This week’s Danger Gal Friday profile examines the Battlestar Galactica character of Lt. Sharon “Athena” Agathon.
Athena is a Number Eight humanoid Cylon. I’ve deliberately chosen to profile the Athena version of Number Eight as opposed to the Lt. Junior Grade Sharon “Boomer” Valerii version, even though the two share many of the same memories and experiences. While Boomer was a sleeper Cylon agent who tried to assassinate Galactica Commander Adama, Athena’s main mission was originally to procreate with a human male. Not a particular terrific trait for a Danger Gal, you might be wondering, but Athena has proven that she’s much more than her programming.
In common with Boomer, Athena is a Raptor pilot, a multipurpose military spacecraft similar in purpose to the U.S. Navy’s EA-6 Prowler, but designed after the U.S. Army’s Apache helicopter. According to Wikipedia, a Raptor:
. . . scouts ahead of the fleet and it accompanies Vipers and provides targeting information and electronic counter measures (akin to the EA-6B Prowler). Raptors can also carry external munitions to assist Vipers against large targets. Its non-combat roles include SAR (search and rescue) operations (akin to the SH-60 Sea Hawk) and transport of military personnel in hostile areas. Raptors, unlike Vipers, are capable of short-range FTL jumps. They are also capable of atmospheric operations. Standard crew includes a pilot and electronics countermeasure officer (ECO)
Other Cylon models have said that the Number Eight is flawed, when in fact Athena seems to be the only one able to find some balance in, as Hathor Legacy points out, the overly-emotional nature of the humanoid Cylons. They all seem to go to extremes, but unlike all the others Athena has a purpose, and it’s that function which enables her to find her way out of the Cylon emotional morass. First, her purpose is simple: procreate. That purpose becomes complicated when Athena actually falls for her intended mate, Lt. Karl “Helo” Agathon, whom she eventually convinces that her feelings are true. Athena’s sense of purpose begins with self-preservation, but radiates out in an ever-widening circle as she begins to become more accepted in the Galactica ranks.
After first wanting only to avoid being “boxed” by her fellow Cylons, Athena then finds a purpose with Helo, then finds a purpose through protecting her daughter Hera. These personal initiatives expand when she chooses the call-sign Athena and begins to find purpose in protecting the crew of the Galactica and finally the fate of the human race. Intentionally or not, this is an interesting metaphor for a growing maturity. When we’re young we think only of ourselves, as we age that concern moves outward. From this perspective, the epithet “Athena,” the goddess of wisdom and war, seems appropriate.
After a long struggle, Athena is valued not just for her ability to procreate, but as a partner and protector as well. It’s important to note, as contentgrrl does, that these latter two achievements came after she became a mother, contrary to many stories where once married or giving birth a female character isn’t so valued. A similar and refreshing comparison is Stargate: Atlantis’ character of Teyla, whose Wraith communication abilities actually become more powerful with approaching motherhood.