Matt Roush in TV Guide reacts to both BSG's and Lost's finales, calling REVELATIONS:
A powerfully downbeat, and thus hardly out-of-character, wrap for the first half of the final season of one of TV’s all-time-greatest science-fiction dramas.
Because of my long absence, I had the rare experience of devouring Lost’s first-rate season finale (capping a wow of a comeback season) and the final awesome handful of Battlestar episodes within a 36-hour time span. My head is still reeling.
What strikes me about both of these shows is how, for all of the mind-blowing fantasy and murky geeky mythology and eternally unanswered (possibly unanswerable) questions, they are essentially grounded in such rich character and intense emotion. The passionate investment in these shows is unmatched by anything else I experience in my current TV diet.
In Time Magazine, James Poniewozik writes:
Seriously, a stunning conclusion to a stunning episode. ....linger a couple seconds more on that amazing last scene. It was a gorgeous punch in the gut. First, the look of it: the planet we saw was not just ruined but dead, drained of color, as were the crew members taking it all in. It was a kind of ancient-Greek vision of Hell—where Hell is not fire and brimstone but the cold absence of life—in keeping with the ancient-Greek roots of the Colonial mythology. And the slow pan over each crew member and Cylon not only captured their states of mind but their personalities in miniature: Adama angry; Roslin bitter but composed; D'Anna horrified; Anders rejecting Tory's comforting touch (how fitting, by the way, that she would burn her bridges for nothing, abandoning the fleet just before it reached a truce with the Cylon rebels); Lee despairing; Leoben grieving.
I'm most interested going ahead to see how the discovery of the dead Earth affects characters like Roslin and D'Anna, who in a way were counterparts as the messianic leaders of their people, following visions and prophecies that turned out either to be wrong or to be cruel jokes. Either way, they—and Baltar, Leoben, etc.—have seen their belief systems shattered, the whole point of their lives (discovering Earth, which was to make everything all better) seemingly for nothing.
Or is it? If BSG is a show about faith, are the final episodes going to be about how faith can sustain them even against all physical evidence to the contrary? Or will it be about their discovery that their fate lies not with any God or gods but with themselves—that, having seen that there is no planetary deus ex machina out there to save them, they have to work things out together, or die? Is this in fact the meaning of the Hybrid's prophecy (that Starbuck would lead them to their "end")—that now they have seen the end that awaits them, human and Cylon alike, unless they break the eternally repeating pattern of hatred and violence?
The New York Times TV Decoder blog calls it a, "stunning mid-season finale."
James Hibberd for The Hollywood Reporter says:
The show, which has been uneven this season, snapped together in its last hour for an Emmy-worthy cliffhanger.
The final tracking shot that has fans reeling is not only the most pivotal moment in the show's history but is masterfully composed by director Michael Rymer, who managed to top his own "One Year Later" transition from the season two ender.
Tim Grierson in New York Magazine writes:
Suffering through the convoluted plot twists and out-of-character action marring recent shows, we've told ourselves that all Battlestar chesslike moves were groundwork for something amazing. And our patience actually paid off! “Revelations,” the last episode before the season hiatus, might even sustain us until the show resumes in 2009.
Well, our expectations were upended again. We got the ending that found the Fleet and Rebel Cylons working together to find the planet — and discovering it had been nuked! All the hugging upon the discovery pretty well indicated a twist was coming, but the gut-punch shot of a decimated cityscape was truly epic. Did the human race destroy itself? Did the hawkish Cylon faction get there before our heroes? And does any of this explain what happened in The Road?
The Earth the fleet finds is so unexpectedly depressing that the scene was a pure, tragic pleasure to watch. It also remained true to the heart of the show, which is at its core deeply dystopian and apocalyptic. This is not a show about happy reconciliation and exploration. It's about the shattered ruins of a species that has warred and slaved itself into an evolutionary corner. Battlestar Galactica forces us to look at how potentially ugly the future could get, and I'm glad show creators Ron Moore and David Eick weren't afraid to keep horrifying us.
MaryAnn Johanson writes:
So, they did it, Ron Moore and David Eick. They finally did it. Damn them all to hell: they got us to Earth, and it’s not what we were thinking. Or maybe it was. Past, or future? We still can’t tell.
Heather Havrilesky in Salon:
"Battlestar Galactica" finale was packed with big surprises, from the revelation of the secret four Cylons living among the fleet to the suddenly bellicose maneuvering of D'Anna, fresh from her resurrection. But the biggest whopper of them all came in the last few minutes of the show when the Cylons and the colonists make peace and follow Starbuck's viper to Earth, only to discover that ... Oh nooooo! Earth is a post-apocalyptic wasteland!
But that's exactly the combination of high stakes and suspense that loyal viewers have come to expect from "Battlestar Galactica," a show that shines the most brightly during the start and finish of its demi-seasons (with a little bit of finger strumming and pacing in between). When the final episodes of the series begin to air in January 2009 (Oh noooo! Why must we wait so long?), the colonists (and their big Cylon buddies) will be forced to reckon with the fact that their new home, which they've imagined so long is their salvation, isn't the land of sunshine and moonbeams that they'd so dearly hoped it would be. At least it isn't anymore. After the celebrating and embracing and high-fiving over finally locating Earth, that moment where Admiral Adama runs his fingers through a fistful of irradiated soil and then scans the wreckage-strewn, overcast landscape is just devastating. Welcome to the promised land, motherfrackers!
Todd VanDerWerff writing for The House Next Door says of REVELATIONS:
It’s a bold, gutsy piece of television that perhaps cuts a few too many corners but more than makes up for it with its raw ambition, its terrific script (by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle), its stellar acting (by pretty much the entire cast) and its wonderful direction (by oft-unheralded series mastermind Michael Rymer).
...what made “Revelations” such a gutsy episode was that the writers essentially dispensed with most of the series’ status quo altogether. Now that the fleet has found Earth (and found it to be a post-apocalyptic one), the series could, presumably, return to following the adventures of a ragtag fleet out in space, but they would have nothing to head to, no one pursuing them (even if the peace with the Cylons is tenuous at best) and, really, no hope left. The final moments of this episode so drastically alter the series that we probably won’t even know just how much it has changed until we see the back half of the season. Even with the famed “one year later” twist at the end of season two’s “Lay Down Your Burdens,” the viewer kind of knew that the Galactica would return to save humanity from the Cylon occupation. Here, we have no such guarantees.
...There’s been some grumbling that the montage preceding the final shot is overlong and makes for too obvious of a cliffhanger. As much as all of the show’s viewers probably guessed that something very bad had happened down on Earth, the celebration preceding it is fundamentally necessary. For one thing, the music by Bear McCreary (no longer the show’s secret weapon, his music has become so praised—if Battlestar is going to win Emmys in only the technical categories, please give him one, Academy) during the montage is one of his best compositions for the series. For another, the VFX composition of the fleet passing in front of the sun just outside of Earth orbit is another gorgeous shot. And, finally, the episode needs this moment, needs to give these characters the space to have one last moment of hope before dashing it under a blackened sky.
...Everything that follows is out of the category that makes Battlestar such a great and compelling show. There are few series willing to take risks like this, and even if this one doesn’t ultimately pan out, there is something riveting about seeing a new chapter begin, this close to the end.
Mike at Pop Critics asks, where do we go from here?
This episode was awesome and full of fantastic moments that I wont soon forget.
The pillar of them was Colonel Tigh telling Admiral Adama that he was a Cylon. You gotta love Saul as a Cylon, because no matter how long he’s known he’s a skin job, he still hates it and wishes he was the same old guy he’s always been.
...It was such a brutal, amazing scene. The pinnacle of Michael Hogan’s days on the show (well, aside from when he killed his wife - that one still resonates with me to this day).
Adama can’t believe it. He thinks Tigh is joking. But once convinced, Adama goes into a tailspin in a matter of two scenes, first bashing in a mirror and then completely collapsing into uncontrollable tears and sobs.
Because I wasn’t expecting it, I just loved the way it ended. I am excited to find out what happened down on Earth and how this new, shaky alliance will play out. They are on a dead planet from what it looks like, so what the heck is going to happen in the next 10 episodes?
Cinemablend offers up questions to ponder while on hiatus. The Science of Battlestar Galactica studies the ruined bridge. IGN's editors comment on Revelations, and provide a review.
Other reviews and recaps from Alan Sepinwall in the Star Ledger. Marc Bernardin in Entertainment Weekly. The Boston Globe. Chicago Sun Times. Battlestar Galactica Review blog. Buddy TV. SyFy Portal. The 13th Colony. Zap2It. TV with MeeVee. Recaps from BuddyTV Hollyscoop and Cinemablend.
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All photos in this post from Flickr user Churchhatestucker under a Creative Commons Attribution license.