After investing almost 4 years of my life in Battlestar Galactica, I can’t help but have high expectations for the series finale. I can say without hesitation the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica has been one of the best written, acted and produced shows in the history of TV, let alone science fiction. However, given the last 5 episodes, I’m wondering if it’s all about to come crashing down.
In order to understand what I mean, we must look at another sci-fi show – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. DS9 lasted seven seasons and was often guided by the pen of writer, Ronald D. Moore. Today, we know him as the driving force behind BSG, but back in the late 90′s Ron was the lead writer in charge of Paramount’s dark sheep.
As a fan, I consider the final 2 seasons of Deep Space Nine to be near perfect in tone, drama, character development and ultimately, resolution. Like any series, there were occasionally weak episodes, but on a whole, the final two season of DS9 were simply wonderful. Heading into the final season, Ron Moore and company knew they had to pull out all of the stops to bring the varied plot threads of the Dominion War together in a satisfying way. The final half of season 7 is a non-stop roller coaster ride that stretches from the decadent “Changing Face of Evil” to the masterful conclusion of “What You Leave Behind“. One episode flowed seamlessly into the next until you arrived at the final 2 hour finale and wondered how it had all gone by so quickly.
Heading into the final half of season 4 of BSG, I had hoped Galactica would be like the end of Deep Space Nine. Each story building on the previous one, with heightened drama, increasing tension, and my fingernails worn down to nubs. But where DS9 gave us gradual and steady resolutions by delivering one clever, action packed episode after another, Galactica has turned into a depressing string of set-up stories that haven’t delivered emotionally or viscerally.
The last truly good episode of BSG this season was “The Oath” and to a lesser degree “Blood on the Scales”. These two episodes represent the best of Galactica. All pistons are firing – characters are motivated and in the thick of things, there is gritty action skillfully woven in between clever character development. After “The Oath” I was dying for the next episode.
What followed after “Blood” were 5 episodes of dialog heavy exposition that have left me, and others disappointed. Instead of building the action to a head, Moore has stalled it and attempted to save it (hopefully) for the final two hours. The problem is that no matter what happens in the last 90 minutes of BSG, it won’t make up for the previous 6 hours of wasted screen time. Deep Space Nine spent its final six hours in the trenches with the Klingons and Federation fighting for the very survival of the Alpha Quadrant. Battlestar Galactica has spent the last 5 episodes explaining the cylon origin story and keeping the bad guy as far away from the fleet as possible.
As we move into “Daybreak Part 2″ of Battlestar Galactica, we find Adama willing to risk his life, his ship and a sizable chunk of what’s left of humanity to save, not the fleet, but a little girl. This wouldn’t be so bad if we were emotionally invested in Hera, but we’re not. We only know her from passing shots as she plays in day care or running around the Great Opera House of Roslin’s visions. Why the final mission isn’t to rescue Kara or Laura is something I don’t understand.
My only hope is that in the series finale Moore returns to those themes and techniques that made Galactica great. The show has precisely 2 hours left to pull out all the stops and prove to us the last quarter of season 4 hasn’t been for nothing. I take solace in the thought that as with so many other television shows, it’s often not so much the destination, as it is the journey. I just wish Ron had remembered to take his trip with a bit of his former DS9 self instead of the plot-heavy, slow as molasses Moore of “No Exit” and “Daybreak Part 1″.