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Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak, Part 2 (series finale)

by Brad Trechak, posted Mar 21st 2009 12:19AM
Battlestar Galactica(S04E20) "Frakkity, frak. Don't talk back." (Apologies to Lieber and Stoller)

After four years of some of the best and most adult sci-fi in the history of television, Battlestar Galactica draws to a close with a bang and then a whimper, with an overall satisfying ending that was as morally complex as any episode in the series.

Ron Moore was pretty good about wrapping up a good chunk of the remaining questions and storylines. But there are a plethora that weren't answered.

To begin, what circumstances allowed for Kara's resurrection? What is her background that she knew so much about the original Earth? How did Hera know the things she knew? If "All Along the Watchtower" wouldn't be written for 150,000 years, how did the Cylons hear it? After that disappearing act at the end, was Kara even human? If not, what was she? An angel? Why did Cavil kill himself when he lost resurrection? Surely he knew that he wouldn't get resurrected. Perhaps they're saving all those questions for "The Plan".

This episode was nothing short of a symphony and wrapped up the major themes of the show, about individuals and faith and faith-in-conflict. The denouement seemed a little long, but since we've been with these characters for four years, it was nice to give each a send-off that was longer than a minute.

Things that happened that were predictable based on the foreshadowing of the previous years:

  • The Baltar/Caprica Six reunion
  • The death of Tory at Tyrol's hand
  • The death of Roslin
  • Athena's execution of Boomer
  • Boomer's repentance
  • The survival of Hera and the human race
  • The discovery of the second Earth
  • Roslin smoking. Now we know how she got cancer

And then there were the things that surprised me:

  • They discovered the Earth that is eventually us (150,000 years later)
  • The human/Cylon hybrid and the Galactica crew became the missing link
  • Helo's survival (I thought he died during the attack on the Cylon colony)
  • Baltar and Six suddenly seeing each other's visions

Stuff I really enjoyed:

  • The cameo of Ron Moore at the end reading a magazine
  • The quick riff of the old Battlestar Galactica 1970's theme as the fleet flew into the sun
  • The old-style Cylons in battle
  • Adama's quick attempt to explain what the Final Five were doing with transmitting the resurrection data (which I took as a riff on Ron Moore's old bosses at the Star Trek franchise who excelled at technobabble).

Things that touched me:

  • Mary McDonnell's performance and Roslin's quiet passing
  • The last scene between Lee and Kara
  • Baltar's willingness to finally do something for the greater good (although it could be argued he was doing it to win Six's affection)
  • Sam Anders' noble death

Based on the ending, if I had to describe this series as a whole, it would be an attempt to bring a concept like God (or Gods, or some sort of divine presence) into a rational and reasoned world. Granted, Galactica had spaceships and robots, but it never had aliens or technology that seemed impossible (it is possible to fold space and "jump". Black holes fold space like that). Hell, they were using bullets when other sci-fi series use lasers or phasers or plasma rifles or whatever.

In an age where too much television tries to spoon-feed morality and lessons to us, Battlestar Galactica takes it above all that by trying to get viewers to think. While that sort of television rarely has high initial ratings, it's the sort of thing that can live forever in re-runs as people watch it again to determine its lessons.

Forgive me if I missed anything. It was a pretty dense episode and as of this writing I've only watched it once. I'm sure I would find additional themes upon a second viewing (which I plan to do for the whole series as soon as the last DVD set is released). If anybody remembers any interesting tidbits, please share. Kudos to Ron Moore and company for a job well done and a fantastic series.

So say we all.

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alex

It was as beautiful as it was poignant. The music as always well done, it made me cry more than anything else on tv ever has. It was the greatest sendoff of any show ive ever seen. It made me believe in a god, and our past here on this rock called earth.

The moment between adama and roslin when she passed was beautiful, as well as lee's goodbye to kara, and finally adamas beautiful words at the end. i will miss this show more than any. it touched me, made me laugh and gave me something to hope for in a world where our future seems alittle bit bleaker each day.

All in all a brilliant execution and ending to a series which was already perfect. goodbye galactica, you will not be forgotten.

-So Say We All-

April 02 2009 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
donkey23

In the end, whether you liked it or not, it all comes down to this, add I quote Ronald D. Moore:

"And then I just said, at some point, "Screw that. It's really not about that. Let's just assume we'll have a good plot. We'll figure that out. What are the characters' stories?" And I said, "The first image I had was, OK, somewhere there's a man trying to chase a bird out of his house with a broom. I don't know who that is, and I don't know what it means, but that's an image. Put it up on the board." And then we just started [embellishing] on these ideas and characters and what could be the characters' stories. Then, once we cracked that, everything else kind of flowed."

Once more for effect: "...Let's just assume we'll have a good plot..."

March 31 2009 at 2:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MB

So why in the final battle would Kara, supposedly the best pilot in the fleet be on board, and not flying?
I assumed at first it was a plot device for her to find out what she was from the Cylons, but they didn't even bother with that.

March 30 2009 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chuster

It was a great show, and I'd like to personally comment on what an experience this has been.

Most tv shows tend to be black and white about their characters; the good guys versus the bad. It was great to finally see something where there were there was such a grey area. Seeing people as heroes one moment and villains the next really gave perspective into how easily anyone can be persuaded to do the wrong thing, even if for the right reason.

Be it a sci-fi show, this was a truly the most convincing depiction of what it is to be human that I've seen in a long time.

March 26 2009 at 10:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
qubang

Geez! Do any of you sci-fi geeks know how to punctuate, spell, or use proper grammar? Hab soshli' quoch!
And your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries!!

March 24 2009 at 9:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BSG fan

I agree with you one hundred percent, the allegorical aspects of the show were more often than not right on the money. At times they felt unrealistic (for example Colonial Day I mean a rag tag fleet with a modern day media corps?) but even when it seemed unlikely it was worth it because of the themes that were being introduced. In the end I agree with you that the show lost its focus and that although it is still a fantastic series taken as a whole, it had the chance to be even better. (in my humble opinion).
I think at some point Moore just got too close to the project and lost persepective. I really do. At some point the series became highjacked by plot gimmicks and overly portentious story threads. If I were to use a literature analogy, it started out as a great novel one that you could read over and over even after knowing the outcome and turned into the kind of book that is purely plot driven and once read you no longer have any desire to read again. I wish so much that BSG could have been picked up by HBO initially, i really feel that dropping ratngs and network preasures caused the show to veer into the "lets find out what happens next" type of show instead of the really high quality art form it started as.
The strongest aspect of the show (because it never failed and was consistent throughout) was I think the acting, the actors really brought these characters to life. They made them complex individuals with multiple motives at work. You really believed that these were real people in real situations, of course the writing had a lot to do with that at first, but like I said then it became plot driven and forced. From "33" to "Maelstrom" the show was practically flawless, after that I think is when they started dropping the ball. Anyway like I've said already I don't to make it seem like i don't like the show or even that I didn't enjoy it after "maelstrom" (I like a good page turner as much the next guy) I am just agreeing with you that there is a certain ammount of lost potential there.

March 24 2009 at 5:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BSG fan's comment
Bobby

>> At times they felt unrealistic (for example Colonial Day I mean a rag tag fleet with a modern day media corps?)

I think there was a lot of press there for Galactica's decommissioning ceremony in the miniseries. Come on, why are people nitpicking little points like this? The finale was a great send-off to the characters, the action was amazing and intense and some of the best sci-fi I've seen in a very long time (and without all the cheesy aliens and one-liners you get from Star Trek, Star Wars and the like).

And if you didn't like the 'god' part - it was there all along. Same for the 'angels' - they literally told us all along there were angels, but we all tried to find scientific explanations for it all. Even halfway through the finale I was trying to create explanations for Starbuck that weren't supernatural, but half the series was supernatural and that was the whole point. The cylons came to believe in one true god and that belief ultimately prevailed in our society; and the series centered around what it meant to be human and whether the cylons had souls (my interpretation is yes, since there's a cylon 'angel' and we're all descendants of hybrids).

Oh and Cavil shot himself because he's a control freak who knew he was going to die anyway. He'd much rather do it himself than have some filthy human do it, so yes - it made perfect sense to me. It was shocking and fitting.

March 25 2009 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
donkey23

The Opera House

I thought the Opera House in the end representing Galactica at the ultimate moment was inspired. The way it was cut together was beautiful. It was just genius. I wonder if they had that idea (Galactica=Opera House) all along. They foreshadowed it for four seasons, and those penultimate scenes heading into the "Opera House" (the CIC) were fantastic!

Unfortunately, its that ultimate moment that destroyed it all, and brought the Opera House crashing down. The whole thing was so Baltar and Caprica Six could take Hera into the CIC and have Cavil put a gun to her head? So that they could offer a truce and "give back" something they took away (resurrection), only to have that colossal misunderstanding (Tyrol kills Tory--it isn't anything to do with double crossing Cavil--but its interpreted that way)? That was God's plan, to have Cavil blow his brains out just moments after peace was achieved? If you believe Baltar's speech, which was nothing more than a rehash of one of his harem speeches, then peace was at hand because other forces were at work? Those other forces...were they for good or evil?

Maybe the whole point of this thing was that it was the devil after all, tormenting human souls through all eternity (or at least the next 150,000 years).

No, the Opera House was the BIGGEST disappointment of them all for me.

March 24 2009 at 2:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hitch

AND AND AND...

Why was Starbuck labelled as the harbinger of death when in fact she was the one that led them to both cylon earth and new earth, thereby saving the humans and the cylons???

March 23 2009 at 8:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Hitch's comment
donkey23

I actually liked this one, Hitch.

It helped me not to think of "harbinger" as "bringer" of death, but rather as representative of death, or one who goes before death. (If at all interested, see my entire comment back around #36). But what I really like IS the idea that Kara Thrace led everyone to their "final resting place" which as we know is synonymous with death.

But then more literally, Kara Thrace was someone from the world of the dead, so she was a representative from the dead, of death, harbinger of death...

March 24 2009 at 4:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hitch

The technology part was a bit shakey but then it played for the idea that the 'Galactians' were the missing link for us. But then you could also argue that they didnt totally give up technology entirely as Adama took off with Roslin in a Raptor and we didnt see him blow it up / ditch it into a river. But would all of the survivors have agreed to a fresh start as such without the tech? it is feasible if you consider the failure of new caprica (cylons not withstanding)

As to them giving up the medical tech; they only had one Doc (coddle) and given the ending suggested that they split the survivors over different parts of the world, they wouldnt all have had access to the old guy. And even if they had not got rid of the tech, we all know that knowledge is lost as well as gained over time hence why we have so many documetaries and discussions on how the pyramids were made.

I loved it and whilst I thought the ending was incredible, I will miss it. Can't wait for the spinoffs though!

So say we all!

March 23 2009 at 8:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Hitch's comment
Hitch

Actually, one or two things I forgot to mention:

The kara thing was a little frustrating, my theory was that she was also a Cylon from Cylon Earth along with Sol, Tyrel etc and that her ressurrection occured on Cylon Earth as a result of her death. How did she get there when she went into the cyclone thing and what was the significance of the heavy raider she was allegedly tracking which nobody else saw, if she wasnt a cylon?

I also wonder why there was a marker left with a virus that hurts cylons when the Earth Cylons created the new cylons? and why didnt the virus affect Sol, tyrel and the other earth cylons? Strikes me they decided to go a different way later on.

So why were the cylons sent to caprica / the colonies? and why the mind wipe? and given that they were allegedly sent by Cavel, why didnt they have an agenda set by him like the six did and boomer did? AND Sol and Adama were allegedly friends for years and it also seems that the earth cylons had almost immortality given the time between the earth nuking and returning to the nuked earth, they hadnt changed, surely Adama would have noticed that his friend neevr aged??. And yet they allegedy died of old age given the ending of the series? Athena I see, the spawn of a human and a cylon would retain human traits.

Maybe I think about this stuff too much lol

Needless to say, this series was always going to have a finite life and its good that it finished properly instead of being cancelled like so many other series and likely (ala Lost) has probably gone through changes in terms of the overall story which therefore, means the ending cannot ever answer all of the small questions.

I also have to say that the whole visions of the opera house were kind of an anticlimax.

And what of the missing colony that allegedly was earth? are they still out there?

lol sorry, babbling over!

March 23 2009 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BSG fan

I am a new comer to BSG I literally strated watching the show three weeks ago, I started from the mini series all the way through season 4.0 and caught up were 4.5 was one day before daybreak part one. After watching the first 3 and half seasons I watched them all in succesion again. This show has left some kind of mark on me I loved the acting, the charcacters were so full and real and it combined so many disparate elements of other SCI-FI shows and movies as well as other dramas (most of the time to brilliant efect). I am not sure if I liked the finale or not, I have seen it twice...I guess I just feel like the whole Starbuck coming back to life story line was a blunder, one that unlike "Fat Lee" the writers could not extricate themselves from. Why another angelspirit? (or whatever) I thought alternate Caprica and Baltar were more than enough to fill that void, it seems to me that the writers fell in love with Sackhoffs performance and the character of Starbuck (like I and I am sure most people did) and wanted to elevate the character into the messianiccylon Godmistery story line, that and I think they wanted to shock the hell out of the viewership in season three (for more ratings perhaps?) To me it just seems forced what's wrong with Starbuck just being a bad ass pilot with personality issues? I mean she was pure gold up until the fourth season. Having to sit through Starbuck whining and yelling about Earth and being the "Harbinger of Death" and playing the piano it just didn't do it for me. Better for her to have really died an left at that.
As for the finale why have Starbuck and Apollo lead a ground assault on the facility? I would have liked for them to be in their Vipers. Here we have the two best Viper pilots left and your going to have them walk through halls doing something that essentially even Baltar did while Hotdog leads the Viper squadron? It seems to me that they would used their personel more judiciously than that. Hell it would have been unrealistic but I would have liked to see Old Adama in a Viper along side them...
Ultimately I found the series extremely fulfilling, episodes like "Scar" and "Act of Contrition" were awesome. The Starbuck Apollo "non love story" was annoying and the introduction of Sam Anders out of no where and re-introduction out of nowhere almost to create some triangle seemed forced to me. I mean she plays a game of piramid sleeps with the guy for a night or two and sudenly he is the the love of her life? I wish they would have either gotten them together or never started it in the first place.
Also the final five story line seemed ham fisted and kind of "thrown together" out of thin air...those are my only three complaints which are guess might seem pretty major to some but not to me, I definately think that BSG is the best Science Fiction show of all time and I loved the way it made you feel and think. The actors were amazing the stories more ofte than not great and I was pleased to have that feeling of adventure I had as a kid watching Star Wars re-kindled.

March 23 2009 at 4:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BSG fan's comment
donkey23

You know, last night I watched the mini-series all over again, and THAT reminded me how much I loved and appreciated these characters. Everyone looked so fresh and so young, its amazing to see how much they've changed and grown physically. The miniseries was so good, with only a few minor WTF moments, looked at in retrospect, (e.g. Boxey), but it really reminded me how much promise this show had. There is no doubt that this is one of the best Science Fiction shows ever produced, but it held the potential to be even more, and it just didn't live up to it in the end. But it was still great, I was still a fan and a critic, and I admire and appreciate that they did it for four fantastic seasons. I wish there ewere more.

Also, watching the mini-series, I was reminded of how heavily influenced it was by 9/11, and how that part of it got better with time. Maybe I was still a little squeamish back in '04. But I remember when the news coverage (I think it was Brokaw) on 9/11 said that was a day that would live on forever in our collective memories, and it would be interesting how that was going to be expressed by our artists in coming years. I think Battlestar Galactica, in those instances, will stand out as one of the finest examples of how we as a society and hollywood as an industry dealt with those issues and the impression they left on our psyche.

If only they could have maintained THAT, instead of the soap opera that occasionally ensued, and the whole "God's plan" bit that really felt dissatisfying in the end...

March 24 2009 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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