So, I just watched the finale of Battlestar Galactica. It was a really great microcosm of the entire series in that I liked some parts but others I really disliked.
First, the good: I liked finding out more about the characters (though it seems like bad form to do backstory at the end), I liked the moral dilemma that every character had to go through when they decided about the suicide mission, and the action was really excellent. There were some genuinely touching scenes sprinkled throughout, like the one with Roslin and the doctor. And oh thank god someone killed Tori. Also, most of Adama's scenes were pretty good.
Basically I liked the parts that were either action or character-centered without hocus pocus. The political plots early in the show were great! The ambiguity of cylons' status as People was great! But as the show progressed and the writers got themselves into more and more difficult places, they waved the magic wand more and more often. And now in the finale all the important plot points involved mystical visions.
I have suspected for a long time that the writers for this show were "flying blind": writing whatever came into their heads first and to hell with continuity. Now I think that has been confirmed. You can't end a series full of unresolved questions by saying "Ooops, God did it!". And that's essentially what they did. Dude. That's not how you tell a story! That's how you clumsily try to patch up the gaping holes left in your plot.
An incomplete list of things that really annoyed me:
-Kara's an angel? And she just disappears when Lee isn't looking? How is that closure on anything?! And Lee strikes me as way too practical to put his urges for exploration, strong though they may be, ahead of, you know, basic survival.
-So, we watch them scratch and claw their way to a habitable planet, they find it, and then they all say "screw it, I'm going to go native, bye guys." The show actually called out the absurdity of this: the lawyer whose name I forget (and who was appointed as president? WTF?) says something to the effect of "I can't believe people are going along with this". Neither can I, dude. If the human race had 30,000 survivors and a big wide planet to settle, would you have them scatter across the planet in twos and threes to be picked off by the next passing lion, or would you settle and try to rebuild your shattered civilization?
-They launched the fleet into the sun. So that's Galactica's final resting place? Lame. If I were going to try to keep 30k people alive, I think I'd take advantage of the pre-built shelters with nearly unlimited energy, but that's just me.
-Hera is a MacGuffin: the object that exists to move the story forward. Then at the climactic moment, everyone's fighting over her and nothing happens. She doesn't do anything. She's just a little girl. They never did a good job of convincing me that she was as important as the characters kept saying she was, and they still failed in the finale.
-Cavil shoots himself?! Isn't he the one who's freaking out about being mortal? Whose whole goal was to learn how to be resurrected? Then why the hell would he promptly kill himself when he finds out his resurrection plan didn't work?!
-The last few minutes. All the stupidness of finding our earth and deciding to settle it in such a stupid fashion aside, I was actually ok with the end being Adama alone by Roslin's grave. That felt like an ending. And then we get comic relief and a heavy handed message that robots are evil, with a montage of modern robots. Give me a break.
I could go on...
Much like the newer star wars movies, these problems didn't seem as bad while I was watching, but the minute it ended and I actually started to digest what I had just seen, it seemed to get worse and worse.
I kept watching the show because it did do a good job of making interesting characters, but it also has been a fascinating exercise in seeing what not to do with a story. The whole second half of the series gives me the feeling that the writers were short-sighted. They were working toward the next thrilling episode and disregarded the overall story arc. When it got complicated, they invoked destiny or visions or angels. And by the end it was such a mess that they just threw their hands up and said "well, I guess it's god's plan!"
“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” - Tom Clancy
It's really sad because there were parts of the show that were excellent, but they became rarer and rarer. I wish I understood how writers who were clearly capable of doing great work devolved into writing crap. That's the part that baffles me.
Anyway, I'm ranted-out, and it's late. Time to go to sleep and try to dream up a decent alternate finale, though I think to get something really good you'd have to start from about 2 seasons ago.