I refuse to call this "Daybreak". Instead, I will refer to it as "Ronald Moore's Masterpiece". What an achievement! We had the action on a fantastic scale in the first half of the two-parter and exquisite poetry in the second half. I'm glad that they didn't come to another truce with Cavil and his horde. That would have seemed too tidy.
As that scene was going on, I kind of thought it was a bit too cute, to have another alliance with the Cylons and everyone would go walking down the forest path arm in arm. But then Galen found out about Tory and Cally and the airlock. That was Ronald Moore toying with us, giving us a taste of a typical trite resolution and then blowing everything up in our faces. Awesome way to tie in Tory's murder of Cally into the overall story. I didn't really understand why Tory was so central in the Tyrol-Cally story but in hindsight, it was a masterstroke to weave those two threads together like that.
The Cylon Colony was absolutely surreal. The design concepts and the special visual effects were astounding. Can we say Emmy nomination here? If the visual effects team doesn't get an Emmy award for this episode, then there is something truly wrong. And if Ronald Moore doesn't get another writing nomination, then there is even more injustice in Hollywood.
As for the significance of Hera's drawing and the FTL coordinates, it actually makes literal sense. As someone who spent a lot of time in school studying music theory, I immediately recognized that the numbers correspond to the notes of the secondary theme from Bear McCreary's version of "All Along the Watchtower". It's the part that Kara played on the piano with Slick a couple episodes ago. It's in a minor key. If you number the notes in the scale beginning with 1 and continuing up to 7, then you have the format used in the translation. Each number corresponds to the note used in the theme. For those familiar with music notation, suppose the theme was played in the key of C minor (to make it easier to explain). 1 corresponds to the note of C. 2 equals D. 3 equals E-flat and so on. Thus, if you transcribe the theme using these numbers, you get the 1123.6536.5321 code that Kara punched into the FTL computer (leaving out the trill in the theme). It's kind of nifty that they did this. I'm guessing that they consulted Bear on this since I don't think either Ronald Moore or David Eick has a formal music background.
The second part was so peaceful to watch. The pacing and tone of the episode matched that of the characters. They were weary of the turmoil, the flight from the Cylons, the civil strife and internal political conflicts so it makes sense that they wanted to leave everything behind and start over. BSG is a very demanding series to watch in the sense that it evokes a lot of political, philosophical and religious themes. It gives your heart and mind a workout. After 5 1/2 years, it was comforting to see that the characters finally found peace, even if there was the cautionary ending about events on our "Earth" 150,000 years later.
The series finale also confirmed what I have long suspected -- that Battlestar Galactica is at its heart a religious show. Not necessarily a Christian or Buddhist or whatever show, but one that examines religion and philosophy with an earnest approach. It's kind of strange, that a show that includes so much violence, sex, drug use and conflict can be so religious. But it's refreshing. It makes the exploration of religion more realistic. Sanitized parables may be good to explain key principles and morals but something like BSG shows how these principles can apply (or not) in real-life situations, and very harsh ones at that. Though the characters are often flawed, many of the key figures try to think their way through difficult situations. They don't just pick up a grenade launcher or press the button to launch missiles like a mindless action-movie character would.
From a visual perspective, I was very impressed with the outdoor shots in the last scenes. In previous episodes, it was usually apparent that any outdoor scenes were shot at the same locations that other Vancouver-based productions used. Planets on Stargate SG-1, for example, had vegetation and foliage that was awfully similar to what we saw on BSG. But I'm guessing that there aren't any large herds of antelopes in the exurbs of Vancouver. While I'm on this point, this episode needs to get another Emmy nomination in the category of cinematography, if there is such a category. Very impressive camera and location work!
But what really made this series finale shine is Ronald Moore's script and the way he resolved all of the mysteries and story threads of the series. The flashbacks to the Opera House visions was effective. We got answers about Kara's identity and even about Head Six and Head Baltar. How many fans have been wondering about Head Six since the Miniseries? I'm guessing most of us. And even with all of the intellectual philosophy and religious exploration, Ronald Moore managed to create a thrilling finale and an emotionally powerful one. I can't imagine how he could have ended the series more effectively. And I can't think of many single episodes in any series that worked as well as "Daybreak" did. Er, oops, I meant to say "Ronald Moore's Masterpiece", because I am not going to call it "Daybreak" any more.
Truly a monumental accomplishment in science-fiction history and a remarkable achievement for dramatic storytelling in general, whether in television, movie or book format. Sad as I am to see the series wrap up, I'm satisfied that it ended with all creative guns blazing. Thanks to the producers, writers, actors, visual effects teams, composer, musicians and crew for making such an enjoyable adult work of fiction, one that is far more satisfying than the typical escapist television fare.