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Opinion

‘Battlestar Galactica’ – Daybreak (Part 2)

The last ever episode of the finest piece of science fiction television

It is a sad and solemn occasion that we must bid farewell to “Battlestar Galactica.”

In its heyday, “Battlestar Galactica” was a strong, powerful and intriguing series packed with the kind of hardcore drama that would leave you weeping with regret, gasping in shock and whooping in sheer elation; its special effects were of a standard that would leave you giddy at their majesty and stunned in their detail; its writers, all experts in their craft, offered concepts and ideals that no other sci-fi had ever dared to attempt; and its cast, so versatile in their talents that when they cried, you cried along with them.

That was the series in its prime. And now, not a Gods-damned frakking thing has changed.

“Daybreak,” the last ever episode of “Battlestar Galactica” (excluding the upcoming special of course), sticks very closely to the values and principles that the show was based upon when it launched as a four-hour mini-series and makes the ending of this remarkable journey a momentous event. Finishing on a very intimate and elegant note, the episode brings the humanised drama to the forefront and not the flashy effects and action sequences that still remain one of the shows finest attributes.

The first half of the episode deals primarily with the mythology of the series, specifically the main threads that were introduced at the end of the first season on the arrival of Kobol; Hera’s significance to Cylon/Human survival returns to prominence, prompting some fantastic shifting of allegiances for Boomer; the mysterious Opera house and the curtains of the final five is finally revealed for what it is, the Galactica C.I.C.; Baltar’s inner Six is explained; and the fleet finally accomplish the mission they set out on at the end of the mini-series: a new home is found.

It is important to note that this episode will not please all fans, however it does wonders for sending off all the characters in a very real – and very genuine – manner. There will never be another series like “Battlestar Galactica” but at least it stayed true to the very end and never once sacrificed the intensity or the unabashed heart of its cast.

So say we all!

What Worked

Boasting a double-episode length, it is easy to expect a singular, action packed adventure from the series. The final product though is something far different and lends much needed time to suitably wrap off the lives of each character that has made this series so special. In doing so though, the action is not simply cast by the wayside and has its place; the storming of the Cylon Colony is intense, filled wit Cylon CGI madness and also comes with the multi-faceted musical talents of Bear McCreary to heighten the drama with elements of previous mixes to unite each of the plot threads into a single cohesive adventure.

The mission to rescue Hera was brilliantly executed, backed by an exuberance of visual effects as the last Battlestar takes a beating from Cylon weaponry and Centurians – new and old alike – storm the halls of the ship seeking their prey. And, most importantly, culminates in the real Opera House of Kobol taking shape. There is also something fitting about having Athena be the one to kill Boomer – good twin versus bad twin – but given the complex life this Sharron has lived there was a small hope that she would live on and find her way in the world … preferably with Chief Tyrol. Cavil’s death on the other hand was certainly the comic relief of the episode.

Once the mission ends though, and the Colonials future on Earth is decided, “Daybreak” very intimately and elegantly takes the time to go around all of the characters in order to introduce the rest of their lives (and also includes some flashbacks to their former life on the Colonies). Ending a series with so much history and with a cast the size of “Galactica’s” cannot be easy, however the episode manages to do so with a level of satisfaction and leaves us with the feeling that these characters – our friends – are all okay and have a long life ahead of them. It may not delve too deeply into their lives after the closing credits but just enough is revealed to say goodbye in very much the same way as “Deep Space Nine’s” finale “What You Leave Behind” did for Star Trek fans.

The final passing of Laura Roslin tops the goodbye tear-jerk scale and guarantees not a dry eye watching. Both Olmos and McDonnell have a chemistry that is hard to be matched, and the loss expressed in the pilot seat of their Raptor is hard to sweep aside. And the disappearance of Starbuck at the episodes end was nothing short of a shout-out-loud moment. The words “where’d she go?!” echoed through my living room, carrying with them a tone of shock, loss and unquestionable frustration.

This Earth – a continuity nightmare it may be – include some vibrant visuals; the landscapes were stunning, breathtaking and so rich with colour that Earth becomes the perfect settlement for the Colonial survivors following their years of harsh existence.

What Didn’t Work

Overall, the settlement on “Earth” turned out to be something of a conundrum – the Colonial refugees are survivors, as evidenced by the four years of struggle, heartache, torment and running that they have been put through by their Cylon children. Yet, when a truce is offered and the enemy is no longer at the gates we are to believe that the people of the fleet are so eager for a clean slate that they would send their ships into the sun and take their chances with their mechanical adversaries that could return at any time?

Sure, the desire for a blank slate is one that should not be under estimated but even the military logic of disposing of your only weapons, shelter and means of escape is flawed. New Caprica turned out to be the biggest mistake the Colonials could make during their exodus, one which they barely escaped from. Yet we are expected to accept that they would run the risk of reliving it all over again … this time without any hopes of escape?

The vanishing of Starbuck – shocking and heartfelt – turned out to be something of a disappointment. Her disappearing act made perfect sense but as a fan who was hoping (even for just a little hint) that Kara’s father could have been one of the lost Daniel models I was left unsatisfied. Especially since the death of Dualla and Anders left the door wide open for the relationship between her and Apollo that has been teased since day one.

There were also numerous ideas that never received any kind of climax. Namely, the fate of Baltar’s harem, their ideas of a one, true God and also how the final five fit into God’s plan. The angels of Six and Baltar acted as a convenient way of sidestepping the issue, as did Starbuck.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“Battlestar Galactica” stars James Edward Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, Tricia Helfer and James Callis. “Daybreak” (Part 2) was written by series creator Ronald D. Moore and directed by Michael Rymer.

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