Forgive me if I get all weepy as I write this. I’m finding it very hard to let go of my favorite sci-fi show. Three years ago I jumped on the Battlestar Galactica bandwagon, and within a few weeks I had watched the miniseries, season one, and the first part of season two (thanks to the network’s pesky habit of splitting up the seasons and the DVD releases). I was hooked. For the past three years, I have been fully invested in the fate of the fleet, and in the individual struggles and triumphs of its crew and passengers.
I waited until two weeks after its original air date to watch the series finale, because somehow, I felt like if I hadn’t watched it, the show wasn’t really over. Now that I’ve finally watched the finale, I can honestly say it was amazing, and a near-perfect end to a near-perfect show. The finale played out like a grandiose symphony, orchestrated to celebrate all the things that we loved about the show, its characters, and their lives. So now, I give you a coda of sorts, in an effort to digest four seasons of resilient humans, formidable Cylons, and an aging Battlestar, and to bid a fond farewell to the characters I’ve grown to love.
Finale Synopsis: (Warning: spoilers ahead!)
- The first hour focuses on the final showdown between Adama’s rag tag band of human and Cylon warriors, and Cavil’s intimidating Centurion forces. The battle begins the moment Galactica jumps into its “parking spot” next to the sprawling Cylon Colony: raptors and vipers open fire on the Cylon raiders, two assault forces – led by Lee, Kara, Athena, and Helo – board the Colony in search of Hera, and the reserve forces – including Caprica Six and Baltar – stand ready to defend Galactica when it is boarded by enemy Centurions. The action is fast and furious, culminating in a tense segment in which Hera is found, then lost again, then found by President Roslin, then lost again, then found by Baltar and Six…
- The scenes involving Hera’s disappearing/reappearing act are the ones where the episode takes on an operatic quality, both visually and aurally. These were also the first of many emotional moments in the finale. Roslin, fresh off giving herself an injection, has a vision of Hera running through the opera house, eluding her as well as Athena and Caprica Six. Roslin realizes that the return of her prophetic visions means that Hera is nearby, and she runs through the corridors of the ship, as best she can in her weakened state, searching for the child. I was glad that the writers finally made sense of Roslin and Six’s recurring visions of Hera in the opera house.
- Six and Baltar state what viewers already know – “I’ve been here before” – and they escort Hera into the “opera house,” a.k.a. the CIC. Suddenly the events that have been replayed in their vision are actually happening. The “final five” are looking down on them from above, silhouetted by a bright light. It is clear that this is the moment that Hera will play a pivotal role in the destiny of both humans and Cylons. A moment of chaos results in Cavil grabbing Hera and holding her at gunpoint. This is Baltar’s moment to shine, as he gives a brilliant speech that appeals to Cavil’s rational, logical nature. He says it’s time to break the cycle of birth, death, rebirth, destruction, escape, death… Tigh pipes up at this point, saying that if Cavil gives them Hera, the “final five” will give Cavil resurrection technology. Thus, crisis is averted, for the moment.
- In order to upload the resurrection technology to the Colony, the final five must all be connected, which will make each of them an open book – they will all be fully known to one another. This is bad news for Tory, whose dark little secret is about to catch up with her. Sure enough, all five of them “see” Tory sending Callie out of the airlock, and in a moment of blind rage (who can blame him?!), Tyrol breaks the connection to choke Tory, which sends off a slew of unfortunate events: Sam starts screaming, as does the hybrid on the Colony, Cavil believes this whole deal was a trick and orders his soldiers to open fire, bullets start flying in the CIC, and Tyrol breaks Tory’s neck, ending her life, and along with it any chance of following through on the deal to provide Cavil with resurrection technology. Simultaneously, the Cylon raiders start attacking Galactica again, and in a moment of seemingly divine intervention, a very dead Racetrack posthumously fires her nukes at the Colony, effectively destroying the ship and ending the war.
- Adama realizes that Galactica can’t survive the shock waves from the nuclear blast for long, so he orders Starbuck to get them out of there. And thus begins another beautiful moment in the finale, in which we finally learn how Kara Thrace will lead the humans to their end, when Kara realizes “there must be some kind of way out of here.” She punches in the numbers that correspond with the notes of the song (“All Along the Watchtower”) that she, Hera, and the final five have been haunted by, and miraculously this leads them to the rendezvous jump point, which also happens to be where Earth (the one we know) is. Hooray!
- The good news continues, as the rest of the fleet shows up, and they discover that this Earth is very habitable (which is necessary since the Galactica will never be able to jump again after the stress of the last Cylon battle). The only catch is that this planet is already inhabited by tribes of less advanced humans, which means that their technology, weapons, and spaceships may complicate their efforts to assimilate. Lee makes the decision, and everyone jumps on board, that they ditch their technology and give these people “the best part of ourselves, not the baggage.” So, the 38,000 remaining humans set out to the four corners of the Earth, with the clothes on their back and a few supplies, to start a new life, back to basics.
- The remainder of the episode plays out like an epilogue, giving us a glimpse into the lives of the former space travelers in their new terrestrial home.
A Day in the Life – Then and Now – When the flashbacks to Caprica started, in Part I of “Daybreak,” I was skeptical as to why the writers chose to insert “old news” about the characters into the crucial events of the present. After seeing the flashbacks come full circle, I understand their purpose and think it was a great idea. By seeing these characters’ life situations shortly before the destruction of Caprica and before their subsequent search for a new home aboard Galactica, we were able to better appreciate the beginning of the next chapter of their lives, on Earth. These flashbacks also showed that destiny played a hand in their journey to Earth. So, in what condition did we leave our favorite characters?
- Kara Thrace and Lee Adama – The flashbacks showed us that these two always had a special connection, from the moment they met over dinner with Lee’s brother, and Starbucks’s boyfriend at the time, Zack. These flashbacks also showed us that Lee always had an idealistic nature, and that there has almost always been someone standing in the way of Kara and Lee having anything more than a passing relationship – Zack, Dee, Anders… But their friendship has almost always remained intact, and that is how we leave them on Earth. One moment they are talking with excitement about Lee’s plans to explore this new world, and the next Kara is just… gone. Shortly before this, she had told Lee that she wasn’t sure where she was going, but that she wasn’t coming back – “I’m done here. I’ve completed my journey, and it feels good.” So Starbuck and Apollo didn’t get the happily ever after ending many of us would have liked to see, but they were always there for each other when it mattered. And, indeed, Kara played a pivotal role in leading the human race to Earth. I suppose we’re to think she really was an angel – that she really did die when her viper crashed, and that she returned simply to complete the task of leading the human race to its end. Her fear, of being forgotten, seems moot now. At least by the people she cared about, she’ll be remembered. As Lee stated, while standing in an empty field from which he would begin his new life, “Goodbye, Kara. You won’t be forgotten.” I have an image of Kara joining Sam “on the other side,” whatever that looks like, and of Lee climbing mountains and discovering many wondrous things on Earth.
- Baltar and Caprica Six – “I’m proud of you.” With those words, Caprica Six rekindled her passionate relationship with Baltar. Their renewed (and much healthier) relationship was one of my favorite things about the finale. Both Six and Baltar have come a long way since they instigated Caprica’s destruction and the subsequent war between Cylons and humans. We also learn, at the same time they do, that their invisible friends are actually there, not just figments of their imagination. They are guardian angels, or spiritual guides, who have always led Baltar and Six toward their destiny. Their flashback showed us that Baltar already cared about Six on Caprica (“the things men do for love”), especially after her considerate gesture of finding his father a comfortable place to live. Over the past few years, they have both been plagued by guilt over their part in causing so much death and despair, and have been trying to atone for the sins of their past. They found redemption by saving Hera, and now they will start a new life together on Earth. Another beautiful moment of the finale occurred when Six and Baltar were talking about where they would live on Earth, and after mentioning he found some land good for cultivation, he is barely able to utter the words, “You know, I know about farming,” before he breaks down weeping, and Six gently comforts her and says, “I know you do.” This was a touching reference to their flashback, in which we learned that Baltar was ashamed that he had come from a poor, farming family. Now he is ready to once again embrace his heritage, partly out of necessity, but mostly because he has genuinely changed. He’s no longer a self-centered, manipulative egotist. He’s now a caring, brave man, who is finally mourning the loss of his family on Caprica, and someone who Six can be proud of. I am pleased that Six and Baltar ended up this way, and love the way their characters evolved over the course of the series.
- Adama and Roslin – The flashbacks showed us Adama rejecting a desk job in favor of staying with his old, broken down battlestar, and Roslin having a change of heart and deciding to join the mayor’s campaign and following through with it until the end, where ever that may be. Little did she know at the time that her decision to join the campaign would save her life (temporarily), make her president of the colonies, and lead her to a new home far, far away from Caprica. And little did Adama know that his old, broken down ship would hold up enough to survive another Cylon war, and to carry an entire civilization to its new home. And he also didn’t know that on that ship, he would fall deeply in love with Laura Roslin, only to lose her to cancer just as they found the place where they planned to build their cabin and live in harmonious bliss on the new Earth. I can’t think of many scenes, from any tv show or movie, as moving as the one in which Adama and Roslin are flying over the Earth, enjoying the view of “so much life.” As Laura’s hand falls to her side, we realize she has quietly passed away, but he keeps talking for a moment. When he realizes she’s gone, he takes her hand, transfers his wedding ring to her finger, and begins weeping. Moments later, he picks out the spot on which he will build their cabin. This scene was understated, yet powerful and deeply moving. It emphasized how comfortable they were together, and how Laura died happy, knowing the human race would survive on this beautiful planet, brimming with life.
The Final Five
- Tory – Good riddance. I never liked Tory, even before we knew she was a Cylon. She was always annoying and heartless. After she ruthlessly killed Callie, I had no interest in her well being. I couldn’t imagine Tyrol having any other reaction than choking her to death, after discovering what she had done. You have to wonder why she was so much more cold-hearted than the other four of the Final Five Cylons.
- Galen Tyrol – Chief had one of the saddest endings of anyone on the show. It seems completely hopeless. He opts to be dropped off on a cold island in the highlands, and live a life of solitude, rather than have to deal with anymore people or Cylons. “I’m just tired of people, humans, Cylons, whatever.” He hadn’t had any good news in a long time. Callie died, he found out their child isn’t his, he momentarily rekindled his romance with Boomer only to find out she was playing him, and he learned that Tory did the unimaginable act of coldheartedly murdering Callie in front of her own child. I wonder if he continued to live out his whole existence alone, or if his wounds ever healed enough for him to trust someone again.
- Saul and Ellen Tigh – Talk about second chances at happiness. This couple had a troubled relationship, to say the least, before the events on New Caprica. Between Ellen’s promiscuity and Saul’s alcoholism, they had a very dysfunctional relationship. And then on New Caprica, Saul killed Ellen because he thought she had betrayed them to the Cylons. Somehow, though, their love was enough to keep them together (and the fact that Ellen was a Cylon brought her back to life so they could be reunited to have this chance). In their flashback, we see Ellen telling Tigh that she just can’t wait until he retires so she can be with him full time, whatever that looks like. In the end, they have all the time in the world to spend together, as they forge a new existence on Earth. I’d like to think that eventually they were able to adopt a child, since parenting was the one joy they hadn’t shared together.
- Sam – As difficult as it was to see Sam go from a vibrant, healthy man to no more than a conduit lying in a tub of goo, it seems fitting that he guide the fleet to its final destination – the Sun – where it would no doubt go out in a blaze of glory. In Sam’s flashback, we saw him talking to a reporter about the true appeal of the sport of Pyramid: “Those moments when you can feel the perfection of creation, the beauty of physics, the wonder of mathematics, the elation of action and reaction. That is the kind of perfection that I want to be connected to.” In the end, he couldn’t have been more involved in the beauty of physics than to play an integral role in the final human/Cylon battle (by taking control of the Colony’s hybrid), and then to guide an entire fleet through space under his command. It was very touching to see his face as he whispered, “See you on the other side” to Starbuck.
Helo, Athena, and Hera – I am so glad that Helo survived his gunshot wound. And what a happy ending for this little family, that faced so much prejudice, the kidnapping of their child, etc. They will now hunt, fish, and basically have a peaceful, enjoyable existence on planet Earth.
- I would have been perfectly happy for the series to have ended on the shot of Adama sitting on the hilltop site of his future cabin, next to Laura’s grave, talking about how the view reminded him of her. Since Adama was the heart of the show, it would have been fitting to end with him finally having some peace, finally free from any responsibility, other than for himself. But, the writers decided to add something else.
- We see Hera walking through a field, and then we jump ahead 150,000 years in the future, to present day New York City. This tells us that the events of the series occurred in the past, and that modern day humans are, in fact, the ancestors of both humans and Cylons.
- Archaeologists have found the remains of mitochondrial Eve, “the most recent common ancestor for all human beings now living on Earth.”
- The “guardian angel” versions of Six and Baltar then have a conversation about “Commercialism, decadence, technology run amok … remind you of anything?” And so we’re back on the recurring theme of the viscious cycle of life, death, rebirth… Six figures that this time things will turn out better this time, despite the technological advancements of this society, since something surprising might happen if a complex system repeats itself enough times.
- At this point we’re treated to the worst part of the finale, a silly montage of dancing robots to the tune of “All Along the Watchtower.” I suppose Ronald Moore wanted to end the series with some nugget of wisdom about the dangers and possibilities of technology.
- The message seems to relate to Lee’s idealistic view of where humans have been and where they are going: “You know, our brains have always outraced our hearts, our science charges ahead, our souls lag behind. Let’s start anew.” It seems that in 150,000 years, humans managed to get right back to where Galactica and its fleet left off. The open-ended ending to the series left us wondering if the cycle would stay broken, or start all over. I vote for making Lee proud.
- This is one of the best, if not the best, series finales I’ve ever seen. It managed to answer just about all the looming questions, while leaving just enough open-endedness to let us come up with our own “rest of the stories” for the characters.
- The main question I am left with is, did the Cylons age? And how did they end up dying? What about Ellen, Tigh, and Tyrol? Athena? Six? Did they just go on living forever, or did they age and die natural deaths?
- The music was fantastic, the battle sequences were thrilling, and the drama was searing. I cried several times and felt fully invested the whole time.
- Grade: A+
- Now that the series is over, I will begin my quest to convince everyone I know to give the show a chance. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed. I also plan to buy the series so I can watch it from beginning to end, to fully appreciate its complex storyline.
- It was fantastic knowing you, Battlestar Galactica. The world of scifi, and the television landscape, won’t be the same without you.