A CYLON IN EVERY GARAGE: Rumours that the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica will probably be the last were likely confirmed with the news last week that the Sci Fi network virtually doubled the order of episodes for next season from the cable standard of 13 to 22, according to a story on the Scifi.com website. A 2-hour movie is also in production, to air in the fall and meant to link the end of the third season with the beginning of the fourth, which begins next January.
But right now we have to deal with the final episode of the third season, the one that aired last night, and the one that Mark Perigard of the Boston Herald said made “cliffhanger” an “inadequate word to describe” how producer and writer Ronald Moore have set up the fourth season.
I haven’t watched much of the third season of Galactica, for the same reason that I haven’t watched much of Heroes or Rescue Me this season – I’m waiting for the box sets, so I can consume them all in one greedy gulp, without commercials. Casual glances at news stories or the painfully long recaps on Television Without Pity gave me just enough to understand what was going on with last night’s episode, and while I might not go so far as saying that the show has jumped the shark, I won’t deny that, as the screen went black where the credit roll should be on the screener I was sent by Space, something sure smelled fishy.
Cliffhangers are funny things – they only have real impact when they suggest a real, near-cataclysmic effect on a show’s future storyline, and force us to reconsider everything we assumed to be true up till then. Moore and co-producer David Eick seem to know this, but they also seem to want to have it both ways, hitting us with the big revelation about the Cylons hidden among the crew and then ending with an entirely trippy “wha?” moment right near the end that suggest that we probably can’t trust anything we’ve been shown so far.
Rumours have been circulation about the big Cylon revelation for months, but Moore and Eick upped the ante even higher by revealing not one but four characters, three of them major, as Cylons, which will have fans squealing “holy frak!” as the Herald’s Mark Perigard imagined, but which threaten to tip the show into moral incoherence in the next season – if it’s true. The final shocker, out in space, as Lee Adama races to fight off a Cylon attack, is the sort of thing that makes you want to throw your hands in the air – it either neutralizes the previous big shocker of the season, or kicks us thoroughly into “aww, now anything can happen, man” territory. In either case, it’s a bad omen for the supersized fourth season, and makes me grateful that it’ll probably be the last.