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'BSG:' Apocalypse Now

Posted by Joanna Weiss  June 14, 2008 05:23 PM

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"This must be what the Pilgrims thought when they landed at Plymouth Rock." That was the first thing to cross my mind during the final scene of Friday's "Battlestar Galactica" mid-season finale. And then....

...well, the state of Earth during that first encounter was much worse than, say, the climate of New England, but was anyone really surprised? That giant cross-fleet celebration came about 10 episodes too early. And given that this entire show is a post-9/11 allegory, it's hardly surprising that the buildings of Manhattan -- apparently, those were the ruins of the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground -- so eerily recalled the shell of the World Trade Center.

So. An expectedly bleak ending to one of the most tense, well-executed episodes I can remember. I especially loved the long, fraught standoff sequence, particularly the moment when One-Eye Tigh, standing in the airlock, turned to Lee and growled, "What are you waiting for, Apollo? Do it!" Part of me really thought he would. This show doesn't shy away from darkness, to say the least. And across all of TV, has there ever been a recurring scene more disturbingly metaphorical than the flight of the airlock victim? Hurtling, alone, into the vacuum. Wow. I need a Valium.

Among the other highlights of the episode, for me:

* Baltar, suddenly sounding sane and rational as he tried to talk D'Anna down.
* Adama, usually so cool in a crisis, finally losing it over the news that his best old friend was a Cylon. When I interviewed Edward James Olmos this spring, he talked about the very real feelings of anger and betrayal on the set when the actors learned the identity of the Final Four. I think it showed through in this scene.
* Starbuck, who has apparently worked through her Soylent Green phase ("We're going the wrong waaaaaay!"), taking the news of Sam's Cylon-ness with shock, but no violence. Didn't she once say she would put a bullet in his head?
* The fact that we now have at least one answer: They've landed on future Earth, not past or present Earth. The obvious choice, I suppose, but it makes sense; as the ships soared through that atmosphere, I wondered how we humans would actually react if a bunch of other people and machines-that-look-like-people suddenly showed up in the sky and said, "We're home!"

And now? We wait. And wait. As reader Julia points out, Ron Moore has said publicly that new episodes -- let's call them the Final Ten -- won't arrive until 2009.

So watch it again. If you've got the time and the laptop, watch it while reading this: Series composer Bear McCreary's account of his score, which seems even more brilliant the more I know about it. (He hired a choir to sing text written specifically for the composition, translated variously into Samoan and Latin. How often does that happen on TV?)

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11 comments so far...
  1. but the big question is will the bsg crew run into wolfman jack on the future earth?

    Posted by starbucksnotagirl June 14, 08 07:04 PM
  1. One of the best episodes ever. My spine chilled whent he geiger counter was going off while pointed at the soil of Earth followed by the grim and dissapointed look on everyones face as they stared off at the destructed surrounding. It resembled New Caprica after the Cylons took control of the planet.
    You're thinking - Man, these guys are screwed - all that way to end up in a post-nuke-war-Earth.
    What a great episode.

    Posted by paul June 14, 08 07:35 PM

    Posted by rw June 14, 08 09:00 PM
  1. It was an awesome episode, but I'm not entirely convinced that they actually found our Earth, or their final destination. For a few reasons.

    First, notice that all the land masses in the shots of "Earth" are obscured by clouds. In "Crossroads II", you can clearly make out the Florida peninsula in the final shot of the episode, whereas here any identifying land masses are conveniently not visible.

    Second, the moon, a dead giveaway, is not seen. This was also shown in "Crossroads II". Here, it is avoided.

    Third, David Eick made some carefully worded comments earlier this year, something to the effect of "well, we've shown Earth [in Crossroads II], and the Fleet will find a place they believe is Earth..." (or something like that).

    Fourth, the Pythian prophecy said that the "dying leader" would not survive to reach the "promised land". Roslin was there on "Earth" in the final scene. So either she's not the dying leader, or that's not really Earth, or Earth is not the "promised land" after all.

    Finally, they still have 12 episodes to go (not 10, they announced that there will be two more episodes in season 4.5). Simply finding out who the final Cylon is is not going to be enough to fill out those 12 episodes. There's got to be more coming.

    Yes, chances are that it's Earth. But there was just enough there to seemingly plant some doubt, and it seemed quite intentional to me.

    Posted by Swarles Barkley June 14, 08 11:49 PM
  1. "Oh my godI was wrong!
    It was Earth all along!

    They've finally made a monkey
    (Yes, they've finally made a monkey!)
    Yes, they've finally made a monkey
    Out of me!

    Posted by BinewskiFabulon June 16, 08 10:28 AM
  1. @Swarles Barkley
    You're making some good points here even if I am not sure what use it would be after New Caprica, then this earth to have the fleet again look for another planet.
    The show has always been great for reaching new directions, and my opinion is that the search for earth is over.
    There is still questions to be answered (the final Cylon, what kind of war happened on Earth, How will its inhabitants react to the Cylons+the Fleet arrival, ...).
    I think the dying leader was the "Six" shot by Athena.
    And it may will sound weird but I really would have liked the show to end with this episode !!!!

    Posted by JeanSeb June 18, 08 05:10 AM
  1. Well I'm convinced that it was indeed the Earth that we know.
    Upon seeing the irradiated soil, the apocalyptic destruction, and the looks of disconent, dismay and HORROR on everyone's faces, I came to the realization that they must have arrived in DETROIT.

    Posted by Andrew Schnieder June 19, 08 04:09 PM
  1. Do not be too quick to judge the 'Earth' shown at the end of Revelations as a 'future' apocalyptic version. If it really is Earth it is clearly not a present version, but it could well be a distant past version. "All of this has happened before and it will all happen again". Think about it folks.

    Posted by CD June 20, 08 10:14 AM
  1. Hey! When are they finally going to get to the Space Scouts?

    Posted by Dugz July 10, 08 07:20 AM
  1. Great ref to the pilgrims. But I don't think it's OUR Earth but another planet. The few images of the 13th Colony planet didn't have our familiar continents. If BSG is in the past then perhaps the 13th Colony was on Mars, our dead and mysterious neighbor.

    Posted by da' Square Wheeleman July 10, 08 09:42 PM
  1. The show is not a 9/11 allegory. It is a work of science-fiction that references the present day, as all other works of science-fiction have done since the genre's advent.

    Posted by pag October 5, 08 08:11 PM

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