Or, “We Never Said They Had a Good Plan.”
So last week was the big return of “Battlestar Galactica” (with “Sometimes a Great Notion”) after months of speculation after a huge cliffhanger and the promise that all our questions would be answered. I didn’t really say anything about it at the time, because I was waiting for the second episode to see if I was just disappointed in the anti-climax, or if the series had finally lost me.
After this week’s (“A Disquiet Follows My Soul”), I’m inclined to think they lost me. The problem is basically that now, I can see the strings, and my suspension of disbelief is completely blown. I think Rain nailed it when she blamed it on lazy screenwriting, although I’d say it’s only half laziness/lack of inspiration, but also clumsy self-importance.
From the start, the series has prided itself on being mature and “edgy,” but at least through the miniseries and the first couple of seasons, it earned that reputation. Now it just seems like self-parody at best, or self-delusion at worst. It’s the “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” style edgy; no thought behind it, just “what’s going to shock people?” It’s catering to the type of people who say things like, “Even at its worst, it’s still better than most of what’s on television,” ignoring the fact that television is getting better, and these days shows like “Knight Rider” are the exception, not the rule.
The big reveal of Earth we’ve been building up to? Look how happy they are and psyche! it’s a wasteland! Suck on that, complacent middle American TV watchers! Following the story of a basically sweet, hopeful character? Blam, suicide! Did you jump? Huh? Did you? And now we’ll blow your mind with the reveal of the Final Cylon! Are you astounde— okay, yeah, we didn’t really expect you to be all that excited about that, frankly. It’s a series of cheap shots, and not particularly clever ones at that.
And what’s got me convinced it’s a long-term downturn and not just a couple of not-particularly-inspired decisions, or a couple of episodes that are “off,” is this interview with Ron Moore that basically confirms these writing decisions are just that arbitrary. Not necessarily what makes sense as far as a series-long dramatic arc, but what’s going to go for the quick surprise or the cheap shock or, more often, the “dark” angle. Because we all know that “dark” means “smart.”
I’m still going to watch the final eight episodes, obviously, since I’ve come this far. But I’ve pretty much given up hope that they’re going to pull off a satisfying ending. Even without the cheap semi-adolescent plotting gimmicks, there doesn’t seem to be any solid season-wide pacing, or any weight to the big reveals. Why did they go to the trouble of bringing back Lucy Lawless’s character just to throw it away? Why is the fact that 2000-year-old Cylons were found on Earth just mentioned once and never repeated? Why does Starbuck’s discovery just result in a lot of clumsy scenes designed to look cool, instead of any notion of a real plot development? Is this “BSG” or “Heroes?”