[Don’t worry, there are no spoilers for the final episode of Battlestar Galactica in this post.]
The last-ever episode of Battlestar Galactica was broadcast in the US on Friday night. I couldn’t let this sad occasion – the end of what what has been one of the best-written, most intelligent and thought-provoking television dramas ever made – pass unobserved. I’ll talk in more detail about it after the finale airs in the UK on Tuesday.
For now, I’ll only note that the last episode left me feeling very conflicted. In terms of wrapping up the characters’ individual stories, on the whole, I thought it did a reasonable job in giving us some sort of closure.
In terms of a convincing end to this amazing five-year journey, and satisfying answers to some of the questions raised by the show’s mythology – I’m not so sure.
Don’t get me wrong, as series finales go, it was one of the better ones. I’m just not sure that the destination quite lived up to the journey. But like I said, more about that later, after everyone in the UK has had a chance to see it for themselves.
For now, to commemorate the final episode, I really wanted to post Adama’s speech from the mini-series that kicked off the new Battlestar Galactica story, the “So say we all!” speech. But I couldn’t find it anywhere online – I think the Sci-Fi channel lawyers have been busy keeping clips of the show off the internet (incidentally, while copyright protection is obviously important for TV broadcasters, such a draconian approach is counter-productive, in my opinion, a subject I will expand upon at a later date). You can find a short clip of the scene in question here on the channel’s own website but, unfortunately, I can’t embed it here.
I wanted to post it not only because it is a great scene but because its impact crossed over into the real world a few days ago.
You may be aware that last week, series stars Edward James Olmos (right), who played Admiral William Adama, and Mary McDonnell, the show’s feisty President Laura Roslin, and creators/executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick were guests of honour at a special event hosted by the Economic and Social Council Chamber of the United Nations in New York.
It was a special two-hour retrospective of Battlestar Galactica, during which many of the contemporary social and political issues raised by the show were discussed. You can see a BBC news report of the event here.
Science fiction is often at its best when it is used as a prism through which the authors observe and comment on the human condition – and Battlestar Galactica took that to new heights, certainly in terms of TV sci-fi. It took a long, hard and at times painful look at what it means to be human, tackling such subjects as terrorism, torture, the relationship between politics and religion, the use of military might to enforce political will, human rights and much, much more.
Many of these subjects were explored during the UN session, the full two-hour video of which can be found here (it’s in RealPlayer format).
However, the session really came to life with the following speech by Admiral Ada-, I mean Edward James Olmos, when he reprised his “So say we all” Galactica speech to make an impassioned plea for an end to racial divisions. And, predictably, the equally passionate audience responded just as you might expect.
Say what you like about Battlestar Galactica– and the arguable populist and superficial opportunism the UN has been accused of for hosting this event just days before the final episode of the show aired – there are few TV shows through the years that have transcended their entertainment roots to earn such real-world relevance and legitimacy. Narrow the field to sci-fi TV shows and, I think, you are looking at a club with a single member.
Of course, although Battlestar Galactica is finished as a weekly show, the story isn’t quite over just yet. Later this year, we have one final hurrah in the shape of The Plan, a TV movie – directed by Olmos – that wraps up the story of the Cylons’ original plan that was mentioned in the opening credits of the early seasons of the show but then was mysteriously dropped.
And Caprica (above), a prequel set 50 years before Battlestar Galactica and dealing primarily with the creation of the Cylons, is due to begin early next year, with the pilot episode out on DVD next month. It promises to continue the trend of examining our own society through the Galactica universe, with Caprica depicted as a society very similar to our own, with technology, consumerism, greed and decadence running out of control.
The show sounds intruguing and I’m really looking forward to it – but will the Galactica audience be so attracted to a planet-bound show with no space battles or killer robots? Time will tell.