Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The End Of The End Of The Beginning

First up, I would like to announce that I have, at long last, been judged employable, and can expect to spend the next nine months considering the inner mysteries of oil wells. This makes no difference to some of you, probably, except to say that normal service will be resumed (i.e. my rants will become longer and more X-Men based) sometime in the middle of April.

Having said I never wanted to discuss that show ever again, I find that I can't stop thinking about last night's finale. I'm suffering from a degree of confused disbelief so intense that my mind keeps absently wandering back to it, the way your tongue seems to keep heading for the gap caused by a missing tooth.

What was the point of all those flashbacks? I mean, Anders' made thematic sense (although since I'm not in the most generous of moods, by "thematic sense" I mean "A cynical ploy to make firing him into the goddamn sun seem like a reasonable fate"), and there was a nice moment with the Tighs. But Adama? Roslin? What the hell was that all about? Baltar's flashbacks seemed entirely there to remind us he comes from a family of farmers, which I guess led to a nice payoff at the end, but there was far more shown than you needed for that.

As for Lee and Kara, I'll grant that showing they were attracted to each other from the start is nice and all (though not necessarily something one need see in the final episode), but the pigeon chasing? I mocked this yesterday, but to be more clear, if your metaphors are coming from a Nelly Furtado song, you're in trouble. Such things do not belong in one of the best sci-fi shows of all time.

I will say one last thing about the ending, and then I swear I'm done. Turning a series that has lasted half a decade and impressed hundreds of thousands of people with its maturity and complexity into an extended public service announcement on the dangers of science is just, well, fucking stupid. Justifying it by having two of the most ambiguous and intriguing characters from the show explain it to you while walking down the street is an extra level of dumb. We're simultaneously getting a banal lecture on the human condition (with a point Lee had already made, and far more artfully, earlier in the episode), and then you're scrawling "THEY WERE ANGELS ALL ALONG, WOOOOOOOO!!!" on top of it. This is to say nothing of the rug pull of "All this will happen before, and will happen again," we had to endure. "DO YOU GET IT, PEOPLE!?! WE ARE THE NEXT STAGE IN THE CYCLE, WOOOOOOOO!!!" I'd spent the whole of the show thinking we would turn out to have been the first stage of the cycle. You know why? Because THAT MAKES FUCKING SENSE. Baltar even went so far last night to point out the astronomical odds of finding another race of humans that had evolved independently. I took that as proof that we were going to find out something more was going on. But what was going on was apparently "GOD TOTALLY DID THIS YOU GUYS, WOOOOOO!!!!" It's a non-explanation. Every time the show has previously talked about massively unlikely coincidences (The Hand Of God, Rapture), we now know it's because God was pissing around. Not by helping out, or anything, just by orchestrating events in a really weird way. It's pretty clear that I don't believe in an interventionist God (to paraphrase Nick Cave), but even if I did, I think it would be fair to say that I wouldn't believe in one that intervenes in ways that maximise dramatic tension.
I'm not even going to talk about Starbuck; I'm still too angry.

On the other hand, the idea of Capricans using "horns" as grave markers? Genius. In fact, there was a massive amount I liked about the finale, but 90% of it was in the first half. The second just collapsed under the weight of its own pretentious nothingness.

Update: Oh, and one more thing. I have earned my displeasure at the finale. I would just like to warn people ahead of time that anyone dissing Daybreak who has previously run screaming across the intertubes wearing "Nu Who Is Awesome And Doesn't Need To Make Sense!!" I will punch them right in the crotch.


jamie said...

Well done on the employment front! That's awesome.

I know exactly what you mean regarding not being able to stop thinking about it. I've been there since Saturday midday, and it's not showing signs of shifting. I guess I'm probably going through some version of the stages of mourning (mainly for the death of common sense, literary consistency and scientific plausibility).

The flashbacks are the least of Moore's sins, and I can see why they were there for the most part, as part of his stupid fucking epiphany that 'it's all about the characters, stupid' (and if that's the case, why did you twist all goddamn logic to fit with the most dumbass ending imaginable?). They mostly showed the characters at their most characteristic and basic levels (Kara's lack of self-control and addiction to immediate visceral pleasure; Lee's cynicism, selfishness and daddy issues, that eventually transmuted to a sort of worldly and practical idealism; Adama's inability to overcome his pride and tendency towards pathological emotional attachment; Roslin's pushing away of any personal and emotional growth and burying herself in work; Baltar's selfishness and renunciation of his roots), the beginning of their journeys if you will, and contrasted sharply with their new-found maturity born through the fire of the last few years.

Shame a lot of them were still unforgivably not all that interesting.

All I can say regarding your big paragraph is 'testify'. I've been arguing all those things with various people for four days, and I don't really have the energy any more.

Thanks for pointing out the horns thing though, I have to say I didn't twig that (so to speak), and was rather confused at the time (I think the anger that was slowly building probably distracted me).

All there is to do now is wait for another bit of gigantic retconning in 'The Plan', whereby they try to persuade us for 90 minutes that it wasn't a piece of spiel forced upon them by the fucking Syfy Marketing Dept.

Oh, and to wait and see if Lost can fuck things up even more ('You know Jacob hates that name...').

Tom said...

Except that where Battlestar Galactica is concerned, there is provably an interventionist God - or rather team of Gods - that really do seek to increase the dramatic tension wherever possible. Well done to the characters for figuring this out! Shame the Gods weren't sufficiently omniscient to explain Starbuck though.

Less facetious remarks to come when I return from foreign lands...


jamie said...

Yes, there is an argument that the whole point of the finale was to break the fourth wall. See this article for a comprehensive take on this: