More than five years after the 2004 miniseries, the re-imagined version of Battlestar Galactica reached its conclusion with “Daybreak,” a two-part, three hour series finale.
Ron Moore, show-creator and acknowledged Guy In Charge has been on the record as having prioritized character arcs over plot resolution in the finale. This choice is made apparent especially towards the end of the finale, as grace notes for characters are chosen over clear resolution.
The first hour and change is pure adrenaline, final preparation for Galactica’s final mission, the so-crazy-it-has-to-work plan, and then the entirety of the show’s remaining CG budget put into a glorious swansong fight sequence for the Galactica and the series.
There’s already been a lot of talk about the show’s epilogue. By jumping ahead from the end of the character’s story to contemporary Earth and having the ‘angels’ muse about the state of technology, the themes of the show became almost painfully clear. To me, the angels’ dialogue at the end wasn’t clearly a condemnation of robotics or a cautionary tale, but could be read as either.
To put on my writer hat for a moment, I would have sufficed with ending on Hera walking up to a (male) child of the indigenous tribal peoples and making a connection You get the idea of how Hera acts as the future of the survivors, and you can see how the name repeats in a cycle. But then again, it’s much easier to say how you would have done something better than to do it the first time on your own.
Roslin’s ending is the only thing it could have been, and Bill Adama hitched his carriage to hers for an ending. Between this and Kara’s ‘So I guess I was an angel, and now that I’ve done my job I can vanish’ leaves Lee to go off and finally live for himself rather than be defined by his relationships to other characters (his father, his president, Kara, etc.)
Battlestar achieved enough mainstream success as a drama to be ‘escape’ the Science Fiction ghetto (such as it still exists, which is to say only somewhat, and to some people). The finale concerns itself more with answering the character/drama questions than the science-fictional ones. We don’t get a final explanation of what Kara is, but she does make the connections and delivers on the prophecy associated with her by the Hybrid(s). We don’t have the secret history of Earth like we could have with buried starships and many Atlantises, but we do have the Fighting Agathons surviving to the end as a family unit despite all exterior threats.
The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica will likely be remembered as the best SF show of the Aughties decade. It was deeply reflective of post-9/11 USA and a turn towards gritty moral gray areas in mainstream SF television. Just as post-9/11 entertainment included a push towards clear black & white heroism (superhero films, early 24), it also explored the gray areas as we tried to find meaning and humanity in the horrible things our country has been associated with (torture, jingoism, invasion, etc).
There is a TV movie coming this fall (The Plan), but it is unlikely that it will substantially change interpretations of the ending.