In the thirteenth (and final) episode of the first season of Battlestar Galactica, everyone was unprepared for absolutely everything. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Battlestar Galactica.
Well, that might just be the best season finale I’ve ever seen. In the process of rapidly moving the plot ahead, we were also given visions of what the future of this show will be like. (Only sometimes, I suppose, as one particular vision was left out of our view.) Were you worried about a cliffhanger? Oh, don’t be. Because BSG is going to give you THREE OF THEM.
I must commend the writers for weaving so many intense, intricate plots together so skillfully over the course of forty-five minutes. Well, they’ve all been doing that since the beginning of the season, but we only had to generally focus on two plots: Caprica and the fleet. But now we’ve been introduced to a third setting: the planet of Kobol. In the process, more than any other story, we learn that the Cylon “plan” is not at all what we probably guessed.
Continuing directly from the end of the last episode, I think a great deal of what happens on board the Galactica and the Colonial One involves two people making desperately poor choices, and then refusing to back down from them. While I think it was presumptuous and dangerous for Roslin to convince Starbuck to head off to Caprica, it’s equally as terrible for Adama to react by storming the Colonial One to arrest the President. Yeah, so….HOW THE FUCK IS THAT GOING TO BE DEALT WITH?
Okay, I’m jumping way ahead of myself here. I’ll deal with predictions in a separate post. But there’s a lot left for us to wonder about at the end of “Kobol’s Last Gleaming,” and I’m happy that this show is making me ask so many questions. It’s a sign that I’m deeply engaged in what I’m watching, and that I’m interested in it beyond just a superficial level. Truly, though, this is already becoming one of the best-executed serials I’ve had the honor of experience, certainly more so than anything I’ve done for Mark Watches.
And yet I still can’t deny just how much I live in the moment while watching this show. Once it was over, a million questions seemed to plunge into my mind, but while the show was actually on? I was thinking of nothing else but the very next second that I was about to see. It helps that we are introduced to two brand new worlds–Kobol and the inside of a Cylon basestar–and that I was totally shocked that we’d get to see both of these so soon. In my head, Conoy’s words to Starbuck in “Flesh and Bone” were meant to be fulfilled much later, something we’d just keep in the back of our minds. But we find ourselves on Kobol just a few episodes later, and Roslin is already dealing with the Pythian prophecy.
It’s not a complaint that this show is moving so rapidly. None of this feels unnatural and, if anything, it just makes me excited to see what is coming next.
The first thing I noticed about the presentation of these three main stories is the use of color. We’re used to the dark, drab confines of military ships and the blackness of space. We’ve seen other worlds, but even in the case of Caprica, things are still much more subdued than they were before. In this episode, though, the lush greens and blues of Kobol wash over the screen, giving an almost Biblical, naturalistic vibe to contrast with the reds and blacks of the crashed Raptor ship, where death lingers among the surviving crew. On Caprica, we’re given yellow and gold hues overtaking everything else. Even within the Delphi Museum of the Colonies, things are much brighter than they usually are, and the presence of Starbuck is certainly helping that. It’s not that the gold is specifically used as some sort of grandiose commentary on Starbuck even being there, but it’s also not lost on me that Starbuck’s appearance is Helo’s first real hope of escaping the planet. On top of that, she find’s Apollo’s Arrow; is she now the hope for humanity’s journey towards earth?
It’s, of course, totally possible that the people creating this just wanted to give everything a look and feel that differentiated wildly between them all, so I don’t want this to come off as if I somehow ~know the true meaning~ or anything. But it’s fun to think of the show in these terms, especially when you consider that the darkest locations in this show–on board the Colonial One and the Galactica–are also where the darkest behavior is located.
Speaking of such, it’s fascinating to see the parallel behaviors between Roslin and Adama, and I suppose that’s the greatest irony about their characters: if only they’d take a moment to think about it, they actually want the same thing, and they actually are operating from the same moral base. But that’s not actually what we witness here. Roslin, increasingly sure that she is part of the Pythian prophecy, takes matters in her own hands, believing it is her destiny that she bring the human race to Earth. Adama believes that taking out the Cylon baseship and rescuing those who crashed on Kobol will also keep the fleet safe, and is a necessary maneuver in a military sense.
It simply became a matter of time and a matter of prioritization. There was only one Cylon raider, and there were two Cylon forces that required use of the raider in order to pass. Which was more important to Roslin? Of course, it’s understandable that she’d go after the course that not only would “protect” the human race, but the one that also exalted her in a way. For Adama, it’s obvious he’d choose the military objective. I love that this conflict is not just a religious one: it’s about the government and military clashing in their objectives. Who is more important? Who deserves the right to command decisions? Which one is more vital to the function of a government that is essentially composed of a mass exodus, a flight from an enemy force?
There isn’t an answer here, and the mess is complicated enough to give it all an ambiguous turn, so the writers choose to focus on something else: Lee Adama’s own personal morality when it comes to the collision of these two forces. We know that, naturally, he is much more prone to his life in the military, understanding the difficult decisions one must make while in that position. Over the course of season one, though, the writers have been building to this point (and quite subtly, I might add) to give us this new direction for Lee. When he and Colonel Tigh stand aboard the Colonial One, face-to-face with the President and her security team, guns drawn, he can see that there is something deeply wrong with what’s happened here.
For me, it seems that Lee has begun to realize that there is a sense of duty and honor outside of the military life that he was brought up, that obeying orders is noble up to a point. In that room, he finds himself far past the point of what is right and just, and he turns on Tigh. And I was very happy to see that he gives Tigh an important reason for doing so: they cannot just arrest the President and dismantle democracy because she made a poor decision. He doesn’t bring up the issue of religion, nor a personal affectation for the President. (He is still her military consult, right?) Even knowing what he is doing amounts to mutiny, he refuses to relent.
UGH. LOVE YOU, LEE.
This episode is nothing without a great deal of strangeness, and perhaps that’s another reason I enjoyed it so much. From the ruins on Kobol (and that bizarre hallucination), to the inside of the Cylon basestar, to the confrontation inside the Delphi museum, this episode gives a whole lot to just feel weird about. I suppose I should have come to this conclusion, given what the inside of the Cylon raider was, but I was still completely shocked by the revelation that the inside of the basestar was made of organic material. I believed that once the nuke mechanism jammed, Boomer would sacrifice herself as some sort of redemption, a way of showing that a Cylon could resist their programming.
Yeah, it was so much worse than that. We’d seen her struggle with her identity and morality in the previous part of the finale, and her survival seemed like a chance for her to completely follow her heart, as Baltar had told her do. She was on a mission to destroy other Cylons, and if she could pull that off, then maybe she was her own person.
And then an entire group of copies of herself present themselves to Boomer. And it is FUCKING CREEPY and overwhelming. Oh god, poor Boomer. After everything she did, these copies tell her that she cannot escape destiny, and all her attempts at saving herself are destroyed. Still! She blows up the basestar! Why didn’t her copies try to disarm the bomb or do anything about it? Isn’t it still a negative thing to allow it to happen? Or did they simply wait, knowing they could activate Boomer upon the Galactica once she got back?
I have a lot of questions about the Boomer on Caprica, too. She confides in Helo that she is pregnant, that she has some knowledge of the importance of the Arrow of Apollo, and that her conceiving a child with Helo is part of the Cylon plan to get closer to God. Yeah, I don’t understand this even a little bit. If the gods of Kobol are real, and it is apparent more and more that there’s something important about Kobol in the grand scheme of things, then where does the Cylon God come in to all of this?
I have a feeling that’s not going to be addressed for a long time. In the very immediate future, though, there’s something else to be dealt with. Starbuck finds the Arrow of Apollo, but is confronted by a version of Six, and they have a BRUTAL fight. Oh christ, it’s intense. After suffering a particularly ridiculous beating on behalf of the Cylon, she manages to kill her by charging her and taking her off the side of a landing. Which….holy shit. And after all of this, she is surprised to find Helo there, too, and it is one hell of a reunion. You can see the joy in Starbuck’s face. She is alive. A man she thought was dead is right next to her. She turns to see Boomer standing above them, and ALL OF THE AWARDS TO KATEE SACKHOFF. There’s no better performance than hers in all of season one, as the panic, rage, and terror consumes her. The worst is that she simply processes just how defeated they all are, and she breaks down in tears. Someone she considers a friend is a Cylon, and she knows that Boomer is back on the Galactica, and that this is not going to end well. It’s just so heartbreaking to watch.
Yet it is NOTHING compared to the other two cliffhangers this season one finale give us. It seems that the Cylons waited until this final moment to activate Boomer, and when Adama goes in to congratulate her with a handshake, SHE SHOOTS HIM TWICE. In the GODDAMN CHEST. It is so exact, and you can see that Boomer seemed to have been turned on and then off. She stares at the body of her Commander, and she’s confused. Even worse, as the crew rushes to help their seriously wounded Commander, whose blood is pouring out generously on the table, we see Lee, stripped of his uniform and in cuffs, screaming helplessly into the lifeless face of his father.
But I am at a complete loss to understand what the FUCK happened on Kobol in that opera house. I imagine that an actual opera house used to stand in that location, but what the hell was inside of it? Have Six and Baltar repaired their relationship? Fuck it, I have a way more important question: WHAT WAS INSIDE THE CRIB? A sign for the new generation of “God’s children”? So God wants Cylons and humans to mate? WHAT THE FUCK. It’s Boomer and Helo’s baby, isn’t it? OH GOD. But I am so fucking lost. Why is Baltar so enthused to see it? A;LKSDFJDF;LKSJASDF;LK AS;LDKFJ ;ALKSDJF; FKL
WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? oh god I am actually glad I am watching this show like this, because I could not wait half a year to start the next season.