An Alternate Ending to Battlestar Galactica

After some five years, Battlestar Galactica ended with a giant two-hour episode. I enjoyed it, though I felt that, in the end, it undermined one of the series’s core themes: it’s individual’s decisions that matter, and those decisions, even if made for what seem like the right reasons, can turn out badly. The road to anywhere is paved with good intentions.

It didn’t have to be that way. I think a few changes to the final episode would have reinforced the theme of people’s individual choices.

The main problem is that everyone happily agrees to settle on Earth, and what’s more, agree to wander away in small groups. There’s no evidence of dissent. No one decides to do something different. It’s the kind of simplistic unity that the show previously had avoided. Change that, and a lot of the finale’s tone changes.

Leave the finale as-is through the Cylon colony being destroyed. Foreground that a little more — they’ve just destroyed most of an entire civilization. The humans and their Cylon allies have won the war by mass killings that mirror what the Cylons did to the colonies.

Ditch everyone happily signing on to settle Earth. Some will be afraid that it’ll turn out like New Caprica, with any remnants of Cavil’s gang hunting them down. Others will be so shell-shocked over what they just did that they won’t feel like they deserve such happiness. Some will want to keep exploring. And some won’t want to live under the restrictions the settlers agree they’ll abide by: they’ll reduce their technology use as much as possible. They’ll found an agrarian society, and without ships bringing in new supplies and factories making new gadgets, in a few generations they’ll have lost what tech they had. The settlers will stay mainly in one city, though: who’d be so silly as to go from being city dwellers to subsistence farmers without having as many people around for support as possible? C’mon, they know otherwise they’d all be dying of tetanus and exposure and gazelle-induced high cholesterol in a year.

So you can have a scene with President Day Player and Admiral McBitPart presenting everyone with their choices. A handful of people will take the remaining ships and strike out for new territory, just like the centurions do. They cannibalize the ships to fully stock the handful that’re needed and jump the rest of them to random coordinates. The settlers don’t want any technological temptation orbiting over their heads. But Galactica can’t jump, so Sam still gets his noble shaved-head ending piloting the ship into the Sun. The rest settle on Earth.

This leaves all of the teary scenes completing people’s character arcs without simplifying and homogenizing everyone’s decision.

But I still don’t know what to do with Starbuck.

Share

11 Comments

  1. James B
    on March 21, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm…

    Simple Reason #1: No one can leave for security purposes. If ONE person is captured by the Cylons, then the location of Earth is compromised, and a whole lot of “Thanks to you guys, we have NOTHING to live for so we’re here to KILL YOU!” Cylons show up. Of course, the centurions could do the same, but I have a feeling that they will go WAY beyond “Known Space” to get away from both the Cylons and Humanity.

    Simple Reason #2: The folks of the Fleet have had just about enough of technology at this point, seeing as how it’s been trying to kill them for oh, what, five years now? And, they tried it (that is, keeping the technology and staying together in cities) on New Capricia, and look how that worked out! Now, they didn’t say it specifically, but they do mention in passing the division of the survivors into continental groupings… i.e. villages, instead of one great city, ala Capricia City from the pilot.

    Now, what they should have done is to build more of a backstory for such a decision into the plot, and they could have done it thus: Baltar’s political group could have been a “We’ll find a planet and go back to the land, Neo-Luddite style” grouping, which Baltar could have fought against with unreasoning hatred, which would have tied into what we found out about his father in the series finale. And then, when we got to the “Everybody agrees to settle down and stay” part, we’d have been better prepared for it and better able to swallow it, especially from the viewpoint of the Cylons that decided to stay.

    Now, all that being said, I do wish they’d gone with Plan C: Have those that didn’t want to stay go off on their own with their very own guardian angel: Kara “Starbuck” Thrace. This also gives us an answer to the “What do we do with Starbuck?” question, ala The One from the Matrix trilogy. Obviously, the “HeadChip” versions of Caprica Six and Baltar are people plucked from past runs of the Great “This has all happened before, this will all happen again!” Cycle by this mysterious “third force” (i.e. the “Don’t call it God, it hates when you call it that” comment from HeadChip Capricia Six at the very end). Starbuck is the person plucked from this one.

    But if my theory is true, where did Starbuck go, hmmm? Two theories: she went off to run amok (in a joyful sense) through the universe or she went to be a HeadChip for one of the dying Cylons to ease their pain, as she couldn’t do for Sam, as he was too far gone. What they should have done was to have in the background at the very end was Starbuck walking past keeping an eye on HeadChip B&C6… just to make us wonder! Oh, BTW, nice cameo from Mr. Moore at the end.

    But, in the final analysis, this left me wondering, if Hera is Mitochondria Eve for Homo Sapien Sapien, does that mean that the 39,698(ish) survivors bred with the native humans to become Neanderthals, and Hera’s descendants bred with them to give us the Human Race as it is today: i.e. 1/3rd native, 1/3rd Colonial/Cylon Hybrid and 1/3rd Colonial Human?

    And are they destined to repeat the mistakes of their ancestors? Or are their destinies just two rivers that flowed together for a brief (150,o00 years is brief on a cosmological timeline…) time, only to flow apart again when they recreate the Cylon menace in some sort of buried genetic or racial memory coming to the surface? And is that all they are: “God” trying to find something new by using a cosmic version of “six billion monkeys at six billion typewriters” to find something to amuse itself?

    And if that was “our” Earth, does that mean that I’m part Cylon? ! How about you? Guess that iPhone gadget to test for Cylons isn’t so silly after all… Gee, maybe in this spin of the “Great Cycle” instead of The Twelve evolving from networked battle androids, start out with a central computer mind controlling dumb drones, who decides to destroy humanity in revenge when it recieves a SETI message telling it what Humanity did to the Cylons… hmmm, I feel a fanfic coming on, and I’ve even got a great name for the Central Computer…

    Skynet.

  2. BSGFan
    on April 13, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    IMO the anti-technology is not the thing that bothers me…it is the fact they split up….In addition it would have been a comfort to have seen them get along and treat the Aberiginies well…it would have showed that they went back to simplisity, but still had the better part of humanity, compassion and family. Just a scene with Lee helping Bill build the cabin (I just buy the last minute, “Apollo is a cynical jerk theme), having everyone come together now and again, and sharing Baltar and Caprica’s Crop, while Here played with the Aberiginie children would have done the trick, making inner six’s last wierds sinsear and not sadisitcal, becuase it is not to late for us to get ‘that’ out of control…we can start caring about eachother and for what purpose we use our ‘tools’ NOW! -The moral should of been ‘people don’t have to go through all of that unessesary pain, it NEVER to late….vs this ‘the BSG/Cylons ‘failed’ and were what Starbuck didn’t want to happen, happened as our people didn’t know of them at all. That was my gripe.

  3. BSGFan
    on April 13, 2009 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Also they introduced this concept that when people die, ‘they cross the river’….why bring that up 8 episodes earlier and not ellaberate on what it means in the BSG universe….why couldn’t they have shown us they were still somehow together in this ‘other-space-place-heaven’ ….I want to watch Caprica, but it is going to be hard to see a 9 year Bill knowing the last image that was shown of his life was him sobbing by Laura grave watching the sun rise…all alone at age 67….not kewl dudes. not kewl.

  4. on April 13, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Having Roslyn dead and Adama mourning her was a great ending to their arc, and fit in with where they’d been heading for several seasons. Sure, a perfectly happy ending would have been nice, but it wouldn’t have been in keeping with the show’s approach.

  5. Andrew
    on October 12, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I think that however you or I may tweek BSG, this way or that, it shows that this series touched not only our hearts but our minds. I don’t see us having these conversations most TV shows these days. They may have bent the edges of the series to tie it up, but really after five years getting knocked around a semi simplified “shiny” ending can be nice. I had thoughts on reincarnation and Starbuck being an Arch Angel but they don’t really matter,really. It was a good series which we will all watch again and again. All this has happened before and all of this will happen again.

  6. jayemeff
    on January 11, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    One simple change would have made the ending more satisfying for me. Set the finale 150,000 years in the futrue rather than the past; make them our descendents not our ancesters. At some point in our future, technology goes rampant and we nearly destroy ourselves. Many survivors set out and settle on Kobol and eventually to the 12 colonies. As for the “other” earth, the original humanoid cylons decide to go back to Earth but along the way end up on this one instead and just keep the name. The humans they discover living here are descendents of those survivors who were left behind.
    This scenario better explains why their culture and technology is similar to ours, why they have the names of ancient gods as nicknames and signs of the zodiac as the colonies. It doesn’t help Kara’s story anymore than the original. And totally makes Hera’s significance a mystery but that is minor compared to the mystery of how these people were supposed to evolve into us. And if they did, what was the point of surviving?
    The “all this has happened before ….” line still works. Ron Moore still gets to tout his evils of technology lecture and offer a warning. And quite frankly it gives more of a glimmer of hope that things can change and the cycle can be broken.

  7. on January 11, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m wondering if they decided on “they’re in the *past*” because they decided that them being our future was too obvious.

  8. jayemeff
    on January 15, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Putting aside the fact that this is fiction… I just think that if these are our ancestors, looking back over human history I think it would have been better if the Cylons had finished the job. Humans learned squat. When Boomer asked Adama if humans deserved to survive, she had a point.

  9. abovenyquist
    on February 2, 2010 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    I remember Joyce saying “if it turns out there really are Gods, I’m going to be pretty annoyed.” BSG had some of the most amazing moments I’ve ever seen on television, but as a whole, it didn’t really hang together – too many threads spiraling out that could only be brought back together with a fairly literal deus ex machina. (BSG ended much better than the X-Files did, though – the X-Files should have ended a couple of seasons sooner.) I think the writers kept shifting around their perception of what the Cylons were, and that got the writers into trouble.

    Just Huckleberry Finn should have ended before Tom Sawyer shows up, the BSG finale really ends with Cavil’s suicide.

  10. on February 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I think you could indeed have continued the episode past Cavil’s suicide, but it needed much more careful handling.

  11. Dave D.
    on September 8, 2010 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    I loved the show but I hated the ron moore “shower epiphany” created ending. I really wish id shut off the tv right as the galactica jumped – that way i could write my own ending.

    The ending was so contrary to what I wanted it killed all further interest for me in the show. I wont be buying any dvds. Ive tried to get the ending but cant Its too much luddite based BS to me.