Well, that sucked.(Potential Spoilers. Be warned.)
Last night I watched the conclusion to Battlestar Galactica Season 3. And really, I don't buy it. The meat of the story, that being the trial of Gaius Baltar, was an interesting story in and of itself; however the end-of-season frosting, the wrapping, feels bolted on, rushed, and totally
Again, as with the ending of season two, the writers have attempted to take everything we know about the series and throw it out the window. I suspect the goal is to keep the fans wondering as much as possible about what can possibly happen next.
The problem is that Season 3 sucked because of the way the series was turned upside down (twice) at the end of season 2. All the traction and progress through the story that made it look like we were getting somewhere with the bigger picture were thrown out the window like so much garbage. Instead, we were treated to what appeared to be a competition between the story tellers as to who could make the most grim, the most hopeless narrative possible.
The writers nearly lost me on New Caprica, they really did.
The Exodus was handled reasonably well, although the lack of a compelling reason for the loss of Pegasus nearly lost me again.
I glided through the cylon stories through inertia, although with great suspicion: these looked like they were setting the stage for the future, and again they never really went anywhere.
The post-exodus stories were again not the best, although some of the best character stories have come in that window, particularly Bill's anniversary episode. In that episode one of the best moments was the Chief and Callie in the airlock where the Chief apologies for dragging Callie around with him saying that he only wanted to spend time with her; his way of saying that despite their marital problems he still loved her.
Helo's moment of redemption was a little formulaic and not executed as best it was (perhaps the biggest surprise of the episode was that Helo was actually redeemed instead of being discarded like so much refuse -- an actual resolution to a situation for once).
Similarly the Chief standing up for the workers -- perhaps formulaic, and flawed logically, but still a good development for the character.
But as for the rest: I didn't really care about Kara and Lee and Douala and Anders. Unhappy marriages? Big deal.
I didn't really care about Kara's death, except that it provided a powerful counterpoint to Tigh's decision. After the exodus, both Kara and Tigh rebelled against Adama. The difference is that Adama bullied Kara into coming back, while Tigh made the decision on his own; and since the decision was his, he stuck with it, while Kara wrestled with -- and ultimately lost to -- hers. By the time it was over, I had long lost interest in her character. To use an inappropriate description: she'd been circling for so long, the flushing, when it came, was just sadly inevitable.
(Kara's death also contrasted with Kat's. While Kat fought her demons and ultimately gave her life protecting the other people in the fleet, Kara self-indulgently put Lee at risk and ended up destroying a viper. Kat at least had the decency to return her ship to Galactica before dying.)
Predictably, Gaius Baltar: Not Guilty
In all the discussion following the first half of this two-parter, I did not see anywhere discussion of Roslynn's Amnesty. Following the exodus from New Caprica and the jury tribunals led by Tigh (and sanctioned by President Zarich), President Roslynn issued a blanket amnesty for any and all acts committed prior to the exodus.
But for some reason, Baltar was exempt from this amnesty.
Lee's arguments were eloquent and to the point, listing all the reason why this witch-hunt should not be permitted to proceed; but for a society which is allegedly founded on the rule of law, the presence of the Amnesty should have made the acquittal a slam-dunk. A pre-trial motion, even.
I commented to Jenn last week that the only way Baltar could lose such a trial was if it was rigged.
- I liked: Lee and William Adama
This is another high point. One theme that has run through season three is the loneliness of having to stand on your own and do what is right. Lee is forced to break with his father who has decided that Baltar is guilty and should not even be granted the dignity of a trial.
To the credit of the writers, they let Bill Adama go to the edge of destruction, only to be held back by the words of his son. When push comes to shove, Bill Adama always does the right thing even when it is not popular or easy. It would have been easy for Bill to stick to his prejudices, but this would have destroyed the character's integrity.
The remaining question is whether or not Bill and Lee can remake their broken relationship.
I didn't like: President Roslynn.
Laura Roslynn has a huge irrational hate on for Gaius Baltar. Well maybe not irrational as Baltar did, in her eyes, order her execution. But the dislike is definitely unprofessional.
The President's character has always been one of strong resolve wrapped in her caring for Bill Adama; she was a person, making difficult decisions under impossible conditions. To have her degrade into a power-mad crazy-bitch character destroys her integrity.
I didn't like: the shock ending.
I don't buy it. I really don't see that all four of these candidates are cylons. (Kara clearly is, since she appeared to die, then returned; although she was flying what appeared to be the viper she died in, so there is potential wriggle room for the writers there. But the case for the other four is extremely weak.)
So let's get this straight. The final five arranged for war to break out between the other seven models and the colonials, at the exact moment when Kara, Tigh, and the Chief were simultaneously posted to Galactica, in such a way that Galactica would survive the onslaught, and the presidential assistant would just happen to also survive?
All without any of the other players being aware of this manipulation?
Uh huh. Sounds like an implausible narrative imperative to me.
Anders' being caught out in the wrong place at the wrong time on Caprica is plausible, as is his survival during the occupation. So perhaps the case for him as a cylon is not as flimsy.
So what was the deal with the midgets around the resurrection pool that Baltar found himself in during the torture sequence?
And just who is floating around in Caprica Six's and Baltar's respective heads masquerading as the other?
There are just too many alternate, more plausible
potential ways for the story to go that I don't buy into this.
It feels like the writers were worried about getting picked up for a fourth season, and they realized that arc-wise the third season sucked, so they tried to bolt on this shock as a way to entice the networks to pick them up again.
The bottom line: where's the hope?
Stories like this only really work for me if there is some kind of hope. The characters can be in the deepest, darkest pits you can imagine, but as long as there's some hope, some prospect for things getting better, I'll stay along for the ride.
This season has been, with few exceptions, an exercise in repeatedly kicking the characters, and then kicking them some more.
And then trying to shake everything up with a very poor "shock" ending.
You can't keep on pretending that you are making progress on a story -- the story has to actually get somewhere at some point and it ultimately has to be self-consistent. You can't keep throwing away the progress you've made. There are too many unanswered questions at this point, too many threads that have been pulled, to keep backing away from then and trying something new.
I wonder if the writers are getting caught up in the "Heroes" problem, where each answer provided is wrapped in two or more new questions. The difference is that Heroes does
answer questions without throwing things away, and Heroes
being a shorter series in its first season has a strong idea of where it is going this year.
Galactica is throwing too many things aside and does not give me confidence that they are actually going somewhere.
So when Season 4 debuts in November or February, the PVR will be fired up.
But honestly guys, I don't know if you are falling into the "too cool for the room" trap you tried to avoid, or if you are like the Master at Arms in season one, to whom Adama said "You've lost your way, Sargent."