Saturday, January 17, 2009


I don’t know how many times I uttered that last night during the premier of season 4.5 of Battlestar Galactica.

Warning! If you haven’t seen the episode, you better not read any further.

So last season, or rather the ending of the first half of this season, we saw the fleet and the allied cylons arrive at Earth only to find the place devastated with no signs of human life. This episode picked up right where we left off. Reports from teams around the world report the same thing: devastation, no living humans, and radiation. We learn that a nuclear holocaust occurred about 2000 years prior but something more interesting is found. They find human remains along with cylon-like machines. I say cylon-like because these toasters are not like the ones from the colonies. And perhaps the most interesting were that these humans weren’t really humans—they were also cylons. The Earthlings were skin jobs just like the final five and not the previous seven.

Since Earth is not what they hoped for and they can’t stay there because of the radiation, this causes the entire fleet to despair. In one of the most heart-wrenching, and disturbing scenes I have ever seen on television, Dee shoots herself in the head. Admiral Adam tried to commit suicide by XO. President Roslin has a breakdown. D’Anna gives up and is ready to die on Earth.

Some other interesting things:

The colonial signal that they followed to Earth on was from Starbuck’s real fighter. She find the wreckage and her body. How did her Viper get to Earth? If that dead body is her, then who is she? It’s enough to make a cylon freak out.

The final five were alive on Earth when the nuclear holocaust occurred. I say the final five because we apparently know who the fifth cylon is and it’s not Starbuck. A flashback sequence shows that is it Ellen Tigh. What happened on Earth? How did they get to the Colonies centuries later?


QuakerJono said...

Okay, here are my impressions:

Overall, not terribly impressed. Not only did someone nuke Earth, but they nuked it so hard that, apparently some 2000 years in the future (let's gloss right over the science of this too, by the way), it still appears to be in the grips of a Swedish existentialist film. Seriously, I expected someone to announce that Ingmar Bergman was the fifth cylon. Did we run out of budget and could only afford a blue filter for our camera or something? I assume they have more revelations forthcoming on this and I have my own theory, but at the moment, going with the "Earth done got nuked" angle just feels cheap and contrived after having to wait for around a year.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for symbolism and allegory. But it needs to be better controlled and more focused. I actually started laughing when they had Tigh getting 'baptized' in the water. I mean, come on. Are we going to have Rosalind drag a cross through a scene too? Good grief.

Totally called Dee's demise. I do that. I annoy friends with my ability. Ten minutes into "The Fifth Sense" I leaned over to my friend and said, "You know Bruce Willis is dead, right?" She didn't believe me, but then she did and wouldn't stop pestering me for lotto numbers. It's not precognition or ESP or anything metaphysical, really. It's that there's nothing new under the sun in mass market entertainment and plot contrivances are, more often than not, just that.

One of the old standards of emotionally manipulative narrative is "Torture The Fluffy Bunny". Take the emotional center of your story, the few vaguely likable people, do horrible mental things to them and then, after you've destroyed them psychologically, kill them. It doesn't have to make sense, it doesn't even have to be in their character. People will be so shocked and appalled by your cruelty that they'll mistake it for real emotional development. Plus, people want to identify with the fluffy bunny so hurting them is tantamount to hurting your audience, at least enough to get them involved. It's a cheap and tacky way to provoke sympathy and BSG has not been above using it in the past.

So, the second Dee became "long suffering" but basically good, I knew we had a "Dead Supporting Character Walking." When she had her little breakdown on the shuttle, her fate was sealed. However, something tells me we haven't seen the end of her.

Which brings me to my theory. Everyone's a cylon who only think they're human and Earth is some sort of giant Hub, bringing back any cylon/human who dies near it (hence the repeating "This has all happened before" motto). Now, I'm not convinced of this, and they've kept a couple of options open, but it certainly seems the most likely interpretation at this point. I'm also not exactly sure how it plays out. Did the flashbacks the final four were having stem from them being cylons on Earth were cylons or because they were humans and cylon resurrection was some sort of human bid for immortality that went wrong, but I'm practically convinced it's going to develop along these lines.

David said...

^Dang. You already had the record for the longest comment on my blog. :-P

Well, I won’t argue with you about the Fluffy Bunny thing as BSG has a history of killing of the nice people. I’m still angry about Paul Campbell/Billy Keikeya by the way. That’s an interesting theory that you have. I was thinking along the lines that Human and Colonial histories were developing the same way except that the Humans were further along the evolutionary process. I’m guessing that the 13th Tribe came as humans to Earth originally and developed their own cybernetic technology to the point that humans became cylons. But I question my own theory because it doesn’t fit in with the need for procreation. Even though the significant seven were able to achieve a sort of immortality through resurrection, they actively sought out to reproduce sexually. Clearly through Tyrol, the final five have this capability. So I have to wonder at Ellen’s final words, if reproduction was used, why resurrect? The next thing I question is why was a toaster there? If human cylons were in existence, would they still create their versions of toasters. It seems obvious as the Colonial cylons keep centurions but still, something it doesn’t seem to fit quite right.