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.

There must be some way out of here

Amusingly the first line of the superb season two episode Downloaded is:

There has to be another way out of here!

This is said by the Joker (Baltar) to the woman who has stolen her way into the defence system and his heart (the thief) as his house is about to be nuked.

What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. There’s no evidence to suggest that RDM chose “All Along the Watchtower” as the theme song for the Final Five until well into the third season. But it’s fun to note.

It’s also true that several official sources have stated we should not treat this song as having come from 1967 Earth, it’s just music in the show which, like all music in all TV shows, is of course written by Earth people. However, I am amused to note that my invented backstory actually does explain it. In it, I hypothesize that the Final Five are beings from 21st century Earth possibly uploaded from living humans. As such, they might well have been alive in the sixties and become attached to the music of their youth, thus picking it as a trigger song. This is in contradiction to RDM’s statement that Cylon bodies are originals rather than copies of living humans, but I would not thing that applies to a human who deliberately uploaded to become a machine mind and copied their own body. But again, this is just a supposition for fun, not likely something to be true.

You... Forgive me I...I had no idea

In the Temple of Five, #3 (D’Anna) seeks to see the faces of the Final Five. Cavil says “That can’t happen” and tries to shoot her. Later she is boxed for her quest (and also because the actress is only contracted for so many episodes, but we’ll ignore that.:-)

As she enters the projection, she looks with some surprise at the 5 robed figures laid out before her. Curiously, there are six drapes, but they stand on only 5 of them, leaving the one on her left empty. Then she approaches one with a look of shocked recognition and issues the apology:

You… Forgive me I…I had no idea

(By the way, in a nice irony, as she gives up everything to see the faces of the Final Five, two of them are outside, getting shot at by her own Centurions.)  read more »

Who are the powerful forces manipulating events?

There are too many coincidences in the show to not conclude that there are some powerful external forces manipulating events. Here’s a list of forces we’ve seen named:

  • The Final Five (sleeper agents) on board the fleet, and the hidden #1
  • The Final Five (aware copies) who appear in visions and presumably also planted the sleeper copies
  • The god whose “name must not be (spoken)” worshipped by the…
  • Five priests of the Temple of Five
  • The Cylon God. Baltar’s inner-Six claims to be an angel sent by him
  • The beings who took Starbuck and immediately brought her to Earth
  • The “Jealous God” who wanted to be top God on Kobol
  • Beings who send messages through the Oracles
  • Factions from Earth
  • Other lords of Kobol
    • Zeus, who banished the tribes
    • Athena, who was champion of the tribes, and killed her self at their expulsion
    • Hera, agenda unknown, and others of unknown affiliation.
    • Aurora, whose symbol was given to Starbuck, and then to Adama

Now, as it turns out, many of these are obviously the same being or at least on the same side. The glowing Final Five appear in the Temple of Five, suggesting they are the same as the priests, and the God whose name must not be spoken is probably the Cylon God and also the jealous God. And all these are probably aligned with some other lords of Kobol.

Those who took Starbuck would appear to be from Earth. Why else do they bring her here first thing? Though it’s possible they are just granting her wish.

The reality of the Lords of Kobol is of course not yet established, nor technically is that of the Cylon God, though the more that Inner-Six becomes established as real, the more the Cylon God becomes established a real. #3 refers to “The one who programmed us” and ideed that’s somebody — probably associated with the Final Five. Also up for grabs is who the Cylon fleet at the Ionian Nebula represent.

Baltar: So we all understand it's not chance.

When Baltar and the Cylons come to Galactica above the Algae planet he says:

“The chances that we’ve all converged on this small planet at the same time are infinitesimally small. So we all understand it’s not chance.”

Gaeta also says:

“I can’t get my head around these odds. That both humans and Cylons both converged around this planet at this exact moment, just as the star’s about to go supernova?”

And the coincidences are indeed extreme. Particularly if you imagine that it all had to be planned thousands of years ago to take place right when a nova would go off and activate the temple. (Pretty extreme way to activate your temples, though.) Gaeta makes almost exactly the same observation, noting he is not much for religion but even he can’t get his head around the odds of the nova happening the same day.

But here are the events needed to make that meeting happen, all of which had to be roughly timed to meet the approximate predicted time of the Nova, and then more carefully timed as that event could be more accurately predicted.

  • The war itself
  • The creation of the Cylons and the first war, which lead to the later war
  • Baltar’s path, driven by the 6 in his head.
  • Baltar being on board the base ship
  • The babbling of the hybrid, interpreted by Baltar, that leads the Cylons there
  • The contamination of the food forcing the fleet to go back to the planet at that exact time
  • The hard journey through the radiation field, only plottable by Cylon Athena
  • Tyrol’s compulsion to find the temple
  • D’Anna’s compulsion to go to the temple and see the five
  • The timing of the cylon occupation, and then the exodus from New Caprica
  • The nova itself

In some ways it almost makes it easier if you decide that the powers who planned the meeting had some ability to trigger the nova under their own control. It’s debatable which requires more fantastic ability — control over the death of stars, or manipulating entire civilizations to bring them together at a meeting planned long ago.

The timing need not be that exact. For example, one might consider the star giving off rumblings which would allow advanced beings to get a closer and closer estimate for its time of explosion. The Exodus could then happen near that time (within a year or two) and the fleet pushed to settle on a planet until the time is ripe to leave. It’s much easier to control when they leave. Even so, they left too early, and passed the Algae Planet, and had to have their food contaminated in order to take them back there.

Bringing in the Cylon forces was much easier, it simply involved timing a message to the Hybrid, and having Baltar on board to interpret it. Though it’s not fully explained just how they know to come to this location just because Baltar interprets the line about the “Eye of Jupiter.” Have the Cylons always known where the Eye of Jupiter was, just not knowing it was a clue to Earth?

All of these events give strong evidence that powerful beings are manipulating events. This was always required by the Peter-Panesque mantra that “all this has happened before, all this will happen again.” Without time travel, prophesies and cycles don’t happen unless they are made to happen. But we still no little about who these powers are and what their motives are. The only ones we know are the Final Five, possibly associated with their God.

D'Anna to Baltar: "You were right"

One of the most important scenes in the entire series is the final scene in the Temple of Five. I’ll write more about it, though its main revelation — that the Final Five are very, very old — appears confirmed. After #3 (D’Anna) gets her vision of the Final Five, she collapses and says to Baltar: “So beautiful. You were right.” But she never answers his “about what?”

The most obvious thing that springs to mind is Baltar’s belief that he could be a Cylon. On the surface this implies she saw him as the last member of the Final Five. Right now most people resist that, so here’s a list of things Baltar says to #3 during his time with them.

  • That he’s a Cylon, a member of the Final Five
  • That it’s not just chance that both the colonials and the Cylon fleet meet at the Temple of Five at this exact time.
  • That she, #3, is the anointed one, chosen by god to look upon the faces of the Final Five. (He’s lying when he says this.)
  • That God will guide her to her destiny
  • That the answers to her questions are in the Temple of Five.

Not a great list, is it? All but the first aren’t things to spend your last words confirming. This seems to be a large clue to Baltar being the #1 Cylon, but this has been hinted at so much it would be an anticlimax so I resist it. (I have another theory for Baltar I’ll list later.)

You can search through transcripts of the episodes — tell me if you find other things Baltar said to #3 that she could be confirming with her dying breath. Ideally, it should also jibe with her famous apology to one of the Final Five.

Think like RDM in deciding who will be the final Cylon

Ok, so you’re RDM and you’ve got 5 Cylons left and you have declared they are a special, distinct group of Cylons and they are much older than the 7 shown before, so they can be anybody.

You may have picked your final Cylon long ago, you only picked the other 4 while writing Season 3.

You plan some “big reveal” scenes. You have a few planned for the show. The first one will be to reveal the F5 are special, possibly associated with an Earth Temple. Your next one is to apparently kill Starbuck and have her come back courtesy of some Earth folks.

Two of the biggest reveals you have planned are to show four of the final 5, and then in season 4 to show the last one.

Showing the 4 is going to be dramatic, because you’re going to show a lot of people that their assumptions were wrong, by giving them Tigh.

But you are going to leave one Cylon unrevealed. And all the rules of drama demand that this one left over is the big one. The revalation of this Cylon should be an even bigger dramatic event than the revalation of the first 4.

So of your five, who are you going to leave out?  read more »

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Welcome to the Battlestar Galactica Analysis Blog

For a few years my favourite TV show was the new Battlestar Galactica. I watched the original as a teen-ager, since it didn’t have much competition at the time, but Ron Moore’s new version is literally and figuratively light-years ahead. Like many great shows, it is not only a drama but a mystery. There’s a hidden backstory for the audience to puzzle out as we watch.

While watching it, I did a lot of detailed analysis. I even worked out an invented backstory that was a mixture of where the writers appeared to be going and some interesting ideas of my own.

Some of it turned out to be right. I made good predictions that the Final Five would be old (and could be characters like Saul), that Ellen Tigh was the 5th because of the romance and that Earth (at least the first one) would likely be vacant and in ruins.

However, my near-certainty that the story would be set in the future, and have real-SF explanations for its events turned out to be quite wrong, and the “god did it” ending in the past was so disappointing that I ended up dubbing it “the worst ending in the history of on-screen SF.”

Nonetheless, the blog is here, with smart and stupid moments, as it contains some worthwhile discussion of the hard details of the show, the science, and where it was great and where it made mistakes.

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