This post will contain massive spoilers for the Battlestar Galactica TV series, so if you’re not up to date, don’t read forward. Note to the people that I ruined some spoilers from the end of last season, please don’t let that prevent you from watching. Those events are nothing compared to some of the surprises dropped at the end of this half-season.
So the mid-season finale of BSG was quite the busy episode. The Cylons and Colonists made peace and found earth together.
I’ve been commenting to friends over the past several weeks how awesome it would be if in the series finale they found Earth, were abducted by the US Government and stuffed in some basement in Roswell. Imagine for a moment, though, how odd that would be. Imagine how odd it would be if the Colonists were to make contact with Earthlings at all.
The visuals alone would be surreal. It would ultimately expose the greatest weakness in the BSG premise that these are aliens that are looking for the “Thirteenth Tribe” on Earth. Even accepting the space ships and jumps and all that we have to accept to enjoy the show, President Roslyn meeting President Bush or a fictional American president would be surreal on a whole new level.
The greatest weakness that I refer to is the Earthling (indeed, American) customs of the Colonists. Even setting aside for a moment the whole fact that they speak English, which they more or less have to for us to enjoy the show and can be explained away by making the Earthlings speak a different language to establish the language divide, you have a host of other things. The Colonists wear Earthling civilian clothes, for instance. They have names like Bill and Lee and Laura… names that didn’t exist when the Thirteenth Tribe split away to form civilization on Earth (we’re also overlooking evolution here).
The only way to make the premise truly work is to make their Earth vastly different from our own. They’d need to have names like Splick and Kurgilian or J’onn and Kal-El or something vastly different from the names of the BSG crew (which largely though not entirely consist of our own names). Of course, even then you’ve got a planet called Earth… but we can let that, go, too.
I swear I’m not the kind of guy that enjoys picking apart shows that are meant to simply be enjoyed, though a show does need to work within the framework of its own premise, which BSG has come close to failing to do.
Their solution to The Bill Dilemma, as I’ve come to call it, is to have Earth be all post-apocalyptic. One waited for the ghost of Charlton Heston to appear just so that he could say “Damn you! Damn you to hell!!”
The good news is that they did not, I don’t think, firmly establish that the post-apocalyptic Earth is our Earth. If they’re standing on the ruins of the Lincoln Memorial, we’ll definitely be in trouble. I fear that’s where they’re going with it. My guess, though, is that they’re going to keep it ambiguous to keep nitpickers like me shut up.
All of this aside, boy am I looking forward to next season. It really felt like that moment in Lost where you find out that Jack and Kate (and maybe others) actually made it back from the island. With that suspense gone, where do they go from here? That’s when television can get really exciting.
They’ve found Earth.