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Islanded in a Stream of Stars

This episode doesn’t inspire to many thoughts right away, but I need a comment thread. :-)

Some good dramatic moments of course. With only a single (3 hour, split into 2 parts) episode to go, some minor characters are getting their final scenes. It had not occurred to me that Baltar and Caprica Six had not seen one another since he was captured on the algae planet. Some emotion about others was a rare show for Baltar, but the old asshole Baltar made his way back to the surface quickly. I can’t say I’ve been pleased with Baltar’s 4th season arc. In fact, the main thing interesting about him now is the Six in his head, for her mystery is one of the big mysteries we’re about to see unfolded. It was good to see a strong contrast between head Six and Caprica Six, as many people have been under the mistaken impression that they are connected. But Baltar tells us that the Angels take the form of those close to you.

Strong intimations that Galactica will make a valiant last attack, possibly on the Cylon base. Cavil seems to have a highly operational and large facility there, and it was cool to get a glimpse of it, but it’s too much for the Galactica and crippled base ship to take on ordinarily — but this is the climax of a story. (One way that works would be to free the Centurions.)

Boomer’s tears remain a mystery. We now see that had Boomer had success at convincing Tyrol to “come with her” she would have had to chain him up or drug him for the long many-jump flight. A tall order as he has Cylon strength, too. But it seems a betrayal of Cavil (no doubt with Boomer’s death) is in order. There are so many characters who might be a suitable killer of Cavil, though, including of course the Centurions.

Is Galen hiding? He has reason to hide, but they didn’t use him at all this episode, in spite of having a few confabs of the other three. Of course he is to blame for the over 60 deaths and the destruction in Galactica. You would think he might be hiding out on the base ship. Update: He’s apparently in the brig, via deleted scene.

The quick abandonment of the switch for Hera seems odd, and of course false as they are surely going after her next week. In particular, that Cylon base looks like it’s a fairly permanent establishment, in which case, unlike the vacated Colony, the rebel Cylons know where it is, or at least some places to look. (Update: It apparently is the Colony, so we can’t be sure how they find it. Perhaps it comes to them.)

Simon and Doral

We have seen little of them, of course. But while they are on Cavil’s side, they are his dupes as well, unaware of the Final Five, sticking to the programming he gave them not to think of their makers.

But Ellen tells us that all these millions of Cylons are her children. Even John, but certainly Simon and Doral. Can she participate in an attack to kill them permanently. They are also the future of their race.

Hera though, isn’t the whole future of the race. She shows that breeding is possible, if difficult. And there’s no sign that Tory, Saul and Galen can’t have kids with humans (or other Cylons.) Even Anders could be a sperm donor to a human woman, I suspect. (The “love” theory is, according to Espenson, not really true.)

Mysteries

There’s lots of hope for the species without Hera, but the OTG (One true god/string-puller) is of course quite interested in her, so her story will be told in the finale.

But there does not seem to be time to tell a lot of other stories. I had hoped we might see more exploration of the Lords of Kobol, but if we do, it will be brief, and related to the OTG’s story.

The notes, it seems, are going to get another role. Will they turn into jump coordinates? A programming backdoor? A real star map (with colours) as Starbuck first thought they were?

Many leaks have shown this final episode (pair) will have a number of flashback scenes, closing out some personal mysteries but leaving less time for the larger plot mysteries.

A Real Earth or no?

Hope dwindles for a real Earth of any kind, past or future. It’s too big a thing to truly cover, so if it appears it will be as something short at the end, akin to the Taylor on the beach with the Statue of Liberty scene. Of course there are many rumours and a photo circulating relating to this. We’ll see what they mean. It was already pretty clear we would not return to the 13th colony Earth in the show (since they left an expensive guest star who we know does not reappear there) and that has to make you wonder. Fans will be rightly upset if that’s “all the Earth” they get in the show. But they might end up upset. Certainly Espenson’s comments about human origins being on Kobol suggests we will get no more. But Ron Moore’s comments about why he used All Along the Watchtower certainly declared a stronger connection.

The local star patterns that Michael Hall tracked so diligently look more and more like mistakes by the post-production department. They have shown up in the Ionian Nebula, and on long jumps away from it. That can’t be — there’s no Nova/Supernova remnant here, nor will there be in the foreseeable future, and besides, stars won’t remain the same after any sort of major jump.

One of the great flaws of the 1978 show was its complete ignorance of the geometry of space. This was one of the things that Moore really said he wanted to fix in his reimagining, and they generally did, up to season 4. It’s a shame that the post-production dept. many have just been casually inserting local stars without rhyme or reason — everywhere but on the 13th colony “Earth.”

Other questions

  • Will the others get their memories back? The hybrid tank might work. But this would rewrite their characters and there isn’t enough time for that.
  • What is the truth of the opera house?
  • Will Baltar get a satisfactory ending? What’s going to happen with all the guns he was given? Will it be meaningful that a Hybrid called him the chosen one?
  • What was the reason for the Ionian Nebula detour with power outage, Cylon awakening, Raider ID of Anders etc.? Why did the OTG drag them 13,000 light years away to do that?
  • Will we, in general, find a satisfying reason for the convoluted course they have taken? Other than, “to make the trip longer.”

On some of these, we may not know the truth. The main things we seem sure to learn about are Hera, the OTG and head beings, and Starbuck.

Will we give up our privacy for unspoiled milk?

I recently attended the eComm conference on new telephony. Two notes in presentations caught my attention, though they were mostly side notes. In one case, the presenter talked about the benefits of having RFID tags in everything.

“Your refrigerator,” he said, “could read the RFID and know if your milk was expired.” In the old days we just looked at the date or smelled it.

Another presenter described a project where, with consent, they tracked people wherever they went using their cell phones, and then correlated the data, to figure out what locations were hot night spots etc. In a commercialization of the project, he said the system could notice you were visiting car dealerships and send you an email offering a bargain on a car.

Now I won’t try to say I haven’t seen some interesting applications for location data. In fact, many years ago, I started this blog with an article about a useful location aware service of my own design.

But why is it that when people are asked to come up for applications for some of the most intrusive technologies, they often come up with such lame ones? Perhaps you may have concluded that your privacy is doomed, and these invasive technologies are coming, but if so, can we at least give up our privacy for something a bit more compelling than having to smell the milk?

I mean, RFIDs in everything (and thus the trackability of everything for good and ill) just so your fridge can be a touch smarter? So you can be marketed to better and thus, in theory, get slightly cheaper products — at least until all sides have the technology and the competitive advantage goes away.

Have we revealed all our data about ourselves and our friends to Facebook just so we can throw sheep?

I’m not saying that throwing sheep (or the other, more practical applications of Facebook) aren’t fun, but are they worth the risk? I don’t say cost because you don’t see the cost until long after, until there has been a personal invasion? What if Falun Gong’s members had all been on Facebook when the Chinese government decided it was time to round them up? Mark my words, there will, before too long, be some group that a government decides to round up, using a social networking tool to find them. What cool apps are worth that?

There are ways to do applications on private data that are not nearly as risky. My yellow button application only transmits your location when you take an action, and that transmission can use a pseudonym. The real function can take place in the phone, knowing where it is, and knowing where interesting locations are that it needs to no more about. In this case, the network only learns something about you during explicit actions. The dangerous ones are the ones that are on all the time, that track and record your whole sea of data to do something useful. It is your whole sea of data that is the most dangerous to you, because if untrained eyes look in a big sea of data with something already in mind, they will find it, whether it’s there or not. That’s not as true for specialized subsets.

Comments welcome, even Anonymous ones!