Tonight's Battlestar Galactica is an astoundingly moving full-circle finish to this four-season masterpiece - an epic/intimate odyssey of apocalypse survivors outracing extinction by seeking, yes, The Meaning of Life.
Humans have gone on the run through space after seeing their civilizations nuked by a race of Cylon robots they created. But some Cylons have evolved into covert "skin jobs," who look and feel human and are unsure where their loyalties lie. Dueling toward the mythical planet of Earth, all have faced crises evoking every aspect of existence: love, politics, religion, class conflict, finite resources, resurrection, and especially their core values.
Finally finding Earth a charred corpse, they've moved on to struggle over "a blended future" or a cycle of war. The final flash point: Hera, a half-human, half-Cylon child whom both sides see as key to their survival.
As the "skin job" called Six said last week, "Humanity's final chapter is about to be written." But who says there's only one book?
"A new life requires a new way of thinking," according to her human playmate, Baltar, a feckless scientist who's betrayed his race time and again. Or has he? Now humans and spiritual Cylons have banded together in ultimate battle against extremist Cylons determined the only way of life be theirs.
The prophecies of past episodes get explanation and enlightenment in a propulsive finale that culminates with operatic fervor. There's exquisite epiphany as to where we've been, where we're going and, yes, What It All Means.
I can't think of another series so intricately envisioned, excitingly executed and emotionally acute. You can lose yourself in this palpable world - only to truly find yourself. Series auteur Ronald D. Moore makes us examine the ethics of our own world. But he does it viscerally, through intense passion and (mostly) subtle parable. Battlestar Galactica is transcendent television.
Battlestar Galactica airs at 9 tonight on the Sci Fi Channel. **** ( 4 STARS)