Battlestar Galactica – Episode 4-20 Review

After four seasons and one hell of a run, Battlestar Galactica came to a close this week with “Daybreak, Part 2.” I think most people will agree that the first two-thirds of the episode were solid, but whether you think the series finale was pure brilliance or incredibly lame is pretty much going to come down to how you reacted to the events in the last third. Myself, I’m in the “incredibly lame” category.

First off, I absolutely loathe bringing higher powers of any kind into a series. There are exceptions (particularly for shows with fantasy settings or dealing with the supernatural on a regular basis), but generally speaking if you try to force a higher power into your show, I’m going to complain about it. As such, I’ve never really been a fan of the religious elements in Battlestar Galactica. Up until the last third of “Daybreak, Part 2″ though, you could dismiss the religious stuff as coincidence, hallucination, involvement of a non-“God” third party, or simply taking advantage of the vague nature of prophecy. But not this time. This time, it was pretty damned explicit.

First, we’ve got the whole “Earth” thing. We already saw Earth, of course, in the middle of season 4. It’s not just that there was another planet called Earth. We got a good enough look at the landmasses on that planet to know that it was our Earth. Yet it turns out that wasn’t our Earth. There’s no way that you could get two identical planets or human life evolving in two places millions of light years apart without, as the show said, a “miracle.”

The whole “Let’s settle on Earth, but ditch all our technology” thing was pretty lame too. For one, apparently every single person accepted the idea of completely giving up human technology to go settle in various parts of an alien world. Lee’s whole speech about how science and technology outpace society was eye-rolling, at best.

Even if you accept that everyone thought it would be just super to abandon antibiotics, travel, electricity, running water, etc. and just go settle wherever they felt like on Earth, there’s still difficulty settling the fleet on Earth without it drastically altering humanity’s path. Mankind was pre-verbal when the fleet showed up, and suddenly Earth would go from a hunter-gatherer wandering “society” to one with things like farming, permanent settlements, and all kinds of technological innovations (presumably the humans of the fleet would be able to introduce everything from the wheel to bow and arrows to knowledge of medicine and much more). Given the massive degree of innovations you would expect that humanity would reach our level of advancement in thousands, if not hundreds, of years. And yet it actually took 150,000 years to get to the present. Which is over 140,000 years longer than it really took humans to go from the earliest civilizations to modern day (on the plus side, it did make me think of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

This seems like a good time to bring up the whole “150,000 years later” thing. It somehow managed to come off as too cutesy and be preachy all at the same time. The whole Hera as the earliest ancestor to all of humanity was pretty lame too.

There was one other eye-rolling event in the final third of “Daybreak, Part 2.” That would be the “Starbuck is apparently an angel” moment. They had a really effective scene going, with Adama and Roslin flying off and then Starbuck and Apollo sharing a moment and then, BAM, they have to ruin it by making Starbuck an angel. I’m glad they didn’t come right out and say that, but the implication was pretty clear.

Now, if Starbuck had known that she was an angel all season, and had just kept it from the fleet and the audience, I wouldn’t have been annoyed by this twist. Okay, I would have still been annoyed, but I would have been slightly less annoyed. But it’s clear that Starbuck wasn’t aware of her new status until this episode (the earliest she could have conceivably realized would have to be when she entered the jump coordinates for Earth and we had all those flashes of images).

For all the complaining I’m doing about the episode, it wasn’t all terrible. As I said before, the first two-thirds of “Daybreak, Part 2″ were excellent. They had little issues here and there, but on the whole it was exactly what I was hoping for in a series finale.

And even after the arrival on Earth2, there were still lots of great character moments. Pretty much everyone still alive had a fitting send-off (save Starbuck). Everything from Lee deciding to go adventuring, to Baltar and Caprica’s talk of farming, to the Agathon family sharing a moment of happiness was spot on.

Even Laura Roslin had a great scene. I’ve hated Roslin pretty much ever since she became a crazed religious zealot somewhere in the first season (and that’s not even getting into all the civil liberties she crushed during her two terms in office). I remember being so disappointed when Roslin’s cancer was magically cured with Hera’s blood back in season two. And yet, I was still moved by pretty much everything that happened with Roslin and Bill on Earth2 (from looking at the animals, to her death, and to the shot of Adama at her graveside).

I think ultimately whether you think “Daybreak, Part 2″ was a top-notch series finale or not depends on how you feel about God getting involved in your fiction. If you are okay with that, chances are you are one of the people that absolutely loved the finale. If you are irritated when people add God to the mix, you probably were joining me in repeatedly rolling your eyes as you watched the finale. No matter which camp you fall in to, I think we can all agree we definitely got a finale worth talking about, at the very least.

Goodbye, Battlestar Galactica. Crappy finale or no, you shall be missed.

Trevor MacKay is the sci-fi/horror/fantasy/cheesy/random geeky stuff guy. If something is geeky and/or unbelievably cheesy, he’s there.