Friday, March 27, 2009

Last Scene

In an intriguing essay, Michael Hall of Galactica Science pieced together Head Six's and Head Baltar's full final lines of dialog by combining what we saw in the episode itself, and adding in what is read from the script in the final cast read-through as shown on Sci-Fi.Com and Hulu. Additional lines are in italics.:

Head Six: Commercialism, decadence, technology run amok. Remind you of anything?

Head Baltar: Take your pick. Kobol, Earth - the real Earth, before this one, Caprica before the fall.

Head Six: All of this has happened before.

Head Baltar: But the question remains, “Does all of this have to happen again?”

Head Six: This time I bet no.

Head Baltar: You know, I’ve never known you to play the optimist. Why the sudden change of heart?

Head Six: Mathematics. Law of averages. Let a complex system repeat itself long enough and eventually something surprising might occur. That too is in God’s Plan.

Head Baltar (whispering/growling): You know it doesn’t like that name! In any case, it would have required mankind in all its flaws to have learned from its mistakes.

Head Six: Stranger things have happened.

Head Baltar: I think I’ll take that bet. What are the stakes?

Head Six: Hmph. (Head Six gives a look of annoyance.)

Head Baltar: Silly me! Silly, silly me!

It's interesting that they decided to cut out their wager. The wager almost makes the Six and Baltar apparitions to be like mischievous spirits, or something akin to Loki.

Perhaps the full scene will end up in the longer version of Daybreak on the DVD. In any case, the "Silly me," bit actually makes more sense in that full context of Six apparently being disenchanted with Baltar's proposal for a wager on the fate of humanity...


wellDecent said...

Even without the omitted lines I found Head Six and Head Baltar pleasingly similar to types of character looking from the outside in in Greek plays or maybe something out of Shakespeare... But, I can't quite put my finger on who they remind me of most... Perhaps a little like Oberon and Titania (along with Puck) in A Midsummer Night's Dream but I'm sure there is a much closer match of character's who coax and influence the cast for their own ends/ for the greater good. Anybody got any suggestions of who HS and HB might, in the end it would seem, be based upon?

General Boy said...

I thought of the Old Testament Satan for HB, but this is a common interpretation, it seems.

Here and here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I had no idea what the "silly me" comment was referencing and was very confused by this. It would have been better to delete the comment or just keep the lines. They work quite well.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me. I consider myself a true fan. But I've yet to see anyone comment "Wow! maybe this was just a really bad, derivative ending to an otherwise amazing show!"

The ending was so broad and rushed in so many secondary concepts it just wasn't very good. I feel like people are trying to explain it away. And it is fun to discuss. But it wont change that the show ending was extremely disappointing. Sorry.

wellDecent said...

madmonq -

I'm not trying to explain it away at all - I thoroughly enjoyed it for it's referential nature and being derivative of some of our greatest works. That's exactly why I'm asking people's opinions of what they believe to be the most direct comparison to HB and HS from literature!!

I don't think this is a case of last minute deus ex machina. Baltar admitted to himself that he was "an instrument of God" way back in ep 7 of season 1 ("The Hand Of God").

I appreciate the conclusion is not and probably never was going to be a universally appealing one. But I thought the fact that it has been used before by some of our greatest writers amusingly mirrored the use of the history repeating itself theme so consistently highlighted by the show. Plus, it's not so typical to employ such a device these days so I thought it was pretty ballsy to use it.

It also put a new perspective on things for me in that it reminded me of the classic movie "A Matter Of Life And Death" for themes and concepts that came through much stronger in the final episodes.

I was more into BSG for the drama and the science rather than the spiritual. For all that has been put in place along the way though, the conclusion we got was always potentially heavily on the cards.

It was 100% better than *just* blowing up the Death Star ; )

If anybody's got any ideas of characters in classical literature who you think HS and HB are most reminiscent of, then please post!


Max Cutrell said...

Head Baltar and Head Six remind me of "Daniel and Marty" from the Dune universe.

ProgGrrl said...

@J-P, I don't have any particular characters in mind, but this InfiniteSix/InfiniteBaltar conversation definitely reminds me of the Greek gods and Godesses. Walking amongst humanity, their children. Marveling at them. Toying with them. Etc...

Anonymous said...

I am not specifically addressing your comments alone but the seemingly endless and repeated discussions going on across fandom, the blogosphere, pop culture etc about the show ending. This is fun, of course. Fandoms continued discussion reframing of the same questions over and over and over seem to be doing the same thing only they don't seem realize it. Like Nixon I think there is a great silent majority out there, who watched the show finale and thought "Huh?" Alan Moore's comments on the show BEFORE the finale were dead on.

That said Moore's BSG reimagining put the show's former "Star Wars knock off" reputation to rest for good. It was immensely superior to any of the SW properties thus far and most anything else on television. On that we agree. I do hope the show being based "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" was a wink at George Lucas saying "See George. This is how it's done."

Great characters based on great literature? How about Luke Skywalker / King Arthur? Skywalker's hero archtype was ruined just as easily as he was made by the dreadful prequels. He can be appreciated in context but that doesn't mean that he was ultimately served well by the entire story.

I appreciated Battlestar's Soprano (King Lear? Hamlet?) feel. Those stories were not concluded best by some amorphous "God's great plan - Get over it" conclusion (or in the Soprano's case "Fuggit 'bout it") but by answering the questions asked by the characters plight. There was no real answer to Tony's plight, just constant worry. Wonderful. Battlestar's was muddled. At best.

Maybe "The Plan" will satisfy my need for a less thrown together feeling of a conclusion. I hope so and I will say so. As of now, no. Hell no.

radii said...

The wager aspect is deeply cynical and recalls the biblical story of Job. I'm glad they left it out.

I think it would have diminished the story further.

"It" is a petty god if the angels in It's service can run around placing bets on the results of their interference in humanity's evolution. Rather capricious.

In whodunnit? films you can only throw sand up in the air to distract the audience once or twice and get away with it - more than that and it becomes a crutch to mask writers who don't know how to tie up their loose story threads. Season 4.5 and certainly the Daybreak I & II finale was a veritable cloud of sand (bullets, artillery, jumps, flashbacks, flickering lights, blood, flashbacks, troops marching, shouting, flashbacks, and somber farewells) which attempted to mask the main writer, Ron Moore, not being willing to tell us whodunnit and why all those people had to die. Oh yeah, god did it

Anonymous said...

@madmonq -

The "silent majority" has been anything but. On nearly every single discussion of the finale, I've seen at least one, if not several, detractors. It's just as easy to assume a "silent majority" loved the finale as to assume they hated it - that's the problem with "silent majorities" and basing assumptions off of them.


I'm not trying to attack you or anything, but you are completely misinterpreting the Job story. I can't fault you for that, because I interpreted it the same way when I first read it, and it is a very easy misinterpretation to make if you haven't studied it.

You can obviously read the finale (and HB / HS's speech) however you want. But to say "it is a capricious god if it is letting its angels place bets on the survival of humanity" is to completely ignore the point - the comment clearly made in jest.

And to say season 4.5 was only so much "sand in the air" is a dismissal of the storyline along the same lines of "Why didn't Gandalf have the eagles fly Frodo to Mount Doom?" In the end, beyond the "God did it," the AUTHOR did it. Suspension of disbelief has to start somewhere if you are planning on enjoying a story.

And I think you proved my point in regards to madmonq's post rather well ;)

ProgGrrl said...

I think there IS a silent majority who enjoyed the show, and most folks who comment here or elsewhere, tend to be people who have issues and/or flat out did not enjoy this season, for whatever reason.

Most people who enjoyed the thing for what it was, probably feel no need to hash it out on here. It's mainly people with an axe to grind who comment on blogs like ours. The rest tend to lurk, and once in a while send us a private email saying how much they love the show and enjoy reading Sitrep.

Anonymous said...

Re: A silent majority. It was a generalization. I'm glad someone figured that out. My only assumption was thinking people would understand that without having to spell it out.

I will try & be brief. In that effort, generalizations may be made.

The generalization comes from reading fanblogs who have practically nothing critical to say about the terrible ending to a great show. Again, this is a generalization. I have no issue with those who loved it. Aspects of the show's finale, as was the show's quality overall, were excellent. Overall, I don't consider the show gee-whiz-Sci-fi. I consided it art. Overall.

It's also OK to think the show finale was terrible.

Suspension of disbelief? Sand in the air? When people claim to have seen a UFO there is usually a far more likely & logical reason than an space travelers. When people see a unicorn it is far more likely they saw a mutant goat or deformed horse. Years of commitment to the show, the suspension of disbelief and a lot of sand in the air are, in my opinion, the reason a great silent majority may have loved the ending as well. So be it. But that doesn't mean they saw what they believe they saw.


ProgGrrl said...

This is not a goat or a horse.

This is art and story and mythos. You take from this what you want, what you need, to take from it. There is no one truth, there is no single correct interpretation of what has been presented on the stage.

Some folks behind the fourth wall will never be able to accept this.

Anonymous said...

There is a reason some art / mythos rises above the rest. Because, overtime, a majority interprets it as good or bad. A single conclusive interpretation.

The anemic, colorless assessment of "no single correct interpretation." renders everything neutral, available to being called great when it is poor and vice versa.

Ever read fan fiction? Despite what my mother said, her glowing interpretation, my 4th grade construction paper costume drama was bad. That's OK, but it's not correct. I love the idea of the unicorn. But sometimes a goat is just a goat. Mostly, a UFO is just gas. Swamp gas.

Why talk about anything if it's going to be rendered common by neutral judgement? Art is and can be interpreted correctly as good or bad. It's important to be politely honest about good as well as bad. IF you were as progressive in thought as you like to think (and I cannot conclusively say you are not from these posts, though I have my suspicions), you'd realize art can be called good and bad.

Hopefully constructive criticism will improve the end product. But watering down negative opinion of an overall great show doesn't help anything. There is a fine line. Agreed.

The show conclusion was so much swamp gas. Though, as I've said before, I'm OK with the bizarre notion that some thought it otherwise.

Apologies for hurt feelings, misinterpretations etc. Hopefully I wont feel the need to bother you with this again. Thanks.

Christina said...

ProgGrrl - I agree with your perspectives.

Radii - I was going to post about the book of Job as well.

What is interesting is that Job predates the rest of the OT and may be an import into the OT. On a related note - there has been at least one production of Job as a play in the Ancient Greek style. Job is actually a play...think about it...

If you want to think about Biblical comparisons to the HS and HB interactions, and possibly to what Hera stands for (and what Helo and Athena stand for) - I think of the angels appearing to Abraham and Sara and telling them they would have children at their advanced ages, with Abraham's descendants being more numerous than the grains of sand..

Others have written elsewhere about "Helo" being "Helios", aka the God of the Sun. Athena is the goddess of war & wisdom - specifically about skill in battle
(contrast with Apollo who is the god of battle lust).... What better symbols for Hera's parents?

One of the things about symbols is that they do not mean the same thing to everyone. Meanings change over time. One of the things about BSG, like any dramatic production (regardless of format) is that certain cultural archetypes are conveyed. (read C.J. Jung if you want...)

I don't like everything about how BSG was presented - but it is NOT my creation. I really enjoyed the finale - but it took me a while to process the episode. After replaying it - I think it was well done.

I didn't like Kara just disappearing, but that was the best way to resolve things and to keep the mystique. I had to reconcile that in my mind as well. She is as much of an angel as HS and HB to me. Her time was done.

Just my 2 cents....

ProgGrrl said...

@madmonq, we can argue all day and night about this, since we disagree so clearly. But don't compare a TV show that has been through a 1000 levels of quality control and creative works, to your frakkin 4th grade art project or one person's fan fiction (the latter comparison coming off as an offensive side-swipe at other fans). These are apples and oranges. Lazy, lazy argument...for the sake of argument.

Anonymous said...

I didn't compare the show to a 4th grade play. What I said was, that it appears the fans are predisposed to praising what was clearly an inferior product. Overlooking any glaring flaws and declaring the finale as genius. Maybe my analogy was too vague, but the intent was not comparing apples to oranges but comparing apples to apple sauce. Less a lazy argument but possibly some lazy impressions.

Squashing debate by proclaiming an argument as lazy (mainly one that contridicts your own) is going a long way to avoid one. Claiming personal persective superior to overall appraisal is further evidence of an unwillingness to look critically upon what is obviously argueably a bad finale.

Once again, I am really glad people liked it. My impression is that anything positive I've said is being overlooked for daring to speak against the final product.

Time is the ultimate arbiter. The complete four seasons with specials included will hold up. As art, even. I say the finale won't.

Logan Gawain said...

Well, I'm a little late to this party, but @Madmonq, I'd say this site has been quite open to discussion and debate about the finale. In the collection of reviews I posted, you'll find positive, negative, and in-between reviews.

It's also worth noting that every fan poll I've seen shows pretty consistent numbers with 60% liking the finale, and 20% not liking it.

Milage will always vary. How people view the finale depends on with what POV they bring to it.

If you see it with literal or scientific eyes, seeking out clear-cut answers then you probably didn't like it.

If you were interested in the characters and could view the ending through the lens of poetry and mythology you might have liked its lyrical qualities.

Over time we'll see which view survives the long haul.

I'm interested to see how people feel about the ending in 10 years time.

General Boy said...

A conversation between and Battlestar Galactica - The Series and General Boy.

BSG: "You don't have to mock my faith."

GB: "I'm Sorry. I'm just not very religious.

BSG: "Does it bother you that I am?"

GB: "It puzzles me that an intelligent, attractive series such as yourself should be taken in by all that mysticism and superstition, but I'm willing to overlook it on account of your other attributes."

BSG: "I have to go".

Anonymous said...

I just wrote a rather long and thoughtful response to this blog entry and some of the comments here, but the stupid comment system blew away my contribution (and the site code somehow managed to wedge IE6, forcing me to kill the process and open the site in Firefox to try all over again). Gotta love how, when you try to post a comment, the site opens a popup with a ridiculously small window size, in which you're supposed to compose a comment, and then won't let you resize the window (at least in IE -- Firefox apparently lets you resize freely). This causes major problems since I am a LiveJournal user, and am relying on OpenID for authentication. You wouldn't believe how badly mangled the LiveJournal UI is when forced into that tiny window.


So, I noticed some comments by radii and bombsonengland about the Book of Job, and how it potentially relates to this reconstructed final scene. I was perturbed by bombsonengland's comments about how radii was "misinterpreting" Job, so I had to check his LJ profile. Hm, Orlando, Florida... English major who uses "alot" in his writing... Best guess is this guy is some flavor of Christian who, and I'm going out on a limb here, probably has weak skills with literary criticism and exegesis.

But it doesn't even matter what he is, because the fact is that there are many schools of literary criticism, just as there are many schools of biblical exegesis / interpretation, and to say that one interpretation of Job is "wrong" is just absurd.

When I was an undergrad at MIT, I had a friend who happened to be Jewish, with whom I would have many long philosophical, scientific, and religious discussions with. One evening while discussing Daniel's then-belief that free will is an illusion, the discussion turned to Job. Since I was raised Roman Catholic, I only knew the Catholic perspective on Job. Daniel opened my eyes to the spectrum of Jewish perspective and opinion about Job; many Jews, he told me, don't even consider the Book of Job to be sacred scripture, but rather an interesting parable. He then told me that there were even some, such as a rabbi he conversed at length with on the subject, who believe that Job is really a cynical indictment of God, and if you read Job's dialog in Hebrew, it's easy to make the case that Job is in fact being flippant and sarcastic.

Having said all that, I think radii's comments are right on: the whole idea of the two angelic beings (Head Six and Head Baltar) making a wager on the future of humanity isn't much different from the wager between God and Satan in Job. For that reason alone, I find the reconstructed final dialog to be unsatisfying... even offensive, because it darkens the otherwise hopeful tone of the series finale.

I sincerely hope RDM and the gang don't "restore" that full dialog to the last scene. I think it was better the way they broadcast it.

The other bit I wanted to touch on was this "silent majority" nonsense. These are weasel words, used as a rhetorical flourish when a person wishes to project that they are part of a majority, a groundswell of opinion, and therefore must be in the "right." The "silent" part is meant to forestall the obvious question: "Well, if the majority believes as you claim, then where are they? Why haven't I heard them?"

This is obviously problematic for a few reasons. One, it's unscientific. When asked to provide evidence of this "majority," proponents will almost invariably bring up anecdotal evidence which has no statistical weight to support such a claim. Indeed, that is precisely what madmonq and others did in this discussion, with vague comments about seemingly endless discussion in the blogosphere. (If you carefully re-read madmonq's comments, it's pretty clear he's even using the apparently overwhelming positive response in the fan blogs as evidence for the existence of this "silent majority." That's a neat trick -- show that your opposition is everywhere, then conclude there must be an even larger group of people that is silent who happen to disagree with the opposition and agree with your viewpoint. All without a shred of real evidence to back that conclusion up. Classic! Oh, and madmonq, I looked at that Alan Moore link and saw nothing mentioned about BSG in that article. But then, the only Moore I know of who has any connection with BSG is Ron Moore...)

It's also interesting that the one time I noticed someone bring up polls (which, while probably unscientific in their administration, are a better metric than anecdotal data), the numbers suggested that the majority of BSG fans liked the finale (60%), and only a minority (20%) disliked it... and so were roundly ignored.

Of course, underlying the "silent majority" trope is the notion that whatever the majority believes must be right or correct. This is a logical fallacy in argument.

In the end, what I am more interested in is how the series as a whole will be perceived 5 or 10 years down the road. How will it all hang together in retrospect? Viewed this way, how satisfying was the ending? Hopefully more nuance in perspective will be evident as the discussion continues.

Anonymous said...

This is my first visit back to sitrep since my posts under this topic.

Jesus. The Silent Majority was a generalization. I think I said that twice before. For a group that thinks itself so clever I didn't think I needed overwhelming scientific evidence for that to be apparent. I don't think I could possibly fund or have gotten a government grant for the research necessary to satisfy this groups stringent scientific standards to somehow prove my point. I hoped I didn't have to make it perfectly obvious to the obtuse that that statement should have been as an impression or opinion. It's a fucking TV show, they generally don't give grants for that kind of research, anyway. I sat in a room full of people who happily sat through for 4+ years of good TV for answers to interesting questions. All which basically reacted with "WTF"?

Alan Moore. This is the correct link.

The quote is lengthy. I'll try to pare down to the point

"It's well done, but I'll reserve judgment until I've seen the final episodes, because it could, as with so many of these things, end up as a bit of a mess. It seemed that they got a bit self-conscious about making some kind of political analogies that ended up being a bit confusing and ham fisted and perhaps spoiling..."

"So you've got the beginnings of a good idea and if it's not brought to its conclusion properly, it won't be a good idea at all; it'll be a waste of everybody's time. It'll be a waste of the creator's time, and more importantly it'll be a complete waste of the audience's time. I mean, if you have been following a show expecting it to have a kind of payoff and you've been following it for three or four seasons and then at the end, it turns out Bobby Ewing comes out of the shower..."

Or in this case God steps out of the shower...(mm)

"So if people are gonna invest this much time and enthusiasm, genuine enthusiasm, in these shows, I really think that they ought to pay off. The writers ought to know what the end is; at least the important parts of it before they start and not do anything that is gonna turn out to be irrelevant, pointless or just a confusing red herring."

His words, which I happened to agree with before the finale. Which unfortunately and in my opinion happen to come true...

As with any unscientific sampling or even unscientific opinion I stand by the admittedly unscientific "60% like it" explanation as so much swamp gas to explain the UFO. A mutant billy goat for the Unicorn. That's far more likely an explanation for what I watched a few weeks ago.

It seems few in the sci fi fan community (again this is a generalization)can handle their fundamentalist dogma being challenged. I hope and am willing to be wrong on that but so far no soap.

For such a clever bunch you again 1) Overlooked the fact that I praised the series overall and 2) Acknowledged some of my statements were generalizations that shouldn't have to be explained to the reasonably intelligent 3) Hope that time proves me wrong about the ending. My impression is that I won't be. I don't like it either. BSG overall will stand the test of time.

But for me the Battlestar finale was like this. It was like a trailer park was added onto the Taj Mahal & all of India pretended not to notice. Amazing overall, but WTF?

Anonymous said...

Apologies and correction

"It seems few in the sci fi fan community (again this is a generalization)can't handle their fundamentalist dogma being challenged. I hope and am willing to be wrong on that but so far no soap."

Flint's Doorknob said...

Oh my god. When I saw the finale I knew they were taking bets. It just sounded like it. I'm so glad I was right. I fraking called it!!

Flint's Doorknob said...

I don't understand how people can be harsh in the final dialogue. Even cutting it out made it pretty apparent that they were indeed taking bets. It just made it more ambiguous. You have to take it with the context of the characters. They were taking bets, but I'm used to hearing Head Six talk in this sarcastic voice. She always acted this way. I don't know how else to explain it other than you really got to see the perspective from the 'higher power' characters for once which was a nice end to the series. And with Hendrix? I had a cold shiver. :P It was great.

And it's not a bizarre concept to believe someone liked something like this. I hope you were being sarcastic. :P

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