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And They Have a Plan?

With the final episode airing Friday (I’ll be visiting friends in CA, so probably won’t catch it until next week), the cast and writers of Battlestar Galactica visit the UN to “discuss issues such as human rights, children and armed conflict, and terrorism. Also on the agenda: dialogue among different civilizations and faiths.” Uh…so their advice to leaders would be, what. exactly? Meander about with no plan and little-to-no-purpose, retcon thorny individuals into line with your newest idea whenever necessary, and, when faced with an intractable situation, throw someone in the brig and/or stage either a show trial or a weepy, teeth-gnashing breakdown?

Perhaps I’ve been ruined by meticulously planned out shows like The Wire. Nevertheless, this last half-season of Galactica has been operating at about 3:1 filler-to-good-episode ratio, and that’s being charitable. As I feared, imho, the show’s been going down the FTL tubes ever since the ill-advised Dylan 5 reveal. Ah well…we’ll always have New Caprica.


4 Responses to “And They Have a Plan?”

  1. I know I’m in the minority at this point, but I really feel that BSG has refocused itself in the 4th season in some important ways. I’ve been happier with the back half of season 4 than I have since the first half of season 2.

    That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the series in the middle, or that nothing good happened. New Caprica was awesome and, while I know you and I part ways on this, I love the season 3 finale and the Watchtower 4 reveal. In fact, I think end of the S3 finale is one of the tightest and strongest chunks of television I’ve seen.

    I agree that the improved style Moore uses for BSG shows cracks in the middle and endgame of its series – and it’s one of the many ways the Wire is a superior show – but I think it has its strengths as well. I’m not sure they outweigh the cons, but the pros are there.

    Either way I like this season’s renewed focus on the characters, and the careful way they’ve brought back too long forgotten elements of the show (a lot of the Lee & Starbuck moments during the mutiny, working toward dramatic closure between Chief & Boomer, etc).

    I know some of it is simply a matter of preference, but I don’t think the show is as lost as many say, and I certainly disagree that last half of this season has had much filler at all. (Deadlocked was a waste, I’ll admit, but the rest?)

    But I’m obviously sold on the show. I’ve pushed my St. Patrick’s day feast to today for the BSG finale party at my house, for frak’s sake. The Cylons may no longer have a plan, but I do: Boiled Dinner.

    Posted by Eric Sipple | March 20, 2009, 9:49 am
  2. Well, I hope dinner went swimmingly. 🙂 As far as the last episode goes, I’ll refrain from posting on it at length, so as not to be the skeleton at the feast.

    Suffice to say, I didn’t really find “It’s God-magic!” to be a satisfying explanation to the questions bugging us for years, and the whole opera house business felt particularly poorly thought out. And long RotK-style goodbyes and over-the-top fan service (see also: President Lampkin, Admiral Hoshi) do not a quality finale make.

    Still, reading over the message boards, it clearly worked for some — indeed, even many. Alas, I am not one of them.

    Posted by Kevin | March 25, 2009, 11:24 am
  3. It did indeed. Thanks for the well-wishes. And I urge you be the skeleton at the feast. It’s part of the reason I read this blog. 😉

    I think for the finale, if you were still on board with the show, it rocked it, but if you weren’t, it was basically more of what you already didn’t like.

    So I have a question, if you don’t mind me asking. You don’t think long RotK style goodbyes make for (at least a component of) a quality finale? What sort of ending would have hit you for a series’ end? Didn’t “The Wire” do much the same thing as BSG in this regard?

    I’ve always felt that some level of that is exactly what makes for a good ending. My biggest complaint in most series’ is that the climax is usually placed far, far too close to the episode’s end, giving no time for winding down or denouement. The longer a story, the longer a wind down it demands, IMO.

    Thinking about the series finales I’ve loved (The Wire and Babylon 5 are the only two that spring immediately to mind) they share very drawn out wind-downs between them.

    Honestly, I was afraid it would be PEW-PEW-PEW BOOM NEW HOME THE END! I hate them endings (Buffy & Angel, I’m looking at you).

    So will you be giving Caprica a whirl, or was this the exit point from the world of BSG for you?

    Posted by Eric Sipple | March 25, 2009, 12:17 pm
  4. No, as much as I’m glad to see Paula Malcolmson again, I don’t plan to get on board for Caprica. Tbh, the only reason I stuck around till the end for BSG was out of respect for the first few seasons. (Still, never say never, I guess — If it garners rave reviews, perhaps I’ll delve into the DVDs after a season or two.)

    Regarding series finales…ok, I see your point. Long goodbyes aren’t the problem per se. (That being said, I don’t think they’re a must — I really liked tie-it-all-up finales like those of The Wire or Farscape (The Peacekeeper Wars), but I also dug the end of The Sopranos, Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm (even if the latter, as we now know, is returning.) The only endings that have really bugged me are the unplanned ones, like Deadwood and Twin Peaks. Get Dale and Annie out of the Black Lodge already.)

    (I was also motivated to bring up RotK since Alan Sepinwall — who imho has become an “Emperor’s New Clothes” apologist for BSG of the first order — thought the ending here was “better-earned” than in RotK. I couldn’t disagree more.)

    At any rate, one main reason so many of the long goodbyes here didn’t work for me is — unlike in The Wire — they *didn’t* extend back through the series as a whole, but seemed to be playing off very recent developments. In fact, a lot of ’em seemed haphazard and bizarre.

    Take Boomer, who right before getting plugged talks about how she owes Adama one. She does? Since when? Oh, ok, here’s a random scene (with Adama out of character, given his old hard-ass persona back in S1) explaining the reference to us.

    Or Baltar/Caprica. Ok, in this case the storyline does go back to the beginning…but it also fell out of the plot several seasons ago, in part to make room for Tigh’s deadender of a Cylon baby. Bringing it back now, like the entire opera scene, just feels like they went through a checklist of stuff they’d conjured up in the past that had to be referenced here. The stuff they could explain was explained badly. The rest was God’s will.

    Or Apollo. Granted, of all the characters, poor Lee is probably the one who’s gotten rebooted the most. But, now all of a sudden he’s really just an “extreme” (in the Mt. Dew sense) adventure-loving hippie?

    (By the way, the BSG of a few seasons ago would never have had all 30,000 survivors happily decide to forsake all their technology without one raised eyebrow or murmur of disapproval. Maybe it’s just me, but things like electricity, refrigeration, tampons, antibiotics, music players, weapons, etc. might come in pretty handy.)

    Now Roslin-Adama deserved their long goodbyes here, and they were pretty well done. But, even here, the random flashbacks to Caprica were (imho, of course) distracting and unnecessary. It’s a little late in the game for further characterization anyway — it reminds me of the decision to make Elizabeth Rohm’s character on L&O a lesbian five seconds before she quit for good — and don’t get me started on mystical pigeons or Tigh’s strip-club screaming or emotional walks into the fountain.

    (In any case, visually reminding us of Kara and Lee going at it with Zack nearby just cheapened their final goodbye anyway — We got it, long beforehand.)

    Plus, by drawing out some farewells past the point of credulity, I think they also inadvertently drew attention to what was missing. What of BSG’s great bromance, Adama-Tigh? Those two never got in their last manly hug for our benefit. Or what of the Chief, who fulfilled his bizarre plot function of breaking the truce — perhaps redundantly, since dead-Racetrack also did it for him — and then just up and disappeared to Scotland?

    And, speaking of fulfilling plot functions, the whole Hera business barely makes sense on its own terms. I get she was just the MacGuffin, fine. Still, one would think that God’s Ordained Plan for this theoretically very special little girl would amount to more than just a life of interbreeding with the natives. Being Mitochondrial Eve for *our* human race wouldn’t seem to make her all that important from the *show’s* perspective, particularly given that it could just’ve easily been someone else.

    At any rate, different strokes for different folks and all that. I think you’ve probably hit the nail on the head that the decision-tree for enjoying this finale was reached well before it aired.

    Posted by Kevin | March 25, 2009, 5:25 pm

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