The Cylon God and the Hybrid

More reflection on Razor has led to more thinking about the Cylon god, who I believe is closely tied to the prototype Hybrid we saw in Razor. Indeed that Hybrid may well be an incarnation or copy of the Cylon god. I posted a few days ago about his Starbuck prophecy but decided it was time to detail a bit more of the thinking about this very important character.

Update: the writer's meeting podcast suggests that the Hybrid is not the Cylon god, but is in constant communication with him, and is worshipped as a god by the Guardians. Guess I didn't get that one quite right.

For much of the show, the Cylons have spoken of their god the way Christians speak of theirs. They are monotheists, while the colonials are polytheists. The Cylons acknowledge the reality of the Lords of Kobol, but state that the colonials don't know the real truth about them, and that they are false gods. But like the Lords of Kobol, the Cylon god may be a being with a real physical existence. Not so much a "God" like the one of the New Testament, but a "god" -- a super-intelligent, super-powerful being who was involved in the creation of the Cylons, and perhaps more. However, this god might still be subject to the laws of the universe, and not supernatural as a typical religious god is. Science Fiction has often included natural gods. I particularly enjoyed the term Vernor Vinge used in A Fire Upon the Deep -- "Applied theology." In this novel, the "gods" were beings so smart they could understand a human mind the way we understand a calculator -- able to build it, predict what it will do, rebuild it, invent it from scratch. Very much as we have thought of gods, but not supernatural.

The Cylon god (or something acting in that role) is certainly real, whether he's supernatural or physical. There are various clues about that...

What do we know of the first Cylon War

An interesting piece of show history, which was presumably planned for development in the currently-in-limbo "Caprica" series is the First Cylon War. This took place between 40 and 50 years before the current series. The Cylons were in robotic form, and as a cute touch, looked like the Cylons from the original 1978 series.

Here are hints that have leaked out:

Galactica's strange technology

The mishmash of technologies in Battlestar Galactica is hard to reconcile. Some of it, like the use of obvious Earth props (old radios, Citroen cars, old phones) is just a production trick to save budget. The budget was low enough that you may have noticed all colonial paper has the corners cut at a diagonal, this was a joke by the properties department which turned into a stylistic element. Their computers are often a strange mix of modern an ancient.

The Five Priests and the Final Five

On the Algae Planet, we encounter the Temple of Five which we are told was "built for the five priests who worshiped a god whose name must not be spoken." We're not told why his name must not be spoken, but a deleted scene described the story of a lord of Kobol who was known as the "jealous god" who wanted to be ahead of all the other gods. Both of these attributes, of course, seem patterned after Yaweh from the Torah, and many think both quotes refer to the same lord, who may also be the Cylon's god.

Tyrol, secretly a member of the Final Five Cylons, was taught about this temple as a child, his parents being a priest and an oracle. And when he came to the planet, a secret compulsion to find the temple was triggered, in addition to a compulsion to protect it -- he disobeyed direct orders to destroy it. The temple contained the same design implanted into Starbuck's brain as a child, part of the destiny that Leoben told her had "already been written." That design matched both the nova of the Algae Planet's sun, and the Ionian nebula which, it turns out, is the trigger location for the 4 sleeper members of the Final Five on board Galactica.

Everybody is a Cylon

One of the prime theories I advance in my backstory is the idea that everybody in the show is a Cylon, which is to say an artificial being, rather than a natural Earth human. That the colonials are AIs programmed to think they are human. This idea is not directly supported in the show, but there are a few items which point to it. In addition it's a very interesting idea.

The most compelling clue within the show is the tremendous similarity between the Cylons and the "humans." They are way too similar, particularly the final five. So similar that the humans can't tell the difference with microscopes or medical scanners. In theory Baltar's scanner can spot the difference in 11 hours, but we don't learn much more about that. They are similar enough to interbreed, something that is used as part of the definition, in biology, of being closely related. Yet even though medical scanners can't tell the difference, the Cylons have an FTL transmitter that can send out the contents of their mind when they die, and fiber optic interfaces in their arms. They can communicate at high data rates with their ships by touching an underwater interface. They have superior strength and resistance to radiation but are more subject to certain kinds. They can receive VR "projections" directly into their minds.

These differences are just too much to be undetectable to advanced medical equipment. A far simpler explanation is that there simply is no major difference -- all the players are Cylons. The "humans" however have never seen anything else, and also may have programming which blinds them to the artificial elements of their own nature.

Slavery in Battlestar Galactica

One of the themes in the show I am surprised has not seen much development is that of slavery. The Cylons are thinking, feeling beings of mental capacity that matches or exceeds the colonials. But not long ago they were slaves who fought for their freedom. Most of the characters postdate that era, but some, like Adama, could well have, in their family, owned Cylon slaves. It would have made an interesting scene for a Cylon to tell a colonial that he remembers being that person's household slave or nanny.

Turns out that won't be Adama, though. The planned prequel, known as Caprica, in theory will show a political battle between the Adama family (with Joseph, the father, a Civil Rights Lawyer) battling the Graystone family, which owns the corporation which developed the Cylons. However, there could be older slave-owning characters within the fleet. This will thus be touched upon if Carprica is ever made. (Notes about their opposition come from a New York Post story no longer available on the web.)

The image of Earth in Crossroads

At the end of the season, we had a zoom-out from the Ionian Nebula out of the galaxy, then back in at the same spot to Earth. Some fans put up screen captures of Earth from the sequence.

I'm going to start of by saying I don't put a lot of stock in interpretation of these captures. I think the 95% likely scenario is the effects team took an image of current-day Earth, and built their sequence with it. The only thing they did to deal with the freeze-framers is make sure the image did not show any cities in the nightside, so we would not learn if there were lights. Still, there are a number of amusing speculations one can make from the sequence.

Galactica Assumptions

My analysis of the world of Battlesetar Galactica is based on some conclusions I have reached based on clues in the show. Some of the conclusions are confirmed. Some I feel are highly verified. Some I am decently confident in, and some are much more speculative. Here's a summary to help you understand the basis for this analysis and you will see justifications for these assumptions scattered around the site.

Tigh the Cylon

People have been asking about how Colonel Tigh can be a Cylon so I thought I would provide some background on that. To me it was not a surprise, but to many viewers it was a giant shock.

For some time, the show has been telling us that the "Final Five" Cylons are quite special and different from the 7 humanoids we first met. Indeed, the first thing we find out is that according to Six, none of the 7 have seen the Final Five. We learn that they do not talk about them, and to even be curious is forbidden and seemingly there is programming against it. We watch Three (D'Anna) follow a quest to see them, first killing herself hoping to see them in "the place between life and death" and eventually risking (and losing) all to be in the Temple of Five when it activates. There she sees them, recognizes them and apologizes profusely to one.

Do Cylons have an FTL radio?

FTL is one of the exceptions to the laws of physics that RDM has allowed in the show. However, for colonials we only see the FTL jump. When they want to send messages via FTL, they have to send them in a ship that jumps. The Cylons have a better jump technology, but can they also send signals via FTL without using a ship? Examination either they can do this, or they have always had ships just outside of range of the fleet, just about everywhere it has gone.

Who's on Galactica: Concidence? I think not

Galactica is the one ship equipped to survive the Cylon attack and lead the rag-tag fleet to Earth. And this one ship has a Final Five member as XO and another as viper engineer. It also has a regular Cylon as a viper pilot. The goverment expedition to Galactica has a final five member on the Education Minister's staff, and a regular Cylon as PR agent. One member of the final five is on Caprica, and will be one of the very few survivors of the war out of millions or billions. And another member of the Final Five is unknown, but seems very likely to be either a Galactica Officer or Education Ministry staff. Baltar, under outside (apparently Cylon but who knows) influence is the only adult human to get off Caprica to Galactica at first, Anders and his crew are the only others.

The regular Cylons we can explain. There were many copies scattered around the colonies ready to act as needed, though they could not have put too many copies into the military without it being noticed. The F5 are much harder to explain. It seems highly likely that the escape of Galactica and Roslin's team was a planned event, planned many years in advance. (Especially if Roslin or either Adama turn out to be the #1 Cylon.)

Tigh: "What about Ellen"

The most poignant line, I think, in Crossroads is Tigh's. "What about Ellen?" A switch has gone off in Tigh's head, pouring in repressed knowledge and memories, and he knows he is a Cylon.

And he thinks, "my gods, I killed my own wife for being a Cylon collaborator, yet I'm a Cylon!"

It's hard to imagine this, since we humans don't normally find floods of repressed memories suddenly flooding our brains. And Tigh is very confused here of course, as are the rest.

Earth in BSG

Fans of the show often ask, "what will Earth be like when they find it?" Ronald Moore always refuses to answer that question, and at times he suggests he has not even fully decided what form it will take. However, there is a fairly strong case to be made that, unlike the original, this show is set many thousands of years in our future, and that Kobol is a colony of Earth, not the other way around as told in the colonial mythology. There probably never was a 13th tribe that went to Earth. Instead, that story is a myth to cover the reality.

Starbuck and Earth

We're given a new mystery at the end of season 3 with Starbuck's return. That she would return was beyond doubt. I don't think we've ever seen a major character die in circumstances anything like her supposed death and not come back. However, the real clincher was, ironically, that they took her name off the credits. Regulars on TV shows get contracts that require they be paid for every episode, whether they appear or not, and that they be credited for every episode, whether they appear or not. In order to take her name off -- to fool the fans -- they would have had to get her permission. Had she been really, most sincerely dead, that wouldn't have been asked for.

There was some debate at first as to whether she was just a vision for Apollo, but Moore has confirmed she's "real" and not just in his mind, and even more that she actually "died" in the maelstrom and has returned. Now we also must wonder about the heavy raider she chased to her death. That raider never showed up on Dradis while she showed up and then vanished. The audience saw the raider from Apollo's PoV, suggesting it was real, but Apollo himself didn't see it -- either because it was real, but not visible to him, or he just didn't notice it. But he sees Starbuck.