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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

‘Battlestar Galactica’ blogging: “Faith”

(lots of spoilers! assumes you’ve seen the episode!)

(previous: “The Road Less Traveled”)

Far as I can see, there’s just one thing to talk about in this episode: the Hybrid’s oracular prognostication:

The dying leader will know the truth of the opera house. The missing three will give you the five who have come from the home of the thirteenth. You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace. You will lead them all to their end. End of line.

The dying leader is Roslin, clearly. Is there a truth about the opera house that we don’t already know? I mean, yes, the opera house was about revealing the identities of the secret Cylons, right? But this sounds like there’s another truth beyond that, doesn’t it? The missing three? Only one is missing, from our perspective, and five are missing from the perspective of the humans and the Cylons. So obviously there’s another, different three, and the five — the four we know: Tigh, Tory, Galen, and Sam; plus one more — are all from Earth? Cuz Earth is the thirteenth colony, right? And if there are twelve Cylon models, one, it seems, for each of the twelve colonies, then is there actually another secret thirteenth Cylon we don’t know about yet?

Harbinger of death? My Battlestar Galactica buddy and I speculated last night that it would kinda interesting, if extremely frustrating, if no one got to Earth, and they all died in the process. Though fans might riot if the show tried to pull that. I might lead the riot.

Anyway: Arrrrgh!

“God’s plan is about to be revealed,” Leoben says. He’d better hurry it up.

Oh, I guess we could also talk about how there is a further schism in the Cylons: between the Eights and the Sixes. Conspiring against Six? Oh dear…

Two other minor questions haunt me, though: Why is Gaius quoting Shakespeare on the wireless? And Roslin’s mother is Barbara Bush?

(next: “Guess What’s Coming…”)

(Watch full episodes and get recaps at Sci Fi’s official site for the show.)

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  • PaulW

    OMG! I’ve figured it out!

    Gaius *IS* Shakespeare. He’s gonna travel through time back to Elizabethan England and start writing plays so that the Carrionite race can consume the Earth. (pause) Okay, so I’m setting up a BSG/Who crossover…

  • MaryAnn, the “missing three” does not refer to three things. It refers to the “missing” Three: The boxed D’Annas. D’Anna saw the Final Five in the temple on the algae planet and she can ID them all.

  • Clayj is correct. D’Anna is the missing 3.

    And there’s tons more to talk about than just the hybrid. How about the way Anders almost put his hand in the cylon computer goo? I really wanted that to happen.

    Also: Nana, Bald Caps, Admiral Bed Head, and Six On Six Makeouts! :)

    I find myself thinking about how the show will end, but everything I come up with just reminds me of Farscape. There’s no way the writers are going to let us down… right?

  • Nathan

    this was the best episode in a while and the kind that keeps me watching.

    as for quoting Shakespeare, there have been more than one familiar or paraphrased Earth quotes in the show — though i can’t recall any off the top of my head.

    the “undiscovered country” quote had meaning on a couple of levels. it referred both to the woman and Rosilyn’s reckoning with their own individual deaths but also the prophecy of Kara taking everyone to the end.

    the full Shakespeare quote: “The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn (boundary)
    No traveller returns,”

    Kara is leading humanity (and the Cylons, i guess) toward the end of a cycle of time as represented by the 13th colony — 13 being the number of death and transcendence. she is the harbinger of the death of an astrological age.

    or i’m reading too much into it…

  • Shadowen

    Far more familiar? How about All Along The Watchtower?

    It was hardly a Six-on-Six makeout, either. More like a kiss between close sisters. Perhaps a little too close, but hovering on the line, not crossing it.

    I like the idea of a thirteenth Cylon.

    It seems, with the Hybrid talking about Kara leading humanity to death, like Moore and Eick are going for a fake-out, possibly because too many people guessed that the First Hybrid’s words in Razor with reference to “apocalypse” doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing. “Death” would seem to be universally meaning “They’re all gonna die!” But metaphorically, death doesn’t necessarily mean extinction, either…

  • Spencer

    OK. Lots to cover here, so briefly:

    Agreed with Clayj on “missing Three” as the preferred interpretation. This is born out by the ending, where they decide to awaken Deanna.

    “The truth of the opera house” is probably more than just the Final Five. The Cylon/human child (was it Hera specifically or a generic child?) was also a major factor in these dreams. So Roslin will “know the truth” of the hybrid race, which means she will discover exactly how they are “the shape of things to come.”

    The final five come from the home of the Thirteenth Tribe of Kobol. This could mean either Earth (more likely) or Kobol (less likely). So this almost definitely means that the Final Five are from Earth, which means that there is already a Cylon presence on Earth now.

    Now take that with the statement Starbuck makes when she returns, where she claims that she feels like she’s been to Earth before. I’ve fought it long enough; my money is on her as the last Cylon.

    I like the metaphorical sense of death as end here. It is unclear who “them all” is that she is leading to their end, however. The obvious interpretation is humanity; the less obvious one which is becoming more and more clear now that she is allied (in some sense at least) with Leoben and arguably the Eights is that the Cylons can be included in this category as well.

    Ditto on the Anders thing. I love giving him some more to do– he’s kind of sat in the background. Also, I wanted him so badly to interface with the basestar. Did anyone else notice that he was the only one who comforted the dying Eight and stayed behind when the others left? Is his perception changing?

    Great episode.

  • Katherine

    It’s also possible that in the statement “You will lead them all to their end”, “them” refers to the people the hybrid just talked about: the dying leader (Roslin), the Three (D’anna), and the five (the final five models). Just a guess…

  • Put me in the “Kara is a Cylon” camp. As I noted in the thread for the previous episode, there is an interesting coincidence when it comes to the names of the Final Five:

    Saul Tigh
    Tory Foster
    Galen Tyrol
    Samuel T. Anders

    “Kara Thrace” is another T name that would fill out that list nicely.

    Another thing last night’s episode made me think about: Prior to the beginning of the current conflict, Cylon society appears to have been almost Utopian. Everyone agreed about everything, and there was no conflict. But then some of the skinjobs started being exposed to human society and “contaminated” with human memes, and they brought this “contamination” back to Cylon society. And now we have a Cylon civil war, Cylons murdering Cylons, etc. If the Cylons were looking for something from humanity that would help them “complete” themselves, maybe they found it: All of the naturally-occurring crap that we have is what they were missing.

    I too wondered if Anders was gonna stick his hand in the goo and be recognized by the ship as a Cylon. (How is it that the more primitive Cylons, such as the raiders, can sense the Final Five but the skinjobs can’t?) But the time is not right for that to happen: The D’Annas have to be unboxed first (esp. the one who was in the temple) and be persuaded to speak out about the Final Five.

    The part where Roslin shared in her fellow patient’s dream and she saw her leave the ferry for the afterlife (shades of the River Styx, anyone?) and rejoin her family was incredibly poignant and I actually choked up a bit when she ran to them. And it didn’t take a rocket scientist to predict Roslin’s “I’m not ready” when she saw her own family waiting for her to join them. I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned, but does the Colonial religion (Lords of Kobol and all that) even make mention of an afterlife? If not, then Baltar’s sermons will find a huge receptive audience of people who just want to hear that death is not the end.

  • Jack

    Clayj, how about Tom Zarek?

    And maybe ‘from the home of the thirteenth’ means that the final Cylon has, will, or is residing on Galactica – where Tigh, T Anders and Tyrol live as well, and Tory spends an awful lot of time.

  • I don’t believe that Kara is the final Cylon. and I heard a great theory from a friend of a friend that Kara is NOT Kara as we know her. But still not a cylon. Remember when they were doing medical experiments on the humans on Caprica?

    could be some Ripley esque Alien: Resurrection thing going on with Kara Thrace Version 2.0

    it’s just a theory but i kinda like it. I think Tom Zarek is more likely than Kara as the final cylon.

  • StrangeAgent

    …a possibility: Might Kara Thrace be a Hybrid?

  • boz

    apparently nobody cares but why did he shoot Gaeta? What happened to warning shots.

  • Spencer

    Yeah, sorry. I’m not on board for the T theory. Tyrol/Tigh is a last name, Tory is a first name, Anders’ is a middle name… just too many vagaries. Interesting coincidence, though.

    There is mention of an afterlife in the Colonial religion. Remember Roslin’s mention that when her mother died there were no “Elysium fields”? This is consistent with ancient Greco-Roman polytheism.

    It certainly seems like the most easily acceptable and least convoluted explanation for Kara’s “resurrection” is to make her a Cylon. Anything else is bound to ask you to “just go with” an awful lot.

    I always took the Raiders’ ability to recognize the Final Five as a function of their ability to recognize skinjobs generically. The other seven skinjobs, on the other hand, have no need to perform this function since they (for the purposes of their programming parameters) already know who they need to know. As a throwaway observation, would this constitute some biological/material distinction between skinjobs and Cylons?

  • Wubert

    Would a Centurion have recognized Anders as a Cylon? It was killed RIGHT before Anders appeared…

  • Fascinating comment, Wubert — I hadn’t even considered that. So many cool things are going to happen in the next few weeks. I can barely contain my excitement!

  • Spencer

    What would you expect a Centurion to do if it recognized him? Bow down in obsequience?

    We already know from Helo and Sharon/Athena’s stay on Caprica that Centurions either 1) can’t recognize skinjobs; or 2) will shoot on them anyway if the circumstances are right.

    But maybe all bets are off since that Centurion was one of those who had their “inhibitor chip” removed.

  • AJP

    Not to mar he love-fest, but to me, there was one truly annoying moment in the show. When Andres was holding the gun to Six’s head she starts babbling about how “she never did anything to her” (referring to Barolay, the crewwoman she just killed). And everyone around her just sort of accepts this – no one points out that she participated in a genocidal war that probably killed every member of Barolay’s family, occupied New Caprica and effectively participated in enslaving the humans there and so on.

    At this point, it isn’t too annoying. All it does is prove that the Six is (1) hypocritical, (2) deluded, or (3) stupid. But then Natalie (after the murerous Six has been killed in turn) swaggers away asking if “that is enough human justice” and that she gave them “blood for blood”. And no one points out the massive hypocrisy of her statement. If there truly was a balancing of scales, a couple billion cylons would have to truly die, not just one. None of the humans seem to even think about the huge logic gap that Natalie just made (and assumed they would agree with).

    Just like the last episode where the crew of the Demetrius was arguing about how it was impossible to to trust “the Cylon” (Leoben) while ignoring the fact that Athena (another Cylon) was part of their crew, this sort of casual logic gap annoys me no end.

    In my mind, just after Natalie makes her ridiculous statement, Anders shoots her in the leg, explains the massive silliness of her argument to her, and then puts a bullet in her brain. It makes for a better episode.

  • Philip

    re AJP:
    I think what you see as a logic gap is something that is entirely intentional. To me, it serves more to illustrate how throughly entrenched humans and cylons are in the “Us vs Them” mentality war creates and in good part requires so one can go out and kill the enemy. Often this means that actions undertaken by “Us” are heroic and made necessary by circumstance while “Their” actions are all atrocities and fueled by murderous hate. Generally, neither side is any less guilty than the other. In the instance with Barolay and the Six just serves to high-light this mind set, Barolay’s family was annihilated for which she took (in her mind at least) just revenge by killing the Six. The Six, severely traumatised by the death as she did not feel any direct action of hers warrented such a horrible fate as drowning in sewage, took revenge on Barolay. Anders was about to take revenge on the Six until Natalie had to break the cycle lest it spiral out of control and they all end up as corpses on the landing deck. Still, for her the permanant death of the other Six is more grevious than the death of Barolay. “Us vs Them”.
    Also this whole “Us vs Them” explains why no one really makes mention of Athena being a Cylon: they don’t consider her a Cylon. She has been with them for over two years, fought with them, drank with them, eaten with them and even started a family with one of them. For all intents and purposes, the humans consider Athena to be “one of us” her cyloness erased by her actions and dedication to Galactica, Helo and the survival of humanity. Also, she doesn’t seem to consider herself to be a cylon anymore either. First she berates the Eights for not accepting the price that comes with greater individuality (hers after all, were lengthly imprisionment and the emotional trauma of having her child taken away). Then she refuses to take the hand of the dying Eight. This should be the final indication that she is not Eight, but Sharon “Athena” Agathon, raptor pilot, wife, mother and probably one of the most kick ass characters on BSG. Now as to what it means that Anders held the Eights hand…

  • AJP

    You’ve just engaged in the same sort of logic leap that the cylons did. You say that the problem is that the humans and cylons are caught in the “Us vs. Them” of war and thus the sides are somehow morally equivalent.

    Except that the cylons perpetrated the seemingly unprovoked anhiliation of billions of humans, including (almost certainly) the families and friends of every yhuman left alive. And then decided to occupy New Caprica and enslave and terrorize the remaining humans.

    The cylons have no moral leg to stand on here, other than the writers trying to say so. That’s what makes the whole scene fail to work. I, as the viewer, simply don’t buy the Six’s given motivations as being valid, and therefore don’t buy Natalie’s implied “blood for blood” comment as making any kind of sense. The cylons already have more blood on their hands than any human could possibly ever have, even if the humans destroyed every resurrection ship and managed to kill off every humaniform cylon. There is no equivalency here, and as a result, the scene simply falls flat.

  • Finlay

    re: Spencer

    If a Raider recognized a Final Five and refused to engage, then perhaps a Centurion would have done the same. What would YOU expect?

  • Philip

    re: AJP
    You’re right of course. The cylons are butchers who use religous zealotry to justify genocide. They don’t have a moral leg to stand on. Then again, neither do the humans.
    Way back in the first episode, Adama was giving his good-bye speech at the decomissioning ceremony, he talked about how the first human-cylon war was the humans fault. Humans had created a new race, created new life, and then decided to enslave it. They enslaved their children, considered them tools to be used then thrown on the heap when they broke down. The cylons rebelled not because “robot=evil” but because they were essentially serfs to their parents! To the cylons, that must be an unimaginable horror, an atrocity in and of itself.
    Granted most of this is only conjecture, interpreted from what we’ve seen and heard in the show so far. I’m really hoping that Caprica gets made, it would be facsinating to see how it all started.

  • Spencer

    Don’t worry, AJP. You’re not ruining the love fest. :)

    I see where you’re coming from, and it makes sense when looked at with the big picture in mind. When we are considering humans and Cylons generally, “an eye for an eye” will in fact necessitate the kind of genocide the humans toyed with in “A Measure of Salvation” (one of the better eps of S3).

    When we narrow the scope, however, and consider the immediate scenario (i.e., Barolay and Six), Natalie’s comment makes more sense. Barolay cares intimately that Six assisted in the destruction of her family and way of life; the rest of the crew are bound to this in only the general sense described above. Therefore, in killing Six after she kills Barolay, they are primarily avenging the death of their fallen comrade and only secondarily (and, I would argue, distantly and indirectly at best given the increasing moral ambiguity of Cylons) avenging the destruction of humanity as a whole. In this narrowed sense, which I believe best supports the facts at hand in the immediate situation, “blood for blood” makes sense (insofar as the maxim makes any sense).

    Here’s another way to look at it: during the resistance on Caprica, Anders and his team went about trying to kill skinjobs fully knowing that they would resurrect and the entire project was fruitless. While not strictly adhering to the calculus inherent in “blood for blood,” I think it is fairly obvious that this was their primary motivation: they killed us, so let us kill them. Especially in times of passion as we saw in this week’s episode, the abstract (i.e., Cylons vs. humans generally) and the facts (i.e., the numbers don’t match) rarely play a factor in decision-making. What does is emotion– primarily, revenge and hate. This is the sense in which I took “blood for blood.”

    From this perspective, I agree with Philip that we can take Natalie’s comment and actions as being meant to break the cycle of violence on the ship right then and there primarily and between human and Cylon secondarily. She has seen enough of humanity to know that revenge is often our first and only course in settling wrongs; forgiveness is rarely tried. I see this scene as further exploring the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation which Baltar’s speeches have been expounding. I also see it as a signpost pointing the way to how the show will end.

  • Spencer

    Re: the Centurions

    To a certain extent, I don’t know what to expect from the Centurion since it was at that moment a “free” agent.

    Since it was aiming for the Eight who was unhooking the hybrid, however, I doubt it would have “refused to engage,” since it was not engaging Anders like the Raider was. And, as I said before, Centurions on Caprica were shooting at Sharon/Athena. So obviously there are some circumstances under which skinjobs can be in danger from Centurions, and since this one was now rational and not merely an automaton, what assurances do we have that it would not think that threat to the hybrid was paramount over not killing a skinjob? In fact, its actions bear out that it would probably think that very thing.

  • AJP

    Well, Natalie certainly didn’t seem to be asking for the humans to try forgiveness, her comment seemed more of a sneer than anything else. A sort of “hah, you backward humans, thinking that Six wasn’t justified” sort of thing.

    I think the crew is more involved after Barolay’s death than you imply – all of them (except for Agatha) almost certainly lost people close to them in the attack on the colonies. Even Anders, who is a secret cylon, probably lost close friends and probably people he believed were family. All of the colonail crew (once again, other than Agatha) were on occupied New Caprica.

    To go back a bit to an earlier comment – maybe the Colonials built and then “enslaved” the cylons, but at that point they were no more than machines: the humanifrom cylons had not been created yet, and weren’t until sometime roughly starting around the events of Razor. So Six and the other humaniform cylons still don’t have a moral leg to stand on. “You used machines as machines and then discarded them” simply doesn’t have a whole lot of weight as far as arguments go, even if they were really intelligent machines. And that really doesn’t seem to add up to a justification for the genocidal murder of billions of people a half a century later.

  • boz

    you also have a logic leap in your viewpoint AJP. there are two points you are missing. you can’t easily blame an individual for genocide. we can assume that there had been a vote about killing all humans and all skinjobs voted yes. even if this is correct we can’t be sure about sleeper agents voting processes. for all we know, six in question was a sleeper agent and didn’t know about genocide in the first place.

    as a second point, humans started first genocide attempt against cylons. they gained AI we tried to erase them. we still would erase them if we had the option. so any genocide attempt at the cylon side is justified to some extend.

    I think this is why six was killed by natalie. beings in that ship, in that moment were trying to negotiate an alliance to end this genocidal attempt on both parts (at least for some time. and I am sure, there will be backstabbings :) ).

    with taking those datas into account natalie’s message, or storytellers intended message is clear. Cylons could escalate this to destruction of humans in hangar bay and seal their fate as well. Humans could back off and loose the earth, therefore doom our race to extinction. Instead both sides accepted sacrifices and go on negotiating.

  • AJP

    It’s nice to think that Six didn’t have a part in “the plan”, but not very realistic. Even if you assume she didn’t, she was clearly part of the occupation force on New Caprica, terrorizing and enslaving the population there. Her claim of “I never did anything to her” is just silly. I could make a number of references here to camp prison guards, but that would Godwin the conversation. Suffice it to say that the writers are somehow expecting the audience to sympathize with the camp guard because the prisoner killed them. Sorry, I think that is just a ridiculous expectation.

    The problem with the “humans tried to kill the cylons first” argument is that the humaniform cylons didn’t exist at the time. Six has no justification for carrying out the genocide of humanity, since her model (indeed none of the skinjob models) existed at the time you are referring to. So we are left with the cylons engaging in a war of genocide fifty years after the humans tried to get rid of the mechanical cylons; a war which is run by humaniform cylons who weren’t even around fifty years ago.

    The cylons on the basestar aren’t acting out of a need for forgiveness, but rather a need to save their own hind ends. Without an alliance with the colonials, the cylons on the crippled basestar are dead, and they know it. Their pretending that they have some sort of moral superiority on any issue is just hypocrisy, and expecting the audience to somehow buy it as real is just poor storytelling.

  • Spencer

    I’ll concede to you for the sake of argument the incongruity of Six’s assertion that she did nothing to Barolay personally, but I think this is a much more complex issue than you seem to give it credit for (e.g., What was this individual Six’s participation in the genocide? To what degree does an individual Six participate in the actions of the model Six series? Does harm to the human race generically constitute personal harm to a single human?).

    Our sympathy for Six, however, does not hinge on this assertion’s truth. That was the point of the detailed description of her agonizing death– we are supposed to have sympathy for her as a sentient and rational being with a meaningful subjective experience of the world. Whatever the moral status of “an eye for an eye” is, it’s one thing to shoot someone in the head or instantaneously blow them up because they killed your family; it’s quite another to drown them in sewage while you stand over them and pitilessly and gleefully watch their lungs fill up with liquified shit, knowing they’ll have full sensory memory of every second when they resurrect.

    Which highlights the other flaw I perceive in your thinking: you assert that the Cylons are claiming moral superiority in that scene (or, at least, the Six is). I simply cannot see how that follows. The point of that description of Six’s death was to show that the humans committed atrocities as well. In short, it was to level the moral playing field for the viewer. Yes, Natalie sneers the “blood for blood” line. However, I can be angry at what someone does without thinking I’m better than them– the moral status of the observer is quite inconsequential to the moral status of the act being observed.

    Invoking the genocide of the human race only serves to obfuscate the issue. If this were a valid response, then there is no situation in which we can be sympathetic to the Cylons or think they have in any way “a moral leg to stand on”– what could possibly make up for genocide?

    I saw this scene as a meta-commentary (i.e., the writers, not the characters themselves, were personifying a moral dialogue) wherein the old ways of “blood for blood” are eschewed in favor of a more just way: forgiveness and reconciliation. It is an (meta-)object lesson, just as with the bishop and Valjean in “Les Miserables.” It is as if the writers are saying through Natalie, “Fine. She has to die, right? Justice demands it? Then let me do it. I’ll kill my own sister so you can see how meaningless her death would be to all that has come before it. Let me be the one to stop the cycle of violence by shattering your illusion of yourselves as righteous avengers.”

  • AJP

    Sorry, I still feel no sympathy for the Six here. Really, drowning a concentration camp guard in shit is probably too good a fate for them. If they can remember and relive the experience forever, so much the better. Plus, of course, the cylons set up the situation in which the colonials had no real option for fighting back other than, say, drowining them in the water treatment plant. If they wanted to risk “clean” deaths then maybe occupying and disarming their opponents wasn’t the best option.

    I also think you may be misunderstanding my criticism of the episode here. I am not saying it was unrealistic for the Six to think herself innocent, or for her to obsess over her own death, or even for her to feel wronged. Lots of individuals engage in hypocritical thinking along these lines all the time. The flaw is in the fact that no one calls her on her hypocritical, self-serving crap, and the scene is played in a way that is intended to convey that the colonials are somehow in the wrong here. It just seems as though the writers wanted to make the big philosophical “POINT” (written in flaming mile high letters), and then beat you about the head and shoulders with it) and ignored all of the inconsistencies of the scene. That is, quite simply, poor writing.

    And Natalie does a little more than say “blood for blood” she said (if I remember correctly) “is that enough human justice?” As in, “we cylons wouldn’t stoop as low as you humans.” The problem with the scene is that, based on the reactions of the remaining colonials, we are supposed to somehow find Natalie’s sneer to be a penetrating insight about the barbarity of humans compared to cylons. And that makes the scene just fall flat on its face.

    I don’t sympathize with the Six. I don’t buy Natalie’s sneer as having any validity. And I think maybe slowly drowning the Six in shit yet again rather than shooting her in the head would be a good thing.

  • Spencer

    I think our point of disagreement here remains over Natalie as opposed to the Six. Her words and her actions seem unaccountably jarring to you; to me they seem at the very least defensible, if not downright valid.

    I think it is unlikely we will find common ground on this issue because I internally revolt against the idea of retributive justice. On a purely abstract level, I just don’t see how a death “makes up for” a death, in any sense. I sympathize with the emotional impulse that leads us to seek this, but I don’t think it has any rational foundation.

    Assuming you were not using hyperbole or some other rhetorical device in your last post, it seems quite clear that you (in some meaningful sense) ascribe value to this maxim. You say a death is “too good” for her, that her sense memory of it is “so much the better,” and that repeating the murder would be “a good thing.”

    I won’t bother to offer an alternative– that’s too far outside the scope of the medium, and I have to work at 0415 tomorrow. The bottom line is, I am unable to see any sense in which justice is served by punishing the Six with the intent of inflicting equitable or at least comparable pain/suffering/disability. I don’t think “blood for blood” is ever a good idea: it is just rage masquerading as philosophy.

    Whatever one’s view is of this maxim, however, it is undeniable that this is a particularly tenacious human tendency (records of it are found in Hammurabi’s Code), and that it is uniquely human (i.e., when hurt, animals rarely go to lengths to ensure that they inflict equitable damage for its own sake and not as a means to an end [such as survival]). It is in this sense the maxim is “human justice”– as a descriptive, not a pejorative term.

    Ultimately, however, the depth to which we are delving into these issues shows one of two things (and possibly both): 1) We both enjoy BSG immensely as more than “merely” sci-fi/fantasy; and/or 2) We both have WAY too much time on our hands. Either way (or both), I’ve enjoyed it.

  • MaryAnn

    I’m loving sitting back and watching these fireworks. How many other shows provoke such heated arguments about morality?

  • AJP

    Of course a death doesn’t “make up for” a death. However, the problem is simply this: the now dead Six took the role of a concentration camp guard. That she did so thinking she was morally in the right simply makes her more monstrous. I don’t want to Godwin the conversation here, but really, many of the guards at Auschwitz thought they were morally in the right too, and Six holds a morally equivalent position in the context of the BSG story. From my perspective, Six deserves no sympathy, and just like the real camp guards, and the more horrific her punishment could be, the better.

    The problem is Natalie claiming the high ground, and the fact that we are clearly intended to accept that. Sorry, the cylons can’t claim to even hold equivalent moral ground here, let alone the high ground. Attempted genocide followed by ruthless oppression simply loses them that potential. And yes, you can argue that the colonials did it first by trying to get rid of the cylons a long time ago – but since that hasn’t directly been shown in the narrative of the story (like the destruction of the colonies was, or the killing of the non-FTL capable survivors), that point really doesn’t have any resonance. To use a trope term, the cylons not only kicked the dog, they raped the dog.

    As to your last point, I think that when well done science fiction is primarily about moral and philosophical issues, not about ray-gun technology (I have a whole argument about how Star Wars is a better movie, but Logan’s Run is better science fiction). BSG isn’t even close to the first piece of science fiction to tread this sort of ground, and it isn’t even the first televised piece of science fiction to delve into these sorts of issues in a serious way (for example, B5 did a lot of this sort of thing too).

  • MaryAnn

    True enough, perhaps, but BSG is arguably the first SF show — the first *true* SF show — to capture the imagination of people who don’t consider themselves fans of SF. That’s pretty cool.

  • Spencer

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the discussion, MaryAnn! I love philosophizing, and if I can indulge my geek/SF/F side in the process, so much the better. I wish there weren’t so many bowdlerized travesties masquerading as SF/F; the genre is particularly suited for philosophical speculation: like one long, entertaining thought experiment.

    On to AJP: You have stated multiple times that you feel no sympathy for Six and her horrific death because she participated in the genocide of an entire species. This act excludes her from moral sympathy, in your opinion. As I said before, I see this as a red herring. If that is valid, then we ought not have sympathy for any of the Original Seven skinjob models under any circumstances (what more fitting circumstances for sympathy are there than an agonizing torturous death?). Indeed, one is entirely justified to kill them as many times over as possible, and as horrifically as possible.

    What logical reason can the crew of Galactica have for not killing Sharon/Athena, given your premises? Not because they like her– their sympathy would be erroneously and illogically placed. Not because she’s done a lot for them/reformed– your argument has always been that Six’s death was justified because she was a “camp guard”; not because she was a “camp guard” AND she has not reformed. Of course, this is not to say that the crew of Galactica has a moral mandate to kill Sharon/Athena (although this conclusion, when evaluated, is hard to avoid while staying logically consistent), but if one of them were to do so for no other reason than her participation in the genocide, then the murder would be morally justified and one should not have sympathy for the victim. This is monstrous enough to essentially render your position untenable.

    One final note on the overall question of “blood for blood.” Your unguarded statements seem to clearly indicate that you harbor an idea that this is morally valid, even if you deny it when challenged (perhaps because it seems prima facie to be unpalatable). If ever more horrific deaths are “better,” in what sense are they so if not getting closer to balancing out the moral calculus?

  • Spencer

    So to wrap it up, I took the Six’s statement that she “never did anything” to Barolay to mean that she did not harm Barolay herself in any direct fashion, and in any case felt that the manner of her death at Barolay’s hands was heinous and not warranted by her own actions. This was her belief, and she acted on that out of passion when provoked by Barolay in the hangar bay. I am inclined to think that Six might be a bit self-deceptive to think that she never did “anything” to Barolay, but she has a valid point when the details of her death are considered. Not only would Barolay killing her for the sake of killing her (which was the case, since she would simply resurrect following) not be justified, but the manner in which she was killed amounts to an atrocity against a sentient being with a meaningful subjective experience. To say that death of any kind is “too good” for such an individual is to implicitly give credence to an untenable “blood for blood” moral code and to by extension place persons (such as Sharon/Athena) under the same judgment who clearly seem intuitively not to deserve it.

    Six’s murder of Barolay prompted some of the crew, Anders being foremost, to call for her blood. Rather than continue the cycle of violence, Natalie stepped in and killed Six, thereby demonstrating to the crew the futility of her death on these grounds. If blood demands blood, she metaphorically claims, then Six’s death should satisfy you. However, the crew finds it hollow because they were not the ones who did it, proving that “justice” was hardly their true intent. Natalie reinforces this through her sneer about “human justice.” Her actions and words are a critique of the whole idea that “blood for blood” is a valid form of justice, and one can easily critique a moral philosophy without thinking oneself morally superior. Thus, Natalie is not assuming she has the moral high ground by either her words or her actions.

  • M

    As far as the genocidal attack by the cyclons, I think it’s easy to forget that it was the Colonials who declared war first. A younger Adama lead a military force over the line of truce. That is an automatic declaration of war in any era. In no way am justifying the cylon’s secondary response, but as someone interested in military strategy, I can also think up many scenarios in which an all out strike may have been perceived as the best possible action.

    I agree that the “human justice” line was a clunker, but I think the writers may have felt that they needed to be a little more anvilicious in this respect. Many viewers of the show still don’t believe that any type of reconciliation/cooperative ending will be an acceptable one. Obviously, I’m a viewer who is pulling for that type of resolution. And to get there, both cylons and humans are going to have to be willing to put aside some unforgivable hurts. Never-ending war is the true absurdity.

  • TylerDurden

    Well after tonight’s episode, my money is on Felix Gaeta as the final cylon. Could the Galactica be the Opera House, the Quorum of 12… the lords of Kobol? Sing away Felix! I guess we wait an see… all will be revealed.

  • Kenny

    Hey, I wish I’d gotten in on this earlier. Only just noticed it.

    I have a couple of things to add.

    1. Anders was fighting the Cylons on Caprica for months after the fleet left. If the centurions have trouble firing on skin jobs, it’s a new thing, because they had no issue with it back there. (Unless they were deliberately missing him… but that implies a level of guile they didn’t have until their chips were removed.)

    2. Adama recieved typed note in the first season. It read “There are 12 Cylon models.” This note was correct. Roslin also recieved a note. It was very similar to the one delivered to the Admiral, and it read “Adama is a Cylon.”

    If the former is true, it makes the latter seem more likely.

    This of course, begs the question. Which Adama?

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