace? We know the Hybrids said she was the harbinger of death, and would lead the human race to its end. I can sort of live with this plot resolution, since it can be taken to mean she was a harbinger of death to the Cylons, and did, in fact, lead the human race to its end, in a manner of speaking. But she was supposedly some kind of Angel sent by God? More Deus ex Machina.

Now let’s talk about the whole giving up technology thing. What’s shocking is that everyone agreed with it. Lee said “Yeah, let’s just forget this whole technology thing and fling the fleet into the sun,” and everyone just goes along? This was a fleet that argued about everything. It would seem to me if you landed in Middle Pleistocene Tanzania, complete with large saber tooth predatory cats, man eating wild pigs, and giant hyaenas, you’d think at least someone might pipe up “Have you lost your frakkin mind, Lee?” when he suggests living as primitives. As much as the thought of facing a large cat armed only with a Beretta Storm doesn’t thrill me, it sure as hell beats chucking a spear at it. At the very least, after weeks of eating algae, I’d be up for shooting a few grass eating herbivores before we buried the guns. Now I accept it’s quite possible that the colonials thought the planet was all gazelles, flamingos and rainbow farting unicorns, and then only after they destroyed the guns did they find the man eating wild boars, and giant hyenas. “Thanks a lot Lee, frakker!”

The show’s producers have suggested that the reason for abandoning the technology is because the natives would worship them as gods, and the whole cycle would start anew. I think that’s a chance I’m going to be willing to take if my alternative is wiping my ass with leaves. “This is my boomstick! Now chop down that tree so I can make some frakkin toilet paper.” I mean seriously, what do you think that natives are going to do when you show up in their village and inform them that, in the name of your god(s), you need to interbreed with their women?

There’s no way the ending really works as a happy one if you think about it. Not even really for us. What is our connection to them? Greek gods, names of constellations, and a propensity to make a race of killer robots? Sounds great to me.

18 Responses to “The End”

  1. Mark Steele says:

    Sebastian,

    BSG online came out of closed beta a little while ago – you can fly around the new universe as either a Cylon or Colonial – at least this way you get to keep technology :-)

    http://us1.battlestar-galactica.bigpoint.com/

  2. I didn’t buy the ending either.

    Giving everything up, with only the clothes on your back?

    Massive starvation within months.

    But hey, Giaus knows how to till soil. To bad there’s no seeds.

  3. ZK says:

    I thought it was pretty funny that in the end, God did it. That’s sure a twist that I didn’t expect from a sci-fi plot.

  4. Monty says:

    My objection is that by giving up their technology and going native, they practically assure that the cycle will repeat. We could keep the tech, learn from our mistakes, and do a better job this time, or we could through it all away in the hopes that this time evolution will turn out better… The cycle has happened before, it will happen again, and you just gave up the only way you could possibly stop it?! GG.

    Also, I agree that it is absurd to think that everyone would agree to give up the tech. Some may, perhaps even a majority, but there will be some holdouts. With their level of tech, if it was properly preserved and passed down, even a subgroup could get back to a relatively advanced society in a generation or two… That no one wanted that is beyond belief.

  5. Thirdpower says:

    Season 4 sucked overall.

  6. Welcome to the party, pal. 99% of them would have died from infections, accidents or starvation inside of six months.

    Somebody did a funny blog post of life six months after the Colonials and skin-job Cylons walked away from technology. Damned if I can find it now.

  7. Ian Argent says:

    The BSG writing crew never had an idea of an ending when they started, and it shows.

    A shame, really.

  8. Peter says:

    150,000 years ago is pretty much in the middle of a blank spot in the fossil record, which is frustrating because that corresponds to when Homo Sapiens started to appear.

    That does not mean that there is *nothing*. Quite a lot of stone tools have survived from before that, and one linguistic theory is that Basque is the descendant of “cave man” speak. I have no training in Basque, but I’ve read that the literal translation of ‘ceiling’ is ‘cave roof’.

  9. mobo says:

    Real men watch Dr. Who. :)

  10. Bitter says:

    We’ve been through a couple seasons of Dr. Who, too.

  11. Mobo says:

    I just watched the “Blink” episode from season 3. Best cheesy sci-fi show, ever!

  12. Yu-Ain Gonnano says:

    Admittedly I’m in the minority, but I was satisfied (not thrilled, but I can’t figure out any better way that would actually work) with the ending.

    You are right that it’s not really a happy ending, but nothing about the series was happy so I don’t know why the finale would be any different.

    I’m also not that upset with the Deus Ex Machina since “God has been doing it” for quite a long time. The only real revelation was that God *really was* doing it the whole time.

    The constellation thing is harder, but an “in universe” explanation could be that we are naturally drawn to find those patterns (kind of like we see faces in clouds and such).

    And given the “All this has happened before” motif, the idea that humans will gravitate towards Classical mythology even absent direct knowledge does work “in universe” even if it wouldn’t work in real life.

    The technology thing, I would have preferred to have seen worked as a “Cortez burning his ships” plot device (We’re here, there’s no going back. Suck it up and deal). Even under the reasoning that nearly everything bad that has happened for the last few years is a result of society’s inability to use tech appropriately it seems kind of weak reason.

  13. The Second Anonymous says:

    The ending to BSG was one of the most convoluted thing ever. The last 2 seasons were just a plain struggle of sheer will to finish. It’s obvious that the last 2 episodes really had nothing to do with the 4 seasons, but had to be implemented because the show HAD TO END.

    It was obvious that the original crew had some other ideas [such as Gaius’ cult and his collection of firearms while 6 smiles at him doing so, his vision of #6, Caprica’s vision of Gaius, the whole opera house crap, etc. I won’t believe for a moment the whole opera house crap that led to the death of one of the 6 and the hybrid jumping away was all there just to give Caprica 6 and Gaius a chance to pick up Hera so they can go into the bridge.

    After watching the ending I just really really wanted to punch something.

    Don’t get me started on Kara. I am pretty sure she was SUPPOSED to be one of the cylons that got resurrected [she even burnt her old body].

    Pissed off at the time wasted on that crap.

    ps. oh yeah, 99.99 percent of the whole crew will die within the first 6 months of putting tech behind. It’s funny how these studio producers think human, after years of auto-everything, who complaint about work hours and more interested in unionizing right after their race got wiped out by cylons and can’t even pull a 50 lbs bow, is capable of surviving in pre-historic earth. What are they gonna do, come together and sing songs and smoke a joint and puff comes a steak?

  14. Sending the fleet into the sun was STUPID.

    Rather, they should have put it on a long cyclical orbit that would return it near earth every 10,000 years or so.

    Imagine the story that would have opened up? They could have had “us” discovered this ancient relic “Battlestar Galactica”.

    Sometimes I am amazed at the lack of insight in Hollywood. And worse, how hard it is to penetrate that little sphere.

  15. Ian Argent says:

    Well, they were hard cancelled in 4th season – they knew that was their last season. Maybe they wanted to make sure to END it?

  16. Arnie says:

    Fourth season? Sending the fleet into the sun? Loren Green never did that. And I loved Dirk Benedict as Star buck…oops, showing my age again.

  17. Diomed says:

    Yeah, it was pretty much impossible to live up to the standard established by the first season. I remember watching it and thinking “This is the best season of American TV SF ever”, and I still think so. The Pegasus arc came close, New Caprica was interesting, but they never really committed to where the story wanted to go – it would have been so brutal and depressing no one would watch it except me.

    I watched the last two seasons out of a peculiar sense of duty, not because I thought it was much good.

    Oddly, I really liked Caprica. I’m sad it only got one season, it had potential and was really moving towards the end after a slow ignition.

  18. Rex says:

    Mrs. Rex & I went through BSG like a tornado through a trailer park. And when I got to the end, well, I was a little disappointed.

    Not at Hera being the mitochondrial eve, and not even at them giving up their technology…it was pretty clear throughout the series that they wouldn’t be able to sustain the technology without the industrial base anyway. Probably better to go native, even if it means you’re probably all dead within 6 months. At least you got to eat a steak and see a sunset.

    I was pretty irritated with how the Cylons ended up. All that computing power, all that creativity for manipulation but none of it applied to a sustainable decentralized existence. All of John’s whining about his body being so fragile and how he wanted to be a starship floating on interstellar winds…well frakking do it you toaster. Geez.

    The ride was nice, though.

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