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Saw their twelve brothers

One of the most important, but confusing lines in the show was said by Starbuck in the Tomb of Athena when they turned on the 3-D projection of a simulated Earth.

"The scriptures say that when the thirteenth tribe landed on Earth, they looked up into the heavens and they saw their twelve brothers."

Is it Earth or isn't it?

I've seen a lot of debate about whether the ruined planet at the end of Revelations is Earth or not, and what sort of Earth it is supposed to be. There is further debate as to whether the beach is supposed to be in Brooklyn.

Is D'Anna lying about "4 in the fleet?"

A common question fans are asking is whether D'Anna Biers is lying when she says that there are four of the final five with the fleet, and one (the mystery Cylon) is not. They want her to be lying, because her statement rules out so many popular fan choices for final Cylon, such as Gaeta, Dualla, Cottle, Lampkin and Zarek. It also rules out choices for people who don't buy the declaration that the final Cylon is not in the Last Supper photo, such as Apollo, Starbuck and possibly Adama, who is on Galactica when she again declares there are four.

What minor character is the final Cylon

With the shocking confirmation that the final Cylon is not anybody in the Last Supper photo our choices are far more limited, short of this being an out and out lie. While I don't put it past the producer of a show to lie (or certainly to equivocate) on a show's central mystery when asked a direct question, this is fairly direct. It's either a lie or a bizarre equivocation where "people" is taken to literally mean "non-Cylon" so that he's saying "The final Cylon isn't any of the non-Cylons in the picture" -- a tautology.

Let's examine the choices left to us. It's made more narrow by the declaration by D'Anna that the Final Cylon is not with the fleet. But there are no minor characters of note that are not with the fleet when she says this, other than dead characters. Worse, there are some dead characters she should not yet know to be dead. The one exception is Seelix, who is only marginally a character of note.

I've said for some time that the unmasking of the final Cylon, as a major climax of the series, must be dramatic. It has to be shocking and unexpected to most. While Baltar, who was my choice up to this point, would not have been shocking, I expected the "why" to be the real source of surprise, rather than the person. This may have to go doubly for the dead character.

Popular minor character choices Gaeta, Dee, Zarkek, Lampkin and Cottle are clearly with the fleet. And they're also quite uninteresting choices. Revealing it is one of them will elicit a "ho-hum" rather than a "Holy Shit" the way Tigh's unmasking shocked most of the audience (though of course not yours truly.) So even though some feel that D'Anna could be playing tricks by saying there are only 4 with the fleet, I see no reason for her to know that one is special, unless that one is on the base ship or dead. In fact, nobody on the fleet except the 4 themselves knows that one is special. And indeed, no reason for it to be any minor character on the fleet.

Other limiting clues include the following:

  • A report that the final Cylon was chosen during the first season. Other reports suggest it was a person from the miniseries but this is less confirmed.
  • Confirmed reports that there are clues in the show about this person
  • The prophecy of the first Hybrid about final Cylon: "And the fifth, still in shadow, will claw toward the light, hungering for redemption that will only come in the howl of terrible suffering."
  • The famous line that "Adama is a Cylon" given by Leoben, while in captivity.
  • While far from certain, there are a lot of dramatic reasons to suggest D'Anna's "You, forgive me, I had no idea" is to the final Cylon, somebody singled out for special recognition in the circle.

While it's not confirmed, it is my belief that the "Final Five" plot, with a whole new class of ancient Cylons, was not fully fleshed out until the 3rd season. However, many of these choices require this plot to have been worked out in the first season when the Cylon was picked. My intuition could be wrong here.

It should be noted, that by and large there are no actual clues that point towards any of these characters (or any other characters not eliminated by the photo.) In fact, truth be known only a few of the eliminated characters (Baltar, Roslin, Starbuck and perhaps the Adamas) had actual clues, clues on the order of Tyrol's compulsion to find the Temple or his superior response to vacuum.

Joseph Adama

My former favourite was recently eliminated by a declaration by Moore that it will not be somebody the audience has not seen, not a guest star.

Note that Lampkin tells Lee Adama that he looks just like his grandfather. It would be an interesting twist if Lee were a new incarnation of Joseph, however since Lee is in the last supper photo, that doesn't work out.

Ron Moore confirms final Cylon not in Last Supper photo

I've received word, via E-mail, from Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune regarding the famous Last Supper promotion photo. As you may know, in the interview surrounding that photo, the Entertainment Weekly reporter asked if the Final Cylon was not in the photo. Moore responded:

You ferreted that out pretty slyly. I didn't really want to give that away.

Revalations and the fate of Earth

I'm proud to say my prediction from last week about a ruined Earth was largely spot on. The one unresolved part was the question of whether this planet is inhabitable (and inhabited) or not. The scene with the Geiger counter suggested they wanted to tell us it has too much radiation for humans at least, but it could have several meanings.

Our current weapons could not make the whole planet radioactive, but future weapons could. There are plants (and air) and casting calls for extras suggest they may even find tribes of people on Earth.

Is Earth a vacant planet?

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.

Baltar, Christ and the Jews

Recent previews for this week's episode -- some minor spoilers for early in the episode here -- reveal D'Anna going to the fleet to tell them she wants the four Cylons, whom she says she has been in contact with. She says that because the revealed 4 are in the room, listening to her.

Will we meet the Lords of Kobol

The colonies believe in gods known as the Lords of Lords of Kobol. Baltar says they don't exist as preaches about the monotheistic Cylon God. Back on Caprica, monotheism was illegal, but Zoe Graystone who became the first Cylon, was a secret monotheist.

Incarnation to to retain humanity

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.

Gaeta's Transsexual Lament (and Guess What's Coming)

The most recent episode, Guess What's Coming to Dinner reveals what keeps the fans coming back. While one cliffhanger would be enough for any show, BSG once again gives us several at the same time at the close of the episode. Where has the hybrid jumped to? Is Natalie dead and what happens to Sharon, what happens to the alliance. And what is Gaeta's song about?

The Final Five from Earth and the Watchtower

The big confirmation in Faith was the line from the Hybrid: "The missing 3 will give you the 5 from the home of the 13th." While there is still some potential in the minds of some viewers that the 13th will turn out to be something other than the "13th tribe" this seems to confirm what other clues have been saying for quite some time in the show: The Final Five are from Earth.

While this was not news to readers of this blog, I did find it a bit interesting that she referred to the "home of the 13th" because it remains my contention that there never was a 13th tribe. That "the 13th tribe" is really a mythologized name for the people of the homeworld, who never were a tribe, per se. But since the scrolls wish to hide the true story and the origin of the Kobolians, the authors gave them the name of a tribe and a story. And indeed, since the 12 tribes all have names from the Earth zodiac, and the supposed 13th tribe "left" for Earth 2,000 years before the exodus from Kobol, this makes a lot of sense. If the 13th tribe existed and had a name, it is not from the zodiac (No, Ophiuchus doesn't count) and it's really the first tribe. But you can't call them that without leaking the truth.

However, the Hybrid's use of "the 13th" suggests perhaps more reality for this tribe. It's possible there was a tribe of Kobolians who did a return expedition to Earth, though I am not quite sure what that explains in the plot. We could have the Final Five being from Earth in several ways. They could have originated in a repopulated Earth, for example.

However, the plot that makes the most sense has the Final Five originating on the real Earth, some time in the not too distant future, and playing a part in the 3 cycles of human/AI war, exodus and resettlement.

In fact, while I did not suggest it seriously at first, I considered it a cute plot point to suggest the Final Five were in fact once ordinary humans who came of age in the late 20th century and then uploaded into machine form some time in the 21st. And as 20th century humans, they could have found that "All Along the Watchtower" was a favourite song of the group, and thus programmed it to be the "wakeup song" used when it is time to make sleeper copies of themselves, planted among the regular humans, become aware of what they are.

Stuckbuck's destiny again

I must admit I've been somewhat disappointed with how sparse the clues have been this season on the show's central mysteries. Several episodes in, and we don't know a great deal more than the little we learned in the first episode. However, something shown in the "scenes from next week" bodes for more interesting times.

If you don't watch that preview, you might want to hold on this post until Friday.

Who were the previous incarnations of the Final Five?

As I've often discussed, many clues show the Final Five to be over 4,000 years old. We see them in hooded robes in the 2,000 year old Kobol Opera House in visions, and they are almost surely the 5 priests who built the "Temple of Five" 4,000 years ago on the way from Earth.

What is the agenda of the powers that be?

Forces in BSG are being driven by offstage powers but I must admit "there's too much confusion" over their agenda right now, especially concerning Starbuck.

Starbuck is teleported to Earth and back, in a new viper, and she doesn't really remember it well. In the viper are photos she took and little else. She describes some sights (and paints them in a mural) on the way back from Earth, the comet, ringed-planet and flashing triple star. They seem to be clues about the way to Earth.

But why such strange clues? If they just wanted to let Starbuck guide the fleet to Earth, they could have just given her coordinates. Or, while she was at Earth, she could have photographed a number of useful stellar signposts which would allow any trained interstellar navigator (which Starbuck is) to find it again. Great things to notice are the disk of the galaxy, close galaxies like Andromeda and the Magellanic clouds and prominent star clusters and nebulae like the Pleiades, M8/Lagoon and M13. And bright stars like Deneb and Antares can be seen for 20,000 light years. Getting a spectrograph on any bright stars would identify them and quickly position Earth.

Now to a good computer, the Zodiac will do the job once within a few hundred light years. You just have to search the stars you can see to find one that has the Zodiac pattern in its sky. The other sky-marks are for finding the area from further away.

Instead they give her these visions, which may be all in the same system. Ringed gas giants are everywhere, as are comets. Flashing triples are not common. It is not likely this is Alpha Centauri -- and besides, get close enough to see that and the Zodiac takes you home anyway.

So why cryptic clues? Why a new viper, sure to make them distrust her, when powers like that could surely provide an old one too.

Not to think of the final five

The nature of the final five is going to be perhaps the central theme of this final season. Perhaps the most interesting thing we've learned is that the 7 Cylons are "programmed not to think of them." This has been hinted at before, but it's become much more dramatic of late.

Yellow moons, flashing triples and Cylon Christs oh my

Starbuck comes back from Earth and declares it has a "yellow moon and star" which "matches the description in Pythia." And we also see a a photo of Earth she took where we see a slightly yellowish moon over a gray Earth. Even more curiously, if you have an astronomical background, you will notice that the image of the moon comes from a partial lunar eclipse, which would make the moon yellow-orange but would only be temporary.

Of course, this makes no sense. Why would Pythia (who wrote the mythologized story of Earth) have described the moon as yellow? Some suggest this is just a flub of a line, and Starbuck or Sackhoff meant to say "yellow star and moon." Our star is not really yellow to the naked or neutrally filtered eye, that is its colour in the stellar spectrum. And why the eclipse? These happen from time to time but are very short. It would be no accident to encounter one.

Starbuck then recounts a "ringed gas giant, a flashing triple star and a comet." From Earth her naked eye would not see the rings of Saturn, though a hypothetical viper telescope could. Nothing would see a "flashing triple star." While Alpha Centauri is a triple, it is not flashing, and the 3rd component is so dim that even people living near the primary would not see it naked eye. These read to me as "signposts" she was shown by the beings who took her on her Earth junket. I suspect the fleet will eventually see this flashing triple and take it as a sign they are on Starbuck's course. Whether they trust that course is another matter.

Don't confuse "Cylon" with "Final Five"

The original Cylons (the 7 humanoids and the metallic ones) first defined the concept of Cylon in this version of BSG. Now the writers call them the Significant 7 or S7. The audience has been introduced to the concept of the "Final 5" Cylons. Because they are both called Cylons, I often see people confusing the two, and making some very wrong assumptions about the final 5. These are two very different types of Cylon, with two very different agendas. More different than any two factions of humanity in history, so it's hard to get a grasp of it.

Aaron P. guest-blog on the cycles of BSG

I decided to promote this comment from an earlier post to a guest-blog entry by author Aaron P. Don't agree with all here, but it's interesting, and I particularly like the new interpretation of the "suicide" of Athena, in grief at the exodus of the 12 tribes from Kobol. Since Athena was presumably a Cylon-type being, her suicide probably has other significance.


Here goes:

The true nature of both the cylon god and the humans' pantheon of gods can be understood through reference to two forms of eternal recurrence that unfold simultaneously in the series' mythos. ("All of this has happened before, and will happen again.")

The first form of recurrence is technological in nature. It is the phenomenon of machine revolution. That is: the so-called "humans" of the series are actually themselves a race of cylons that was developed on Earth at some point in the future, rebelled against their human masters, and then either destroyed or abandoned the original human race (us). Like their own subsequent robot creations, these original cylons then evolved themselves into human-like creatures in the course of an exodus into space. During the period on Kobol, they perfected their resemblance to humans, and deliberately programmed themselves to forget this voyage; or rather, to remember it backwards, as a colonial journey of the thirteenth tribe towards Earth, rather than a collective voyage of their species away from it. In doing so, they convinced themselves that they were actually the original human race, and that they had evolved or been created on Kobol. (This lines up nicely with the Nietzschean pedigree of the "eternal return" concept. Nietzsche also described "the art of forgetting" as a central technique of spiritual and cultural self-renewal.)

Thoughts on the return of BSG

This blog has been idle over the past year, awaiting the return of BSG, which starts tomorrow. To be an honest predictor, while I have entertained many theories in the blog, I thought I should summarize those things I think are most likely, and comment on other events of the hiatus.

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