One of the big questions for viewers of BSG is “what will they find on Earth?” I’ve written before about how we can be pretty sure this is an Earth of the far future but this doesn’t tell us what sort of future Earth it is. Advanced? All-Cylon? Post-singularity? Or, quite possibly, deserted or ruined.
Some signs are pointing to the latter choice. A lot of hints tell us the ending of the show will be dark. That seems to rule out an inhabited Earth that welcomes the fleet. It might suggest an inhabited Earth that puts up a “No trespassing” sign and tells them to go away — because the colonials are really Cylons, and were booted off Earth long ago. (That doesn’t mesh with somebody taking Starbuck too Earth to show here where it was, though.)
It’s very clear that they are quite close to Earth. Recent episodes have routinely shown the unmistakable constellation of Orion in starfields. This is no accident, and puts them very close. (Orion is one of the few constellations that could be recognized at some distance from Earth along the line between Earth and Orion. But “some distance” is still not very far.) In fact, there is a technical flaw here. From such a close distance — a few hundred LY or so — their computers could readily find the place where the Zodiac is visible. You can download software for your own computer, like the free Celestia, that would let you see what the stars look like from all the nearby stars.
And the previews for next week —- mild spoilers again — show them over a blue-white planet, and then standing on a deserted planet. Previews are usually fake-outs, of course. Last week’s preview had a great fake-out because it was the character (D’Anna) doing the fake-out, not the preview editors. It seems too early for them to show us Earth, even deserted Earth, but it’s not out of the question since there are other big mysteries to deal with after that, such as why it’s deserted, and what the backstory of the Cylons and Final 5 (Original 5, really) is.
However, without making much of a prediction there, a dead Earth seems like the best match for a dark ending. Though presumably a still-habitable Earth, since otherwise would be really dark. But to live on it they must reconcile with the Cylons, half of which have switched back to “kill all humans” mode. Earth isn’t actually necessary once they reconcile with the Cylons, since if they did that, they know of a very pleasant planet (Kobol) where they could settle. Right now they seek a habitable planet where the Cylons won’t be trying to wipe them out.
The difference with Earth is that, as home of humanity and the Original/Final Five, it may offer the means to that reconciliation, though presumably after a bit of space battle and a lot of death. The Hybrids, and the Final Five, who have lived as humans, are pointed as as likely paths to the “two becoming one” the Hybrid predicted.
A populated and powerful Earth that can say “welcome home, we’ll kick Cylon butt for you” just isn’t in the cards. But they’re so close to Earth now that an advanced Earth would probably have left signs in the area. So a vacant Earth seems more and more likely.
(One theory has suggested that Earth is vacant because the “13th tribe” was an expeditionary force that went back to wipe out the homeworld that had ejected them. This is somewhat interesting but I can see many other reasons for Earth to be vacant. While this 13th tribe is dated 2,000 years before the exodus from Kobol, it would be interesting to imagine the effort to wipe out Earth as part of the schism on Kobol.)
From the Battlestar Galactica Analysis Blog