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Battlestar Galactica 4.20 "Daybreak: Parts Two and Three" review

It's the end of the road

Written by: Ronald D Moore

Directed by: Michael Rymer

Rating:

THE ONE WHERE
Galactica attacks the Cylon Colony, prophecies come to pass, they find (our) Earth, but most importantly it’s the end of the road for Galactica and her crew.

VERDICT
The series that smashed the SF rulebook so completely that even so-called highbrow critics stood up and took notice comes to an end, and does so with a dignity rarely associated with “last ever” episodes. While some will claim it’s too contrived, too neat and requires a few too many leaps of faith, this conclusion is exactly what Galactica deserved. It’s huge yet intimate, explosive yet thoughtful, and works as a kind of televisual catharsis, providing a massive release of positive emotion after four seasons of almost relentless doom and gloom.

It’s a testament to showrunner Ronald D Moore’s writing – and some of the finest acting you’ll see anywhere on telly – that so many disparate elements hang together. After weeks of money-saving ship-based episodes, the budget’s splurged on screen in a space battle so spectacular it competes with the liberation of New Caprica for edge-of-the-seat thrills. With the crippled Galactica clearly doomed, all bets are off on the survival front, meaning you’re never quite sure if one of your favourite characters is about to bite the big one. That so many of the principal cast make it to the end comparatively unscathed is something of a surprise.

But considering that what marked the show out early on was its non-stop action, the remarkable thing here is that it’s the character stuff that hits you hardest – a reminder, perhaps, of how much the programme has evolved. It takes a steely resolve to suppress a tear through the inevitable losses and poignant farewells (the unexpected standout is Roslin’s heartfelt goodbye to a Dr Cottle who reveals he does actually have feelings).

Even the Colonists’ arrival on our Earth avoids falling into the trap of cheesiness. Yes, the notion of abandoning technology in favour of an entirely clean slate 150,000 years in the past seems like an overly hippyish ideal (and maybe even Golgafrinchan), but in context it feels entirely right – these are people from a civilisation destroyed by machines, and logically this is their happy ending (or ending s – this rivals Return Of The King for sheer quantity of closing scenes).

My one quibble is with the angels, demons or whatever the hell Head Six, Head Baltar and Kara are. I have no problem with the principle – the existence of some higher power in the Galactica universe has been clear since very early on – but Starbuck’s disappearance, and the Head couple’s arrival in present day Earth remove some much-needed ambiguity. Yet this hardly counts as jumping the shark or nuking the fridge, and I for one will be very sad to see the back of one of the best TV shows ever. It’s been one hell of a ride. We may never see anything quite like it again.

DID YOU SPOT? 1
Showrunner Ronald D Moore has a brief cameo reading National Geographic in the flash forward to our present.

DID YOU SPOT? 2
The original BSG series theme playing when Anders leads Galactica and the rest of the fleet into the Sun.

DID YOU SPOT? 3
Baltar’s flashback remark to Caprica Six – “If anyone finds out I could get my head cut off” – is a reference to his counterpart’s fate in the original series.

MORE ROMO
Who’d have thought Romo Lampkin would end up president of the Colonies?

TRIVIA
The stars behind Galactica at the beginning of the episode are a clue to its location – they’re the constellations of Orion and Taurus, as seen from Earth.

BEST LINE
Roslin [to Cottle]: Don’t spoil your image. Just light a cigarette and go and grumble.

Richard Edwards

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