We’ve traveled with this rag-tag fugitive fleet for six years now. Four seasons, maybe, but it was six years ago we walked onto a battlestar that was ready for a rest, staffed by senior officers who needed the same and baby-faced innocents waiting for the next billet. The ride was occasionally bumpy–a “Black Market” here; a “The Woman King” there–but we also got Boomer placing a nuke in a basestar and then shooting the Old Man in the chest. We got the Tomb of Athena and the map to Earth. We got the naming of the Blackbird. We got the Galactica jumping into atmo. We got “All Along the Watchtower” and three wishes clutched in her hand. We got a Cylon-human alliance that led to a cinder. Taken as a whole, the ride was very good indeed.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that the series finale was Galactica in a nutshell. Was it perfect? Maybe not. I’m having a hard time buying several of Brother Cavil/One’s actions. While on one hand it was good to get some resolution to what Kara Thrace was, her resolution was one of the less satisfying we got in a very satisfying end. For a show that’s been so beautiful and so empowering in so many ways, we spent an awful lot of time, including punctuating a love story that spanned millennia, in a strip club. I’m not sure I’m on board the idea of splitting up humanity and sending them into a new world with no toilet paper or antibiotics. It often felt like every time a huge emotional swell hit, Lee Adama’s terrifying hair would pop up to puncture the moment. I confess to rolling my eyes at the fact that, with all the characters we’ve lost along the way, Cally is the only one we take time to remember (Cally!). And there was still a pigeon.
But I kind of don’t care, because the Galactica just rammed into the Colony! Louis Hoshi’s predicted bright future was realized (oh). Baltar and Caprica not only found home in each other again, but realized in the funniest possible way they’re both seeing angels. Maybe she couldn’t find total redemption, but Boomer made her final choice, and it was a good one. There was Ronald D. Moore reading National Geographic (Kara wasn’t Eve–Hera was! Ha!) and there were old-school Centurions fighting. We discovered that the little tidbits of Earth culture–Shakespeare, Dylan–came to us from the refugees, not the other way around. Finally, finally, the glory of the opera house was realized. Finally, finally, Laura Roslin gets to rest.
And the surface of the moon. Yes.
And there were other gifts. I said last week that I was so, so ready for the redemption of Gaius Baltar. Even when he was choosing to go on the “suicide mission,” he plowed over the feelings of his acolytes, refusing to take responsibility for what they’d created together. But in the end, when walking with his home to his home, he was like a baby bird cracking through eggshell and casting away all of the lies he’d surrounded himself with–Gaius Baltar knowing something about farming is real. It was clean, like redemption always is, clean like an almost empty green and blue planet.
There was the gift of seeing Helo come full circle, sacrificing himself just as he did the first time we met him by sending a Sharon away to save a child. For all of the things Helo saw and became, he remained completely himself. (And if we got a freebie with Helo in the end, well, hooray–he didn’t die the first time around, either.)
There was the gift of Sam taking the Galactica to her final home (I’ll bet he sees her on the other side, too)–and the extra little gift of the score playing while he did it.
And maybe those last two gifts really encapsulate this journey that has been Battlestar Galactica. We weren’t supposed to see Helo again after he gave up his seat in the miniseries Raptor, but the producers realized there was more story there. And in the end, because of that, we got the showdown between Adama and Cain, the resolution to the question of biological warfare, Athena’s murder so she could find Hera on the baseship, and the mother of all living–all because Helo lived after all. We weren’t supposed to see Sam Anders again after he handed the Arrow of Apollo back to Starbuck, but the storytellers liked him. So we got someone who stood up to the post-New Caprica Circle and who turned back the Cylon raiders and who found the Colony. All because they reconsidered throwing him away when there was so much more left to do with him.
There’s been some criticism as we’ve approached the final episodes that the creators made it up as they went along, and…yeah, they did (“Cylons were created by man…and they have a plan!” Well, no, not really.). But that flexibility is a strength, not a weakness. Was every detail perfectly tied up? Maybe not, but allowing the story to blossom and unfold gave us Helo. It gave us Sam. It gave us Laura Roslin trying to steal an election and Centurions marching through New Caprica. It boxed Lucy Lawless. It promoted Anastasia Dualla and Diana Seelix from the enlisted ranks. It took a background character like Felix Gaeta and broke him over four seasons into so many little pieces that he tried to execute the same man he saluted in the miniseries. It took a throwaway jogging cadence line from the miniseries and made it the symbol of the love between a man and his surrogate daughter. It asked us what it means to be human and what it means to have home and what it means to be family. And it warned us in the end to keep asking those questions, and not to be complacent in our prosperity. I’ll take that over having every T crossed from the very beginning any day of the week.
So I say thee yea, Ronald D. Moore. And I say thee yea, David Eick. And I say thee yea, Harvey Frand and Ron French and all the rest of the producers who broke their backs to make this. And I say thee yea, Michael Angeli and Michael Taylor and David Weddle and Bradley Thompson and Jane Espenson and Anne Cofell Saunders and Mark Verheiden and every other writer we can’t remember through our tears. I say thee yea, Michael Rymer, director extraordinaire who created the look and feel of the Galactica universe, and Michael Nankin and Robert Young and Wayne Rose and Felix Enriquez Alcala and Sergio Mimica-Gezzan and all the other directors who guided the ship. I say thee yea, Gary Hutzel and the amazing, astonishing effects team. I say thee yea, young genius Bear McCreary. I say thee yea, gaffers and grips and DoPs and costumers and make-up artists and art directors and sound engineers and stunt performers and script supervisors and editors and casting directors and craft services and everyone else who gave us these gifts.
I say thee yea, Mary McDonnell (give the woman her damn Emmy, would you?) and Eddie Olmos. And I say thee yea, Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer and Grace Park. I say thee yea, James Callis and Michael Hogan and Aaron Douglas and Alessandro Juliani and Kandyse McClure. I say thee yea, Tamoh Penikett and Richard Hatch and Callum Keith Rennie and Michael Trucco and Nicki Clyne. I say thee yea, wonderful, talented, dedicated actors from parts big (Jamie Bamber!) to recurring (Leah Cairns! Donnelly Rhodes!) to small (Tiffany Lyndall-Knight! Ty Olsson! Lorena Gale! Eileen Pedde!).
The world you made for us was, as Laura Roslin would note, a very beautiful one. We are going to miss you something fierce.