Yet Another Soppy Goodbye to Battlestar Galactica

I know it's sad, Tigh, but keep it together man.

I know, I know. I just figured I should say something because this has been a highly enjoyable piece of cultural history, and I cannot deny that watching Television drama, and indulging in the genre of science fiction is an enjoyable part of life. I’ll try, though no doubt fail, to keep this brief. I’ll try to keep it strictly about my experience of watching the show, and without spoilers where possible.

I went into BSG, like almost everyone else, sceptical. I bought the Season 1 DVD box, based on overwhelming online praise,  towards the end of 2006. Upon playing the first episode, I am greeted with “Previously on…” and suddenly I press stop. Two minutes of research later, and I realise there’s a mini-series to watch first. So I immediately place an order on Amazon, for less than a fiver. Eventually it arrives, and I set aside an evening to watch the mini-series, essentially a lengthy pilot movie for the series. I am of course utterly enthralled and compelled throughout. I zip through the Season One DVDs  in several days, and as the final double starts building into an incredible crescendo, mixing mythology, incredibly evocative lyrical music, sci-fi action, and tense character drama, a feeling rises in my stomach. It’s a feeling of inevitability, this feeling that something was about to happen. And then, as the show reaches its final moments, it seems like they’ve been through enough…

And then, with a literal bang, in that one short moment, Battlestar Galactica blew my fucking mind.

There were many more such moments in Battlestar Galactica. The “Pegasus” arc in the middle and the “Lay Down Your Burdens” ending of Season 2 were both highlights, but it was the first four episodes of Season 3,  a year after I had started watching, that stand out in my memory. Through those four episodes, “Occupation” to “Exodus Part 2” I just sat there the whole time with my jaw on the floor in sheer disbelief at how unbelievably compelling this science fiction television was. It spoke to me in a way no other television had ever done before. The comedown from this high left me in something of a haze for Season 3, feeling that it never quite sustained the promise of that opening, and one particular episode toward the end of the season, “Maelstrom”, made me feel like all the growing questions, and emotional weight of these characters was all for naught. I began to feel let down, like the show was simply going to collapsed inwards under weight of its own inherent desperation and darkness.

The next episode shifted the dynamic of the show in a new direction. Then, through “Crossroads Part 1”, certain plot elements revived that feeling from the end of Season 1, of some impending change that would tear everything apart, just as had happened at the end of both previous seasons. But holy fuck was I unprepared. Through the latter half of “Crossroads Part 2” I was literally on the edge of my seat, and feeling an incredible mixture of dread and anticipation. And the show paid that off not once, not twice, not thrice, but FOUR TIMES in a row. It was mind-blowing once again.

The first half of Season 4 stubbornly refused to answer any of the looming big questions, but took everyone on a hell of an emotional rollercoaster. All previous notions of the show’s dynamics went up in the air, and characters really got put through the ringer more than ever before. And then that mid-season cliffhanger brought all the pieces crashing back down on the board in the most dramatic gutwrenching motion possible and I sat there, once again, slack-jawed and wide-eyed, unable to quite comprehend what I had just seen. Nothing could ever been as it was, and indeed it wasn’t.

After a horribly long wait for the second half, the remainder of the season has seen the direction of the show vanish, and the characters hopelessly trying to put a brave face on things and come up with some justifiable reason to go on. But the problem with watching this week-to-week is that it really did feel like it wasn’t going anywhere because there was nowhere left to go. Not that it wasn’t enjoyable, but it’s hard to judge this half-season, or even whole season, without the final word.

So as I await the conclusion of the last episode of latter half of Season 4, and the absolute end of the series, I have a mixture of emotions and feelings. On the one hand, I don’t want the show to end, because I enjoy watching it so much. But on the other hand, I desperately want it to end, because there has to be some resolution to the years of horrible suffering these people have gone through.

Additionally, from the end of Season 3 onward, I began to experience period BSG dreams, which were largely nonsensical. Bizarre imagined continuations and endings to the show, ranging from Pyramid-like temples on Cylon occupied worlds, through to a recent imagined ending in which an alien race was trying to collect all the space craft from all the science fiction shows and movies ever made (and which all apparently occur in the same universe…) and engineered the entire Cylon attack and war to make the Galactica the only Battlestar in existence, and likewise, only one single Cylon Basestar remaining, in order to increase their collector’s value. Seriously, these dreams have been plaguing me on and off for over a year now, and then have to stop. I just want it to be over so that I can stop imagining and wondering what happens to these people, if they make it to the end, if it really all happened for a reason.  I want it to be over so that I can get on with my life and stop shouldering the burden of these characters fates in my mind.

So whatever happens when I watch it tomorrow morning, more than anything else, I just want to be able to say that I saw the end of Battlestar Galactica, and that it really was the end.

Thanks to Ronald D. Moore and all the production crew, for the greatest television experience of my life, for all these wonderful episodes and stories, for taking me on this journey as a viewer. No time to thank everyone of course, but Michael Hogan as Saul Tigh? What a revelation, right from start. That great line in response to Kara’s suggestion that they both have problems; “Difference is, mine are personal, yours are professional.” Floored. Bear McCreary’s music too, which I’ve continued to enjoy outside of the show on the soundtrack releases. Even before All Along the Watchtower, great musical moments have punctuated through the shows’ fabric right to the forefront, from Season 1’s finale onward. Mark Sheppard’s Romo Lampkin (the second I saw his name on the guest staring list, I honestly let out a little joyous squawk), and Calum Keith Rennie’s Leoben Conoy… Everyone who contributed to the show in any way, thank you, and all the best on your future endeavours.

I guess this really is it…


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