Battlestar Galactica comes to a conclusion. Did it give us a landmark series finale or an FTL shark-jump?

Warning: this review uses no Spoiler tags.

Title: “Daybreak”

Cast and Crew

Written by Ronald D. Moore

Directed by Michael D. Rymer

Edward James Olmos as Admiral Adama
Jamie Bamber as Lee “Apollo” Adama
Katee Sackhoff as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace
Grace Park as Athena/Boomer/Number 8
Michael Hogan as Colonel Saul Tigh
Kate Vernon as Ellen Tigh
Tricia Helfer as Number 6
Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin
James Callis as Dr. Gaius Baltar
Dean Stockwell as Cavil
Aaron Douglas as Chief Petty Officer Galen Tyrol
Tahmoh Penikett as Karl ‘Helo’ Agathon
Rekha Sharma as Tory Foster
Alexandra Thomas as Hera
Tobias Mehler as Zak Adama
Donnelly Rhodes as Dr. Cottle
Michael Trucco as Samuel Anders
Brad Dryborough as Hoshi
Leah Cairns as Margaret “Racetrack” Edmonson
Bodie Olmos as Brendan “Hot Dog” Costanza
Mark Sheppard as Romo Lampkin
Lara Gilchrist as Paulla Schaffer
Ronald D. Moore as Cameo Appearance

Premise

The Galactica raids the Cylon colony, somehow avoids getting blasted to smithereens, people die, guns fire, and then….

High Points

I loved the way that, for all of the technology and complex SF situations, so much comes down to basic, flawed human nature. Consider the Chief’s actions during the communication with Anders, or the entire Lee/Kara relationship. This is much weightier stuff, really, than the speculation on where cybernetics might take us—- and I say that without diminishing the significance of that. This episode’s better moments gave us the best of Galactica: action-packed sequences, plausible characters, and thoughtful ideas.

Another excellent human moment: the death of Laura Roslin.

I have some negative things to say in this review, but these notwithstanding, Battlestar Galactica has set a bar for SF programming to which I hope others will aspire.

All without being canceled.

Low Points

I liked the premise for the ending. Yes, it’s predictable, but it suits both the original series premise and the direction of this one. However, I did not like the execution of the ending.

Yes, humanity needs renewed intercourse with the natural world that bred us. And yes, I called that Apollo’s plan would not in any way lessen the likelihood that the Galacticans would recreate the same problems. How could it? If anything, they’re more likely to recreate the same problems, since they’re going to have to focus on survival, which inevitably leads humans to some kind of science– but they’re not going to have the wisdom gained by the Galactican society to guide them (if such wisdom could survive resettlement).

The problem is, the characters would know that, too. They’re not stupid people, nor are they Luddites. We’re supposed to believe that these characters would unanimously decide to set aside all of their technological advantages while trying to adjust to a way of life for which they’ve had little preparation? I call felgercarb.

Another Low Point for me involved Kara “Starbuck” Trace. Ambiguities and mysteries can work quite well in art and literature, but the ones surrounding Kara don’t play for me as artistic flourishes. Yeah, there’s a higher power at work, and maybe the Ship of Lights brought her back. Whatever. The ambiguity and mystery here feel like a big frakkin’ plot problem the writers created and then did not know how to resolve.

There must have been some other way out of this.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6. “There are those who believe that life here began out there….” However, judging from some of our suggested endings, we expected some version of this conclusion, and conceptually, there’s nothing wrong with the discovery of ancient earth, our ancient earth (even if Intelligent Design apparently operates in this universe).

Effects: 6/6. I give them full credit for the extraordinary space battles and shots. The Cylon CGI seemed uneven at times, but generally more impressive than anything else in genre television, and I enjoyed the Easter Eggs of previous Cylon models.

Story: 4/6. I liked the first half, and can even accept Cavil’s easy exit. I’ll swallow the about-face that returns Hera to them, and destroys the original purpose of the mission (she waited that long to change her mind? Well, see my “High Points.”) I also liked the contribution that most past scenes give to character. Criticize young Apollo and Starbuck all you want, but I believed that scene, in context.

But too many things were kludged together badly and awkwardly. We see the Opera House, but aren’t really certain why (okay, it’s a metaphor for… Uh, something. Discuss). As for the ending, I present my view elsewhere in this review. I suspect everyone else will present theirs very soon.

Acting: 6/6. This episode has battles, betrayals, bad decisions, and death, and the actors prove equal to the task. Galactica sets the bar here, as it does in many other areas, for what SF media can be.

Emotional Response: 4/6. This episode intersperses great scenes with less impressive ones, and drags down the whole with some uneven pacing.

Production: 6/6. Guest appearances by Old School Cylons, and breathtaking shots of “young” Earth.

Overall: 4/6. I wish I had been more impressed. Others may disagree strongly.

In total, the Series Finale of Battlestar Galactica receives 32/42

I acknowledge (1) that no ending was going to please all fans and (2) that “shark-jump” doesn’t really apply to final episodes, but I thought it a passably amusing way to pose the question we all had when we sat down to watch the finale.