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WATCH THIS: Frakkin' brilliant!
March 20, 2009  | By Diane Werts
 
battlestar galactica finale olmos.jpg

I'm glad Battlestar Galactica ends this Friday night -- only because I can now start watching it over again from the beginning, on DVD, in uninterrupted marathon sessions. That's the ideal way to absorb this landmark series' escalating stakes and ever-keener insights.

Not to mention the elation of immersing yourself in a smart story that knows precisely what it wants to accomplish, then does it in such thrilling fashion.

The final two hours (March 20, 9-11 p.m. ET, Sci Fi; repeating March 27, 7-9 p.m. ET) turn out to be a superb summation of four seasons of wide-ranging ambitions, though I have to admit it'll be incomphensible to those new to the story's intricacies. It's not like there's a quick series summary to be had:

A very recognizable civilization is nuked to within an inch of its life, sending survivors fleeing through space in search of a new home, all the while dueling the very humanlike robots they'd created and who attacked them, each side seeing the other as a cancer that must be destroyed for life to flourish.

That's maybe 10 percent of the tale. Maybe not even. The humans fight amongst themselves. The human-like Cylons do, too. They're both struggling to forge some "better" new society. And the definition of that ideal is forever in flux.

Let us count the ways this astounding saga has been endlessly stimulating.

Spiritual explorations.
Political machinations.
Religions in pitched battle.
War waged by and against the rules.
Class conflict.
Dwindling resources.

Fathers and sons and mothers and children.
Families fractured.
Lovers at loggerheads.
Alliances, betrayals, mutinies, murders.
Sex, drinking and rock 'n' roll.

Philosophical debates delivered through rip-roaring action.
Women characters on the same kick-ass footing as men.
Humor in the face of heartbreak.

People losing their moral compass. And finding it.
Good vs. evil.
And wondering which side is which.
Or if there even is a side.
And what the hell: What IS The Meaning of Life, anyway?

All here. All dynamically delved into and delivered upon in this three-hour finale.

(Last week's first hour repeats Friday at 8 p.m. ET on Sci Fi before this Friday's 9-11 p.m. end of the end. All three hours encore Friday night 11 p.m.-2 a.m. ET.)

galactica finale six baltar.jpgWatching the series' culminating episodes over the past month, I've scribbled down dozens of "important lines" of dialogue I might want to reference. They all feel crucial.


"Sometimes lost is where you need to be. Just because you don't know your direction doesn't mean you don't have one." "A new life requires a new way of thinking." "Our brains have always outraced our hearts. Our souls lag behind."

Profound in context, they sound syrupy outside it. There is just so much context in this intense tale. That's always made it hard to jump onto the Galactica train as it hurtled down its track. You had to know where it had been to understand where it was going.

Bingo. Everything about Galactica -- including that last sentence -- references something else, perhaps in earlier episodes, or in today's real-life society, or in human yearnings over thousands of years. For an action-packed show with so much firepower and frakking -- a show that raised its own profane euphemisms to a fine art -- there was even more introspection inspired in both characters and viewers. Even when neither knew it was happening.

Now finally, all the pieces of the puzzle fall together, onscreen and inside our heads. See, it even dovetails with what can be seen and what cannot. Battlestar Galactica has always been a religious experience in more ways than one. That's made ultimately clear here, even as the action is paying off the character drama in a dozen different directions.

It's a visceral experience. And a profound one. Thanks go not just to series auteur Ronald D. Moore but to his entire crew for plunging us deep inside a world that sometimes seems more palpable than our own. I can't remember ever feeling so spellbound by a show, so emotionally shattered, so exhilarated, so satisfied. Or so awed, by both the ambition and the execution. Who knew that the last tube of toothpaste in the universe could be so meaningful? That the strains of All Along the Watchtower could become such a rallying cry? ("There must be some kind of way out of here/Said the joker to the thief/There's too much confusion/I can't get no relief.") Who suspected that death and renewal and the full-circle of the universe could be made so plainly transcendent -- in a wham-bam TV show!

This is what sci-fi can do. Not just spaceships and aliens and technobabble, only the first of which is even remotely in residence here. Battlestar Galactica is this genre -- heck, art -- at its finest, showing us something profound about ourselves by telling us a magnificent story about something else, or at least what we perceive to be that. Sci-fi sneaks around and mows us down with its insight when it is this smartly imagined and electrifyingly told.

Why a channel just concluding such a masterpiece would choose this moment to announce it's changing its name -- as if to downplay the just-proven potency of its focus -- is beyond me. (And to the belittling SyFy? Are they kidding?)

Lest we forget, the oft-touted "greatest story ever told" is essentially one that is factually undemonstrable. You have to let your mind go with the flow, and take it on faith. It's sci fi, too, people. Could be. Might have been. Wish it was. Maybe it really was/is. Wow.

It's dreamers and cynics as one -- as Galactica explores in this finale -- and believing in something greater than yourself, whatever it might be. It's living stronger in hope than in fear.

Thanks, Battlestar Galactica. For reminding us.

-----

Here's how Sci Fi sends Battlestar Galactica out with a bang.

TRIBUTE SPECIAL
Battlestar Galactica: The Last Frakkin' Special, including cast interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and more.
Wednesday night, March 18 at 1 a.m. ET
Thursday night, March 19 at 1 a.m. ET
Friday, March 20, at 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET

SEASON 4 EPISODES
(All on Friday, March 20, all times ET)
Sine Qua Non - 8 a.m.
Hub - 9 a.m.
Revelations - 10 a.m.
Sometimes a Great Notion - 11 a.m.
A Disquiet Follows My Soul - noon
The Oath - 1 p.m.
Blood on the Scales - 2 p.m.
No Exit - 3 p.m.
Deadlock - 4 p.m.
Someone to Watch Over Me - 5 p.m.
Islanded in a Stream of Stars - 6 p.m.

FINALE
(Friday, March 20)
Daybreak Part 1 - 8 p.m. ET encore
Daybreak Part 2 - 9-11 p.m. ET premiere

ENTIRE FINALE ENCORE
(Friday, March 20)
Daybreak - 11 p.m.-2 a.m. ET

And there's also:

ONLINE VIEWING

The past month's episodes are streaming via Hulu and Sci Fi.

ON DVD

Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4.0 (last year's 10 episodes) are discounted through this link at Amazon. Season 4.5 (including this spring's final hours) is expected soon. Industry insiders predict a complete series Blu-ray release this year.

 
 
 
 
 
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