Moore speaks on the BSG backstory (and fracks it up)

These are Ronald Moore’s words, from the podcast, describing the backstory of the show.

This fundamental idea that once upon a time there were was a place called Kobol, the gods and men lived together. Man on kobol stole fire from the gods, that fire was the knowledge of life, how to create life, they created their own cylons. That creation and the destruction of their paradise was the end of kobol.

Twelve colonies, twelve tribes went that way, and the 13th tribe, 13th tribe of cylons went the other way, and they found and settled a planet that they called Earth, and at some point, the people on Earth, the cylons on Earth, repeated the pattern and destroyed themseleves as well. This feeds into the overall “all this has happened before and will happen again” mythology of the show.

He also says, when describing Anders’ story of playing “All Along the Watchtower”

“[The Guitar] was here on Earth, and Anders was here on Earth. Anders, he played the song for his friends, on earth, played it, it was also intended that he wrote it, that’s a subtlety that may not have come through”

Finally we also learn that this is Lucy Lawless’ last episode, which is why she is staying on the planet. Which suggests they don’t return to this planet.

This dashes a lot of fan hopes that this is a false Earth, that the real Earth colonized Kobol, and then a tribe of Cylons went off and found a different planet and named it Earth, after the ancestral homeworld. So this Earth seems entirely unrelated to our planet, and only has that name because this was the mythos of the original Battlestar Galactica in 1978. I had hoped he would reimagine that part of the story but he didn’t do it as well as I would have desired.

Many fan hopes were rising because people noticed that every time Moore would talk about the ruined Earth, he would say “they called it Earth” rather than saying this is our Earth. He seems to be saying that because it is not our Earth, but it also seems to be the only Earth in this universe. There will be no Bob Dylan in this universe.

This leaves a lot of things unexplained though. And he says there are some more major mysteries to explain.

  • Why do the 12 tribes have flags with star patterns from this Earth? How did this lost planet’s sky generate the flags and names of the 12 tribes?
  • How do the various dates mesh up: Temple of 5 from 4,000 years ago, Pythia from 3,600 years ago, wars on Kobol and Earth from 2,000 years ago.
  • Are the colonials also Cylons, or how was Starbuck able to download or be duplicated?
  • Why does everything happen again, and again?

Now, why do I say he’s fracked it up? Lots of SF is set in a universe that never was, an Alternate Earth — often one that is both similar and different from ours, usually in impossible ways done for dramatic purpose.

But I felt and hoped that Battlestar Galactica had the chance to be more. I thought it had the chance to be set in the future of the real Earth, and thus have more to say about the battle between man and machine. I’m not saying that you can’t say things about the real world in alternate realities. But I do think you can do it better if you start with the real world, and you always should if you can. And he could have, and seemed to be leaving clues that he had.

No, I am not going to stop watching, but I will do so a little less enthused.

Reading way too much in..

You're reading way too much into the podcast. He starts by saying:

"and they found and settled a planet that they called Earth"

And then goes from there. You're jumping to conclusions that aren't there.

Agreed

I agree. The statement, which has been repeated a few times, is that the Cylons called it "Earth." Not "And the Cylons came to Earth." He's been very careful about the way he's been wording answers about the Cylon planet.

He also doesn't say that human life started on Kobol. He just says that humans and the LoK lived together.

Yes that is what gave people hope initially

But the problem is Anders wrote All Along the Watchtower. Not Dylan, as in the real world.

There is a good reason why

There is a good reason why fans might think that wasn't Earth- they never showed any continents, and I will post a very telling quote from TV Guide by Jamie Bamber after the rest of the post.

I'm more bothered than anything else by the fact that Moore seems to buy into "we deserved to be punished for creating life" mantra a lot of SF espouses. Or if he doesn't believe that, not calling out the gods as monstrous tyrants for punishing all of humanity for this. My own deconversion had its seeds set when I read a lot of the Old Testament at a young age, and all the talk of God killing people and ordering the Israelites to commit mass murder horrified me, so it's understandable that I would feel this way.

As for the spoiler:
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Jamie Bamber says, "Who's to say the cinder planet the audience saw was a look ingo Earth's future? Maybe it's the far, far past. It could be prehuman. That question will stand until the climax of the show."

Far past

No, it couldn’t be. Bamber is mistaken, or if the show presents that, the show is mistaken. And we know that Moore knows that. Humans evolved on Earth. If your show is to include the real Earth, then this is a given. Since these are humans or derived from humans, and sing All Along the Watchtower, this can’t be in the past.

Yup. I was mega irritated by

Yup. I was mega irritated by "the plan", which turned out to be marketing babble, and the Final Cylon McGuffin being wrung dry for every ounce of show promotion. After the disappointments now really isn't the time for some actor to start mouthing off more mysteries and dangling another McGuffin. I'm not into wrenching the top off my desk but Bamber's comment wasn't something I want to hear right now.

After all the talk of clues and finding out that they weren't as numerous or distinctive as implied, any plays onmystery andredherrings for the rest of the series is just going to fall flat on me. Then, there's the Last Supper picture and talk of watching through the series and it would make sense. Nope, can't see that. The show had enough style and handwaving to make its mark but they shouldn't oversell it.

It could still be our Earth

You never know... Maybe the show is set in the distant past of our real Earth? They did show Florida in the big zoom at the end of last season, so I still expect our Earth to figure in somehow. Don't give up hope yet. Anything could still happen! I trust the writers to tie it all up in a coherent manner before the end.

Cool blog by the way. I'll be coming back.

And the one time appearance

And the one time appearance of Lucy LAwless isn't that significant- based on dialogue, she probably couldn't survive for very long on that planet anyway, and I doubt the show will wrap up in a few days, their-time. That doesn't preclude a return.

It is kind of important to note that the Exodus to the Colonies happened 1,600 years after the exodus to Earth; that's plenty of time for the constellations to be named on Earth and an Earth colonist to return to Kobol and plant this information somehow. So like it or not, the question of the Colonies having the same names as Earth constellations isn't impossible to work out if Earth is not the homeworld.

Not impossible, but...

Damned unlikely. For the 12 tribes to decide to name themselves after the Zodiac of Earth, you need a lot more than a colonist coming back and telling a story. Tribe names and flags would only come from a deep foundation.

You need Kobolian culture to fall, and be replaced by culture from Earth, for the 12 tribes to take their names and symbols from the Earth sky. It’s possible for that to happen, but you need nothing less than this.

So now the plot has to be:

  • 13th tribe of Cylons goes to Kobol
  • Kobol civilization is destroyed
  • Earth cylons come back to Kobol and take over
  • 12 tribes form, taking names and flags from Earth
  • New Lords of Kobol tell tribes to beat it.
  • Earth is nuked
  • Kobol is destroyed again.

Gets messy.

I thought the story told in

I thought the story told in an earlier episode was that the 13th tribe came to Earth and recognized their brothers and sisters in the sky - ie upon arriving on Earth (this or another) they saw the constellations that reminded them of those they left behind. Thus the constellations are named after the colonies, not the colonies after the constellations.

A problem of categories

Hmm. Well, I think that perhaps we have had unreasonable expectations for BSG. Given the show's disinterest in giving scientific explanations for technology (whether it be FTL drives or Cylon skinjobs), and its interest in plot and characters, I don't think it should be considered hard science fiction.

BSG might be better considered a space opera.

Not going in deep

There are different kinds of realistic (hard/naturalistic SF.) Some like to get into the nitty gritty, show you how the engine works. The other branch doesn’t show you how it works, just shows you what it does.

There are fans of both. Both follow the fundamental rule of hard SF, which is to obey the principles of known science. Some people want to get into the details. Others prefer the branch that doesn’t look inside because often, stories that do quickly become dated and wrong.

The classic example of the latter principle is Neuromancer, perhaps the most celebrated SF novel of the 80s. A novel about AI and cyberspace, it was written by a man who had never used a computer. Many people think that is exactly why he wrote such a good book — he was not constrained by present day thought.

To be good hard SF, it is OK not to explain what goes on inside, if you still follow the laws of physics.

Many people consider attempts to go in the middle as being worst of all. They have “technobabble” where you pretend you’re explaining how it works, but in fact you are just handwaving and saying nothing. Star Trek is notorious for this. Even BSG has a bit, with its magical Tylium. How does it work? “Tylium.” Oh, OK.

BSG could have been realistic SF. Moore said he was going to do it. But he seems to have bailed on this one. He had the chance, he could have had the real Earth be at the distant roots of this story if he had wanted. He seems to have preferred keeping the 1978 plot, where Earth is a colony, while at least knowing, as they did not in 1980, that an Earth founded by colonists can’t be our fossil-filled, evolved-human planet.

Oh please

Realistic SF is not the same as Hard SF. We started out with hyperdrives, artificial gravity, visions, and ressurecting robots indistinguishable from humans on even a molecular level. The show was never going for hard SF. It is hard*er* than shows like Trek, but still far from hard, let alone "real" science. I suspect RDM was emphasizing the "fiction" part of real, with characters and human stories far more "real" than what we'd seen in SF television to this point.

I don't disagree

But again, there are a few ways to look at “hard” SF. I made a joke when people say that hard SF obeys the laws of physics. I say “Yes, but so do Harlequin Romances.” There is more to it.

It is also good for all fiction, not just SF, to obey the rules of logic. If you show that the 12 tribes have the star patterns of the Earth Zodiac on their flags, there has to be a logical path by which that happened. That has nothing to do with the science part of things.

I've been so disappointed

Seeing that Moore has clearly bailed on so many things has made watching the final episodes difficult for me. I agree with you that BSG had such promise and it looked like things were going to be done right. Not even just done Sci-fi right, but done right in the way it decided to tackle relevant issues as well, without being preachy or bordering on that cheezy "tonight on a very special BSG" line.

But now I've pretty much lost faith - I have feelings akin to what other the poster mentioned, that I've stepped from real sci-fi (regardless of whether its hard or soft) into nothing more than one of my grandmother's daytime "stories" with some space thrown in to make it look sci-fi - Heck, we've gone so far downhill here as to have a Maury-esque paternity shocker complete with Jerry Springer baby-daddy fight. You can't go much more daytime TV/ghetto that than.

In my opinion they've also just screwed up pivotal moments in the plot during 4.5 in ways I don't think they would have ever previously done (gosh the brilliance we've seen!). The fifth reveal, the Adama Roslin hook up, making Nikki not be a cylon because Cally had some fling right before she got married - it all felt forced, rushed, uncompelling, and weak. It's like they have this checklist of things they think they have to do before the ending and its all just done or resolved in a less than believable, acceptable, or even at the fraking least entertaining manner.

Maybe its just me, but I could accept an ending where less is "revealed" - I would trade this "full knowledge" they are touting for a smartly executed work of compelling science fiction.

Nicholas

The only inconsistency that really bothers me is that wasn't Cally being worried over having given birth to a half-Cylon baby the sole reason she was in that airlock to begin with? Was that the reason she was going to kill herself and Nicholas? If she knew that Tyrol wasn't Nickolas' father, then she would never have been distraught over whether he was a Cylon or not.

oh well, they could have tried

How the heck is Ellen Tigh the obvious choice, it "all in the BSG poster"? Huh?

Totally lame. I just don't get it.

Brad, I love the way you have searched for an internal logic in the show to be able to predict its future transcendant of the writers/creators' imaginations. It approached the level of fetish at the end there, and I enjoyed the ride.

Clearly, they copped out. There were so many directions they could have gone in, and this 13th tribe being Cylons, they killed themselves, do history repeats, ta-da it's all wrapped up--um, no.

I sound bitter or angry I guess, but I'm not, just confused and disappointed.

Oh well, otherwise it was one of my top 5 favorite episodes. The drama was incredible.

I'll keep watching, and I still love every minute, but I have to say I'm done being interested in following the larger story arc. I'm going to take it all for what it was originally generated as, which was simple show candy with no real purpose other than to entertain.

P.S. I know it was suggested that Dee was also from Earth and a Cylon. I really hope not. We're running out of main characters. Unless you're right after all, and we're all Cylons, so Cylons made Cylons, and the Cylons killed most of the Cylons. But apparently not, I think that's clear in the show now.

Cylon Earth

Actually, I could have handled an all Cylon Earth in a number of different ways.

  • The real Earth became all Cylon (ie. artificial beings) in our future. In fact many people predict this is just what will happen.
    • It could have happened after the mission to colonize Kobol, leaving them as humans and us as Cylons
    • It could have happened before the Kobol colonists were exiled, leaving them also as Cylons (but not knowing it)
    • It could have happened around the same time, and been part of the war that they fled to Kobol.
  • The real Earth could have fallen, and been recolonized by Cylons from Kobol

The latter one could fit in any of the sub-situations for the first exodus.

The difference here is that there’s a real Earth, the Final Five come from this real Earth, and All Along the Watchtower is written by Dylan, not by Anders. And the Cylons who recolonize the planet don’t name it Earth, it already has that name.

We could stretch this a bit, and have things fall so far that while the 13th tribe knows the name of Earth, it doesn’t realize that it landed on the original planet somehow. But that’s a major stretch, considering it would take a very long time for signs of us to be totally gone, especially on the moon, unless they were deliberately erased.

when they finally spell the whole thing out

... which I'm not sure they plan to do, I hope they spell it out in crayon, because it's way beyond me. Especially now that about 95% of the show--Hera, the opera house, the Six in Baltar's mind, the idea of cycles, the idea that they're old, the plague left in space to kill the Cylons--was just a bunch of red herrings to perpetuate a show they were wondering how to end.

No more philosophy for me, man! Just give me bread and a circus.

The answers are coming

At least according to this interview: http://sepinwall.blogspot.com/2009/01/battlestar-galactica-ron-moore-tal...

You'll get the answers to the opera house, head six, and Hera, among others.

I don't know why so many people are acting as if this was the final episode. We still have nine more left to go. Plenty time left to reveal what's left to reveal.

Is the Watchtower/Dylan

Is the Watchtower/Dylan conundrum the only thing that absolutely rules out these events playing out in the real Earth's distant future? If RDM hadn't said his intention was that Anders wrote the song, could the Colonials and their Cylon rebel allies simply be mistaken that the ONLY inhabitants the cinder planet has EVER had were the Cylon 13th tribe? If the Watchtower song is the principal hangup, maybe they have some kind of future plot device solving this problem (is Anders some kind of distant clone or implant of Bob Dylan? I dunno....sounds cheesy, but who knows).

I will also be disappointed if this proves to be an alternate/imaginary universe and not one with the real Earth. They've teased us with a Colonial society that had automobiles, phones, and rock songs identical to ours, seeming to differ only in their advanced technology and curious obsession with lopping the corners off of paper.

I'm not sure why Brad is so

I'm not sure why Brad is so hung up on "Watchtower" either. I have repeatedly posted a quote from RDM about how "Watchtower" was a clue to our reality, and how it relates to the Cycle of Time "all of this has happened before..." and the fact that he stated that certain things repeat themselves and transcend cycles, and how "Watchtower" was an example, along with ties, the characters speaking English, phrases from Shakespeare, etc. Here it is again, and if it's not too much trouble, I'd like Brad's opinion:
"RDM: And then that stuck with me, and I've— as early as Season One, I wanted to use "All Along the Watchtower" playing in a jukebox, in the background, not in the familiar Hendrix version, but just a Galactica version of "Watchtower", as a way of saying to the audience that there is a tie between this show and our reality. That, essentially— y'know, you've heard us say, over and over again throughout the series, that "all this has happened before, and all of it will happen again", and there's a sense of the cycle of time, that certain of these events are preordained, and that there's a cycle, there's truly a cycle. If you remember, in the episode "Flesh and Bone" in Season One, Leoben, the Cylon, is talking to Kara and he says that "there's a cycle of time. And maybe the next time through the cycle, I'll be the interrogator and you'll be the prisoner", and that the story is the same, but the players swap positions. And the idea that there was a song or verse that transcended that cycle, that certain things repeated themselves— I mean why do they wear ties, why do they speak English, why are there certain phrases— there are phrases from Shakespeare sprinkled throughout the series. And there's a certain idea that all these things repeat themselves in certain ways for certain reasons, and so I wanted to use "All Along the Watchtower", something that would grab the audience to go: "Wait a minute, how the fuck could that be?! How could they possibly know what that is? Does that mean the show takes place in the distant future? Does it take place in the distant past? And what are the connections of that?" So it is a clue towards the larger explanation of what Galactica says the cosmology is, and so— "

Anders writing "Watchtower" doesn't rule out Dylan writing it it just means if the story is in the future it takes place much further in the future than Brad thought.

But Brad's problem is he doesn't look at the show the same way its creators do. When Brad talks about the show, he talks about man vs. machine, AI Gods, using science to analyze the show, and he approaches it from a secular viewpoint, to the point of overanalyzng the scene in Faith with Roslin receiving the vision of Emily crossing the river and calling it "disturbing" for some reason, when it is obviously the intent that Life after Death is real in the show and Roslin got a vision of Emily crossing over. RDm, on the other hand, talks about his show in terms of character first, story second. He has said the show is about humanity and civilization, not man vs. machine. In fact, it's kind of telling he made the machines so human. Whatever the true history of Earth and humanity is, judging from how RDM works, the decision was made based on how it fit in the story he wanted to tell, not whether it was scientifically accurate.

When we got into the second season, I started to think: "I don't really believe in the Bible, one reason being that it talks about all this strange stuff that doesn't happen today. This seems to be a show where mystical and divine workings are starting to reassert themselves in a modern society in peril. So it's like RDM decided 'OK, what if we started getting burning bushes and the like today, albeit more subtly.?'"

And that perception of the show has born fruit since then, and I feel that more strongly than ever. I separate my beliefs in real life from what fiction.

Brad, you're not prepared for the possibility that RDM decided what story he wanted to tell first and then worked backwards from that, not approaching it from a scientific point of view. Being a rationalist is a good thing, but it might not serve you when analyzing a show run by a writer who is more concerned with story and character than completely matching up to science.

A template? Random infinity? Or a real connection?

I'll be interested in Brad's response to this, but the RDM quote Dustin posted made me realize that if all the apparent links to our reality -- Shakespeare, Watchtower, etc. -- are just being framed in an endlessly-repeating cycle of time instead of a clear, linear progression of events from our current real civilization on this planet, then it may not really matter whether the BSG events happen in our distant past, distant future, or even in an alternate/imaginary universe that never had a Bob Dylan. Here's why:

Perhaps we will learn that through some unseen cosmic template, Shakespeare and the Watchtower song and all the rest of the ties to our real world are somehow destined to be re-created by other races. That could happen long before us or long after us -- it doesn't really matter.

Or maybe it's simply, as some physicists now believe, that every possible combination of matter and energy must happen an infinite number of times if the universe is truly infinite. Frankly, if that's where they're going, it's essentially the same as an alternate/allegorical universe. No meaningful connection to our real world.

I suspect this gets to the core of Brad's beef, because the show has teased us with suggestions that the narrative DOES refer to our real, Bob-Dylan-inhabiting universe. If it's just random infinity at work, or some Star-Trekkish cosmic template at work, then all the teases of a connection to our real world are just that -- teases. And I can't quite see RDM doing that.

But I also can't shake the feeling that this paradox is exactly where RDM wants us...wondering "how can this be?" As much as I love Brad's website here I kinda hope he's wrong, that somehow RDM will pull something out of his hat at the end that none of us saw coming...but really does click into place.

I hope I'm wrong too...

And it’s not that I don’t appreciate telling a story from character first, or even story first. I think it’s a good way to go.

But I do want to see TV SF get closer to realistic SF, and Moore has said the same thing. You’re right that I am pushing it more than he is.

When a writer decides to do an allegorical universe, that’s fine. What bothers me is if they do that when they could have had the same characters, the same story, in a realistic universe, a universe connected closely to the real one.

Because if, in the end, the answer is “It’s all just the author’s personal vision of the will of the great spiritual forces of the universe” then I feel a bit cheated, because that doesn’t mean anything to me. I am not fully cheated, I may have gotten a great story, great entertainment, but I am cheated because I could have gotten more.

Let’s face it, the world is full of people with views and visions of the “great plan.” They are, to me, just fantasy. Again, not that I don’t enjoy good fantasy. But I enjoy something real even more.

This show is a story about the nature of man and machine, and the conflict between them. This show is a show about AIs and copyable minds and a lot of other cool things I want to see explored in fiction. And it could be a show about all those things that plausibly takes place in our world.

I am perfectly fine with a writer wanting to show us a concept of history repeating it self, and moving in cycles. Characters and whole societies trapped in a cycle of self-destruction. That’s all good. But in reality, the things that repeat in those cycles are patterns of history, not people writing the same song with twisted lyrics, word for word, note for note. It just doesn’t work that way.

Had Moore said that Anders thinks he wrote AATW, in the sense of George Harrison writing My Sweet Lord, that would be OK. Or if, like Harrison, he had added his own elements to the song, that would be OK. (After all, most of us believed George when he said it wasn’t deliberate, but if he had used the exact same lyrics, you would not have believed him.)

I am all for the “how can this be?” Though the answer was certainly, “this is the far future.” In fact, I was looking forward to an answer on how can this be, because I had concluded Moore was going to do something rather brilliant — shock the audience with the amazing surprise that Earth was the homeworld of humanity. That was something I would have admired, to trick an audience into being shocked by something they always knew was true in reality. I am not, it seems, going to get it.

But I would love to be wrong!

I think the problem is...

...that the premise of the series, with which we've all been hooked, was The Search For Earth. We've now discovered that this was The Search For "Earth". I don't know quite how to put this... Earth is a proper noun. It describes this particular planet we live on, with its particular history. Earth is not a generic term. This planet they've landed on isn't Earth, the planet described by the proper noun Earth, it's just a planet. A significant hook for the series has been effectively thrown away.

It's a bit like a long TV series about people going back in time to save John F. Kennedy- then you get half way through the final season and you find they're not saving John F. Kennedy, the president who was shot in Dallas, but are in fact saving John F. Kennedy, a painter and decorator from Huddersfield who fell to his death off a stepladder in 1974. The writers have every right to write that story of course, but leave the audience feeling "well dang, you could have told us earlier". All the theorising people have done about how the actions of the cast will get them to that fateful day in Dallas goes out the window, because the story was never going there. It's, well, disappointing.

One could also add that in fact there's a bit of a storytelling failure here anyway, because we only know that "Earth" isn't Earth due to commentaries outside the narrative. Without the podcasts and blogs, we'd still be wondering how [our] Earth ended up full of Cylons. I have this personal strong belief that a story should entirely explicate itself within itself. If a writer has to explain what their story meant, their story has failed.

Still, I look forward to the rest of the season. But not quite as much as I did.

Well said, sir

Nicely put, Brad. All Along the Watchtower is but the most in-your-face, apparently-inescapable link to our own reality. If the BSG events turn out to happen in our past, it's hard to imagine anything but an uncharacteristically hokey explanation for the breathtakingly precise re-creation of the BSG world, song and all, in our present time. If BSG turns out to happen in our future, RDM has some 'splainin to do over the Watchtower song and the timeline. Whichever it is, I hope they posit a reasonably credible cosmology, not because the show necessarily hangs on it, but because it makes this kind of story so much better.

The one thing I really do NOT expect is alternate universe with no Bob Dylan (and us) in it, ever. The earlier big zoom shot to Earth clearly showing a continent matching North America would be too much of a stretch to explain away, and far too prominent a "moment" to simply ignore. And I would be very surprised if RDM completely abandons the original Battlestar Galactica conceit, re-imagined though it is.

BTW thanks Brad for all your work on this site. However closely your thinking matches what we find out, your thoughts here have immensely enriched my enjoyment of the show over the last couple of years.

But why don't you get upset

But why don't you get upset by the use of ties, english, shakespeare quotes etc? My understanding has ALWAYS been that the AATW could have been written by another person, inspired by the same things as Dylan was...
I do not get this debate actually, you take mythical and archeological references and use them as hard facts, even in our real world scientists are arguing about the historical significance of the bible and how to interpret and date archeological finds?

But why don't you get upset

But why don't you get upset by the use of ties, english, shakespeare quotes etc? My understanding has ALWAYS been that the AATW could have been written by another person, inspired by the same things as Dylan was...
I do not get this debate actually, you take mythical and archeological references and use them as hard facts, even in our real world scientists are arguing about the historical significance of the bible and how to interpret and date archeological finds?

Cycle of Time

I am perfectly fine with a writer wanting to show us a concept of history repeating it self, and moving in cycles. Characters and whole societies trapped in a cycle of self-destruction. That’s all good. But in reality, the things that repeat in those cycles are patterns of history, not people writing the same song with twisted lyrics, word for word, note for note. It just doesn’t work that way.

The Cycles of Time are connected. I prefer they be connected by some kind of technological development rather than mystical. If humans/Cylons have been resurrecting for eons it would be logical for some of each Cycle's knowledge be saved somehow. I just keep thinking about Ellen's words to Tigh at the end of "Sometimes a Great Notion" that "all is in place." If they knew the end of the world was coming and created some kind of resurrection hub, you can bet they also would have stored at least some of their civilization's knowledge. Shakespeare and Dylan would certainly have been included. Maybe there have been so many cycles that the information is corrupted or the media of storage is organic and therefore accessing it is not just as simple as finding a file on your hard drive.

Watchtower Quote

Hey Dustin, could you provide the source of that RDM Watchtower quote. When did he say that?

You ask for sources a lot

You ask for sources a lot when they are already the basis of the very first blog entry.

Just being thorough

Thanks.

Why Ellen Was the Obvious Choice

Many of us tried to parse the clues we were given, thought maybe there was some wiggle room the writers were leaving themselves so that they could surprise us with a big shocking reveal. But that was our own sense of wish fulfillment. Turns out they were being completely straight forward with the clues given us.

Let's look at the main ones:

1) The Last Supper photo eliminates both Adama, Roslin, Starbuck, Baltar, Head Six, and Helo, along with Cylons D'Anna, Athena, Tyrol and Tigh.

2) We were told they considered this character as far back as S1, which eliminates any "new" characters like Romo Lampkin and Kendra Shaw. A little wiggle room could be made for Cain, but that's a stretch.

3) It would not be a "guest star" ie a character who isn't a regular (technically many of the show's regulars are guest stars). That eliminated characters like Zak Adama, Kara's parents, and President Adar.

4) Four of the five Cylons were "in the fleet" in Revelations. Taken at face value (and I was one resisting it), that eliminated Gaeta, Dee, Cottle, Zarek, Boxey (I assume) and others.

5) Hera and Nicky were hybrids, and since we know Athena and Tyrol are Cylons, Helo and Cally had to be human.

So who does this leave?

Unless I'm forgetting someone, we have two categories:

1) Background characters like Hot Dog, Seelix, Racetrack and Skulls.
2) A dead character - Billy, Elosha, Ellen, Kat

(I should add there is the third category of totally weird ideas (Head characters, Cylon God, Boomer, Galactica, Starbuck's Viper, etc), but again if we assume the producers have been playing fair, the final Cylon is unlikely to come from this group.)

Of these two groups, 1 is the least likely. We really don't know any of them, so they could be interchangable, and would have no real dramatic impact, especially since half the audience probably wouldn't even recognize them, so group 2 is more likely.

To this lets add the final filter: The words of the First Hybrid from Razor - the final Cylon is "still in shadow" and "hungering for redemption."

"Still in shadow" could be interpreted as either still deactivated/unaware, or dead, so that doesn't help.

"Hungering for redemption" though... we know nothing about the group 1 characters. Sure they could invent a reason why Soccinus hungers for redemption, but that would be a post-revelation cheat. So this would almost certainly eliminate the first group IMO.

In group 2, neither Billy nor Elosha has anything to redeem themselves for. Ellen and Kat, though, fit that description. Of the two, Kat seemed to redeem herself before her death, while Ellen died a traitor.

So if we look even more closely at them, we see Ellen and Tigh fraked like rabbits and never had kids (Cylons can't have children). Ellen appeared mysteriously in the fleet in S1, and we never got confirmation of whether she was a Cylon or not. It would also make sense, finally, why Tigh would have been inexplicably drawn to this woman who was so clearly wrong for him. Indeed, if we assume that the Tighs were subconsciously wrestling with their secret, it would go a long way to explaining their self-destructive behavior.

Irony, The Fifth Fundamental Force

I commented in an earlier topic that I'm a Buddhist (Zen Buddhist like Ron) and familiar with theories about cycles of time and metaphor. In an infinity of infinities anything is possible but the audience was set up to believe this was the real deal Earth. Our Earth, not some recycled atoms. I agree with the general line of technical and narrative reasoning Brad is following.

The immersion and investment bubble has popped for me, but I see looking at BSG from the inside out and how decisions could've been made differently and better is a way of salvaging something worthwhile. Can we reverse engineer the retcon and come up with something better? Would we have had the Apollo and Starbuck timewaster series? Would we have created the Final Five? How would we resolve the timeline?

I think, it's proper to be clear about the positives and frack ups, the problems posed by the original material, and the realities of modern TV production. Yes, Ron gets to slap himself on the back but it's not a free lunch. Brad's done some very, very good analysis and there's been a good share of comment over time that's been equally sharp. I wouldn't want to waste that but use it as an opportunity to take a step forward.

It has happened before. It will happen again. Oh, the irony...

Pathetic

Look at you cry babies. I used to enjoy coming here and reading people's theories, but wow. You were wrong. Deal with it. People complaining about retcons. The story has not finished yet. Do you understand the meaning of the term retcon? This can't even be a fringe version of an additive retcon, since the plot line has not changed. You just don't understand it yet. The show is bad because the writers aren't telling the story you want to hear? Unbelievable, the amount of self importance and sense of entitlement a lot of you seem to have. Let them finish THEIR story.

dITTO

you took the words right out of my mouth. How on earth can RDM "get it wrong," when he's the one telling the story? He's wrong because he didn't use your pet theory? wankers..

The Mirror Mind

People had expectations and Ron played on that. I don't see anything wrong with calling it, and as I much I was the first to come out fast and hard on this I'd rather it was kept realistic and fair. Brad's doing a good job of promoting a similar position and explaining why he's taken that view. There's just no point falling into a squabble which is, ironically, the biggest theme of the show.

I'm a Zen Buddhist, so is Ron. We know this shit inside out and back to front. My guess is we're at similar levels professionally and at last as widely read. We have perspectives which don't totally line up but there's some comment and handwaving worth paying attention to on some level. Not every criticism is wholly right. Not every show decision was wholly right. How we deal with that matters.

Of course the writer can get it wrong

Writers can make mistakes at many levels. They can be inconsistent. They can miss opportunities to do things better — even when considering the premises which are their authorial creation. They can also make technical errors if they are trying to write realistic SF, or more mundane factual errors.

The story isn't over yet.

The story isn't over yet. Why don't you save the coulda/woulda/shoulda until the story is over. Give the author a chance to finish their tale before saying it is inherently flawed.

Q: why didn't bad guy kill good guy when he had the chance?

Answer: Because then there'd be no movie.

Same here. If we wait until the end of the show and eliminate the possibility of speculation before then, there would be no blog.

And we would all miss Brad's intense, quasi-religious study of the show that we all come here to be entertained by.

So while you say kick back and enjoy the show, the same applies to you: Kick back, and enjoy the blog!

Pay Attention

There's nothing wrong with taking a position. By the sound of it, you wouldn't be critical of Brad's position if it was cheerleading your own perspective. So, you might try listening to what Brad's saying before you run off with the mouth. I say, again, that some people are missing the message of the shows dominant theme. This is what paying attention is for and, as a Zen Buddhist as well, Ron would say the same.

My problem is with the

My problem is with the hubris seething through both Brad and others comments. RDM didn't do this (I wanted it), he didn't do that (I wanted it), he didn't blah blah blah and because he didn't do all those things the story is wrong/broken/etc because those things had to be answered Brad's way (or the others in the thread's way) or the entire story is broken. Asinine. I bet when the call doesn't go your way in a sporting event you are the babies who blame the ref rather than accepting that you didn't play well enough to have that call be meaningless. Sad, sad people.

OK, Brad definitely has

OK, Brad definitely has analyzed the show far more even than I think its own writers have, and his expectations at what is probably going to happen next in the show are probably unrealistic. The problem is his expectations are based on the internal show logic he's worked out but he's forgetting the basic fact that it's a show and its writers are going to do whatever they want with it and let the jealous Cylon God sort it out. But it's that crazy level of analysis approaching the point of fetish that brought us all here. We like when Brad goes deep.

That being said, the show should make SOME sense or else the average viewer may feel cheated. And I'm telling you the setup in this first episode of the last part of the season feels phoned in after so many plot questions. The show was starting to turn into Lost, but now the show's almost over and we want some answers that are at least somewhat satisfying, and that make sense with everything that's gone before. If that's whining, so be it.

Just because I came here

Just because I came here thinking Brad had intelligent ideas worth read, it doesn't mean he and his fellow 'guessers' can't turn out to be a bunch of self-centered asses. So it isn't going to be the story they wanted and wrote out for themselves. They are fans not writers. You want to write the story, go and do it. I don't care how much they invested with their interest and theories, they didn't invest nearly as much as the people making the show and that is a fact. It isn't Brad and his friend's baby, it is RDM and cos. baby. Wake up and smell the narcissism.

Forgot to add, the worst

Forgot to add, the worst part is it isn't even over yet.

Guessing is fun.

Guessing has been fun. I don't care if I'm wrong. I like pushing around the ideas and seeing what scenarios come up - and then seeing if I'm even close to what happens in the story. We're all free to have a opinions about whether we agree with the choices made or as viewers if we're happy with them. What's the problem?

Some people like to 'defend

Some people like to 'defend the writers', or can't handle change, or lay their own perspective on other people. This is really their issue and has nothing to do with the show or other comment. I've noticed in business, politics, and online thatpeople in acompetitive environment tend to act like children. I'm just reading Kevin Hogan's The Science of Inlfuence, and he comments that the unconcious mind has the emotional intelligence of a 6 year old. Developing awareness and self-awareness can help us get some perspective. I've found Zen can help remind me of that which is another reason why I practice it.

Life Here Began Out There

I’m not sure if a rationalistic approach is even possible with BSG anymore, but since that’s how my brain is put together it’s my default tendency. Ironically, if Moore really is more concerned with character vs. a scientifically rational plot then he failed with Ellen by his own standard for me. I don’t really care what happens to her, not even in an anti-hero way like I do with Baltar. It will be very disappointing if at the end Moore just says “And then God made it all happen.” I like the metaphor and the mytho-religious/religio-magical aspects of the show, but I prefer Science Fiction that takes the Arthur C. Clarke approach, for instance –- if we forget how science works then we think "magic is indistinguishable from science." That’s how I’ve interpreted BSG, that there is indeed a rational, scientific explanation for all these things and civilization has simply forgotten what that is. I think this plays well with the “this has all happened before and will happen again” theme. However, it remains to be seen how or if Moore will connect the dots. Anyway, here’s my attempt at a rationalistic explanation.

First, when Ellen tells Saul that “everything is in place” for them “to be reborn,” this can’t be the first time they’ve resurrected, and if it is then the Five existed in a near immortal state for a looonnng time prior to that moment. The destruction of “Earth” happened 2,000 years prior to what is currently happening in the show -– simultaneous with the exodus from Kobol, if I understand the timeline correctly. Which means that the Temple of Five was built 2,000 years prior to the destruction of “Earth.” The Final Five have at least been around for 2,000 years before "Earth" was destroyed. Either Moore doesn't give a frak if the timeline makes any sense or there is much more going on than we've seen so far.

If the remains on the planet are Cylon, then where did the Colonial humans come from? The Colonials believe that "Life here began out there," conceivably on "Earth." What if the Kobolans were an advanced race of some sort who endeavored to create human life, but disagreed about the details? The “one whose name cannot be spoken” wanted to create Cylon-type beings and the rest of the Lords wanted to create Colonial human-type beings. The Five were the first creations of The One. The One created his Thirteenth Tribe and stayed on "Earth," and the rest of the Lords created Colonial-humans and took them to Kobol. What if the Five switched sides after building the Temple? Or, what if the Five were sent as spies to the 12 colonies? What if the virus in the beacon was genetic warfare by the Kobolians to destroy the 13th Tribe? What if the Five seeded the Colonial humans with the knowledge to create Centurion-model Cylons, ensuring the design would be similar to what The One had created on “Earth.” If The One is the Jealous God, then he would be trying to convert all of the Kobolian creations over to worship him. Was it the appearance of the Five that broke up the paradise on Kobol? At what point did the Five return to “Earth,” since we know they were there when it was destroyed? Or were there once “many copies” of the Five?

Here's my interpretation of the timeline:

??? -- “Kobolians” and The One create Cylon-humans and Colonial-humans. The One stays on Earth and the rest of the Lords take their creations to Kobol.
4,000 B.F -- Temple of Five is built by the Five on their journey to Kobol.
3,600 B.F. -- Pythian Prophecy recorded (inspired by the Five?).
3,000 B.F. -- Lion’s Head nebula beacon created (by Kobolians to destroy the Earth Cylons?).
2,000 B.F. -- “Earth” destroyed; Final Five upload/resurrect. Exodus of the 12 Tribes from Kobol (Lords of Kobol go where?).
62 B.F. -- Toaster Cylons Rebel/First Cylon War begins/Articles of Colonization signed
50 B.F. -- Graystone creates Zoe-R (skinjob) with technology stolen from Tomas Vergis
40 B.F. -- Cimtar Peace Accord, armistice of the First Cylon War; Cylons disappear (Zoe-R goes with them?).
Year 1 -- Fall of the Twelve Colonies/Second Cylon War

Revised Timeline

I've been reading up on Battlestar Wiki and need to make a few corrections to my timeline. There are three contradictions regarding the exodus of the 13th Tribe: they left approximately when the Temple of Five was built, they left when the Lion's Head beacon/virus was created, or they left after Athena's suicide. This might be intentional as an example of the Cycle of Time and that there literally were three exoduses to Earth. Maybe there were three waves of monotheistic supporters of The One who left for "Earth." What if the Five were prototypes?

B.F.= Before the Fall of the Twelve Colonies

4,000 B.F.
Lords of Kobol and The One create Cylon-humans and Colonial-humans.
The One takes his creation, the Thirteenth Tribe and the original Five, to “Earth.”
Temple of Five is built by the Five on their trip to “Earth.”

3,600 B.F.
Pythian Prophecy recorded (inspired by the Five?).

3,000 B.F.
Lion’s Head nebula beacon created (by Kobolians to destroy the Earth Cylons?).

2,000 B.F.
“Earth” destroyed; Final Five upload/resurrect.
Exodus of the 12/13 Tribes from Kobol (Lords of Kobol go where?).

62 B.F.
Toaster Cylons Rebel/First Cylon War begins/Articles of Colonization signed.

50 B.F.
Graystone creates Zoe-R (skinjob) with technology stolen from Tomas Vergis.

40 B.F.
Cimtar Peace Accord, armistice of the First Cylon War; Cylons disappear (Zoe-R goes with them?)

Year 1
Fall of the Twelve Colonies/Second Cylon War.
Map to “Earth” found in Tomb of Athena

maybe we are being played?

I liked the episode on Friday night -- but like a lot of folks here I did not necessarily understand the Ron Moore interview and podcast, since it seemed to raise more questions than answers...

Of course, let's keep in mind that Moore could very well be aware of the speculation on the web from fans and deliberately dropped a few bombs and a few red herrings to preserve our enjoyment of the final 10 episodes. In other words: maybe he's frakking with us?

After all, I was surprised when Tigh discovers the fifth is Ellen, in part because it supported the "four in the fleet" and the "not in the last supper" clues. I was not alone in suspecting a trick with these hints. But they turned out to be true. If Moore knew how much we distrusted him, and I'm sure he did, he might be trying to actually trick the hard core fans this time around, as a little payback.

But anyway, could someone please explain the following?

Was the Temple built on the algae planet before the 13th tribe left Kobol? The timelines above and the date at which Pythia wrote her story don't appear to line up.

Regardless, now that the show is back online and for the next nine weeks will dole out the final, long-awaited episodes, I am willing to put down my speculator's pen and just await the pieces of the puzzle week by week til we're through. I think a lot of concern expressed here and elsewhere was driven by the long layoffs between seasons (and during seasons). Our enjoyment of the show fueled speculation in its absence, and after a while, the speculation arguably became more "real" than the show itself.

For me, I'm going to withhold judgment until the final episode is in... and then I'll decide whether the writers blew it or not. They very well may have, although even then we might have to cut them a little slack, since the demands and backroom drama of a television series probably make it almost impossible to have a unified vision and see it through to the end. That's what novels are for, methinks.

I think you may be right :)

"Our enjoyment of the show fueled speculation in its absence, and after a while, the speculation arguably became more "real" than the show itself."

I couldn't agree more.

Writing on the wall

Wouldn't say so. Ron missold and hyped things. He needs to take responsibility for that. There's real issues about the show and audience interaction that are fair to call. Just because some people disagree doesn't make that any less right. So,to the people who say "It's just a show, get over yourself", it's just a perspective, get over yourself.

It helps to keep things mature or, one day, this fiction may become our reality.

So what exactly did he

So what exactly did he "missell" or overhype that goes beyond the realm of normal program promotion, and was not realized in the second half of season 4?

Temple built

They date the temple to 4,000 years old. They make many contradictory statements dating the departure of the 13th tribe. One dates it at 4,000 years. Another ways it was written about 3,600 years ago (may be consistent.) A probe of theirs dates to 3,000 years. But then two other statements describe all 13 tribes leaving Kobol 2,000 years prior.

My presumption had been the Temple of Five was built by Earthlings on their way to colonize Kobol. This turns out to be wrong. But I do think we are going to see more about that.

Remember, the Ionian nova was seen at the Algae planet 4,000 years ago, and the Ionian nova was in the direction of Earth, a direction that would not be known while the colonists were exploring looking for Earth. So it has to be built after they know where Earth is.

A possible theory

A possible theory. 4000+ years ago Cylons/Humans leave Earth and explore the galaxy. During this time they find the algae planet, perhaps traveling as far a Kobol. 3600 years ago the events of Pythia occur, forcing some Cylons to leave Earth for Kobol. Time passes, 2000 years ago another war forces everyone off Kobol. Some leave for the 12 colonies, some return to Earth, perhaps in an attempt to reunite with their long lost "brothers". Things don't go well, causing another war on Earth, killing everyone. The final 5 flee for the 12 colonies, leaving clues on the algae planet and Kobol. Knowing history will eventually repeat, the 5 live among the colonies waiting to reawaken.

I admit this is not the most well thought out theory, but multiple departures and wars on Earth could explain why only Cylon remains are found in the present day, at the same time putting all the events in the show in our far future. I figure at least 5000 years.

I don't want to take credit

I don't want to take credit for this, it was posted by anonymous on sitreps comments. It's not perfect but I think it may be in the right direction. Especially the thought towards the bottom that they didn't find origional evolved human remains on earth because they didn't dig deep enough.

Exodus #1 (circa 4,600 years before BSG “BA”)

- Humans evolve on Earth (Gen H1)

- H1 invent Cylons (Gen C1)

- C1 rebels against H1; H1 prevails

- C1 invents Human Form Cylons

- C1 attacks H1; bad things happen

- H1 flees and C1 chases; some C1 stay on or return to Earth

- 4,000 BA – Temple of Five is built en route to Kobol

- 4,000 BA – Lion’s Head probe is set en route to Kobol

- Remaining H1 and C1 reconcile; arrive on Kobol in 4,000 BA; bloodlines mix; becomes H2

Exodus #2 (circa 2,000 BA)

- H2 population grows on Kobol

- Reinvents C2 (with involvement of C1 descendants/survivors)

- C2 rebels against H2; H2 prevails

- C2 reinvents Human Form Cylons

- C2 rebels against H2; bad things happen

- C2 flees to Earth; rediscovers thriving and diverse C1 population

- H2 destroys Earth (as seen on 1/16/09)

- C1/C2 survivors (including the final 5) flee with H2 in pursuit; more bad things happen

- C1/C2 and H2 reconcile; arrive at 12 colonies; bloodlines mix; becomes H3

- Some C1/C2 survivors also settle near Earth at the new home Adama later promises to deliver

Exodus #3 (circa 70 BA to present)

- H3 reinvents C3 (with involvement of C1/C2 descendants/survivors)

- C3 rebels against H3; H3 prevails

- C3 reinvents Human Form Cylons

- C3 rebels against H3; bad things happen

- H3 flees and C3 chases; some C3 stay on or return to 12 colonies

- C1/C2 survivors steal Kara’s ovary for human resurrection technology to level the playing field in re mortality/immortality; Kara dies and is resurrected; C2/C1 survivors collect remains and deposit on Earth and guide Kara back to the fleet to attract H3 to Earth

- H3 arrives at Earth – discovers remains of C1/C2 civilization but fail to dig to pre-C1 H1 remains

- Bad things happen en route to new home Adama delivers – C1/C2 help to stop the cycle

All these are fine

And largely the same as the theory I was supporting (with the variant of adding the optional, and I felt unnecessary, recolonization of Earth so you can destroy it agan.)

But none of this explains Anders as author of All Along the Watchtower.

It doesn't happen until it

It doesn't happen until it happens. I'll worry about how Watchtower fits in once we find out the relationship between Cylon Earth, our Earth, Colonial Humans, and Earth Humans.

why temple of athena on earth if cylons worship different deity?

Hi Brad, in an earlier post you say part of the Earth ruins was identified as the "Temple of Athena." If that's true, does that mean the Earth Cylons worshipped the gods instead of the Cylon God? Or did the writers change their minds about there being Cylons on Earth between the end of the last part of season 4 and this part?

Temple of Aurora

It's the Temple of Aurora, actually, but that's bugged me for a while. There are very very few polytheists left on Earth right now. If this is in our far future, then that could change, but right now we don't have a Temple of Aurora anywhere. There was at one time a temple in the Roman Forum Boarium to Mater Matuta/Aurora/Eos.

No "Earth" Scenes

It seems likely to me that they are not on "our" Earth... They are on a place called "Earth" but it isn't what we know of as Earth. Conspicuously absent is any confirmation that they are on our Earth. This was true in Revelations - no continents, no moon, no planets... In the latest episode, again, no cues - no views of the planet - all space shots are of Galactica from the bottom, looking outward from the planet - interesting change in direction of the shot. Also never see the moon - no exploration of the moon, no looking for an outpost there, just mentions of searching the planet. If they wanted us to KNOW they were on our Earth, they could have done it with 2-3 seconds of film. A shot of a pyramid, or a better yet, a look at an American flag unfurled on the moon. Heck, they could have put in almost any landmark that we would recognize. Bottom line is that they didn't do that on purpose. If it is important for us to believe they are on our Earth, they WOULD have done that. It is clearly important to the writers to leave it out, thus I believe they ain't on our Earth. (I know, there will be lots of chatter about constellations and stuff. Well, Gaeda is on drugs - he might have gotten the alignments wrong, or maybe there is another planet out there where the constellations look right)

I think its also telling that all the bodies are Cylon. Perhaps its true that they didn't dig far enough to find human bones - but these would need to be fossilized remains at this point in time, assuming that we are in BSG's past at this point.

Now they are saddling up, and setting course for presumably habitable planets around appropriate stars. For my money, I think they'll find one. A nice blue planet with a gray moon (not yellow) very nearby. And if they find inhabitants of that planet alive, they'll be humans like us, not cylons.

I've never bought into this

I've never bought into this planet being Earth. They can keep calling it "Earth" all they want, but until I see something that actually looks like Earth I'm not buying it.

Earth or not Earth

Now that it’s known to not be our Earth, I would love for it not to be the real Earth in the show. And there’s a lot of evidence to point to that.

But at the same time, I ponder the dramatic purpose for having two Earths. Yes, there was a fake-out Earth in the original series. Perhaps that’s enough. I just didn’t think they had enough time left to do it.

However, if our hope comes true this leaves us with a puzzle. This is the Earth pointed to in the Tomb of Athena, and is the Earth the Final Five led them to. So the flags with that Earth’s Zodiac make no sense. Flags with the Zodiac of the homeworld of humanity — those make sense. Tribes with flags and names taken from the Zodiac of a lost colony? That makes no sense.

We could consider this planet to have been a “New Earth” — named by people who know what the real Earth was. It would have to be very, very close to have a Zodiac that was so similar. And if you were that close, but settled a new planet, it would be because the old Earth was not suitable — either destroyed, or with a big “get out and stay out” sign on it.

I do like the “get out and stay out” plot as a dark ending. They come to real Earth and it shoots at them, with weapons like they’ve never seen.

After all, the “promised land” doesn’t have to be delivered, does it?

Trinary Star

On the Demetrius, the crew talks about looking for the following celestial bodies:

* a gas giant with rings
* orbiting a trinary star cluster
* with a comet

Was that trinary star supposed to be the star Earth orbited or just in the neighborhood as a signpost? Orion looks nearly the same whether viewed from Earth, Alpha Centauri (a trinary), or Tau Ceti. They've made a big deal out of Gaeta lining up the constellations, but nothing has been said about the three attributes that Kara was looking for. Her old body obviously went to this "Earth," but could she have gone elsewhere as well?

Trinary star

That comet was explained to be a damaged Cylon basestar, remember?

As for Gaeta lining up theconstellations, those shown in the Temple of Athena do NOT match exactly the 12 constellations as seen from our Eatrh. There are subtle diffeences, as you can see on the "Science of BSG" blog, so maybe they depict the 12 constellations as seen from a planet orbiting one of the stars in the Alpha Centaury trinary system. In that case the Cinder planet is not our Earth, but a planet in our closest neighbourhood.

Not Alpha C

I don’t see any note about the differences, but whatever those star patterns were, they matched Starbuck’s photos of the nuked planet’s sky, so this is the Earth the Tomb sent them to.

Yes, the “triple star” and “gas giant” were not Earth, but the site of the Cylon battle, though that battle was close to Earth, as you can see Orion.

Alpha Centauri’s sky is the only one around here (for a major star) that looks very close to ours, but even that is not close. Aside from the companion star (100 times brighter than full moon, hard to miss) Leo an Gemini look fairly different and Cassiopeia looks entirely different because it now includes Sol, one of the brightest stars in that sky.

Alpha C

Turns out, the Science of BSG blog doesn't any longer think it's Alpha C either, but still doesn't think it's our Earth.

The differences in constellations

My mistake, I pointed you to the wrong blog. To see the differences, check out the pictures here: http://www.galactica-science.com/battlestar/blog/astronomy/are-the-const...

Related articles are interesting as well.

Those constellations

They are a puzzle. The way that they “don’t match” is not explained by either a shift in time, or a shift in space. Yet they are too similar to just be some other random place.

The blogger also points out we see the exact Earth sky at the scene of the Cylon battle which Starbuck has a vision of. That sky can only be from our system, period. If not a mistake — and they have done many views of random stars so one has to ask why they would use the real sky all of a sudden — then this has to be Earth, the red giant planet has to be the real Jupiter.

Could the Cylons, also so intent on finding Earth, have had their battle in its system and not noticed it?

Was that "Jupiter"...

...in the star system where the stars matched Earth's orbiting a red giant? That would put us a heck of a long way in the future!

Comet

Zach -- My bad! I forgot all about the destroyed Basestar.

Why can't it be as simple as

Why can't it be as simple as Earth and Cylon are the same word, it is just lost knowledge. So when the people of Cylon's name a planet it is natural for them to call it Earth, or Cylon.

Scrolls of Pythia

According to the scrolls of Pythia, "Cylon" is a word for "Earth". Given BSG losing track of reality and last ditch retcon to pull the mess into shape I'm not sure even that can be relied on. Is it just another made up thing like Number 3's comments in the temple, or an unresolved dangling thread like Gaeta stabbing Baltar? I don't know because we're into flip a coin territory now the immersion bubble has burst.

It cannot be OUR Earth

It couldn't have been since the Temple of Athena. The constellations in the Temple of Athena did not much our sky anywhere on Earth. They have been heading for a planet called Earth that wasn't ours from the start. I can't believe how many people who care about the REAL SF didn't catch that. They were never heading towards OUR Earth.

Talk about missing the most important piece of the puzzle.

Tomb of Athena

I think the Tomb images are not photorealistic starmaps, I think they are diagrams. They show all the stars at once, which a photorealistic map couldn’t do, it would have to distort things. So I have not been bothered by a modest mismatch. If, as Hall suggests, Aldeberan is missing, that’s either a major clue — or a production crew error.

Then why do they get Gaeta

Then why do they get Gaeta to match up the star formations so they know this is the place from the Tomb?

They never say what he's matching

He just says “visible constellations are a match.”

Could be comparing with Starbuck photos, could be comparing with Flags/Tomb. We don’t know.

All we have learned is that two deleted lines suggest that maybe Starbuck’s photos and the Tomb/Flags don’t entirely match, or weren’t fully checked.

More "Not Earth" speculation...

The other thing about this "Earth" that I forgot to mention was the prophecies and Rosalyn... How could it be that the prophecies are so right about so many things, and yet Rosalyn, who is clearly the "dying leader" is still alive and has set foot on "Earth"? Either the prophecies are wrong, or it's not Earth. More food for thought.

Promised Land

The Pythian Prophecy actually says that the dying leader will not see the Promised Land. Whatever this planet is, it's not the Promised Land.

Unreliable narrator

This may not have played out or we may be into the narrator as God territory. Ron may rationalise it away as being "we know that but they don't", it never happened, or he's going to keep quiet and hope nobody notices. Yeah, I can get all the similarities between BSG and Zen but turning BSG into a koan on the fly is a stretch too far.

Mind you, Tigh's "Whoa" and comments about a "stretch" and "crowded airlock" have got to be three of the most quotable and funniest moments on TV for a long time.

By the 13th tribe being

By the 13th tribe being cylon, the ancient texts have to be questioned, this would allow for the prophecy to be wrong.

A Dog Barking in the Night

The more I think about it, the more I'm reminded of the old line by Sherlock Holmes, where when asked how he solved the mystery, he replied, "It was the dog barking in the night." And Watson replies, "But Holmes, there was no dog barking last night." And Holmes replies: "Exactly." (Or something like that...)

After reviewing the podcast and the interview again, I think there's a dog that isn't barking here... We're leaping to conclusions based on what we've seen so far of the show and the undisciplined tidbits Ron Moore has thrown out there. But all the evidence is obviously not in, and I think there must be some things Ron and Co. are not telling us that, if known, would resolve the dilemmas before us. Maybe not in a way that lines up with the backstory developed here, but, hopefully, in a way that's satisfying.

Also, from other interviews and from watching the show, we must remember that Moore and co. didn't have the entire story worked out when the started filming the miniseries. After all, the entire concept of the "final five" didn't develop until season three, when Baltar wound up on a base star and they had to come up with a reason why there were only seven models.

Also from other interviews, Moore seems to place most of his emphasis on the characters, even at the expense of the story arc and plot. (And especially at the expense of technical continuity and consistency.)

In fact, you could argue that BSG is very much focused on how people react to and are affected by a civilization-scale traumatic event (i.e. 9/11) and its aftermath. All the sci fi elements are really just a vehicle, and are not the writers' priority.

So I would expect that the remaining nine episodes will show us how the characters complete their development journey moreso than explain many of the details of the "plan" behind the cylon attack, the final five, and etc. For instance, I think the most obvious will be that Lee somehow supplants his father, either because of Bill Adama's death or because they find a nice home and no longer need a military commander.

Another will be Starbuck learning who/what she is -- but with the point of resolving the issues she has with authority and not having loving parents and etc., and not necessarily explaining every detail about her history and her reincarnation. I would imagine something where she completes her transformation from wild child rebel to mother, or something like that...

There is reportedly going to be a documentary after the show concludes called The PLan, or something like that, that's intended to spell out the details of the Cylon plan. The very existence of this would seem to suggest that we won't get the level of detail we're looking for here.

So, going forward, I would expect a lot on character development -- the end will be all about the people, not necessarily the plot -- and we'll after to look for the aftermatter to find ALL the answers.

Never mind the quality, feel the width

That's an engaging opinion but when Ron let go of reason and played the audience the immersion bubble popped for me. No amount of handwaving or passionate pleas are going to short-circuit that for me. He had the keys to the castle but when he tried nicking the silver he got dumped outside the gate. It was all his but bad habits earned him a set of packed bags and a kick up the rear. Getting back inside is not so easy.

A lot of economies have shifted from industry and meeting needs to bullshit and lifestyle. Just good enough products that are disposable with the next change in the wind of fashion has become the default. BSG initially promised to be both scientifically credible and have character ballast. It worked for a while but as the plot broke down behind the scenes bigging up character in the hope nobody notices has taken over.

Back in the swinging 60's when hip young men wanted to look cool with their new found economic wealth a pitch developed among the more disreputable tailors. "Never mind the quality, feel the width" was a line that took the customers mind off poor quality of material and absorbed them in the trendy cut of the suit. Ron's budget splurge on special effects and handwaving over character for the finale looks like he's playing the same game.

Religion? Politics? TV? It's just a show.

good points, whoever you are

I think you hit it on the head.

Which story

It doesn’t have to be the backstory I imagined. But I was setting a bar on the writers to develop a backstory that is interesting, dramatic, and based in the real world. Somewhere AI/Cylons will be created. The idea that it was on (real, future) Earth makes a great deal of sense, but the story can be told if it’s on Kobol, a colon of the real, future Earth. I don’t want the Lords of Kobol, these gods who lived with humanity in paradise, to be a religious mystery. I want a real explanation for them, and for the visions and cycle. I hope I get it.

I started thinking about a backstory, as many people often do for SF shows, by saying, “OK, how could you write realistic SF that leads up to this?” There isn’t only one way to do that, of course, and I am happy with any powerful and creative way. But I do want it to explain things in real terms. Saying “it was the will of the gods I made up” is a boring answer.

Just to clarify.... I

Just to clarify.... I absolutely agree that it would be great if we got a compelling explanation for why "all this has happened before and will happen again" that didn't rest on the mysterious and divine presence of the "Lords of Kobol."

That the Lords of Kobol were somehow some earlier or different form of AI would be very true to the show's themes and etc.

Far more interesting than just giving them a lot of power, which of course includes the ability to plagiarize Shakespeare and popular 20th century songs.

I always thought that one of the things that drove Moore to do BSG was to revolt against the way they did things on Star Trek, where he'd worked on, I believe, TNG and Voyager. The "no engine room" rule seemed to support this in particular, and, although I like Star Trek, I was very pleased by the lack of irrelevant technobabble in BSG.

The "no engine room" rule might be a basis for limiting the technical details needed to establish a backstory of the kind we're looking for. It would mean no long, labored discussions of how the first AI was developed and what it did. Instead you'd just get a focus on how "frakked up" everyone feels after learning they're no different from cylons. In this sense, a punt to the "gods" might be what we get.

But at the same time, the "no engine room" rule would also steer the writers away from an unrealistic baseline, where they kill off a bunch of people and at the end just say, "look, we've all got mitochlorins in our blood and we're all brothers..." That's very cheap and, while Star Trek doesn't stoop this low, it's definitely in line with the kind of campy, unwatchable sci-fi movies that the Sci Fi Channel uses for filler. No way for the "best show on television" to go out.

Of course, the other commenter could be right -- the show could be all about the width at this point. Not uncommon for a TV series, even a good one. I mean, when it comes to bad endings for once good TV shows -- "all this has happened before, and will happen again..."

If that's the case, then Ron Moore, please throw in a Dirk Benedict cameo before signing off. Frankly, it's the least you could do.

I don't mean to sound like

I don't mean to sound like the intepretation police, but as far as I'm concerned, if it doesn't happen on screen, it doesn't happen. Interviews, podcast commentary, Battlestar Wiki, etc., doesn't count. Anders wrote Watchtower? Sorry, RDM, but in the show he said he played it, and until we hear otherwise in the show, he only played it, and that doesn't mean he wrote it. As far as the backstory, all we know is that the 13th tribe were Cylons and they came to the cinder planet.

But let's assume that the backstory is exactly as RDM said in the commentary. He said that there were humans and gods living on Kobol, but how did the humans get there? Maybe they came from Earth (menaing, us in the future). (Where the "gods" came from, whether they were native to Kobol, or came from somewhere else, and who they were exactly, is irrelevant to my point.) Anyway, at some point after the humans arrived on Kobol they invented the Cylons, who rebelled against them and fought the humans to a stalemate, destroying Kobol in the process. 12 tribes of humans, with the flags showing the constellations of Earth (their ancestral home), set out from Kobol and founded the colonies, while the Cylons went to Earth, lived there for time, and destroyed themselves. What happened to the "gods" is anyone's guess, and, again, not really relevant to my point.

And let's say Anders wrote Watchtower. It wouldn't be the Dylan version, written on Earth thousands of years before the humans left and found Kobol. It would be the version we heard on the show. He could have written it anywhere -- on Kobol or on Earth after the Cylons settled on it.

You are partly right

In that the writers are free to change their minds on what their off-screen comments declare, because they did not get on screen.

However, when the writer says, “What I intended to show you was that Anders wrote it, and that didn’t come through properly in what aired” then I think it’s fair to consider that.

I would like to accept it could be his rewrite.

But at the same time, I view that as interpreting the ending of Planet the Apes as “Oh, that’s not the New York Statue of Liberty. The Apes just built their own version of the Statue, exactly the same, out of some collective unconscious.”

Everybody would call total bullshit on something like that.

BTW, one thing I admire about POTA is that it pulled the same trick that I thought Moore was trying to pull — shock the audience with what they should already know, but disbelieved because of how readily we let Movie SF get away with bad science.

A scientist watching Planet of the Apes would say, “Well, of course if there’s Apes and Humans they have to come from Earth.” Any rational person would say “Well, if Taylor understands their language they have to have come from Earth.” But in TV SF we get totally used to everybody speaking English and everybody looking just like humans in suits, in spite of how ridiculous that is. And POTA at the end said, “here it is. This is Earth of the far future. It actually makes sense that they would be speaking English.” And it was completely shocking to the audiences.

I thought Moore had something like this in mind, and that Watchtower could have been part of it. Perhaps he still does, but Watchtower does not play a role.

I guess the question is,

I guess the question is, which is the higher authority: what we actually see on screen, or what the producer says after the fact? (Not that they contradict ... Anders could have played AND written the song.) I tend to think that everything you need to interpret the show should be in the show itself. Just my personal opinion. (In this case, it will probably end up being a moot point; I suspect the show will eventually play out exactly as stated in the commentary.)

Anyway, the overall point of my last post was that RDM's podcast commentary, even if taken as cannonical, does not preclude the possibility that the show takes place in the future of the real Earth.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

His name is Brad Templeton. You figure it out.
Please make up a name if you do not wish to give your real one.
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Personal home pages only. Posts with biz home pages get deleted and search engines ignore all links
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options