The story of the BSG god. (Gog)
As is obvious to any reader here, I was quite disappointed with the god-did-it ending of BSG. However, we'll need to examine this god a bit more because in some way, it's the only other character, besides Young Bill Adama, who we will see in the upcoming Caprica series.
The god appears to some extent, as an underground monotheist cult exists and 2 of the 3 initial Cylons are patterned after its members. It has to be assumed it is from here the Cylons got their own monotheist religion.
The first question concerns whether the monotheist religion is indeed related to the Gog (God of Galactica). Did Gog appear to its founders, or is this simply a human-invented religion that hits upon something true by accident.
The second question is just who is Gog, and how does it relate to the Lords of Kobol? Moore's podcast comments say that on Kobol, man lived with the gods, and then became like gods when they created their own artificial life (the 13th tribe Cylons.) So the Lords of Kobol were real, and lived with humans. How does this make sense in the context of Gog? Is Gog one of the Lords of Kobol, or does it predate them? If so, why did it tolerate them and who were they?
Gog has at least two angels who are independent beings, who I will call H6 and HB. Possibly more than 2. We don't know if Kara's Leoben and her father were manifestions of those two. Likewise Roslin's Elosha, of the Final Five's messengers. If the messengers were independent, it seems there are at least 5 of them. These angels appear to be mostly incorporeal and immortal. They talk about Gog as a distinct being, but also as a force of nature. However, Gog has likes and dislikes, and a plan for both humanity and individual humans.
For a long time I was supposing that Gog was a very advanced A.I., as were the Lords of Kobol. However, it's meant to be supernatural. It is a big strange to have a story where there are both false gods, who exist (the Lords of Kobol) and a real god as well.
Gog is described as beyond good and evil, a force of nature. It certainly moves in strange and mysterious ways. For most of Kobol, colonial and 13th colony history, Gog allowed the polytheist worship of the Lords of Kobol to thrive. We are told that in "Caprica" the story involves a banned monotheist cult, from which the first Cylons arise, thus giving them their religion. But prior to this, if there has been monotheism, it is not very common. The Final Five were polytheists. Kobol was openly polytheist, and the gods lived with the humans. Baltar was rather taken aback by H6's preaching about Gog.
H6 is not a cylon of course, but appears to Baltar as one. The god she preaches about appears to be the Cylon god but we can't be completely sure of that. She is in touch with the real thing. Yet the Cylons who speak of god believe that it was god's will that they destroy their "creators." Did that come to them from Gog, or is it a result of the way Cavil reprogrammed them to forget about their actual creators and upbringing. The Cylons see the Final Five in the space between life and death -- is this a repressed memory, or is this something Gog sends them? We presume that Gog is the master of the space between life and death, and Gog is the one who called Starbuck into it.
Gog is highly interventionist when it suits it. It may have triggered the Cylon destruction of the colonies. It certainly allowed it to happen. Gog speaks directly to various characters to make them do things. When a being of this level whispers in your brain, it does so knowing exactly how you will react and what you will do, and says the right things to attain the desired results. A god whispering in your brain is like the control a computer programmer has over a program, or the ability of an owner to trick a pet.
Gog may or may not know the future. The angels H6 and HB don't appear to know it, other than what they are told by Gog. Gog sends a vision of the Opera House chase to various characters. Is this knowledge of the future, or a vision that Gog plans to bring about? Is Gog outside of time and watching its plan unfold, or is Gog making its plan unfold? If so, it's making rather fine-tuned control, orchestrating the final confrontation, making sure the F5 will be up on the balcony and so on.
Let's look at some of the things in Gog's plan
- Billions of years earlier, breeding two planetfuls of life with genetically identical humans.
- It probably inspired the sacred scrolls.
- It knew of the war on Earth-1 and sent the angels to the final five. It must have put the song into Anders' head, including an opening line which, when translated to numbers, will be jump coordinates for use 2,000 years in the future from the singularity to the Moon.
- It modified the Temple of Hopes to be the Temple of Five, a chamber where the Final Five could be seen when the star explodes.
- It presumably timed the arrival of the Final Five to the first Cylon war.
- If behind the monotheism, it's also behind the rise of the Cylons on Caprica and what personalities were uploaded into them.
- The placing of Tigh and Tyrol on Galactica, and of Foster and Roslin there at the start of the war.
- It put the song with Earth's coordinates into the head of Starbuck's father, and various compulsions into her brain, such as the mandala.
- It was probably behind the destruction of the colonies. And the survival of the Pegasus, and of course the Galactica.
- It manipulated Baltar in all sorts of strange ways, causing him to act strangely, sometimes helping the Cylon cause, sometimes the human. A rewatch is necessary to get a list of all the things H6 manipulated Baltar to do.
- It probably put in Shelley Godfrey to cause Baltar to be suspected and then cleared.
- It made sure Baltar would keep his Cylon detector results secret. (When Boomer is figured, H6 scares him into keeping it quiet.)
- It arranged for a nuke for Gina, and for Baltar's election, and thus for the halting of the tribes on New Caprica
- It probably arranged the jump glitch which found New Caprica, and the Cylon detection of Gina's nuke.
- It arranged for the Cylons to recapture Hera, sending a message to an Oracle.
- It probably arranged the circumstances where Ellen would die and be recreated.
- It talks regularly to the Cylon ship hybrids and the first hybrid to manipulate their activities.
- Likewise it appears to talk to oracles from time to time.
- It contaminated the food to force the fleet to the Algae planet.
- It arranged the meeting of the forces at the Algae Planet. Did Three's activation go with Gog's plan or against it?
- It exploded the star at the Algae planet, or timed the meeting perfectly to match it. Now that's interventionist!
- It gave compulsions to Starbuck to kill herself, which she did.
- It then planted Starbuck's dead body and Viper on Earth
- It then created a brand new Viper and put Starbuck in it, over Earth
- It probably directed the Cylons to the Ionian Nebula, as it planted clues to send the fleet there.
- It probably disabled the fleet at the Ionian Nebula, to force the battle, recognition of Anders and Cylon civil war.
- It gave various visions to Roslin and Sharon and Hera, as well as the regular ones to Baltar and Six.
- It put the music into the heads of the final five at the Ionian Nebula, and then let them remember they were Cylons.
- It teleported angel-Starbuck to the Ionian Nebula, with compulsions in her head about finding Earth.
- It probably lead Leoben to Starbuck, and Starbuck to the region of space with Leoben.
- During the standoff, it compelled the Final Five to check out the Viper. It made the Viper show a tracking signal for the crashed original Viper on Earth
- On Earth, it made the Final Five regain a few more memories.
- From there, a long series of events were necessary to create the Opera House scene including:
- Sam getting shot, regaining memories and then becoming like a Hybrid who can be hooked into Galactica on the balcony.
- Boomer's return of Ellen and capture of Hera
- Raid on the Colony
- Various tactical elements of raid on colony leading to standoff in the CIC.
- Circumstances where Starbuck has to program an escape jump
- The abandonment of technology, and interbreeding
- The complete loss of Colonial culture and knowledge.
- All of modern Earth history.
- Further repeats of the cycle, until one day some civilization breaks it after enough repetitions. That too is part of god's plan.
- Once our Earth arises with dominant monotheism, it no longer likes to be called god.
That's a lot of intervention and complexity if you consider the result: All colonial civilization and knowledge is lost, and all that remains is a bit of synthetic DNA from Hera/Athena present in the gene pool on our Earth. The same could happen just by teleporting Hera and some others directly here.
Gog certainly does work in strange and mysterious ways.
Or rather, the writers do. For they did not have most of this plan laid out in advance. Yet everything on the list, and in some way everything that happens because of it, is a result of the intervention of Gog and its angels. And this lays out another reason why you don't want real gods in your fiction. It's too much. In some sense it's everything in the show. No longer a result of our characters and their natures and motivations, but the result of divine intervention. But if I wanted to see "Touched by an Angel" I would watch that. I prefer a drama where the characters have some control over their destiny, if they have a destiny at all.
Fri, 2009-04-10 22:20
You broke down all the events that happened... You Da Man!
It's make believe, your rationale and the real world do not apply... Your arguments fail because of this one undeniable fact. 2 paragraphs in you start using that word... Assume. How can you assume something that isn't real? It exists in the imagination of another person. You assumed that the show took place in our future... That worked out great for ya.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth... And then checked with Brad to see if that worked.
Fri, 2009-04-17 10:19
Good essay. I can agree with the reasoning and the quote of someone saying "Ron D. Moore is dead to them". The story didn't deliver on where it was heading and the producers mislead the audience in serious ways. How much that was down to professional or personal reasons, I guess, we'll never know.
I've watched the DVD pilot to The Show That Cannot Be Named and it was so bad it was embarassing. Why BSG was abandoned like that and, as you say, shot in the head I can't imagine. It's like Sci-Fi (or whatever they're called this week) got scared that their best show was becoming bigger than them, or they developed some twisted sense of spite.
Fri, 2009-04-17 14:55
oh my god
that was FUNNY!!!!!!!!!
Fri, 2011-08-26 10:08
Real vs Unreal argumentation
You can always tell a "fan" of some work or author, because they refuse to acknowledge that the work in question could ever be better than the result delivered. This is what separates fans from artists. It's quite possible that even Ron Moore himself is not totally satisfied with how BSG turned out, though I don't expect him to ever publically affirm it.
Fiction is not real (thats why it's call fiction) but as Brad succintly points out, even fiction has structure. It is not real life. As someone once stated, "Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction is obliged to make sense." That's a paraphase, but I present it to people who say the ending of BSG is great because in life many mysteries are never answered. I don't need every thing answered, and I like to have to figure some things out (for an ex. watch the end of Inception). Still I see a lot of people making excuses for thing that don't make sense, or are just plain wrong because it's "Sci Fi". They would never let another genre slide in this way, and I say that "sci-fi" fans that take this road know nothing about what true Science fiction entails.
Another point, which Brad doesn't bring up in this particular blog is the problem of characters inexplicable acting out of character, which can only be attributed to gog. The most glaring example of this was Callie who was surely thrown under the bus in the last season. Roslin flipped so many times as the plot necessitated it I thought she really was a "real world" politician. Sure people are complex, but that's the point of fiction -- to show us how and why. It doesn't do any good to have people arbitruarily do something without having set it up. Otherwise you have bad fiction. Some people love this show, heck I do too, but I'm not ready to consider it the greatest SF show that has ever been written. I'm certainly not going to go to ridiculous lengths to plug in the plot holes, inconsistencies and undeniable errors in science that the show entailed that many fans are more than willing to do. Even though Brad and I differ on the use of Gods, or God in fiction (I'd love to see more films like Dogma explore the concept)Brad brings up facts that I hadn't even thought of and I have to contemplate. The least anyone could do before they automatically rebutt his argument.
Sat, 2009-04-11 16:18
The One True God doesn't like to be called cylon, not God..
I think that it's the term 'cylon' that the OTG doesn't like.. Brings a new perspective on things.. Just a proposal from a loyal reader..
Sun, 2009-04-12 17:12
Not Unreal Just ILLogical
It doesn't matter if it's make believe or not it still should make sense. Great works of fiction have a logic to their plot and characters.
Brad just illustrated very well why having a god in the picture and pulling strings makes what happened in the show moot. Many of the pivotal scenes are now delivered by a supernatural force which removes the tension and cohesion of the story.
Mon, 2009-04-13 09:58
No, it just makes God one of
No, it just makes God one of the characters in the fiction. And, lets be honest, the problem isn't about logic or tension in the story. Its that a large portion of SF fans like their SciFi to be atheistic and get very uncomfortable when God or religion are portrayed but not debunked or ridiculed. Grow up. The show is over. If you didn't like it, tough. No amount of blathering about it and trying to rationalize your dislike is going to change it or is likely to change anybody's mind about it.. "Oh, I loved BSG's finale... oh wait, Brad said it sucked.. so I guess I didn't enjoy it after all..."
Mon, 2009-04-13 10:31
Criticism, after the fact, of a dramatic work can indeed help shape your opinion. It is more common to talk about this in terms of recognizing greatness. If a critic shows you positive qualities about something you didn't notice on first blush, this can help you appreciate why the work has greatness. Or why it doesn't.
I've put this effort into BSG because, unlike the vast majority of dramatic SF, it came close to greatness, and then squandered it. Yes, I mean greatness by my own standards, but I am not the only one to hold those standards. While it is certainly true that my tastes run to not having supernatural explanations for things in my SF, it is still entirely reasonable to consider whether the supernatural elements were done well, and whether they enhance or hurt the story.
When I read fantasy, I have no problem with it having supernatural elements. You will not find me saying Lord of the Rings was ruined by the presence of Illuvitar, or that Brust's "To Reign in Hell" sucks because it has god in it as a character.
Many feel, as I do, that divinity in fiction should not be used to resolve the story's problems. Indeed, if anything, the role of divinity is to create the problems which the characters must resolve. I also wish to understand why things happened in the story, why the characters did what they did. We will never understand Gog's motivations, that's inherent in it being a god. And so we will never understand why so much of the story happened, and it suffers for that.
Thu, 2009-04-16 14:47
Brad's take on this is accurate and extremely well thought out. I am with you in your keen analysis of the show and i also hold most of your views about the show squandering it's possible greatness.
If you analyse the show from a hard sf point of view it fails. If you want reasons read the blogs here.
Brad has tried to analyse the show from a religious perspective and also found it fails just as spectacularly if not more so. its nothing to do with whether you are an atheist or not, it boils down to poor planning or architecture and reactionary writing.
The biggest shame and loss to the series was the pointlessness of using all those wonderful characters and actors for them to be given what would be such drivel to work with in season 4. In retrospect as well now i'm afraid.
If you want life to be a complete mystery and not look for explanations of cause and effect then you will be happy with the ending, but then you would be the kind of person who gets hustled easily or conned - with a large slab of gullibility thrown in like a lemon.
Fri, 2009-04-17 10:21
Yeah, that's why I started calling it "B A T T L E S C A M -- G A L A C T I C A".
Sat, 2009-07-18 15:05
right on - the old saying "dog did it" is a cop out.
I totally agree and appreciate the effort you made to point it all out. This show had great characters in an interesting situation but couldn't rescue themselves.
Tue, 2009-04-21 11:04
Perhaps you should grow up?
There are a number of vocal fans of BSG who seem to feel that the show is perfect in every way and it is absolutely forbidden to make even the slightest criticism. Grow up. If it's so disturbing to you to hear a different view (which is neither blathering nor rationalization), you're free not to come to blogs which criticize the show. The point is presenting ideas, it doesn't matter much whether people get "converted".
Thu, 2018-06-21 03:59
Dues ex machina
Dues ex machina
Fri, 2009-04-17 14:58
wow, God does sure upset you
wow, God does sure upset you people.
Sat, 2009-04-18 07:53
God does not upset "us people", but bad writing does
"God" as a concept and character in the BSG story is not upsetting in and of itself, but, when used in the way in the series, and especially in finale to conveniently resolve hanging plotlines to make up for a very weak writing , is.
And this is exactly what Brad has been trying to illustrate to everyone here.
Having a "divine power" to come down to intervene and manipulate charcters in a story for the sake of fixing a problematic plotline ( ie. "Deus Ex Machina " ) has been criticized for *centuries*, most notably starting with the Greek philosopher Aristotle who criticised this literary device in his famous analysis of poetry called "Poetics", where he argued that "the resolution of a plot must arise internally, following from previous action of the play".
To help illustrate this fact, I will use one of his quotes:
"In the characters too, exactly as in the structure of the incidents, [the poet] ought always to seek what is either necessary or probable, so that it is either necessary or probable that a person of such-and-such a sort say or do things of the same sort, and it is either necessary or probable that this [incident] happen after that one.
It is obvious that the solutions of plots too should come about as a result of the plot itself, and not from a contrivance, as in the Medea and in the passage about sailing home in the Iliad. A contrivance must be used for matters outside the drama—either previous events which are beyond human knowledge, or later ones that need to be foretold or announced. For we grant that the gods can see everything. There should be nothing improbable in the incidents; otherwise, it should be outside the tragedy, e.g. that in Sophocles’ Oedipus."
Speaking of which, not to specifically criticize you hypercube, but I do have the distinct feeling that if Aristotle were alive today, he would most certainly be classified amongst those that you deem to call " You People.." And If that is the case, then Brad, I the others who simply believe that the ending of the new Battlestar Galactica series was dissapointing are sure to be in good company.
Sat, 2009-04-18 13:10
More than that
To be fair, I will admit to not liking the divine intervention ending on many levels, including the one you describe. I think there are many flaws in having divine characters, especially divine characters who are revealed at the end to wrap up various plot questions. And yes, I also am not fond of it because I don't believe in the supernatural and thus prefer my fiction to focus on natural rather than supernatural forces (and of course human characters) in driving the plot. However, I understand that this argument is of sway mostly with others who also want to avoid the supernatural, and I don't make it to those who like that sort of thing.
I do sense many viewers responding with "Ah, you don't like gods, so you don't like this ending" and thinking this is a sufficient dismissal of the various criticisms of this ending. But in fact it is, if you like, a counter to only one aspect.
The choice of a supernatural ending fails on a number of levels, and in addition, at a meta-level it is a bad choice because it is so hard to make it work. Even if you love supernatural endings, they are difficult to make consistent. So difficult that writers are usually tempted to just letting many inconsistencies go under the philosophy that "god works in mysterious ways."
So I would challenge those who feel the ending went well to outline why this was a good supernatural ending. Why this particular god, as written by the writers, resonated with you and made the story satisfying. Why the actions of this god meshed well with the stories of the characters, and gave meaning to their lives rather than subtracted meaning.
I can understand how one might like supernatural endings. With the right setup (for example, in many fantasy stories) I also have enjoyed them. So instead of putting the focus on "the critics just don't like god" I would be interested in seeing arguments that this is a good supernatural ending, that it contained the sort of things you want to see in a supernatural ending.
Sun, 2009-04-19 01:57
The problem with BSG's
The problem with BSG's ending is it's similar to a lot of theological discourse which falls down the rabbit hole and ends in handwaving and a shrug. That's not an answer it's a ramble. So, yes. I'm in lockstep with Brad on this. The problem isn't "God" the problem is delivery. Maybe I'm missing something here but I can't see what BSG's ending delivered, and no, backwards rationalising or enthusiasm aren't enough.
Tue, 2009-04-21 11:10
God is a plot killer
There's a reason deus ex machina is considered a bad thing, and it's not from any opposition to God. Invoking divine activity to resolve the story tends to render the actions of the human characters pointless. It renders the story "there exists a problem... blah, blah, blah... God fixes it", with the "blah, blah, blah" being all the human actions in the story.
Even in the 10 Commandments divine intervention is limited, allowing the actions of the human characters to do most of the driving of the story.
Sun, 2009-04-19 22:15
time to hand over the 'best show on television' label
I agree that the "God did it" approach to explaining a long list of plot lines and other events is ultimately dissatisfying.
Far more interesting and impressive would have been a handful of scenes over the final 10 episodes that addressed the major questions (and made it possible to figure out the minor ones). As an outsider, I'm wondering what it is I don't know that kept the writers from doing this. I know it's hard to do this -- probably very hard, when you consider that in addition to answering key questions, they also have to keep the show interesting and dramatic and etc.
For instance, as I continue to think about the show, two gaping questions that come to mind are WHO were the Lords of Kobol and WHAT happened to them? (And, if they had 'organic memory transfer' on Kobol, did Athena really die? Or was this just a cylon technology?)
But maybe the writers felt they couldn't get into all of this without turning the show into a documentary film on ancient cultures. I'm not a TV writer, and so maybe there's something I don't know that justifies this.
At the same time, it is disappointing to think that, at some point, Ron Moore must have just said -- 'Team, we're going to say that God did it so we can squeeze in a few more scenes where Adama flips out in his quarters.'
It may be the case that there's a fine line between what keeps a show on the air and what results in its cancellation. It may be the case that a rich, textured plot and story need to be nipped and tucked into to keep the drama fresh and fast-paced. It may be that most TV writers, let alone actors and directors, don't like the sci-fi and technical crap and struggle when they have to do scenes that explain stuff instead of simply being real frakked up about something or other.
But then again... Have you seen some of the other programming on the SciFi Channel? I am a huge fan of SciFi, and yet I find about 90% of their programming utterly unwatchable. Bad writing, bad acting, really stupid plots, and terrible special effects and production. Most of the rest of television isn't too far behind. And if you take the "good" shows on mainstream TV, is it really true that any good show must in general form resemble the cliche-ridden cop/crime drama model -- i.e., fairly good acting, sometimes decent writing, mildly interesting plots, and lots of suspension of disbelief, especially when they break out the karate.
I'm not saying BSG went for the emotional gut punches and keep-em-coming-back-for-more head scratching that accompanies Law and Order and all those CSI shows, with some kind of pulling-back-the-curtain at the end. But the "God did it" approach comes awfully close.
What does this leave us? In the end, this is still a very good show. Whatever its problems, it might be enough to say this was the one show I actually got excited about week-to-week and went to great pains to watch no matter my schedule. I think the acting/writing, most of the drama, and the production/effects were terrific. Many of the characters were wonderfully drawn and played, and some will become icons in ScFi, like Edward James Olmos' Bill Adama. (And as the show progressed, I developed a serious TV crush on Katee Sackhoff -- just check out photos of her off the TV set; the most beautiful/sexy actress out there right now, if you ask me.) And in the post-9/11 world, BSG had some genuine moments that were brilliantly executed and helped interpret what the country was going through in the wake of the attacks and the subsequent 'war on terror'. Overall, I really enjoyed watching the show and maybe someday will give it another whirl on DVD.
But I think the 'God did it' cop out means they do need to turn over their 'best show on television' seal of approval back to the TV Guide editors, or whoever first gave this one out (might have been the SciFI marketing department...).
Unless of course, we consider the phrase "on television" to be laden with irony, ala the best French cuisine in "Cheyenne, Wyoming."
No offense, good people of Cheyenne.
Martin BSG fan
Wed, 2009-04-22 01:51
if everything is a cycle then couldnt the Lords of Kobol actually be the technologically advanced humans that landed on Kobol (after they survived some major war) and brought technology with them instead of flying it into the sun. They mingled with the humanoid folks on Kobol and created cylons. Maybe the Lords of Kobol liked being worshiped and instead of sharing a monotheistic religion with the inhabitants of Kobol, they decided to be gods and were probably treated as gods. so there could be a pre-prequal about what went down with the Lords of Kobol before they got to Kobol.
David N. Scott
Thu, 2009-04-23 19:45
Good God ending
OK, here's my take. I actually enjoyed the act of watching the ending--seeing Hera get saved and seeing the happy ending for Helo, Athena, Caprica and Gaius, and the unhappy ending for Adama and Roslin (not that I wanted them unhappy, I just found it really moving) really worked for me in a way that TV usually doesn't. At all.
But the plot sort of sucked. I think you could've had a good God ending... as long as it was 'Oh, God was making us do all this stuff for such and such reason and if we hadn't done that, we never would've reached this point.'
I mean, even something like not being able to reach Earth except through the black hole (as cheesy as that would have been) would have worked. Then there would have been some reason for the whole thing. Instead, it's just 'Why didn't God have one of the Heads tell someone the coordinations way back in season one?' 'Er... God's mysterious. You know.'
I'm a Christian and I don't have a 'god problem'. But though I sort of liked that God existed in the BSG universe, I found it hard to follow at all. It really lacked that 'aha' moment where you go 'OHHH. Now it all makes sense!'
To use a ham-handed example, in the movie Signs it turns out the kid has athsma because he's destined to be attacked with an airborne toxin, among other things. Basically all of the character's weird quirks are actually setting them up to survive an alien invasion. OK, fine. But what the hell did so many of the shenanigans listed in this post have to do with anything??
And the theology is especially confusing. We still have no good connection to the Lords of Kobol, and I really disliked the 'doesn't like to be called God' thing. I mean, I guess it was some too cool for school disclaimer of modern religion or whatever... but seriously. 'God' is the only name we know the character by! And why don't Gog's angels know what Gog likes to be called? They've been on the job for more than 150,000 years! I've had my current boss for only one year and I know he prefers to be called Moe. I mean, seriously. What was that?
David N. Scott
Thu, 2009-04-23 19:48
To followup a little, what I'm saying is that it's fine to have a divine hand (Divine Hand?) guiding everything. But until I get some idea of the motives involved in the whole thing, I don't think that really explains anything. We know the character (Gog) and the method (vaguely-defined divine powers), but we don't know who Gog is or have any idea of the motives involved. So it's an explanation that isn't one, basically.
Thu, 2009-04-23 21:27
I feel that in proper religious fiction, satisfying fiction, the god is, like the writer, setting the stage, but the story told should be the characters' story. The struggle is theirs and the achievements and failures should be as a result of the characters' strengths and failings. Not simply because it was god's plan.
Almost everything our characters did amounted to nothing. Helo and Athena had a kid, and various forces worked to save the kid so she could make the jump to Earth. Apollo made sure that the colonials would wipe out any trace of their society and culture. Everything else they did amounted to little.
Mon, 2009-05-04 06:11
Hi. I've just discovered
Hi. I've just discovered your excellent blog. My reaction to the BSG finale was similar to yours. Not so much about the hard science, but the fact that "God did it for inscrutable reasons" fails to explain anything. For something to be a genuine explanation there must be alternative possibilities that would not have been consistent with it. But any event the writers could have included would be consistent with this non-explanation.
One thing which you don't appear to have noticed is that Ron Moore and Jane Espensen have said in interviews that H6 and HB are not just angels. They are angels and demons, so sometimes they help the characters and sometimes they hinder them! This is just an excuse for inconsistent storytelling.
Despite my disappointment, there's enough that's very good in the series that I've started watching it again from the start. (I'm currently part way through season 2.) But the only way I can enjoy it is to avoid trying to make any sense of those story elements which I know will not make sense, such as the behaviour of H6. I just treat her like a spectacular "force of nature" with no rhyme or reason to her behaviour.
When I listened to the podcast for "Downloaded" a couple of years ago, I understood Ron Moore to say (or strongly imply) that the head beings were just manifestations of the characters' subconscious mind. I subsequently rewatched the miniseries and S1 with this explanation in mind, and I found it a satisfying explanation of H6's behaviour. It's a shame to have had that interpretation taken away.
Mon, 2009-05-04 06:34
By the way, while rewatching
By the way, while rewatching S1 I noticed something I'd forgotten. When Starbuck is stranded on a planet with a Cylon raider and the fleet is searching for her, H6 manipulates Baltar into trying to have the fleet abandon the search and leave Starbuck behind. That's quite inconsistent with any idea that H6 is doing God's work, given that Starbuck seems to be so important to God's plan that He resurrected her.
Mon, 2009-05-04 12:04
I think this shows how had it is to rewatch and not have at the back of your mind that she's now an official agent of Gog. I have not done a rewatch, but I have to presume that things like this will be common, and hard for my brain to turn off. If you can do it more power to you.
Wed, 2009-05-27 04:10
"Lost" episode analyses?
This is off-topic, I'm afraid, but I couldn't think of a better place to post it.
I've really enjoyed reading Brad's analyses of BSG. So, now that I've just started watching "Lost", season 5, I'm hoping to find a blog that does for Lost what Brad did for BSG. Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm looking for intelligent analyses, not discussion forums, synopses, trivia, etc. It doesn't matter if the whole season has been written up already, so long as I can avoid spoilers by reading them in sequence.
Thu, 2009-05-28 02:13
Re: learned Lost analyses
Thanks for that, Aaron. I've started reading them.
Tue, 2009-07-14 13:49
Excuse me, but why does Gog
Excuse me, but why does Gog need a space ship?
Sun, 2009-08-02 12:06
"Excuse me, but why does Gog
"Excuse me, but why does Gog need a space ship?"
See... I think that right there is why a lot of people are having trouble with this. So many of us were raised on Star Trek - where anything supernatural is always explained away as an energy being or a being that exists on another dimensional plane etc... There is NO hocus-pocus in Star Trek. And in a lot of ways, Star Trek is the Brady Bunch of science fiction. Everything is always neatly fixed and tied up in the end. There is no mystery that we can't unravel with technology, human know-how, and cooperation.
But in reality, there are mysteries we cannot unravel. BSG showed that. We don't entirely know what GOB was trying to do, so we can't question any of his unusual twists and turns along the way. And having it all end up being GOB's big stage play was not at all disappointing for me. I had accepted LONG AGO that in the BSG world people have shared visions, prophesies come true, and angels live among us. Honestly, it makes perfect sense. The show was based on the premise that technology ruined us... but GOB saved us (for a while perhaps?). We can't really question his motivations and decisions along the way. Who knows what he was really up to.
And honestly, I didn't want our people to just suddenly find a planet and build a New New Caprica and all live happily ever after. They couldn't. Their lives were changed. Yes, they needed a break - and they got one. They were able to live out the rest of their lives in the wide open spaces of Earth (our Earth).
I think it was all quite fitting - and in fact, it has made me look at life in a totally different way. Perhaps there is a GOB with his hand in the mix. Who knows? All I know is this crazy blond lady will not stop talking to me about it! Why won't she shut up and get out of my head!?
Sun, 2009-08-02 12:39
Here we are
BSG screams so much Zen in people's faces it's a bit boring talking about it now.
The problem with technology and other people isn't really technology or other people. It's ourselves. The basic premise of BSG is that people built up some whacky ideas and hostilities then went bang. I'm probably driving a truck over RDM's lawn and parking it on his front porch by saying this but understanding was always possible but they threw even that away in the end.
Some people have identified the insanely irritating Starbuck as being a Buddha like figure of the "Pure Land Buddhism" variety but there's also precedent in the Old Testement scriptures in the character of Elijah. I have no idea if such a thing is possible in reality as I've never seen it or experienced it but it's a nice idea that distracts from our experience of the mundane and sometimes unpleasant flailing of death.
So, here we are...
Thu, 2009-08-13 02:35
That's what you think the premise was?
"The show was based on the premise that technology ruined us... but GOB saved us."
If so, then the show spent the first 3-1/2 seasons deceiving us about what its premise was... because while there may be an audience for an SF show that's about Luddism and mysticism, I wouldn't have been among it. Are you suggesting the writers set up all those intriguing mysteries and interconnections, all those political allegories and moral conflicts, just to distract viewers from the fact that the show's real message was something as blunt as "technology=bad, God=good"?
Mon, 2009-08-10 14:30
BSG: Utlimate Letdown
Hi, I`m an SF writer from Glasgow, Scotland, and me and my girl have just finished watching BSG on dvd, and I must declare myself four-square and solidly behind Brad on the monstrous suckiness of the finale, especially the last half-hour. The whole God-did-it is a stinging slap in the face of the fans who thought for all these years that they were watching a SCIENCE FICTION series, when in fact it turned out to be a fable. That's right - when God comes in the door, SF goes out the window. SF is about rational cause-and-effect, not just in the concepts and milieu in which its set but also in the narrative by which it is depicted. Others elsewhere have mentioned how this sense of being cheated closely matches the general reaction to the 3rd Matrix movie, which amply demonstrated that the Wachowskis didnt really know what they were doing. And now we can say the same about Ron Moore. Shame - Battlestar Galactica deserved a much better ending, a truly science fictional ending.
Mon, 2009-10-19 12:55
Jumping the Shark
My husband and I watched the last of the series in utter disbelief. The number of plot elements that didn't match up, the utter failure of closure for characters who were together then NOT, the all-of-a-sudden completely reliable cylon identifier (they're all cylons on earth, oh yes, we checked), AND IT WAS ALL GOD'S WILL - I felt exactly as I felt when X-Files was ending. Here we had a well-written show with compelling characters, and with a promise that there was an end-point that the writers had already figured out, so we waited to find out the mystery(ies) and they had no damn clue where they were going so handed it all off to a neat little religious conclusion. I don't think I've ever been so disappointed, nor amazed at the lack of character explanation.e.g., just because Galen isn't the biological father, he completely writes off the care of the son he's been father to that boy's entire life? Once Caprica's child is lost, she has no more scenes with Sol and somehow just transfers all love and affection back to Baltar? Starbuck's a frikkin' angel? And why for the love of whatever drive all the technology into the sun??????
Tue, 2010-05-25 18:36
Watched the DVDs and just
Watched the DVDs and just stumbled across this. Obviously long past the party, but I think the reviews by Mr. Templeton are spot on. What seems like a great show does simply degenerate into nonsense with gaping plot holes that ends with a pitiful lunge at God as an excuse. And "Jumping the Shark" is spot on about the characters as well. They are simply rewritten and manipulated at whim in the fourth season for whatever illogical sequence comes next. There isn't any actual drama when you reduce characters to such obvious puppet's on the writer's chain, which make the whole "God did it" even more ruinous. Their actions don't make sense because they were never making meaningful choices in the first place--they were just doing what Gog needed them to do.
Mon, 2010-07-26 23:32
Thank you, Brad
Just finished watching all the seasons and found this blog. I know this comment is a bit late, but I wanted to say a big "Thank you, Brad" for this in-depth analysis... Reading these posts regarding the ending of the show was a cathartic experience for me after the let-down of the overall "Gog" ending.
However, I did want to point out that we all really already knew that Gog was behind everything - the events that we've been privy too in seasons 3 and 4 (and a bit in season 2) were WAY too far-fetched and supernatural to have any other reasonable explanation... we all knew what was coming, and it was quite painful to watch the last season in expectation of the inevitable "God's will" explanation...
Overall - if we forget about Gog and just concentrate on the "human condition" events - the Pegasus stand-off, the father/son roller-coaster, the Sol and Adama friendship, the mutiny - it is undeniable that those events and those characters are what made the show truly great...
Tue, 2010-07-27 01:53
Only some events were truly extreme
The one most extreme event was the supernova at the Temple of Five. Making that happen required true godlike powers. There was a lesser explanation, that the string puller was just manipulating events (and there seemed to be good evidence of that) to bring everybody to that location on that day. But even that was extreme.
Wed, 2010-10-20 18:08
Who the Gog and the Angels are. Explained!!! or not? or Yes!!
My THEORY on the whole God and angels issue is somewhat simple. Also, if my theories are true, then if they creators would have made it clear, it would have been a fairly original and interesting move by the creators of a science fiction television series. (sorry this is longish)
1- angels are the future/timeless selves of the actual person. 2- gog is the head writer. (One somewhat leads into the other.)
First: the angels- I think that the angel versions of Gaius and Six are simply the future angel versions of Gaius and Six. They died in the future on earth after the series was done. They have already lived the future. They KNOW what will happen. They know there is a God because they spoke to his angels (themselves) and were resurrected by him. They lived with each other for a long time, so they know each other and what the other needs, they love each other. Thus, they are the perfect people for god to send back and craft their past counterparts into the people they will need to be. I mean Kara was resurrected as an angel and god gave her a spaceship, its not too far fetched to believe god could send Gaius and Six as his angel representatives back in time to affect their past selves. Thus, the reason why Six makes love to Gaius all the time in his head, is not JUST because she is a whorish angel, but also because she actually loves him. Also, she/he knows when and what their past selves will need to do, because she/he saw it happen before and saw who they will become. (Example: this is kind of like in Bill and Ted's excellent adventure when the future Bill & Ted help their past selves get out of jail by leaving a stereo of themselves singing. They knew what would happen if they did it, because they lived it.) Also, this would explain why 150,000 years in the future the two angels are still in Gaius and Six's bodies, even though there is noone around who would recognize them. They are in those bodies because they are their bodies.
Second: Who is Gog?- Gog is Moore. The ending of the series gives us a series of the most blatant clues as to who gog is.
-First, when angel Gaius tells Six that gog doesnt like to be called "god", then he says "oh silly of me" (or whatever he says exactly). Basically, this is a THICKLY veiled attempt by the actual head writer of Battlestar Galactica to insert himself personally into the series. He is the god of the Battlestar Galactica series. He has a real name (Moore), and most likely doesn't like to be called god by his creations (namely Six and Gaius (and maybe Moore's real friends)). But Gaius realizes in his head, after telling Six not to call Moore god, that the writer of Battlestar Galactica also wrote the line where Six called him god. So it is silly of Gaius to try and correct her, when technically the god himself made her say it.
-Second, in 150,000 years the Angels still look exactly like Gaius and Six. There is no-one left alive who would recognize them in that form, so why do they still look like that? What purpose would it serve?(regardless of whether they are simply angels and not future versions of their past selves. Wouldnt they switch forms somewhat in 150,000 years? Get a little tired of the same suit? All the other times angels appeared they did so in order for a particular person to recognize them)Like the story keeps saying, angels appear all the time as people close to us. We the viewers have grown close to Baltar and Six.They look like they do 150,000 years in the future simply because WE the Audience would recognize them. It is not some god acting within the realms of the universe using his angels, it is the writer self-imposing himself into the story, so that we the viewers might recognize him as the god. Basically, in the end, the show breached the 4th wall without saying it out-loud, and tried to give us other more alluring "outs" which we could try to figure out (like aliens and super AI).
-(Other Examples where this was done, except THINLY veiled: in the graphic novel "Animal Man" when Grant Morrison literally wrote himself into the book and had a conversation with his novel's hero Animal Man. Or how Deadpole in Marvel comics knows that he is a comic book character. Or that Adventures of Spiderman episode where Spiderman meets Stan Lee).
-Third, If that is not evidence enough, (that Moore made himself literally the God of the universe, and NOT in some "all writers are gods of their stories" way), Moore put HIMSELF IN THE LAST SCENE OF THE SERIES. He is literally there, in person, in the background, in NY. Right there, watching over his angels and giving them things to talk about. Its not just a joke or tribute to him for creating BSG, its a hint. Also, in Baltar's speech to Cavil, Baltar says that god is not in on anyone's side, "there is no right or wrong", "he is a force of nature." Moore is a Buddhist, one of the beliefs of many Buddhists is that there is no right or wrong, there are only actions. Thus, Moore would not believe that his actions were right or wrong, they simply happened. So when his ultimately enlightened disciple describes God, Moore would like Gaius to describe God using Moore's own views of himself. So, if you look at it in this view, Giaus Baltar basically states that Moore is God, and what Moore likes. Also, this explains why there are so many superfluous magical things that happen in BSG. They are there simply because Moore likes them.
- (examples in the show. why do Lara or Athena need to see visions of the opera house all the time in the series? Its not an opera house! The 5 cylons never glow and dress all in white! And Hera does not ever get hurt! Six and Baltar dont even take Hera for long, they dont raise Hera! They just hold on to her for a minute and give a speech. There is no reason for the god to reveal those images to the characters in that constantly traumatic way except to torture them, and to make the viewers wonder why its happening. Really, Lara and Boomer have very little to do once that moment in the series actually comes up. (yet the whole series references it constantly) Also, why does the god make a supernova go off and also allow Xena Warrior Princess to view the five's Cylon's faces in the opera house, at the temple? Sure, it kind of moves the story along, but not really, it was magic for magic's sake. Which viewers get intrigued by. How the hell did the 13th colony of Cylons leave a beacon in space with a disease that kills cylons. Wouldn't it of killed them? Why did they leave any signs behind? Why make such a huge temple on some algea world when its only going to be used once and it will blow up? Couldn't they of made it easier? Where the hell did Starbuck get a spaceship from? Is it a holy spaceship? Why did Starbuck need to die at all, couldn't they of gotten this whole, way to 13th colony thing in another way? How the hell did the spaceship go from a exploding in some atmosphere of a world to landing on earth? Wouldn't an angel be more self confident she is? (she was like a hidden angel, like Boomer was a hidden Cylon, with images and such, constantly questioning if she was going to do something in the future, but she didn't know what, and she was uncertain of WHAT she really was. Then just like Boomer, Gaius determined what she was through a blood sample.)
The answer to why all this happened? It was because Moore thought it would look pretty. It was interesting, it was a great show, but he had all these questions and mysteries dangled in front of us for 4 seasons, and in the end Moore popped out behind the curtain and said "ha, just kidding. But look at how happy they all are now." (Except he didn't pop out.Like the rest of the show's revealed mysteries he didn't come out and say it, he made it mysterious. And he has kept us guessing down other paths.) (Heck, the reason angel Six is probably so pissed when Gaius doesn't believe in God, is because she is scared Moore will write her out of the series if she doesn't convince Gaius to believe.) Most people don't realize that Moore has done this, because he did it in a tricky manner, people might be pissed if they found out, and writers just don't normally do it.)
(one interesting thought, is that if Moore is the gog, and these angels of Gaius and Six are from the future where they already know what will happen, then technically in the begining of the show they know alot more than the actual god (Moore), who has yet to write alot of the ending, they just know it will work out, and gog knows he will write it so it looks like it made sense to them all along).
Overall, gog is Moore, so you as the character are not merely influenced by gog, he writes exactly what you do. However, in that world, you might think you did have free will. Thus, Gog may or may not know what you are going to end up doing later, but when it comes, he will write it so that it looks like he knew all along. Thus, Moore secretly broke the 4th wall of stories, and he made himself literally the god of Battlestar Galactica. And this explains why everything is why it is. (The real 5th cylon is YOU!) (Just a theory)
Thu, 2010-10-21 11:31
No time travel
Moore had promised no time travel. He did not quite keep the promise but this would be a gross violation of it.
And the line, "silly, silly me" was actually written to a different purpose, and the lines before it were cut. There are clips of the original scene on the web.
Sat, 2010-11-20 11:54
Confirmation In Caprica?
I don't know if you still check these, but I and others noted something interesting on this subject in an episode of Caprica before it was yanked.
I agree with you that there really is no way to add up Battlestar without coming to the conclusion that Gog, far from gently nudging, is simply driving the whole show. But Caprica seemed to actually confirm that. Specifically, we saw what can only be characterized as a Head Zoe in flashback and present day. It saves the actual child Zoe from a fire, gives her the idea that will become Cylons, and drives a wedge between her and her father. Then we see the same entity giving career advice to the Avatar Zoe in the V-world, advice that will not end well. The upshot seems to be, exactly as one would conclude from your article, that GOG is simply making all this happen. Actively driving the Cycles for reasons that, based on the last thirty minutes of Battlestar, seem self-evidently stupid. So God is not only an idiot--he/she/it is "The Big Bad" as well.
Now, mind you, I'm not particularly interested in watching years of a show dedicated to the simple proposition that God is a dick. But that would at least be conceptually coherent. Unfortunately, I got the impression from that Caprica episode, just like the last year and finale of Battlestar, that they really don't understand the "story-with-a-beginning-middle-and-end" implications of what they're writing. Or maybe they just don't care. Maybe it was always pure smoke and mirrors, and they think the left over BSG viewers (a small group, apparently) are so mindless we'll just say "A head person. Cool!"
Would be interested in your opinion if you have the time.
Code Name Razor
Tue, 2011-01-11 22:13
Cycles and Cylons
I came here because I was doing a Google search for "How many humans did the Cylons kill" and found... this.
I've done more than a few defenses of the BSG finale in depth, but I'll try to be brief here. It seems to me that 99% of the issues people have had with the show is with the last hour of the four seasons, one mini-series, multiple webisodes, and two tv movies (although, I will grant you that "The Plan" was just a touch over "Meh" with regards to learning anything new of consequence). So I'll keep my focus on what seems to be the big bitching point: G-d vs technology, with the haters on the "technology solves everything" side.
As was pointed out in an earlier post, The BSG universe was soooo ambiguous, I think the "neat" ending took most people by surprise. I'm one of those smartass people who can tell you how the murder/detective mystery is going to end just after the first break, so I "knew" how the show "had" to end, but it seemed like it was never going to get there, until it did. I'm still confused by the reactions of people to a show that promised that anyone could die, and in fact showed that everyone did die. This just in: No amount of tech will be able to prevent a human from becoming plant food, just ask Walt Disney or Ted Williams. And as for the Colonials' decision to ditch the ships into the sun, let's be honest here. If the brand-new toaster you got from the bank tried to kill you, and then then next day tried it again, but looking like your Second Life avatar, you'd ditch it (no matter how good the toast was). Or, as Adama put it so succinctly in his decommissioning speech:
You cannot play God then wash your hands of the things that you've created. Sooner or later, the day comes when you can't hide from the things that you've done anymore.
He should have added: "... and that's why we barely tied the first war, and lost the second. We need to do something different." But Adama didn't come to that realization until Roslin "explains" it to him. Is that moment more important than any of her visions, or in the role of "dying leader?" She's definitely no angel, but her conviction convinces Adama NOT to stay and fight and doom the not-quite-yet-formed civilian fleet. That's a choice. Free Will. Starbuck didn't HAVE to fly into the eye of the storm. She chose to. Roslin would have flushed Tigh out the airlock with no compunction. But since she decided to board the base ship, that decision fell to Apollo (and also gave Tory HER excuse to rejoin her Cylon brethren). And as I recall, no angel told Boomer to sacrifice her life to return Hera to the Colonials (just good old-fashioned love/remorse).
In other words, what I think is happening is that people are trying to reverse-engineer the 90+% of the show that had already occurred not considering that the OTG indicated in the show was doing the same thing we were: Watching events unfold as they go and determining at what point to intervene... or not. I'd ask of all of those claiming Deux Ex Machina to consider that the OTG was/is working the long game, allowing entire civilizations to ebb, flow, live, and die out dependent on their ability to master certain critical points of evolution or development. The Cylons failed their test, nuking themselves into extinction. Unfortunately for our characters, the Colonials also failed, being unable to perceive that their technological marvels had become sentient, and had decided to kill their masters. Perhaps the plan was actually to observe the development of humanity towards an ideal state, allowing those that failed certain tests or signposts to eventually sow the seeds of their own destruction even as he (Six called him "he") was starting a new civilization (experiment?) on another world hundreds of light-years away. That the "visions of a chosen few" actually led to the discovery of "earth" is the last, best triumph of a dying civilization, and the first glimpse of hope for ours... according to RDM & Co, or just myself
Process, nitpicking, and semantics questions will be answered gleefully at a later date.
Wed, 2011-01-12 16:21
"In other words, what I think is happening..."
What's happening is that the creators of the show went for the "A Wizard Did It" ending, which was a massive cop-out, and the fans are desperate to invent some consistent logical framework by which the ending isn't a cop-out, so that they don't have to admit that the show they loved had a badly-done ending.
Fri, 2011-01-14 00:11
How is discovering a planet that already existed, with life that had already evolved without them ever showing up, supposed to represent their last, best triumph? Especially when they did nothing but commit mass suicide after they got there.
And how was it hope for us? They didn't do anything for us. We were already pretty much genetically identical if they could breed with us (yuck). As presented, the Cylon contribution would have diluted down to pretty much nothing over 150,000 years, which is why the show lamely misstaed what Mitochondrial Eve was to try and obscure the point. So we're pretty much what we would have been if they'd never arrived, with all the exact same faults they had absent any of the hard-earned experience they could have given us. Thanks for nothing.
You're blindly arrogant if you label everyone dissatisfied with the resolution a hater, and compeltely missing the point if you think "technology solves everything" is the complaint. Technology can't solve us. We have to do that ourselves, and it's a painful, difficult process. That's what we thought the show was about when it pretended to be serious drama. That's what the best drama is always about. And you were pleased that it dissolved into some half-ass excuse for a fictional God posing tests that don't go anywhere, which we're just supposed to pretend are profound even though the presentation indicates they're stupid? If so, more power to you, but don't think you've ot some brillaint insight others are lacking.
The technology complaint is simply more poor storytelling. In order to achieve that silly excuse for an ending, the writers forced 30,000 people to decide they wanted to live in the wild with no safety net, distributed in small groups to preclude mutual support as they fucked cave men and died of disease and predation. I'm sure that was a lot of fun for the women and children. Especially when preserving some basic life-saving capabilities having nothing to do with making sentient robots would have left them dancing in the fields as much as they wanted. It's an absurd postulate made simply to force a poorly conceived attempt at a symbolic ending. That reveals the desired symbologies bankruptcy from a storytelling persepctive, which robs it of any real power. And as far as your toaster argument, they didn't ditch the toaster that tried to kill them. They kept the robots that did kill them, set others that had tried to kill them free with no guarantee how that would turn out. They only launched into the sun non-sentient, basic technologies that could have kept them alive.
It was, in truth, just a very poorly thought out attempt to be clever.
Fri, 2011-01-14 13:01
The Basic Issue
I don't agree with everything Brad says, but his arguments are thoughtful and detail oriented. It's kind of funny to see someone sighing at him who came here because they googled "How many humans did the Cylons kill?"
Set aside all the God, deus ex machina and free will stuff. You're still left with a big matzah ball staring at you. And it's not hard to understand. All this carrying on, all this advertising about how "you will know the truth," and all this preening about great drama boils down to one of the oldest, most routinely mocked cliches in the science fiction handbook: Adam and Eve. What's even worse, it's a botched Adam and Eve. the desire to appear cutting edge leads to an incorrect use of Mitochondrial Eve that undermines the whole point. Not to mention that future archaeological discoveries will inevitably make it look even more wrong and lame.
That's the kind of thing that if it happened in an episode of, say, Star Trek, you'd just think "well that was kind of dumb" and move on. But you'd think that because you only invested an hour in it and there's always next week's episode, which very well might not be dumb. But here you have four years of carrying on and pretension that boils down to cliched hack work that can't even execute the cliche properly.
The technology part is simply the cherry on top. In order to hammer this square peg into a round hole, everyone decides to live and die (soon) as cave men, which would be a horrific experience, especially for modern women, thus condemning their children to a practical eternity of primitive savagery. That's mind-bogglingly stupid. No amount of carrying on about "technology tried to kill you" can make sense of that. After all, being able to farm won't kill you. There's lots of basic stuff from the Fleet that would allow stable, sizable agrarian communities that could defend themselves. But, hey, it's a brutal fang-and-claw hunter gatherer life for our stalwart crew simply because they've ceased to be characters. They are the writer's objects who have to do something obviously stupid to support a tired Adam and Eve ending that doesn't work anyway.
God and his mysterious ways are simply the only means left to try and tie up that package. But since what's in the package stinks, God inevitably stinks, too.
Fri, 2011-01-28 20:25
The God problem
I just finished BSG after a friend refereed me to it. I would say I agree a bit on the author here. Before I knew what the ending was , I expected it to be either:
1.) They show up on our Earth a few thousand years prior to the present.
2.) They show up to a future version of our Earth with equal or similar technology.
With the author of this thoughtful and articulate posting, I would agree that the ending should have only taken place a few thousand years before our current time. Ending around the suggested time of the "Great Leap Forward" would have explained how otherwise primitive humans could have began civilization. This could have also explained the polytheism of the Greeks and Monotheism of the Jews and Persians. They could have worked it in so much better. Instead they went the way of the Mitochondrial Eve which, as Brad pointed out, wasn't even accurate let alone coherent.
I would have preferred option 2, with a thriving future Earth where the colonists were the descendants of humans who left thousands of years earlier only to finally find their way back. This would have closed the loop and made the relationship fit perfectly.
My problem here with Brad comes from the line, "...creationist concept of intelligent design is one of the most pernicious types of anti-science out there." I found this highly pretentious and somewhat close-minded. I am one of those people who believes in anything science can prove. I also put some measure of faith into what science cannot yet prove, but can at least theorize with some measure of veracity. I find it very unscientific to say that intelligent design is an absolute fallacy. I think some of the author's problems with this show stem from this preconception. BSG was always heavily based on God or gods from its very first episode. If not God, some supernatural force was at work. It should have come at no surprise it would end this way.
I would say I like the idea of mixing theology into science fiction a little bit. As stated in another post, it seems some people had a problem putting God into their otherwise atheistic science fiction. On an about-face, I think trying to use the science cop-out of midi-chlorians to explain the otherwise supernatural "Force" in Star Wars ruined it for me.
At the end of the day, each of us is allotted his or her own opinion. No opinion on whether the ending was good, bad, or somewhere in between is more correct than any other. Lets just say we all had our own inclination on how we wanted it to end, and when we compared that to the true ending we were left with what we felt was a satisfactory or disappointing feeling.
Fri, 2011-08-26 10:50
The flaw preceded the finale
I think a lot of people are actually content with the idea that many dissatified are simply unhappy with the ending of the damn good series. I on the other hand I'm happy it ended when it did before the show went the way of too many other promising shows that evolved into stupidity. My dissatisfaction began around season 3 (as did many others), when I saw characters acting totally out of character, and plot direction that made no sense. Had I watched the show as it was broadcasting I would have merely scratched my head and waited until next eps to see if I got answers or not, but I watched the entire 4 season run on dvd each eps twice the second time with commentary. I knew pretty quickly that I was watching a show that hadn't been planned out, and these guys were making it up as they went along. My fascination came with seeing if they could satisfactorily write themselves out of the mess they had written themselves into. I became increasing aware that they couldn't, and eventually it seemed that they stopped trying altogether. In my mind Gog is just the fictional representation of R.Moore and Co.
Mon, 2011-08-29 13:41
Daybreak was Inevitable
I agree with the previous comment.
By the time they got to Daybreak, the show was too much of structural and character mess to salvage in one episode, even at three hours. I think Moore did quit trying, because the heavy emphasis on flashbacks in the finale is just smoke and mirrors. Its beginner writing pretend profoundness trying to give the illusion that this is a complete story when it quit being one some time ago. I actually don't mind a good religious story, but in this case it seems obvious that God is simply the last refuge of the bankrupt storyteller.
Wed, 2011-12-14 12:45
"I actually don't mind a
"I actually don't mind a good religious story, but in this case it seems obvious that God is simply the last refuge of the bankrupt storyteller."
God and flashbacks, buddy. God and flashbacks.
Full of Stars
Wed, 2012-05-23 09:49
Starbuck Leads Human race to its end
Why has this prophecy not been explained? How did Kara Thrace lead the Human race to its end? The original Kara did no such thing, and the "dead\angel" Kara provided the jump coordinates to our earth. Its not clear whether the colonies population died out before integrating with earth tribes, but surely the "human" race continued to exist. So what's the deal with the prophecy that "Kara Thrace will lead the human race to its end"?
Fri, 2012-05-25 19:53
Re: Starbuck leads human race to its end.
That's the only part of the Kara Thrace fiasco that actually makes sense to me. The hybrid predicted that Kara Thrace would lead the human race to its end.
Open to interpretation, since nothing the hybrids say is very literal, but you could assume that the "end" of the human race means:
A - The end is the destination, as in the end of the voyage. She did that.
B - The end is the extinction of the pure, non-cylon human race, which (based on BSG's writers' understanding of Mitochondrial Eve) is correct. Starbuck lead them to Hera, then to Earth II. Hera is the maternal ancestor of all future humans, meaning everyone's got a little cylon in them. So the pure human race dies out, and we're all part toaster.
Either of these is acceptable to me. But I think the creators were flying by the seat of their pants when they wrote most of this stuff, then scrambling to tie up loose ends in later episodes.
The resurrection/disappearance of Kara Thrace is definitely not given enough resolution, and that's what upset me about the show.
Tue, 2012-06-05 12:00
Lack of self-awareness
I think from a narrative perspective, it would have been fine if we never learned exactly how Starbuck went from dying to returning to the fleet, etc. if she herself had some inkling of what she'd become. If she'd found some inner peace or self-awareness, then leaving the details of how she became an angel would be just be one of those ponderable mysteries that help a story linger in your mind. But to leave both us and the character herself completely in the dark makes the resolution weak and dissatisfying. It indicates the writers really had no idea themselves to begin with.
Mon, 2013-12-23 13:41
Re: Brad's (Your) Gripe about God in BSG
Regarding your gripe about God and a "higher power" being involved in the final destiny of the humans from Kobol, the Thirteenth Tribe and the humanoid Cylons they created, I think you may have overlooked something.
What I think you may have overlooked is that the "God" in BSG might be an illusion. The characters in the show may believe that because there are events they can't "fathom or explain away by rational means" (in Baltar's words) that there must be some God involved, but that doesn't mean that there really is a "One True God" that according to the Abrahamic definition (Jewish, Christian, Islamic) was uncreated and absolute. Baltar himself says it doesn't matter. He sees angels that nobody else sees. Is he mad? Is he crazy, or is he just projecting (like a Cylon)? Did Starbuck really disappear in the end, or was Lee Adama just "projecting?" I mean, who knows? Maybe she crashed her Viper again on New Earth and died (and maybe underwent resurrection again) and what Lee saw was just a "video" of her in his head.
D'Anna repeats a number of times, the mantra "this has happened before, and it will happen again." She was talking not just about the cycle of war between human and Cylon/machine, but the cycle of re-inventing Cylon technology. As Anders puts it after the mutiny, "we didn't invent resurrection, we re-invented it." We do not know how many times this cycle has repeated itself, how many times "humans" or "humanoid beings" have created Cylons and Cylon technology like resurrection and projection and the technology that allowed them to reproduce. Hera Agathon may not be the first human-Cylon child born.
If humanoid beings (whether they are naturally evolved humans or humanoid Cylons) have been creating and re-inventing Cylon technology over and over again and possibly cross-breeding and conceiving human-Cylon children, then the possibility of human-Cylon beings being present in the population explains why some characters have visions like Baltar and Laura Roslin (and maybe even Lee Adama). It explains why Starbuck comes back from the dead. She was either a Cylon or a human-Cylon being capable of undergoing resurrection. It explains why Lee apparently has a "vision" of her in the finale: he was projecting.
We know that Starbuck, Baltar, Lee Adama and Laura Roslin aren't members of the Thirteenth Tribe or Cylons created by the Final Five, but that doesn't mean they can't be Cylons or human-Cylon beings descended from a previous form of Cylon in the cycle of war and peace between human and Cylon spanning millenia.
A common response from an atheist when asked why he doesn't believe in God is, "there just isn't evidence for one." An atheist doesn't believe in God because he/she believes that it is possible to find a better explanation than "it's God." The show itself offers a better explanation than "it's God." That explanation is that it's not God, it's Cylon technology. Cylon technology creates the illusion experienced by some characters that they are having visions or that someone has come back from the dead. It may not be the technology created by the Final Five, but it doesn't mean there wasn't something created by an earlier form of Cylon in a previous cycle.
Just because the characters think "it's God," doesn't mean it really is God. The "higher power" may be remnants of a previous cycle with advanced technology that allows them to remain hidden (stealth), a means to create visions in people with Cylon hardware in them (Baltar, Roslin, Lee Adama) when necessary (a bit like hacking a computer) and a means to bring back, through resurrection, people who have apparently died (Starbuck). It doesn't need to be God or a supernatural explanation because the show offers a technological one.
Sun, 2015-01-11 07:29
This is a little late but I just started watching the new BSG this year. I am really surprised at how much I enjoyed watching. So with that being said, thanks Brad for the summary and I do agree with your complaint. Not having done research on the writers of the show, etc. it seems like there is a very surface treatment of comparative mythology. The recurring themes that stood out are what you mentioned and for me were, cycles (deja vu), destiny, consequence (cause and effect),ambiguous realities, questions of consciousness, and super reality guidance. Not sure if it were intentional or not but we could entertain that these themes could also point to a simulated universe theory. The BSG universe could be a simulated one and almost like a divine comedy. You can easily go back through the show and make a case for it episode by episode. Ok That's my over-thinking stretch right there. Back down to Earth; in all likelihood it is what you say concerning the what? and why?. When you mix technology stories with divine intervention, it is a difficult task and I am not saying that it cannot be done or even that it should not be done but I agree that it was not done very well. You are pointing out something that mirrors reality for the moral majority in that the answer to any mystery is usually another mystery hence the ending. Another reason could be that writing for an ongoing series allows the writers to be more creative but also forces them to be less creative in that they have an indefinite open timeline to work with at the start. They can do whatever they want for a certain amount of time but then they run out of ideas and they have to resolve parallels that they did not realize they created. So when the show comes to an end, that pattern of thinking would have to be changed further and hence they needed to compress any additional concepts into the remaining episodes for a resolution. So could it have been rushed? So planning for an on-going plot and making it quality takes a certain talent. Maybe this is not their strong point. With all that said, again, I still really enjoyed the show overall and would have liked a better treatment of the conclusion as well but it does not take away from my overall feelings about the show. So yeah, it would have been really great.
Fri, 2017-03-10 10:13
From google translator,
From google translator, sorry for any errors.
Very interesting Brad's questions and comments, but despite the problems with the god of BSG and the end, I understand that it is still the best series of science fiction ever made, because it is precisely the issues addressed that do not involve the divine figure, who Give weight to the show.
Starbuck is a pawn for the salvation of mankind, does not invalidate his entire journey of suffering from birth, his pain is real, his mistakes are real ... his courage is real.
The political, philosophical discussions about humanity, about artificial intelligence, the battles and the charisma and depth of the characters do not depend on the divine figure ... what makes the series brilliant is not the divine manipulation but the characters and their journey .
Ref. Divinity, something to ponder is that Star Trek Next Generation uses a divine being at times, but it is presented as alien, Q could do many of the things that are claimed to the god of BSG, so a powerful being does not always have to be faced As a divine being in the religious sense, including, the series has similarities with 2001 an odyssey in space as it relates to life in space and 2001 presents the idea of a race that accompanies the human journey for millions of years.
After almost 10 years of its end, BSG is still much superior to the other series of the genre and much of it is due to its realistic look, the level of the discussions and its characters ...
Thu, 2018-02-08 07:56
Stop Complaining - lol
Honestly when I first watched this series at a younger age I was very dissatisfied with the ending. It seemed too convenient, and tacky or something. And of course, the show isn't perfectly executed. There is a huge cheese factor and some of the writing is forced into unlikely corners, but all things considered, I really appreciate the message of this show, even if it is based on what most, including myself would call fiction - it's still thought provoking and in a way sort of poetic. It has a certain charm.. upon rewatching it, despite the subpar acting and lazy plot twists and such, I'm still really pleased with the deeper message each episode conveys. Many shows just want mass appeal, and have no problem with moral-hazard to society and ethics and just want to turn a profit - the writing has a good message and actually demonstrates qualities in many of the characters, particularly Adama and Roslin, and various interactions between hierarchies such as military, political, familial etc and presents real psychological dilemmas that are heuristic and meaningful to the viewer. Many outcomes model a sort of society that is admirable and these are important lessons that represent repeating themes in life and throughout history. At the end of the day, it's not perfect -- what is, but I truly have nothing to complain about here. I think this show is phenomenal and not simply because I'm simple minded. Psh..
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