EPISODE REVIEWS: Battlestar Galactica: "Daybreak, Part 2" (Season 4, episode 20) Series Finale

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…and so it ends. It doesn’t all make sense, and it goes off the rails more than once, but it is definitely over, and it was pretty good. Well, good-ish. At points. And while this is clearly, clearly not the ending anyone foresaw six years ago when the series began, or thirty-one years ago when the original series began, well, at least it is a conclusive ending. At least it’s done.

The Galactica and her crew of volunteers turn the fleet over to Lt. Hoshi, brevetted to Admiral for the occasion. Romo Lampkin is appointed president. Admiral Hoshi moves his flag to the baseship, and takes the fleet to the rendezvous point, while the Galactica loads up to fight bear and attacks The Cylon Colony. Anders’s tub o’ goo is moved to the control room to help coordinate. Baltar abandons his flock, and stays with the ship. Apollo hands him a gun.

Last week they said the only way in or out of the singularity event horizon The Cylon Colony was parked in orbit around was one klick from the thing. Evidently a colonial Klick and an earth klick are the same because the ship appears literally a half a mile from the huge evil Cylon version of the Death Star. (Or rather H.R. Geiger’s interpretation of the Death Star). The Cylons instantly start blasting the hell out of Galactica, but Anders is able to make contact with the Colony hybrids and get them to knock it off. The guns go silent.

Galactica launches her fighters, and she launches raptors from the seldom-used other bay, the one that has a museum and a gift shop on it. They launch from *inside* the bay, ripping it to shreds with the gravitational flux from the jump drives, and appear on the far side of The Colony from the Galactica and her fighters. Meanwhile, the Raiders attack Galactica and the Vipers. Adama gives the order to ram the colony, which is pretty awful for everyone, but not nearly as devastating to the battlestar as you’d admit since it’s only a kilometer from the ship to begin with. Her prow smashes through the hull of the massive cylon ship, and teams of marines and Cylon Centurions led by Apollo board. The team of raptors dock and cut their way in to the far side of the colony, and board there, using the massive impact on the other side as a diversion.

Meanwhile, Simon the Doctor Cylon is planning to dissect Hera, but Boomer changes sides once again and breaks his neck. She takes the girl, and runs. Eventually she finds Starbuck, Athena and Helo, and hands the kid over. “Tell Adama I owed him one,” she says. “It doesn’t change anything you’ve done,” says Athena. “No, but I’ve made a choice, and that’s the important thing. I think it’s my last one.” Athena shoots Boomer and that is finally, mercifully, once and for all, is the end of the serial traitor. Everyone hauls back to the Galactica, with oceans of Cylons - including a surprising number of old school 1978-model Centurions - chasing them. They meet up with Apollo’s team on the way.

On the Battlestar, Caprica and Baltar are huddled in the halls, talking. Suddenly both of them can see each other’s internal counterparts - Baltar can see Caprica’s “Ghost Baltar” and Caprica can see Baltar’s “Ghost six.” The apparitions identify themselves as angels.

The cylons chase the good guys back on to the battlestar, and Helo gets shot. Hera gets frightened and runs away. In sick bay, a vaguely ambulatory Laura Roslin manages begins to relive the Opera House dream, with Hera running free. She chases the little girl down with Athena, back cutting between the present on the galactica, and the dream in the opulent opera house several seasons ago (It’s well done). Caprica and Baltar find the girl, and pick her up, once again back-cut with the scenes of 6 and Baltar taking the girl in the opera house, only where it seemed foreboding in the visions in season 3, here we realize they’re trying their damndest to protect the girl. They go in to the inner chamber of the opera house, which, in reality is the Galactica control room, complete with the Final Five standing on the upper level.

Cylons attack the control room, and a Cavil grabs the girl. A Mexican standoff ensues, with everyone pointing their guns at him, and him pointing his gun at the girl.

Baltar talks him down. He says that God has a destiny for the girl that involves the survival of both their races, that the girl must live for there to be any future for any of them, there’s clearly a force manipulating us, and there has been from the beginning, visions, coincidences, convenient plot devices, all have lead them to this point.
“Let’s say your right,” Says Cavil, “What makes you think this God is on your side?”

“God isn’t on any one side or the other. God is beyond good and evil. *We* created good and evil. You want to break the cycle of creation and destruction, then you have to take a leap of faith.” (I paraphrase slightly.) Tigh agrees to throw in resurrection technology, and Cavil, surprisingly, agrees. He calls off his attacking forces, and the cylons stand down. The Galactica’s surviving forces stand down as well.

Ah, but that’s too easy, isn’t it? I mean, we can’t go through all this fight and pain and bloodshed and melodrama and irritating treatment by the network just to have Arthur and Mordred patch up their differences and shake hands and be friends, now can we? I mean, it’d be wonderful if we learned from our mistakes and matured as people and avoided them in the future, but frankly from a dramatic point of view that’s pretty anti-climactic. Just like you can’t have Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin realize the empire is corrupt, and decide not to attack Yavin, but rather to use their super weapon to force the Emperor to allow free elections, you just can’t have Adama and Cavil patch up their differences and be best buds. Ya’ just can’t.

In Arthurian myth you’ve got the Battle of Camlann, in which peace is secured only to be undone tragically by a stupid misunderstanding, and here we have the final five doing a group mind-meld to recover the secrets of resurrection tech. Unfortunately, that means that each of them know everything about all the others instantly. When Tyrol finds out that Tory killed Cally, he freaks out and breaks contact with the tub-o-goo, which causes everyone to scream in pain, even the hybrids on the Cylon Colony Ship. Cavil screams “It’s a trap” and the fighting starts again, with the Galactica caught flatfooted. Tyrol breaks Tory’s neck, and the ship is getting pounded. Adama yells at Starbuck to jump the ship, but Starbuck doesn’t know the coordinates of the rendezvous point.

“It doesn’t matter, just get us out of here!”

As the tide of battle in the control room turns against the cylons, Cavil yells “Frack” and blows his own head off.

Starbuck assigns numbers to the notes from “All along the watchtower” and the ship jumps….

…and at this point the story kind of goes off the rails…

They find themselves behind the earth’s moon. A verdant earth is visible in the distance. Galactica has taken horrible damage, and will never jump again. “Wherever we are is where we’re staying” Adama says.

On the surface of the planet, they find Neanderthals in Africa. They’re genetically compatible with Humans and Cylons, so the race is saved. But wait, whaaaat? Weren’t they already *at* earth? The blown up earth? So they must be in the past, right? But if Earth was colonized by Cylons who found no native sentients there, then what happened to the Neanderthals? “What the what?” as Liz Lemon says. Grr. Irritating.

The fleet shows up and Hoshi returns command to Adama, saying “what are the odds of a habitable planet a million light years away?” What? I thought Galactica had gone in to the past, hadn’t they? So how did the fleet get here, they were still in the present. What the heck is going on? Grrrr…

While planning for settlements, Apollo hits on the brilliant idea of becoming hippies, and forsaking technology and plumbing and medicine in favor of grubbing around in the dirt with sticks because “Our tools have always grown faster than our minds.” This will theoretically give them a chance to catch up. Again, “What the what?”

No one complains. Doc Cottle seems surprised that no one complains about living like homeless people, but we’re told that he underestimates the appeal of a clean new start. Again, What? Seriously, what? We’ve had five years of humans being deplorable scum who always, always, always do the wrong thing for selfish reasons, and suddenly - bang - the 38,000 survivors of humanity turn in to Star Fleet Officers who are always noble, selfless, heroic and brilliant? Lord, what a cop out! Anyway, the principle cast stay in Africa, others head to Australia and elsewhere. Colonists are distributed evenly between several locations.

Anders pilots the entire fleet into the sun, killing himself and destroying the ships. Whaaaaaaat kind of crazy sense does that make? Ok, sure, fine, you wanna’ be filthy hippies, I get it, but maybe it’d be a good idea to have a backup plan for when the mescaline wears off and you decide you really miss having books and showers and stuff? Those ships would have been a fine back up plan.

Tyrol decides to go live on an uninhabited island in the north where it’s cold. “I’m just sick of people, humans, cylons, whatever.” Tigh and Ellen are back together. The Centurions have been given the miraculously-repaired Base Ship and their freedom, and they head off to pursue their own destiny.

Roslin is dying. Adama tells her the planet is “Earth.“ She laughs. “Earth is a dream we’ve been chasing for a long time. This is earth.“ loads her on to a raptor. Apollo and Starbuck see this, and come over to see what’s up. “I don’t have much time left,” Adama tells his son. “I know.” Apollo says. They hug goodbye for the final time. The farewell with Starbuck is a bit more heartfelt. The raptor flies away with them watching it.

“You know, when I was a kid the first thing I can remember is my dad flying away and me wondering when he’d be back. Well he’s not coming back now.”

“No he’s not,” Starbuck agrees. “So what’s next for you, Apollo?” Apollo allows as how he’d like to explore this new world. “And you?” he asks kara.

“I don’t know. I only know that I’ve completed my journey, and it’s good, and I’m done here, and it’s time for me to move on.” Apollo turns to say something to her, but she’s gone - vanished - like she never existed, and Apollo is all alone in a huge, empty field.

The Agathons are a happy family, telling Hera all the things they’ll teach her about hunting and stuff. Baltar and Caprica decide to become farmers, bringing Baltar full circle.

Flying over a flock of flamingos, Roslin dies. Adama cries and puts his wedding ring on her finger. She managed to change her fate, at least slightly. He lands on a ridge and buries her. He tells her grave that he laid out the floor of the cabin, and the view is almost heavenly, it reminds him of her.

We see a quick shot of Hera walking along, a bit older. She looks up. Then we see a quick montage of landscapes, culminating with New York City. Ghost-Baltar and Ghost-Six are there, reading a newspaper over Ronald D. Moore’s shoulder. Really. It’s 150,000 years later, and the newspaper story says that Hera was the mitochondrial Eve - the common genetic ancestor of all humanity. Baltar and Six quip that no one knows about her Cylon mother and colonial father.

“Corruption, sin, greed. Remind you of anything?” Six asks.

“Kobol, Earth - the real Earth, before this one - the Colonies” Baltar says. (Oh! Our earth is not the first earth. Geez. Could they have made that more confusing?)

Six points out optimistically that if you repeat a complex cycle enough times, eventually you may get an interesting, predictable result, and she hopes that’ll happen this time. Baltar is surprised by her optomism.

“It’s all part of God’s plan,” she says.

“You know He hates that name.” Baltar says. They exchange a look, and he says “Silly, silly me.” They walk off while the Hendrix version of “Watchtower” plays on a boom box, and we’re treated to a montage of emerging robotic technology on earth in the present.

And so it ends, finally, completely, for all time.

Meanwhile, in the past:

There were several flashbacks in this episode, none of which really felt all that important or germane, but there were some nice character bits here and there:

- Anders in a hydrotherapy tub talking about the beauty of physics
- Adama and Tigh and (Disconcertingly) Ellen in a topless bar getting drunk before Adama’s job interview.
- Adama’s job interview.
- More of the Apollo/Zac/Starbuck dinner
- Roslin having sex with one of her former students, now an adult.

OBSERVATIONS

This was pretty uneven, and as I’ve pointed out it kind of goes entirely off the rails repeatedly in the second half. The first half hour is surprisingly slow, the next 40 minutes or so were unbelievably great, and then the final 40 minutes or so were essentially poorly-thought-out denouement and “What the hell?” moments, with a bit of poignancy here and there. Despite the two-hour-and-ten-minute running time, it still felt rushed, but oddly like all the episodes since the Mutiny, it’s felt simultaneously lazy. Like there’s a ton of things to wrap up, but they can’t be bothered to start.

That said, there were a lot of nice bits in this, including a lot of homages to the original Galactica. Particularly nice was Starbuck’s disappearance. We don’t know what she is, she doesn’t know what she is, but whatever she is, she isn’t who she once was, and it’s time to move on. They handled that really well, and I totally didn’t see it coming. Whatever the source of her visions has been, she’s gone to be with it now. This was a nice nod to the original series Starbuck, who always had a strange relationship with the angels/seraphs/ship of lights folk, culminating (In the final episode of Galactica 1980) with him rescuing a cylon woman and sacrificing himself to do it, getting stranded all alone on a planet he’d egotistically named after himself. It was the intention of the producers of that show to have Starbuck return yet again as a seraph himself, and an agent of the angels. They never filmed it, but I can’t help feel Kara’s low-key transformation in tonight’s episode was a nod to that. I also liked The fleet cruising over the moon, just like in the first episode of Galactica 1980.

There were also some nice nods in the music - the Colonial Anthem turned up frequently, as did a nice piece that I can’t think of the name of right now, which figured prominently through the last episode and this one. They also made good use of the “Wander my friends” theme that’s been floating around since “The Hand of God” (Where it was called “A Good Lighter” on the score), and some nice variations of the Opera House theme. Really just a ton of music in this episode, and all of it really good. I’m totally buying the 4th season soundtrack when it comes out.

There’s a WHOLE lot of stuff here that doesn’t make any sense, though:

* The Galactica is in such bad shape that she’s crippled by a Raptor jumping too close to the hull a few weeks ago, but suddenly she can take a hell of a pounding at point blank range by the Colony Supership? For like an hour?

* She’s in such bad shape that she’s crippled by a Raptor jumping too close to the hull a few weeks ago, but a dozen raptors jump from even closer this week and only rip up the bay a bit? Weren’t we just told that ONE raptor doing an internal jump would gut the entire ship?

* Why did they have to do an internal jump anyway?

* Why is Adama dying? He’s clearly been sick the last ten episodes, but they’ve never explained it.

* Why does Cavil shoot himself in the head? There’s no resurrection for him?

* For that matter, are the Cylons even defeated? We didn’t see a conclusive defeat, though they were in a bad way, and clearly they couldn’t reproduce, but we didn’t see them wiped out.

* If Hera is the mitochondrial Eve, and all of humanity is descended from her (And by extension, Helo and Sharon), then doesn’t that mean all the other Colonial humans and organic Cylons on earth died out without contributing to the genetic makeup of our species? In other words, if Hera is the mother of us all, doesn’t that negate the contribution of anyone who lived before or at the same time as Hera?

* Since when did Hoshi - as minor as minor recurring characters can be - become “A person who’s universally trusted and respected in the fleet?”

* Was there an election for Romo, or did they just appoint him?

* What the heck did that last bit of dialog, “You know He hates that name….oh silly silly me” mean? Were they saying that Ghost Baltar was God or something? Grrr. That’s annoyingly poorly done.

* Where the heck is Adama’s (Second) wife during the nudie-bar scenes? He *Was* married during that period.

* There's people on Earth? Isn't that a cheat? Isn't the point of the show that these humans are the ONLY ones in the universe? Isn't finding a paralell-evolution of homo sapens (Homo Neanderthalis. Close enough) kind of the sort of random thing that undercuts the tension of pretty much EVERYTHING that's gone before? I don't care how you try to shoehorn the fictional history of the show in to the real history of the world, this is a freakin' dramatic deal breaker.

* People have not been in Australia for 150,000 years. Far, far less time.

* What, really, is the point of the flashback scenes? I mean other than to show some nice shots of Caprica City at night?

* Aside from carrying the encoded location of Earth (Not the real one, though), what’s the mystical significance of “Watchtower?”

* Why did everyone have to choose to be hippies? They could have accomplished the same thing by having the Galactica break up in orbit from damage, or have the fleet make an emergency landing in the ocean, or whatever. *Stranding* people on earth accomplishes the same thing in a more logical fashion, and it kills two birds with one stone.

I suppose “The Real Earth” was this show’s analogue for “Terra,” from the original series, just as The Final Five are this show’s analogue for “The Seraphs.”

There’s a lot to like about this episode, but it’s mostly in the 40-minute battle scene. Aside from the Starbuck Goodbye and Baltar’s truly moving crying jag when he decides to become a farmer, the thing he’s run from his whole life, the extended denouement really accomplishes little, though it has a bit of a dreamlike sequence to it.

Alas, the real failing of this episode is that it shows how pointlessly most of the machinations of plot and character over the last season or so have been. Apollo’s political career? Unimportant, since everyone are anarchic hippies living in peace and harmony with nature and rat scabies. Tory’s embracing the dark side of her Cylon nature? Insignificant, since it was just an excuse to get Tyrol to kill her. The reorganization of the colonial government to something based on realpolitick? Means nothing, since they abandon government. Roslin’s desire to “Preserve our democracy?” Abandoned. Roslin’s wrestling with her destiny and religious faith and lack thereof? Just a boondoggle. Roslin’s gradual slide in to intolerant fascism as she got sicker and the political situation got more dire? Just time-fillers. The Tigh/Six romance? Hey, it’d be dead air if it they didn’t put something on the screen. Breaking the cycle? That’s pretty nebulous.

So, yeah, in the end they did answer most of their questions, and I am pretty impressed that the “God” mentioned repeatedly in the series really turned out to be God rather than some preternatural hoo-hah (“The memories of a time traveler” or “A recording from a super-advanced alien race” or whatever) - that’s gutsy - so ultimately they delivered 90% or better of what they promised, but it’s still rather sloppily done and kind of ultimately frustrating *because* in so doing we can clearly see how little of what they’ve done means anything, and how MUCH of it was just pointless jerking around to fill up 20 episodes when they clearly only really had ideas enough to fill about six episodes.

So is it a good ending or a bad one? A happy ending or a sad one? I guess it’s mostly happy, but I don’t have that vaguely sad-yet-exhilarated thrill that I had at the conclusion The Prisoner. I don’t have the feeling that the story has ended in such a way that enriched me, personally , like I did with the conclusions to Babylon 5 or Star Trek: The Next Generation. I don’t even have the sense of emptyness that comes from such a large part of my life ending that I got with the finale of M*A*S*H or Newhart. I don’t have that, and though a bunch of stuff happened, it’s own gravitas is robbed by the crazy need to shoehorn illogical events in to the “I want it to end this way, even if it makes no sense” last half.There is nothing about it that I'll linger over, or which will turn up in my dreams, which is strange when you consider the epic scope of everything involved here. It did not haunt me, and it really should have. I feel cheated by not being haunted.

So I can’t say if it’s a good ending or a bad ending, time will tell, but the more I think on it, the more I feel disappointed. All I can say is that it *is* at least an ending, something I’ve been longing for for 31 years now. It is an end, and perhaps that’s enough.

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