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One Earth or Two -- more data, more astronomy

The biggest raging debate is whether the Earth shown in Sometimes a Great Notion is the only Earth we will see in the show, or if there is another Earth out there, which is the real Earth.

Now the planet they land on is almost certainly the Earth of the colonial sacred scrolls. Ron Moore confirms this much in interviews, and the podcast. It is certainly the planet Starbuck was taken to, and photographed, for her viper is crashed there and the star patterns match, even after a double check. I presume this match is against Starbuck's photos, but more on that below. There was a 13th tribe, it was made up of Cylons, and they found and named a planet Earth, and this story is told in the book of Pythia. The Final Five come from the home of the 13th, and we learn they did indeed live (and die) there. This is that world, and all sources confirm it.

This world is also certainly not our Earth. Our Earth, after all, was not colonized by Cylons and destroyed in a nuclear war. Our world was not named Earth by alien colonists. So it's the Earth of the scrolls and the 13th colony but not the Earth we live on.

A number of things keep nagging at viewers:

  • When they talk about this world, they keep saying that the 13th tribe "called it Earth." It's as though they are careful to avoid saying that it's Earth in the context of "our Earth." They are too careful about this.
  • In spite of many shots of the planet from space, none show recognizable landscapes. At the end of Crossroads, Part II they made a big deal of showing a zoom to Earth, showing North America (in the 21st century too, but that's another matter.) If they didn't want to leave the question open, why not just show it.
  • They leave #3 on the planet, and we don't see her again. Suggests we never return to this planet. So there is surely another planet in their future, be it for a dark ending or happy one.
  • They were very much led to this planet by the string pullers, with Starbuck's photos and the beacon from her viper, which took them to the very place the Final Five would recover memories.

Only four of the photos match?

Now I've always assumed that the stars over this planet match Starbuck's photos and also match the star patterns shown in the Tomb of Athena, because we are told the latter two match when Starbuck returns. But a deleted scene on the DVD shows more of that scene. In it, Starbuck says that the photos match. Then we see two lines that were deleted, and they are very telling lines indeed!

Starbuck: ...The star patterns match what we saw in the Tomb of Athena.

Roslin: Four of them. What about the other eight?

Kara: What more do you want? A flashing neon sign that says “Earth”?!

This is a huge deletion. Why delete it and, then why show it to the fans later? Some will argue deleted material isn't canon, but the writers wrote this for a reason. They presumably deleted it because they did not want to bring up a debate about whether Tomb-of-Athena Earth is the same as Nuked/Starbuck's Earth -- at least when they were worried the strike might cause the series to end somewhat abruptly.

(Note that Roslin's line could also be interpreted to mean that Starbuck only took 4 photos. Which is odd, but possible.)

I didn't imagine a debate because the show provided us these two things in a row:

  1. Starbuck: I've been to Earth, and I'm going to take us there
  2. Camera: Zoom out of galaxy, zoom back in at similar spot, show the real Earth we all know.

That's a strange fake-out to have Starbuck say she's been to Earth and then zoom us to a different Earth than she's been to. Not even a fair fake-out I would say, but let's leave that for a moment.

It has been pointed out by Micheal Hall, another blogger that the constellations in the Tomb of Athena are very similar to ours, but not a full match. That blogger also points out that our exact Sky is shown at the scene of the Cylon battle, the one with the red giant that Starbuck paints a vision of.

The problem is this. Constellations either match or they don't. Even a move to our closest star, Alpha Centauri, changes Leo, Capricorn, Saggitarius and most of all Gemini in very noticeable ways. No stellar navigator would look at the sky at Alpha C and say it matched photos of the sky from Earth. Hall even ran some proper motion models to take the sky forward in time 20,000 years and it didn't match the Tomb. Move your viewpoint further out than Alpha C -- even 20 light years, and the Zodiac becomes hard to recognize, certainly not something that anybody would declare as a match. But some constellations distort more than others.

Now if BSG's crew got their astronomy right, there is no question that the battle site of the Cylon civil war is the location of our Earth. That's not just any ringed gas giant, that's Jupiter, our Jupiter. No other place in the galaxy has that star pattern. Star patterns are quite exact if examined photographically. The odds of the same pattern appearing at random somewhere else are -- well, literally astronomical.

Can it be just an accident? The graphics crew has used random stars everywhere else. Why do they show us real stars all of a sudden at that battle scene. They show us Orion in a few other scenes. Orion is one of the few constellations that stays somewhat similar at a number of the local stars, especially if you go in the opposite direction.

Can there be such a mismatch?

It's possible, though unlikely, that if you consider the maps on the colonial flags (and in the Tomb) to be more drawings than real stellar cartography, and you consider that only 4 of them match, and not all 12, then indeed the star map in the Tomb of Athena could be for a different planet than the 13th colony. One would have to do a bit of playing around to see what stars it could be. Kevin Grazier, BSG's science advisor from JPL, could definitely have worked this out.

In addition, as the Tomb of Athena mappings were more drawings than photographs or maps, it is possible the crew drew them in only roughly. This could account for the fact that, as Hall points out, Aldeberan is missing. Aldeberan sticks out like a red thumb, it's very bright.

Want to be anal about it? Download Celstia a free star mapping program. Put it into multiview mode to see both the Earth sky and a remote location, and turn on constellation lines and names. Then use the "Celestial Browser" to move among the nearby stars. Forget the tiny dwarf stars, only check out the ones with bright stars, Visible from Earth. See if there are some where 4 of the Zodiac stay the same, but 8 are different.

The Cylon battle site

Could the Cylon battle site be the site of the real Earth? If we take their star patterns as realistic, it has to be, it can't be anywhere else. Could the Cylons have had a war there and not noticed the amazing planet sitting there? Does the war account for how the colonials miss this important fact too? If they took photos, perhaps they have not yet gone over them. Everybody was perhaps too busy.

All Along the Watchtower

I would very much like it to be the case that there's a real Earth out there, still to be found, in our far future. It makes the show a lot better, a lot more satisfying. But one thing sticks in the way. Moore tells us in the podcast that his intention for the script was that Anders wrote "All along the Watchtower."

Which means Bob Dylan didn't. That there is no Dylan, really. That means that even if we find another Earth, a real Earth, it's not precisely our Earth. Some argue that we should just accept this, that the song has been taken for a dramatic use in the show. That's what we are told by Bear McCreary, the musician. I don't like it though. The song is famous. It's like the statue of Liberty. When you see the Statue of Liberty on the shore in "Planet of the Apes" you would not accept the explanation that "Oh, the apes built that, the shape came from the collective unconscious." You would cry "bullshit." And if this Earth is just an allegory of the real one, well, it might as well be the Cylon 13th colony.

But I'll forgive this if it turns out I get a realistic plot with relevance to our Earth. If so, they have a lot of ground to cover in 9 episodes. A lot of history to reveal. And I know they want the story to be about character, so they don't want to spend all the time revealing the secret history.

What is Earth like?

When I thought that the 13th Colony Earth was the real Earth, I predicted it would likely be vacant. I was correct, but my prediction was really for the real Earth. So I predict that real Earth, should they find it, will also be ruined or vacant. We are told the ending is dark, with lots of death. We are also told in Razor that it all ends like this:

And in the midst of confusion, he will find her. Enemies brought together by impossible longing. Enemies now joined as one. The way forward at once unthinkable, yet inevitable. And the fifth, still in shadow, will claw toward the light, hungering for redemption that will only come in the howl of terrible suffering. I can see them all. The seven, now six, self-described machines who believe themselves without sin. But in time, it is sin that will consume them. They will know enmity, bitterness, the wrenching agony of one splintering into many. And then, they will join the promised land, gathered on the wings of an angel. Not an end, but a beginning.

This sounds like a less dark ending. This is the ending predicted by a First Hybrid who is very big on the "all this will happen again" cycle. This is how it has gone down many times in the past, we can assume. Aurora is a winged goddess, associated with Starbuck. We have already seen the 7 turn into six. We've seen the 4 awaken, and the 5th will hunger for redemption. In the confusion he (Saul) did find her (Ellen.) The machines have splintered in agony. And Roslin isn't dead so they have not joined the promised land yet.

Aside from real-Earth being ruined, another interesting plot would be to find it an advanced planet, but a planet that expelled the Kobolians long ago. The sign at the door says "Get out, and stay out." So when they approach, Earth attacks, and destroys a lot of the fleet, which has to flee. Now that's a dark ending for you!

Earth, I believe, was the site of the first man-machine war. That war may have ruined it, or soured it on the machines (or humans) trying to come back. What it might think about Hera is another question. Of course I still suspect all the colonials are all artificial already, making Hera a bit less special.


If we assume real earth is not the place of the 13th tribe, can we assume earth did colonize kobol? I havent followed all this until very recently so dont know the canon very well.

if humans colonised kobol in large arks without stardrive they would have needed machines (cylons) and AI databases to run the ships - the cylons can download into new genetically engineered bodies for the long trip as the old bodies wear out. humans would have gone crazy if it took hundreds of years. The AI that ran the ships form the basis of the lords of kobol. and all the humans of kobol were frozen embryos that were developed and nurtured into human beings. the cylons ran the ships and came to be known as the 13th tribe - the other 12 tribes being human. the lords of kobol are the AI that ran the ships and had databases of knowledge developed by humans of earth. Things went wrong on kobol and the 12 tribes left and formed the 12 colonies and the 13th tribe of cylons tried to return to earth but were not welcome due to an AI war with humans on real earth. they find a planet nearby and out of reification for their creator humans they call the place earth and set up home. the humans eventually discover this cylon earth and nuke it with the final five escaping and downloading into new bodies and along with the 13th tribe AI intelligence they journey to the colonies and in secret guide the colonials to developing cylons with the notion of revenge in mind. After the armistice the seven are created to join with the other five to make a pseudo-human culture. the five change their minds and join the colonies again, leaving the other 7 and the AI of the 13th tribe to nuke caprica and the other colonies.

no idea really if that works as it looks like people here know much more about this than me. but it sounds like a good story with a cycle about it.

The random star patterns versus the specific star patterns, the flypast of Earth, and all the commentary about finding Earth say this is Earth. Then, Ron says it's not Earth but "Earth". Um, yeah. Whatever.

There's a lot of patterns that repeat in space and time, from people having similar ideas at the same time to the ancient Geeks inventing a variant of the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch. So, I don't buy into the over analysis of the Dylan song or people getting clingy over it, or the Brooklyn Bridge theory, or nitpicking the nuclear explosion that levelled Baltars house.

I hear Ron promoting a "dark ending" and other people tearng themselves silly over it, but "dark material" is nothing new to British televsion or, indeed, other American shows. It's just a pitch, and folks have bought the line due to short memories, novelty, or whatever. So, all this crap about BSG having the greatest dramatic actors of our time or a sign that Ron "gets it" and is speaking for the undefined masses is just so much, well, crap.

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

It's almost impossible to remember how big, I mean, really BIG other shows were. There's comedians and other variety performers who were household names in their day, then the black and white silent movies came in, followed by the more modern groundbreaking stuff that still serves as key works framing peoples view of entertainment. BSG has made a notable contribution but it's not the only or last comment on entertainment.

What can I say? Wherever you go there you are, or something.

What people are noticing is that the star patterns in the background over the 13th Colony "Earth" are random, but the star patterns at the Cylon civil war system were not random, they were those of our sky.

Thanks for the clarification. It sounds like it's my turn to pay attention.

As I commented earlier, hype and playing the audience burst the bubble, so I'm not really into it or care much at the moment. I'm just coasting. But, your own comment is interesting and I'm not getting precious over other people still being absorbed by it.

In a show which makes a play of scientific realism and mystical handwaves, getting things right and being consistent are important otherwise it does lead to confusion and uncertainty. Irony is the fifth fundamental force so that's understandable. Hence, Zen commenting that "success is not not what you do, Ron, Ron", if you can follow that.

Right on with every you said here, whoever you are.

I'm not hung up on the analysis. I don't mind others being so and like to see what they are saying for fun as I love the show.

But that's not the same as saying I don't want quality and consistency in a show that makes big promises. Otherwise, the show gets confusing and you frankly stop caring as much about what happens.

I stopped watching Lost after halfway through the second season for that very reason. I was tired of the heavily layered plot questions and the lame answers.

My impression of last week's BSG episode is it was awesome, gripping drama but as far as the larger story arc it felt like they phoned it in.

I really hope I'm wrong. I hope the next episode will be more illuminating and tie the strings together with more promise.

Also, the "flypast of Earth" in Crossroads clearly showed North America, but the flypast of "Earth" in Revelations did not. You can see the screencaps side-by-side here.

Ummm, planets do spin ya know!

The writing on the wall at the produce stand is clearly SUPPOSED to be English. The written language of the colonies is nothing like that, and RDM didn't NEED to show the words "Fresh Produce" in English convey to the viewer what it was, it was clearly a fresh produce stand, it's not like scribbling "Frak Earth" on the walls of Galactica being in English, which was done to show the mood of the fleet, if it was written in the colonial lettering it would have been pointless, because no one would have known what it said.

Brad, perhaps someone has already mentioned this, but here goes...If the site of the cylon civil war appears to be in our solar system, then maybe everyone has been overlooking the obvious. Maybe the cylon homeworld, which we mysteriously have not been shown yet on the show, IS our Earth! That would certainly square with the facts so far and it would make sense that the humans and cylon rebels would be fighting side by side and then, as the prophecy of the hybrid indicated, will settle together on the "promised land". Maybe they have already shown the cylon homeworld and I don't remember. Even though many viewers of the show have assummed that the fleet could never make it back through "the passage", the talk about upgrading jump drives with cylon technology would allow the fleet to get back to where the show started rather quickly compared to how long the original journey took.

We have been told that we were going to see the Cylon homeworld. Perhaps it's "Earth", or maybe its Earth.

The Cylons going on a quest for Earth, demanding the Eye of Jupiter as the only clue to Earth etc.

OK, let me rephrase. Maybe the Cylons home planet is really OUR (human) homeworld. Let's throw out Ron Moore's definition of "Earth" because its confusing the issue. To my understanding of the show, the cylons only wanted Earth because the Colonials did anyway. They were under the same "misinformation" that the Colonials were about "Earth" being a habitable planet and a desirable one.

Ron Moore has fraked with our heads for a while, making us think our human homeworld is "out there" when, in reality, it may have been much closer than we expected to the 12 Colonies the entire time. He's used our expectations from the original BSG against us to deliver the ultimate "suprise" at the end. Think about it, but understand you're going to have to really question a lot from the show so far.

For example(s)...I cannot help but wonder why we've NEVER seen the cylon homeworld so far. Nothing about it! And, we KNOW that there's another "blue planet" out there because we saw it in "Crossroads Pt. 2". Maybe that's why Leoben "cried" (or whatever) when the hybrid mentioned the "blue planet" to him, as he and the other rebel cylons were exiled from their own "blue planet" and thought he had a chance at another one. I have also heard descriptions from the cast that the finale takes us "back to the beginning of the show" which also aligns with the humans going back to where they began their journey. Once you re-think the show a bit, it DOES make sense that the cylon homeworld is the human homeworld.

C'mon, wouldn't Ron Moore do this to the audience?!?!

Where's the scene where Leoben cries about a hybrid talking about a blue planet?

The section of space they are in is 15,000 light years away from Kobol and Caprica now. A little far to be the homeworld of the new Cylons.

Yes, the fleet is pretty far away from the Cylon homeworld right now, but we really do not know where the Cylon civil war took place or where that solar system is located. I do admit that the uncertainty of that location is the greatest weakness of the view that the Cylon homeworld is really OUR Earth, the human homeworld. (Just like New Caprica was necessary to delay the fleet and cylons for the right time at the algae planet to have the star go nova, maybe the trip to "Earth" was necessary for the final 5 cylons to regain their memories.) As we know, according to the hybrid prophecy there is a "promised land" out there where the humans and cylons will settle. So either another "Earth" is found which seems unlikely OR the Cylon homeworld will be the promised land. To me, that's the simplest explanation, although it conflicts with what RDM has everyone thinking so far.

The scene where Leoben mentions the "blue planet" is in "The Road Less Traveled" when he is trying to get Starbuck's attention, right after he boards the Demetrius. Leoben shouts to Starbuck "A blue planet! Surrounded by clouds...The Hybrid, when she first described it to me, how beautiful it was, I cried." Needless to say, that got Starbucks attention!!

Who has noticed the true Earth star patterns appearing behind

  • The Demetrius when Loeben comes to it
  • The Cylon Civil War
  • The Tylium Ship

The true Earth is very close to the fleet.

It is odd that the true sky appears in these shots, and nowhere else.

Hey Brad, was wondering your thoughts on something. You mentioned you figured out some of the ruins on "Earth" are supposed to be the "Temple of Aurora."

Does that mean the 13th Tribe of Cylons were polytheists too and did not worship the Cylon God?

Pythia has a drawing of this, and I read a lot of notes from production crew about the ruins where they kept referring to the big structure on the beach as the temple of aurora, but I may have overinterpreted. We will see something about the F5's religion, I expect. I don't know if we will see more of the 13th colony's religion.

The F5 did not mind being reborn as polytheists.

And there's really never been a Temple of Aurora on our Earth -- there was a temple to Mater Matuta in the Roman Forum Boarium, but it wasn't until later that she became associated with Aurora. For me this jives with all the other evidence that that cinder planet isn't our Earth, just a planet the Cylons called Earth.

Please explain about the planet in the episode with the Cylon civil war. I must have been asleep or distracted that episode. I don't remember the planet ...?

The planet at the site of the Cylon civil war is shown here:

Great article, thanks for the link.

It's all nice theorizing, and I might even buy it, if not for the fact that RDM has admitted to making stuff up as the series has gone a long... No offense, but I have serious doubts that he and his team went out of their ways to add or modify the stars in the sky, because they knew there would be insanely anal internet scifi geeks examining the stars for clues.

I used to use scientific facts to try to figure out the show, when I realized it was pointless, and what the writers wanted to do with the story is the real thing that would determine the backstory.

Why are you assuming the writers are as well informed as you, or they didn't take artistic license, or they omitted some details so as not to give anything away too soon? Hollywood writers are usually staggeringly ignorant of science at the most, and indifferent at best if the story isn't about science itself.

If you would just accept the mysticism of the show and not try to explain it away in a secular manner, you'd have a reason for Anders writing Watchtower the Cycle of Time, which I have posted about.

I'm with you. Clearly the strengths of the show's creators lie in creating interesting characters and putting them in interesting situations, and not with science. It's fun thinking about the science, and I love it when it is portrayed well, but there is no sense over analyzing it.

For example, constellations change over time...significantly when you are talking about thousands of years. It of course depends on the details of how your star moves about it's galaxy compared to the constellation's stars. Even in the last 2,000 years the constellations have changed noticably: the modern versions don't quite match those as recorded by the ancient Greeks.

So, are we to assume that Galactica's star chart software takes all this into account, and that they not only had constellation shapes but the drift speed of the stars of the constellations, or that the writers had no idea any of this happens? I'd guess the latter.

No, the constellations have not changed too much in 2,000 years. Some of the very closest stars will have moved half a degree to a degree but most not at all.

Hall, the most obsessed guy about this, ran those simulations, and the patterns don't match far future skies. (or past skies since there are always people who seem convinced this is somehow in the past.)

The key to analysis of science in a show like BSG is to consider when the writers would have have thought about the science (or called their fairly good science advisor) and when they would not have cared.

Since they did not put them elsewhere, I think they care about the star patterns at the Cylon battlefield.

I doubt they cared about the shot of Earth in Crossroads being modern.

I suspect they didn't try to make the star patterns in the Tomb match some future stars, or some other planet, or even that closely to our stars.

I wonder if it was not a coincidence that the Cavil faction jumped to the "real" earth to ambush the other cylons and, with the resurrection ship out of reach, kill them.

We first have to assume that these star patterns are deliberate, and not some oversight by a tech guy. In other words, that they do in fact mean that the "real" earth was nearby -- or right there -- during the ambush.

If so, then none of the surviving rebel cylons knew where they were, or presumably they would have said something.

But I wonder if Cavil did in fact know where he was.

Maybe he knows more than the other Significant Seven, including the identities of the Final Five and the full history of the struggle between man and machine and its repetition throughout the cycle of time.

Consider the following:

1. He said something to the effect of, "you don't know what you've done," after Natalie informs him that she removed the chip from the Centurions that inhibits their ability to think.

This implies that he fears a revolt by intelligent centurions, perhaps because he is aware of what happens when you give machines designed to serve you the ability to think and reason.

Of course, everyone knows this, on account of the first cylon war. But Natalie and the rebels do it anyway. Only Cavil appears to understand why this was a mistake.

We've seen evidence since then that the Centurions are not thrilled at having to clean up and perform menial tasks, so perhaps he was right.

2. He ordered a lobotomy for all the raiders, after they showed the ability to recognize one of the Five (Anders).

Again, Cavil doesn't like "the help" to enjoy higher brain function and independence.

But also, he's particularly alarmed that a Raider could recognize one of the Five.

Now, the Seven all say they're programmed not to think about the Five, but we know for a fact that they do. The Threes apparently think about the Five all the time, as do the other rebels. Thus, the programming isn't perfect, and Cavil recognizes this and tries to stop it by other means, which means lobotomies for the raiders and orders to the other humanoid models to stop thinking about the Five.

3. He boxed the Threes.

For seeing the Final Five, Cavil (and note he was alone when he told the Threes they were being boxed) boxed the Threes.

4. He rigged the vote by courting the Boomer Eight.

Cavil triggers the cylon civil war by getting Boomer to vote against her model over whether to unbox the Threes. This is almost a desperate move on his part, and could imply that he really, really doesn't want the others to discover the final five.

5. He got Ellen to sleep with him in exchange for releasing Tigh.

We know now who Ellen is. Is there any significance to the fact that Cavil asked her for sex in exchange for Tigh's release?

If, for instance, he knows who they are, does this imply that he's known Ellen from some earlier existence? And perhaps that he might have been a rival?

This is tenuous, but perhaps it implies he dates back to the Final Five as well, and somehow lost out to Ellen and Tigh and the rest, and has been out for revenge since then... Could this explain the war on "fake earth" and on kobol? Is he the "jealous god"?

6. He told Tyrol that he hadn't seen him at any of the cylon meetings, which at the time was tongue in cheek but of course became a foreshadow of Cavil's cylonhood.

This scene is telling because at the time we don't know Cavil's a cylon. But perhaps his lie is greater than we thought? Maybe he did recognize Tyrol, knew he was one of the five, and knew that Tyrol hadn't yet been awakened?

7. He was with Anders on Caprica.

Again, if he knew who Anders was, maybe he wanted to stick close to him, to be there when Anders "woke up"?

Also, it is around this time that Anders and the rest of the resistance are basically allowed to leave Caprica because the occupying Cylons have fled.

Maybe this was deliberate? Cavil found Anders, recognized him, saw that he wasn't yet activated, and wanted him to join the fleet on the hope that Anders would lead Cavil to the other Five, including and especially Ellen?

8. His faction remains hell bent on destroying humans and rebel cylons alike -- a "there can be only one" goal.

Cavil may be trying to prevent the cycle from repeating, albeit in a different way.

Anyway... I didn't realize how much evidence there was to support this until I started writing it out and new ideas came to me. I will be the first to admit this is tenuous -- after all, everything Cavil does also could just be carrying out his programming not to think about the five.

But there might be something here. I need to think on this some more, but the story could go something like this:

- Cavil is AI that was created by the Final Five when they lived on "fake earth."

- He rebelled and destroyed fake earth 2,000 years ago.

- He returned to Kobol shortly thereafter and attempted to destroy the other humans there, prompting the Exodus to the 12 Colonies. (In other words, he was the "jealous god").

- Cavil either is wounded, trapped, or just gives up for a while.

- 50 years ago, the Final Five, who somehow get to the 12 Colonies, introduce "Cylon" technology.

- Cavil finds out about this and goes to the 12 Colonies and finds that the reborn final five are there.

- He gets these primitive Cylons to rebel, with the goal of killing the reborn final five. (And he may have succeeded with three of them, as Tyrol, Anders, and Tory are younger than Tigh and Ellen, who survived the war.)

- The Cylon War is fought to a standstill, and Cavil, as their "leader", gets a peace treaty so he can regroup and rearm.

- He takes the Cylons to the Cylon homeworld... Earth? Kobol? Fake Earth? Or some planet we haven't seen?

- During the peace, Cavil creates seven humanoid models, including one for himself, and intelligent Raiders. He uses cylon technology from the "fake earth," (his technology) which has a lot of hidden information and other imprints from the final five (the original programmers). As a result, he has to program the humanoid models not to think about the final five, which as we know doesn't work very well.

- After 40 years of working on this, he masterminds the sneak attack and the destruction of the 12 colonies.

- During the attack, he discovers Anders in the mountains and realizes that those friggin Final Five have been reborn again.

- He also is lucky enough to have a Cavil with the fleet, and encounters Tyrol.

- He conspires to get Anders back to the fleet, in the hopes he and Tyrol will lead him to the others... and maybe help cause each other to "awake."

The rest of his agenda is not clear -- why not kill the five on New Caprica? Maybe he needed information from them and wanted to wait until they awoke? Maybe he just wanted to frak Ellen and torture Tigh?

And the question now is -- where is Cavil now?

I do agree that Cavil is special. His Cylon model number (#1) says it all. He smells special for many of the reasons you outline.

Whether he knew the battlefield was the site of Earth is an interesting question. He set the location, he got there first. How could they not survey their ambush location, not notice the rare blue planet?

But I don't see Cavil as a cycle-breaker. Somebody has to be on the side of the cycle, working to make it repeat. Nor do I see him as the mastermind. When the final 5 put programming into the 7, they would have noticed that.

But if I had to guess, he's working for somebody, something, with a different agenda than the others. We'll see.

One of the classic Parkinson TV interviews is with George Segal. It's so long ago I don't remember the details but it was really absorbing and left everyone feeling that Segal was a great guy. In the same way a shop is just a shop, a TV interview is just a TV interview, but some stand out. This interview one may have been forgotten but for Segal's punchline: "I'm an actor. It's my job." or something like that.

Dean Stockwell is an actor.

To be fair, a really good actor and, from my 20 minute chat him, a good guy too.

George, or Dean? I'm sure they are. They execute well and don't take themselves too seriously. I like that.

I was highlighting how some people are confident at creating impressions. There's no point in over analysing it or getting too cynical but it's something worth being aware of.

BSG is all about impression and getting you to tune in next week. The mask has slipped and I've found the show to be too much of a prick tease but it works well enough.

Dean, I meant. Met him about 15 years ago... more actually, QL was still on the air.

Yeah, I thought you did. Just had to check.

He looks competent and sounds like he doesn't go around pissing people off. Can't ask for more than that.

It will be interesting to see how well BSG wears in comparison to a show like QL. What's great at the time can change as time moves on. But, hey. That's showbiz.

Though I should point out that what appears to be the "chief" Cavil is dead, unless he's working for somebody who had bring him back. Neck snapped, hub blown up, dead. (Boomer, we are told, made it out.)

Of course there are many Cavils still alive, but this one seemed extra special, he was Boomer's boyfriend who seduced her to their side.

According to a TV Guide Q&A interview of Jane Espenson, who writes for BSG, there is a good chance the "prime Cavil" is still alive. She had the following to say about it:

What happened to Boomer after D'Anna killed Cavil? Did she escape?
Espenson: She certainly would've had time to. Heck, there was even time for Cavil to download, I suppose. Huh. How 'bout that.

Although that's not completely definitive, Espenson's "unsolicited comment" leads me to believe Boomer's Cavil is still out there.

Call me sour but I really don't care what anyone from BSG says anymore. I'm just letting the show roll. Can't even stomach downloading Ron's commentary anymore. Get it done. Get it out of the way. Next show, please.

Number 1s couldn't box a model back then, when they were still obeying the "voting" rule.

At least 4 models 6s, 2s, 1s and 2s voted for "Box 3s" (Probably all the remaining models voted for *Box 3s*)

Briefly, Number 1s were just the "executioner" of this conclusion. Nothing more or less.

He CERTAINLY didn't decide the boxing process all by himself. It was a group decision.

I said """...At least 4 models 6s, 2s, 1s and 2s voted for *Box 3s*..."""

Sorry for the mistake above... It should have been like this ;

--> At least 4 models 6s, 2s, 1s and 8S voted for "Box 3s" (Probably all the remaining models voted for *Box 3s*)

RDM and co. have had no problem re-editing episodes for the DVDs to re-insert things cut for time constraints. If it wasn't re-added in the DVD you can assume it never happened. Otherwise, just like all the other times they have added to the DVDs they would have done it in this instance.

You are looking for things to be upset about, nothing more.

They have even fixed mistakes this way. Epiphanies had the wrong amount of time listed before Boomer resurrects and it was changed for the DVD. In Scar they had to replace the Vipers that get launched because it had a Mark II and a Mark VII and it should have been 2 Mark VIIs. There were a few more too, I just can't remember right now. They have no problem adding and changing in the DVD releases. Deleted means deleted, not coulda sorta happened, or they would put it back in the show.

People can get obsessive in either direction. That doesn't help but "the plan" never happened, the Final Five are a retcon, and Earth isn't Earth. We're heading into Alice in Wonderland territory here. Ron has unambiguously buggered it but people can still enjoy the show. If people obsess about obsession they're the ones who will be left with Ron and the mom's basement brigade forming a line of wide eyes staring back at them. On the edge. Alone. You don't want that.

It can't be a retcon before the show is finished being written. It just isn't possible, try again.

The Final Five is a retcon by Rons own admission. There were intended to be 12 Cylon models but he couldn't figure out how to fold them in, so made something else up on the fly. You can quibble over definitions if you want but I ain't listening and neither is anyone else by the sound of it. Whether it's good or bad, or you like or dislike it is another thing. Personally, I don't think it was so bad but he's fumbled the reveal so the whole thing looks like a kludge.

Learn the meaning of the term. It isn't a retcon just because he came up with it in the middle of the show. He said from the first season they had an overall arch to the show and EVERYTHING else was being written on the fly. You can not listen all you want, but you will still sound ignorant.

People know what's being said. They can make up their own minds. As for the rest, that's your baggage. If you want to project that hell on the rest of the world, that's the sort of hell you'll live in. We Zen Buddhists have a habit of twisting words and saying things like that. Ron's a Zen Buddhist as well, and I bet he'd be less bent out of shape of this than you are. So, you might want to get with the programme, buster.

I have zero interest in strings of postings from anonymous posters who just want to insult one another, no matter who started it. If somebody insults you, I strongly advise not to reply. Never write in the 2nd person -- ie. talking to, and criticising the author of a post, rather than talking about what they wrote. We all know where this goes, and nobody cares to read it.

It was pretty much over but I'm glad you picked up on that, Brad. I've seen plenty of places and "professionally moderated" sites go down the pan because trouble was allowed to develop. It might be interesting to contrast and compare Cylon versus human governance but that's another subject.

A retcon is usually defined as changing a past storyline to accomodate a present storyline. This is most common in comics, such as when Marvel established that Jean Grey died and came back as Phoenix, then killed Phoenix, and later decided to bring back Jean by saing Phoenix really wasn't Jean Grey.

In this case, the term is a little fuzzy. We have always known there are 12 models. There was not originally any plan for a "final five", but there is also nothing in this that contradicts anything that had been established. Similarly, Tigh, Tyrol, Anders, and Tori were never written as Cylons, but they were never tested to prove their humanity either (Ellen was always a question mark).

So is it a retcon? No, in that nothing that has been revealed directly contradicts what we were told (or told with some authority). Yes, in that none of this was worked out ahead of time, and past events have been reinterpreted to fit the new storyline.

In the end its arguing the label, not the facts, which most of us are in agreement with.

Words change and adapt. It's a retcon in that sense and, also, that the established narrative intent ("There are 12 Cylons") and behind the scenes changes (from off-screen producer comment) get behind it. Anyone who disagrees or gets too personal about it is probably doing so because they're playing power games. That's not a matter of substance but character and, as Brad says, gets boring. A middle ground might be, say, discussing whether this is a hard-retcon or a soft-retcon, like hard and soft sci-fi.

A small but significant retcon that's emerged over the past few days is Niki being a human-human child, not the hybrid both the on screen drama and behind the scenes producer comment led us to believe. It's on a smiliar scale to the "12 Cylon" retcon and has equally similar ramifications. The "Final Five", and Caprica 6 and Saul Tigh's "Saviour", to use Doc Cottle's witty throwaway, generate similarly large changes of outcome. It's not crashingly obvious as people can miss details and it's been masked well, but it's there.

The Zen tradition and psychology weighs heavily in this show and, as a Zen Buddhist, I can see and am familiar with the arguments and sentiments that are swirling around. It's interesting on one level but grossly tiresome on another. The questions about what this show is and how people experience it are real whether we discuss it or not. How hung up or fuzzy people get over that is their business. Does it matter? Yes, no, maybe. Do people "get" the show, or do they have to discover it? Who knows. Life is a mystery.

What can I say? Never mind the quality, feel the width. ;-)

Actually Nicky's nature is not a retcon if I read the most recent Moore interview correctly. When they revealed the Chief was a Cylon, they realized they had to deal with Nicky. Someone said "what if its not the Tyrol's kid?" and they realized it was an elegant solution to the problem. So there likely wasn't any point in the series in which the creators actually believed he was a hybrid (if I read the RDM interview correctly).

Now, the PARENTAGE of Nicky, THAT is likely retconned, though again it is so within normal bounds as to not be much of an issue (unless you think Cally would tell the Chief she had another guy's kid).

We're getting into retconning the retcons, but let's tak a look.

The additional info is useful and I can see where you're coming from but I can't go that far in accepting it isn't a retcon. People are more persuadable when they're confused. This might help Ron pull of the con of the century but I'm wondering why I'm *here* and you're sitting over *there* in a heap.

I dunno, some people... ;-)

If #1 is a significant model number for a cylon. What about his name? Cavil - noun and verb involving an irrelevant or trivial point made during an argument or discussion. Maybe he is really nothing?

“Oh, the apes built that, the shape came from the collective unconscious.” You would cry “bullshit.”

My comments did not specifically refer to a "collective unconsciousness" in the Jungian sense. Instead, it referred to a technological database of sorts with a human-machine interface (the Five). Such an organic interface or corruption from the passage of time or tampering might misinterpret information or have gaps. So, Anders is "inspired" to "write" Watchtower when all he's really doing to accessing the Five's cultural database that was set up when they were created.

One glaring, yet really simple clue that they are not at the "real" Earth yet is Roslin. She's supposed to die before the Colonials get to Earth, right?

Of a dying leader who led the people, but died of a wasting disease before getting to the promised land. It does not say that's Earth, of either type.

However, many people wonder if the show isn't going to try and show the cycle that keeps repeating being broken this time.

And besides, there is no such thing as prophecy at that level of detail, unless somebody is making it happen. I would be disturbed to learn that the less of the show is that Roslin's fate is set in stone.

On the other hand, since this sort of prophecy -- as dramatic foreshadowing -- is a common literary device, it's not a bad idea to expect it to happen for no scientific reason whatsoever.

I'm wondering if there is a Raymond Kurzweil thing going on here. Let's assume for a moment that the astronomical analysis is correct, and "our" Earth is still out there to find (based on the info I'm reading, I think it's already been "found" - by Cavil, but that is another post). Let's also assume that the "life here, began out there" argument holds for the Colonials and the Cylons, while in "our" case, it's just the opposite - life here began here.

If you went with those assumptions you'd soon conclude that Kobol is an "our" Earth colony, that the 12 colonies are Kobolian colonies, just as the "Cylon" Earth is a Kobolian colony (13th tribe).

But how do we have Cylons and Humans running around now. Who "invented" who, and when and where did they do it. According to Kurzweil, it happens here, in about 20 years!

This is the whole "technological singularity" thing, where we develop the technology to download our consciences into machines. Perhaps at first these are klunky computers as we envision them today. But in the future, it may not be enough to just live in a computer. People would want bodies to live in - ones close to human form, and with a technological singularity in effect, that could happen FAST - you now have AI minds working on it, much faster than we ever could.

Anyway, long story short, "our" Earth invents Cylons and most of us see the advantages (immortality) and willingly become Cylon. However, not everyone will. The religious zealots won't, the luddites, the Amish, some militia types etc. will all resist. For some time it will be that they could co-exist. But it clearly can't last. There will be clashes over resources, governing systems, morals, ethics, yada, yada, yada. We fight each other today because of our skin color, our ancestry, our economic and political systems, religion, etc. Imagine when there really are two distinct species of intelligent beings on this planet. That is a Rx for war...

And so here we are - watching BSG and seeing the cycle repeat itself over and over. It could be that the Humans and Cylons on our Earth fight a war, nuke each other, and finally "make peace" and decide to settle Kobol together. Then after trying to live there in harmony, eventually the cycle repeats and this time, the Humans go their own way to the 12 colonies, the Cylons go the other way to the cinder planet. But of course, they evolve, they explore, they bump into each other again. They fight and the cycle repeats.

Note that the cycle can be that they go to war and make peace. It can be that they go to war and go their separate ways. But no matter what they do, the cycle repeats. It will continue to do so REGARDLESS of what anyone tries to do. Peace is inconceivable, yet inevitable. War is inconceivable, yet inevitable.

I think Moore will pull something like this. It will be EVEN DARKER than a dead, nuked world.

We can only hope. Anything else would by a cop out.

That started this blog (you will see a link from the last item) is roughly like this. I propose that there is a battle between those who wish to embrace the machine and those who wish to embrace the natural/flesh. No evidence of this yet.

But one thing would, I think, be true in the real world, and that is that the fleshers would still be modified, tweaked in some way.

The reason? Well, I'm into realistic SF. Real humans can't download. They can't get visions from outside of themselves. They sometimes think they do but they can't. But tweaked humans could. Thus, to be realistic, the humans most be artificial in some way or another.

Furthermore, it's not really likely the Cylons could have FTL transmitters in their heads and fiber optic hookups in their arms, yet the humans can't tell the difference under a microscope. The only way I can see that being true is if there is no difference, or the humans are programmed not to notice it.

Given Ron's habits of metaphor and technical dumb this is another thing that can swing between over-analysis and throwaway. But, it's an interesting mind toy.

Two Cylon comments are that they know more about the human mind than humans do, and their differences are at the molecular level. Then, there's the question of whether something is self or externally powered. All these issues could be stretched some way.

In the expanded BSG universe Zak Adama is scanned when his ship is destroyed and a copy of his conciousness wakes up in a prototype Cylon body. 6 makes a comment to Baltar that they could scan his mind as it was worth keeping around.

Drugs, brain damage, and external stimulus can trigger visions or vision like experiences. Yogi's practice shifting the focus of conciousness for years to experience the perception of 'oneness' with the universe.

Ian M Banks uses the device of a microscopic anti-matter bomb implanted in someone's brain in his latest Culture novel. I don't see why some atomic and/or molecular level device can't handle FTL or data transfer.

In an electron microscope. The Cylons are nonetheless biological, and can reproduce from DNA. I think it is quite a stretch for DNA to code for such things as these. Now admittedly we have some "sufficiently advanced technology" here but there are limits on how far that should be used.

I accept your point that this sort of technology is on the extreme edge of possibility but it may be useful to see how that position could develop. I'm too idle or ignorant to comment much but reviewing things and how things interact might kick something up. The next extreme step seems to be some sort of holographic technology that projects into real space but we're getting into the realms of magic, the matrix, and mysticism. Also, ideas are fine but spinning them into a narrative that's interesting (or shippable product) is another thing.

But, I'm generally happy with the idea that FTL comms could be implemented within the molecular level, and that cells or groups of cells could form part of a optical data link that's indistinguishable from normal tissue at a surface level. I've no idea how FTL capability could be passed on at a DNA level but today's article on Slashdot that comments on teleporting qubits is ballpark. I'm more stumped over how body cells or groups of cells might be used as an optical port but both functions exist in organic forms today. Looking beyond the novelty, the big issue is how and polish. This is no different to the challenges the likes of Lord Kelvin or Henry Ford faced.

Oh Come on people. Where the frak do this 2 Earth idea come from ?

Dream is over. There is no Human Earth. Unfortunately period.

The only Earth we have been searching for, turned out to be a Cylon planet.

From now on, we will probably see the return of the fleet to The Kobol.

By the way,

Number 1 Cavills and Number 2 Leobens know the universe and their existence better than any other model.

I agree about this.

Just re-read the hybrid prophecy on this blog and the phrase "self-described machines" caught my eye. This implies to me that the Cylon skin jobs call themselves machines but they are not... ? Could be read a couple of ways. But if skinjobs are brought up to believe that they are machines but are really not, for example they are a form of organic life that have evolved to use technology to their advantage then they could be evolved humanity, they just forgot where they came from and the technological trappings, resurrection, computer interfaces, lack of diversity, loss of reproductive capability, etc make them think of themselves as machines

An interesting question and possibility, but I think in a way this question is a red herring. Not to rag on your thoughtful post, but to say that I think most of the characters in the show itself are really hung up on it, and it seems to be a central dramatic tension. What is life? Recall the first line of dialog in the miniseries: "Are you alive?" We've seen both Cylons and colonials struggle with this fundamental question. "We're maCHINES," Cavil vociferously asserts to other Cylons. Colonials contemptuously refer to obviously sentient cylons as "it." Many Cylon "machines" find their individuality. Colonials make friends (and a baby) with Cylons. And so on. It's messy, and it's part of what makes BSG so interesting.

I believe Brad suspects that the colonials might actually be synthetic life forms who think they're otherwise, and he may be right. But I suspect the show is asking a bigger philosophical question that in a way makes these questions irrelevant. It's hardly a new theme in SciFi, of course (Commander Data, anyone?) but I appreciate how BSG keeps it as the elephant in the living room instead of an issue any character addresses head-on. It will be interesting to see if this theme comes into sharp focus as the show reaches a conclusion, or whether it will continue to dangle.

The cylons are not mechanical, so for those who define machines so literally, they are not.

Some define man vs. machine supernaturally -- humans work by ordinary physics, but have a supernatural boost like a soul. They won't be convinced of anything here.

We are all machines, in the sense that our bodies and minds work from natural, mechanistic principles -- I use mechanics in the scientfic sense. The only question is which machines evolved naturally, and which are artificial. This is the difference the colonials may believe distinguishes them from Cylons.

My theory is that we learn the colonials are artificial too, but kept closer to human original. Man/machine is not important, it's did you have a designer or not, and did the designer install a purpose. Of course, the religious think even the naturals had a supernatural designer.

It does depend on how people define machines. From where I sit as a quasi-omnisicent viewer, the Colonials' habitual denigration of the Cylons as "machines" seems preposterously hypocritical, because even if the Colonials are indeed naturally-evolved organisms, they themselves are simply another kind of machine. The difference is only a matter of perspective -- which tribe of machines is doing the judging.

Buddhism comments that conciousness is a matter of degree. It's hard to find a form of words that carry the point briefly but if one assumes that conciousness is a property of the universe than the rest flows naturally. It also has the nifty by-product of redering all the Catholic versus medicene style arguments over abortion as so much puff. Who we are and what we do is more important than trivialities like that. This leads us to the final point. I don't have any hang up either way over evolved organic versus designed inorganic life. Life, intelligence, and love are currency. The wagon that carries the gold is irrelevant.

Brad wrote: "Aside from real-Earth being ruined, another interesting plot would be to find it an advanced planet, but a planet that expelled the Kobolians long ago. The sign at the door says “Get out, and stay out.” So when they approach, Earth attacks, and destroys a lot of the fleet, which has to flee. Now that’s a dark ending for you!"

That's the ending I would like to see. :)

Humans on Earth (our Earth) created Cylons.
Cylons rebelled. Warred with humans. Humans banished them or defeated them or they decided to leave.
They evolved. They settled on Kobol.
Longing to be like their creators, they programmed themselves to forget their true nature.
So Kobolians - i.e. all 13 colonies, not just the 13th - are Cylon.

Maybe the Exodus from Kobol is when they reprogrammed themselves to forget who they really are.
The 13th tribe is the only tribe that didn't wish to go through the "great forgetting". So they leave and settle on Earth2.

Having been programmed to forget their true nature many generations ago, Capricans eventually create machines of their own.
And blah blah blah... (it's all been said so many times before so I won't repeat it).

When the fleet and the rebel Cylons find Earth, it is understandable that Earth attacks them, knowing they are all Cylon.

Zach-- I like this idea. I'm also drawn to the idea of the Lords of Kobol being AI navcomputers like hybrids, but next to that I like your idea too.

I imagine that when the show is finally over, we'll look back to last Friday's episode, Disquiet that Follows My Soul or whatever it was, and say that this was the weakest of the final 10.

Or at least -- I hope so.

Not a lot of smarts shown by just about anyone, except when Adama essentially blackmailed Tom Zarek and his 1970s haircut with laundry reports at the very end.

And of course, not that I wasn't totally psyched to see Bill and Laura finally get it on... I've always had a thing for Stands with a Fist.

But this episode only confirmed that the focus of the final episodes will be about character, not story or plot or plan, and that whatever truth or history we might get will be for the sole purpose of advancing character development and resolution.

We won't necessarily know everything we'd like to about the Final Five and etc., but by the end we'll know where each character is and how they're handling everything.

And yet -- this kind of exploration isn't entirely worthless. For example, because everyone seems to believe that there is no "earth", we are left to see what happens to a society that doesn't believe they'll end up okay. Not to get all metaphysical, but essentially what we are seeing is a total collapse of faith. No one appears to think that the "Gods" will save them. And even Baltar and his born-agains aren't too confident that their "God" is going to see them through as well.

What's left is pure reason. And pure reason ain't pretty -- they're out in space, there don't appear to be too many human-friendly planets out there, they're surrounded by cylons and possibly being chased by even more cylons, and the whole 13th tribe and earth turned out to be a bunch of bunk. Supplies aren't likely to last long enough to find an alternative to earth. Dee's suicide last week only punctuated what everyone was thinking: Dead Fleet Walking.

No wonder Nobel economist Daniel Kahnemann once said that the only people who have a realistic appraisal of the world are the clinically depressed.

The absence of faith, and the irrational belief in a better tomorrow, we're seeing two mindsets emerge -- one is reckless, hedonistic abandon, and the other is totalitarianism.

Laura Roslin is an example of the first mindset. Fairly simple here. She's in full Eat, Drink, and Be Merry mode. Surprised there aren't more like her out there.

The Adama's cylon alliance idea and Gaeta's mutiny are examples of a totalitarian mindset. Death is so certain, they feel, that every option should be on the table if it offers a chance of survival. As Isiah Berlin wrote: in a totalitarian society, one goal is elevated to a height where anything, anything at all, can be done in the name of achieving it.

It would seem to me that even for the most rational human beings, once faith in a better tomorrow is abandoned, pure reason becomes unstable, and results in increasingly irrational behavior that leads to bad decisions, however "logical" they appear.

It's not unlike the trouble with highly sophisticated machines... Witness the Terminator and Matrix stories, where a sufficiently advanced AI eventually turns on its human masters, even if its been programmed to protect them, because it reaches a purely logical conclusion that the humans are going to destroy themselves. (Or something like that...)

I think all these ideas -- man vs. machine, faith and reason, Gods v. God are all playing out in the characters of BSG, even if some of the fascinating technical detail needed to support it remains, at least for now, less than compelling.

Red Dwarf is returning to the screens and even that bunch of clowns look like they'll < href="">find Earth. Unless, some stray god has sneaked into our universe, stolen it, and replaced it with an exact duplicate. But, hey. That's showbiz.

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