Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Final Cylon


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Somewhere in the gap between “appointment TV” and “well-developed narrative” lies this week’s Battlestar Galactica, which tied up so many loose ends at such a frenetic pace I hardly know where to begin. Couldn’t some of this have been spread out, you know, over the last few seasons? And couldn’t the exposition have been less of a ham-fisted contrivance?

[coconut falls on head] I remember everything!

Don’t even get me started on the inevitable introduction of [SPOILER] another final Cylon mystery [/SPOILER]. Why, Gods, why?

Overall, it’s (the start) of a decent series mythology, wrapped inside an absolutely ludicrous sense of plot. Even a pro like Dean Stockwell could barely sell it. John Hodgman, however, owned the screen…

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February 14, 2009 at 3:58 am

On The ‘Who’s The Final Cylon?’ Hour

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Twitter gives me access to instant commentary on things from some of my regular readers, which gave me a head’s up about what to expect for last’s night return of Battlestar Galactica, which I watched this afternoon. (Catch up on BSG minutiae here. Get Steve Benen’s take on politics and BSG here.)

Bill wrote: BSG=meh. more melodrama. I won’t be sad to see it go.

And Fred wrote: I didn’t even know the season premiere of Battlestar Galactica was tonight. Man, my enthusiasm for that show is waning.

It’s absolutely true that Battlestar Galactica is a far worse show than it was in its first season, when it was easily one of the best science fiction series ever aired. Ron Moore let the show get away from him in a few senses:

* He attempted to “humanize” the Cylons without thinking through “cylonicity,” turning the series’s main antagonists into confused and jumbled mush;
* he got so caught up in trying to fool the audience that he forgot to tell an intelligible, coherent story;
* he fell in love with poorly thought-out cliffhangers;
* he thinks the audience cares about the sexual relationships of these characters far more than most actually do;
* he left himself far too many Secret Cylons (12!) to get through in too little time, unnecessarily turning the final season and a half of the show into Who’s The Final Cylon? Hour;
* and this is the worst crime, encompassing all the others, the one that cuts down so many great series: he failed to plan ahead.

All that said, I think it’s too early to turn Battlestar into Star Wars; the reputation of the series will live or die in what happens in these next few episodes and it could still go either way. Melodrama aside—and yes there was a lot of it last night—I think there are reasons to believe. The Final Cylon mystery has finally been resolved, unless it turns out that either Tigh is wrong about Ellen or else the forums are right and Cylon Ellen is actually an aged version of either Kara or Number Six.

And with that mystery aside and Earth apparently discovered, destroyed, and rejected, the show appears to be setting its sights on the wonderful silent mystery that has sustained it all these years—really, a mystery about narrative continuity itself—and which drove so much of the initial interest in the show: “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.” The cyclical nature of history in this universe is more than just a metajoke about the existence of the original series—the epic size and scope of the universe gave the show an expansive depth that it almost completely squandered in the hermetic middle seasons. If these final episodes are to be about history, and History, alongside everything else, that’s very promising.

For a time these teases helped make Battlestar Galactica seem somehow bigger than itself, and with the final season returning to that place I’m hopeful it can regain some of that early luster. Earth, and everything after, should help—the show hasn’t felt this utterly desolute since 33. I haven’t lost hope for BSG, and god knows I’m usually the first one off the bus. So sit tight: I think there’s still a chance for Moore to pull this thing off, if he does everything right, and if this last half-season is better than good.

Last night’s episode was the capper of the first season, made immediately following the start of the writers’ strike. In that sense it’s sui generis, for good and for bad, with the real last season starting next week…

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January 17, 2009 at 9:31 pm

"Oh, well it kind of had to be that person."

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Battlestar’s Ron Moor has an interview with AMC displaying some nice self-awareness about the extent to which the Final Cylon plot has taken over (and sort of ruined) his show.

Q: The build-up to the final Cylon has been unprecedented. How is the revelation not going to be a letdown?

A: It will never be as powerful as the build-up. I resigned myself to that a long time ago. The “Who Shot JR” of it all is an instructive lesson: No matter who it is, it’s still going to be a bit of a letdown. But I decided that precisely because of that, it wasn’t going to be in the final episode. I didn’t want that to become the entire series. I’m sure there will be a variety of reactions. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. But I think when you see how the revelation fits into the overall mythology of the show, when all the questions are answered by the end, then it’ll make sense and you’ll think, “Oh, well it kind of had to be that person.”

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December 22, 2008 at 5:22 pm

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Busy day today, and I’ve got a large backlog of links to work though. First up: Battlestar Galactica spoilers! In addition to the new trailer for season 4.5

there’s also this SyFy Portal post claiming that the Fifth Final Cylon is one of five characters (highlight to read): Lee, Roslin, Gaeta, Ellen Tigh, or Cally. The last name has been my choice for a while. io9 explains why all five names suck.

In other news, Sci-Fi has finally green-lit Caprica.

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December 2, 2008 at 5:42 pm

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Is Billy the Final Cylon?

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For a long time now I’ve ranked Billy as my top choice for the Final Cylon on Battlestar Galactica on the grounds that it would be the writers’ only chance to rectify what was surely one of their worst-handled plotlines. Now I see that Ron Moore recently approached actor Paul Campbell about reprising his role as Billy—not as the final Cylon but rather as a dream figure in Roslin’s subconscious (a bit from the penultimate episode of the season which ultimately went to Elosha). If the info on io9 is accurate, it seems pretty likely that Billy isn’t the Final Cylon, which means I’m now laying all my chits on Cally.

And while we’re on the subject, Jane Espenson should really try keeping this under her hat:

When Campbell’s lack of availability changed that plan, writer Jane Espenson detailed the amount of work that created to fix the script:

In a hallmark of what I consider really fine writing, I just did a global search and replace on the name. I did not change the lines. The only thing I did… I added ‘Cue the celestial trumpets.’ That one phrase that Elosha has was all I did to change it.

As Moore says in response, “There you go. That’s how finely detailed this stuff is.”

It’s further worth noting that of course the actual identity of the Final Cylon really doesn’t matter in any thematic sense, and indeed the revelation probably won’t make any narrative sense at all. But I find it to be a really intriguing problem of television production—after years of build-up, and especially after last year’s four-for-one season finale, how could this last plot twist ever be remotely satisfying? I must admit I’m fascinated by the problem the BSG writers have created for themselves, and I’m quite interested to see how they decide to try and solve it.

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July 1, 2008 at 12:30 am

Final Cylon Update

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Reading between the lines of the mid-season finale of Battlestar Galactica, we can narrow down the possibilities for the Final Cylon a little bit further. Taking Xena at her word that there are actually only four Final Cylons in the fleet, this suggests that the remaining Cylon was either dead or already on the basestar.

Already on the basestar:
Roslin, Adama, Baltar, Helo

Cally, Billy, Kendra Shaw & Admiral Cain, a host of others

I seriously doubt it’s Adama, and it really shouldn’t be Baltar, for reasons I’ve already talked about. Helo has always been someone everyone assumed couldn’t possibly be the final Cylon because of the Cylons-can’t-have-babies issue—which makes him a pretty interesting choice, especially since that assumption’s now out the window with the Tigh-Six pregnancy.

Most of the clues right now seem to be pointing as Roslin, but I still like Cally. As far as I can tell she’s the character whose return/revelation as the Final Cylon would open the most dramatic doors, and in particular would really point the way towards a realization of the human/Cylon reconciliation plot that appears to be the main thematic for the season.

Good episode tonight, by the way. I was spoiled on the Earth revelation from way back, but I was still moved by the sheer nihilism of the ending shot. Even if it seems a little strange that these characters and only these characters would be the landing party, the final long-take was beautifully, beautifully composed. And while we didn’t see a tell-tale Statue of Liberty head, I’m definitely with those who think those were the ruins of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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June 14, 2008 at 3:43 am

Final Cylon Betting

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Gambling site BetCRIS is taking bets on the identity of the last Cylon. Here are your odds:

* Aaron Kelly: 5-4
* Diana "Hardball" Seelix: 33-20
* Tom Zarek: 23-20
* Anastasia Dualla: 4-5
* Felix Gaeta: 3-2
* Brendan "Hot Dog" Costanza: 2-1
* Margaret "Racetrack" Edmondson: 9-4
* The field (any other character): 2-7

I’ve already given my top picks, none appearing above: Billy, Cally, or either Cain or Shaw.

The disconnect here seems to be that the BetCRIS oddsmakers don’t really have a good sense of how to tell a story. (A character no one but battlestarwiki editors could name, next in the line of command after a person who was already one of the Shock Cylons of 2007? I don’t see it.)

Of course, it could be that the BetCRIS bookies are right and I’m wrong—but if so we can only conclude that the writers of Battlestar Galactica don’t really know how to tell a story, either. Via io9.

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May 22, 2008 at 9:28 pm

In Defense of Cally (Plus, the Final Cylon)

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Todd VanDerWoff at the House Next Door writes in defense of Cally, Battlestar Galactica fandom’s favorite whipping girl. (Just for example, check out the last line of this post at io9. Beware spoilers for last Friday’s episode.)

The rest of this post is about who I think the last Cylon is, and it gets a lot geekier than I like this blog to get—so I’m hiding it behind a [+/-]

Ranked Candidates for the Final Cylon

Preliminary assumptions: I’m hoping that Ron Moore and the rest of the writers are smart enough not to try and lamely shock us with any of the four main characters (Adama, Roslin, Starbuck, Lee), so I’m leaving them out. I also think they’re good enough at what they do to realize how badly it screws up the Baltar character if you make him a Cylon.

I’m also assuming, just because of the buildup, that the revelation has to have some sort of impact—it can’t just be Random Pilot #5—and further that because of the constraints of the medium this has to be a visual impact. That is, it’s got to be someone we’ve seen before and can be trusted to recognize, especially since the revelation is presumably going to happen on a cliffhanger.

I also make no assumptions as to whether the last Cylon was on Galactica or not when the “Watchtower” music was first heard, or whether they’ve only just been triggered or if they’ve known all along. I think on those questions it could go either way.

So, given that, here’s my ranked list:

1. Billy: My longtime favorite, still number one, though the new number 2 is rapidly closing. Billy as a character was handled so poorly that if I were a writer on the show I’d make him a Cylon just so I could have another crack at it.
Cons: Diminishing amount of impact, given that he hasn’t been on the show in a few years…

2. Cally: This actually seems rather likely to me after the last episode, which seemed to be dropping a few hints towards this. (I’m mostly keying into the word-for-word repeat of “since the Nebula,” first to describe how long Cally has been having trouble sleeping and then how long the Dylan Four have known they were Cylons.) I think she’d also be a really interesting choice on a number of different levels if the actress could pull it off, which I’m not convinced she could.

3. Either Kendra or Admiral Cain: I think both of these are likely candidates simply because they went out of their way to make a Pegasus prequel movie a season and a half after it would have been interesting, after the Pegasus itself had already been destroyed on-screen. For this reason, I’m also least happy with these choices, as I think the Pegasus movie was a rare mistake already for the franchise (with the second half of season three being the other big one), and it’s two-times a mistake if they only made Razor because they needed to staple in the final Cylon at the last minute.

4. Gaeta, Dualla, Doc Cottle, Zarek: The classic choices, and the most important characters left after you’ve ruled out the four leads and Baltar. Of these, Dualla is probably the favorite, insofar as she’s one of the last chances for Leoben’s claim that “Adama’s a Cylon” to turn out to be true.

4a. Though it’s slightly possible they’ll bring back Lee’s often-spoken-of dead brother for that instead.

5. Racetrack: She’s my dark horse simply because she’s been present for just about every major chance discovery the fleet has made, most notably New Caprica.
Cons: Only the most hardcore fans of the show could pick her out of a lineup.

So, those are my best guesses. But, hell, they’ll probably just make Adama or Roslin the last Cylon and be done with it….

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April 20, 2008 at 6:12 pm

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