SciFi Weekend Part I: Are We All Cylons?

bsg-frak-earth

Sometimes a Great Notion, the mid-season premier of Battlestar Galactica, answered some questions but raised even bigger questions. This does contain major spoilers, but I would think that anyone who plans to watch the episode later already realizes they need to avoid any on line discussion of the show.

The fleet, along with their new Cylon allies, landed on Earth at the conclusion of the previous episode before a several month hiatus. They found a planet which had been destroyed, and early in this week’s episode it was established that it had been destroyed in a nuclear attack about two thousand years earlier. There was a series of real shockers as we learned more. Toaster Cylons were found, but they were a different model than was known, initially suggesting that humans of Earth had built their own Cylons which proceeded to destroy them.  The story became even more complicated when they found that the inhabitants of Earth were actually Cylons. With the theme of things reoccurring, has the fleet arrived on the Earth two thousand years after our destruction (and are we therefore Cylons), are they our ancestors, or is there more than one place known as Earth?

I was a bit puzzled how they established that Earth had been settled by Cylons  from the remains considering that they couldn’t differentiate humans from Cylons infiltrating the fleet. Finding that the thirteenth tribe which settled Earth was a Cylon tribe totally changes the time line in which we believed the human-appearing Cylons were a recent development. This also means that there were many more models of Cylons besides those we have seen and the one so far unidentified model.

Another shock came when Starbuck found her own crashed Viper along with her dead body. We knew all along that there was something fishy about the manner in which she went to Earth and later returned, but this creates more questions as to how her body, along with Viper, were recreated. Does this mean she is yet another form of Cylon, or is someone also now resurrecting humans? Is there really even a meaningful difference between humans and Cylons?

Many members of the fleet  responded with despair to the realization that their hopes of finding Earth were now destroyed. The most dramatic example was seeing Dee arrange to live out one last perfect day before committing suicide.

Throughout the episode we saw clues that the recently-revealed Cylons among the fleet had actually lived on Earth before its destruction. The episode concluded with the revelation of the final Cylon when Colonel Tigh had a vision of himself and Ellen during the attack of two thousand years earlier. Before she died, Ellen reassured her then and future husband that they will be reborn together. Why were only these five to be resurrected? Is there a relationship between their resurrection and whatever happened to Starbuck? If resurrection of the final five is possible, will we see Ellen again?

Prior to the airing of the episode, Variety had several articles on the show.  This included “luminaries in many fields” including our friend Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly’s Politcal Animal blog who wrote about the politics of the show. Steve also does a weekly radio show which discusses both politics and science fiction.

Ron Moore discussed last night’s episode with Maureen Ryan. He explained how he decided on making Ellen the final Cylon. As has been clear from other interviews, while the Cylons might have had a plan from the start, Moore did not have his plan for the series laid out until later:

Why Ellen?

There’s a certain logic to it. I sort of figured out early on that I liked the pairing of her and Tigh. [I liked] that there was something deeper to their marriage and deeper to their relationship, that it was literally a relationship that had transcended time and space, that it was very ancient that had gone on for a very long time. It was something that was [mentioned] in the pilot for “Galactica.”

And he had killed her for collaborating with the Cylons! There were layers and depths to that I felt were really fascinating, about guilt and blame and memory and responsibility, and I just really liked the way that all tied together…

When did you make that selection?

It was somewhere in the course of the third season [that the possibility was first raised.] We killed Ellen early that season and we didn’t have an inkling of that at that point. But at the point that we killed Ellen, around the same time frame, I was starting to come up with the idea that there were five Cylons that had yet to be revealed.

At the beginning of the third season, Baltar had gone to live on the Cylon base ship for a string of episodes. And it was really that plot move that threw into relief — well, once Baltar’s over in the Cylon world, why wouldn’t he see all 12 of them? How could we get around that and parcel that out? Then I had this idea, well, what if it’s not random? What if there’s a meaning to the fact that we haven’t seen the five of them? And that’s how the Final Five became part of the mythos.

Over the course of the third season, Ellen came and went in my thinking in terms of who the final five were. It probably wasn’t until we settled on the final four that I knew it was Ellen. When we got to the final four — Tigh, Anders, Tory and Tyrol — then it felt like, “and Ellen has to be the fifth.” Because Tigh being revealed as a Cylon was such a profound shift in that character, such a big leap for the show, that it felt really natural that she was also a Cylon.

It sounds like we will probably see Ellen again, but this is not clear as he might be speaking of a flash back:

So we will come to know, in this next set of episodes, who knew that Ellen was a Cylon, and that will play out in what’s coming?

Yes.

So we’ll see her again. Does she figure prominently in the season?

I don’t want to give too much away, but it won’t be the last time that you see Ellen.

As Ellen knew before she died that they would be reborn, should Ellen return she might also know more about what is going on than the other four final Cylons.

While the identity of the final Cylon had been treated as the big mystery, the questions about the history of Earth and its relation to the Cylons created even bigger questions. Moore provided some hints in this series of questions, verifying that Earth had really been destroyed two thousand years earlier and whether the planet is really Earth:

The crazy thing about this is, even without Ellen, even without Dee, we also got a ton of information or clues about what happened on Earth and what happened with the Colonies in the past. I could spend an hour asking you questions about that. 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?

I think you can read that as fact.

The part of the timeline I’m having trouble with is this: We know that the Colonies had a cataclysm 2,000 years ago, then we find out Earth had a cataclysm 2,000 years ago. Am I getting something wrong in how I’m looking at the history?

No, you are getting it correctly. I can say that later, as we get through subsequent episodes, there will be more explanations, and actually all this timeline stuff does lock into place. You have to read the subsequent chapters, but it will actually make sense.

We see the flashback of Tyrol in that marketplace, and it seemed like a planet full of lots of different kinds of people, not just 12 different models. Is that right?

Yes.

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?

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

While Moore verifies the planet is Earth he did not outright rule out the possibility that it  is not the only Earth. In the original series, the fleet went to Terra Prime initially believing it was Earth, and later discovered otherwise. If things which happened before are to happen again in Moore’s Battlestar Galactica universe, could a tribe leave to settle a planet named Earth more than once?

Two weeks ago I posted information on the rumored final scene of Battlestar Galactica. Assuming this is true, there are questions as to how this fits in with what we learned in this week’s episode. Does the final scene with Six take place two thousand years ago before the destruction of Earth, in a future when things will repeat themselves and Earth civilization as we know it comes into existence, or on another planet also known as Earth? The final episodes should be interesting as we learn what all this means.

(The return of Battlestar Galactica deserved a post of its own. Part II and Part III of SciFi Weekend will be posted later this weekend with information on shows including Lost, Doctor Who, Torchwood, 24, and Jericho.)

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Earth and 2000 years ago says:

    Hi
    Please help I never understood how the cylons got to earth  2000 years ago ? they were not created by Caprica people  that long ago?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    The events of Battlestar Galactica took place thousands of years ago with the ending of the show occurring with the beginning of the human race.

    It would actually be in the neighborhood of 150,000 years ago at the time of the “primordial Eve.” There are also two different earths. There’s the original earth which Galactica found destroyed by war and the new planet they wound up on at the end which they also named earth (and which is our earth).

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