Not all who wander are lost
Starbuck meets the mysterious Slick and Boomer betrays everyone once again. What follows is a review of “Someone To Watch Over Me.” Beware the spoilers if you haven’t watched it yet.
(1) The In-Betweeness of Things
In my review of “Deadlock,” I brought up the concept of liminality, or the betweeness of things, and pointed out how the motif had manifested in Battlestar Galactica with the prevalence of beach references, Roslin’s visions of Elosha in the zero-time of jump space and her near-death existence, the Hybrids and Hera being combinations of human and Cylon, and the Threes repeated suicide to discover what exists “between life and death.” Well, this concept came up again in “Someone to Watch Over Me” when Slick, who we now know is Starbuck’s father, tells her that:
“Sometimes lost is where you need to be. Just because you don’t know your direction doesn’t mean you don’t have one.”
While the quote in the title of this post is actually from J.R.R. Tolkein, I thought it also summed up both Starbuck’s and Boomer’s storylines in this episode. Starbuck feels lost, but seemingly has a direction even if she isn’t aware of it. Boomer, on the other hand, has a definite direction — and one possibly programmed into her by John Cavil — and yet is one of the most lost characters on the show. Starbuck is making use of her free will even if her journey has been uneven, but Boomer has no free will. Since we know that John Cavil programmed the Final Five for maximum misery, we know he has the skills to make Boomer indeed into his “Pet Eight” as Ellen has called her.
This “in-betweenness” motif is hammered home twice more in this episode by dialogue such as Starbuck claiming that the Watchtower song “made me feel happy and sad at the same time,” and Slick saying “[Y]ou’re asking the wrong guy. I’m just a piano player” despite us knowing that he has to be much, much more. This motif is reinforced even more by her father’s first name “Dreilide” which means “third eyelid” in German and describes usage of one’s Third Eye. Esoterically, those described as using their Third Eye are considered seers — like Pythia. Seers see into both the corporeal world and the Otherworld, sometimes into the future.
It’s really when Starbuck embraces both her past and accepts the unknown of her future is she able to play the Watchtower song and transmit that song to the Five. It may be that the song is always being transmitted, but that the Five need an amplifier: Starbuck. The first time they heard it was when Starbuck returned via the Ionian Nebula and now this second time as Starbuck actually plays the song itself. Starbuck will only know the path to take when she is no longer invested in either the Colonials or the Cylons, or perhaps when she is invested in both sides equally. Either way she will exist betwixt the two groups.
(2) The Truth of the Opera House and the Immortal Composer
In “Deadlock” Roslin asked Caprica if she’d had any further visions of the Opera House. Neither woman had since Caprica’s pregnancy. That was the first reference to the Opera House in quite some time. In “Someone To Watch Over Me” we have yet another reference to the Opera House. This time it’s from the recording Helo recovers for Starbuck of her father performing “Live at the Helice Opera House.” We also have Starbuck saying to her father at one point: “If you want to be an immortal composer, you better learn how to play that thing first.” (emphasis mine) Dreilide is either one of the Lords of Kobol or some incarnation of Number Seven “Daniel the artist” — or both. If Daniel managed to survive whatever foul play John Cavil dished out to him he may have evolved into some other new form that was not quite corporeal.
Here’s a crazy idea I had:
Let’s say both the Colonials and Cylons are all some sort of artificial life-form. IOW, the “they’re all Cylons” idea. What if because of the nature of Cylons, Daniel/Dreilide can not only manifest as a head character, but also manipulate a person’s programming as well? And if he merged a bit of his own programming with someone else’s in this way, wouldn’t this create a kind of offspring? We’ve been told that Starbuck is not “Cylon,” which I think means she’s strictly not one of the Cylons the Colonials or Final Five created. Perhaps Daniel/Dreilide aspires to be some sort of Immortal Composer, but he hasn’t quite learned how to play the “song of creation” correctly yet. He’s been able to create and recreate Starbuck, but couldn’t leave his work/art as Socrata wanted him to because his art was creation in a very fundamental sense.
I still hope this story ties up the loose ends of the Lords of Kobol in some way. It does seem that Aurora should make a reappearance in the finale titled “Daybreak.”
(3) “We can’t set ourselves up as gods.”
In Joe’s Bar, Ellen flat out says to Tyrol that “We can’t interfere. We can’t set ourselves up as gods.” The natural ending to this sentence for me is “like the Lords of Kobol did.” It lends credence to the idea that Kobol was the last attempt in a long pattern of Cylons and humans living together in peace.
(4) Ellen is not a quack
I don’t think it makes any sense at all for Doc Cottle to shoo away Ellen, Tory, and Athena from Sam’s bedside. Ellen especially has more knowledge of Sam’s physiology than anyone else, including Cottle, so we should probably take seriously the off-hand comment of Athena that “…maybe his brain is rebooting; reorganizing as it heals. What if we could link him to the data stream like our hybrids?”
(5) The Shape of Things to Come
We know that Hera is the way of the future for both Cylons and Colonials. We also know that, like Pythia, Hera seems to be plugged into some sort of “data stream” no one else knows about, except perhaps Daniel/Dreilide or The One Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken. Like others, Ken Hynek has wondered about Cavil’s intentions and summarizes the threat of Hera:
The question becomes what purpose Cavil has in kidnapping Hera, and quite frankly I can’t think what his interest might be other than to kill her; she represents very powerful evidence against his assertion that even the humanoid Cylons are nothing more than machines, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he regarded her as a threat of the worst order.
I’m not convinced. If Cavil wanted Hera dead he could have ordered Boomer to end the girl’s life, but instead they brought her back to the basestar. I think Cavil wants Hera for two reasons: (1) as a bargaining chip to motivate the Final Five to rebuild resurrection (and they’re all together now as Ellen claimed they needed to be), and (2) to find out what Hera knows. Because Hera, like Pythia, knows things such as the notes to Along the Watchtower. Ellen and Saul pretty much say this out loud at the end of the episode. Hera is still too little to be able to articulate her knowledge, but I think she went to Boomer willingly because she’s plugged in to whoever is manipulating events. She probably knows who changed the Temple of Hopes to display the faces of the Five, something John Cavil would surely like to know. Hera knows she has to go with Boomer in order for what’s destined to happen. Going with the pattern of Eternal Return, I wonder if Pythia was a hybrid child like Hera. Ken Hynek adds a few more details to this idea:
Which, now I think about it, would tie things up handily if it were the case. Cavil dismissed the ramblings of a basestar hybrid as “vomit[ing] metaphysics,” which I note is rather an analog to Lee Adama’s dismissal of Pythian prophecy as “ramblings.” At the same time, we know for a fact that the Leoben Conoy-model Cylons view the Hybrid utterances as the articulation of the mind of God—it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to think that somebody could have had the same view of a Thirteenth Tribe Hybrid and thus undertaken to record her every saying.
(6) A Jealous God
In a deleted scene of “Kobol’s Last Gleaming Part 1,” Elosha tells Adama that one of the Kobolians wanted to be raised up higher than the others and this is what broke the peace between humans and the Lords of Kobol. This Jealous God seems to have quite a few similarities to John Cavil. I’ve been assuming a connection between this Jealous God and The One Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken, but I’m now wondering if this latter title refers to Daniel in the form he took after he survived Cavil’s assault (see #2 above). He might have existed as some kind of non-entity without a name.
(7) The Eternal Return
It may seem that I am mixing up the timeline, but I’m in fact deliberately moving back and forth between the mythology of the Lords of Kobol and the current storyline. Because of the Eternal Return idea — that “all these things have happened before and will happen again” — I think we can look to current characters playing similar roles as those who lived before them. Plus, I’m not convinced what we’re seeing is a linear timeline since some characters are able to manipulate both perception and time. Case in point, Cylon projection manipulates perception, and whoever/whatever transported and resurrected Starbuck manipulated both space and time. Also, if Ronald Moore is as Zen as I keep reading he is, the writers have already told us this flat out with Leoben’s dialogue in “Flesh and Bone:”
Each of us plays a role; each time a different role. Maybe the last time I was the interrogator and you were the prisoner. The players change, the story remains the same. And this time—this time—your role is to deliver my soul unto God. Do it for me. It’s your destiny. And mine.
While I haven’t quite figured out who’s who yet, Hera does seem to be linked to Pythia, Daniel/Dreilide may be an incarnation of The One Whose Name Cannot Be Spoke, and John Cavil may be connected to the Jealous God. The only other Lord of Kobol of significance is Athena, who committed suicide by jumping off a cliff, which sounds very similar to Starbuck flying into the maelstrom.
(8) Boomer’s Destination
Most viewers are assuming that Boomer is heading back to John Cavil and this may indeed be the case. However, where does Tryol think Boomer is going to? He obviously had no knowledge of Hera’s kidnapping and would never even entertain the idea of sending Boomer back to Cavil. The only alternative I can think of is Tryol thought Boomer was going to search for a habitable world. Also, I’m inclined to believe her when Boomer claims to really love Tyrol because I do think she’s programmed to be Cavil’s “Pet Eight” without the ability to truly act on her feelings. This was the case when Boomer shot Adama as well — she didn’t want to do it but was compelled to. Possibly programming Boomer to his will and using the inhibitor chips in the Centurions lends even more credence to John Cavil’s connection to the Jealous God.
(9) The Dying Leader
Others have theorized that Adama is in fact the dying leader mentioned in the Pythia Prophecy, or that the Galactica is the dying leader. I still think it’s Roslin and I think that while her stopping medication hastened her death, Hera’s kidnapping may be what finally does Roslin in.
It’s fun that the writers finally found a way to work this reference from TOS in to the new series. In his own review of “Someone To Watch Over Me,” Ken Hynek points out a particular irony via Battlestar Wiki:
The brand of “Tauron toothpaste” offered as a prize to the pilots is called “Felgercarb,” a word used in the original series to mean “shit.” Tauron comes from Taurus the bull. In essence, Kara is offering the pilot who finds a new planet “bullshittoothpaste”.