Okay, so here’s what I didn’t like:
- The religious themes, which were more active in this episode than I think they ever were in the show, except maybe to Gaius Baltar from the Six in his head. I liked it much better when the mythology held historical clues to help the fleet unravel the way to Earth, rather than when the supernatural plays an active role. I think that takes away from the characters as the main drivers of the show’s action. There never seemed to be any direction from an external entity until this point. This was most disappointing to me in Kara’s disappearance; in fact, now that I think back on it, I could have done without the whole “is Starbuck dead?” issue.
- William Adama going off to be by himself for, apparently, the rest of his life. First, I don’t think that’s all that consistent with the character–although I think he definitely would have gone for some serious alone time, he would have come back to his people eventually. Especially to Lee, who is now basically screwed because he has nobody! (Which was not true until the Adama takeoff/Kara disappear scene.)
- The robot montage at the end.
That said, I liked a great deal of the finale. I think it wrapped things up just about as well as the show could possibly have ended.
- ‘Earth’ as an ideal that lends its name to the planet. I thought that was a logical and yet unexpected way to resolve the mid-season cliffhanger.
- Tying in the Colonial fleet with present-day humans. Avoids all the nasty complications of what to do if the Colonials reached Earth in the present or future, and also ties in with the “life here began out there” mythology of the old ‘Battlestar Galactica’ series, which Ron Moore has referenced a couple of times.
- The theme of cyclical time and breaking out of the cycle–which has been in vogue in scifi for quite some time now, but is still good to play with. I particularly liked, though, how BSG leaves breaking the cycle up to…the audience!
- The cinematography (especially the music) for the scene where Kara punches the coordinates into the FTL system.
- That battle…! Didn’t feel quite as epic a naval duel as the ones involving Pegasus or as fun a dogfight as the first season battles, but what a great way for the Galactica to go out. Hallway gunfights are also a great way to focus the action on the characters. Two more points here: (1) redstripe Centurions rock, and (2) the effects guys must have watched the opening scene of ‘Star Wars’ a lot when splicing the action sequences together.
- The Opera House. To me, the culmination of that set of visions, especially from Baltar’s point of view, represents the idea of ‘fate,’ but not in the sense of predetermination–instead, it means ‘fate’ in the sense that our choice of actions lead us to a new set of choices, which lead us to a new set, all culminating at a specific point; our actions and the opportunities to choose those actions can be traced back through many critical points, though we still have free will to choose at each point. Think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. The Opera House represented one possible critical point, given the set of all preceding choices. Looking at Baltar, specifically, we see that he had the free will to choose his path, and he almost always chose his own self-interest (or what his Six convinced him was his self-interest); his choices led him to a critical point facing Cavill in CIC.
- Mary McDonnell’s acting. Also Edward James Olmos. They did a great job on the final episode.
It’s been a great ride. And while those disappointments in the finale were very disappointing, the episode as a whole kept me thinking, so it seems to have worked. Mostly, I’m sorry to see it go.