Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This has all happened before...

One week has basically passed since I watched the last episode of Battlestar Galactica. I initially intended to write a complete review of all four seasons, including all the emotional investment I had in this show. After page six I realized I was really on an incoherent rant of adoration, so I have decided to regroup and try again, and maybe, just maybe I will let the long version out one day. Likely not though...

Battlestar Galactica is simply the finest piece of drama ever aired on television. From plot to character development, to Special Effects; simply fantastic, and surpasses my former favorite, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Rather than go on for paragraphs without end about how I discovered and grew with this show, I am going to list my ten favorite moments. If you have not seen season 4.5, stay away from 8, 9, and 10.

1) Lee Adama blows up a civilian transport. I was intrigued by the miniseries, but it was the first regular episode, “33,” which sealed the deal for me. For five days, the Cylons have ambushed Galactica and the fleet every 33 minutes. Finally, it seems the civilian vessel “The Olympic Carrier” might in fact be under the control of Cylon agents. There's no time to investigate, there's no time to evacuate. Adama orders Apollo to blow it up. That's when I knew this wasn't just any show.

2) Boomer lets everyone know she's a Cylon. We find out Boomer is really a Cylon at the end of the miniseries. Everyone else on Galactica finds out when she walks into the CiC and puts two rounds into Commander Adama's chest. Now that's a cliffhanger!

3) Pegasus returns. We find out Galactica was not the only surviving Battlestar, but Admiral Cain of the Pegasus is a lot more Darwinian then Adama. She's all about human survival; at least the ones who follow her orders.

4) Baltar wakes up one year later. The Colonists elect Baltar president, find a place to settle down, and form New Caprica. He's napping on his desk one day when he wakes up to the Cylon fleet flying over. So begins the occupation.

5) Saul gives Ellen a drink. During the Cylon occupation, Saul Tigh, Galen Tyrol, and Sam Anders run a resistance. In order to save Saul, his wife Ellen gives information to the Cylon occupiers. Saul poisons her. Here's a character I hated for this entire run, and in the moment she looks at the cup and says, “I'm thirsty,” you want it not to happen. Yet it does. And she dies.

6) Crossroads Part II. In ten minutes time, four characters we've been watching for years are revealed as Cylons, those Cylons are drawn together by the song “All Along the Watchtower,” and Starbuck comes back from the dead to lead them all to Earth. Everything you thought you knew about the show was torn away in ten minutes. Holy Frak.

7) The fleet finds Earth. All the signs and portents of the past three years bring them to a blue planet. They fly down to the surface; it's a ruined radioactive cinder. Earth, a world of Cylons, destroyed itself 2000 years earlier.


8) Gaeta's stump stops itching. Having lost his leg to Starbuck's quest for Earth, and then watching the fleet ally itself with Cylons, and THEN finding out Earth was a joke, Gaeta teams up with Tom Zarek to overthrow Adama. The whole episode, his stump itches and bothers him. When finally arrested and awaiting execution, he looks down at his stump in amazement. “It stopped,” he says, as the rifles fire.

9) Roslin is coming for all of you. During Gaeta and Zarek's coup, Roslin escapes to the allied Basestar. Zarek tells her over the radio Adama is dead. Roslin becomes death incarnate. The Cylons she's hanging out with? Scared Shitless. Roslin delivers the most chilling threat in literary history when asked to surrender:

No. Not now. Not ever. Do you hear me? I will use every cannon, every bomb, every bullet, every weapon I have down to my own eyeteeth to end you. I swear it! I'm coming for all of you!

In that moment, while the murderous, genocidal machines look on in horror, Laura Roslin becomes one of the five hottest women in Science Fiction history. She was always an attractive older woman. Right there though? Smokin' hot.

10) Starbuck learns Dylan. A mysterious piano player shows up, and reminds Starbuck of her father. He manages to remind her of a song her father used to play on piano...little ditty called “All Along the Watchtower.” The look on Saul Tigh's face when she plays it is absolutely priceless.

And that brings us to the finale- perfect. Completely perfect, I don't care what anyone may say about Starbuck's fate, the identity of the Cylon God (who doesn't like being called that) or Mitochondrial Eve. The show winds up exactly where it must, yet not in any way I could have predicted. Marvelous. I won't, but I could double the length of this list with moments only from that final episode.


So now it is gone, and I am going to miss it. I will tell you this. This is classic storytelling- the type of storytelling which will mean something different at different stages in your life, like a Shakespearian classic, or something by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Yet, the show was full of spaceships and robots. If you are a fan of truly great human drama, watch Battlestar. It happens to be sci fi, but I don't think you'll find anything in any genre more compelling. Thank you Ron Moore. I can't wait to watch it all again.

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