Space Is Mostly Empty – So Too Was Battlestar Galactica
“Begin with the end in mind,” is a well-used adage when managing a project or writing a novel. The end of Battlestar Galactica, for all the hype, all the anticipation, was as vacant and un-inspired as so many other shows on television. It began so well; established a sense of mystery and completeness; and when the curtain drew back we saw it for what it was – another example of mediocrity. We accept that long-running T.V. shows are written in committee and the story unfolds with a limited degree of continuity. With a well documented termination point, I had hoped that BSG (Battlestar Galactica) was in a class of its own. Sadly, I was wrong.
The dark secret of BSG was that the writers didn’t know what the mysteries meant. “It has all happened before,” is so very true. Like the Star Wars epic – the writers, given enough rope, would hang themselves on it. “It will all happen again,” as producers will pitch shows to executives and try to establish an audience with an engaging story regardless of whether there is steak somewhere beneath the sizzle. Art and intellect put in the back seat while the marketing department steers the direction that programming takes. Even the best shows on television ultimately fail to deliver. Unlike a novel designed to tell the complete story of a journey, a television show is designed to catch an audience as fast as possible with the appearance of originality and the promise of something different. Without intellectual integrity they are doomed to dissatisfy.
“Weeds,” “Sopranos” and many more shows that built up interesting characters and scenarios either wander off-topic writing into a corner or lose their edge and relevance. All for the lack of an ending. An ending gives context and allows a writer to build interesting events into the beginning and middle of a story: threads revealed later that change the context of the beginning. This juxtaposition challenges assumptions and overturns prejudices that we have had on the journey.
Who was Kara Thrace? Why was she the harbinger of Death? Why were the skin-jobs made? How does the timeline flow together? What is Baltar’s vision of Caprica? Where does it come from? How does it happen again? When did it happen before?
I was expecting a twist where the Galactica jumps backwards through time to Earth before the founding of the pyramids. Semi-predictable sci-fi fare, but at least it connects some of the dots. It has all happened before because Earth is colonized before Cobol, and Cobol colonized before Earth, both will be ruined and both will be saved. Add a temporal connection between Baltar and Caprica and we are part-way to answering some of the questions above.
Instead, the final episode, devoid of any real secrets to reveal, went on a two-hour indulgence into the back-story of the characters. Back-story that could have been woven in had the writers known the end at the beginning.
What do you think? Let us know!