Battlestar Galactica entered its final half season following a swift kick to the nuts of the men and women of Galactica. The first half of season 4 ended with the fleet finally making it to “Earth that was” and finding it a desolate nuclear wasteland. There’s no doubt that creator Ronald D. Moore took some swift turns as the show wrapped up, and while the series finale returned us to much of what the mini-series and first season had promised, it was a little late in shaking off the baggage that had accumulated in recent years. Battlestar Galactica entered its final half season following a swift kick to the nuts of the men and women of Galactica. The first half of season 4 ended with the fleet finally making it to “Earth that was,” and finding it a desolate nuclear wasteland. There’s no doubt that creator Ronald D. Moore took some swift turns as the show wrapped up, and while the series finale returned us to much of what the mini-series and first season had promised, it was a little late in shaking off the baggage that had accumulated in recent years.
All of the big looming questions are giving perfunctory storylines in season 4.5. The reveal of the final human Cylon model, long the most debated tidbit in the show’s lore, was part of the earlier episodes. And to be honest, it was done with such a cavalier attitude that it was off-putting. Almost as if Moore and the writers knew they were in a corner on such details and simply decided to give us the answers we wanted. Well-reasoned and thought-out answers, but clearly not as important to the series as fans had long assumed.
The two-part mutiny episode where Tom Zarek (Richard Hatch) helps push Felix Gaeta (Allesandro Juliani) into wresting control of Galactica from Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) gives a hint of what the endgame is to be. Not a story of war with machines, or of finding a new home. BSG started as a show about people and somewhere along the way got mired in the sci-fi schlock that is the detriment of the genre. What Battlestar Galactica sorely lacked in recent seasons was a richness of character. The people we followed each week became a part of the story, they were no longer the most important reason to watch on Friday nights.
As season 4.5 progresses and we learn the answers to previously guarded secrets such as the importance of the Final Five to the Cylon chronology, the layers of the universe fall away. The series finale contains action that rivals anything the show has done before, but far more than that, it explores who these people are, what led them on the journey from Caprica to their final stop, and what drove them to become the people we’ve grown to love or loathe.
This final season of BSG surely contains many faults, most of which are the direct result of mysteries the show had imposed on itself. But when it comes time to send off the crew of Galactica, it is done in the small moments, just as it should be. Religious overtones were long a part of the series, and here are used to tie up loose ends. This is a writing crutch, to be sure, and one that is almost unforgivable. Then again, those little miracles throughout the show never mattered as much as how the people reacted and dealt with them. Within context of the entire story of Battlestar Galactica, they work as a way to provide answers to the fans who need to have them, and to give impetus for the actions our heroes and villains as the end finally arrives. With nearly 10 hours of extra features, the DVD set of Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 is literally packed with tidbits for fans. What is not contained within the box are answers to every single question we may have, and that’s really how it should be.
Typical DVD fare such as deleted scenes and a preview of The Plan are included in all their generic glory. Little is to be found here to excite viewers. Even extended, unaired versions of “A Disquiet Follows My Soul,” “Islanded in a Stream of Stars,” and “Daybreak” offer little to satisfy. Each episode’s podcast commentary, which Ronald D. Moore typically posted within a day of the initial airdate, are found here intact, as is typical of a BSG DVD release.
Each of the aforementioned episodes do include a brand new commentary track, mostly consisting of Moore trying to give some new insights he failed to mention during the podcasts. Moore and his co-creative cohorts, David Eick and director Michael Rymer, offer an entertaining and informative look into the birth of the series finale. Everyone involved is right there, willing to point out what worked for the show, what could have been improved (and why it wasn’t), and also why they are so satisfied with how BSG concluded.
David Eick’s video blogs, which are reminiscent of the video blogs Peter Jackson did while shooting Lord of the Rings, are mildly entertaining. “A Look Back” is a six-part featurette that offers little more than your standard look at what the actors and crew thought of the show, and is less than inspiring. The gem of the disc is “The Evolution of a Cue,” where composer Bear McCreary takes us through the construction of a music cue on the show. It’s one of the most fascinating features I’ve watched on a DVD in many years.
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