grey_sw: Cavil from BSG (Default)
[personal profile] grey_sw

Oh, BSG, why? I saw this coming from all the way back at the end of season 4.0, but I just can't help being disappointed in you, just the same.

The first part of this episode was amazing. I loved the space battles, loved the Caprica/Baltar and Cottle & Roslin scenes, loved Admiral Hoshi, loved the Centurion vs. Centurion action, loved the awesome Colony and its equally awesome guns. The first hour or so was BSG at its best.

Then Boomer grabs Hera and gets shot -- that was pretty stupid, but we all saw it coming, so what can you do -- and who cares, because now they're doing the epic Opera House thing. And Cavil is headed to the CIC surrounded by a bunch of badass Centurions! Hell yes! Wait, and now somebody almost rescues Hera... and Cavil is almost to the CIC! And cut to Hera again! Build the tension! Then we're finally there, and the epic battle for the CIC, the fiercest drop-down drag-out hand-to-hand humans vs. skinjobs fight of the whole series is...

Already over?

OMG, show, are you OK? I think you blacked out for a couple of minutes! Should I call an ambulance?

...no, you're going to walk home? Well, if you insist, but promise me you'll sit down with your head between your knees if you start to feel faint again!

Ahem.

But that's all right, I guess we can skip that scene if we have to, because Cavil turns out to be more hardcore than he looks. He's got Hera, and the Five are there, and then they're -- holy shit, they're going to end this the right way! They're actually going to resolve the conflict! I can't believe it, hurrah!

...wait a second, did the clock just strike eight?

And then, abruptly, out of nowhere, the show starts to suck. The Five prove that they're not only the worst parents in the world, they're the worst parents in three worlds. Way to go, you selfish morons. Hope the memory of your dull-eyed, cabbagey wife was worth wrecking the fates of two civilizations!

There's yet another half-baked All Along The Watchtower scene, and then RacetrackThe Hand Of God presses a button, and... the Colony! Is it blowing up? Is it falling into the black hole? Wait, it's...

SHOW! Show, talk to me! You passed out right in the middle of the climax of the whole series! What the frak happened to the Colony?! ...um, show? Show?

Alas, this time I think you're actually dead.

To sum things up: all the "bad" Cylons magically die (offscreen, no less!), all the "good" humans magically live as super-luddites on our own Earth (extra points for their being the Secret White Ingredient Needed For Intelligence On Earth, always a classy move!), and it turns out that science is bad and God is good. And then, as if that weren't ridiculous enough, the whole thing ends with an embarrassingly indulgent modern-day self-insert.

Let's just say that Cavil's suicide made a sick kind of sense... and was about the last thing in the show which made any sense, frankly.

I'm not sure what's worse about the ending: its overwhelming anti-intellectualism, or its blatant disrespect for the overall arc of the plot. They went much farther with the former than I'd ever expected -- we got extensive lectures on how God & faith are great and reason & science are evil, with bonus points for the several different scenes of Cylons getting violently killed right after mentioning the latter. And then the human/2/6/8 race purposely sends all of its science into the Sun and wanders off to become hunter-gatherers! Wow.

As for the plot: the central conflict of the entire series, the big human vs. Cylon shebang, ends in a random deus-ex-machina explosion which they don't even bother to show. RDM had to state in an interview that all the 1/4/5s are supposed to have fallen into the singularity and died. Never mind that this makes no sense -- the Colony makes Basestars look like specks; a handful of nukes sure as frak can't push something with that much inertia out of orbit, especially when comparatively tiny Basestars and Battlestars survive multiple nuke hits all the time in this show -- nope, they're all conveniently dead, somebody cue the Ewok song.

What's that faint noise off in the distance? Why, I do believe it's the sound of the human race washing its hands of the things it has created! But that's OK -- they get to have miracles and a Promised Land and a probable end to the cycle, anyway! Galen even gets a big hearty pat on the back from Tigh for killing all of their "treasured" children, just as they were about to make peace at last!

Boy, is that stupid. And it's made even worse because the writers clearly knew how they ought to end the series, and then they deliberately didn't. It's like they head-faked themselves right into an open sewer.

The only thing I truly enjoyed about the ending sequence was seeing the Centurions get their own Basestar. Baltar's breakdown at the end was also very affecting; Starbuck's disappearance was cheap, but at least it was very much in the mind-frak spirit of BSG; Roslin and Adama's ending was decent as well, though I could have done without the ten minutes of nature photography. Everything else was painfully, depressingly bad.

For a show which is "about the characters, stupid", a lot of the character stuff they neglected the plot for was random as hell -- most of the flashbacks were meaningless and/or way too blatant, they allowed the entire cast to walk away from the oh-so-dark-and-important "one-way mission", Helo and Athena's story ends on such a forced note that even Baltar and Caprica are shocked, Starbuck just vanishes without any real closure with Lee or Leoben... and the less said about Lee in general, the better, actually. Wow, was he fourth-wall-shatteringly OOC here, or what?

I had originally been a bit more OK with Daybreak, because I'd thought the fate of the Colony had been deliberately left to the audience to decide, thus allowing a tiny ray of omg-what-if to shine through all the heavy-handed polemics. Nope: it turns out the last remaining scrap of moral ambiguity in Battlestar Galactica was actually just the result of yet another editing failure.

That single sentence, right there, says everything there is to say about season 4.5. What a joke.

Date: 2009-03-22 07:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lobselvith8.livejournal.com
I heard that Dean Stockwell suggested Cavil's suicide. (I think it was Tigh who killed him in the original script).

It's ironic that Cavil, with his superior forces, didn't even bother to destroy the human fleet when he knew where they were (given Boomer locating them with ease) even after he acquired Hera. Maybe it's just me, but why doesn't he wipe humanity out? BSG is crippled, the rebel Basestar is broken, couldn't Cavil effortlessly wipe them out without breaking a sweat?

Yet I can't help but wonder why he'd nab Hera in the first place. Human/Cylon hybrid. Can't procreate without humans even if he found out what made her survive without joining humanity and their rag tag fleet. Wouldn't Cavil now be able to persuade his allies to download their consciousness into immortal metal bodies if their corporeal forms were mortal? (Something that seems unlikely given that we never see any "aged" Cylons at all).

And poor Boomer...

Date: 2009-03-22 07:44 am (UTC)
ext_72247: Cavil from BSG (Default)
From: [identity profile] grey-sw.livejournal.com
I heard that Dean Stockwell suggested Cavil's suicide. (I think it was Tigh who killed him in the original script).

Good on Stockwell -- I liked the suicide. I really, really did. I thought it was much more appropriate for Cavil than a death-by-righteous-humans ending. He died on his own terms, just as he'd lived. Surviving only to be captured, killed, or otherwise humiliated by the humans would have been an "act of futility", not a proper end for a machine!

It's worth remembering that Cavil killed himself at least once before, when he was shot on New Caprica... and that the other Cylons have a religious injunction against suicide. So perhaps it could also be viewed as a final fist in the face of God!

It's ironic that Cavil, with his superior forces, didn't even bother to destroy the human fleet when he knew where they were (given Boomer locating them with ease) even after he acquired Hera. Maybe it's just me, but why doesn't he wipe humanity out? BSG is crippled, the rebel Basestar is broken, couldn't Cavil effortlessly wipe them out without breaking a sweat?

I don't think he really wanted to -- I think he wanted the Five to understand and approve of his ideals, and they couldn't do that if he killed them. Of course, the sad thing is that Cavil finally did get beyond his obsession with destroying the humans, and the Five did come to accept that his way of life was valid... and then all the 1/4/5s died, anyway, offscreen and for no reason. Oh, BSG...!

Yet I can't help but wonder why he'd nab Hera in the first place. Human/Cylon hybrid. Can't procreate without humans even if he found out what made her survive without joining humanity and their rag tag fleet. Wouldn't Cavil now be able to persuade his allies to download their consciousness into immortal metal bodies if their corporeal forms were mortal? (Something that seems unlikely given that we never see any "aged" Cylons at all).

Yeah, this never made much sense to me. I had originally thought he grabbed her in order to try to trade her for Resurrection -- which ended up being the idea, in the end, but I don't really get what all the studying was about in the meantime. The 2/6/8s think that Hera is special, but there's no particular reason why Cavil should think so, and they never bother to explain it. I guess he could have been aiming to clone her, or to create new Cylon models from her genetics somehow, but neither is convincing to me. I think this is one of the series' major plot holes; yet another example of the plot determining the actions of the characters, rather than the other way around.

Date: 2009-03-24 11:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lobselvith8.livejournal.com
The reason for Hera's kidnapping is explained in the podcast, as it's the vestige of the original plot that involved Cavil successfully convincing Ellen to side with him against all of humanity and even her own husband, aided by the knowledge that Tigh impregnated Caprica Six. Apparently, Cavil calculated all of humanity would end in three generations without Hera. Ergo, the kidnapping.

Date: 2009-03-25 01:24 am (UTC)
ext_72247: Cavil from BSG (Default)
From: [identity profile] grey-sw.livejournal.com
I still haven't listened to it... I'm planning to do so tonight. :) I'm not at all surprised to hear that they didn't have this stuff figured out sometime before the last three episodes, though!

Even this idea doesn't make a whole lot of sense -- the humans would die out right frakkin' now if Cavil killed them. I think the "mu ha ha ha, I've got the little girl and she's tied to the train tracks" idea is kind of bizarre no matter how you slice it... it seems to be there just because they'd built Hera up for three seasons.

Date: 2009-03-22 09:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] exploding-candy.livejournal.com
Wah, so I just finished watching this like 40 minutes ago. *deep breath*

Basically... I'm agreeing so hard with most of this. I was actually really down with everything happening until Starbuck's ~magical destiny~ made her jump the fleet right by "real" earth. Alarm bells went off in my head at that point: how are they going to un-cheesify this one?

They didn't. O-kay.

I was willing to give it a chance until the exact moment you mentioned: "Oh look! The pretty white space people can give their magical superior learnings to the quaint brown natives!" My eyes rolled so hard I think I'm still seeing sideways. Like, really? Did they really just go there?

we got extensive lectures on how God & faith are great and reason & science are evil

This is totally a false dichotomy in the first place, so I always get sort of irritated when it's used as a source of conflict in stories. For a long time, I really loved that BSG didn't cop out into that dichotomy; after all, hello, the robots made their own religion and are the most devout and woo-woo mystical of the lot. But that all fell apart and then it totally went there too! Damn. Not only did it just dip its foot in to test the waters, it dove right in with anvils falling left and right. Lee's dialog in this episode was horrid. There is a valid point in there about ethics in relation to technology (see what happens when you are mean to your robot soldiers with gun hands?), but the point sort of floated away when the cylons were pretty much never mentioned again.

I seriously hated Galen in this episode. Seriously. After beating the shit out of Cally, trash talking her to no end, and barely caring that she died, he goes and kills Tory over it? What? How is avenging his dead wife whom he never at any point seemed to like more important than the welfare of two species, both at the brink of extinction? Bad, bad, bad. The fact that no one really seemed to care that he did this was even more odd. But maybe I'm being irrationally bitter because they were literally moments from my idyllic happy ending of everyone all getting along, and he had to go and ruin it.

The whole "150,000 years later" thing was just, well, dumb. I don't know how else to put it. At that point all suspension of disbelief was shot to hell. The attempts to tie the show to reality were just way too forced and poorly done. The "mitochondrial eve" is really Hera? Uhhh... And the cheesy shots of uncanny valley Japanese trade show robots that are really just remote control mannequins? Let's not. By that point, my face was definitely in my palm. I might have groaned, too.

But, there was a lot of stuff I did like. Like the entire first half, pretty much. The centurion fight was amazing and completely swoon-worthy (the red stripes! Eee!). I loved Six and Gaius in this entire episode: the moment where the both realize they see the head!people, the part where Gaius talks about being a farmer, everything. I admit that I cried over the Adama/Roslin ending. And at Sam's ending, too. The centurions' ending was perfect; I was so happy that they finally, for reals, got the freedom they've always wanted. I can't believe any of characters thought they'd actually come back at some point: like, after being enslaved and mistreated by the humans, having to go to war to end that only to be enslaved and mistreated again by their own people, why would they want to do anything except throw a huge middle finger to all the humans and skinjobs, never be seen or heard from again, and live happily ever after? And I'm happy that at least some cylons lived on as their own species, too. Even if all the skinjobs were wiped out, their species isn't extinct.

Part II

Date: 2009-03-22 09:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] exploding-candy.livejournal.com
My comment was too long! Argh!

Continuing: How I wish the "epilogue" would have consisted of the centurions finding a planet for themselves or re-inventing resurrection or something similarly awesome, as opposed to ultra-hokey "present day" muck. Starbuck disappearing didn't actually bother me that much. I mean, it's pretty obvious that the writers just had no clue at all what they wanted to do with her, but I liked that there was at least some ambiguity left about something. (I also thought we could have used a few more minutes of centurions being awesome instead of Adama barfing all over himself; what is it with this show and just sort of oversharing in the Adama department?)

I'm just going to pretend the freaking awful nonsense about "real earth" never happened and just re-watch the centurion parts about 50 times. Perhaps I'll also construct an imaginary alternate ending in which Galen wasn't a total selfish frak-up, and everyone was happy and peaceful and frolicking. Yes, frolicking.

*deep breath* Eep, sorry for ranting all over your journal, but I really needed to unload after seeing this ep!

Date: 2009-03-22 05:08 pm (UTC)
ext_72247: Cavil from BSG (Default)
From: [identity profile] grey-sw.livejournal.com
There is a valid point in there about ethics in relation to technology (see what happens when you are mean to your robot soldiers with gun hands?), but the point sort of floated away when the cylons were pretty much never mentioned again.

Yeah. Before I read that RDM interview, I had some hope that The Plan might end with some sort of resolution for them, but I sure as frak won't bet on it now. The show never really cared about the Cylons -- they were just an excuse to drive the plot. "They all die or disappear in five-minute scenes at the end" is incredibly lame. Guess they needed airtime for those very-important vomit and pigeon shots.

I seriously hated Galen in this episode. Seriously.

Yeah, me too. Also Ellen "omg we couldn't possibly give you Resurrection! That would involve all five of us, and it's not like I don't know exactly where they are and what they're all doing tonight!" Tigh. Seriously, I had assumed that there was some reason why it would be hard to get the Resurrection info from the Five, but no: it seems that she was actually willing to kill half of her "treasured" children because the alternative was to stick her hand in a frakkin' datafont? Right up to the end, she was like "Saul! What are you doing!? Don't encourage Cavil to let go of his petty desire for revenge -- he's peacefully trying to become a better machine, rather than murdering humans! Don't help him!" Then Galen kills every single one of her "millions of beloved children", whether by violence or by slow extinction, and she and Tigh are like "good for you, man! Petty human emotions like hatred and revenge are awesome, as is murder!"

Sigh. Way to bring the "deep" themes of No Exit full-circle there, guys. Were the Five supposed to be the villains of the entire series? Because if not, it sure looks that way from here!

The centurions' ending was perfect

Yeah, it was. They are so great! I hope they build a wonderful world. In fact, I hope they become the best machines the universe has ever seen. *sigh*

I'm just going to pretend the freaking awful nonsense about "real earth" never happened and just re-watch the centurion parts about 50 times. Perhaps I'll also construct an imaginary alternate ending in which Galen wasn't a total selfish frak-up, and everyone was happy and peaceful and frolicking. Yes, frolicking.

Yeah. At least they didn't actually show all the 1/4/5s dying -- I figure there are still some out there, whether on the Colony (which didn't fall into the singularity what are you talking about) or on their individual Basestars. Maybe now, with the humans gone, they can finally concentrate on living for themselves.

Date: 2009-03-22 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rotaryphones.livejournal.com
the Secret White Ingredient Needed For Intelligence On Earth

Ugh, so well put! And not only will we go and teach the natives how to be smart, instead of leaving them alone or, I don't know, learning survival skills from them or something, we will do so all over the frakking planet. Because that makes so much more sense then colonizing in one area for our survival.

Also agreed that the characters were so often just butchered for the sake of tying up their epic plot.

The God stuff bugged me out to no end. And despite the fun polytheism vs. monotheism themes in the series, we still get to end with the One Judeo-Christian God with actual, physical angels and everything. It was all quite literally deus ex machina.

Date: 2009-03-23 04:35 am (UTC)
ext_72247: Cavil from BSG (Default)
From: [identity profile] grey-sw.livejournal.com
Yeah, the polytheism idea basically disappeared sometime in season 3, didn't it? Too bad, because it was far more interesting than the vaguely-Christian crap they ended up with.

Completely concur

Date: 2009-03-23 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starbuck5250.livejournal.com
I've been trying my darnedest to realise that I am a putz; incapable of comprehending the truly sublime that Ron worked out for us. But I can't shake the feeling that the finale was a 'farewell friends' cast party that accidentally got filmed.

My hope was that Starbuck's mysticalness was somehow going to tie in with the colonist's polytheism, and that there'd be some tension/resolution between that and the Cylon's monotheism.

Nuttin'.

Date: 2009-03-22 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gifa.livejournal.com
Yes... and I love the way you said it too... I can haz U on mai Frend list?

Date: 2009-03-23 04:30 am (UTC)
ext_72247: Cavil from BSG (Default)
From: [identity profile] grey-sw.livejournal.com
You can! I friended you, too!

Date: 2009-03-25 08:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chriswatkins.livejournal.com
Nicely put!

I think the issue for a lot of people is that the series seemed to start in one genre and end in an entirely different one. The anti-intellectuallism of the finale just isn't present at the beginning as any more than one of many plausible cultural movements.

Date: 2009-03-25 03:04 pm (UTC)
ext_72247: Cavil from BSG (Default)
From: [identity profile] grey-sw.livejournal.com
I think the issue for a lot of people is that the series seemed to start in one genre and end in an entirely different one. The anti-intellectuallism of the finale just isn't present at the beginning as any more than one of many plausible cultural movements.

Yes, I agree. I think the rewatch is going to drive this home for a lot of people. BSG was a totally different show back then, not just in tone or content, but in quality.

I've been saying it since I first saw the Starbuck/Dee/Lee stuff -- the problem with this show is that they don't really bother with consistency. It's OK to have the show change over time, and it's OK to do new things with the characters, but those things have to be consistent with the content and spirit of the things you've done before, and the change has to seem like a slow and natural progression. Since season 2, BSG has way too many "surprise, now character X is Y, and plot A is B!" moments. This seems to be something RDM was actually going for -- and when it's carefully planned out, as it was with Boomer as a sleeper agent, it's frakkin' great -- but when it's not planned, it just comes off as lazy and inconsistent.

After three seasons of that have piled up and piled up, and after it's become more and more accepted to just make stuff up, maybe it's no surprise that the writers can't seem to find the central themes of the series anymore.

The finale is the same way. The extent to which it contradicts the themes, character, and events in the rest of the series pretty much can't be overstated. It's amazing. It even contradicts itself, not just once, but multiple times. For example, the scene where Baltar lectures about how God doesn't take sides, less than three minutes before God entirely wipes out one of the two sides in the conflict for no discernable narrative reason -- is this a joke? Apparently not, because the podcast has even more ridiculously myopic commentary over the top of this scene. It's like they don't even see any irony in it, much less contradiction. And if we were meant to take all this God and prophecy stuff seriously, then why does the Dying Leader live to see the Promised Land? Why don't all of the Cylons join the Promised Land on the wings of an angel? Why doesn't Kara make any obvious sense as a Harbinger of Death?

This would have been an extraordinarily great show, if they'd only been rigorous about having the plot grow naturally from the characters, and the characters develop naturally from where they started at the beginning. As it is, it's a show which is retroactively about a God who can't remember his own frakkin' prophecies, angels who can't keep their mission straight from episode to episode, and characters who are nothing more than cardboard puppets for the writers. It's not even good as what RDM apparently wanted it to be, much less as the Battlestar Galactica we had in seasons 1 and 2.

I just don't understand it. If Moore really wanted to film the ending he didn't get to film for G vs. E, he should have used the cultural capital from BSG to make G vs. E II. Even the podcast (in which he's talking extensively about spirituality out of nowhere, after years in which many of the issues he's mentioning never came up!) makes it clear that the themes from Daybreak don't mesh with the themes of the rest of the show.

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