There Will Be Answers

[revised 7.17.08] SyFyPortal is reporting that the Final Cylon reveal is coming sooner rather than later (probably in the Sometimes a Great Notion ep which will kick off the second half of Season 4). The episodes Revelations and SAGN were shot together and this timing leads to the likelihood of Kara as the Final Cylon. A weird choice in my view given that she's been scanned countless times by Cylon Raiders and they've never recognized her. Also, Katee Sackhoff is the only BSG actor to apply a lot of misdirection: "It would suck," "I'm not it," etc.

Series actor Grace Park is quoted [6.28.08] as saying about future episodes: "There's one episode where everything is explained and I had to read it three times," ... "I had to sit down with Ron Moore and he had to break it down." BRIDGE ISSUE: SETTLED
There has been debate over which bridge is represented in the Revelations mid-season finale. This side-by-side-by-side comparison [Sydney Harbour Bridge left, Brooklyn Bridge right] should put it to rest. It's the Brooklyn bridge. You can see cable remnants dangling from the pier and there are three pylons not two (the middle one leans).

This guy was introduced with the Demetrius story and seemed like a real fascist low-forehead type. He jumped away in the Hub episode's battle (not much of a battle), and what will be his fate? A victim of Cavil's torture skills? One can only hope. [Correction: Ken (see Comments) pointed out that Sine Qua Non and The Hub occur concurrently in the story narrative and the character "Pike" was killed, his story arc simply occurred in reverse order of the episodes. Thanks for that Ken]

This agro ship was seen in recent episodes, but wasn't it destroyed in the miniseries (remember the little girl)? Say, if they had this agro ship why did they run out of food and need to go to the algae planet anyway?


Enough of the Anti-Hero and Bleak Finales

Recent public statements by BSG series creator Ron Moore and series actor Eddie Olmos have thrown cold water on Fifth Cylon speculation and indicated that the series ending is very very dark. And actor James Callis said, "There are conclusions, but they're open-ended. And the audience will get to decide." [Groan] Moore is quoted by Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune as confirming that no one pictured in the BSG Last Supper image is the final Cylon. Olmos says that the story ends in a very dark place, the survivors end up with almost nothing.

With regard to the Fifth and final Cylon, if none of the people pictured in the Last Supper image is it, that leaves a minor character or a character we have not yet met. Since introducing a major character in the Third Act that figures in the ending of a story violates a fundamental tenet of screenwriting I'll assume instead that a minor character we already know is destined to be revealed as the Fifth. Doc Cottle anyone?

On my other blog, BSG Last Supper, I explore the possibilities. Dualla, due to her character's family history with the Adamas in the new Caprica series, seems to have the inside track (a weak choice in my view), and they did the big Gaeta-dangle in Guess What's Coming to Dinner, so he seems in second place. Why the Fifth would be the last to become self-aware bears some serious explaining, but since the show is on a furious pace to wrap-it-up I fear it will be glossed over or get short shrift.

In the 60s and 70s we had the emergence of the anti-hero as a staple of modern storytelling, and this has continued with the addition of snarky irony and bait-and-switch villain-goodguy moralizing mirroring (who's really the good guy anyway?), and what I like to call calculated withholding - setting up story drama yet never giving the payoff.

Story structure that works has been understood since at least as far back as the ancient Greeks if not thousands of years earlier with tribal storytellers on the African plain. But these days so many stories, and particularly in film, we get arrested story arcs, pretentious discordance and juxtaposition that is merely artifice, and dangled story threads that go nowhere or to unsatisfying conclusions. We are getting atmospherics that not only are intended to add dimension to the story but which are tasked with actually holding up the story in places. Atmosphere cannot do that.

To compare it to modern art, what we're getting are stories that resemble cubist Picassos and jumbled Pollacks.
Dalis would be okay because to make what is a narrative surreal does not detract from the narrative. Cubism and splattering paint does not provide a narrative or it is so unclear as to be a weak narrative that invites debate. Strong stories need a strong spine and and an internal logic. Especially stories that seek to provide a moral lesson, which early storytelling did and which Battlestar Galactica in this incarnation seems set upon doing.

What is frustrating is this penchant the past 30-40 years to go dark thematically. For a while these types of almost nihilistic stories seemed daring and new. The stories were not tragedies in the classic tradition because they did not have a moral lesson. Yet this is the territory today has been fully mined in my view. So many stories go to die down this mineshaft of calculated darkness - finishing with a bleak vision, sadness, no lesson, no message, no redemption. Or worse, the plot is abandoned altogether or parts of it let drop. I find this type of storytelling obvious and pretentious and frankly am over it.

Yes, BSG is just a tv show, but because it is so superior, it is elevated to the status of art, and we should expect excellence from our art. In this story billions of people were murdered. By the end of the story we need to have a reason.


Analyzing BSG Season 4, Part II Teaser

[Spoilers/Speculation - as always]
The very few seconds (about 8) of images Sci-Fi Channel has given us for a teaser for Season 4, Part II still tells us a lot [video below]. It teases the very next episode, which writers from the show have said is essentially the latter half of a two-parter which began with Revelations [and a new video blog on Sci-Fi reveals were shot concurrently]. We're going to get Kara's Death Part II. We won't get to see it until January at the earliest, and more likely March or April. Howling wind and a somber dirge of music lends dark atmosphere to the teaser images.

First we see Tigh angrily aiming a gun at Adama's head for some reason (on the Galactica). Tigh still has access to weapons? Boy, now that's blanket amnesty. Adama gives his old toaster, er, friend, yet another chance?

Next, Kara reads from a book of handwritten script. This looks to be the small book of her own notes we saw on the Demetrius. She didn't start keeping notes until she "came back from dead." Or, more likely, it is the Colony Bible and she's looking for answers in the text but decides instead to use the pages as tinder? She has been told about her "special" destiny again and again, including by a Colony Priestess in the past.

As I pointed out in a post after the first episode of this final season [4.6.8], Kara is a clone. We saw her Viper explode. The story has already foreshadowed her having an ovary removed from her while a captive in a medical facility on Caprica [The Farm, Season 2] when she got the Arrow of Apollo and rescued Anders (a scar we never saw again nor was referenced again).

Clone Theory #1: Leoben (perhaps in a Cylon Heavy Raider which could withstand more atmosphere) was at the Vortex and gathered up Kara's dead body and managed somehow to download her brainwaves to a Cylon computer to be put into a new body he grew for her. Only Leoben would do this, unless the Hybrid is involved for her own purposes. They can rebuild her (and the Viper), they have the technology. Here is an image showing an extra vessel was present (and not Kara's POV - so it's not part of her hallucination).

The fact that Kara is a clone is why she's been spacey and subdued since her return. She's also started writing the journal and has a desperate need to find out answers because - she is an incomplete copy.

Kara is NOT the Final Cylon. In the original BSG miniseries her very first encounter with a Cylon is a Raider that scans her. It made "eye contact" but did not turn tail and stand-down as they all did when Final Fiver Anders was similarly scanned. Kara's been scanned countless times in her dogfights in space with Cylons and many have tried to kill her - remember Scar?

The bonfire we see next in the clip is Kara burning her past, shall we say. If she's a clone then what happened to her original body? Hmmmm. Is that a funeral pyre? That means her original body did make it to Earth - so the Vortex is a gateway somehow, which brings us to Clone Theory #2: Kara's Viper did break up and she died, but her body made it through the Vortex's wormhole (or whatever) without Leoben's help enough for the Final Cylon on Earth to find it and fashion the clone and manufacture a pristine new Viper. She was restored, her memory altered to keep her from knowing what had happened. [Note: Scientist Stephen Hawking now says that wormholes are not possible] What this means: There is a technology center on Earth in which this restoration and the manufacture of a perfect Viper copy could be done. This is technology beyond 21st Century humans of the burned-out cinder we saw at the end of Revelations [Season 4, Part I]. If the fifth, and Final Cylon, is the original "Maker" - or copy thereof - then it will bring some logic to what is to unfold for the remainder of Season 4. We'll get the mad scientist explains it all for you scene [which I'm not against at all, mind you].

Then the clip shows a split-second of a hand holding dogtags - a big, rough man's hand - probably Adama having looked at them and knowing what it means.

Next second shows another man's hand (with lousy nail-care) rubbing a rock wall (probably Tyrol - they're stubby fingers). Hard to figure what that means - the subplot probably. Is it all that remains of the Temple of Aurora? He is good at finding temples.

Next the clip shows a teary-eyed Adama (Is all this man ever does now is act emotional? Where is the rock? The leader?), saying over a draped dead body (on the Galactica), "You're the fifth." His tone is plaintive, hurt, yet compassionate [that's what a good actor can do with one short line]. It could be Roslin's body, but we're being faked-out. It is likely Kara's original body and Adama incorrectly assumes that since there is now another Kara that she is the fifth and Final Cylon. He doesn't know she is merely a clone.

The most compelling shot of the teaser vid is the funeral pyre, and Kara sitting alone. This probably denotes that she wished to send off her old self yet remains the outsider. The Cylons probably don't consider her one of their own, but can't make out how another version of her could exist (can't wait for Lucy Lawless's chewing on those lines), and the humans now really don't trust her.


Weaving A Beautiful Tapestry From BSG Story Threads

Unlike a sculptor, who constantly steps back to take in the totality of his creation as he shapes it, the makers of serial television rarely have the luxury of time to re-watch all of the previous episodes and gain that comprehensive view of their work in progress - to see it in its totality as it is realized.

Rather a show like Battlestar Galactica is more like a mosaic or tapestry, an overall design and thematic elements set, but which allows for improvisation. The finished work not visible until it is done.

I for one hope Battlestar Galactica ends its run having woven a beautiful tapestry out of its multitude of story threads - that as the threads come together and the overall pattern of the tapestry resolves we feel it is a complete and beautiful work of art - one that gives chills of realization and perhaps even astonishment.

I'm pretty worried that this may not happen after Revelations. I'm sensing frayed edges, loose threads, possibly abandoned patterns.

There are several motifs informing this tapestry. Primarily, there is the feedback loop of repeating cycles of time in which Cylons and Humans are trapped (at least according to the Cylons).

There is the Opera House vision. There is the repeated reference that Gods lived among humans on Kobol.

The importance and function of the Final Five (the "Makers") needs to be explained. Why were the other seven models forbidden to know them?

We need to know the reason the Cylons sought to exterminate humans. They claim to be the children of man and declare that "Mankind's children have returned home." Further, they claim that for children to reach their full potential, the parents must die. Is this their sole rationale?

And there is the the role of Earth, the Pythia prophecy, as well as the resolution to the individual characters' storylines. Is Earth to be an object lesson? A way-station? Will there be a return to Kobol? To the Colonies? Is there even a green world in their future?

At the mid-season break for Season 4 [June 2008] the human Colonial fleet and our now mortal rebel band of Cylons have renewed their alliance and together found Earth - a radioactive wasteland from the 21st Century seemingly devoid of human life. We still don't know why the Cylons ever desired to go there.

With this development the story tapestry seems to be fraying and perhaps signalling a dramatic shift to exclusively dark motifs and possibly an abandonment of the original design? Is it going to go dark and stay there? Are we destined for a this kind of demonic mandala [at right] for our tapestry?

Or are we witnessing an emergence in the tapestry of the story transitioning to a discordant cacophony that ends up an abstract [left] - with no closed loop of logic to explain the sum total of what we see - rather it is left atmospheric, impressionistic?

Could it be we are to end up with a tapestry like this below? With the One becoming the Other? Our enemies are cut from the same cloth? Always together and forever apart?
The Opera House vision has been referenced so many times - it is the thematic spine of the story. It is poetic, surreal, portentious, rich with metaphor and clouded meaning.

When the story does finally explain its meaning, it must be profound [not just another tossed line of dialog] and serve as the binding glue to the other story motifs. It must have a visual component as it is one of the strongest visual elements to the story.

Science fiction as a genre is replete with standard formulas and cliche endings (and sci-fi fans know them and see them coming), and what has set this incarnation of Battlestar Galactica apart is its boldness to defy the conventions of the genre. I worry with the Revelations episode that they've trapped themselves into one of the cliche endings. Are we to have a mad scientist appear in some form (a hologram, a clone, a robot?) and explain it all to our characters? Series actor Grace Park is quoted [6.28.08] as saying "There's one episode where everything is explained and I had to read it three times," Park said. "I had to sit down with [executive producer] Ron Moore and he had to break it down." Is the Opera House just a metaphor - a program for certain characters' brains with no tangible counterpart? Will this epic end up having been a dream: A legend told as a story to a child by an adult? Or will the bleak track the story is now on rule out? Will we end up with a sad tale of the false hopes of religions and a morality tale about the arrogance of mankind and the needless deaths caused by religious zealots and adherents? Or will it end with the bitter but delicious irony of Zardoz - our superhuman revolutionary finding out he too had been, "bred and led from the start.

And what of our Angel Sent By God, Six?
Is she to be made literal? Is she the Avenger? Is she the spiritual guide? A way to salvation? Or will she be capricious and sew ultimate destruction?

A beautiful tapestry has symmetry and balance, it has technique, elegance, refinement. It is a background pattern or it is a focal point which tells a story - sometimes it is both.

Battlestar Galactica, as woven thus far by an immensely talented group of artists, with an initially bold and sophisticated design, hovers now - in its final frenzied construction (for the audience at least, awaiting those episodes in the can yet to be broadcast) in the purgatory of creative limbo - choices made but not yet revealed, thematic, textural and color choices which will lock-in the final total image and impact.

I am hopeful the final tapestry of this story will be one of transformation, of metamorphosis, and not a sad cynical tale.