Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak, Part 2

Adama: "What do you hear, Starbuck?"
Starbuck: "Nothing but the rain."

This finale was a masterpiece. From darkness, to light, to oblivion. I wish I felt better about it.

For some reason, it really bothered me. What did I expect, though? Certainly not a happy ending. A series finale is a difficult thing, especially for a show as complex as Battlestar Galactica. Maybe I would have felt better with high tragedy, Adama going down with the ship, perhaps, after the space battle to end all space battles. Although we did get a space battle to end all space battles.

The raid on the Colony ship was massive, gripping, and well done; it reminded me a bit of that final, intense battle in Serenity. I was always conscious of the fact that the humans, Cylons, and Centurions were carrying out a rescue of one small child together. And the realization of the "opera house" moment, in the CIC covered with Cylon accoutrements and the Final Five at the "altar," was quite moving. Exchanging Hera for the technology of Resurrection was like the genetic superbowl, an echo of the original evolutionary exchange of immortality for sexual reproduction. Except that the "bad" Cylons didn't get Resurrection, after all, because the Final Five screwed it up by being all too human.

I wanted answers to the religious questions, and I suppose I got them. Affirming the existence of "God" was a brave writing choice, and Hera the holy child as Mitochondrial Eve was a beautiful combination of science and faith. It certainly explained her importance and why "God" would send angels to Gaius and Caprica Six to ensure her survival. If I understand the concept of Mitochondrial Eve correctly, some of the Colonials and Cylons and possibly even the primitives were our ancestors as well; it wasn't just Hera, of course. And I rather liked that it made Helo and Athena into a literal Adam and Eve.

My favorite part of this finale was Gaius and Caprica Six; especially the moment she told him she was proud of him, they kissed, and then they saw each other's angels. It's astonishing that until this episode, we still didn't know what was in Gaius' heart. His role in the destruction of the colonies was inadvertent, after all; he did it all for love. Seeing Gaius at peace with becoming a farmer again was quite touching. Beginnings and endings.

Even though we knew it was coming, I got chills when Kara put it all together and punched in those numbers. But I was disturbed and actually rather angry that she was apparently an angel, too. We saw Lee and Kara's beginning as well as their end. I wanted them to have something. They never had anything.

If you've read any of my reviews, you know I'm a wuss. I got choked up over and over again. Roslin saying goodbye to Cottle. Adama giving his stars to Hoshi. Starbuck kissing Anders goodbye, and him guiding the fleet into the Sun. Adama in a viper, leaving Galactica for the last time. Adama and Lee saying goodbye forever. Roslin dying during that lovely Out of Africa moment, and Adama putting his ring on her dead finger. At least she made it to the end of the journey. Adama built that cabin for her, after all.

And there were fun moments, too. Romo Lampkin as the new president. The five men lying in the grass together, talking about reproduction. The extreme beauty of ancient Africa and all of the abundant wildlife as a vibrant contrast to the sterile life of danger and deprivation in the Fleet.


No dropped plot threads. Tory finally paid the price for killing Callie. Tyrol lost both Tory (whom he had loved in his past life) and Boomer (whom he had loved in his present life) in the space of a few minutes. Did Athena really have to execute Boomer? What harm could she have done on Earth? Maybe Tyrol wouldn't have ended up alone. And it was particularly upsetting to spend most of the finale thinking Helo had died during the raid. I'm glad he didn't.

I completely understand why the Colonials and Cylons chose to do what they did, to break the cycle once and for all. But the more I thought about it, the more it disturbed me. By destroying all of their ships and scattering into small groups around the globe, they chose to completely obliterate their culture. It was like they never existed; only some of their genes remained. Kara Thrace really did lead them to their end. And the ambiguous coda in Times Square suggested that the cycle may very well assert itself here on Earth, today.

So it disturbed me. Hey, Battlestar Galactica has always been about "disturbing." It was still an excellent finale.

Bits and pieces:

— 150,000 years ago, Tanzania. The info on Mitochondrial Eve wasn't exactly right. The theory was recently disproved and now they're saying there are 18 Mitochondrial Eves. I have a close friend who's into this stuff.

— Ron Moore (who did a cameo in the final Times Square scene) worked on Star Trek. I kept thinking of the "prime directive" during the planet scenes.

— Racetrack and her partner died. And destroyed the Colony inadvertently after their death. Maybe that was the hand of "God," too.

— I loved that they gave the red stripe Centurion slaves the base star and their freedom. And it worked. It's been 150,000 years and they never came back.

— We never learned for certain if Starbuck was Daniel's daughter. I would have liked to have known for certain. And really. Where did the song come from, then? "God" gave it to Starbuck's father?

— Where did Tyrol go? Scotland? Further north?

— The medic was played by Jamie Bamber's wife, Kerry Norton. She appeared in several earlier episodes, as well.

— There were ads for the Caprica pilot, available on DVD in April, and Battlestar Galactica: The Plan for this fall. You know, at this moment, I honestly don't want any more. It's over. I'm not sure I can promise I will review anything else Battlestar-related. Maybe I'll feel better when I've had time to digest this finale.

Quotes:

Roslin: "The night is young. Apparently, so are you. Let's see what happens."
I'm not sure what the point of this was. Screw teaching, I'm going into politics? Yeah, I know, beginnings and endings.

Cottle: "I don't know what to say."
Roslin: "Don't spoil your image. Just light a cigarette and go and grumble."

Boomer: "Today I made a choice. I think it was my last one."

Gaius: "I see angels. Angels in this very room. Now I may be mad, but that doesn't mean that I'm not right."

Gaius: "God is a force of nature, beyond good and evil."

Cavil: "I don't mean to rush you, but you are keeping two civilizations waiting."

Lee: "What does scare you?"
Kara: "Being forgotten."
Lee said later that she wouldn't be forgotten. But the thing is, she was. They all were.

Cottle: "Their DNA is compatible with ours."
Gaius: "Meaning we can breed with them."
Adama: "You got a one track mind, doc."
Gaius: "Listen. I'm talking about the survival of the human race, actually. Not some get-together with the natives."
Adama: "You also have no sense of humor."

Lee: "If there's one thing we should have learned, it's that, you know, our brains have always outraced our hearts. Our science charges ahead, our souls lag behind. Let's start anew."


Harvey Six: "Let a complex system repeat itself long enough, eventually something surprising might occur. That, too, is in God's plan."
Harvey Gaius: "You know he doesn't like that name. Silly me. Silly, silly me."
This exchange confused me. What did the silly me bit mean?

Four out of four stars,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

21 comments:

Michael Colvin said...

I loved this finale. I agree with you that I needed a little bit more about Daniel - and I was angry, ANGRY, that Kara and Lee couldn't have had a final kiss good-bye. How did Starbuck know that her end was coming?

The "silly me" part was confusing as well...

But I say *bravo* Battlestar Galactica. BRAVO.

Paul Kelly said...

Hi Billie,

For me, the finale worked. It wasn't what I was expecting...which is all I wanted really. Something predictable would have been awful. So I'm happy.

Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune apparently did an interview with some of the shows main dudes. This bit might be of interest to you.....

Maureen Ryan: Was Kara just an angel, and were we all chasing down a rabbit hole or something when we assumed that her father was Daniel, this missing eighth Cylon?

Ron Moore: Daniel was definitely a rabbit hole. It was an unintentional rabbit hole, to be honest. I was kind of surprised when I began picking up on speculation online among people that Daniel – [who was,] for those of you who don’t know, a deep part of the Cylon backstory that had to do with one of the Cylon skinjobs that was created by the Final Five, who was sort of aborted by Brother Cavil in the deep, deep backstory of the show. It was always intended just to be sort of an interesting bit of backstory about Cavil, his jealousy, a sort of Cain and Abel allegory. Then people started really grabbing on to it and seizing on it as some major part of the mythology. In a couple of interviews and in the last podcast, I’ve gone out of my way to say, “Don’t spend too much time and energy on this particular theory, because it was never intended to be that major a piece of the mythology.” It was never intended to take that kind of load-bearing weight.

The rest of the transcript's here if you can be bothered. It's a bit lengthy...but informative.

Transcript

PK

carlos said...

Just watched it. Literally. Finished it and there was the mail linking to your review.

Not much I can say right now, I'm still processing it. There was much I liked, and much I didn't. But curiously, three things stand out for me:

- I didn't like their decision to dump everything and start clean AT ALL. It was like everything was for nothing. "Earth's" inhabitants could have evolved without their new neighbours with no problem. But yeah, it was a very convenient way to reach THAT finale.

- Also, I see no importance for Hera for the same reason. Was she really necessary?. What happened to the Cylons on "Earth"?. Do they age?. Are they still on "Earth"?. Do they know?. And what about the rest of the Cylons?. Nice touch with the old centurions, BTW.

- Stupidly, I kept waiting all the episode for D'Anna. Not even a small cameo for Lucy Lawless?. Bad Ron Moore, no cookie.

Also, I didn't like how many of the characters ended: Cavil, Tyrol, both Adamas, Sam... The Opera House "connection" had no sense given the importance it seemed to have... But I think getting Helo back at the end and reunited with Hera & Athena made up for everything else.

Oh, well, guess I have to sleep on it and watch it again in a couple of days.

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed with the finale, but only because I think they wasted a great opportunity by taking everyone to ruined Earth too soon. That long panning shot of shocked and miserable people standing on a devastated planet was cinematic and beautiful. I would have ended the series with that moment; it would have enraged people, I know, but it would have been a bold move with a searing message.

For me, the problem with the last seasons has been the obvious evidence of the disregard for the most sacrosanct rule of fiction writing: Don't start anything if you don't know how it's going to end. Making it up as you go along only leads to plot holes and dropped threads. This last season, which had some incredible episodes, also had a bit too much desperate filling. Dig dig dig -- fill fill fill.

Still, there is no getting around the fact that this was a great show with one of the most impressive casts I have ever scene. I will miss it.

Steve said...

I found it interesting that the religious direction of the show seemed to veer (almost naturally, in retrospect) from a 'western' religion, to 'eastern' religions.

All the references to 'This has happened before, and will happen again,' and cycles, the resurrections of the cylons, all point to reincarnation and samsara. God/the Gods changed from specific deities to an 'it' who is 'beyond good and evil,' or Brahman.

serena said...

Excellent review as usual, Billie.

I too was pretty baffled by Hera's importance given the ending. You're right, the "humanoids" could probably have evolved anyway. But here's my theory:

Hera's importance was twofold. One, as the only surviving Cylon reproduction, it didn't allow any Cylon that wasn't willing to team up with the humans to continue as a species.

Two, she drew the notes that Starbuck deciphered. If Starbuck was in fact Daniel's daughter, then it was the two hybrids that brought them to Earth.

I don't know how she became the "Eve", I'm sure other Cylons and humans (as well as the primitive humans) would eventually breed and have kids, so forth. I think it was just Ron's way of saying that she was the first of a new world.

I did expect her to be more of a factor in this. The above is the best I can figure... Thoughts?

serena said...

Oh, I forgot one thing in my comment above. Remember when the Final Five were reunited, and they voted to go back to the baseship now that Six and Tigh had a baby? Its possible that the human/Cylon alliance would never have been possible if that baby didn't die.

Mark Greig said...

Finales are rarely 100% satisfying. You always wish they’d done this instead of that, that such and such ended up with you know who and that thingy had died instead of what’s his face. You can never please everyone, nor should you even try.

I loved it. It was as perfect as I could possibly hope it would be. There were some niggles (lack of Leoben-Kara scenes, Hera’s final destiny) but they were minor complaints I can get over and move on.

What caught me most of guard was that we actually got a happy ending. Our survivors defeated Cavil, found a home and settled down. The body count was lower then expected (alas poor Racetrack…) I was sure a blood bath was on the horizon. But that’s BSG, always doing the unexpected.

I love that they settled in Africa, it is the cradle of life after all. I understand the reason everyone would go along with Lee’s clean slate. After being cooped up in a metal can for nearly four years I bet most of the colonist will be happier never to see another spaceship as long as they lived.

A massive thank you to the cast and crew of the good ship Battlestar Galactica.

Lebowsky said...

Hey billie,

First comment on your blog. I've been reading it since the first seasons of Lost and BSG. So let me start by congratulating and thanking you for them. It always brings some new light on my viewing. And the'yre fun too :)

About the finale,
I liked:
- How unpredictable it was
- The kickass battle
- The closing of most open plots in relatively satisfying ways
- And much more than I have room to write..

But some things were just totally unfulfulling. The main one being that up until now there never was such "God" presence. And I was defintely not hoping the Harveys and Starbuck to be "real" angels :\ we could always think Gaius was a nutjob, and that nothing was being planned by a higher purpose.. but that last times square thing was bleh.. "you know he doesn't like to be called that".. bah. I'm pissed at Ron Moore for the first time :) Too much obvious religion for me! And too much non-resolution about Starbuck-her father-Leoben would be my second frustration.

As far as the happy ending goes, well why not. It was surprising at least :)

This will still remain the best show on tv for a long time...

sloth15 said...

Good work, as usual Billie.

One thing that no one has mentioned yet, that I thought was hilarious and circular was that Helo got shot in the leg in the pilot movie, and then again in the finale. Helo has always been one of favorite characters so I got a kick out of that.

I've read many people's reviews of the finale (here and elsewhere) and I have to say that it is surprising to me that they are bothered by the religious theme of the finale. The whole show was a struggle between mono and polytheism and fate/predestination versus freewill. I had no problem with the religious stuff.

I did have a minor problem with Kara disappearing (and my friend even went so far as to call it a "Soprano's moment." But I knew going in that there would be stuff I wouldn't like.

The (almost) closing montage with the robots and the advancement of AI was just awesome. I was smiling through it and got chills at the same time.

Another small complaint was the Ron Moore cameo. It was completely gratuitous and just weird. He filled up like half the screen and the shot was odd. I don't think it was ego or anything, but it broke the fiction apart and brought me back to reality in a moment so close to the end that I wanted to be engulfed in the story.

Also, it was good to see Callie again, if even for a second.

Billie Doux said...

I can understand why people are unhappy with the way this episode confirmed the existence of God (or "It"). I'm somewhat bothered myself. But it's true that they've laid the groundwork for it from the very first episode, and I wasn't surprised by it. Harvey Six the angel always talked to Gaius about God's will.

Sebastian said...

That religious ending bothered me to. It is one thing to see characters that believe in God (the fact that they are believers does not necessarily mean that they are right in their belief) and completely another to confirm the existence of God.

Also, if Kara was an angel (in the last season) why she did not knew that about herself? The only explanation that I can think of is that because even the screenwriters did not knew until they come up with this idea at the end.

Yau-ming's blog!! said...

I didn't like the clean/neat ending - 1. the part about the fleet sending their ships straight into the sun, and 2. the part about the Centurions taking their basestar away (or the fact that Adama who has been fighting against them all his life would let them walk away with that warship). I would have written a different ending where the space battle resulted in the rebel Basestar's destruction. Then BSG crammed with most of humanity makes a crash landing on (our) Earth.

DC said...

I also have to congratulate and thank Billie for doing a wonderful job on those reviews. I think I would be lost myself without her reviews on lost.

Regarding the BSG finale, the religious stuff bothered me, too. Much has been said about it. Suffice it to say: it felt very much like deus ex machina. I agree with Sebastian: it is odd that Kara did not know herself what she really was.

The other thing which felt very unbelievable: why would they send the fleet into the sun and spread humanity all across earth. Yes, I get the official explanation from Lee. But I don't think many people in the fleet would agree to that. I mean, come on... how many of them are farmers? Who wants to live in the stone ages without toilets, medical care, modern communication, working 24/7 just to live, if they have a choice?

The real reason is obvious: the writers needed to find a bridge to Eve and the "180000 years later" scene. And some spaceships would not be helpful with that. Still: unsatisfying.

Lucifuge5 said...

First, great job on doing the BSG reviews, Billie! I've gotten into the habit of reading them once I finish watching an episode.

For a series finale, I feel Daybreak, part 2 was a solid episode through and through. We got a lot more answers than I thought we would, for one. Also, I didn't think we would get such an upbeat/hopeful ending.

Hera's rescue mission/attack on the Colony was one of the most thrilling moments in BSG history.

I also liked most of the characters' fates. Especially Tyrol and Baltar's. For one thing, Final Five or not, I always felt the Chief was plain ol' lost since the beginning of season 4. He had gotten burned (metaphorically speaking) every step of the way despite (or maybe because of) his good intentions.

As for Baltar, I thought it was somewhat ironic that he ended up being the one thing he had run away from: becoming a farmer. Additionally, it wasn't until I saw the kiss between him and Caprica Six that I realized how much I had missed that pairing.

The only three things that I didn't like were:

*Leoben's tiny cameo. I just wanted more Callum Keith Rennie scenes! *g*

*Kara's disappearing act while Lee is musing about what he's going to do. We do know Starbuck's religious, but to have her life intertwined into a higher level of metaphorical 'angelhood' seemed like a cop-out of sorts. Meaning, a way for the writers to keep Lee and her apart once and for all.

*Ron Moore's tacky cameo at the very end was just...lame. It might have been more interesting if he had been one of the homeless people in front of the newsstand instead.

I do plan on watching both Caprica and The Plan once they air. If anything, I think they'll enrich the BSG mythos so much more than any of us can imagine at this point.

Finally, Billie, as far as I know, Ron Moore has actually stated in the podcast for "No Exit" that Daniel is not Kara's dad. He has continued to point out (in interviews) that Daniel was sort of a throwaway idea (to heighten Cavil's jealous nature) people keep thinking about.

d said...

I'm mostly happy with the ending, I was prepping myself for the worst so I am relieved that they didn't all die.

People have already stated that Ron said Daniel wasn't intended to be Kara's father but he also said that Daniel will be relevant to the new Caprica series. Ron also explained that "the music is divine, eternal, it’s something that lives in the collective unconsciousness of everyone in the show and all of us today... The songs just come to people out of the either" so it came to Sam Anders on (the first) Earth, it came to Dreilide Thrace on Caprica, to Hera Agathon on Galactica and to Bob Dylan on our Earth.

I gathered from Laura's flashback that that was the moment that led her to Galactica. If that hadn't happened she wouldn't have been the Secretary of Education. And if Adama had chosen to do that job that would have only taken an hour and paid really well then he wouldn't have ended up on the Galactica and he wouldn't have brought Tigh along.

Thanks for your reviews, I've enjoyed your insight. :)

Manos Torgo said...

Well, I'll put my final four cents in:

I've been disappointed in Ron Moore for a while, less for decisions I would disagree with, but more for this attitude and breaking the world he created. He has admitted on more than one occassion of making things up or changing direction. He basically extended Anders' importance as an F U to fans who didn't like him... recreating your path in order to prove who is the boss? That's childish to me.
Its why he can't come up with a reason for how a young Starbuck was taught those musical notes by her father...


I was 80% happy with this episode, this finale. Personally I'd have been about 99% happy if they reached a non-Earth, landed and said hey, now we can rebuild in peace....montage of Adama building cabin next to grave of Roslin....Hera playing with Caprica & Baltar's kid...and fade to black.

Billie, as usual we are on the same wavelength when it cames to the decision, not by the people, but by Ron Moore to have people live like hippies. It did not ring true to the world he created. To me, if this were any other work of fiction and a writer had characters suddenly drop their main motivation (surviving) and one of their major traits..individuality... then he'd face serious scrutiny.

In most of the episodes, we have rebellions or mutinies and NOW all of sudden with the cheap exposition of the scene with Romo as president all is solved and everyone has agreed to live in huts, get rid of weapons? or any other modern convenience?

I don't buy it. At the least one ship should have disagreed and created Atlantis.

If Lee wanted to break the cycle because of some childish view that technology is our problem...then guess what? 150,000 years to get back to the same point is not progress. The lessons they all paid dearly for, should have been carried on. Thats where the new start came from.
Part of a people surviving is carrying on their culture, not just their DNA.

Oh and the whole montage of robots at the end with the heavy handed message at the end? Really, like we needed to be told that in explicit terms?

The battles, the rest of it. Perfectly fine with me. In fact I loved watching Tyrol kill Tory. I was cheering at the tv and was on the edge of my seat as she kept babbling afraid of what he would do...

Again, my issue is with the writing not following the guidelines set out by the writer. But I am glad the series is over and came to a somewhat decent conclusion.

Cheza said...

Well.. I liked a lot... i was sad also with a lot of things.. can't believe that starbuck just vanished like that, it was sooo sad.


but one thing i can't understand:

how they know the difference in their own type. Athena knew who Boomer was and vice versa and the Sixes. I thought she said that they could blend in without being noticed but they always knew and differentiated each other.

I dont think that Chief would go back to Boomer after what she did and Athena was REALLY pissed for what she did to her.

Anonymous said...

Disappointed. Now that I've had time to dwell on it, I'm still disappointed. Hera was no big deal. The whole opera house thing was lame...it was supposed to be something so important that people had been having visions of it for years, and it ends up being some people standing on the bridge of Galactica? Big freaking deal. And I'm sorry, there is NO WAY that thousands of people would agree to give up their technology and live in the wildnerness for the rest of their lives. And there would still have been a lot of Cylons around, even enemy Cylons. What about them? And all the stuff with there being two Earths was unnecessarily confusing. This show made the same mistake that "Lost" did...it started out great, and the producers said they had a plan and would reveal all the secrets in the end, but in the end you realize they were making up most of it as they went along. I feel cheated. Season 4.5 shouldnt have happened at all, they should have left it when they found the destroyed Earth. After that it was boring and pointless. And killing Gaeta was unnecesary.

Baz said...

Well, this is it then!

I liked it, I liked it a lot. I see why people have issues, Hera just doesn't seem that important (though I do like the tie in to mitochondrial eve - that was cool) where did all the other Cavills, Simons etc go, possibly some other reasons I don't care about...

For me though it was about the characters, and I think all the main guys stayed true to form. It was far more happily ever after than I expected and therefore not what I expected at all. I yelled out loud many times, Cavills suicide, Torys death, the jump to new Earth... The only thing that really disappointed me was Starbuck just disappearing - a step too far for me I think.

Otherwise, I'm so glad I finally got round to watching this series to the end. It's definately one of my favourites, and I'll probably watch this final season over again to get it all to sink in!

Oh and I have 'The Plan' queued up to watch, so I'm hoping that explains even more stuff too.

Next up, a rewatch of Alias I think :)

Victoria Grossack said...

So we end up with Galactica being an opera house - like the Wagnerian epic that BSG has been!

Loved how Tyrol found out about Tory.

Cried at Laura's end.