Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Battlestar Galactica Season 4 (SyFy)

I review the fourth and final season of SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica, starring Edward James Olmos, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, Mary McDonnell, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, James Callis, Michael Hogan, Tahmoh Penikett, Aaron Douglas, Lucy Lawless and more. This season compromises of twenty two episodes, and this review will include full spoilers for the entire series. So you have been warned.

There’s so much to talk about in the final season of Battlestar Galactica that makes it tricky to write a non-spoiler free review, because this show does so much in one season that other series would take a lot longer to do. It burns through stuff quickly and we’re quickly dealing with the fallout of Season 3’s epic cliffhanger, that saw the revelation of four of the final five Cylons, to be Admiral Adama’s closest friend, Saul Tigh, Chief Galen Tyrol, Tory Foster, President Roslin’s personal aide, and Samuel T. Anders, the former athlete and leader of the Caprican resistance. And to make matters worse, Starbuck has just returned from the dead, claiming that she’s found the way to Earth.

Naturally, Starbuck’s return is dealt with suspicion amongst the fleet. Is she a Cylon? Is she telling the truth? There’s plenty of content here that makes things very interesting indeed, even if it drags on a bit too much early on, as Starbuck eventually finds herself on a small ship Demetrious and on her way to Earth. The crew were slowly restless and quickly losing morale, and this came to a head when Gaeta got wounded in a heated confrontation. It was an interesting storyline that saw Kara’s further apparent descent into madness, and was entertaining despite being not as well paced as it could have been.

We also got to deal with the four Cylons hiding themselves in the fleet. They weren’t afraid to go to extreme  measures to keep their secrets safe and it allowed for some really shocking episodes that featured deaths of major players involved, particularly in The Ties That Bind, which featured an episode with dramatic consequences. It took a while before Tigh, Adama, Tory and the Chief started to come to terms to who they were and the confusion inside them was pretty evident. However, naturally, secrets that big don’t stay secrets for long and in the stunning series finale, Revelations, the cat was out of the bag as their identities were revealed, and the revelation of the Fifth Cylon, Ellen Tigh, Saul’s wife, followed shortly after.  Revelations contained plenty of answers, but also plenty of questions, but I’ll get mt onto that more later, as we’re going to spend some time with Lee Adama first.

Jamie Bamber’s character never really got the greatest of storylines unlike Kara, and we had plenty of weak episodes that were usually focused on him. What injected fresh life into his character however saw Lee leave Galactica for good, with Sine Qua Non having an effective storyline that also saw the return of Romo Lampkin’s character, played by the always cool Mark Sheppard. It’s a plus when Mark Sheppard stops by in everything so it was great to have him back here, and I loved what they’ve done with Lee’s character here.

Now, Revelations. Wow, wow, wow, what an episode. There was plenty of stuff going on here that really worked with the fleet finding Earth only to leave it abandonded. This was a dramtic event that was completely unpredictable, especially as finding Earth was something that had been the main drive of the entire series. And to find it in the condition that it was, destroyed by some sort of nuclear war a long time ago? It had an utterly devastating effect on morale, including one particular major character whose death hit me very hard indeed especially as it was a shocking moment that again was completely unexpected.

Post-Revelations, we arguably got one of the finest hours of the show to date, in a fabulous three part episode that saw Gaeta (of all people) team up with Tom Zarek in an attempt to launch a Mutiny on Galactica that almost succeeded. However, Adama and company were able to turn the tables on the rebellion but not without some pretty tense action sequences. A Disquiet Follows My Soul, The Oath and Blood on the Scales were very effective indeed, and led to yet more major deaths. This was one of the first proper final seasons of a show that I’ve actually managed to get to (I think Justified is the only other ‘proper’ final season of a show that I’ve watched having seen all the episodes in a series beforehand) and Battlestar Galactica really provided for some super intense moments. The three part finale of Daybreak was a very cool, emotional ending that whilst not everyone will be happy with how it turned out, did allow for a good send off for our characters and an excellent end to what is arguably my favourite television series.

Filled with fantastic character development, some gut-wrenching emotionally scarring moments and some superb storytelling, The fourth season of Battlestar Galactica is an excellent way to end one of the finest science fiction series and there’s not anything else that’s quite like it. As per usual, it’s utterly exceptional, and even though a couple of episodes were not quite as good as they could have been, it’s still essential viewing for anyone who’s watched the previous three seasons.

“What do you hear, Starbuck?”

“Nothing but the rain.”

“Then grab your gun and bring in the cat.”

VERDICT: 9.5/10

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