Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I finished watching all of Battlestar Galactica

Never Done: I finished watching all of Battlestar Galactica

Not only was it the third day of a three-day weekend, but it was the last day before the first day of my new job, so I grabbed the opportunity to watch the final episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Now, pay attention, OK? If you have not seen it yet and you think you want to, stop reading now. I am going to write lots and lots of spoilers.

SPOILER ALERT: When Alex and I first watched the beginning -- it starts with a four-episode miniseries -- I came to the conclusion (and wrote about it on this blog) that the show is a creation myth, all about discovering Earth. When the final episode wrapped, a small group of highly technologized survivors had, indeed, found Earth -- they landed in what appears to be tribal Africa, and spread out to start their new lives. For the most part, it's difficult to imagine what that life will be like -- how this group of humans and cylons in their slinky dresses and military garb will create a new society in the African savanna. There's talk about building new cities, but Lee Adama is against it. (No city. Not this time.) He wants to let humanity start all over again. Let the Colonials enter the new world with just their basic possessions, and teach the best parts of themselves to the tribal humans on this world. He explains that humans have always let their brains outrace their hearts. He hopes that by giving up their advanced technology, they might "break the cycle." This is of course a topic near and dear to my heart -- the way city people carry the illusion that cities are somehow more advanced than rural, agrarian societies, and at the same time, the way that city people romanticize rural, agrarian societies. This gets a little deeper when Gaius Balthar, the opportunistic scientist turned politician turned messianic figure returns to his farming roots which he had violently rejected (going so far as to have changed his rural accent and ridiculed his father for being a simple peasant farmer) and with tears (of defeat? relief?) scouts out a piece of arable land.

And so much more. The Colonials agree to let the Centurions (robotic cylons who have decimated most of humanity) go free, reasoning that although "it's a risk, setting them free might be enough to break the cycle of violence." (Big message point!) Laura Roslyn, the president of the colonies, passes away while watching a huge flock of pink ibis, and whispering "So much life." Admiral Adama, everyone's daddy figure, leaves the rest of the Colonials to settle alone on a bluff. Lee Adama sets out on adventure. Starbuck, whose was prophesied to be the angel of death, turns out not to be an angel that brings people to their deaths, but an angel who had come back from the dead, who then led people to Earth. Her mission complete, she disappears -- and although she (and we) are not sure where, I assume that because she is an angel, she'll drop in on the people she loves from time to time. And finally, Hera -- the half-human, half-Cylon child of Athena and Agathon runs and jumps across a field, as her parents playfully argue over who will teach her to hunt.

And I thought, OK, this group of people somehow survived, and co-existed with the tribal people, and maybe it happens in the future, and maybe it's in the past, or maybe it's actually in the present -- I can't quite tell -- because if it's in the past, and Laura Roslyn was eating sushi on Caprica 5 years earlier and now she's landed into a hunter gatherer society on planet Earth, then what is happening to time? Maybe they are all time masters, like the shaman told me I am, and they can allow past, present and future to coexist. Yeah, maybe that's what was going on.

And then there was a title card: 150,000 years later. And we drop into modern day Times Square, a man reading a newspaper about the discovery of the Mitochondrial Eve -- the woman from whom all living people descend. It's made clear that this is Hera -- and that the extremely modern, highly-evolved, sushi-eating society that landed on tribal Earth 150,000 years ago, did in fact evolve and grow and "advance" to a shiny, urbanized, technological society. In fact, the point is driven home when we see a video display about simple robots, with a sign: Advances in robotics.

It has all happened before. But will it all happen again?


  1. Ah Jenny, you are so much more generous to this tale than I am. The idea of these beings being so untraceable in our history was hard for me (I mean, nobody was like, "I'll just keep using buttons on my clothes," or kept storing water in a metal container, or using paper with the corners cut off...)

    Not to mention Starbuck just vanishing, and the idea that Bob Dylan has been writing songs that were written hundreds of thousands of years ago... I just didn't buy it.

    But I am glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Wow, Jenny - love your recap and analysis. Takes me back to last autumn and winter when we "did" Galactica - because it really is an experience. I remember loving the show and feeling sorely disappointed at the end, vaguely hopeless...cynical...confused....and saying, "Yeah, but what about x, y, z?"

    What perfect timing for you, though. A new job, new adventure, with a brand new cast of characters and so much hope and beauty and meaning! A new frontier, and new parts of yourself coming out and growing! How exciting for you!

    I'll be thinking of you tomorrow and look forward to hearing all about it when you're ready to share it with us! I realize you may be kind of tired (and hopefully exhilarated) from learner's curve at first, if you're anything like me.