I have seen the last few episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Warning, spoilers ahead. Obviously. Click away now.

TV Concluding a television series is an impossible business. Unlike film, which Hitchcock, Welles, Goldman, Bordwell, all kinds of people acknowledge should always strive to have a clear and obvious ending mapped from the opening of the film, either because of the nature of the characters or the type of story that’s been set in motion, television series are designed never to end.

Film characters are destined to experience the most exciting/important/life changing event in their lives – on television they have a succession of them and like real life, the only definitive conclusion to their story can be death. Similarly in most films the story has a beginning, middle and end and in the best films, and the climax is so satisfactory we don’t wonder what happens to the characters afterwards.

You know all of this already, but I just wanted to put that up as a way of explaining my feelings about the close of Battlestar Galactica, the critical reaction and so that the next sentence doesn’t appear at the top the post thereby rendering the spoiler warning in the title a complete nonsense. Treat that last sentence as a buffer as well. And that last one – and this one. Here we go …

Well, why not the Douglas Adams ending?

If it’s going to mimic anything why not the closing moments of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (primary and tertiary phases)?

I mean how could you possibly conclude Battlestar Galactica satisfactorily?

Essentially the choices must have panned out as follows –

What we got.

The Blake’s 7 ending – everybody dies and the last human standing is Baltaar, hands up looking into impassive face of a cylon.

The Galactica 80 ending – they reach Earth, but discover a civilisation already in ascendancy and have to work out how to integrate themselves.

The fatalistic ending – they return to the rubbish post-apocalyptic version of Earth and decide it’s what they deserved and try to make the best of it as they slowly die of radiation poisoning

The Voyager ending – they reach Earth in the last few seconds of the episode with the fleet jumping into orbit but we don’t actually get to see them go 'home'

The Angel ending – the human race finds itself in a hopeless situation against insurmountable odds against the cylons and the series ends on a freeze frame of Apollo and Starbuck and the fleet grinning into certain doom

The surprisingly bleak ending – what we saw, but instead of the flash forward we find that the cylons were playing the long game and Caprica, Sharon and the final three turn on the humans as the centurions return along with the remaining cylon models and the final few shots are of Adama watching helplessly as the final remnants of the human race are wiped out as planned since the beginning because his son decided they need to enjoy the rural lifestyle rather than keep some way of defending themselves.

None of which would have been quite worked – wouldn’t have seemed right – because television is built that way – we always need to want to know what happens next. That’s why Angel could still continue in comics even after it ended on television, why the Star Trek franchise rolls ever onward. That’s why the Douglas Adams ending – well almost –- I’m not sure Douglas would have been too happy about the quasi-religious mysticism and the angels – is about as good as it could have been. It’s not perfect, but it’s ok.

As is the usual way of things, most of the criticism seems to be about the detail, the nitpicking. Why would the human race give up all of this scientific development like this? What about all of the diseases? Why is ‘our’ Earth in the wrong place – look at those star maps? What’s all the guff about ‘god’s plan’? How come the two most morally bankrupt characters get continue existing into our time? Does this mean we’re all cylons? Is Bob Dylan? It’s all rubbish, I tell you, rubbish!

No it isn’t. Yes, we’re back to me getting annoyed at people for expecting fiction to obey the laws of reality when it doesn’t need to. It’s fiction. I’ve quoted Hitchcock before on this. You can do what you like in fiction so long as it obeys the rules of the world you’ve created and it's entertaining in the pure sense.

The human race unilaterally give up technology to attempt to end the cycle which got them in the mess they’re in and after what they’ve been through have clearly decided to think of the future of the race, the long game, the hope for a better future for their ancestors. So what if the Earth’s in the wrong place – it’s in the wrong place in the world created by Ron Moore! Why can’t there be a deity in that version of reality – there was one in Clash of the Titans. No we’re not part cylon – the people walking around in the fictional version of New York might be.

I like this ending.

All of the main characters recieved a decent send off – the characters we’ve been following since the first year at least. Most found peace, some surprised themselves, a few found retribution, there was atonement and one just faded away. The show didn’t rest on its laurels and gave us the massive/epic/banzai epic space battle, humans (and some cylons) against cylons we’d hoped for, with the added incongruity of watching centurion battle centurion, new style and against old. It even surprised structurally, as it so often does, providing Lost-style revelations via flashback which will add texture when we decided to watch the series again.

Gestures large and small.

More than that it winds up the central themes of the series, about how we’re usually doomed to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors, of history, despite our best intentions and the Asimovian conjunction between androids and humans and how we’re not averse to playing god ourselves. And I did adore the controversial coda with the return of the iconic image of Six in the red dress which I’ve always seen as a nod to the figure in The Matrix and the montage sequence of the robots we’re desperate to be in our image. But not in a preachy way, with that cheekiness which has been at the core of the series.

Except, of course, this isn’t the end, because this is television. There’s to be a new tv movie, The Plan, retelling the story from the cylon perspective. There’s the prequel, Caprica, set fifty years before the fall, in the world we glimpsed in the pilot and in the flashbacks here. And I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see a proper continuation set somewhere down the line, returning to these characters, now farmers, eeking out their simple existence as some new catastrophe befalls them. Aren’t they going to be doing the cave people what the cylons did to them?

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