Grading the Finales
So are we supposed to think Bob Dylan is the final Cylon? Wouldn't surprise me a bit after Sunday's mind-blowing season finale of
. I watched a rough cut of this episode several weeks ago, in order to be able to include it in a mid-season roundup, but it feels like a year has passed, I've been so anxious for it to get out there so more dedicated and obssessed fans than I could ever claim to be can start weighing in. I rarely have the luxury to watch anything twice, but I decided to watch Sunday's episode in more or less real time, so I could savor it again in a more polished version and see if it would have the same impact the second time around.
Did it ever. As they say, holy frak, right?
earns an A-plus with its jam-packed finale, the last we'll get of the show until the next calendar year. (That's the bad news. The good: There will be at least 22 more hours of
to kick around come 2008.) Not only was Baltar's trial riveting to the end, with Lee more or less winning the defense case with a closing statement delivered from the witness box. It was provocative as well, in classic
fashion. "We're not a civilization anymore," Lee says, questioning the nature of justice in this fugitive society in space. He talks of the shared shame and guilt they're all dealing with in the wake of the New Caprica nightmare, and the argument even swayed his father (much to President Roslyn's dismay). The bitter aftermath of this verdict (not guilty not being the same as innocent, don'tcha know) should haunt everyone for a while to come - once they get over the shock waves of the "Who's a Cylon?" finale, that is.
Tori? Whatever. Anders? No way. Tyrol? Major spit take. Tigh? The head explodes. "We're Cylons and we have been from the start." What does this mean? How could it be? Does this not make us rethink everything we thought we knew about the way this universe operates? I may actually have to go to some message boards (my reluctance to go there is epic) to figure this thing out. The theories already flying around our newsroom (thanks, Ethan) just plain intimidate an amateur
follower like yours truly. At first I thought, "There's too much confusion" (spoken by Tigh and later Anders) was just a metaphor for the episode itself. Then it dawned on me: It's part of the freaking Dylan song. The times they are a-changing, indeed.
And then the return of Starbuck. Beautifully done. Earth appears to have agreed with our tormented pilot. She looked so Zen, grinning at Lee as she announced, "I've been to Earth. I know where it is. And I'm gonna take us there." The Cylons and Toto, too?
2008 can't come quick enough.
wrapped its second and final season Sunday night with a typically and extremely lurid finish. I give it a B-plus, more for the Pullo-Vorenus finish than for the hurried conclusion to Antony and Cleopatra's demise. The fact that the pivotal battle of Actium occurred off camera (only the smoking ruins were seen as the episode started) was another reminder of how the show often lacked the financial resources to pull off its epic ambitions. The real heart of this yarn, which played fast and loose with history, was in the loving and ever-loyal friendship of Pullo (Ray Stevenson) and Vorenus (Kevin McKidd), war-worn soldiers, precursors to cowboys, which is why I flashed so frequently on
in the final reel, as Vorenus suffered a mortal wound but Pullo refused to abandon him, staying at his side and taking him back to Rome for an uneasy reunion with Vorenus' often-estranged children before cranky old Vorenus passed away. "Old friends are a rare commodity," Octavian noted to Pullo, one of the few blokes that can make the cold-blooded boy emperor seem even remotely human. What a wonderful closing moment, as Pullo walks through the teeming streets with his son (by Cleopatra!) Caesarian (pronounced dead to spare his life), muttering "About your father.... " With
, and this coming Sunday
on Showtime, the spirit of the classic TV miniseries thrives. It just looks different (a lot naughtier, to put it mildly) and is scheduled differently.
Finally, last and most definitely least, they crowned the winners on
Grease! You're the One That I Want
. They could have named Laura the new Sandy weeks ago. She was a slam-dunk. She may actually have a career in musical theater beyond
. We can hope. As for the new Danny: that boat crashed when Derek, a true matinee idol (think of him as the "hunky Danny"), was ejected the week before, leaving us with the "pretty boy Danny" of Austin and the "goofy sidekick Danny" of crowd favorite and underdog Max. He was a good story; I'm just not convinced he's a good leading man. (His little brother, though? Too bad
Beauty and the Beast
is about to leave Broadway. He'd be a perfect Chip. Or a terrific Gavroche to enliven the even-less-desired-than-
. Or imagine him as Winthrop in a new
revival.) But I digress. Better that than remember any of the schlocky and suspense-free
finale. I give it a D-minus. And I've decided, upon watching the cast number that ended the show, that I'm saving my money for the new
musical (word from the West Coast is promising). As I once said when reviewing a regional production of
years and years ago starring Lorna Luft and Gary Sandy: Grease isn't the word. More like crude oil.