A few things are confusing me about the plot right now. “Sine Qua Non” has some seemingly highly contrived and out of character scenes to bring about certain plot movements (Adama on own, Lee as President, Saul as Commander) so I hope the payoff is worth it.
But today I want to consider two bigger pictures. For some time I’ve been puzzling over why the final five are sleepers. Indeed, even though they are no longer fully sleepers, they don’t yet know anything more. I’m also wondering what the point of the quest plot has been.
I’m imagining that the Final Five are ancient cybernetic beings who once lived as humans on Earth, thousands of years ago. They are of beyond human intelligence, but they still value their human origins. In order to stay in touch with their humanity, they regularly do “incarnations.” They create a copy who is born and lives “fully” human. This copy is artificial, possibly born to an earlier copy or inserted into an unsuspecting womb (though not Virgin Mary style) and is designed to live a human life. No superior abilities, no knowledge of their origins.
Then, at or near the end of their lives, the lifetime experiences of this copy would be uploaded and merged into the higher mind. This cycle of human lifetimes would keep the higher being in touch with their humanity. The normal cycle might be to lead a full life, never knowing the truth. It might be that this time, it was interrupted by special events. Or it might be that every cycle includes an awakening before merging with the whole.
We need something like this because right now we are faced with two choices:
- The Final Cylon is a major character like Adama, Roslin, Baltar, Lee or Starbuck, with Baltar having the most clues. But this takes away from the character’s human story and puts the “hand of god” too much into the story. If the big events have been driven so directly, especially by a character like Adama, Roslin or Baltar, it undoes much of what we have seen.
- The Final Cylon is, as the Last Supper interview says, a minor character. Boooooring. How can Gaeta or Cottle or the rest give us the shocking end of series surprise we know we’re in for?
If we can find a way to make a major character like Baltar be Cylon, but still be human and not be acting as/for the higher beings, perhaps it can work. Now one problem is that the 4 current members of the Final Five did do a few special things. Somebody sabotaged the food, and Tyrol found the Temple.
Now there is a good literary reason for this approach. Vernor Vinge correctly writes that humans can’t write workable fiction about superminds, any more than 8 year olds could write workable stories about adults. Yet if you have had AI for thousands of years, you’ve got superminds. So how do you manage that in a story?
What you do is you create human slices of the superminds, that we can understand and relate to as characters, and whose actions make sense. They are different but not incomprehensible. If they ever do get their full super-cylon knowledge, they become part of the setting, and not characters any more. And we want them to be characters.
What’s the point of the quest?
We’ve seen this long quest with little clues and hints:
- Arrow of Apollo
- Hologram of Zodiac in Tomb of Athena
- Earth probe drifting in space
- Redirection to Temple of Five
- Trip to Ionian Nebula
- Starbuck taken to Earth, given vision of Cylon civil war aftermath so she’ll talk to the Hybrid
- Hybrid tells her that 3 can point out the Five to her, and they know about Earth
Now while the Five don’t consciously know about Earth, I suspect the information is somewhere in them.
But why? Why this contrived and roundabout quest and series of clues, just to end up with “Go ask your buddy there, he’s been with you all along and one of us all along.”
I understand the drama, but why would we have such a strange quest with the answer with them all along? I know we’ve seen that in other stories but I don’t find it satisfying. I hope the writing crew figures a way to make it so.
From the Battlestar Galactica Analysis Blog