The sound of inevitability (brought to you by Jimi Hendrix)

Apparently, lots of people hated the season 3 finale of Battlestar Galactica. They hated the Big Twist (Baltar’s “not guilty” verdict”!), followed by a Big Twist (four of the Final Five revealed!), followed by a Big Twist (Starbuck’s back! And she’s got this weird serene smile on her face!), followed by, well, not so much a Big Twist as a Surprise Reveal: Earth… although is this Earth 2008 A.D. or Earth 10’000 BC? Is it post-apocalyptic Earth, or will the Galactica arrive to cause the extinction of the dinosaurs? Will it bump into the USS Enterprise on one of its time-travelling jaunts?

Star Trekking,/Across the universe...

Whatever will happen, the BSG writers have quite a big task ahead of them. Personally, I loved “Crossroads”, the season finale, but that was mostly due to its sheer audacity, mixed with the fantastic editing and musical choices, as well as the acting which sold the outrageous events to me 100%. But if they don’t resolve many of the open questions in the remaining twenty-something episodes, then my appreciation of their audacity may very well turn into “What the frak were they thinking?!” Still – the last 10 minutes of “Crossroads, pt. 2” had my heart pounding. I’m not talking metaphorically here – everything from the blackout to the congregation of the four to the sitar-heavy strains of “All Along the Watchtower” to Lee realising who’s flying on his left to the final zoom out and reveal of what the survivors have been hoping to find for three years now, all of that got my pulse racing. And since I’d read spoilers (stupid me, I know…) I knew what was coming – yet the way it was directed, filmed and edited made what happened on the TV screen feel inevitable, for want of a better word. Especially the reveal of the four should’ve felt random, because with at least three of the four there hasn’t really been any foreshadowing – but instead, it felt like puzzle pieces finally falling into place, at least for me.

This is my body... and what a body it is

Of course “Crossroads” has raised a couple of questions that will be difficult to answer to our satisfaction. I don’t believe they would have pulled such an audacious number of rabbits out of their hats if they didn’t know what they’re doing, but that’s just me being an optimist. How will they resolve these things? Will they even have time to resolve them?

  • The final Cylon: is it Starbuck? After all, we did watch her Viper go all kablooie, yet here she is, and in a spick-and-span ship, no less. Or is it Prez Roslin? We did see her share a vision with two Cylons, and she seemed to sense the blackout of the fleet (which also affected the Cylon ships, it would seem) moments before it happened. (For the record: I don’t think that either of those two will turn out to be the final Cylon. It’d be too obvious.)
  • If Chief Tyrol, Anders, Tori and Tigh are indeed Cylons, are they the same kind of Cylons as the many-copied ones? Do they have multiple copies? If they die, are they resurrected? They are clearly as much of a mystery to the seven more common Cylon models as to the humans. Now that the switch has been flicked, is there more programming in store for them? Any Boomer-shoots-Adama moments waiting for us?
  • For that matter, the series implied at the beginning that the humanoid Cylons were something of a novelty and unknown before the destruction of the twelve colonies. Yet Tigh goes back to the first Cylon war and before, unless he’s a copy of an original human Tigh. But then again, the Cylons seem to have links to the mythology and religion of the colonists, and those go back thousands of years. We were originally led to believe that man created tinbox Cylons, they rose against man in the first Cylon war, there was an armistice, in the interim the toasters evolved into something more organic (yet the Cylon Raiders are semi-organic, so perhaps there was a biological component to Cylonity from the first – and that may well go back even further than the chromedomes). We were never explicitly told that this was true, mind you – and most likely, the writers will make use of that gap in what we know. They’ll have to. Unless they’ve got some clever-clogs flashy thing that they can transmit through our TV screens to make us forget. (Ed.: They do. It’s called ‘reality television’.)
  • So, what about Baltar and his head-Six? Is she real? Is she a delusion? Same with Six’s head-Baltar. What are they manifestations of? Which leads us to the final question…
  • The Cylon God. How does he figure into all of this?

I’m not saying that all of these questions will have to be answered. In some ways, I’m probably more answered in the smaller-scale fallout of the revelations. How will Callie react if she finds out her husband and the father of her child is a toaster? How will Starbuck react to Anders’ Cylonity, for that matter? Or Adama to Tigh’s? But these issues have been raised now over the course of three seasons. They need to be addressed in one way or another, lest we get some disappointing cop-out ending. Chances are that whatever ending they give us, some of the fans will think it’s a cop-out. They already thought that season 3 was too much of a turn-around – too much metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, not enough hot ship-on-ship action. To which I say: what series have they been watching? The metaphysical elements, while not as whoa-inducing, perhaps, were there from season 1. Anyway, enough jabbering from me. I’ll leave you for the moment with two YouTube videos that, at this point, are probably pretty inevitable. Enjoy!

(A Matter of) Life (and Death) on Mars

Okay, that pseudo-clever title has already pretty much taken it out of me… Last night we watched the final episode of Life on Mars. There was definitely some good material in there, some very atmospheric bits – but on the whole, it struck me as a cop-out. They didn’t seem to have the courage to go with the ambiguity they’d evoked and instead ended on what felt like a reprise of the season 1 finale.

***Spoilers to follow! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!*** 

Sam’s decision to go back to, or stay in, 1973 by means of (real? dreamed? imaginary?) suicide was sold to us as the right decision, but that just doesn’t gel with Sam’s ambivalence (to say it mildly) about the past he was stuck in. He comes out of the coma (or not – there were hints either way, but nothing that suggests the writers really thought about it) and no longer feels at home in the 21st century? That’s okay: it makes sense, since he’s been in this other reality for so long, and it’s interesting for the character. But don’t try to tell us that the best of all possible solutions is for him to choose the immature, made-for-TV Boys’ Adventure that is Hunting with Hunt. Don’t dangle ambiguity in front of us and then say, “But it’s all okay, because 2007 means boring meetings about grey areas, but 1973 means driving too fast, beating up suspects and feeling good and manly about it!”

The sad thing is, the ending could have been much, much worse. It could have been much more hackneyed. But it gave in to the infatuation with Gene Hunt, as did Sam. And I guess that in the end, I felt that there could have been more to the series than “DI Tyler, or How I stopped worrying and learned to love that misogynist, racist, homophobic dinosaur Gene Hunt (and you can, too!)”.

Ah well. This means that now we can get started on Battlestar Galactica season 3. Yay!