First, let me say I loves me some Battlestar Galactica. It is simply one of the best shows ever made, period. It is superior in many ways - from the storytelling to the acting to the special effects, to the production design, to the casting to the choice of subject matter within episodes. However, this special show, this rare gem, lost its way and I fear the creators Ron Moore and David Eick have abandoned it to work on other projects and have chosen to let it die prematurely, and without a proper conclusion. I fear the worst, a time-travel story device to close the loop of the story. Or, an ending on an Earth that is not the Earth we know. Or, ending it on our Earth in the wrong era. A great show could end with a whimper, leaving audiences to feel empty rather than elated.
The HUGE mistake the show made was to jump the story ahead at the end of season 2 by 18 months. The creators and writers may have felt this was risky and bold and gave them new creative opportunities, but it really just felt like bad sex to a discriminating viewer - needlessly rushed. And, if the Cylons agreed to live with the humans on New Caprica, why do they still hunt them now? The Cylons had the chance to exterminate the majority of the humans while pinned down on that planet and did not, yet as of the end of the 3rd season there is no declaration as to the Cylon and human fates being inextricably intertwined. Why do the Cylons want to go to Earth? We should have been given some indication by now.
The "stand-alone" episodes have all been pretty weak, but especially in season 3. First, why have them at all? The story is a one big arc - why digress at all -why break it up? Below are the weakest of the stand-alone episodes from season 3. Hopefully they won't do any more during season 4.
308 - backstory of pilot "Bulldog" who escaped Cylons and was years earlier abandoned by Adama on a secret mission that perhaps had something to do with provoking the new Cylon attack (some insight into the past but overall it was a marginal episode)
309 Unfinished Business - Boxing, flashbacks to New Caprica (the boxing was stupid - the dialogue and the contrived conflicts. Why would Adama say such things to Tyrol and why would he be so resentful? That did not gel - and strangely, this episode is a fan favorite)
314 The Woman King - Helo-centric story (and he's a dull character) about the Sagitarrons being persecuted
315 A Day in the Life - Tyrol and Callie are in danger/Adama remembers his wife (the flashback to Adama with his wife wasn't very insightful nor moved the story ahead, and the trapped-in-the-airlock subplot was weak)
316 Dirty Hands - Labor Dispute (Completely relevent, but the episode fell pretty flat - we should have seen the food being processed, the water being treated, the clothes being made, how people lived on other ships, etc. - but did not. A throwaway episode, one you'll skip on the DVD)
317 Maelstrom - Starbuck 'dies' (Ah, where to begin: we didn't really get to know if she was hallucinating, really experiencing things, and why the vortex is so important. Further, the representation of the vortex was washed out of its color compared to the artwork version of it and rendered uninteresting rather than being revelatory as with Roslin looking at the recon images of Kobol [the best moment in the whole series]).
They better do a good job of revealing why Loeben and Kara are destined to be together and why the backstory with Kara's mother is relevent in season 4. Among Season 3 episodes, only Exodus, Eye of Jupiter-Rapture, and Crossroads really felt as good as seasons 1 and 2. Moore, Eick and the writers simply couldn't recover from the idiotic jump ahead in the story when they advanced it 18 months in the timeline at the end of season 2.
How BSG will come full circle to the level of sophistication in the storytelling that kicked off the show in the miniseries and season 1 and nearly all of season 2 and a few places in season 3 is not certain. I hope for the best. Some very talented people work on the show.
It seems pretty obvious what needs to happen in the story: civil war on both sides; Roslin dying just before getting to Earth; Adama finally stepping up as the central hero; Baltar's megalomania transforming him into a true villain; most of the humanoid Cylons aligning with the humans - including most of the Four; the reveal of the Final Cylon [Roslin or Baltar - no other character has the heft]; and a final battle near Earth, etc. ... and how the show needs to end (at Earth 1500 B.C.) But I just don't think they'll get it right. As much as RM may love that Dylan song, it traps them in a wrong avenue for taking the story. If they reference it directly they'll ruin the show. It it's left as mere unexplained atmosphere, there is a chance of recovery.
Fingers crossed. I do so love the show.
Ironically the show will grow substantially in audience for the new season (even if NBC doesn't broadcast it as replacement programming due to the writers' very justified strike), as a tipping point was reached in the last year in which the average viewer has been clued in by those in-the-know to watch it and the audience may grow 25%-50% and Moore and Eick will be in a weird position of planning for the end of a show with a growing audience.