I watched ‘Daybreak, Part 1’, the first part of Battlestar Galactica’s three hour finale after I got back from China on Thursday night. I’ve seen a lot of carping on the intertubes about how bad it was, but I actually thought it was terrific, particularly after the mess of the episodes immediately preceding it (though I probably could have done without Laura Roslin in the fountain). The pacing was beautiful, there were a lot of lovely details, and there was a wonderful, elegiac sense of ending about it. I’ve always admired ‘All Good Things’, the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which Ronald D. Moore also wrote, and ‘Daybreak, Part 1′, echoed many of the things that made that episode so moving, in particular the movement back in time to the series’ beginning, and the sense of a circle being closed that movement back to the beginning creates.
Perhaps oddly though, it was only while watching the episode that I realized how much I’m going to miss the show. For all the patchiness of this final series, Moore and Eick have created a show which has completely rewritten the rules about what science fiction television can be, both by creating a world which speaks in such complex and unpredictable ways to our own, and by giving breath to a cast of characters which live in a way television characters rarely do. Even in the first part I found myself tearing up more than once, which is testament of a sort to just how much I’ve come to care about these characters and their plight.
So, at the risk of making a fool of myself, I thought I’d make a few predictions about what will happen in tonight’s conclusion. These aren’t spoilers. I know nothing more than anyone, and I’ve actually tried really hard to avoid reading anything about these last two episodes in advance of watching them. But if you want to avoid going into tonight with preconceptions of any kind, you might want to stop reading now, and check back afterwards to see how right (or wrong) I am.
Here are my guesses for tonight:
The singularity will be important, both as a plot device, and in a deeper, narrative sense. If nothing else it will be a glimpse of the Eye of God, and of the desire for perfection and unity Anders described in ‘Daybreak, Part 1’, and which so many of the characters have been seeking since the show began. But I also think it will have a role in collapsing time and space, in making all times one, and thus bearing out the show’s oft-repeated promise, that “all of this has happened before and will happen again”.
Although I’d always assumed they’d kill poor old Starbuck in the final episode, I no longer think they will. Not only has she already died once (thus bearing out her Dionysian aspect by becoming twice-born) but having carefully removed the obstacles posed to her and Lee’s relationship by Dee and Anders, it wouldn’t make sense to go and kill her. More deeply though, she needs to live, and to end up with Lee, because by uniting the Apollonian and Dionysian in a union of opposites, we see a very literal embodiment of the show’s broader concern with the destabilizing of the boundaries between us and them, Human and Other.
That said, a number of other characters will die. Poor old Gaeta is already gone, as is Zarek and the rather dreary Dee, but I think a number more will die tonight. The most obvious is of course the President, though since she’s already dying that won’t be a surprise, but once she’s gone, Adama will die as well, both because he will no longer want to live, and because his death will symbolize the old giving way to the new, in the form of Lee and Starbuck (and indeed the broader Human/Cylon union).
Baltar will die as well, presumably in the final, selfless act we saw so laboriously set up in his conversation with Lee in the first part, thus completing the rather misjudged journey from narcissist to Messiah they’ve had him on since he was acquitted of crimes against humanity and collaboration at the end of Season Three (I’ve always thought the intrusion of the Paradise Lost/Jesus thread was a mistake, but I suppose having begun it they’ll have to play it out).
Beyond that I’m not really sure who will die. Probably Anders/Galactica, but in a way that lets Anders touch the face of God (perhaps in the singularity?). Definitely Boomer, though only after she changes sides one last time, and rescues Hera from Cavil. And Cavil, obviously. Maybe Tigh and Ellen, and perhaps the Chief. But Helo and Athena and Hera will all live, as indeed will all the characters who symbolize union.
And finally, but most importantly, I think we will hear the words which opened the first episode of the original series, “There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe,” invoked in the final moments of tonight’s episode. Somehow (possibly via the singularity) Lee and Starbuck and the surviving Cylons and Humans will turn out to be our own ancestors. I’m not sure how literal this process will be, but it makes sense for a number of reasons. The first is it allows the larger circle between the original series and the revisioned series to be closed. The second is that it means quite literally that all of this has happened before. And the third is because the show is and always has been fundamentally concerned with destabilizing the boundaries between us and them, Human and Other, and while that boundary between Human and Cylon is now completely blurred, making the characters on the show us, and us them, takes it one step further and makes us the descendants of that union, no longer Human, but a mixture of Human and Cylon.
One of the reasons I’m not sure how literal the process will be is because I’m convinced it has something to do with the singularity, and that we will discover not just that the show is our prehistory, but also our future. That will allow the Earth they discovered in the middle of Season Four to be our Earth as well, and will mean that somehow the distant future gives birth to the distant past, so not only has all of this happened before, and will happen again, but in some deep sense, we are all – Human and Cylon, past, present and future – one, and bound together for all eternity.