Sunday, March 22, 2009

Battlestar Postmortemica

I agree with most of the problems people have had with Battlestar Galactica's long-awaited finale - and I agree with most of what people loved about it.

I do think that five major opportunities were missed with this finale. No, three. No, four. No, five.

1. The prophecies did clearly state that Roslin would die before she reached Earth. This was simply ignored.

But it could have been addressed *and* made everything richer. Roslin's decision to risk dying earlier in order to help the mission, ended up helping them make it to Earth.

So that could have been the breaking of the cycle, rendering the prophecy wrong - and the start of something new.

This all could have been addressed in two lines of a scene with Roslin and Adama, before they left Galactica.

Roslin: You know, the prophecies said I would never get to see Earth.

Adama: Did they now.

And then he takes her there - showing there is a brand new set of possibilities, and they are freed from previous fates.

What clearer proven example that they've broken the cycle?

2. I would have been happier with a clearer explanation of what Kara was. But let's say the writers wanted to leave who she was unexplained.

I still would have dearly liked to see a clearer resolution for Kara's *emotional state* as a character. I'd have liked to see her grappling with **whatever** she is, and finally accpeting it. And maybe realizing what she's done her whole life, who she's hurt and who she's helped and who she's loved and hated, has been a complete part of this destiny.

How her mother was helping to shape her, and maybe how that made her mother sick. How that helped or hurt her throughout her whole life. How that led her to ping from one relationship to another, to hurt Lee and love him too - and maybe love everyone.

That would have been a beautiful moment for that character to see, and would have left viewers a lot more satisfied with her character disappearing. i don't think it was just the disappearing that was the problem - it was the lack of emotional resolution for that character.

3. I would have liked to see a bit more struggle from the people of the fleet, about letting go of the technology and starting over. That could have really brought the whole series to a head, in once crowded scene with a few lines.

Crewmen: "Why let go of all of this?"

Doc Cottle: "More of our children are going to die without technology. And die young. Disease, the elements, natural disasters, famine...they'll have an average life span of 30 years, for Gods know how long.

Ellen: "But we held onto the technology when we went to Earth1 from Kobol. And we didn't learn. We destroyed ourselves 3000 years before the Colonies."

Apollo: "this is our only chance to break the cycle! if we can come up again, from our roots, without the crutch of technology, wih a truly clean slate, then we won't have another tragic death of billions, maybe hundreds of billions of people. We can actually grow."

Some of this came out in Apollo's talk in the finale - but there was no argument. And argument makes the whole issues clearer and more emotional. What humanity is giving up here is supreme and weighty, and in context so noble. I would like that point to be driven more forward.

4. I would have liked to see some closure with the cylon Leoben and Starbuck. He was trying to help her and guide her - more than any other cylon. Why was this? What was it in her, that was he clued in about and other cylons were not? And then why was he suddenly freaked out about her?

5. Something not necessarily needed, but that I would like to have seen: visions appearing to Hera, and/or angels. This would indicate that she is in some way going to be a spiritual leader, in addition to the mother of humanity. That would have satisfied emotionally, for me, the symbolic importance of that character as well. We never really saw anything from that character's point of view, for even a second.

Also, waaaaay back in I think the second season, during the visit to Kobol, Boomer mentioned the cylons new a lot more about who the original Hera was. This was never followed up on. Would have loved to have seen a bit more about that too.

Who knows how much of these issues were addressed more, in the original script? Or even shot for the finale, and then was edited out? But I think it would help quite a bit.

Since the BSG team did such a great job backfilling in with the Pegasus series, maybe we can see other one-offs come in and fill in further areas of this great universe. Some of the Pegasus and Galactica adventures, when they were both crewed by the Adamas. Some of the Cylon Basestar's struggles. Maybe some of Admiral Adama's earlier adventures as Husker. Maybe some more Cylon politics too, even some concerning Tory Foster and an abortive power grab.

As a side note - if at the end of the episode the cylon colony does get sucked into the black hole it was floating near, as Ron Moore states happens (but was cut from the finale for time considerations), that does bring up interesting possibilities for the identity of the God / gods.

If they cylon ship floats in the event horizon and then the border of the singularity, according to some theories time can effectively slow down to infinity.

Which means that if previous cylon civilizations felt into that singularity (or others), they could have a long time to develop, grow, and think on the mistakes that led them there.

This could lead them to merge together and develop the understanding of the Universe to try and guide others to avoid their fate - which could be the source of the Gods and/or Angel-like figures helping to guide cylons and humanity.

That's all I got...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Laying me out to lie there, but not lying about it

A friend of mine who learned English as a second language, just hit me with a stumper over lunch. What is the exact rule for using "lie" or "lay", in a sentence where someone or something is lying down or laying?

I knew what sounded right to my ear, both formally and in typical conversation; but I couldn't formalize the rule.

So, obsessed, after drawing a full grid, and then throwing up my hands and researching it on the web, it appears the lie vs. lay rule is most succinctly:

The word ‘lie’ or variations of it can only be used in the present or future tense, AND only if the speaker is referring to someone or something that is reclining (and not being merely placed somewhere.)

The lie vs. lay confusion is caused by three main, colliding factors:

1. “lie” and “lay” sound similar, but are actually separate and distinct verbs. “Lie” means “to recline”, whereas “lay” means “to place somewhere”.
2. to muddy things further, the past tense of the verb “lie” (to recline) is the word “lay”. So even though this “lay” sounds the same as the verb “lay” (to place somewhere), it really is a different word.
3. further spinning things around, the "past participle" (hypothetical phrasing) of the verb "lie" is "lain", while the past participle of the verb "lay" is "laid".

So “I’m lying down,” “I lie down,” “She is lying down,”, “The cat lies on the table” or “They’re all lying down, and they're going to keep lying down after eating that much turkey” and are all correct.

But if the speaker is referring to him or herself reclining in the past or hypothetically, it's lay or lain. Such as “Then I lay down and slept,” or "I would have lain down if I could".

And if referring to placing something somewhere, it's always lay or laid. Such as "I lay the book on the table", and "I would have laid down the books if I could"


Basic rule of thumb:

You LIE down but you LAY something else down, when speaking in the present tense.

Also it may help to remember that you never lay someone down on something. Only something on something. Laying someone is an entirely different verb. An awesome one.

So “The cats lie on the sidewalk,” but “The leaves lay on the sidewalk.” The exception to this rule would be when an object is being treated as alive for poetic effect. (i.e. “The building lies in ruins.” Vs. “The building lays on a concrete foundation.”)

And there we shall let the sleeping grammar dogs lie. Before I get laid off.