Let’s get something straight right off the bat, people: simply having a pretty good cliffhanger at the end of an episode, particularly a season finale, doesn’t make up for boring the audience for the previous 45 minutes.
That’s right, today we’re talking about the seasonal finale of Battlestar Galactica (and don’t read the rest of this if you don’t want to know the twists and reveals, because it’s what we’re talking about). So little that happened in the first three-fourths of the episode was interesting. I will completely accept that Lee Adama’s speech was great during the Baltar trial, but there are a couple of huge problems with it.
First, the immediate one, Lee testified in order to give evidence for a mistrial, which not only did he not do, but the show completely ignored the move for the mistrial upon the conclusion of his testimony. Apparently the judges forgot why Lee was testifying to begin with. They never said yea or nay to the motion for a mistrial, they just proceeded as though Lee had simply been giving testimony like any other witness. That’s really weak writing and hugely disturbing for a show that usually incredibly well-written.
The second problem with the scene is that Lee brings up the fact that President Roslin issued a blanket pardon for all crimes committed on New Caprica. This is true. Roslin did issue said pardon. Baltar however is on trial for crimes committed on New Caprica, crimes that Roslin’s blanket pardon must have included. Excuse me while I get incredulous for a moment here, but how is it possible that no one on the Galactica, no one in the Colonial Fleet, and not one of the writers or producers or stars of this show stood up and said before this moment something along the lines of: pardon me, but how is it possible that Baltar could be on trial for crimes for which he was already pardoned. Furthermore, when he is acquitted by a vote of 3-2, it is never explained how two judges could have voted to convict someone who was already pardoned of the crimes for which they were on trial.
To steal from the show, what the frak? This is another ridiculously large example of poor writing. And, what’s more disturbing about it, is that so much of the latter half of this season of the show has been leading to trial which should never be allowed to happen. It’s really quite sad. Did Roslin’s blanket pardon not include Baltar? I don’t recall her saying “I hereby pardon everyone for everything that happened on New Caprica save Gaius Baltar because gods damn it, we’ll have nothing to do for the rest of the season.”
Diehard fans, and people looking to absolve the show of all sins will state that Roslin’s blanket pardon was for everyone in the fleet, and at the time the pardon was issued Baltar was not physically in the fleet, he was with the Cylons. However, as a survivor of the Twelve Colonies, and as a one of the last members of the human race, Baltar is unquestionably, a member of the fleet, which Roslin used as a stand-in for all of humanity anyway. Baltar was included in the pardon.
I’m trying so hard to like this show. I used to really, really enjoy it. But, my faith is being sorely tested here. Perhaps the showrunners realized the huge problem with the Baltar trial too late, and the cliffhanger ending and the possible reveal of four of the “Final Five” was thrown in to make up for it. I’m just not sure though.
We don’t know that those four people are really four of the Final Five Cylons either. We don’t know what they felt or what led them to that conclusion. We also don’t know if something happened to them during their time on New Caprica (or maybe even old Caprica for those that were there) to later make them think they were Cylons. It’s unclear. It’s unproven. Okay, it’s interesting and it’s enough to keep me watching, but it was only one of the two cliffhangers we were given.
The final cliffhanger, the return of Starbuck, worries me (yes, again, I’m worried). Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) has signed on to guest star in NBC’s Bionic Woman pilot. She’s not the lead, but she is in it and if it gets picked up, she may end up as a regular. Okay, that’s a lot of “ifs,” and both shows are all part of the NBC-Universal family, so something could be worked out wherein Sackhoff could appear regular on both, but that could be like NBC and HBO saying not to worry, sure Drea de Matteo can be on Joey and The Sopranos a couple of weeks before she gets whacked.
And, lastly on this score, I thought getting rid of her character was fantastic. I was so incredibly tired of Starbuck’s whining. Every season she seemed to go further and further downhill as one trauma in her past after another was revealed. Every season these traumas would be resolved, Starbuck would act like a real human being for a couple of episodes, and then she’d sink deeper into her self-loathing quagmire. I was happy when her head finally went below the surface of her self-made swamp. She can come back, I’m okay with that, but only if she gets reworked.
I can accept the poor-writing and ill-conceived plotlines we dealt with this season in Battlestar Galactica, but what could turn me off the show next season is 22 episodes of Starbuck playing the poor little mistreated viper jock.
So, in closing, I look forward to next season, I still have faith that the show can return to a better time. I hope that the Colonial Fleet finds Earth, that they destroy the Cylons, and that the Final Five are truly revealed.
But, much like how the Fleet must feel, while I have hope, I also sense a darkness coming.