The geometry of the Colony

Note: Most of this article was written before Daybreak, and new information outdates it. See updates

Cavil’s Cylon base, which Boomer flies to, is the “Colony” which was the place the final five’s gear was stored. It was moved by Cavil several months ago from the location Ellen had for it.

Comments in a prior thread got a bit too heated, and have been moved to this new thread, but it is worth exploring various interpretations of what we see as Boomer comes to the Colony.

I have uploaded an HD clip (x264) of the very brief scene of the colony and its surroundings. You can download it here.

The shot, all computer antimated of course, has the virtual camera move, and first turning and then later zooming into the portal as Boomer jumps in and flies through the tunnel. The image consists of 4 rough regions:

  1. The organic, hollow rocky structure into which Boomer flies, that is in the foreground. (The Portal)
  2. The fuzzy purple zones in the lower part of the picture.
  3. A large, thin, irregular horizontal rocky structure, which goes from edge to edge, lower on the right, behind the Portal. 5 giant Cylon spires are mounted on top of it, or possibly between it and the Portal. Two other sets of giant spires appear above this mass on the left and right.
  4. The purple “sky” zone at the top, which is diffuse but contains blurred-out points, possibly stars.

A Cylon base ship is flying on the right side of the Portal. This ship could easily fit into the tunnel showing just how immense all of this is, and the spires are truly immense.

A few interpretations of this image have arise. Watching the video, particularly in show motion, shows that there is considerable depth to the image. The Portal is sharp and in focus, the rest is more blurred. Due to depth and perspective, the Portal is clearly well in front of both the spires and the horizontal structure. Both are well in front of the upper purple background (sky.) Curiously, the lower purple background moves differently from the upper, suggesting it is between the Portal and the horizontal structure.

Whatever the interpretation, however, the main thing to consider is that this base is huge. Much too large to destroy by crashing a Battlestar into it, or even firing a few nukes. There is thus some question about whether this whole thing is the Colony (in which case it was rather immense) or whether the Colony is just a part of it that has recently been moved in, and so this is the Cylon home.

Interpretation One: Giant space base

In this interpretation, we are in space, and the background is glowing purple nebulousity. The horizontal structure is of unclear purpose. The light area on the bottom of the structure is in fact its flat bottom.

Arguments in favour:

  • If one of these large structures is the Colony ship, it would not make sense to land it on a planet. These things are all huge.
  • After Boomer enters the portal, the view back shows objects floating in the purple background, which may be rocks or ships. While no floating rocks are visible in the scene from outside, if they are floating this is not on a planet.
  • The lower purple section is similar to the upper one. If it is a reflection, there is no reflection of the hills and shore.

Interpretation One-A: Spar-based space base

One commenter suggests that what we are seing is a 5 sided “starfish” of rock with Cylon spire complexes on each leg of the star. The Portal is the entrance to one of the legs. The commenter has a diagram here.

It is also possible to consider that there are only 4 spars, or 3, to this structure.

  • On the right and left spars, the spires are not in the center. If it is symmetrical, then the Portal’s spires are also somewhere between the Portal and the center.
  • Once inside, there seem to be tunnels from elsewhere, but no other opening is shown in the Portal. However, the tunnel she enters is rather short, far too short to reach the center of such a vast structure, and the other tunnels seem to be parallel to it, not radiating in all directions.

Interpretation Two: This sits on a planet (Upate: Invalidated by Daybreak)

In this interpretation, the horizontal structure is hills. The light area underneath it is the shore of a still or frozen sea. The lower purple area is the reflection of the sky above. The purple sky is a local nebula, or perhaps an aurora. (In reality, no nebula would be this bright, but BSG normally shows them this way.)

Here is a frame capture diagramming this interpretation. Note the image is 1920x1080. Expand your browser window (the picture grows with it) or click on it to see it fully. It has been enhanced and sharpened.

  • The lower purple region moves in perspective as though it is between the Portal and the hills. If it were space below the horizontal structure, it would spin in perfect sync with it.
  • The lower purple region is much more diffuse, and looks quite different from the upper one.
  • The horizontal structure looks natural and eroded, not artificial or space-formed. It appears to even have trees. It looks nothing like the Portal structure which is Cylon organic-artifice, and is that way all the way through.
  • If the horizontal structure is in space, and we’re seeing it’s flat underside, we are underneath it, which does not make sense in the starfish layout, unless it curves in unusual ways.


For full understanding, watch the video in a player that will late you do slow-motion or frame advance. The rocks point to a space interpretation. The way the lower purple section (particularly on the right) moves differently from the upper sky section strongly points to a planetary interpretation. (This can also be confirmed by taking two frames from before and after the virtual camera move, rotating and adjusting them so the Portal structure matches, and then subtracting. When you do this, the lower purple region turns mostly black, while the sky region shows lots of movement.) As such no interpretation is certain, but I am leaning towards the planetary one.

This is too large a structure for the fleet to take on militarily. They may never do so. One interesting, and highly ironic way for them to defeat it, would be for Caprica Six to generate a computer virus which infects Cavil’s systems, and puts them under her control or disables them. An interesting variant would be for that virus to disable the inhibitors on the Centurions, so they would be freed to defeat Cavil, and even kill all the Cavils. You could add to the irony if Baltar assisted her, and this would also provide some redemption for Baltar. Then the Simons and Dorals could join the other Cylons as predicted in the prophecy.

Folks, I must repeat the rules for this blog, as the other thread got surprisingly bitter on the part of some posters. Write about the topic at hand, not about the people you are discussing with. Posts that contain insults rather than (or even in addition to) useful contributions will be deleted. Do not respond to those posts, because when they are deleted, the entire comment tree beneath them is also deleted. Keep it civil. Do not write about the competence, skills, intelligence or ancestry of other members. Instead, keep to the topic at hand, which is the show. If you expect people to respond to you please enter a name other than “Anonymous.” Consider creating a userid on the blog, which will assure nobody else can post with your name. (Non-user names are marked “not verified.”)

Another question: Who are the “playmates” that Cavil wants Hera to meet? Even without resurrection, is it possible he has duplication equipment, so he can generate a whole bunch of Hera models and copy her mind into them? That seems like it would be very similar to the resurrection equipment but who knows? Or are the playmates just Simons and Dorals and the like?

Update: Daybreak reveals that it in space, near a black hole, so the on-planet interpretation I was favouring was incorrect. One jump away with the new drives. The configuration, which is shown here, is somewhat like the proposed starfish but quite a bit different. In fact, it’s hard to actually reconcile the two pictures easily, I would be interested in arrangements which can. Now the colony is completely surrounded by floating debris, where before it showed only a bit of debris looking back. And the background is bright green, not purple. It has 9-10 legs, not 3 to 5, What appears to be the underside in the new picture doesn’t look much like the apparent underside of the old. The Cylon spires are in the center, but we don’t see the ones at the edges.

For scale, check out the tiny base ships visible between the two legs on the right! And another one in the lower section. Sharper than the background spires, so not in the distant background.