The best thing about Battlestar Galatica is that it ended. I know that nerd-raging, fan-boys who felt cheated by it will take that as a real backhanded compliment, but it is not meant to be -- love it or hate it - Battlestar Galatica managed something that few shows do: a beginning, a middle, and an end. For that reason alone, it deserves credit. It didn't winnow away until there was nothing left to salvage, except a line in the water disappearing back to the shark. It did not get canceled. It ran out when another season would have felt absolutely out of line.
Plus, they never brought back the flying motorcycles.
The Good, And The Bad, And the Ugly?
Here is s my take on how it all wound up.
The Final Assault
Good. The first half-hour of the end-show was smash-bang fantastic. Sure, the "ramming speed" approach may be risky, but I bought it. The raptors-from-behind with the nukes was tactically sound, and I believed Adama all the way to the end. I felt having Boomer's favor ret-conned in felt good.
Giving Up Technology
Bad. I understand people who felt it was reasonable. After all that running, maybe they want the "simple life". Did they give up medicine? I suppose they must have given up the ability to make more when it ran out--I think that would be pretty hard to reconcile when a young couple lost their first kid to Terran smallpox or something. I didn't buy it and it seemed preachy and unnecessary.
Good. What!? Good!? Well, yes. Here is why…the show's precept has always involved mysticism and destiny. Did you really ever think they were going to explain away all the mystic prophecy with some reasonable explanation? No…the other (reasonable) options were: Starbuck is a cylon or Starbuck is an angel. It turns out the last one made as much sense as any other and didn't require the mystery 13th model. Basically, the final episode "owning" that was good. It was better than chickening out and not dealing with it. On the other hand ...
The Hand of God
Bad. The mysticism and prophecy itself was hit and miss. Consider this -- all that "opera house" stuff (who knows what they were thinking) amounted to this: Baltar and Head-Six delivering Hera to the bridge. All that running and chasing; and by the time it wound down, everyone chasing her was on the same side anyway. The magic scrolls that led them to "earth" nuked earth? So what? That was all set up for the big final battle; so Starbuck, an angel, could lead then to new-earth. Why not lead them there in the first place? What did all the prophecy accomplish? And what did Angel-Starbuck accomplish anyway? By this I mean, she came back, led them to "Fake earth," and then led them to "new earth"; when she figured out the song, would that have happened without the battle itself? Who can say. It sure seems like the battle-stress triggered it. The mysticism seemed to drive the story, but it managed, at best, to take the long-way around.
Galen Strangling Tory
Good. One of the series most unforgivable acts ruins everything for the cylons -- whom Tory had wanted to protect. I'm pleased that the finale episode didn't let that go without comment or effect. It wasn't necessary to ruin the peace they'd built, but it seemed reasonable to me.
The Death Of President Roslyn--and Other Deaths.
Good. Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos gave the character's ends the gravity I believe they deserved. Of all the send-offs, that had the most gravity for me. Cavil's death on the bridge was also good; choosing his own downfall was more dignified than the hail of automatic fire would have gotten him. Racetrack's dead-man's-hand release of the nukes was also good. A finale that can give us three good deaths is, IMO, doing a lot right. Boomer's death was adequate, and by that point, the only reasonable option: she wasn't talking her way out of that one.
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Bad. Sending the ships into the sun is part of the characters deciding to "go it alone"; but only part -- and not an especially good part! Destroying their ships is, in my mind, an absolute waste of resources and goods that would (and I cannot imagine it otherwise) come back to ruin them. I just cannot see the remaining people living their, and their children's, lives without wishing for some technology.
Neither. I didn't mind taking us to Times Square in the end -- after all, if there is anything that says "modern-day" more than that, I can't think of it. Seeing Head-Baltar and Head-Six walking around like the shoulder-angels and devils really did work for me. On the other hand, the "second-time around" (or 50th or whatever) gave the final "let's break the cycle" gesture of all the characters a feeling of great futility. They did not break any cycle; on the plus side, all those robots looked like they were enjoying their artificial life --so maybe there is hope.
And another thing: if Hera is the Mitochondrial Eve then are we all "part cylon"? However, on the other hand, what real value did that kid give to us? Maybe we'll break the cycle because we are part cylon, but wouldn't those two have mentioned that? What I mean is just "do something enough and eventually it will be different" isn't much hope to hang our hats on.
I think there is more to say about Battlestar Galatica than I've had time or space to say here; however, I do think that whatever the final-wrap up was, the show itself is a triumph. It has its weak points, certainly, and its glitches -- but it is very brave in a lot of important ways. It gives us continuing story lines that span more than two episodes. It changes the formula around as it needs to. It has powerful actors in key positions and uses its F/x budget like a scalpel. When it goes for broke, more often than not, it succeeds powerfully. It gave us some of the most flawed heroes I have seen in a TV show and kept me guessing.
I was disappointed, a bit, by the last hour of the finale. I did not like their giving up the cities or the lengthy winding-down of the personal stories. I didn't really click with the back-stories (all of which involved alcohol) --why? Was that random, or am I just not getting the symbolism there? I loved the assault, the character ends, and I was even okay with the final hand-of-God stuff; but I felt the show was preachy when it should have been bitter-sweet. I felt the coda was clever, but perhaps "too clever by half". While the characters appeared to give us a message, I am not sure the rest of the show supported that message, or even had that message.
The ending can't be all things to all people, and I accept that. Wherever it fell short for me, I am far happier to have been given an ending than I would have been to have it canceled. For that alone, I think Battlestar Galatica is one of the great science fiction shows ever to air on television.