Here's the thing: It's all their fault. The Battlestar Galatica people. Ron Moore and David Eick and their posse. Because we viewers figured it was all going to end at Earth. The fleet arrives at the familiar big blue marble floating in space, and someone from NASA calls up to say hello, or the dinosaurs look up into the sky and wave hi, or whatever. Fade to black -- end of saga.
Not that I'm complaining. As commenter Sean68 said in response to my first BSG preview post:
I thought when I saw that last episode (arriving on "Earth"), that they were just going to leave it at that. I'm so glad they are going to finish with ten more episodes.
Me too. It's not all going to wrap up as neatly and as cleanly as we perhaps thought it would. But that means, you know, complications. Complications beyond the totally unexpected place they -- Moore and Eick, et al. -- left us at the end of the half-season finale, at a ruined Earth. The first question -- is it really Earth? -- appears to have been answered with the first episode of the new BSG webisode series, "The Face of the Enemy" --
-- which opens with this: "Nine days after the discovery of a devastated Earth, Lt. Felix Gaeta will find himself here."
Here. So unless Moore and Co. are going out of their way to be sneaky bastards, we can assume that yes, the fleet really and truly has arrived at the actual planet Earth.
This is where it starts to get extra tricky.
Are we looking at a devastated Earth in the distant past, perhaps long before what we think of as civilization -- say, the past 8,000 years or so -- got going? Could there have been an earlier spacefaring civilization on Earth that sent out the seeding colonies that became Kobol and the others and then imploded? And now those children of Earth are returning, maybe even to restart human civilization on Earth? I kinda like this theory, especially since it plays off the pseudoscientific Chariots of the Gods nonsense that inspired the original Battlestar Galactica in the first place. That would be a fitting closure to a full circle the show could complete. And it would be a little mindfrak, the idea that we -- you and me and Ron Moore and Mandy Moore and everyone else -- are descendants of interbreeding humans and skinjob Cylons. We are all part toaster.
The other obvious possibility is of course that we're looking at our own far future: We are the ancestors of the colonials who created the Cylons, and now they're returning to find that we've blown ourselves up. And it means -- as fan Kenny noted here -- that there could be still more colonies of humans hanging around in other parts of the galaxy, people the descendants of the Kobol colonials have never met. Which could spawn a whole new series: Battlestar Galactica: The Next Generation.
That seems a lot less satisfying that the first option.
Both of those seem a lot less satisfying, though, than the third option, which will infuriate some viewers should it actually transpire, while firing others to keep considering what the hell it all means long into our actual, real future. It's this: that this is neither the past nor the future of Earth -- indeed, that it is both our Earth and not our Earth at the same time. As fan nyjm suggests, the "pretty-ribbon to tie the whole thing together... ain't gonna happen." Just as it's always been impossible to tell, really, whether we -- the real us on Earth here today, with all our messes and disasters and bigotries and stupid wars -- are supposed to be represented by the colonials or by the Cylons (and clearly are represented by both), I think we're going to see some representation of Earth today as the final ten episodes unfold, and some representations that don't look like anything we know at all (and that will probably definitely rule out our actual future and our actual past as options for where-and-when-the-hell). I think we're not ever going to know for sure just when in Earth's timeline the fleet has landed.
The only thing we can be certain about is that we're still going to be wondering about this -- and discussing it -- long after that last episode of Battlestar Galactica airs.