Well, the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica ended last night after four seasons, and it closed well, more or less. I am somewhat sad to see it go – it was one of the few shows that both H and I can watch together (30 Rock has stepped into the breech, fortunately) – but I am glad that it ended on its own terms, instead of being canceled before its time (Deadwood), stretched into the land of plot ridiculousness (Heroes), or drawn and quartered for a network’s pleasure (Babylon 5).
As Dexter and Burn Notice are betwixt seasons, there’s not much serial drama for me to watch right now besides Lost, which is in the middle of probably its best season yet. H found the first season unpalatable, so it is my guilty pleasure alone, and I reserve a certain small satisfaction that my viewing loyalty has paid off with increasing quality. The snatches of time travel that appeared in previous seasons now dominate the storytelling, and I enjoy the resulting mind-bending.
For example, earlier in this season there was a scene where the character Locke, who has been jumping randomly through time for reasons too complicated to explain here, is handed a old compass by another character, Richard, in 2004. Richard gives Locke the compass with the instruction that Locke should give it to the Richard of 1954 to gain his trust. When Locke jumps to 1954, he does just that. The 1954-Richard is impressed and listens to what Locke has to say.
But this is a seeming paradox, as the compass has no origin; it is trapped in an endless loop where it should get 50 years older every time 1954-Richard hangs onto it, gives it to Locke in 2004, who travels back in time to give it to 1954-Richard, who hangs onto it… it has no beginning and no end. The show hasn’t explained this fully yet (though in general it is very good at placing restrictions and setting rules on time travel).
There are solutions, though, that allow the compass to have an origin and an end. Let’s say 1954-Richard acquired a compass in 1904. It’s 50 years old. Call it Compass-A. In 1954 Locke appears and gives Richard another compass, Compass-B, which looks just like Compass-A, only about 50 years older. Richard immediately loses Compass-B, perhaps even before he manages to compare it to Compass-A; he is left only with one compass, the original Compass-A. In 2004, he gives Compass-A (now 50 years older) to Locke, who brings it back to 1954-Richard, who sees it as a 50-year-older version of his other compass (Compass-B). He promptly loses it. It might have even vanished when Locke jumped in time, just to make this process simpler. In other words, Compass-A and Compass-B are the same compass, but this gives it a origin (1904) as well as an end (1954-Richard loses it).