Coming into the fourth and final season of Battlestar Galactica, I had high hopes. The sublime season finale, and standard of the season which preceded it offered a great deal of excitement and promise for the final year. However, five weeks in, and I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.
If this were any year other than the closing season, the negative aspects of the last few weeks could probably be over-looked. After all, it’s not that the show is bad; far from it. Galactica remains, behind ‘Dexter’, one of my favourite shows on television. The acting is still top-notch, as is the style of production and the intensity of performance on the screen. So where’s it gone wrong?
The writing. Once again, it’s not that the writing is particularly bad, the plots just don’t seem to be moving fast enough. This is the final season, surely we should be having some development? For the moment, we’re forced to watch Starbuck floating around space in the Demetrius with her crew looking worried; Baltar talking pseudo-religious clap-trap with a group of attractive young women, and Chief Tyrol deliver Rambo-esque glaring and cut his hair post- Cally murder. And it’s been this way for a couple of weeks. What’s happened in the time since Cally’s death… um… Leoban showed up, and made Starbuck even more crazy-looking. Wow. Even one of the greatest aspects of the new season, the Cylon council meetings on the baseship (and particularly the performances from Dean Stockwell), didn’t even make an appearance last week.
I know I’ll probably get crucified for negativity towards the Holy Grail of Science Fiction, and perhaps I am being harsh; I felt particularly disappointed with last weeks episode, ‘The Road Less Travelled’. I don’t intend to turn people against the show (as if my journalism carries that much influence). I’m simply expressing frustration, and trying to make it sound justified.
I’m sure I’m not alone in believing that this final season has the potential to be one of the finest pieces of television ever written, and indeed some of the writing so far has been superb. Of note, some of the Tigh/Helen/Six interactions in 4.04 ‘Escape Velocity’ were particularly enjoyable, and any scene with Adama and Roslin usually ends up being magnificent. On the whole, however, I just can’t help but feel that the show is trotting instead of sprinting towards the finish line; wasting time and valuable character opportunities along the way. Surely characters like Anders and Gaeta deserve more coming in to the final episodes than to be exchanging concerned glances for forty-five minutes each week.
I will continue to watch, and I will no doubt continue to enjoy the episodes for the most part. However, I sincerely hope that soon the show will pick up the pace, and deliver the stunning conclusion of which I know Ronald D. Moore and his gifted team of writers are capable.
Let us hope the words of the Cylon Hybrid are not true in this case, that “all of this has happened before, and will happen again“. So many sci-fi shows go out with a whimper, and I’m hoping Battlestar is not one of them.