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Battlestar Galactica flies off into history

The re-imagined BSG took its place among the pantheon of classic television shows with a cinematic two-hour finale last night. It wasn’t quite the “wow” we’d hoped for, but the consistently excellent show had set such a high bar of expectations that I’m not sure anything this side of Citizen Kane, Star Wars, and The Ten Commandments rolled into one would have reached it.

All in all, the questions raised during the series were answered: Kara Thrace was a ghost (or maybe an angel), as were “Head Six” and “Head Baltar”; the “Opera House” vision was nicely fulfilled during the climactic scene; and the human/cylon question was finally answered for all time.

It wasn’t perfect. Far too much time during the last three hours of Battlestar was devoted to character study. We’ve learned enough about the central players in this drama over the last five years that the flashbacks just weren’t necessary. Cavil’s decision to shoot himself when the tenuous alliance with humans fell apart made no sense. And I would have preferred setting the arrival of Galactica’s survivors on Earth somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago rather than 150,000.

I understand that the consensus of modern science places our Most Recent Common Ancestor back 150 millennia in Africa instead of in Mesopotamia at the dawn of Sumerian civilization. However, some scientists put our MRCA in the 6th millennium B.C., and a Sumerian landing would have explained the sudden development of writing, cities, and the legends of the Anunnaki that date to about 4,000 B.C. Adama would become more of a Noah figure than, well, Adam.

Sharon liked it less than I did. The hints about Daniel, Cylon model #7, being the father of Kara Thrace were seeded into the second half of the final season and then forgotten in the finale. So we’re left with the resurrected or supernatural Starbuck being sent back to Galactica with a brand new Raptor that’s been programmed to lead humanity to the wrong Earth.

Who went to all that trouble? God? The gods? Cavil? We’ll never know. Starbuck said goodbye to Lee on the Serengeti and then disappeared into thin air, leaving that question unanswered.

Unless it’s explained in the two-hour movie announced for this fall — and that’s cheating. Unlikely, too, since the movie is a prequel.

All in all, BSG had a better ending than we got for The X-Files, and it was far better than most television fare (especially on the soon-to-be “Syfy” network), but it promised far more than it delivered.

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