I still love the fans though! The thing I was most sad about in losing the show, ultimately, was how cut off it made me feel from the other fans. So I'm vowing not to let it. I'm still here, and if you are squeeing your little hearts out I'll be smiling from a distance and maybe commenting occasionally when I can agree/join in. (Let's hope there are at least a FEW instances of that in the remainder of the season!)
But I need to get this off my chest first. This post is for me, and is not directed at anyone in particular. I'm not really asking for debate here (which is unusual for me and indicates a complete disengagement with the material)--this is just how I feel.
I hated the first half of Season 4, thought it was a nonsensical trainwreck, and can't see it getting any better, particularly given the inflated ego of its creator.
Going back further, I do feel like BSG has been losing momentum for a long time. The first season and a half were near-perfect television. The second half of season 2 was a bit of a jumble, but I could roll with most of it. Season 3 was also jumbly--I honestly believe it had some really interesting material, but it became much more obvious by then that the writers were not good at keeping character threads running from episode to episode. There was also a lot of melodrama. I didn't think about it too consciously at the time, but I definitely felt the shift away from a gritty realism-based character-driven show to one a bit more in love with its ideas and 'shocking' impact and sloppy in its execution.
I could roll with that. I never expected the show to be perfect forever and hey, I still got to see the characters I loved every week! Looking back, I realise that in season 3 I also had the security of it not being the end of the story. IMO, the middle of stories is often weak--whether in film or TV or even books. It's often the place where the creator wallows, indulges themself or otherwise procrastinates about reaching the anticipated conclusion. But I had faith that it would 'come good' because the creators were so conscious of wanting to end the show on their own terms. (Kudos!)
Season 4 was a tragic disappointment. I went in with so much excitement, sure that this was where we'd get all the answers, all the resolutions--and each week I wound up with more questions (often gaping plothole nitpicks now) and more confusion about where the show was actually headed. I'm ashamed to say it but I feel like I faked how much I was enjoying it each week because I couldn't face the sorrow I felt at seeing my beloved show turn to nonsense.
Briefly, these were my issues:
- Kara came back from the dead. They needed to give us an explanation. Also I was not comfortable with her reconciliation with her mother in Maelstrom but we don't even know if that really happened, let alone what Kara is. Recently, hearing that Katee herself flipped out about having no idea what her character's motivation was any more was yet another nail in the coffin for me with this show. RDM evidently dismissed her concerns as all part of his glorious masterpiece. Um, dude, if your lead actress is telling you she has no idea who her character is maybe the audience will notice too! We did. By mid-season I felt like Kara was not a character any more so much as a puppet for the writers to push the plot development they wanted.
- Lee followed suit swiftly after. What should have been a fabulous highlight in a Lee-fan's journey--Lee gaining the presidency--was so badly executed (head!cats and that stupid whiteboard?!) that it was very hard to enjoy it. I coped in usual fashion by taking it out on Adama, but really the old man's not to blame: the writers are. After that, they gave Lee some poncy and improbable speeches (the Cylon Alliance one the worst) and expected us to roll with it. I tried. And failed.
- Gratuitous cruelty! Gaeta lost a leg for no reason. They better give us a reason in 4.5, I'm telling you--though I am somewhat encouraged that the webisodes are about him--perhaps he'll prove important (Final Cylon?).
- Too much time wasted on plots that went nowhere. Exactly how many meetings of the Four did we have to see?! We GET IT ALREADY! There are Cylons in the Fleet! That we have known for ages! (Well actually two of them are 'pasted on, yay!' but let's handwave that... *eyeroll*) I expected to see far more exploration of what it meant for the other fleet members to find out that these people they knew so well were Cylons. Instead, the reveals were rushed in the season cliffhanger with barely time to react at all. I guess they're saving some fallout for season 4.5, but to my mind that is far too late. There are too many other things that need resolved.
- Too much Baltar!sex. Again with the wasted screentime! His cult better be really frakking important in the final outcome because we sure had to see a lot of it. *yawns*
- Stupid mystical destiny shit. I'm actually quite fond of destiny. I love a good Destiny Versus Freewill arm wrestle! But in this case, BSG decided that Freewill had vacated the premises and we should all bow down at the altar of Destiny (otherwise known as the writers' room). Worst moment of the season? Lee telling Kara her 'everything is connected' idea was 'a bit of a stretch' (YUH HUH UNDERSTATEMENT).
- The ball being completely dropped on the Kara/Lee relationship. I was stunned. I was not one of those people who thought the brig scene was a farewell or ending: in fact I now think the main reason I wasn't was because I was among the unspoiled and hadn't read the interviews with actors. To me it was very obviously setting up expectations of a continued relationship. It was saying 'this is here, when you are ready'--but it came to nothing.
- Booooring Adama/Roslin reading scenes and Adama being an idiot (hanging around in space to find her). And ok, I've seen a little bit of the webisodes and can I say how much it annoys me that now any time two characters are separated they have this crazy idea that they'll be able to MAGICALLY FIND EACH OTHER, OMG! Who the hell put that idea into their heads? Adama. And RDM. What happened to realism?
- The doubly annoying thing about the reliance on all this nonsensical romantic destiny bizzo is that it is applied with a double standard. Do you think if Kara was missing and Lee said he could 'magically find her' he actually would? No. Because a) theirs is a tragic love and we must retain the tragedy above all else (apparently) and b) he's a character who is always, brutally, made to face the consequences of his actions. But certain other characters, *cough*, don't get so much as a slap on the wrist for things like shooting an officer in the leg. Oh, and they heal miraculously too! (But the dude they shoot doesn't, oh no...)
All of this has built a world for me where I feel like the writers can and will do whatever the hell they want with no respect for the universe's rules. (Are there even any anymore?) That makes it very hard for me to respect the vision they craft or get anything meaningful out of it.
Then there's all the things Season 4.0 did not address:
- who made the Cylons and how did they evolve?
- how are the Final Five different from the other Cylons? what form do they actually take?
- how come they can breed? and/or how can two Cylons have a child? what happened to the necessity for love for conception? (Because you cannot convince me that Tigh and Caprica share omg!truelove.).
- why are the humans still desperate to find Earth even though they know the Cylons know where it is? Wasn't the point that it was a haven from the Cylons? o.O (Seriously, CANNOT get past the fact that not ONE SINGLE human character raised that as an issue.)
I also think the show did a sloppy job of showing why humans suddenly think teaming up with the Cylons is a good idea. New Caprica is so fresh in their memories, it is very hard to see what's really different about them settling on Earth together (if they had been able to). A few things had changed (factions within the Cylons, and losing the ability to regenerate) but those were not actually given on the show as reasons... it played more as if those were incidental occurrences (um, no, they're fundamental shifts in what it means to be a Cylon! think about that humans--reflect on it!). Far more time was spent on Tory and the Chief having boring existential crises. I'm telling you, Tory and the Chief (both of whom I dislike) better prove to be really important characters in the endgame or I'll feel even more cheated of that time!
Out of all the things that the first half of the season failed to address, the least interesting of all to me is who the Final Cylon is. You know what? I couldn't give a frak. If it's someone we don't know at all, then why would I care? And if it's someone we do know then it's not going to be a shock because we've all had lots of time to think of all the possibilities. The only thing that would surprise and delight me is if it were Kendra. (It won't be.) Yet that is all the show producers seem to think we care about. I went to that 'clues' site. It was so boring! I don't caaaaaaaaaare, people! Give me some real gritty facts about the Cylons and what makes them tick, how they evolved, how culpable humanity is for their existence and how tested their capacity for change is. Don't give me this 'who's the final cylon? da da... DUM!' bullshit. If they're not the 'enemy' any more, WHY DOES IT EVEN MATTER?!!!!!
Sorry, it annoys me so much. As you can see. *giggle* Believe me, I do laugh at myself. It is only because I loved the show so much and thought it was so good that I'm so angry. And right around the time that it started getting more and more critical recognition, I feel it lost the plot. Nowadays it seems like no matter how bad the episode is, people will still be marvelling at it because of BSG's reputation--and not judging it on its true merits. That makes me sad.
So, we come to Season 4.5. What could possibly make this trainwreck better? Well, there are a few things I could think of. Again, warning for brutal and unpopular opinions:
1. Roslin needs to die--pronto! I was kind to her and didn't list the long-winded dying above in the list of things that took up way too much time in season 4.0 but it did. She's been dying for so long now I've ceased to really care. I will expect any future possibly dying to be yet another fakeout. Actually I fear she'll still be alive in the finale. Don't get me wrong: I think Roslin is one of the most interesting characters on the show, but if you're going to have her die, then have her die. Have the courage of your convictions! She's already been saved once, improbably, by magical baby blood (whee! the beginning of the decline?) ... having her saved again just makes the show producers look pathetic.
2. We need to find out more about the Cylons' history, how they were built and evolved, and the humans need to find something out that will make them reflect on their own culpability in creating the Cylons. That, to me, is the one thing that could make it even vaguely plausible that the humans settle down and intermarry with the beings that committed genocide. It's always going to be a stretch, but if it their history was explored really well--and the remaining Cylons expressed true and utter remorse--then it might work. I doubt it will be explored at all.
3. We need to discover what Head!Six's agenda is, what she is, and this needs to be part of the significant endgame. The Gaius-Head!Six relationship has been such an intriguing part of the show from the pilot on--we need delivery on this! Instead I get the feeling the writers are taking Gaius in a new unplanned-originally direction.
4. The unrelenting bleakness needs to end. Yes, I respect that the ending of this show may very well be that of a classic 'tragedy'. Everyone may die. But dear god, give us some light before the end! Just some flashes of humanity, of compassion and of real love. I honestly believe the writers have forgotten or never knew what that was. Their definition of love appears to be: 'I hurt/abuse you because I love you. It's for your own good.'
5. The endgame needs to be more interesting then humans converting to the Cylon religion and breeding with each other--because that idea is both simplistic and nauseating. I could buy that some humans would do so, but if it's truly a case of all the humans having their moment of realisation that the Cylons only hurt them because they love them so much, then I will seriously LOSE MY SHIT.
6. Kara needs to choose Lee and divorce Anders. While Anders is still alive. I've had it with the writers wanting to keep all ships possible/alive/open. I'm sure that what will actually happen is that Anders will die a martyr's death, and Kara will feel so belatedly guilty that she vows to cherish his memory forever. Lee can't compete with a dead guy. We know that. He shouldn't have to. Kara needs to man up and actually make a decision and make it clear to both men who she chooses. Hahahahaa, yeah that won't happen. *eyeroll* Don't expect me to be happy about any tokenistic Kara/Lee moments they throw us after Anders's death or in the finale--they'll be meaningless to me if Lee is once again Kara's second choice to a dead guy.
7. The characterisation needs to level up. Character actions need to have something more behind them then 'we need XX to do this because the plot is ZYX'.
8. Stop with the killing of third-tier characters we don't care about! Either do something really brave like killing a main cast member (ACTUALLY killing them--not Kara's unexplained returned from death state) or don't bother with the forced melodrama.
9. The evillest Cylons need to lose and die. I will still be a bit uncomfortable with the idea that the other Cylons get off scot free--I don't really feel like the show has convincingly shown that there is that much difference between the models--but I can roll with it in a pinch. However the Cavills and Dorals need to die. At least give the humans that much!
10. Give the Destiny plot some interest by reintroducing doubt/ambiguity... what happened to the days when we couldn't tell if Gaius was genuinely guided by God or had simply fluked his way through life by being a lucky opportunist? Give us some of that free will back! And stop using destiny as a way to excuse all the plot holes or not bother explaining things.
11. If there is a single deity entity controlling all this, let it be Head!Cat. :D Because seriously, that idea thrown out so casually by Kara, struck fear into my soul! Are they all going to have an audience with God at the end of this? I feel like RDM's Catholicism is showing... eeek.
12. Please, please don't make Leoben do anything disturbing to Kara. She's suffered enough. In fact please keep him far, far away from her.
Notice what isn't on the list? Yup, that's right, I'm no longer worried about Lee dying. Right now, dying might be better than having his character integrity destroyed any further. Yeah, I'll be very pissed off if it happens, but I don't get the feeling it will until the finale. And then everyone else might be dead too. So it's not high on my list of worries.
I could go on, but I figure no-one's read even this far. ;) That's ok. I feel better for getting it out there.
I'd like to thank siljamus and rap541 for making me feel less alone and less like a crazy person when I was in my biggest BSG despair phase--each in very different but special ways. I actually feel more zen about 4.5 because my expectations are low. I have no idea how much I will or won't feel like posting about the show yet--but I'll honestly be really happy for all of you if you enjoy it, even if I don't feel the same joy. I'd like to think that the show will deliver for at least some fans.
Now I really should get round to watching the rest of the webisodes, shouldn't I?