Warning! You might not want to read this if you haven’t seen the final episode of Battlestar Galactica, as this post might contain spoilers!
It has been a while now since Battlestar Galactica concluded, but it has taken me that long to get a chance to write what I thought about the show and the ending.
When the show premiered, I wasn’t initially interested. I remembered watching the original when I was a kid, but it seemed, in retrospect, a bit hokie and I wasn’t sure I was all that interested in a revival. My wife, Lisa, though, got into it and eventually got me to watch too. And I’m glad I did.
I really enjoyed the show. I’m not much a fan of science fiction, mostly because it never feels all that true to science. Being in science, I always have a hard time suspending my disbelief with sci/fi; it is much easier for me to do so with fantasy. However, the one genre of sci/fi I really like is cyberpunk, the near-future, post-apocalyptic vision of a dystopian future. And Battlestar Galactica (BG) had that feel to me. The sci/fi wasn’t the focus, but was rather the vehicle for the story. It was the politics that drew me in, that and the characters. Their interactions. That was why I tuned in every week.
So, what about the finale? I certainly enjoyed the first half. The big space battle between the BG itself and the Cylon colony was extremely well done and entertaining. And, upon reflecting on it, I didn’t mind the second half, the way they ended the story. There were two aspects, though, that did get to me.
There was a strong message that technology was the source of a lot of the problems of both the humans and cylons, and by extension, us as well. I can understand how people blame technology for the problems around us. While I don’t think those problems are unique to our modern, technological era, I think that technology may exacerbate some of those problems, making issues like deforestation that much more pressing as we are able to clear out so many more trees at a time with modern tools. However, there are also so many benefits (improved health, the chance for everyone to do what they want with their life as opposed to being a serf on a farm, the marvelous leaps and bounds we’ve made in understanding the universe around us) that I just can’t accept technology as a pure evil. And that was one of the messages I got from the finale. The way for the humans and cylons to continue their existence was to abandon their science and technology and start fresh.
The second was that religion was the answer. Religion is what guided these characters to the new Earth, saved them in the end via Starbuck’s miraculous understanding of what the song was supposed to mean, and has been what has guided two of the main characters from the beginning, through angels. That religion played such a strong role at the end, and was entirely positive, just struck me wrong. In my opinion, religion has been responsible for just as much wrong in our world as has science and technology. Maybe even more so, as the people who have committed those wrongs in the name of their religion did so with the moral certainty that can only be gained via blind faith.
Even so, I did enjoy how the characters ended up. I liked how their personal stories ended. And it was a way to end the show such that there was no possibility of a sequel or a continuation (though, for all we know, there is another ship of humans adrift in the depths of space). I just didn’t like how the universe of the show ended, with such a blatant moral message: science is the source of our problems, religion is the answer. I think that is a disservice to the audience, a simplistic assertion that I personally believe is wrong.