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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.


Maybe the prophecy re: "the dying leader" won't come true or will come true in a, as gollum would say, triksy way.

Like you I'm not totally convinced by Moore's comments. He's been willing to obfuscate and lie outright in the past when it comes to important plot points.

That yellow moon could be because it's, um, not Earth. Occam's Razor, and all that. Or sure, the yellow moon could be a terraformed planet in the Sol system, which could make it Terra. Here's an interesting take on the yellow moon, speculating that it could be Jupiter's moon Io.

Here's the quote about her location: "I followed a heavy raider into the storm, took some hits, passed out. When I came to I was orbiting this planet. Its yellow moon and star matches the description in Pythia. I took these pictures in orbit. The star patterns match what we saw in the tomb of Athena. I remember taking the photos, turning the ship on a reciprocal heading...and then I'm not sure... I remember a giant gas planet with rings, I remember a flashing triple star, and a comet...and then I was back with the fleet."

This really sounds like Alpha Centauri to me: the trinary being Alpha Centauri A, B and C. The constellations would be nearly identical. However, we know for sure Starbuck went to Earth. It doesn't all add up.

People are saying that the collapsed dome in the foreground by the bridge rubble is the Temple of Aurora, but that doesn't match up with the depiction of the City of the Gods, where the temple is in the middle -- not near the river or any of the bridges.

A lot of people were going on about how the flashing triple would be Alpha Centauri. That never made much sense, it is not visible as a triple star unless you go to it, and it doesn't flash in the human sense. Anyway, it was shown that she saw instead a vision of the Cylon battlefield to which she must go to find the Hybrid. Pretty long goose chase, but this is what it was.

The yellow moon was over the blue-white planet, so it's not IO. It remains an item of mystery, however. Some think it was just a slip of the tongue and she was trying to say "yellow star and moon" but I don't buy that. I think there is going to be some explanation of a yellow moon. (Perhaps the writers were confused by the slight gold hue to the lunar surface in colour movies from the moon?)

I agree, it does not match the drawing of the temple. However, they didn't make that temple as a throwaway, so we'll likely see it again. Many think Starbuck is Aurora reincarnated.

I disagree that we know for sure that Starbuck has been to Earth - at this point I'd say we don't know anything about her "for sure".

However, given that what she remembers actually happened, do you think that Earth as she saw it was ravaged? I think this partially fulfills her destiny to bring humanity to the apocalypse. But I also think that the time discrepancy between her perception of events and the fleets might also apply to Earth - for example, she may have been to a pre-human evolution Earth and brought the fleet back billions of years later. Could it be that the scientific drawbacks of anything resembling "jumping" are beginning to have effect? It would be interesting to have this explained.

I’ve been thinking the BSG series was a journey back in time retracing the AI war cycles. I’ve read your views and others and a few of us seem to be in the minority when it comes to not being surprised that earth is destroyed. A lot of people are holding onto the idea that it’s not Earth. I believe its Earth but what I imagined was going on seems in doubt now.

The Timeline I imaged was this, depicted in the order it was revealed in the show.

Colonies destruction: third cycle in the IA wars
Kobol exodus: second cycle in the IA wars 2000 years before the Colonies destruction
The Beacon and Algae planet temple: 4000 years before the Colonies destruction and evidence of the first AI war cycle.
Earth is the last place visited in the series so far but was the first place I thought the Cycles took place at least 4000 years before the Colonies destruction.

The problem with this backward trace idea after seeing better pictures on the Internet of the scene at the end of Revelations is all the metal sticking out of the ruble. My TV isn’t that good I guess because I thought it all just looked like piles of unrecognizable decay. With visible metal next to water (I didn't even see the water, it looked like sand) it doesn’t seem to me the destruction can be as old as the beacon or even Kobol. Unless the BSG crew made a technical mistake I don’t see how my idea that the BSG series is about how the remnants of human kind, trace the previous cycles back to the origin, can be what’s going on. I thought the 13th tribe was a myth made up to obscure the past but it seems to have legs again although it doesn’t make sense considering we know humans originated on earth. With this new doubt and what ever happened to Starbuck still unexplained whatever is going on seems up in the air again. I really don’t care who the final five are. I like your idea that everyone is a Cylon so what does it matter who is or isn’t a Cylon.

Yes, as I write, the metal is a problem. There are a few options:

  • This is recent devastation, in which case, what's the story behind that? How did plants grow on it?
  • This is a creative error by the art department or writers, who didn't realize that 4,000 year old devastation would not look like this
  • This is devastation of a higher-tech city, with metal structures that don't decay so quickly. Note that the metal wasn't just unrusted, it was smooth and gray. This could also be how they retcon it.

Caprica City was left intact after being nuked, I suppose by neutron bombs but plant life survived. If the weapons used on Earth were even more efficient and wiped out all life leaving the structures standing I wonder how long it would take to put the scene into the conditions we saw? There’s nothing to say each AI war was the same. Kobol was abandoned but habitable with plant life and I don’t remember anyone saying it seemed to have been nuked. The Colonies were nuked but the buildings and plants still lived. Perhaps Earth’s war was different and all live was wiped out. How long would it take oxidation and erosion to reduce concrete to the point where metal was exposed and then the metal is oxidized with no plant life and microbes to help the process along? I don’t know, one why or another but I guess I’ll have to wonder awhile if my theories are undone or not.

The wear of time would produce the opposite result to what you see -- metal rods sticking out of concrete. Iron rusts and decays quickly if not protected. The book "The World Without Us" predicts 20 years for steel columns to start buckling, New York's bridges to come down within 300 years, though with some of their steel still there so it's hard to say.

I suspect that from wear, you would see the reverse of steel rods sticking out of concrete, I think you would see concrete with rust holes in it, but I guess we've never done this test. Freezing and melting make a big difference in how long concrete will last. Pure stone lasts much longer with no freezing, see the pyramids.

But, if you make it magic treated steel or some other metal that doesn't corrode so fast, then things last longer.

My general impression is that it can be easy to read too much into the ruins and radiation. It's enough of a handwave to sketch out a post-apocalypse scenario at an indeterminate point for a general audience. There's also issues of budget to consider. If you take almost anything in popular drama, what's fine for a general audience has experts nitpicking whether it's computer technology, medicine, or architecture.

Someone's already commented on the general relationship between a yellow sun and a yellow star. It's not strictly correct but is a poetic handwave. Checking poetry and lyrics online shows the phrase "yellow moon" popping up all over the place. Given the intellectual and poetic reasoning put through the mincer in religious style texts, "yellow moon" could be treated like "tin soldier". It's just a label.

The plot has been pretty bad over the series. The Apollo and Starbuck love-in was a big distraction, and there's been too much filler and red herrings. This last few episodes have been paced poorly and there's some really dumb moves in there. I agree, it's annoying. One series was a waste of time and this run looks like two series being squeezed into one to make up for that.

D'Anna's comment is odd. I'm taking it in the context of her making a power play of some kind. Assuming she's not lying about only four being in the fleet, putting the assumed final candidate on the Basestar at risk would rule out Adama, Roslin, and Helo. That leaves Baltar who wasn't anywhere near the stand-off in the control room. I'm not sure how a dead character would fit the bill. That's getting into Jumping the Shark territory.

One possibility that hasn't been discussed in that someone in the photo of the last supper isn't who we think they are. Maybe I am just way overthinking this, but how do we know that the Last Supper picture has Gaius Baltar as opposed to Chip Baltar? Did they state this clearly in the article?

As a comment to your list of characters, I actually find the possibility of Adama's wife being the final Cylon to be slightly more interesting than the other people that you list her with. Not so much because she is an interesting character, but in that it would certainly affect Admiral Adama's emotional state, and it would make Lee the first hybrid.

Interesting observation, especially since the 6 in the middle is his imaginary friend version. Definitely worth consideration.

This was talked about after the photo came out, but I didn't pay much attention since I figured the "not in the photo" was a trick. I will have to give some more credit to this idea, thanks.

There's an interesting article in The Guardian: Celestial clues may end ancient debate about eclipse in Odyssey. It comments on how the massacre in Homer's Oddyssey has been dated to April 16 1178BC. I mention it as it's a timely comment on science and myth that chimes with this topic.

I would like to input a question if I may. Although we might think someone like Elosha might be the final cylon - it would seem unlikely. D'Anna's continuation for the search of the fifth, he lack of concern about the passing of the final cylon? She would know that Elosha was dead. Why not significant grief? Similarly, and correct me if I am wrong, because I will have to go and watch the episode now, but in the Temple of Five, we have no idea which Cylon of the five her comment is actually aimed at - no specific ordering. She could quite easily have aimed that comment at Sol for the abuse and torture - which would fit quite well as he has a high-rank, was in their charge as a prisoner - she would have more reason to apologise to Sol Tigh.

As for the final Cylon - I have no idea, but I do feel that Elosha is not such a likely candidate.

D'Anna would not think the final Cylon was dead; she would presume they had downloaded to another body. That would not stop her from apologizing for having killed one body of the final Cylon, of course.

However, you are right, it's not Elosha, that's pretty solidly confirmed by statements from people on the show.

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