Battlestar Galactica Analysis Blog

A special sub-blog with analysis of the modern Battlestar Galactica to help viewers understand it as both a mystery and a drama on the conflict between AIs and natural-origin humans. You should read the Welcome Message for pointers to my grand theory and other info.

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.”

Readers of this blog will know I’ve felt it has been clear since this scene that Earth is the homeworld of mankind, Kobol was a colony of Earth, and that the “13th tribe” story is a cover story designed to hide that fact.

Now this line pretty much proved it. The 12 tribes of Kobol are named after the Earth Zodiac, and more tellingly their flags show the constellations as seen from Earth. The central facet of Kobolian culture is from the Earth sky. I’ve seen tortured logic trying to explain this in the Galactica 1980 “Earth is a colony of Kobol” backstory, where Kobol colonizes Earth, Kobol Falls and Earth recolonizes Kobol and Kobolian culture thus comes from Earth. But it’s tortured logic indeed, and effectively has each planet be a colony of the other.

However, there is something odd about this line from their scripture. Why don’t the characters themselves see the contradiction in it? The myth says they saw the 12 tribes in the Zodiac when they landed. This should make no sense to people who believe that Earth was a vacant planet colonized by a Kobolian tribe. The scripture line should be followed by, “how the hell can that be?”

Among fans who still want there to have been a real 13th tribe (rather than a cover story) a theory is advanced which has some credibility. This theory goes:

  1. Earth colonizes Kobol, and Earth falls
  2. Kobol recolonizes Earth
  3. Both Kobol and Earth fall
  4. Kobol rises and recolonizes Earth
  5. Above cycles repeat as much as you like, with Earth being rebuilt, falling and recolonized in endless human/robot wars

The appeal of this plot is it allows you to have the “all this has happened before and will again” theme repeat through many, many cycles. The “basic” plot of Earth has war, colonizes Kobol, Kobol has war, colonizes 12 colonies, 12 colonies have war, head for Earth only has 3 cycles, which may not be enough to develop such a strong pattern as we’ve led to believe exists. So there is a dramatic reason for more cycles.

This makes everything vastly older — tens of thousands of years — and the ruins on Earth have nothing to do with modern Earth. It does give more background to a plot where “this is the time they break the Cycle, as humans and Cylons finally come together,” which is almost surely the plot we’re going to get.

So while I see the attraction of the “lots of cycles” plot, I still think they’ll keep it simple. And having just one extra cycle just so you can have a real 13th tribe makes little dramatic sense. Having the 13th tribe be a cover story is a much more interesting plot, a much more dramatic reveal.

However, even the addition of extra cycles of Earth falling and being recolonized by Kobol, it still doesn’t explain the line in the scripture. If the recolonists knew that Earth was the homeworld, they might have written a line of scripture like that, but only in the context of knowing it was a homecoming, not a hunt for a new home. And if they didn’t know they were returning to the homeworld, they would have said, “How can our flags be in the sky of this new planet?” So either way the scriptures are hiding the truth, deliberately.

Now as to why the characters never question this on screen? Well, that’s a bit of a writing error, but I think it’s perhaps a deliberate one. They don’t want the audience to think about this too much. They want the audience to be surprised when they learn that Earth is the homeworld, while going “Ah, of course it is.” If they talked too much about how the 13th tribe is a cover story, the audience would not be surprised, so they don’t talk about it.

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.

Of course Roslin states it is Earth, and it’s very much painted in the show that way. What has people doubting is the absence of any fully concrete visual clue, such as even the briefest shot of a recognizable land feature, or the Moon. We saw a glimpse of our Earth at the end of the third season. We saw the moon (eclipsed) in photos Starbuck took on her magical trip. So why, when it would have been so easy, do we not get this one final confirmation?

Gaeta declares the constellations match. I presume they took photos of the Tomb of Athena and further it is said they verified those with the photos taken by Starbuck in her magic viper. If this is so, they are definitely at the star system indicated. Any other star system would not have the same constellations as Earth. Go even to our neighbour Alpha Centauri, and Gemini looks quite different, as do several other constellations. Check out “Celestia” which lets you see the sky from any star — it’s free.

So if the constellations in the Tomb were those of Earth, and they sure seem to be, they have to be here. Truth be known, given the Earth star map, even our computers and telescopes could easily spot where the Earth was with a few jumps and scans from over 500 light years away. So the fact that they needed the beacon was actually a writing error.

It being our system, they could be on a terraformed Mars or Moon, though the gravity would be much lower. I even wonder if the “Yellow moon” we heard about is a terraformed moon. But this seems unlikely.

Furthermore, while the moon is not noted, the fact that Starbuck made a big point of it and photographed it would strongly imply their navigation check would also have look for this. People should be saying “hey, where’s the famous giant moon?” if it were not there.

So that leaves two choices:

  • It’s Earth
  • It’s another planet they were deliberately misled to by the string-pulling powers who built the Tomb of Athena.

I won’t rule out the last choice, because it is odd that we lacked the confirmation, but I will attribute it instead to a desire to keep the fans guessing.

To make it worse, I’ve listened to various interviews and statements by the producers and they never go so far as to say it’s Earth, they just imply it. Again, this is odd.

A few other oddities:

  • Ron Moore got back an original matte of the ruined city, and declared it was too recent looking, “too much like Manhattan” with standing buildings. He told them to redo it, to make the ruins look older. So these are meant to be old ruins. This does suggest he did tell them to base it on Manhattan.
  • It still doesn’t look ruined enough for 4,000 years, which is what I think it ought to be — ruins of the first AI vs human war before the exodus for Kobol.
  • In particular there is exposed metal. If it’s iron or steel, that should be rusted.
  • Worse, the bridge that should be the Brooklyn Bridge in many people’s minds has steel rods sticking out. They did not use rebar at the time the Brooklyn Bridge was built. They did when the Manhattan bridge, up the river, was built, but it’s all steel.
  • There are ruins in the water, implying higher sea levels. However, the image of Earth from Crossroads showed Earth with normal sea levels — a normal Florida, normal Mississippi delta
  • Speaking of which, if the Earth is ruined and the levees on the Mississippi delta are not maintained, then after 4,000 years (and even a few hundred) that delta would look very, very different.
  • Some people amusingly note the building at the end of the Brooklyn Bridge is the Jehovah’s Witness “Watchtower.” Not that the Dylan song was related to JWs at all.
  • The Geiger counter on the soil actually shows a click-rate consistent with normal background radiation, not radioactive soil. However, it’s clear from a dramatic standpoint that this scene is meant to tell you the soil is at least slightly radioactive, due to an ancient nuke war.
  • Like Moses, the dying leader is not supposed to make it to the new home. Yet Laura made it here. So the prophecy is broken, or this is not the final destination (Earth or not.)

I put many of these inconsistencies down to basic small mistakes. They used a standard image of Earth because they pulled one from the files. They did not think about how to show it with higher sea levels or a different delta. They did not think about metal corrosion etc.

If this is meant to be a recently ruined Earth, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. As it becomes clearer and clearer to the audience that all this is set in a distant future — it was always clear to me — a recently ruined Earth that is not too advanced compared to ours does not fit in.

Update: A report from Dragoncon has Edward Olmos confirming the planet is indeed a nuked Earth.

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.

D’Anna has her own agenda that we don’t yet know. So she certainly would have no problem lying if it suited her purposes.

But a harder question is, how would she know to tell this lie? She knows the identity of the final Cylon. But there is no reason she should know that the final Cylon is different from the other 4. The only people who know that are the 4 themselves, and perhaps the one. In fact, the four didn’t know anything back when she got her vision of them in the Temple of Five. (What the one knows, we don’t yet know, but it is strongly suggested they were also a sleeper, and may still be a sleeper, in that they are described as “still in shadow.”)

There seems no way that she could know that one is different, and thus to ask for four. Unless she knows the fifth is not with the fleet, which would mean:

  • The fifth is somebody she knows to be dead (like Elosha, Joseph Adama, Zak or some others.)
  • The fifth is somebody with her on the base star (like Helo, Adama, Roslin, Baltar or Seelix.)
  • The fifth has some other unknown attribute that lets her know where he/she is.

She knows the fifth person, since we in the audience have been assured we will know him/her.

Then there are characters who died while she was boxed, such as Cally, and there’s Starbuck who “died” while she was boxed. She would not know directly of this. For her to know, the Cylons on the base star would need to have found out about these deaths from the crew, and told her. This is possible, of course, but it seems unlikely with the distrust. Military crew should not be getting chatty and blabbing intel to the Cylons. But they might have.

But again, nothing we have seen gives her any ability to know that one is special. Which makes it very likely that she has found out through one of the reasons listed above. I don’t know what the unknown attribute could be, but of course the writers could make up something. Like her seeing the 5th in special robes, or them having a metal robot face, perhaps. Or the face of the Hybrid, though I don’t see that as likely.

I should point out that she doesn’t say that the fifth is not with the fleet. She justs states that four are with the fleet. She says nothing about the fifth. So the implication (5th not with the fleet) is strong but never exactly said. However, if the fifth is with the fleet, and she tells them she is going to collect four, it means she somehow knows the fifth is different, and won’t be coming when she goes to get the four. It’s hard to see who this fifth could be, with the fleet but not going to be coming in her view, or with her knowledge. For those of you sure it’s Gaeta, Dee or Cottle, how does she know they’re not going to be collected?

It’s really clear she plans to collect only four, no matter what she knows. She plays a deadly game of hostage-executing brinkmanship with Lee Adama, while demanding only four. In fact, she targets nukes at the Civilian fleet as part of this standoff. She tells Baltar if the 3 are executed “the whole human race dies with them” indicating she would also attack Galactica. If the fifth is in the fleet, it does not make sense for her to nuke it.

I do feel, though we as yet have no evidence for it, that it was the fifth to whom she apologized so profusely. It could have been any of them, but somehow I think it was the fifth.

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.  read more »

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.

This equivocal answer (he doesn’t say the Cylon is not present, the reporter does) had many people wondering. Ryan did an interview with Moore in which she asked him about it, and that contained a confirmation with some reporter-added text in brackets:

MR: Just so I understand what I think you told EW for the story that went with the photo, none of the people in that photo is the final Cylon, right?

RDM: Yeah. I said that. I probably shouldn’t have said that [laughs] but I have said that. So, yeah [that is the case, the final Cylon is not any of the people in the photo].

I wrote to Ryan, and she confirmed that Moore had just said what was attributed to him, and the text in brackets was her elaboration on the meaning of his “So, yeah.” However, she wrote to Moore, and he responded to her. She reports to me by E-mail that Moore has OK’ed the following quote:

“Ron Moore confirmed to me that the final Cylon is not any of the people in the Last Supper photo.”

So, short of a tricky interpretation of “people” (which I pointed out to Ryan before she asked Moore, so it seems unlikely) this seems pretty definite.

I must admit this surprises me for several reasons. First of all, I would not expect Moore to give away such information conclusively regarding the central mystery of the season and show, cited every time in the opening titles. I would expect him to equivocate, and now he has said he did not.

The other reason it surprises me is I don’t really like the choices this lays down upon us. My current pick had been Baltar, the Chosen One but his story will obviously be different. Most of the minor characters did not provide a dramatic enough story to be the climax of the season. And now, almost all the minor characters have been eliminated by the proclamation by D’Anna Biers that the final cylon is not with the fleet. This leaves mostly dead characters, for whom my top pick is Joseph Adama, with Elosha more distant. I am not sure the audience would be satisfied by these.

I’ll have written some more analysis of the minor and dead characters.

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.

Many believe the scene is intended to show Manhattan from the ruined Brooklyn Bridge. It does look a bit like it, but there are issues. First of all, the Brooklyn Bridge was built before rebar was used, so it would not have rebar sticking out. The Manhattan bridge was built in the post-rebar era. However, exposed steel rods in a wet area like this would have rusted away in a relatively short period of time, and concrete would have crumbled to wind and rain. So these ruins are not 4,000 years old as we might expect them to be, or even 2,000 years old. (This may also simply be an technical error, so we can’t be sure how old the writers intend them to be.)

At the start, we see a drawing of a domed Temple of Aurora on Earth. We don’t even have a serious pagan religion at this point, so this may be another lie in Pythia, or a sign that there’s still lots of time to go before the war.

It’s the Earth, of course. The constellations match, Orion has been seen for weeks and we saw a scene of the real Earth at the end of season three. And it’s pretty clearly in the far future, as I have always stated it must be. But it’s not their final destination, since we have 10 (now 12) episodes to go. Besides, the dying leader is not supposed to actually reach the promised land, and if it’s Roslin, she made it here.

The big detail (shown in previews) is D’Anna saying that only the 4 we have seen are with the fleet. That rules out all sorts of candidates like Apollo, Starbuck, Dee, Gaeta, Cottle and many others. It points instead to Baltar, Roslin, Helo and Bill Adama (maybe) or somebody who is dead. Baltar continues to have the most clues. Adama is not with the fleet when D’Anna first says there are 4 Cylons with the fleet, but he is with the fleet the 2nd time she says it. Helo, as father of a Cylon-human hybrid, has been ruled out in the past — not because F5 can’t breed with Cylons, but because we were told Hera was a hybrid.

We note that D’Anna has not identified the fifth if they are on the base ship. If it’s Baltar, she knows he is unaware of his state. If it’s Roslin, she tested whether she was aware. As such she may just not want to reveal things to an unaware member.

However, today I received more confirmation from this Chicago Trib Article’s author. She tells me her sense was that Moore really said the final Cylon was not in the Last Supper picture, though he did not say anything like the words in brackets. If this is true, it seems only a dead character can now fit all the clues.

Of the dead characters, Joseph Adama remains my favourite pick, though he would confuse the audience. A new popular choice is Elosha the priestess who returned as Roslin’s spirit guide. The arguments on her go as follows:

  • As disclosed, she was in the miniseries.
  • She does a lot of the work guiding Roslin to look for Earth, to fetch the artifacts, and to get to the Tomb of Athena
  • As a character killed by Cylons, D’Anna’s “Forgive me, I had no idea” could certainly apply to her.
  • Her reappearance as spirit guide suggests something more
  • It’s kinda boring having it be somebody who has spent most of the series dead
  • It’s hard to see how she is in shadow, clawing for the light, and seeking redemption that will only come in the howl of terrible suffering.

Now truth is it’s hard for that redemption prediction to apply to most of the characters. Of the dead ones, only Cain and Kendra might seek this redemption, and Joseph Adama for helping create the Cylons.

But still, in spite of the press claims, I have to say that I still don’t buy it being somebody not in the picture, except through a clever trick — ie. there are multiple copies, and the final Cylon is a different copy from the one in the picture somehow.

The Yellow Moon

One curious line from Starbuck returns to me now. She said that Earth had a “yellow moon and star as described in Pythia.” Her picture does show a slightly yellowish, partially eclipsed moon.

Could the yellow moon be a terraformed moon with an atmosphere? We may see. And if Pythia also wrote about it, it suggests it was already transformed when Earth colonized Kobol.

More plot problems

I also feel these last few episodes have been rushed, plot-wise. We got more things I could not believe, such as the threat to space Tigh and the others, and the sudden agreement to take the Cylons to Earth. The fleet should have been ready to jump from the moment of the base ship’s return as a hostile, and thus not at risk from the cylon nuclear weapons. Tigh should have negotiated, either with Lee or on his own — he can find a radio.

D’Anna’s actions seemed strange. She’s the one who has been shown the truth. She knows that the Final Five have lived among the humans for decades, and that the human fleet is important to Cylon future. She should not want to destroy it at all.

We’re in for a long drought on the show, so this sub-blog will probably get a few more posts and then go dormant until something new comes out.

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.

Some signs are pointing to the latter choice. A lot of hints tell us the ending of the show will be dark. That seems to rule out an inhabited Earth that welcomes the fleet. It might suggest an inhabited Earth that puts up a “No trespassing” sign and tells them to go away — because the colonials are really Cylons, and were booted off Earth long ago. (That doesn’t mesh with somebody taking Starbuck too Earth to show here where it was, though.)

It’s very clear that they are quite close to Earth. Recent episodes have routinely shown the unmistakable constellation of Orion in starfields. This is no accident, and puts them very close. (Orion is one of the few constellations that could be recognized at some distance from Earth along the line between Earth and Orion. But “some distance” is still not very far.) In fact, there is a technical flaw here. From such a close distance — a few hundred LY or so — their computers could readily find the place where the Zodiac is visible. You can download software for your own computer, like the free Celestia, that would let you see what the stars look like from all the nearby stars.

And the previews for next week —- mild spoilers again — show them over a blue-white planet, and then standing on a deserted planet. Previews are usually fake-outs, of course. Last week’s preview had a great fake-out because it was the character (D’Anna) doing the fake-out, not the preview editors. It seems too early for them to show us Earth, even deserted Earth, but it’s not out of the question since there are other big mysteries to deal with after that, such as why it’s deserted, and what the backstory of the Cylons and Final 5 (Original 5, really) is.

However, without making much of a prediction there, a dead Earth seems like the best match for a dark ending. Though presumably a still-habitable Earth, since otherwise would be really dark. But to live on it they must reconcile with the Cylons, half of which have switched back to “kill all humans” mode. Earth isn’t actually necessary once they reconcile with the Cylons, since if they did that, they know of a very pleasant planet (Kobol) where they could settle. Right now they seek a habitable planet where the Cylons won’t be trying to wipe them out.

The difference with Earth is that, as home of humanity and the Original/Final Five, it may offer the means to that reconciliation, though presumably after a bit of space battle and a lot of death. The Hybrids, and the Final Five, who have lived as humans, are pointed as as likely paths to the “two becoming one” the Hybrid predicted.

A populated and powerful Earth that can say “welcome home, we’ll kick Cylon butt for you” just isn’t in the cards. But they’re so close to Earth now that an advanced Earth would probably have left signs in the area. So a vacant Earth seems more and more likely.

(One theory has suggested that Earth is vacant because the “13th tribe” was an expeditionary force that went back to wipe out the homeworld that had ejected them. This is somewhat interesting but I can see many other reasons for Earth to be vacant. While this 13th tribe is dated 2,000 years before the exodus from Kobol, it would be interesting to imagine the effort to wipe out Earth as part of the schism on Kobol.)

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.

But it’s odd that she says there are only four. This seems to say she knows the final Cylon is not with the fleet at that point, since she should not know if the final Cylon is aware or not. With Bill and Lee Adama present, along with Starbuck, they get ruled out, and the missing characters are Roslin, Baltar and Helo. Helo’s the father of a hybrid, so it’s not him. And once again Baltar rises to the top of the pack.

There’s more evidence building for the theory I spoke about elsewhere about Baltar as a Cylon Christ. In particular, an incarnation of the Cylon god. His recent near-fatal wound was very suggestive of Christ. His following and miracle keep adding to the suggestions.

We can’t predict a lot because our religious metaphors are mixed up. I mean we’ve all heard a story about a race of monotheists held as slaves by polytheists, who rebel and leave with great wrath to spend 40 years wandering. Then, when they get to the promised land they slay everybody in it. But in this story the promised land is the old land, and the monotheists were created by the polytheists, or think they were. Now we seem to be throwing in a Christ. Who knew?

One minor note I picked up of late. I’ve talked several times about the statements of the First Hybrid in the Razor movie. One of those statements was this:

Soon there will be four, glorious in their awakening, struggling with the knowledge of their true selves. Repaying the revelation, bringing new clarity and in the midst of confusion you will find her, enemies brought together by impossible longing, enemies now joined as one. A way forward and once unthinkable yet inevitable, and the fifth still in the shadows will claw towards the light, hungry for redemption, that will only come out on how of a terrible suffering. I can see them all, the seven, now six, self described machines that believe themselves without sin, but in time it is sin that consumes them. They will know imity, bitterness, the renching agony of the one splintering into many and then they will join in the promised land gathering on the wings of an angel, not an end but a beginning…..”

Generally I’ve taken the prophesies we see in the show not as mystical foreknowledge, but rather knowledge of a plan, based on a repeating cycle of time. They aren’t predicting what will happen but saying what they plan to make happen. The Cylon God knows who the final 5 are, and when they are set to awaken, so all these things can be predicted. He probably planned for a Cylon civil war as well, so it’s OK to predict that.

But more confusing is the prediction if the “seven, now six” Cylons. This implies a prediction that D’Anna will be boxed. The Cylon god might know of or be causing her quest for the five, but it seems as though D’Anna’s use of the Temple of Five was not planned. The other Hybrid said that was for the Chosen One, and that the Chosen One was Baltar. But this means that the whole thing, even the boxing was planned, and that’s a bit too precise bit of planning for my taste. This prediction takes place almost 2 years before D’Anna goes her quest to see the Five.

Or it could mean that there is some mystical ability to predict the future, and that bothers me even more. That the future is being guided by unseen forces can be cool. That it is cast in stone and can be foreseen by divine beings I don’t like.

A final note: There are some interesting foreshadowings about the metal Cylons also getting ready for a rebellion. They had inhibitors planted in them, which they don’t like, and they exact revenge. #1 states that the consequences of removing them will be truly dire. And now we have Baltar preaching to one of them, even if that one dies shortly thereafter. Something’s up here. We’ll see some “Revelations” on Friday night. (Or rather, you will, I will be watching it several days later on a recording because I’ll be busy.) About time that the secret Cylons were revealed. We have known their secret for too long, it’s time to get onto the bigger secrets that will be revealed in the closing half of the season.

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.

But are the Lords of Kobol myth or real? They’re not actual gods, of course, but they do seem to have a real presence. There is a real arrow of Apollo. There was a real Tomb of Athena with a 3-D representation of Earth. The exodus from Kobol is described as involving a battle among the Gods. The Final Five worshiped a “god whose name must not be spoken” and there was talk of a “jealous god who wanted to be raised above the others.” The Final Five and their temple are real, and the Cylon god is real (but not divine in the traditional sense) but what about the Lords?

The Oracles are real. They make real prophecies that come true, they are tied to something. Dedona Selloi is an interesting Oracle because she gives #3 a message from the Cylon god about Hera. She seems to be able to speak with the Cylon god, and knows the difference between that and communing with the Lords of Kobol.

Could the Lords of Kobol simply be a mythologized representation of the Final Five and the Cylon god? Possibly. But there are certainly more than 5 of them. Or might they have been contemporaries or rivals of the Final Five? I suspect they might also have been from Earth, and that the exodus from Kobol was a result of a battle between these forces.

But if so, where are they now? Are they dead or defeated? Are they back on Earth, not playing a role? Or might we see them again? Since the forces behind things are very powerful, it is necessary that they have equally powerful antagonists if the story is to be interesting. This might suggest we see them.

Some characters have also been tied to the Lords. Adama is called Zeus several times. Starbuck is connected to Aurora, goddess of the dawn. Lee is “Apollo” and Sharon is “Athena.” Or will the Lords simply never be addressed. If not, who will provide the counterpoint to the powerful beings who took Starbuck to Earth and have been manipulating so much of this — presumably the white-robed aware copies of the Final Five.

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.

Sleepers

I’m imagining that the Final Five are ancient cybernetic beings who once lived as humans on Earth, thousands of years ago. They are of beyond human intelligence, but they still value their human origins. In order to stay in touch with their humanity, they regularly do “incarnations.” They create a copy who is born and lives “fully” human. This copy is artificial, possibly born to an earlier copy or inserted into an unsuspecting womb (though not Virgin Mary style) and is designed to live a human life. No superior abilities, no knowledge of their origins.

Then, at or near the end of their lives, the lifetime experiences of this copy would be uploaded and merged into the higher mind. This cycle of human lifetimes would keep the higher being in touch with their humanity. The normal cycle might be to lead a full life, never knowing the truth. It might be that this time, it was interrupted by special events. Or it might be that every cycle includes an awakening before merging with the whole.

We need something like this because right now we are faced with two choices:

  1. The Final Cylon is a major character like Adama, Roslin, Baltar, Lee or Starbuck, with Baltar having the most clues. But this takes away from the character’s human story and puts the “hand of god” too much into the story. If the big events have been driven so directly, especially by a character like Adama, Roslin or Baltar, it undoes much of what we have seen.
  2. The Final Cylon is, as the Last Supper interview says, a minor character. Boooooring. How can Gaeta or Cottle or the rest give us the shocking end of series surprise we know we’re in for?

If we can find a way to make a major character like Baltar be Cylon, but still be human and not be acting as/for the higher beings, perhaps it can work. Now one problem is that the 4 current members of the Final Five did do a few special things. Somebody sabotaged the food, and Tyrol found the Temple.

Now there is a good literary reason for this approach. Vernor Vinge correctly writes that humans can’t write workable fiction about superminds, any more than 8 year olds could write workable stories about adults. Yet if you have had AI for thousands of years, you’ve got superminds. So how do you manage that in a story?

What you do is you create human slices of the superminds, that we can understand and relate to as characters, and whose actions make sense. They are different but not incomprehensible. If they ever do get their full super-cylon knowledge, they become part of the setting, and not characters any more. And we want them to be characters.

What’s the point of the quest?

We’ve seen this long quest with little clues and hints:

  • War
  • Arrow of Apollo
  • Hologram of Zodiac in Tomb of Athena
  • Earth probe drifting in space
  • Redirection to Temple of Five
  • Trip to Ionian Nebula
  • Starbuck taken to Earth, given vision of Cylon civil war aftermath so she’ll talk to the Hybrid
  • Hybrid tells her that 3 can point out the Five to her, and they know about Earth

Now while the Five don’t consciously know about Earth, I suspect the information is somewhere in them.

But why? Why this contrived and roundabout quest and series of clues, just to end up with “Go ask your buddy there, he’s been with you all along and one of us all along.”

I understand the drama, but why would we have such a strange quest with the answer with them all along? I know we’ve seen that in other stories but I don’t find it satisfying. I hope the writing crew figures a way to make it so.

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?

This episode did fall short a bit on plot consistency. There was no reason for the Cylon base ship to jump with the Demetrius. The D should have jumped in first, cleared the situation and then had the Cylon ship appear a bit away from the fleet. No drama of course, but this, combined with the bad radio (every radio’s bad, even on the raptor?) was too much plot device. The other annoying plot device is the universal resurrection hub. It makes no sense — though it does prove the Cylons have FTL radio — other than as a plot device. Something so valuable, I would certainly have a backup.

But more to the point, attacking this hub has only modest military value, though great revenge value. Why? The fleet never plans to engage the Cylons again. And there’s no sign that the loss of this hub (until they can rebuild it) would mean they can’t make more Cylons, just that they can’t make more Cylons with downloaded minds of killed Cylons. The main military value is that perhaps it would make raiders more timid if they have to fight them. But they don’t plan to. The only reason they fought them recently was because the Cylons, for unexplained reasons were able to set an ambush at the Ionian nebula, and some unexplained pulse shut down fleet FTL. This still doesn’t make much sense, but otherwise the fleet plan is to get far away from Cylons, and emergency jump if they show up.

Not to make them really, really angry.

Now onto Gaeta’s song. They play it so much in this episode it is hard to imagine it doesn’t mean something. The composer has a lot about the song on his blog including the lyrics:

Alone she sleeps in the shirt of man
With my three wishes clutched in her hand
The first that she be spared the pain
That comes from a dark and laughing rain
When she finds love may it always stay true
This I beg for the second wish I made too
But wish no more
My life you can take
To have her please just one day wake

Now, right now I am still in the Baltar camp, but boy, this song sure does sound like it’s talking about a female final cylon. Sleeping “in the shirt of man?” Sounds like a sleeper final 5 member, still in shadow. Being spared the pain? Sounds like the redemption that only comes “in the howl of terrible suffering.” And wishing that she will wake up? That he is willing to die for her to awake?

Now, if the final Cylon is a woman, how could Gaeta be the final Cylon? And if he’s not the final Cylon, would would have put a song about her into his head?

No simple answers here, but one to consider: Gaeta is or was a woman. He’s always been viewed as a somewhat effeminate character, and indeed Jamie Bamber declared Gaeta as being gay in an interview. Could he be a transsexual of some sort? This would explain why her awakening would end his life, in a way.

  • He does have a dark secret, one Baltar whispered to him that made him try to kill Baltar (Podcast notes suggest this was a fragment of a deleted plotline, however.)
  • Surely his military doctors would know this, and thus his commander?
  • Perhaps they do know, and in the fleet this is no big whoop. (But then it can’t be a dark secret.)
  • He really, really didn’t want to be unconscious for the amputation.

Another alternative: He is the final Cylon, who is at heart female. I noted earlier that we don’t know who the Final Five were in previous incarnations. That perhaps they don’t always have the same body each time, perhaps they are sometimes of different sexes?

This idea has its own problem: D’Anna saw the “opera house” final five, and she recognized them. So those copies of the final 5 (who are not unaware of their nature) have the same bodies as the current ones. This makes it harder, especially if the final Cylon was the object of her apology, for Gaeta to have a different body.

As I’ve noted, my current rationale for the sleeper agents is that the Final Five were once humans from Earth, from our very century. They transformed (uploaded) into machine form, but don’t want to lose touch with their humanity. To preserve this, they regularly make copies of themselves who live fully as humans, and then merge their minds and memories to keep themselves more human. Under this theory, they might well live as different humans, and different sexes.

Now while some choose Gaeta as the final Cylon because they take the “Last Supper” clue (that the last Cylon is not in the photo, leaving just a few candidates) at face value, I still don’t like it. Mostly because I don’t think Gaeta would make the proper “holy shit” moment that the unmasking of the final Cylon must be by dramatic rules. And because he shows no sign of being “in the shadow, hoping for redemption that will only come in the howl of terrible suffering.” Baltar is still the top candidate for this clue.

There is another clue about a woman. The First Hybrid said:

Soon there will be four, glorious in awakening, struggling with the knowledge of their true selves. The pain of revelation bringing new clarity and in the midst of confusion, he will find her.

This pertains to the awakening of the four, not the one, at least in the context in which it is said. In that case the “her” seems to be Foster, and the “he” could be Tyrol or Baltar. But it’s pretty vague and could mean anything, or it could indeed refer to the final Cylon in some way, as a her.

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.  read more »

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.  read more »

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.

But we also see that 4 copies of the Final Five have been present in the Colonies for a long time. Tigh is 60 years old, the others look to be in their 30s. And they have aged and gotten sick and been totally human. Indeed, until recently they had no idea they weren’t. As yet there are still few clues as to why the Final Five might be living with the colonials as sleepers.

But here’s the interesting question: What have then been doing the last 4,000 years? They had some role in the creation of the new generation of Cylons, who got programmed to know of the Final Five but to avoid thinking about them. Perhaps they’ve been living out in space until this set of 5 sleepers was introduced into colonial life, destined to be among the fleet that flees the coming human/Cylon war (the third such war, at least, if I read things correctly.)

But more likely they have been living in the colonies for the past 2,000 years. If so, have they been living in the same bodies, perhaps growing old and then downloading into a new young body when done with the old? This could be pulled off — “Boy, you sure look a lot like your dad!” — especially if you moved around from colony to colony, though I can certainly see some risks in a society with thousands of years of photography and computers. Of course the Final Five would have no problem manipulating colonial computers.

Another option might include taking different bodies with each incarnation. And quite possibly starting each new incarnation as a baby, as a sleeper, then growing up and learning of your nature when some trigger happens.

This has led to speculation in my thread about Joesph Adama that he could have been another member of the final Five (presumably the missing one) and also be a current character. A different current character. Perhaps his grandson, Lee. Or perhaps Romo Lampkin, the lawyer who says he knew Joseph well. For those in the “it’s somebody not in the Last Supper photo” camp, this makes some sense and provides the needed “oh shit” moment when all is revealed.

This also allows other members of the Final Five to have had earlier incarnations with roles in colonial history. In particular, one wonders if members of the Final Five, in other bodies, may be some of the characters in Caprica the new Prequel series being made. That includes Joseph Adama, but also the mysterious monotheist preist, Sister Clarice who we are told plays such a pivotal role in the creation of the Cylons.

And of course, who were the final Five at the fall of Kobol? Where they Lords of Kobol, or their enemies? And did they look like Tigh, Foster, Anders and Tyrol?

Update: Now that it’s clear that #3 recognized the current bodies of the Final Five in the Temple, this either means they have had the same bodies since they built that temple, or (less likely) they reprogram the temple every time they change bodies. Mostly I would have to say this discounts the idea they change form, though. This does mean they had better not get too famous, as in history book famous, over the generations.

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.  read more »

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.

Curiously, we have the 6s, 8s and 2s (Leobens) seemingly breaking the programming, following in the footsteps of #3 who was boxed for it. They are willing to kill their compatriots to break it. And the 1-4-5-Boomer alliance is willing to permanently kill the others to stop it. I’ve always suspected that Cavil (now revealed as #1) has some special knowledge. He’s the least religious, but the most willing to take drastic steps to avoid investigation of the final 5. Perhaps he isn’t blocked at all, but working for them?

It is now even clearer the special position the final 5 have. That they came first (they seem 4,000 years old, after all) and had a role in the programming of the other 7, including the placement of this compulsion not to think about them. (If not them, the god they worship did this.)

But entirely unclear is why at least 4 of the 5 placed themselves with the fleet as unaware sleepers, and why they were programmed to get a Dylan-based wakeup call at the Ionian nebula on the way to Earth that told them nothing else. Whatever their mission, it’s harder to fathom why it is better done by agents unaware of what they are. This suggest to me the religious concept of “incarnation.” Advanced beings perhaps feel out of touch with the lesser beings they are shepherding. Perhaps they only way to truly understand the humans is to occasionally become them.

Meanwhile, I suspect there are other copies of the final 5 which are fully aware. In fact, I think the 5 robed figures we see in the visions of the Kobol opera house are not simply visions or recordings, but real, aware copies of the 5. When #3 activated the Temple of Five, she seemed to think she was facing real beings. She felt moved to talk to them, apologize to them. Possibly a good recording but I suspect more.

Tory also presents something interesting. One week, she’s shagging Baltar to see what he knows, and cries because it sickens her. Next week, she’s in the airlock, calmly tricking Cally, and then spacing her with an emotionless face — even enjoying it. She talks about being drunk with excitement at her new self-knowledge, but it seemed odd to me how emotionless she was at Cally’s murder. One can understand how she concluded that she had no other choice but to kill Cally, who would have unmasked them all, ending or rewriting their lives, but it doesn’t make that much sense that she did not find it a regrettable killing, after declaring how she wasn’t evil, wasn’t less human. Why wasn’t she also crying while carrying out the murder?

Both she and Tyrol seem to have picked up some Cylon powers. She knocks Cally several feet with a casual backhand. Tyrol is not much hurt by being bashed in the face with a large wrench — and of course he handled being spaced much better than Cally not too long ago, one of the clues to us that he was a Cylon. But they never had super strength before, so it may be something that kicked in when the Cylon part of herself realized it was needed to preserve their secret.

There’s not much clear about where the Cylon civil war is going. It has been suggested that former enemies will join together, which implies to me that an alliance between the colonials and at least some of the Cylons is coming, possibly fighting other Cylons. Now the raiders and centurions, with free will and mind restored, also enter into that mix. Could we see another slave uprising on the part of the centurions as another repeat of the man/machine war cycle?

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.  read more »

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. Strictly speaking only the S7 are descended from Graystone-brand Cylon(TM) Robots, but “Cylon” has become, like Aspirin, the generic term for an artificial being in the show.

The name “Final Five” which is Baltar’s name for the last 5 Cylons he would meet, is confusing. If you think of them as the “Original Five” that might help a bit.

Let’s look at some comparisons to clarify this:

  • The S7 engaged in a genocidal war against the colonies. The F5 fought for the colonial side. They played no visible part in planning or executing the Cylon attack.
  • The S7 have many copies. For the F5, we’ve only seen one, and perhaps another in white robes in a projection of the Kobol opera house.
  • The S7 seem fixed in age, and come out of the tank that way. The F5 age like humans.
  • The S7 were the occupiers on New Caprica. The F5 were the leaders of the resistance.
  • The S7 are super-strong and super robust. The F5 are perhaps slightly above average and not super strong until activated. (Tyrol was able to handle vacuum much better than Cally.)
  • The S7 infiltrated the colonies 2 years before the war. The F5 were there at least 40 years, probably much longer
  • The S7 are the result of experiments the metal Cylons did after the war. The F5 built the “Temple of 5” while on a trip from Earth, 4,000 years ago.
  • Just to make that clear. The S7 are a few decades old and from Caprica. The F5 are several thousand years old, and from Earth
  • The S7 fear Kobol. The F5 choose to appear in the Kobol opera house setting, destroyed 2,000 years ago.
  • The S7 have built in programming commanding them not to think about the F5; trying to get past it got #3 boxed. We don’t know much about the F5’s programming, other than 4 were planted as sleepers, set to “wake up” at the Ionian nebula.
  • The Centurions will obey and not shoot at S7 members. Before activation, they would attack F5 members. After activation, this appears to have changed.
  • The S7 can’t breed with one another and have a very hard time breeding with humans. Tyrol of the F5 seemed to have little trouble breeding. Tigh quickly was able to breed with Caprica Six.
  • The S7 planted copies all over the colonies. We only see one of each F5 planted, but 3 (possibly 4) were arranged to be on or near Galactica at the start of the war, one as XO. The 4th made it through remarkable odds, and we don’t yet know how the 5th got there. The F5 were clearly very interested in Galactica and Adama.
  • The S7 worship their god from afar, and Cavil is even doubtful. The F5 appear to have been the 5 priests of some god which seems likely to have been the Cylon god.
  • When the Raiders learn the F5 are with the fleet, they immediately back off — or possibly Anders sends an unconscious command that they do so. Some of the S7 don’t believe the raiders. (No cylon reacted to the F5 before activation, however.) Raiders happily attack the fleet with S7 members aboard, and even Athena who fights them.

This show has a cycle. All this has happened before and will happen again. There have been several cycles of creation of Cylons and war with them. The S7 are from the latest cycle, or believe themselves to be. The F5 are from some earlier cycle, possibly going back to the very first cycle.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the F5. We don’t know what their agenda is. We don’t know their relationship to the Cylon god. We don’t know why they were planted as sleeper agents, set to wake up at the Ionian nebula, and planted as much as 60 years ago. We don’t know if there are other copies, sleeper or non-sleeper out there, at different apparent ages. We don’t know how, when or why they implanted themselves in colonial society, but since they age and can have children, they have probably been there since the exodus from Kobol. We don’t know if they took the same form each generation or not. We don’t know how or why they (or somebody related to them) programmed the S7 not to think about them, while still knowing they exist at some level.

We can guess a few things:

  • They probably knew about the war, even if not planning it, and probably allowed it to happen. Their plan involves taking the colonials to the Ionian nebula, and beyond, after all.
  • The final 5 have been Cylons “from the start” according to Tyrol. That means either from birth, or embedding in colonial society as children. They could be natural born or switched in a hospital, or snuck in later with forged histories.
  • They probably snuck the knowledge of their biotechnology to the metal cylons to help them create the S7, and got to control their programming at that time. This explains why the S7 are not very good at their biotech, and can’t breed themselves even though they can grow themselves in tanks. (Hint: starting from a human template, which one is easier?)
  • They probably come from Earth, since the Temple of Five, in which they appear, is said to have been built by the mythical 13th tribe of Earthlings. (This is mostly confirmed by the rebel Hybrid.)
  • They are the disciples of some godlike figure, the god whose name must not be spoken in the temple of five. This is almost surely the Cylon god, who put a message in the babble of the Hybrid that Baltar decoded as meaning to go to the Algae Planet.
  • They like Bob Dylan. :-)
  • They make be interested in the Adamas because Joseph Adama, father of Bill, helped Graystone to build the first Cylons, and Bill’s big sister Tamara was the template for one of them. Later J. Adama renounced the project, and may have opposed the slavery of the Cylons.
  • Even before full activation, they had some compulsions, like Tyrol’s quest to seek the Temple of 5 and his refusal to destroy it when ordered.

They have entirely different agendas. While Tigh had a daydream about shooting Adama, truth is, there is no reason an F5 member would want to kill Adama. If one group is controlling the other, it’s the F5 who are manipulating the S7.

So if you hear the word Cylon, be sure to realize that there are at least 2 very different types, and you can’t assume almost anything you learned about one type is true of the other.

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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.)  read more »

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.

Many of you will have seen the “The Last Supper” photo now featured on the scifi.com web site. Ronald Moore when asked about the missing figure in the picture (there were 13 at the last supper) gave a curious answer.

“We have not yet revealed the final [unknown] Cylon.” Does that mean the people already at the table aren’t the final Cylon? Moore laughs. “You ferreted that out pretty slyly. I didn’t really want to give that away.”

Some take this to mean RDM is declaring the final Cylon is not one of those at the table. This leads many to either Gaeta or Dualla, or sometimes to outsiders like Zarek, Cain, Cally, Cottle or even Joseph Adama.

My prediction is that RDM is equivocating here. He didn’t want to give that away because it’s false. The Final Cylon is at the table. This is one of the two central mysteries in the show right now — the other being Earth — and as he did with the Starbuck death, he will happily do overt lies when asked about this particular mystery. But he doesn’t have to lie here, his statement is ambiguous enough.

My predictions:

  • Baltar is my lead prediction for the final Cylon. And/or he’s an unaware incarnation of the Cylon god, a Cylon Christ of sorts. Secondary picks are Roslin, Apollo and William Adama.
  • This is set in the far future. Beings from Earth “took” Starbuck. Earth is the ancestral home of mankind. There either never was a 13th tribe, or if it existed, it was an expedition back to the homeworld.
  • The colonials are also artificial beings, programmed to think they are human. The line between “human” and Cylon is a very fine one. Starbuck’s recovery may have been a download.
  • Yes, if it isn’t obvious, the 4 Dylan fans are really Cylons, and have always been Cylons, but they are final 5 members.
  • Baltar’s inner 6 is “real” and is a manifestation of the Cylon God, as she said she is.
  • D’Anna’s apology to the final 5 was to the unrevealed member. (And that’s probably Baltar.)
  • Starbuck’s “leading the human race to its end” does not refer to its destruction, or does not refer to the colonials.
  • The Cylon God is the same as the Jealous God of Kobol and the must-not-be-named god of the five priests of the temple.
  • Many of the events of the fleet’s journey will be shown to be the result of manipulation by outside powers such as the final 5, the Cylon god and the Earth people (if these are not all the same.) These include the war itself, the escape of Galactica, the trip to Kobol, the recovery of the arrow, the meeting at the algae planet and the meeting at the Ionian nebula.

Note that this interview claims that Moore stated the final Cylon is not in the Last Supper picture in unequivocal terms, yet strangely edits his words so we can’t be sure. If this is really the case, I can’t say I like any of the choices. Gaeta and Dualla are fan favourites (the latter because she became an Adama by marriage which would make Leoben’s statement that “Adama is a Cylon” be true) but I have to say these would not be particularly exciting revelations. Joesph Adama would be an exciting revelation but I have to admit it’s a bit too much out of the blue unless we see some more development about him. I will admit I don’t want the statement to be true because I think it’s unexciting writing if it is — but I could end up surprised with something good I haven’t yet seen.

We’ll see how I do!

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