[Updated - 2nd viewing Review at end of post]
Git yer Lynard Skynard and put on Freebird ... It's a wrap! No more Battlestar Galactica reimagined. Show's over. All that remains are the extras: The Plan backstory telemovie and the myriad of extended scenes, deleted scenes, director's cuts, podcasts, ad infinitum (whatever NBC-Uni SciFi, er SyFy can sell you).
The first thing you can take away from Daybreak, Pt. II is a reaffirmation that this show should have run at least 5 seasons to properly tell its story and whomever is responsible for aborting the run of the show killed it. Remember the info-dump in No Exit? I hope you were taking notes through this ep because the Exposition Monster made a return engagement for the finale, although it dropped a lighter load this time.
First, here's the rundown of "the answers," (what we plot people love) then I'll get into the actual review. The character people should have been orgasming throughout much of the ep, because we got overwrought and treacly farewells.
The Opera House: cleverly done, but diminished
Head Characters: just short of ridiculous
Cylon God: or The God - only talked about by Head characters
Unseen Power Guiding Events: ibid
Kara's Special Destiny: poof - angels feel empty inside and disappear
Real Earth: fire is high-technology
The Pigeon: She was back - and she was free as a ...
Ship of Lights: Nope
Lord Iblis: Nope
A Crazy 8 shoots someone: Of course! Gratuitous Boomer Slaughter
Timeline Jump: Forward 150,000 years
Roslin Dies: Yes, sweetly
Galactica is destroyed: Into the Sun (my idea)
Magic Viper: Angels need them - they come with a cosmic warranty
Tyrol continues to wear figure-flattering orange jumpsuit: thankfully no
Who Dies: Cavil (one of them anyway), various Marines, Centurions old and new, and redshirts, and Tory!
Hot Dog: Survives the Colony but we don't see him again
I rated the ep based upon this scale below. It goes from the negative to 13, high number being best. Anything below a 6 is bad, below 4 is shameful, above 7 is good, above 10 is excellent.
Here is the full review (it's a long one):
They added an extra 11 minutes to this 2-hour finale. Not only was that extraneous, but they could have probably cut another 25 minutes. Yikes. Talk about self-indulgent. But I'll get to that at the end of the blow-by-blow. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog may threaten to "poop on you" but Ron Moore had Adama barf on us. Yuck. I won't show the vulgar, needless image.
Extra-long recap to open the ep, then a beautiful sweeping nighttime flyover of the colorful, Bladerunner-esque Flashback City, er I mean Caprica City and on into a strip club - the music was different, my guess the Caprica theme. Some strange overracting by Michael Hogan (did the director tell him to yell that loud?) and they talk about Adama's retirement.
Ellen is there. Then we transition to the dinner with Lee, Kara and Zak and like most of the Part II's in this series it is better than the Part I. Kara's initial interest in Lee is sparked and we learn some interesting but not necessary family dynamic between Lee and his father Bill Adama. This serves to bookend the series with what started in the mini but does little else. The drinking theme takes over and it becomes the throughline for these flashbacks ... Roslin has her blind date with a tall, handsome youngish man who turns out to have been one of her students (more wine please) ... Adama is pounding shots and tries to get Tigh to admit he'd take the desk job Adama has been offered but Tigh won't answer which is his answer ...
Zak is passing out after the dinner party and Kara and Lee put him to bed on the couch ... we finish with a real lovely shot of Adama in an alley barfing on himself and then his POV of the stars and we transition to present-day and the fleet.
We see one of the transport vessels and Colonial One leaving the Galactica launch Pod, then we switch to Baltar sitting alone in the now empty Baltarzone. Head Six appears and she tells Baltar again that he is following "God's plan" and what is it he asks, "to take charge of the remainder of humanity and lead them all to their end" she says ... and he finally asks, "end of what?"
Roslin gets her final meds from Doc Cottle and we find out she has about 48 hours. A touching scene with more amazing Mary McDonnell acting and one of the best lines in the whole series as Cottle gets choked up, she tells him "Don't spoil your image, go light a cigarette and go grumble." Aces.
Helo is now the Cag and all the pilots volunteer for the threading a needle while riding a roller coaster mission, and Athena shoots him a small smile, so they must be on the mend as a couple. All layers of planning are shown, Cylons and Kara with Sam, Lee with the Quorum(?), Adama with his officers ... it's all about the attack on Cavil and Colony now. Knowitall Ellen says that Sam needs to be networked with Galactica and once in range he should be able to communicate with the Colony's Hybrids - info-dump Round One. [er, why can't they just consult with the rebel Base Ship's Hybrid?]
Adama turns over his command insignia to .... Lt. Hoshi (brakes screeeeeeeeeech) ... who is put in charge of the Base Ship and the fleet. Cue Countdown Clock: "If we don't meet you at the rendezvous point in 12 hours, we won't be coming. Thank you, Admiral Hoshi." Adama goes straight into C&C where Sam's tank has been put in the upper deck sporting cables galore and cool red glowy Cylon panels show he's being put in charge - they plug him in and lights flicker all up and down the ship - including red lights. We cut to Lee escorting Romo to the "last Raptor out" with Admiral Hoshi, and some banter tells us Romo is now president of the Colonies. I'm serious. Baltar shows up with the GroupieGirlz and tells them, "I don't belong to you," and finally ditches that dreary bunch - at last the subplot that wouldn't die is dead! [but it never should have lived in the first place]. Lee throws Baltar a big rifle. A Six extra in the platinum wig marches a battalion of CGI Centurions down the hangar bay - and they have been festooned with sashes of red paint (don't ask). Admiral Hoshi calls over from the Base Ship and they are sent on their merry way - not to interfere with the big Galactica battle scene for our audience's finale. Roslin is going to work triage in the medical bay, and, amazingly, there seem to be plenty of sterile sheets and medical supplies all these years later.
The Galactica check-off ensues and we see all aspects: Raptors in the gift shop landing pod (I guess they'll bust through the glass), Marines, Centurions, and Baltar and Caprica Six find each other but it's a bit of a cool reunion - and utterly contrived. Adama's last speech on the phone-thingy, "This is the Admiral ..." really? Does Hoshi know? They spool up for the perfect-throw jump to the Colony.
We see a quick overlay of the Colony appearing - growing - then zero in on the "mouth" and JUMP there is Galactica, and BIG GUNS start firing (conventional ballistic weapons still - even on the Colony?) ... Galactica is lit up - almost orange from so many strikes - cool CGI here - then MommaCylonEllen leans down and says, "It's time, Sam" and he sends out Final Fiver Hybrid love waves to the (single?) Colony Hybrid and she feels him, and her cool blue tank and light turns red like Sam's and the Colony guns stop. The new female communications specialist who took over for Lt. Hoshi in C&C says the Colony will be launching Raiders. Really? Wouldn't Sam-ized Colony Hybrid stop that? Does not compute
Then Tigh says, "lauch all wings" and we see all kinds of Vipers come screeching out of Galactica (first continuity error, they cannibalized all the launch mechanisms save for one in Part I). Then, ramming speed, sure enough they plow the Galactica right into Colony and they - punch through. Really? We never hear that they did recon to find out the specifics of the Colony - the thickness of its shell perhaps. The Raiders in the gift shop FTL'd into space and
start their strafing run - the whole issue of FTLing near the Galactica (and certainly from inside) is ignored. I guess for several episodes Adama had to ponder the strength of the buckling support members and yet here at the end FTLing from inside a pod and ramming the ship into a many-miles-wide base isn't a worry. I can suspend disbelief but I can't suspend logic. Cylon raiders pour out of the Colony and inside where she's punched through, the Galactica blows some hatches that luckily weren't bent and crumpled by the impact and goodguy Centurions (moving real fast now) and Lee and Marines descend and there is gravity and they quickly make their way into red-light-paneled corridors. The humans wear EVA suits, then we hear "We've got pressure," and Lee orders them to take off their helmets - I guess "pressure" is breathable air and why have the added protection of a helmet when your hair can flow free? Then the Kara, Helo, Athena, Racetrack, etc. Raptor wing dodges zillions of asteroids and poor Cartwheel hits one. Adama said it was too dangerous for Helo and Athena to go look for Hera but they can do this? Rrrrriiight
Racetrack's co-pilot, a rare black guy, starts bantering and a nasty little rock pierces their windshield and splatters his brains ... didn't you listen to Chef in South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut? The black guy always dies. The surviving Raptors land on some flat area on the Colony and use welding torches to cut through - metal? When Galactica punched through the shell of the Colony it looked like ceramic or beetle shell. Instantly Kara and her assault team, sporting spiffy black ops black uniforms, race through the giant 60s giant-bubble-wrap-lava-lamp corridors - guns aimed.
Simon is using a metal Silly-Straw to touch the sedated Hera's head (doesn't look any cutting has been done yet) and Boomer is now uber-maternal. The Colony is coming down around us she proclaims to which Simon dismissively retorts, "In the end it's all about mathematics, we have superior numbers," superior weapons, etc. Cue Cylon-on-Cylon neck snap. Sorry Rick Worthy, the black guy always dies. Back in the corridors old model Centurions fight alongside the newer models (of course no explanation) and now the red stripes have a meaning - to let the humans know who's on their side. The CGI here is iffy, the Centurions move much too fast and why the hand-to-hand combat when they could fire weapons? Cavil, Doral and another Simon (how long have you got buddy?) find the dead doctor Simon and once again Cavil shows himself to be a pathetic military planner, he admits he "miscalculated" Boomer's actions.
The Galactica is rocked about endlessly, Roslin still waits in an empty sickbay for the carnage to come. Caprica Six and Baltar have some forced, stilted exchange about how she is now "proud" of him for putting himself in the line of fire. They look into each others eyes - the spark is still there. He grabs her and lays on a passionate kiss. Voiceover of Head-Six and they both look and see Head-Six (red dress) and Head-Balter and they say - in unison - "You hold the future of Cylons and humans in your hands." You know how you see someone do something embarrassing and you end up feeling embarrassed? This does not work. It is really awkward.
More Kara/Helo/Athea Squad prowling the same corridors (did they only build like three of these?) and here comes Boomer out of the spent ammo fog holding a big Hera (that girl grew!). She gives her over to Athena and tells Athena to tell Adama she owed him one, and once again a Crazy 8 has to pull the trigger and Athena wastes her. Um, okay - gratuitous, but I guess you can check one off your list. Aaaannd Flaaaaashback: Adama and Tigh lecture Boomer for her poor landings (linking back to the mini again) and we get the set-up about her owing him one. There, tied in a bow.
Screams and blood as the injured now pour into the medical bay and Roslin is still wearing that silly wig even with the chaos and her bloody hands. War is an ugly business and she just doesn't want to put that "X" on the the foreheads of the ones who won't make it.
Back to the corridors and Kara is still weilding that gun like a kid who is overacting while they play cops and robbers. They meet up with Lee's squad (kinda like during the Gaeta coup when they found Tigh and Adama) and they see the objective of the mission, little, well medium, Hera (what is she 8 now?) and retrace their steps. Back on Galactica C&C Adama and Tigh bark into the old phone-thingies and Tigh sends the "red-stripes" Centurions to repel the attack by Cavil's forces who penetrated deck 21 and Adama says "ETA five minutes" for Lee's return with Hera, et al (guess it's a quick climb back up those ropes?). And lickety-split they're back on the Galactica, coming round the corridor where they find Caprica Six and Baltar shooting at things. Lee gives a half-ounce of appreciation, then some more sloppy CGI work as newer model Centurions in pursuit are waylaid by rifle fire in a manner a human body might fall (too fast for such heavy robots to recoil like that). A Doral rounds a corner and takes out a marine and hits Helo in an artery in the leg and Hera runs off.
Roslin, shell-shocked, sits outside Medlab and shoots herself up with some drugs and has a quickie Opera-House flash and knows instantly Hera is back and instinctively knows which way to go (Roslin's connection to her will never be explained).
Athena runs after Hera after shouting at Helo, "You'll bleed out," "Go!" Helo orders. And the Opera House intercuts, Hera running down the Opera House corridors and then the real corridors, bodies and bullets everywhere but she is strangely calm - I couldn't help but thinking of C3PO and R2D2 in the first and best Star Wars movie crossing that corridor with all the laser fire zipping about but none hitting them. Druggy, dying Roslin lumbers about looking for Hera.
Music rises with an all-is-lost theme as Cavil now marches Galactica's corridors with his Centurion army. Roslin finally catches up to Hera and we see her Opera House visions and she gathers her up in the Galactica corridor and shields her and hides her. Cavil and his forces go by and when Roslin looks down Hera is gone. Cue Baltar and Six for their Opera House turn (is this a ride?) Baltar checks his ammo, "I'm empty" "Two rounds" responds Cap6. Baltar and Cap6 then turn to see that standing there shielding her ears is Hera. Roslin gamely limps about and finds Athena as they close in and at last the Opera House montage comes together as they traverse through the Galactica in time with the Opera House visions - matching as Roslin and Athena get their too late as Cap6 and Baltar swoop her up and take her "inside" - are they all projecting? Inside the "Opera House" is a scene of bloody carnage on the Galactica C&C - with Adama kicking down a neck-blood-spurting Simon. In Opera-House vision overlay, Baltar and Cap6 look up at the upper deck where Ellen, Tigh, Tyrol, Tory and Anders in his tank are and we cut back-and-forth to the glowing robes Final Five on the balcony. This few minutes is far superior to anything else so far this ep.
Scccrreeeeeeeeeeccchhh. Not so fast. Suddenly Cavil is there (where did he step forward from?) and gets Hera in a headlock and has a gun to her head. Everyone else aims as Cavil and rather than in the trial scene at the end of Season 3 now we get Baltar's big monologue. "I see angels" and standing Stage Right are Head-Six and Head-Baltar (oh dear). For some reason Cavil entertains Baltar's ramblings about some larger force being at work and how it all must end, the cycle of death and conflict blah blah. Tigh intones, "We'll give you resurrection." Oh, he remembers now? To which Ellen retorts, "Saul!" as of he'd farted at the dinner table or something. Tigh says end the war for now and all time. Cavil says he can do something about it right now and asks for the Galactica-actual phone-thingy and says, "This is Cavil. All forces stand-down." Er, who was he talking to? The phone just had a direct line to the Colony brain? Hot Dog (aaaargghh, he still lives?!) calls in from dodging asteroids and tells them the fight is over. The Deal is struck, Cavil will just leave the humans alone and get resurrection in return. [gee, if he'd only guarded the Hub with 20 Base Ships .... hmmm]
Ellen, Tigh, Tory and Tyrol stand around Sam's tank and are going to touch the water and they will be joined in the data-stream so they can piece together resurrection technology to transfer to Cavil. Tory is very nervous because they'll all know everything about one another and find out she killed Callie. They touch the water and things go red again and now a Simon is on the phone (wow, you're still here?) to the Colony and says "We're getting the designs, it looks right." Then Tyrol and the others have flashbacks (very brief) and all see Tory killing Callie and Tryol becomes enraged at this and pulls his hand from the water and Sam and Colony Hybrid scream. Tryol grabs Tory by the neck and all can clearly see what is happening but Doral shouts, "It's a trick" "Open fire" from somebody else and more needless carnage and fake drama. Tory is dead dead dead, and this from a guy who was with her 2000 years previously and didn't really love Callie and boo-hooed about that constantly. During the eruption of gunfire Cavil decides to eat a bullet. You read that right, he stuck a gun in his mouth and killed himself. There simply is no explanation. It steps completely outside the realm of logic.
Then we cut to outside the Colony where Racetrack's Raptor is slowly rotating and a little rock bangs it and we see, oh Racetrack is dead too yet the nudge knocks her hands down onto the launch-nuclear-weapons button (I guess when the windshield broke it let gravity pour in) ... and an array of nukes heads for the Colony. BoomBangBOomBaby ... all up and down those arms and center it is goin' up. Camera zooms in on one of the arms and we see Galactica is lodged in there - gee how did they know it was way down that arm they wanted to make their assault? Adama tells "Starbuck" to jump the ship. Um, I thought Sam was controlling all that, and I thought it took time to "spool up."
Kara says, "There's gotta be some way outta this place," and we see a montage of her musical notes, equations, little girl memories, Hera's dots, etc. etc. and she plays the FTL keypad with the song notes for coordinates because the rendezvous point isn't in there for some reason. JUMP
... into the Kara-Lee Zak-passed-out flashback ... good exchange of Kara explaining to Lee that she's not afraid of dying - about the only compelling moment out of any of the flashbacks.
JUMP ... the Galactica heaves and pulses, almost tearing apart as it recoils from the jump - pieces flying off ... sorry CGI dept., but this looked not so top-notch (the lighting - it looked video-gamish). Back inside we see Kara's magical numbers: 1123.6536.5321 ... Tigh says, "She's broke her back, she'll never jump again." Cue The Moon as Galactica, crumbling, passes close and on toward our Earth, with Africa visible and almost no cloud cover. Then we see Galactica low in orbit over our Earth and in jumps the rest of the fleet. Cut to ships descending to Africa and then a bunch of guys laying on the grass, including Cottle. Hoshi gives his Admiral stars back to Adama. They see primitive humans and Baltar tells them that a divine hand must have put them there. Cottle tells them their DNA is compatible (he ran tests already?) President Romo talks of building cities and Lee says, nah, let's go native and as I predicted when I first started this blog, the ships were flown into the sun. Kara says a farewell to Sam first and tells him she loves him (not Lee?) and touches the water hoping for something, but nothing - best moment for Katee Sackhoff.
Adama, in full Viper pilot gear, is the last man on the old gal and looks over the huge hangar deck - which looks none the worse for wear given the battle and having its back broken (c'mon CGI guys, most of that is computer-generated - lights couldn't be out, beams askew, floors buckled?). This scene could easily have been cut.
Back on GreenGrass Tarp City (as all the fleet agreed to abandon technology and live off the land !?!?) the endless ending shows us Roslin dying, Lee and Kara together, Tyrol going off to Scotland by himself, and Ellen and Tigh having flashbacks to the strip joint and Adama flashbacks to the job interview where he had to take a lie-detector test, "Are you a Cylon?" [this brief moment was interesting] Then Adama loads up last-moments-Roslin and takes her to Valhalla in the Raptor and Adama is either going to crash it or jump it into the sun or live alone somewhere because it was a farewell with finality to Lee and Kara. Kara then tells Lee she's going for good too and we Flaaaashback to Zak-Lee-Kara drunk-post-dinner-doing-shots where Kara "double-dog" dares him to do her on the table right then and there (was she channeling Ellen?). This bit was just cringe-worthy.
Kara and Lee then stand on the Windows XP landscape with the sweeping green grass and he talks about exploring and then turns around the huge grassy expanse and she is gone. So it's 3 angels: Head-Six, Head-Baltar, and Kara. Lee then wakes up in his place on Caprica/flashback and the pigeon is there on the table and shows itself out, flying out the open kitchen door. You know what I think of that from above.
Flashback to Laura's blind-date on Caprica and she's had second thoughts and tells the hunk to take a hike, then calls Adar's rep and says she'll join the campaign. So.
The rest is just the endless ending not ending! Romo counting hippies, er, live-off-the-land humans. More green fields, Helo with a walking stick (he lives!), Hera and Athena. Baltar and Caprica Six looking on and the final appearance of Head-Six and Head-Baltar (or so we think) giving the real ones the kiss-off. Hera in 60s solarization - the Earth-child-divine-mother-whatever.
Fast-forward 150,000 years (no, for real) and now Head-Six and Head-Baltar are snarkily wondering if the cycle will repeat as they walk around New York City. They reference "god" again, so I guess we're left with the impression that there is really a god and really are angels and Kara, Head-Six and Head-Baltar were angels.
This was so strange - really, it was like watching a completely different show than what I watched when I first viewed the minseries. It's like they aren't even the same show. What Moore did was connect-the-dots with his plot-points but it was not satisfying, it was infuriating and at times ridiculous. If ever there were an example of a writer being in way too deep to see the forest for the trees, you witnessed it with Daybreak, Pt. II.
I hate to say it, because I really wanted to have the show redeem itself from its wrong-way-Betty problems of Season 4 and especially Season 4.5, but I must say the finale was awful. A mighty let-down.
2nd Viewing Review [rebroadcast on SciFi 3/27]
I wish I could say I enjoyed it better. I did not. I just kept finding more weak points. This time Bear's music really bugged me - I found it overly mushy and too same-sounding throughout. I also noticed that I thought the Sam-taking-over lighting effects seemed cheap - simple strobes as if someone was standing their flicking a switch on-and-off rather than a random pattern. I was annoyed that the ships looked in such good condition when they formed up to fly into the sun - especially the rebuilt Zephyr (all that effort to repair its ring and its crew is going to go Native and give it up? rrriiiight)
I'm surprised Michael Hall hasn't done an extensive post about this: I noticed in one shot in "Africa" were a stand of Birch trees - native to cooler northern climes. [I know, it was the Canadian outback within driving distance of the studio]
What really shocked me is that when they did finally cut to people on Earth it was Cottle and the gang laying prone rather than a stand of taller green grass and Lee, Laura, Kara and Adama (sans Billy of course) at night looking at the stars, reprising the scene from the Temple of Athena (that would have been a goosebumps moment).
When Adama tells Lee as he leaves "I don't have much time, son" they could've shown his old chest scar weeping blood from when he was slammed into the CIC console or some such.
They mention "one million light years" as the distance they traveled - I'm assuming from the Colonies to New Earth. The Milky Way is estimated to be only 100,000 light years across with 200 to 400 billion stars. So they bounced around the galaxy around 10 times or traveled from another galaxy.
And when Lee tells "president" Romo "No cities," is that not a dictator talking - wouldn't Romo the man of the law remind him that they are still a democracy and must vote on it? He just accepts Lee's explanation that the cycle must be broken without suggesting due process. I know, I quibble - Moore had to wrap it up.
Then there's the Cavil conundrums:
-Cavil wakes D'Anna at the request of the 4s, 5s, and Boomer to end the Cylon civil war. If Cavil knew all along who the Final Five were and planned to simply wipe out all humans so they wouldn't get in the way of his goal to be a better machine, why would he entertain such a request at all, ever?
-Cavil's key mistake (and I think other than bringing Ellen back the key mistake of the show) is his poor guarding of the Hub. The ability to resurrect is the key strategic asset and legacy asset for Cylons (in terms of perpetuating their civilization) and he only guarded it with 2 Base Ships when we are led to believe there are tens or hundreds or even thousands out there. He could have formed a shell of Base ships around it. In losing the Hub his focus went from offense to defense - needing assets from the enemy to regain resurrection technology (The Final Five and/or Hera). This is an unforgivable weakness in the story construction.
-Then after the Hub was destroyed he seemingly made no attempt to kidnap Hera until Ellen showed up unexpectedly and he laid his trap with his "pet 8" ... he could have also sought to kidnap the Final Four still in the fleet since he knew who they were.
-Cavil listens to Baltar's angel speech. Cavil wanted to be a better machine and knew Baltar to be a self-serving atheist and it defies logic that he would entertain his religious pleadings even for a moment (other than Moore the writer wanted it that way).
-Cavil eats a bullet. I've read that Dean Stockwell suggested that. It reminded me of a David Lynch moment ... and had they gone even crazier with the lighting and music and chaos it could have worked on that level, otherwise it just makes zero sense.
The last thing that sticks in my craw is the voiceover of how the Centurions "were given their freedom" and let go on the Base Ship and the "2s,6s and 8s agreed to live" on new Earth ... yet there is no mention of the 1s, 4s and 5s. What happened to them?