I'm of three minds about the season finale. I'm simultaneously completely satisfied, sorely disappointed, and totally frustrated.
The conclusion of the trial of Gaius Baltar gave me everything I wanted from this story line. It ended exactly as it should have: It forced the men and women of Galactica to play by the rules they've made for themselves. The substance of Lee's little tirade was spot-on: Everyone in the fleet has been willing to forgive everyone for everything — except Baltar. Because someone had to take the blame for all the horrible crap that's befallen humanity. (Granted, the leap in jurisprudence that it takes to have a member of the accused's legal team take the stand is equivalent to Evel Kneivel's jump over the Snake River Canyon.) If you're intent on giving Baltar a trial, one that adheres to a legal system roughly based on old episodes of Law & Order, then Baltar absolutely should've gotten off. The prosecution, as Admiral Adama said, just didn't make its case.
And so Baltar walks. But what does he walk off to? A life hidden in the fleet, jockeyed from ship to ship, protected by his cadre of priestesses willing to shelter their exonerated messiah? That shot of him walking through the corridors of Galactica, holding his meager box of possessions, untethered to anyone or anything, was just priceless.
In years past, the Battlestar Galactica cliff-hanger has been an event of monumental story-line importance, a grab-'em-by-the-short-hairs whirlwind of plot threads. Season 1: Adama stages a military coup; Starbuck arrives on Caprica; Boomer fires a couple into the old man's chest. Season 2: Roslin loses the presidency; humanity settles on New Caprica; the Cylons place everyone under a robotic boot.
And now, in season 3, we get the revelation that four of our beloved crew are Cylons. It's not that I hate the idea that Tigh, Tyrol, Anders, and Tory are toasters; it's that I hate how we learned that they are. A song? Really? When Boomer's programming kicked in, I don't recall hearing any classic rock. There had to be a better way for them to all twig to each other than listening to music from within the ship.
Of course, we're led to believe that these four are members of the Final Five. Which, of course, they must be, because they're special. They're different. For instance, unlike other Cylons, they must age; otherwise Bill Adama would've noticed that his friend of 40 years never got any older.
Beyond that, I wanted that revelation to mean something. They're Cylons. So what? They've still got their day jobs. They're clearly different from other Cylons, so it's unlikely they're gonna haul off and start shooting their best friends.
And I wanted this to make sense, in the way that every other cliff-hanger made sense. How is it that they're all humming a techno cover of ''All Along the Watchtower''? Is the nebula acting as some sort of harmonic conductor, allowing signals from Earth to reach Galactica? If so, why can only those four hear it? There were just too many questions left in the air. At the end of a cliff-hanger, one shouldn't be thinking, ''What the hell just happened?'' The only thing on your mind should be ''What the hell happens next?''
Here's my theory about Starbuck's ''resurrection.'' I think she's still dead. It's not clear that anyone else but Lee saw that ''unknown'' vessel on DRADIS. So she's talking to Lee from beyond the grave and will speak through him to help lead the fleet to the promised land. Which is exactly what we needed on this show: more people talking inside others' heads. Why couldn't Starbuck just be dead? Why not have the courage of your convictions? You wanna kill her? Great. You wanna keep her alive? Just as good. But pick one and stick to it. Sometimes you can't have it both ways.
Hey, were there good things in this episode? Absolutely. I loved Gaeta on the stand, willing to perjure himself to get back at Baltar. (And I loved Baltar calling him ''butterfingers'' for botching that murder attempt.) I loved Tigh going to Adama, talking about the music in the ship, feeling trapped, and then saying to no one in particular, ''There must be some kinda way out of here.'' Still loved the crap out of Lampkin. And I loved Lee remembering that, before he's anything else, he's a pilot.
But there was something rushed, maybe even reckless, about this episode. As if the producers weren't sure that they were coming back for another season, and wanted to accelerate the progress toward closure — and in the process left things even more vague.
Now, I know there will be a hue and cry about this TV Watch. Some will think that I've turned on Battlestar Galactica or that, perhaps, I never even loved it to begin with. Those people are wrong. I love this show. I have ever since I cracked the miniseries. And I still feel it's one of the best shows on TV. But that love doesn't mean that I have to ignore its shortcomings, or blind myself to the point where I think it doesn't have any.
So that's season 3. See you guys in January '08 for season 4. In the meantime, post your reactions, criticisms, and predictions below. Gods-speed!