This is a critique of the last episode of Battlestar Galactica and contains spoilers. Do not read this if you are watching or plan to watch this series - although after this last episode, if you have not started on this series, I would say do not bother.
Spoilers after the image:
OK. After four and half seasons of Battlestar Galactica we have reached the finale the revealing of who Kara Thrace - Starbuck - is and where they all end up. The season has been surprisingly good given the origin in the rather naff and incredibly dated original series. The re-imagining has been fabulous but I always had a concern with this series.
I aborted watching it half way through the first season because of the dubious religious component. It is one thing to suspend disbelief for a science fiction story and another to accept pure fantasy and there was always that threat. The fact that religion is a component of a show is not an issue. It is how it is used within that could be.
Now, I can enjoy good fantasy whether of a classical Greek myth or of the Tolkien or Pullman variety, but my issue here is that Battlestar Galactica could never make up its mind as to whether it was very good science fiction dealing with human concerns transplanted to highly unusual and original scenarios but still plausible and so solvable - or at least one could enjoy trying - in some coherent science fiction fashion. Indeed good fantasy works the same way, granted the fantastical backdrop including superpowers, mythical beings and whatever else, there is a semblance of understanding though which one could enjoy and even learn from the interplay of the characters, the challenges they face, the actions they take to resolve those challenges and the resulting consequences that occur. Still, even if the dividing line between science fiction and (science) fantasy is fuzzy, one does need to know for whatever story one is engaged in what the parameters- the limits of possibility in the fictional world -are. This was never clear in Battlestar Galactica and they took the easy option in the end.
It is here that I suspected in the first season that Battlesatar Galactica would let me down and I stopped watching it. However some friends got me to revise my opinion and I bit the bullet on my concerns over its use of religion in this series and have tried to convince others who have raised the same concern. Maybe it is us all being Brits that noticed this, and maybe our American friends - atheist or not - would disagree. Certainly the positive reviews of this last episode in the States reminds me of George Bernard Shaw's dictum - two countries separated by a common language. Contrary to the positive reposnse in the States, the final episode confirmed my worst fears, a dismal deus ex machina if ever I saw one.
Now there is still much to commend about this whole series, which makes the ending even more disappointing. There was much good acting and casting such as James Callis as the cat with nine lives psychopathic Baltar, Edward James Olmos (not the best actor but the perfect role for him), Mary Mcdonnell and the controversial (well only to nerds who liked the first version) female version of Starbuck or Kara Thrace - Katee Sackhoff. She might have overacted at times but her character became the underlying plot pivot especially in the last couple of seasons. Some of the scenarios explored such as terrorism and political intrigue were surprisingly relevant, whether by design or coincidence, they worked amongst the few filler episodes in the middle seasons. Then the key re-imagining of human like cylons was an absolutely crucial update to make the new series work.
However I feel this was all let down with the deus ex machina - in many senses - ending. Who were the imagined Gaius (by Caprica 6) and Caprica (by Gaius Baltar)? Angels. How did they get to (our) Earth 150,000 years ago? It was predestined before Kara Thrace was born. The cylon-human child magically knew too. An explanation of how they were genetically matched with human on our Earth - extraordinary yes but I could have come up with a decent science fiction explanation of that but they did not bother. The shared dream alone being acted out alone would have been acceptable, not too much license taken for that. But taking the biscuit, who was Kara Thrace knowing that she had died on the original Earth? Someone resurrected from the dead by "it" - who does not like to be called "god". Really, really lame cop out. I am underwhelmed and disgusted. In this country, we have an expression "lost the plot" and the authors really have here. This last episode should go in the dictionary as the definition of this phrase.