Looking back on the fourth and final season of "Battlestar Galactica" is difficult, thanks to the bizarre decision to split the season over such a long period of time. It almost feels as if the fourth season was actually two shorter seasons (which, supposedly, was one way the SciFi Channel wanted to market it). Even so, the season works best when viewed as a whole.
After Starbuck's return and the revelation that she had come from Earth, the fourth season was obviously going to be all about the final push. Thankfully, the writers didn't make it a simple situation. Not everyone trusted Kara and her semi-crazy mission from "God" (quite literally, as it turned out), and that led to a lot of the tension in the second half of the season. There was also the emergence of Baltar's little cult as a power to be reckoned with, a story direction that seemed to be going nowhere until it gained momentum later in the season.
It's hard to remember that the unveiling of the Final Five only took place in the third season finale, and much of the first half of the fourth season was devoted to Tigh, Tyrol, Tory, and Sam and their process of dealing with their true nature. In the background, there was also the Cylon Civil War, which ultimately led to the situation that allowed the Colonials to survive. All things considered, the first half of the season was more about the truth behind the Cylons than the Colonials themselves.
Even with all the dramatic twists and turns, the season seemed to be struggling to hit all cylinders until the mid-season cliffhanger and its resolution. The revelations about "Earth", the truth about the Final Five and Kara Thrace, and the effect on the fleet provide the impetus for some stunning storytelling. The mutiny on the Galactica was a high point for the season and the series as a whole.
The season never quite hit those highs again, even as the writers drove towards the series' finish line. The final several episodes were devoted to either exposition regarding the Cylon backstory (more of which will come with "The Plan") or pulling together the various character threads to bring them towards conclusion.
Ron Moore never hid the fact that "Battlestar Galactica" has always been a product of improvisation. The third season is proof enough of that; the entire second half of the season was derailed when the writers realized that their original ideas weren't panning out, and they had to adjust on the fly. What makes Moore a great showrunner is his ability to pull together a writers' room with the ability to make the pieces fit, even when they were never intended to do so.
Moore chose to make the end of the season and series more about the characters than the plot, which is perfectly fitting, when the tone of the series as a whole is taken into consideration. This decision was largely controversial because of how the plot was then resolved. Most of the mysteries were attributed to a higher power, ostensibly the Cylon "God". This led many to believe that Moore and his writers took the easy way out, rather than making an effort to resolve the dangling plot threads rationally.
However, I take a different view. From the beginning of the series, there was a strong spiritual presence, from the constant talk of the Lords of Kobol and "God" to endless prophecies and visions. All of that has to come from somewhere, and the only difference is that the identity of this particular higher power is kept anonymous. Pointing to an entity or a "Ship of Lights" is just more tidy; conceptually, it's the same.
The fourth and final season of "Battlestar Galactica" earned a Critical Myth rating of 8.1, which is a full half-point improvement over the third season, and comparable with the second season. It also bring the series as a whole to a solid 8.0, which is well above average. Considering the critical acclaim, excellent acting, and inspired creativity, calling it "above average" seems a bit of an un