Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"I see the universe..."

So Jackie and I just finished watching the final episode of Battlestar and I have to say given a bit of time passing since it originally aired, I think it's gotten better.

To describe how good I think the finale of Battlestar Galactica is seems to be quite a difficult proposition and I don't intend to get it right, but an effort still seems warranted. The ending to this show could be said to be "good", and I don't mean good in the proverbial human sense of "good" in an intrinsic opposite to human "evil". But rather I mean "good" as just something that is boundless by both human construct and linguistic restrictions... aka: something that is pretty fucking tight.

--Take care, gentle "spoilers" may follow.--

To know the face of God is to know madness. I see the universe; I see the patterns. I see the foreshadowing that precedes every moment of every day. It's all there. I see it and you don't, and I have a surprise for you: I have something to tell you about the future... - Leoben Conoy

What Moore and Eick have done is put something together of tremendous geek magnitude that still speaks within the dialogue of primetime cable television. This story from beginning to end transforms itself from a War on Terror era sci-fi drama into a sort of 21st century television bible. It's soul (if believed in) is as persuasive an argument for alternative religion in our society as something like the crazy New Age movement in the 70's, or fucking Mormonism (incidentally both of which were at the core of the original show). It is a piece that speaks on multiple intersecting levels almost mimicking it's storyline of interplanetary travel between celestial bodies and possibly even alternate dimensions. Good and evil are blurred to a point where vengeance, wrath, and justice are all rendered irrelevant. If that point is not believed then please consider the empathy one feels towards Baltar by the shows resolution. Not unlike the Bible itself, the characters in this gospel are all fallible, yet at a certain point everyone has to own up and be good Christians, don't they?

The show ultimately boils down to the nearly rhetorical question of "Is this all that I am?". This of course is well chartered territory, yet it's difficult to name another current or past television show that has outlined itself as smartly, and articulately as Battlestar Galactica. At times the show goes so far beyond it's own means and dazzles the engaged viewer in ways Rod Sterling, or Gene Roddenberry could only dream of. What would any of us say to our creator (or creators) if we had a chance? Would you benevolently embrace, or righteously question?

"I saw a star explode and send out the building blocks of the Universe. Other stars, other planets and eventually other life. A supernova! Creation itself! I was there. I wanted to see it and be part of the moment. And you know how I perceived one of the most glorious events in the universe? With these ridiculous gelatinous orbs in my skull! With eyes designed to perceive only a tiny fraction of the EM spectrum. With ears designed only to hear vibrations in the air. I don't want to be human! I want to see gamma rays! I want to hear X-rays! And I want to - I want to smell dark matter! Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can't even express these things properly because I have to - I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid limiting spoken language! But I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws! And feel the wind of a supernova flowing over me! I'm a machine! And I can know much more! I can experience so much more. But I'm trapped in this absurd body! And why? Because my five creators thought that God wanted it that way!" - Jon Cavel

I'd write more, but for some goddamn reason this goddamn blog won't let me switch my goddamn type out of goddamn italics. At this moment I think I'm siding with Cavel...


  1. Dude, the system's gotten too smart for you, it's rebelling...
    So would you say that Cavel's speech is not just a metaphor for man's quest to become greater than he was designed to be, a la 2001, but also a metaphor for the show's frustration at its own inevitably limited reach/scope?

  2. Very much so. The very existence of the show is a sort of acknowledgment of it's own limited and comical reach. Anything that is done in an apparent effort to branch out beyond the shows own trite medium is (I think) done with complete and full knowledge of that specific action's own futility in relation to the viewers perception and acceptance.

    Ultimately it seems that one could dance around back and forth with this notion for eternity. So with that being said I usually like to rest my mind with the assumption that the show is of course completely aware, and it after some time just simply began to care less if the viewer believed it or not. By the time Cavel's speech came around in the context of the series, it really felt like the plane had already lifted off the ground and begun to fly into a new aerial territory we've yet to see in either the sci-fi or TV drama medium.

    The show knows that 2001 already said it, and it knows that it's an outdated concept but it against it's own safeguarding awareness still strives for a perfection in the contextualization of the concept.