The Cylon Future and Past

I’ve been letting the season premiere of Battlestar Galactica sink in before posting about it, but I have had a bit of fun commenting over on Brad Templeton’s Battlestar Blog and Kenneth Hynek’s post Sometimes a Great. . .Ellen? about the Fifth Cylon reveal. I’ll recount here what I’ve said there and also add in a few new thoughts. This post contains spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the “Sometimes a Great Notion” episode, be warned.

ellen_tigh_deadThe Fifth Cylon

In the articles and reactions I’ve read so far, there’s been discussion about BSG creator Ron Moore being much more interested in character development than plot development or scientific rigor. I do think that stories are best when they’re character-driven, but the plot and the science of a Science Fiction story have to also make sense and be internally consistent. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case for BSG, but we’ll certainly find out in the coming episodes. In a character-driven story the reader/audience has to care about the fate of the characters, even anti-heroes. We may not agree with their actions, but we should understand them and there has to be an aspect that touches us. So, on this standard, Ellen fails for me. Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune summed up well my own attitude toward Ellen:

I wasn’t a huge fan of Ellen in Seasons 1 and 2; the vampy, flirting Ellen, and the inept political strategist Ellen just weren’t that compelling to me. But on New Caprica, Ellen became much more interesting, and I think Kate Vernon really stepped up and delivered some amazing work in her scenes with Cavil and especially in her death scene. The thought of more Ellen scenes, especially if they involve Cavil and the superlative Michael Hogan as Tigh — that sounds good to me.

I may revisit those episodes on New Caprica now since Ryan saw such a change in Ellen’s character, but the “vampy, flirting Ellen, and the inept political strategist Ellen” are pretty much stuck in my head right now. Logically, revealing Ellen as the Fifth Cylon makes a lot of sense, much more sense than my favorite Dualla, but I shied away from the Ellen idea because I just don’t care what happens to her. So she’s the Fifth, so what? I never understood why she did the things she did. She just sort of randomly made everyone’s lives miserable. Now I know why, but she never stuck with me for that reason. I like the idea of star-crossed lovers meeting over and over across time and space. That is compelling.

It will be very disappointing if at the end Moore just says “And then God(s) made it all happen.” I like the metaphor and the mytho-religious/religio-magical aspects of the show, but I prefer Science Fiction that takes the Arthur C. Clarke approach, for instance—if we forget how science works then we think “magic is indistinguishable from science.” That’s how I’ve interpreted BSG, that there is indeed a rational, scientific explanation for all these things and civilization has simply forgotten what that is. I think this plays well with the “this has all happened before and will happen again” theme. However, it remains to be seen how or if Moore will connect the dots.

The Big Sleep

Dualla may indeed be really dead. Or not. Moore has set a precedent for himself by bringing back two female characters from the dead (Starbuck and now Ellen). Either Dualla is not really dead or the possible clues were just placed to up the emotional impact when she committed suicide: the humming, the photos in her locker, the jacks. All of the other characters who found artifacts on the planet were Cylons. Either way, I think it’s pretty harsh that Kandyse McClure didn’t even get to attend the series wrap party. This interview rings very similar to interviews Katie Sackhoff conducted after Starbuck “died.”

tightotlersThe Final Five

When Ellen tells Saul that “everything is in place” for them “to be reborn,” this can’t be the first time they’ve resurrected, and if it is then the Five existed in a near immortal state for a looonnng time prior to that moment. The destruction of “Earth” happened 2,000 years prior to what is currently happening in the show—simultaneous with the exodus from Kobol, if I understand the timeline correctly. Which means that the Temple of Five was built 2,000 years prior to the destruction of “Earth.” The Final Five have at least been around for 2,000 years before “Earth” was destroyed. Moore confirms with Ryan that the planet’s destruction and the exodus from Kobol happened simultaneously. What if the resurrection hub that Ellen vaguely refers to was on Kobol and it’s their rebirth that breaks up the paradise between the Lords and the Colonial humans?

In a recent interview, Kate Vernon, who plays Ellen Tigh, revealed this little tidbit about the nature of Ellen and Tigh — and so conceivably also the Final Five:

“These are two people who are deeply in love and deeply dysfunctional. I mean, hey, we’re like half— hybrids. We’re missing a few synapses…we’re half and half.”

So, the Final Five are half-human, half-Cylon maybe? If you watch the interview Vernon starts to say “half” and then stops herself and says “hybrids.” When asked if Six was modeled after Ellen, Vernon replied “no,” but did mention that when they morphed their faces together they did find bone structure similarities between the two actresses and played that up.

Cylons on Earth

If the remains on the planet are Cylon, then where did the Colonial humans come from? The Colonials believe that “Life here began out there,” on Kobol. What if the Kobolians were an advanced race of some sort who endeavored to create human life, but disagreed about the details? The “one whose name cannot be spoken” wanted to create Cylon-type beings and the rest of the Lords wanted to create Colonial human-type beings. The Five were the first creations of The One. The One created his Thirteenth Tribe and took them to “Earth,” and the rest of the Lords created Colonial-humans and lived with them in peace on Kobol. What if the Five switched sides after building the Temple? Alternately, what if the Five were sent as spies to the Twelve colonies? What if the virus in the beacon was genetic warfare by the Kobolians to destroy the Thirteenth Tribe? What if the Five seeded the Colonial humans with the knowledge to create Centurion-model Cylons, ensuring the design would be similar to what The One had created on “Earth.” If The One is the Jealous God, then he would be trying to convert all of the Kobolian creations over to worship him. At what point did the Five return to “Earth,” since we know they were there when it was destroyed? Or were there once “many copies” of the Five?

Maureen Ryan’s interview with Moore shed some light, sort of, on a few other aspects of this destroyed planet they’ve found:

RYAN: Tigh and Baltar are offering this theory that the Cylons are the 13th tribe and they found this planet and they called it Earth. Are we to read that as a theory or as fact?

MOORE: I think you can read that as fact.

Then later:

RYAN: That planet is Earth? We’re not going to find out, “Oh, there’s this other Earth over here…”  This is the only Earth we’ll see?

MOORE: They have found Earth. This is the Earth that the 13th Colony discovered, they christened it Earth. They found Earth.

templeofauroraLeft, model of the Roman Forum Boarium showing the possible location of the Temple of Mater Matuta. Via the Battlestar Galactica Forum.

These words seem carefully chosen to me. We haven’t seen anything that even resembles Earth — no recognizable continents, no moon, the ruins don’t look like anything on Earth, and we’ve been told that the constellations “match up,” but that could apply to several locations. The Colonials supposedly found the ruins of the Temple of Aurora, but the only Temple of Aurora ever on Earth was in the Roman Forum Boarium to Mater Matuta/Aurora/Eos. (Read this thread on the Battlestar Galactica Forum for more information on the Roman Forum Boarium.) It will be disappointing if the whole series turns out to be in another reality or in some kind of simulation.

Also interesting from Ryan’s article is the portion with writer Bradley Thompson on the making of “Sometimes a Great Notion” where earlier versions of the script called for Tyrol’s flashback to include a moment where he sees a woman he thinks might be Sharon. Sharon existing on “Earth” would be significant and also would add a layer to Tyrol’s earlier relationship with her. The writers have made it clear the the Eights have always been different in some way. Here are the two versions that were nixed due to budget constraints:

…A woman’s black hair, her dark eyes looking out at him. Could it be Sharon? No. Before we can recognize her, she turns away from the shattered opening.
Tyrol walks along an apartment wall. Catches sight of a WOMAN’S dark hair in the doorway. A glimpse of her almond eyes. She turns away. He steps up his pace.

Cycle of Time

There has been a lot of speculation about how Dylan’s “Along the Watchtower” could belong in the story and incredulity that Anders may have “been” Dylan in his previous life. I hope that Anders is NOT Dylan. Moore said in the Frak Party Podcast that:

“. . .I wanted to use “All Along the Watchtower” playing in a jukebox, in the background, not in the familiar Hendrix version, but just a Galactica version of ‘Watchtower,’ as a way of saying to the audience that there is a tie between this show and our reality. That, essentially—y’know, you’ve heard us say, over and over again throughout the series—that “all this has happened before, and all of it will happen again and there’s a sense of the cycle of time, that certain of these events are preordained, and that there’s a cycle, there’s truly a cycle.”

The Cycles of Time are connected. I prefer they be connected by some kind of technological development rather than mystical. If humans/Cylons have been resurrecting for eons it would be logical for some of each Cycle’s knowledge be saved somehow. I just keep thinking about Ellen’s words to Tigh at the end of “Sometimes a Great Notion” that “all is in place.” If they knew the end of the world was coming and created some kind of resurrection hub, you can bet they also would have stored at least some of their civilization’s knowledge. Shakespeare and Dylan would certainly have been included. Maybe there have been so many cycles that the information is corrupted or the media of storage is organic and therefore accessing it is not just as simple as finding a file on your hard drive.

There also seems to be confusion over the timeframe of the Thirteenth Tribe’s exodus. If all of the dates are correct, I suppose it could be explained by three waves of exodus. The first wave, 4,000 years before the Fall of the Twelve Colonies, had to have happened though in order for the location of Earth to be recorded at the Temple of Five.


B.F. = Before the Fall of the Twelve Colonies

4,000 B.F. Lords of Kobol and The One create Cylon-humans and Colonial-humans.
The One takes his creation, the Thirteenth Tribe and the Five, to “Earth.”
Temple of Five is built by the Five on their trip to “Earth.”
3,600 B.F. Pythian Prophecy recorded.
3,000 B.F. Lion’s Head nebula beacon and virus created.
Thirteenth Colony left for “Earth.”
2,000 B.F. “Earth” destroyed; Final Five upload/resurrect.
Exodus of the 12/13 Tribes from Kobol (Lords of Kobol go where?).
62 B.F. Toaster Cylons Rebel/First Cylon War begins/Articles of Colonization signed.
50 B.F. Graystone creates Zoe-R (skinjob) with technology stolen from Tomas Vergis.
40 B.F. Cimtar Peace Accord, armistice of the First Cylon War; Cylons disappear
(Zoe-R and Graystone go with them? Graystone becomes the First Hybrid?)
Year 1 Fall of the Twelve Colonies/Second Cylon War.
Map to “Earth” found in Tomb of Athena

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