Battlestar Galactica ends. The very next morning, everything looks to me like something from the show.
In the last episode, Earth is found, or rather, a planet they rename Earth, as if the old, destroyed one didn’t exist. They rebrand. The survivors act almost immediately as if this is the planet they wanted to find all along, free of the history and damage of the old one. This alone as a plot point strikes me as one of the most cogent comments on how we live now that I’ve seen in film or television recently.
There were many times in the course of the show’s life when it felt like the show was the only thing on television that could tell you what our own lives were actually like, but to do so it needed a kabuki dance of robots and spaceships and people saying “Gods!” or “Frak!”. The Bush years really did feel like being trapped on a space ship, unable to leave, racing against ever-diminishing odds of survival. For it to end this way, it felt like they may as well all have died as they smiled at the sky on Fake Earth. It felt like getting the fortune you don’t want from the fortune teller, not because you fear it, but because it is simplistic, and you know the fortune teller is lying.
To celebrate the Battlestar Galactica finale, my friends make a Battlestar cake, which we eat as the ship falls apart in the last episode. On Facebook and Twitter, paeans of grief float by in the comment feeds. Many of my friends still wonder, why did I feel anything, even when the show disappoints so much at the end. But we were experiencing a collective emotional projection. In the only place we’d found to do it.
Much like the show’s characters. The show’s parallels being acute even in the face of its oddly underwhelming last episode.
Near the end, I expected to be over-identifying with the half-cylon, half-human hybrid child, Hera. She is implicitly half-Korean (Grace Park plays her Cylon mother, and Tamoh Penikett is her father, a white man). But it was always the plight of the Cylons, who resemble humans almost exactly, that stuck in my head more. Their experience was more familiar, like the experience of being of mixed heritage, in America and in Asia both. Either hidden, because people assume you are like them, because of your appearance. Or, if you are ‘found out’, cautiously tolerated and viewed constantly as an imposter. And never as quite human enough to be “just” human.
Being gay has also been like this.
Someday everyone will be like you, I remember someone saying to me as a child. About my mixed ethnicity. I think that’s why I liked science fiction so much. The idea that in the future, that feeling would go away. I keep checking to see if it’s here, and I think it almost is. When William Gibson wrote a realist fiction novel, that increasingly seems to me the sign that Cyberpunk would be the new social realism. Which I think it now is.