Before we begin, I’d like to point out that this will contain unmarked spoilers for the Battlestar Galactica reboot series. Proceed at your own risk if you haven’t seen the show.
A few minutes ago, I finished my rewatch of the Battlestar Galactica reboot and it just about fucked me up. I watched the show when it first aired, and despite my misgivings about it (since I was a fan of the original), I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a well done show, with great writing, acting, production values, and most importantly, story. There is one exception to that. The story, which I did just call out for being great, does have a pretty big weakness to it. The writers seemed to have a significant over reliance on falling back to… well… magic to explain things. This is supposed to be a sci-fi show, but a lot of major plot developments end up being driven by God. Literally. The early seasons of the show have a line in the opening credits about the Cylons having a plan, but it quickly becomes apparent that it’s actually the writers’ interpretation of The One True God™ that actually has a plan.
This is… less than thrilling to me.
It would be one thing for this to be the case in some run of the mill drama or some specifically religious show, but it’s sci-fi. Science Fiction. SCIENCE Fiction. The key, defining feature of science fiction vs other forms of fiction is the science. It should be the science or things resulting from that science that frame the show, not magic or religion or mysticism or anything in that vein. It’s completely out of place and really damages my enjoyment of the show.
But you know what? I’ve mostly made my peace with that during the first run of the show. That’s not even what’s fucking me up about this.
The way it ended… man. It was kind of the capstone on this dread that I felt building the farther into the rewatch I got. While I still don’t like the direction they went with in the ending, they at least did it with their usual high quality. What fucked me up was just… all the loss. The entire human civilization gone, not once but twice. First on Kobol and then on the 12 colonies. Thirteen total planets filled with human life, all gone. And on a smaller scale, there were so many heroic deeds, people, ships even that helped save the remnants of humanity throughout the show and I feel like the way it ended, they’re all just gone and forgotten. It’s bothering me. A lot of stuff was wrapped up, but too much was left to the whole… “And they rode off into the sunset” sort of thing.
Let’s look at each group and how we got fucked out of an ending for each:
- The Final Five – So these are the remnants of the Thirteenth Tribe of man. I wasn’t too clear on if they were a tribe of Cylons created by the 12 tribes of humans on Kobol, or if they were themselves human. There’s a scene where the rebel Cylon scientists talk about how the organic and machine remains somehow tested the same, meaning they were all Cylon. However that didn’t quite make sense to me because in none of the Final Five’s flashbacks do we see any Cylons, even after the revelation that that’s what they all were. Not only that, but why’d there be a scattering of Centurion-type Cylons mixed in with a world of Skinjobs? Did the Thirteenth Tribe decide to do their own AI research, forgetting about what happened on Kobol (I suspect hostilities between them and the other tribes led to the events that destroyed Kobol and split their tribe from the other 12, but who the fuck knows because maybe God did it), or was it that they just kept making a small number of Centurions to do the manual labor and… well no, that would basically be the same as the first thing I was thinking. Basically, the original Earth in this show is destroyed in what seems to be a Cylon uprising, but the inhabitants of the original Earth are all Cylons so who are the Cylons rebelling against? I’m down another rabbit hole here and this isn’t even the point I was trying to explore. The Final Five! OK, so these guys are the last survivors of Earth that was. They have their own arc and end up on Earth that is (those that survive, anyway). And… now what? They’re a distinct group of humans with literally thousands of years of history and they’re just gonna settle down in a nice animal skin tent by the woods? WTF? I mean, one of them even goes off to be a hermit. This is how the last of the Thirteenth Tribe, who fought so hard and so long (for thousands of years!) to survive and make sure humanity doesn’t repeat the same mistakes (which again, were they originally human or not? Like WTF.) goes out? This is how they meet their end? Shit.
- Colonial Cylons – I guess by blowing up their home base, that means they’re all dead? What’s stopping all the rest of the Cylons who, you know… weren’t home when home blew up, from seeking revenge? Granted it seems they pulled out of their occupation of the 12 Colonies, but was the massive structure in the finale really all of the Colonial Cylons? There was that splinter group of Guardians mentioned in Season 2 or 3 that were guarding the first hybrid. They haven’t been destroyed and are there no other groups like that, or even fleets on patrol? What about the Cylons at New Caprica? Are they still there oppressing any humans that didn’t make the evacuation?
- Rebel Cylons – So the rebel skinjobs are just gonna live out their lives on this new Earth, which is fine, but are they breeding with the humans, both Colonial and terrestrial? If so, how? They basically act like Hera is a miracle, which hey, with all the religious stuff in the show she probably is exactly that. The thing is, if she’s not magic, then why can’t there be other hybrid babies born? Since they seem to say that Hera was the mitochondrial Eve, did not a single other Skinjob fall in love with a single other human? So a Base Ship full of Skinjobs just lived out their natural lives and died, happy to have helped out? What? And what of the Centurions? They got the Base Ship and almost literally rode off into the sunset. No mention of them in the future/present day scene?
- The fucking magic angels or whatever the fuck – Head Six and Head Baltar… What the shit was that? No explanation of who/what they actually are or who sent them. I mean, it’s probably God, but Head Baltar got all SUPER creepy and was all “HE DOESN’T LIKE THAT NAME!” when Head Six called him that, so is it God or some other shit? And maybe it’s just me, but I sort of got the sense that maybe Head Baltar was the she’s God or whatever, based on that last scene with him and Head Six. I could be and probably am wrong, but something about the way she talked to him and him getting his back up over the name “God” made me think that. While we’re at it, I’ll throw Starbuck the White in here as well. WTF was this shit? None of her arc made any goddamn sense. She blows up in a storm in a gas giant’s atmosphere and her remains and ship’s wreckage end up light years away on Earth that was? How? And Leoben doesn’t feel the need to tell anyone about Starbuck the White finding Starbuck they Gray’s body? WTF? Srsly, WTF! Beyond that, where did she actually come from? Who sent her? (God, obvs.) How did the first Hybrid in Razor know about her upcoming shenanigans since she hadn’t done her Gandalf thing yet? How did she just disappear if she was corporeal? I get Head Twins vanishing because they’re ghosts or angels or whatever, but Starbuck the White seemed to be more physical. So what’s up with that? She fulfills her literally God given destiny and just poof?
Plus, the main group of humanity’s survivors… You see what happens in their future and… Well, part of it ends up being a big fuck you, which I always hated, but part of it is they went so hard on the weird religious angle that the closing scene seems almost about the mysticism more so than the future of the people you spent 4 seasons giving a shit about. And if you’re going to go that route, THEN FOR FUCKS SAKE EXPLAIN WTF ALL THE GODDAMN WOO WOO MUMBO JUMBO SHIT WAS AND WHERE IT CAME FROM! Going beyond that, I just feel like the human sacrifice and the blood and hardship of these people will never be known and in the end, it was all for nothing, because humanity always falls into the same old patterns. The names of Galactica and Pegasus will never be known. Starbuck, Apollo, Admiral Adama, Colonel Tighe, Helo, Athena, Hot Dog, Kat, and so many other big damn heroes are just… forgotten. The Adama maneuver on New Caprica, the fight against Scar, Kat’s Radiation Rescue… It’s not all for nothing because all of these ships and people and acts of heroism helped save humanity but goddamn you’d think when they were throwing out all human progress because robots or whatever, they’d have at least kept fucking writing so they could tell the stories of these places and people and deeds. For fuck’s sake, if Pythia hadn’t recorded the account of the 13 tribes leaving Kobol, you fuckers would all be dead! Not one of you thought, “Hey, maybe we should keep good records just in case shit goes bad, our descendants will know what to do and maybe these records can even help them avoid the type of mistakes that led to all this. You know, kind of like what Pythia should have done instead of writing in bullshit metaphor and not actually mentioning the minor detail THAT IT WAS AN AI REBELLION THAT LEAD TO THE EXODUS FROM KOBOL SO HEY MAYBE TRY NOT TO MAKE ANY MORE AIS.” Granted, at least Pythia wrote some shit down, which did help, but a lot of trouble could have been avoided if she was better at her job. That aside, you’d think someone would want to be a Pythia analogue to maybe help out the future generations.
So humanity goes boldly into the future by literally forgetting it’s entire history so that they don’t make the same mistakes. The idea behind this being that if they leave behind all the trappings of their millennia long civilization, they won’t fuck up in the same old ways. See, the thing is, there’s that old saying we have about not learning from history and doomed to repeat mistakes and the like. Seems like this was actually exactly the wrong thing to do. I do think they also dishonor the memory of those who gave their lives to get humanity to this point by throwing away their past, which is a big part of what’s bothering me. All that knowledge, lost. All the stories of those people, lost. The ships, lost. Tales of heroism, lost. Why? Just so they don’t build murderbots again. Meanwhile, they could just try to rebuild civilization and make it their highest law not to build murderbots. Literally every person in their new civilization would know how bad it can be if you build murderbots, so they won’t do it. And if they teach this value properly to their kids and pass this cultural facet down to future generations, they’ll hold it in high enough regard not to build murderbots. To just throw everything away… goddamn.
That scene in… Daybreak I think it was, where Hot Dog is taking all the pictures of pilots off the memorial wall for safe keeping, that scene really fucked me up. Partly because of all those they’d lost, but also because of what he said about the other pictures being left behind. There was no one left who knew who they were. That’s heartbreaking. These were all someone’s loved ones. They’re gone and so are the people who survived the genocide and held them in loving memory. That scene left a deep ache in my chest. All of that knowledge and history lost. No family or friends to keep the memories alive on a small scale, and the collective output of a dozen worlds of civilization also gone. The Galactica was dying and could never be replaced, as was all the knowledge and history they’d left behind and as was now happening to all those people in the pictures. It really gave me pause. And then the finale, in which they go on a suicide mission to rescue the magic baby so that Starbuck could realize she had the jump coordinates to the new Earth… So much waste and loss and for what? I feel like there had to have been a smarter way to do this. Even though this is all fiction, the idea of the loss of that much knowledge, culture, history, and such hurts me as someone who’s scientist-trained and values knowledge and history quite highly.
The really fucked up part is that I think they were going for a hopeful note to the ending, but that’s not what I got from it at all. Especially with the montage of our own early forays into AI and robotic tech. As they said on the show, all this has happened before and all this will happen again.