Monday, March 23, 2009

Wrapping Galactica

It's an uneven ending to a great show, but then again as any writer will tell you, Endings Are Hard. On the bad side: Forty thousand engineers, pilots and assorted technicaly sophisticated people suddenly decide to ditch all technology and go wandering off into the lion infested veldt with the clothes on their backs. They condemn themselves and their children to starvation, disease and a 30-year life expectancy so that one of their skeletons can be found 150,000 years later. It's a shame that the writers decided that the only way to say goodbye was for everyone to become stupid.

Other than that, I really enjoyed the end of a great, groundbreaking show. Everyone got their moment in the spotlight, even if it didn't always make sense.

As usual, Television Without Pity has the best review of this mishegas.

The Excellent: The Kara/Lee flashback continued to be tonally perfect, both subtle and fraught with meaning, and the story brought both characters to elegant and moving conclusions. Anything involving Caprica and Gaius (or their analogues) was superb in its writing and execution, and I find I'm still finding more and more reasons to love them after the fact -- which, if you think about it, might be the show's highest triumph. The depth and scope of Ellen Tigh's story offscreen, those two kids did right in front of us over the past six years, coming to a place of compassion and empathy no one could have predicted. And of course the Twins, the Drunks and the Roslin/Adama Administration are six more stories I'd be proud to tell, if my skills were equal to the task. Thank God the show was, and is.

The Good: Great actors can make anything work, so you're treated to the usual lapidary performances (between the hour-long onslaught of shit blowing up followed by the hour-long onslaught of weird Prime Directive patronizing weirdness in the veldts of Tanzania). The truth of the Opera House was beautiful in its way, and the mysteries of Kara and the angels were left appropriately mysterious. (Which is not to say vague, but just to say the whole point of stuff we don't have words for is that we don't have words for it: try to put words to it and you end up with Pah Wraiths, so that's at least one lesson learned.) Taken as a whole, despite the draggy finale's execution, the narrative journeys of Laura and Bill and Saul are benchmarks of characterization, and that's as present here as it's been every other week.

Also Good: Boomer's arc feels complete, in that she accepts both the up and down sides of free will, which are pretty much her whole deal, and dies willingly to exercise both at once. Tory never had an arc beyond being the whipping girl for the entire cast and writing staff, so her end was at least appropriate (although it would have been just as easy -- and thematically superior -- to shift her down to the sickbay with Laura working triage and have her die there, which is basically the same chance Felix got with Gaius). And Chief's arc ended with Hotdog's sperm just as much as Athena and Helo this season became automatons randomly shouting HERA every fifteen seconds on the dot, so their fizzled endings seem just as clean. I can almost see it as a shifting focus throughout the show: S1 was pretty much about Boomer, Athena and Helo proportionally, so they've had their parts of the story already. I can handle that, I guess.

Elsewhere on teh Interwebs:

Ronald Moore post-Daybreak Q&A in which All is Explained Daybreak Review

Galactica at the UN

Update: I feel like I was a little too harsh in my review. I think that overall, this Galactica was one of the great science fiction series of all time, due to its emphasis on the political/moral dimension, and the genuinely extraordinary level of writing and acting. As Grant Morrison used to say, you think that it's the action that you're interested in, and that's fun, but you're really invested in the soap opera of the characters' lives. This is what made the series so great, and the final episode so satisfying in many ways: you got to see the characters' arcs come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Update 2: Kevin Kelly discusses life without technology and the advent of language 50,000 years ago.

1 comment:

Len Bullard said...

The pre-show show said the producers and writers decided to emphasize characters and they did that. With the spine of the ship broken, they didn't have much choice but to live with Kara's destination. Since apparently that was the divine plan all along, it's reasonable. Abandoning the technology to go native seemed hokey. They new how to use the raw materials and since anyone can build an air-driven forge, a lot of technology would have been built fast, and probably that leaves the whole "Where did the pyramids and other artifacts we keep finding" arc open.

I was satisfied with Adama's end. Peace at last, thank Hera Almighty, peace at last.

The wildcard was sending the Centurions off on their own. Since no one knows what the toasters had on their minds, or what their minds directed them to do without skin jobs to run them, that is very open ended.

That was/is a spectacular piece of sci-fi and perfect for times like these.