Failure of Galactic Proportions: A Writer’s Perspective of Why the Battlestar Gallactica Finale Failed

Maybe this is wasting a blog post, but I just got done watching the series finale of the re-envisioned Battlestar Glactica (no thanks to the Sci Fi channel or WMG) and just have to say something about it. After all, I invested four years of programming time into the show and what I just got was supposedly my big payoff.

Let me start by saying, “I both loved and hated you my dear BSG. We had a true romance, but now it is time for us to move on.” I’ll also say that I had a feeling going into this that there was going to be some serious dues ex machina going on with the finale. Turned out I was right. I suppose it’s fitting what with so much of the Greek pantheon involved in the storyline, the writers might as well of had an ambiguous Greek play ending to the series.

In regards to storytelling, I believe that the hand of God in a story should never be revealed and the last season of BSG has hand God’s dirty little fingers all over it, smudging up its once pristine image. While that phrase can be applied quite literally in the case of this story, what I’m really talking about is the overt manipulation by the writers.

BSG, over the first two seasons, had amazing character development with strong motivation leading to the decisions of all the characters. That’s what drew me to the series, especially with the occupation episodes. But sometime after that the characters started doing things for odd reasons. The point where Chief beat Cali is when the entire thing started to derail.

Next thing you know we’ve got the President’s aid, who had always championed the rights of the people spiraling into some “it’s all about me and my NEW people,” bit. Cali apparently had a convenient affair with Hotdog even though she totally adored Chief. Dee up and commits suicide. Just about everyone started doing things for extremely weak reasoning.

And there enters the hand of God. In this case, it had to do with the confines of the medium. When the series needs to wrap up over the course of a season, you need to make it do that no matter what. What bothers me is the way they went about it. Maybe the writers thought that if they actually put God in the story viewers wouldn’t notice that it was actually the writers as ‘the man behind the curtain.’

I guess they thought that no one actually saw them back there and therefore let their imaginations run amuck like a child telling a story, “and then they got away, but they didn’t notice the bad guy sneak onto the bridge and he reached out and grabbed the girl, but then the good guys said that they could be friends so they did, but then . . . .” and so on and so forth stringing one ridiculous moment into another.

Shall I recount a few? I shall.

Sharon escaping with Hera. That easy, huh?

The Opera House scene. It was actually pointless. They all ended up exactly where Boomer was going to take Hera to in the first place. If the little brat would have just stayed put, she would have got there just fine. Instead she made an unmotivated flee, not once, but twice. But of course I suppose she had to so that they could say that Baltar and Six had something to do with it, when really they didn’t.

Daniel. I don’t know, you tell me because BSG didn’t. He should have been Starbuck’s father buuuuut . . . that would totally frack the Hera as future of the race concept, wouldn’t it?

Starbuck. A gun toting, alcoholic, psychotic angel who apparently was human but then wasn’t and still had psychosis problems even as an “All along the watchtower” hearing angel that led man to an end that wasn’t an end because it was a beginning because all things are cyclic and . . . I’ll just stop. Starbuck’s character always irritated me and always will. Apparently it wasn’t her fault, it was because the writers had no fracking idea what to do with her.

Hera. So, exactly how was she the future of the race? Did all the Cylons die off on Earth 2.0 and only survive through the hybrid blood line? If not, then Hera was not necessary and the ending, other than a means through which to destroy the Cylon colony was pointless glitz.

38,000 people say YES! And they said it to the most trying and divisive questions of the series. Viewers are somehow supposed to accept that every one of them was willing to throw everything away to live as hermits. Riiiiiight. These folks couldn’t agree about what side to butter the toast popping out of their toaster friends heads let alone agree on this. But maybe God spoke to them each individually and convinced them that it should be so. After all, the best way to not repeat history is to forget it. Right? Riiiight.

Religion. Now Annalee Newitz’s review helped to dispel much of my original angst over the religion issue. But one thing still grates, why not do something new? Rather than create something original and then let the viewer make connections between their religions and ours, they stole ours and placed them neatly into the context of the show. This goes to Brandon Sanderson’s point of “Kill the Elves.” Unless you can take the old in redefining new direction, stay away from it and create something new.  

The Pantheon. Something else that I loved about the beginnings of the show seemed to get hijacked by Christianity after the break. Constantine apparently moved into the writers galley and tossed all the old gods out in favor of only ever talking about God. This wouldn’t have upset me so had they not done such a good job of making sure that the pantheon was real filled with spiritual backing. Of course maybe that was just all part of God’s plan.

Everyone speaks English. So we spread out across the globe, all speaking the same language and with the same information some folks took the pantheon with them, others took the one god, and somehow it all got fracked up. Not buying it.

Skinjobs Needs their Spinach. So which is it? They have the strength of a robot or are just as meek as the rest of us? Because at one point they can toss folks around like rag dolls and the next they can’t even open a locked door. The final five (FF) seemed to be just as weak as humans but then Chief can lift up what’sherface into the air and snap her neck like a twig.

I could obviously go on, but this is getting far too long and is really just spiraling into griping. The point here refers to yesterday’s post, “That the end completes the book in the reader’s mind. Beautifully, or disastrously. Also that the beginning sells the book and the end sells the next, which is partially the same thing.” Unfortunately the end of the series left more questions than answers, and the answers given did not. For us writers, we can take this lesson away from the finale: Keep God’s hands out of the story and don’t just motivate your characters, believably motivate them.

 Oh, and if you need to see the last five minutes with sound, (I don't know why that would be) shoot me a note and I'll see if the hand of God can't do something about that for you. ;o) 



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