The BattleStar Galactica Files (Ep 9) – The Hand of God

Welcome to the BattleStar Galactica Files! Sci-Fi (Syfy) Channel’s classic series that captured the fear and the paranoia of the post-9/11 culture. Hailed by critics and fans alike, BSG’s arcing, epic storyline, detailed character development, dynamite special effects, and top-notch acting makes it one of the best science fiction tales of our time. Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, and Jamie Bamber led a top-notch cast through 4 short seasons of one of the best television shows ever made. If you’ve seen BSG then you know, if you haven’t, then do yourself a favor- every episode is on Netflix, and it was just picked up for syndication on BBC America!

[Warning: Spoilers! This is my attempt to sum up, review, and quantify BSG in layman’s terms]

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The Hand of God

“Sometimes you have to roll the hard six…” - Bill Adama

Craps isn’t cards. In cards, typically a player strategically bases their bets on the power of the cards in their hand, as well as on the assumed power of an opponents’ hand. In craps on the other hand, everything is based on the roll of the die. While the odds are slightly higher in the player’s favor as far as bets go, there’s no bluffing the dice. Sometimes you just have to toss ‘em and pray.

As season one of Battlestar Galactica draws to a conclusion, the outlook for humanity is grim. Having nearly been erased from the galaxy during the attack on the Colonies by their Cylon creations, the few remaining survivors are on the run- desperately searching for an ancient home called “Earth.”

One of the show’s greatest strengths is its ability to convey such stark realism in a completely fantastical situation. The universe of Battlestar is dark, violent, and brutal, all depicted through the eyes of the characters it follows. As military fiction it rivals classic naval dramas such as Das Boot or Run Silent, Run Deep in the sense that it basically focuses on the inhabitants of space-faring submarines. There aren’t any windows on the Galactica.

I’m not sure exactly what makes this kind of military drama so enthralling, maybe it’s the close quarters, or the constant threat of death- even from the environment around them. Maybe it has something to do with the never-ending pursuit or the fact that at any moment an enemy ship could appear and sink our heroes (or in this case send them hurling into space), but the writers do an excellent job of translating that submerged, submarine-like claustrophobia into a science fiction setting. There’s grainy camera filters, shadow-filled sets, blood, sweat, and tears in the world of our battered human survivors. The ever-lowering number on President Laura Roslin‘s whiteboard is a brutal reminder of the fact that it’s never been so vital to just stay alive.

Technology in the world of Battlestar Galactica is based on a type of fuel called tylium ore. Tylium is a volatile substance that is mined from asteroids and then converted into an inert yellow powder which every ship in the show uses to power their Faster-Than-Light jump drives. FTL drives are their only means of staying on the run from their Cylon pursuers, otherwise they’d be stuck puttering along through space.

As episode 13 opens, the 50,000 or so humans that remain aboard the ships of the fleet have found themselves stranded with only enough fuel reserves for approximately two more jumps. Commander Adama has pilots out in droves scanning for a source of tylium (luckily one of the civilian ships is a refinery, but that’ll come in later). Aboard Colonial One, President Roslin is still reeling from her encounter with the Cylon infiltrator, Leoben, who planted the seed of doubt in her mind when he whispered “Adama is a Cylon” in her ear. With flash bulbs snapping before her at a press conference, the Prez has a vision of a dozen snakes slithering across her podium… All the while struggling to keep her cool in front of the reporters from the fleet, who are hungry for information regarding the status of the fuel reserves.

The fleet is afraid. The truth of the Cylons is out: they look like humans now… and anyone could be an imposter. What’s worse is the damage they’ve done already: sabotage, blowing up improvised explosive devices, manufacturing fear and distrust in the fleet… the usual insurgency kind of stuff. Now remember that when Battlestar aired in 2004, America- in fact the world- was caught in the grip of fear by a mysterious enemy that no one really took the time to understand. The label “Terrorist” was slapped on everything that walked, talked, or breathed wrong, and people were flooding to supermarkets to buy duct tape, bottled water, and gas masks… don’t forget the gas masks. An enemy driven by blind faith in a god that is different than the norm, who uses brutal tactics to kill civilian populations and who hides in plain sight. An enemy that we see as so different from us that we treat them like animals, like things that only think they are human, to be lined up, humiliated, beaten, and tortured. An enemy who sees the continuation of our species, and our very way of life, as a deadly threat to their own. You picking up what I’m putting down here?

After the press conference, when Roslin tells her spiritual adviser, Elosha, that she’s succumbing to hallucinations about snakes, the priestess thinks she is pulling her leg. When Elosha figures out that Roslin isn’t, she becomes very serious. She tells her of a 4,000 year old text written by a woman named Pythia about a “dying leader who had a vision of snakes numbering 10 and 2… and who lead the survivors of humanity to the promise land… Earth.”

“The next thing you’ll tell me is you’re dying right?” Elosha jokes, but Laura isn’t laughing… in fact she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer before the attack on the colonies and has been fighting it all season long. She’d originally chalked her hallucination up to side effects of the medicine she’d been taking, but suddenly President Laura Roslin realizes she is the prophesied savior of mankind. That’s gotta be heavy.

Out in space, pilots Crashdown and Boomer (who is a Cylon sleeper agent secretly fighting her true “programming”) manage to find a nearby planetoid that is rich with tylium ore… however it is crawling with Cylons, who also use tylium to power their vehicles. When they get back, the decision has to be made whether to keep looking or to attack the secluded Cylon mining operation. You already know what Adama has to say about it.

What comes next is a brilliant re-creation of the Death Star attack in Star Wars. While Starbuck is stuck in the CIC with a bum leg (plus actor Katie Sackoff’s detesting of scenes filmed in the hot, cramped quarters of the Viper starfighters), it falls on Adama’s remaining son Lee to lead the charge. Most everyone in the fleet, including Lee, wishes Starbuck was flying lead, but Adama grounds her in a brilliant “Yes, but can you use your leg while pulling 10+ gees in a Viper?” scene. Probably one of the better scenes filmed in a weight-room.

The Hand of God, or so the episode is named, refers to not just Roslin’s revelation, but to the events that are so dramatically culminating toward the end of the season… oh, and to Gaius Baltar. Dr Baltar has been enlisted by Adama to create a gene-seeking “Cylon detector,” and is also haunted by the ghost of his Cylon ex-lover, the beautiful blonde femme fatale “6.” At first he thought she was a manifestation of his own guilt for letting the Cylons into the Colonial Defense networks, however he has started to suspect that 6 is more than just a projection of his own subconscious. He spends hours talking (amongst other things) to her while working in his lab, wandering the halls, or even in mission briefings.

Gaius gets pulled into the planning of the raid when he speaks up about the volatility of tylium before it is processed into fuel, telling Apollo that their strike should concentrate on the stores of raw ore- thus blowing up the facility and not the entire rock. Standing before a projected picture of the Cylon mining plant, blindly points a finger at a random structure, “There.” At this point in the story, Gaius has asked for forgiveness from 6’s “one-God,” and now asks for his guidance… all at the prompting of his imaginary girlfriend, who is most definitely not a figment of his imagination. Whether he likes it or not, Gaius Baltar has become the instrument of god.

Back on the irradiated capital planet of Caprica, Boomer’s old co-pilot Helo was left behind after he gave up his seat for Gaius Baltar. 36 days later as the fleet battles for fuel, Helo believes the Sharon (Boomer) that’s traveling with him is the same Sharon from Galactica… but she isn’t. She is a Cylon, and while she may have all of Boomer’s memories and experiences, she is a different clone. They’ve been on the run planetside for weeks trying to avoid Cylon patrols, taking anti-radiation medicine, and fraking down by the fire. In fact, Sharon is pregnant with Helo’s child, the first human-cylon hybrid, and the Cylons are aware of their position at all times… But there’s a problem. Sharon and Helo are in love. She knows what the Cylons want with her baby, and she’s not too happy about it, so they really go on the run.

The cylons chasing them are led by what passes for a celebrity in the communal, hive-like minds of the Cylons- the one they’ve dubbed Caprica 6. She is the 6 who went undercover with Gaius Baltar and gained access to the Colonial Defenses, allowing the Cylons to kill roughly 50 billion humans in the attack. When Caprica 6 died in the nuclear holocaust she woke up on the Resurrection Ship a hero to the Cylons, but she harbors a deep secret that she must hide from her Cylon brothers and sisters.

It is this dark secret that makes her an individual in a collective society. Cylons exist in only a few different forms, however it is unknown how many copies of each there are. To them individuality is dangerous. They see it as a fault of their human creators, one that breeds hatred, violence, and death. Only a handful of Cylons- Caprica 6, Sharon (Athena), and Boomer, know the secret which their brothers and sisters do not… They know what it is to love… And this knowledge will dramatically change the path of both  species.

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Most of the information gleaned for these posts is taken from the good folks at Wiki and BSG Wiki.

Coming Up on the BSG Files:

The Planet of the Gods


The BattleStar Galactica Files (Ep 8) – Flesh and Bone

Welcome to the BattleStar Galactica Files! Sci-Fi (Syfy) Channel’s classic series that captured the fear and the paranoia of the post-9/11 culture. Hailed by critics and fans alike, BSG’s arcing epic storyline, detailed character development, dynamite special effects, and top-notch acting makes it one of the best science fiction tales of our time. Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, and Jamie Bamber led a top-notch cast through 4 short seasons of one of the best television shows ever made. If you’ve seen BSG then you know, if you haven’t, then do yourself a favor- every episode is on Netflix, and it was just picked up for syndication on BBC America!

[Warning: Spoilers! This is my attempt to sum up, review, and quantify BSG in layman’s terms]

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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… ” -Leobon Conoy aka NUMBER 2

When the Abu Ghraib scandal and Guantanomo Bay were plastered all over the news, and America was in over its head in two wars, network television was mostly steering extremely wide around reflecting anything negative in their programming… well… except for 24, and that’s not til next “files.” The Bush years were the years of the news stations, everyone was watching horrible news all day, and didn’t want to see it in their escapist fiction during primetime. Instead America was hooked on shows like Lost, The Office, and Project Runway… 

Other than the exploits of Jack Bauer and the gang at CTU, there was only one other show on television that was brave enough to show main characters water-boarding, torturing (not that the two are mutually exclusive), and executing prisoners of war… and I think you know which one I’m talking about. Onboard the Battlestar Galactica, Starbuck is given the loathsome duty of interrogating a cylon sleeper agent. At a time when America was so scared their neighbors were going to gas them they put duct tape on their windows, BSG was giving us a glaring mirror to look into. Starbuck, aka Kara Thrace, finds herself face-to-face with the extremist, genocidal enemy she’d feared now for months on end, Leoben Conoy… aka, number 2.

Leobon is one of the first cylons we meet on the show, and he is a slippery, silver-tongued devil of an infiltrator. During the mini-series, when Galactica jumps to the Ragnar Anchorage to refuel and rearm- Adama gets stuck deep within the bowels of the station with the man he doesn’t know is a cylon… in fact, no one even knows that cylons are able to take human form at that point in time. The number 2 is a pseudo-philosopher who challenges Adama’s beliefs during their time on the Ragnar station, and ultimately is called out as a “toaster” when he becomes extremely sick due to the radiation of the nebula around them (which only affects synthetic organisms, not humans).

When episode 8 of season 1 begins, President Laura Roslin is in the grips of an intense chamalla-induced dream (the mysterious medication given to her for her “terminal” cancer). She is walking through a misty forest at night, bathed in the white light of her sleeping gown, and she is unafraid. The bushes begin to move in the darkness, and figures start to dart between the trees. Laura doesn’t see the shadowy people running through the forest after her, instead she sees a cylon… Leobon Conoy, the number 2 that Commander Adama had spent a significant amount of time with in the first episode. He is shouting at her to turn around, there is danger, and she turns to see black-clad Colonial Marines running toward her. Laura begins to run, and Leobon catches her, quieting her as the marines run by… then he is sucked backward through the forest and disappears. When the President wakes up, she is told that there has been a cylon prisoner found, and it is Leobon… she immediately calls for his interrogation.

Starbuck arrives at the holding cell to see the prisoner, who is sweating heavily in the heat of the ship. Her and the watch commander notice that “it is sweating,” and muse on the implications of it. “Gods they go through a lot of trouble to imitate people… Why do you think they do that?” (Oh, that watch commander had no idea...) She enters the cell to find the machine with its head on the table, and asks it if it was sleeping… He sits back in the chair and says, “Praying…”

The humans of BSG are followers of a polytheistic religion, believing in “The Gods,” such as Zeus, Athena, and Apollo (not just great call signs for Viper pilots, if you delve deep enough- quick enough, you realize that the ancient Gods were just older-school Viper pilots who the humans deified during the last time this happened… WOAH). So when Starbuck tells Leobon, “I don’t thing the Gods answers the prayers of Toasters,” he responds with the first true identification of the monotheistic beliefs of the cylons- “God answers everyone’s prayers.”

As their interrogation continues, Leobon tells her that somewhere in the fleet there is a nuclear bomb ticking down, and it will explode in 9 hours. The true brilliance of Battlestar Galactica comes out seeping out of the screen at this point. Most of this is due to absolutely solid performances by Katee Sackhoff and Callum Keith Rennie, but the writing in this episode is just as good. The plot device of the nuke and the countdown really take second stage to the implications of the dialogue between Starbuck and Leobon… because by now we’re chomping at the bit to find out more about this “Earth” place… and that’s not reallt what this episode is about anyway.

Starbuck believes with every fiber of her being, that this machine before her, is just that… a robot created and programmed to do the things it is doing, like sweat, bleed, act like it is feeling pain, and finally… to drown. Water-boarding was the buzz-word du jour for many of the mid-2000 years, and this “reporter” remembers many other “reporters” undergoing the “simulated-drowning.” Well it’s not simulated anything, it’s postponed drowning… it’s slow drowning… there’s nothing simulated about it- it just doesn’t kill you right away. It’s wet, it’s bloody, and it’s disgustingly cruel, and yet with the threat of a timer-detonated nuclear weapon somewhere in the fleet (or so Leobon claims), Starbuck needs answers… all she’s getting from her prisoner is gibberish about fate and “seeing the universe for what it is, a river of time.”

It’s not until she begins to see this machine gasp and spit and struggle for life-saving air that cracks start to emerge in the black-and-white world of human-cylon relations… just as at the same time in America cracks where appearing in the black-and-white reality of our wars and the threat of terrorism… It’s not until we too see the pain and the fear in the eyes of the beings we believe wholeheartedly to be pure and unadulterated evil, that we begin to see ourselves in their own shoes. Starbuck looms over the cylon as it spits and coughs, her stern fists clenched by her own sides, her blonde hair hanging in her face, “You’re sick. You’re not a person, you’re a machine that’s enjoying its own pain.” She growls at it, believing that this thing that has destroyed her civilization, killed 50 billion people, and mercilessly hunted humanity across the stars, is messing with her.

It’s then that Leobon, through labored breathing, spouts the immortal words that spin the arcing mythology of BSG out across four more seasons: “All of this has happened before… and all of it will happen again…” Professing it is Starbuck’s destiny to deliver him to God, and also adds:

“…And I told you I had a surprise for you. Are you ready? You are going to find Kobol, birthplace of us all. Kobol will lead you to Earth. This is my gift to you, Kara…” 

Suddenly President Roslin bursts in and puts an end to the torture, hauling Leobon out of the cell and drying him off (escorted by black-clad Colonial Marines). She pleads with him to disclose the whereabouts of the nuclear bomb, and he confesses to having made it up to buy time. He, in turn, asks Laura to go easy on Starbuck for torturing him, “The military, they teach you to dehumanize people…” he says, even though he is a cylon (brilliant stuff here)… However Roslin has had enough of his lies and his “insidious ideas,” and orders him flushed out the airlock. In a flash of cylon speed he grabs Laura and hugs her, thanking her… and whispering to her that Adama is a cylon.

In a very poignant scene, Leobon is in the airlock standing behind a sheet of glass while Starbuck and the President discuss the merits of keeping broken machines around that “threaten your people.” He walks up and places his hand upon the glass, to which Starbuck capitulates, stating, “He’s not afraid to die, he’s just afraid his soul won’t reach God…” and places her hand on the glass. A single tear traces down the side of her cheek as the President signals to the watch commander, and he opens the airlock. Leobon, as in Laura’s dream from the beginning, looks up at her as the air is sucked from the room. He keeps the stare as he is sucked backward out the airlock and spins off into the frozen abyss of space. It isn’t until that moment that Laura realizes what is going on, that she had dreamt this, and she thinks maybe she missed something. Later she is talking with the Commander and it is obvious that the number 2 has planted a seed of doubt in her mind about Adama.

Starbuck later is seen praying to two small idols for the safe journey of her prisoner’s soul… her own preconceptions about the “toasters” shattered… and little does she know that now the number 2 is infatuated with her, and will chase her across the heavens for his own reasons.

SO: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

This is really the point in time where the writers knew where they wanted to go with the show, and fought to get it done. Both plot-wise and social-commentary-wise, BSG begins to head toward a destination at this point in the show. While Adama has told the people he will get them safely to Earth, and the prophecies from the old world tell of a dying leader that will lead mankind to the promise land, it isn’t until the cylon number 2 tells Kara Thrace that she will find Kobol (the original home of humanity), and in turn, find Earth… that anyone actually (including the audience and the writers) believes it could actually happen... And it isn’t until this point that the “difference” between cylon and human begins to get murky.

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Most of the information gleaned for these posts is taken from the good folks at Wiki and BSG Wiki.

Coming Up on the BSG Files:

Kobol and the Arrow of Apollo (aka This Has All Happened Before…)


The BattleStar Galactica Files (Ep 7) – Lost in Space

Welcome to the BattleStar Galactica Files! Sci-Fi (Syfy) Channel’s classic series that captured the fear and the paranoia of the post-9/11 culture. Hailed by critics and fans alike, BSG’s arcing epic storyline, detailed character development, dynamite special effects, and top-notch acting makes it one of the best science fiction tales of our time. Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, and Jamie Bamber led a top-notch cast through 4 short seasons of one of the best television shows ever made. If you’ve seen BSG then you know, if you haven’t, then do yourself a favor- every episode is on Netflix, and it was just picked up for syndication on BBC America!

[Warning: Spoilers! This is my attempt to sum up, review, and quantify BSG in layman’s terms]

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LOST IN SPACE (aka ’33’)

“Yes, we’re tired. Yes, there is no relief. Yes, the Cylons keep coming after us time after time after time. And yes, we are still expected to do our jobs!” – Executive Officer Saul Tigh

The Fleet

In the deep, cold, blackness of space, across the light-years in a galaxy not-so-far-far-away, the lost family of man is exactly that. A mere 60 ships escaped the Cylon destruction of the 12 Colonies, some 48,000 men, women, and children. A holocaust of barbaric proportions, across a dozen planets, and costing some 50 million lives.  Guarded solely by the Battlestar Galactica and its crew, the last remnants of humanity are trying desperately to out-run their attackers. Using Faster Than Light jump-technology (FTL) the escaping humans are left to fend for themselves against a relentless enemy, jumping over 238 times across the universe in search of the mythical planet Earth, only to be tracked by the Cylons every time.

Stims

Commander William Adama, captain of the Galactica (the sole remaining military presence of the 12 Colonies) has stretched his crew to the limit. After 130+ hours without sleep, “stims” are being handed out freely, and everyone is on edge. Every time, 33 minutes after they complete the jump, the cylons find them. Every time they jump, they set the clock to 33 minutes, and wait… Until after the 237th jump, the Olympic Carrier is lost. When the fleet makes the jump to the next coordinates, the Olympic Carrier fails to arrive behind them, and so do the Cylons.

33 Minutes Between Jumps

Nerves are on edge as the seconds tick by, and every last person alive stares at the clock wondering the same thing… are the clear? However, on board the Galactica and newly-named Colonial One (like Air Force 1), President Laura Roslin and Commander Adama are wondering something else… Was the Olympic Carrier under Cylon control? Was it the reason they were so easily tracked across the galaxies? The decision-makers and main players in the struggle to survive wait with bated breath for a sign of their pursuit… then it comes.

Olympic Carrier

When the Olympic Carrier suddenly appears, its captain claims to have urgent information on how the Cylons infiltrated Colonial Defense Networks prior to the attack on the Colonies (Much to the chagrin of one Dr. Gaius Baltar, who is desperately afraid of being found out). Adama is not convinced, and sets the clock for 33 minutes, scrambling Vipers to intercept the ship before it can rejoin the fleet. To make matters worse, the liner it emitting a nuclear signature and not responding to hails from Apollo, who is flying the intercept mission. Believing the Olympic has somehow been corrupted by Cylon agents, Adama orders the jamming of all communication with the liner other than signal light from the Vipers… however the liner does not change course, heading straight for the Galactica with a nuclear weapon on board.

Viper

No one is sure if the 1,345 people aboard the Carrier are still alive, and the loss of any more human life is not justifiable by President Roslin. As the liner gets closer, and the clock hits 33 minutes, the Cylons appear… confirming their worst fears that they were somehow tracking the ship as a way to follow the fleet. President Roslin, despite the fact that it lowers the survivor count to below 50,000, gives the hard order to shoot down the ship. Starbuck and Apollo reluctantly open fire, destroying the Olympic Carrier and possibly the 1,345 civilians on it. After the two Vipers make a quick “combat landing,” the fleet jumps away… and the clock is set again for 33 minutes. This time, however, the Cylons do not follow them.

We make mistakes, people die. There aren’t many of us left.- Commander William Adama

Boomer Wakes Up

Later, Lieutenant Sharon “Boomer ” Valerii awakens alone, soaked from head-to-toe, and shaking in an equipment locker on the Galactica. She doesn’t know how she got there, or how she ended up dripping wet. Scrambling, she finds her duffel underneath her chair, inside is a towel, dry clothes, and lots of explosives… Boomer panics, not knowing what is going on. She is convinced she is being framed for sabotage, and enlists the help of her secret lover, Chief Tyrol after finding even more explosives missing from a small-arms locker.

Water

Meanwhile, due to Galactica’s nearly-perfect water reclamation systems, the fleet relies heavily on them for a fresh supply of water. Daily water transfers are performed by individual fleet ships, including the Virgon Express, a small liner. However during docking with the Virgon Express, a large explosion rocks the ships and begins to jettison the Galactica’s water reserves into space. After 60% of the fleet’s H2O supplies are lost, an investigation is launched, and Commander Adama (who was previously one of the only people in the galaxy who knew the Cylons had managed to take human form) confesses to President Roslin that he believes it is the work of a Cylon humanoid agent. They enlist Dr. Baltar to construct a “Cylon Detector” capable of examining DNA and weeding out Cylon agents.

Explosives

Meanwhile, Boomer and multiple other Raptors are out searching various solar systems for water as the investigation on Galactica turns up only fear and mistrust in the crew. Chief Tyrol concludes that anyone could have taken the explosives due to lax security on board during the escape from the Cylons (believing whole-heartedly that his lover is being framed for sabotage).  However Boomer is not so sure.

Raptors

During their Raptor flight, they jump near a large planet and scan it for H2O. Even though Boomer’s screens tell her there is water, her voice is trapped in her throat. She struggles to spit out the words, unsure of what is happening, and suddenly finds the remaining explosive strapped to her seat in the Raptor. On top of that, she finds herself physically unable to tell her co-pilot that her scan of the planet reveals water… desperate, Boomer fights her own personality, while her hand drops to the detonator switch, her finger on the trigger. Suddenly it dawns on her in a moment of horrible, sickening clarity… she can’t speak because of the same reason she has to physically restrain herself in order to not detonate the explosives, destroy the Raptor, and leave the fleet to die of dehydration… She realizes she is a Cylon…

"Boomer" and Chief

(Boomer’s struggle with her own secret Cylon “sleeper” personality is one of the defining moments in the series. In fact, the entire “sleeper Cylons” idea is truly what fuels the greatness of the first season. Made in 2005, at a time when our country was gripped with much of the same fear, BSG captured one of the defining moments in modern history… the realization that anyone around us could be an enemy agent in hiding (in our case, a terrorist; in theirs, a Cylon)… the realization that we weren’t safe in our own country, our own cities, our own homes.)

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Most of the information gleaned for these posts is taken from the good folks at Wiki and BSG Wiki.

Coming Up on the BSG Files:

The Planet of the Gods


The BattleStar Galactica Files (Ep 6) – Presidential Edition

Welcome to the BattleStar Galactica Files! Sci-Fi (Syfy) Channel’s classic series that captured the fear and the paranoia of the post-9/11 culture. Hailed by critics and fans alike, BSG’s arcing epic storyline, detailed character development, dynamite special effects, and top-notch acting makes it one of the best science fiction tales of our time. Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, and Jamie Bamber led a top-notch cast through 4 short seasons of one of the best television shows ever made. If you’ve seen BSG then you know, if you haven’t, then do yourself a favor- every episode is on Netflix, and it was just picked up for syndication on BBC America!

(WARNING- The following will contain SPOILERS, as it is my attempt to sum up the series in layman terms.)

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“President Adar o­nce said that the interesting thing about being a president is that you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone” – President Laura Roslin


President Laura Roslin

The universe of Battlestar Galactica has many similarities to ours, the fact that it is a such a close mirror to our own, is what makes it such a brilliant show. The technology and the setting aside, it is easy to see ourselves in the characters of Galactica- even the nasty ones. From the foot-ball like game of Pyramid to the kinds of entertainment and music, even hard-drinking, fighting, and sexing-it-up, the humans of Battlestar Galactica are most definitely human… even when they’re not.

At the time of the attack, Secretary of Education Laura Roslin had just been told her breast cancer was inoperable, and that she only had a few months to live. Stunned, Roslin and her staff leave Caprica and travel to Galactica for its decommissioning ceremonies. It is on the way back that they learn of the Cylon attack, and Secretary Roslin (through the line of succession), the 43rd person in line for the office of President, is the only surviving member of the Colonial Government. Despite her hidden cancer and the news that she is going to die, Laura Roslin becomes the de-facto President of the 12 Colonies in the moments after the Cylon attack.

Swearing In

President Laura Roslin, originally a school teacher, holds a tenuous position in the office of the President, and continuously confronts opposition head-on and with nerves of steel. All the while trying to hide her secret diagnosis and seeking alternative medicines for her terminal cancer. Soon after the departure of the remaining survivors in what’s known as “the fleet,” and after Adama’s “Earth Speech,” President Roslin begins to have hallucinations she believes might be predictions.

A Kiss 4 Seasons in the Making

Prophecies written 4000 years before tell of a dying leader who will guide the survivors of humanity, a “caravan of the stars,” to the promised land. President Roslin’s disclosure of her cancer and her visions, makes her not only the symbol of leadership and hope for humanity, but a spiritual leader as well. As the Cylons and the quest for Earth drive them further and further into the unknown universe, President Roslin, Commander Adama, and their respective crews have to make decisions, enforce law, and judge actions according to the old laws of the Colonies, and the newer, more practical laws being written in the stars.

Roslin Teaching

Haunted by her past and unsure of the future, President Laura Roslin is one of the most compelling characters in contemporary fiction. Forced to deal with decisions that could very well mean the end of humanity, she has more conviction, heart, and where-with-all than most of the people that serve under her. Even in the most dire times, she has been a beacon of hope for the survival of the human species. Her series-long “romance’ with Bill Adama proves to be one of the best-written and carefully acted partnerships since Mulder and Scully. In all seriousness, Mary McDonnell’s portrayal of humanity’s last best hope for survival is reason enough to watch this show. It is also one of the few characters that I won’t trace until the end of the show, simply because I don’t want to spoil it. If you’re dying to know the rest right away, check this out. Until then, good hunting.

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Most of the information gleaned for these posts is taken from the good folks at Wiki and BSG Wiki.

Coming Up on the BSG Files:

Lost in Space, and ADAMA

The BattleStar Galactica Files (Ep 5)

Welcome to the BattleStar Galactica Files! Sci-Fi (Syfy) Channel’s classic series that captured the fear and the paranoia of the post-9/11 culture. Hailed by critics and fans alike, BSG’s arcing epic storyline, detailed character development, dynamite special effects, and top-notch acting makes it one of the best science fiction tales of our time. Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, and Jamie Bamber led a top-notch cast through 4 short seasons of one of the best television shows ever made. If you’ve seen BSG then you know, if you haven’t, then do yourself a favor- every episode is on Netflix, and it was just picked up for syndication on BBC America!
(WARNING- The following will contain SPOILERS, as it is my attempt to sum up the series in layman terms.)

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The Battlestar Galactica (BS-75)

The “Battlestar-Class” Carrier/Destroyers were constructed before the first Cylon war, one of 12 built in honor of the 12 Colonies. When the war broke out, the giant ships were put into mass production due to their extreme effectiveness engaging the enemy. The flagship, Galactica, is the only surviving “Galactica-Class” battlestar, and one of the only military ships left after the destruction of the 12 Colonies by the Cylons due to the fact that it was never retro-fitted with any kind of computer network or Dr. Baltar’s integrated defense system software. In fact, she was in the process of being decommissioned in the series opener, one of her flight pods already converted to a museum. Galactica is now the leader and sole protection of the survivors of humanity in their quest for Earth.

Coming in at just about 4720′ long, the Galactica’s defenses include 514 anti-aircraft guns, 24 main artillery batteries, and 14 missile tubes for conventional and nuclear weapons… capable of throwing an unprecedented number of shells, flak, missiles, and nukes at any engaged enemy. She also houses 4 squadrons of 20 Viper attack fighters, and dozens of Raptor multi-role craft. All in all, Galactica is a formidable opponent in space battle, highly maneuverable, and capable of staying at “sea” for months without refueling or rearming (a good thing, due to the circumstances surrounding its current status as fleet protectorate).

Galactica’s crew consists of around 2,600 men and women, not including the civilians that eventually take refuge in her quarters and one of her flight pods. From senior staff to deckhands and Colonial Marines, the crew of Galactica is an inexperienced and untrained group due to its upcoming decommissioning ceremony. Skippered by Commander William Adama, the Galactica’s crew is responsible for the protection of the survivors of humanity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Pilots who run Viper patrols and Raptor scouting missions, deckhands responsible for maintaining those ships, weapons manufacturing to supply those ships, cooks and galley staff, Combat Information Center (CIC) staff such as communications, navigation, and tactical officers, and the marines that keep the peace… all making up a crew who runs on a clock that doesn’t stop. The safety of the fleet being under constant threat from Cylon attack, Adama and his crew have the most thankless job in the universe. In charge of the 70+ ships of the civilian fleet, Galactica has been humanity’s first and last line of defense until the arrival of the Battlestar Pegasus during the second season…

Main Characters onboard Galactica:

Lieutenant Felix Gaeta, the tactical officer of Galactica. Felix Gaeta is a brilliant officer who handles everything from helping Dr. (and later, President) Baltar with his Cylon Detector, to engineering the use of Galactica’s computers together (despite the disastrous consequences). Lt. Gaeta is eventually manipulated by numerous people to further their own interests in the fleet, including staging a mutiny onboard the Galactica, for which he is executed by firing squad.

Lt. Sharon “Boomer” Valerii, a skilled Raptor pilot and lover to Chief Tyrol, Sharon soon realizes she is a Cylon sleeper agent who has been given fake memories in order to infiltrate humanity. The Old Man sends Sharon on a highly important mission to destroy a Cylon Basestar in orbit around Kobol, she flies into the heart of the huge ship thanks to a Cylon device rigged by Lt Gaeta in order to drop a nuke. Inside she is greeted by dozens of other 8’s, she panics and dumps the bomb and leaves, destroying the Basestar.

Lieutenant Karl “Helo” Agathon, marooned on Caprica after the attack, fell in love and impregnated a Cylon 8. (copy of Sharon “Boomer” Valerii.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Anastasia “Dee” Dualla, Galactica‘s Communications Officer, originally in love with President Roslin’s de facto aide Billy (who was killed in a hostage situation on Cloud 9, the fleet’s cruise ship)- Dee later becomes seriously involved with Apollo.

Captain Lee “Apollo” Adama is the son of “The Old Man,” an excellent Viper pilot, and eventually promoted to Commander of the Pegasus.

Captain Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, the best pilot in the fleet, and adopted-daughter to Bill Adama (due to being involved with Apollo’s brother, The Old Man’s other son, Zach years before the events of the show). Starbuck is promoted from a brawling Lieutenant to Captain, and given command of Pegasus‘ and Galactica‘s Viper squadrons. Early in the show, while interrogating a Cylon spy, Kara was told she was the “Harbinger of Death,” and that her fate was to lead humanity to it’s end.

Major “Doc” Cottle is Galactica, and really the fleet’s, best doctor. He oversees everything from Roslin’s cancer to The Old Man’s attempted assassination to the birth of Helo and #8’s half-human-half-Cylon hybrid-child.

Chief Petty Officer Galen “Chief”  Tyrol has been serving under The Old Man for 5 years, on both the Valkyrie and the Galactica. He is the highest ranking non-commissioned officer on Galactica, and was initially involved with Sharon “Boomer” Valerii (before she realizes she’s a Cylon and busts a cap in Adama’s gut, 2 of them actually) for a long time. Due to the fact that Sharon is a Lt, and Chief’s CO, they are forced to discontinue their relationship.  Chief later starts to have nightmares about killing himself, and punches the living daylights out of Cally when she tries to wake him (they, of course, hook up and have a son, Nicholas).

Petty Officer 2nd Class Callandra “Cally”  Henderson is one of Galactica’s deckhands, responsible for maintaining Galactica’s Viper and Raptor squadrons. She is mostly a background character until she attempts to wake up Chief, gets severely beat, and promptly falls in love with him.

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Most of the information gleaned for these posts is taken from the good folks at Wiki and BSG Wiki.

Coming Up on the BSG Files:

The BattleStar Galactica Files (Ep 4)

Welcome to the BattleStar Galactica Files! Sci-Fi (Syfy) Channel’s classic series that captured the fear and the paranoia of the post-9/11 culture. Hailed by critics and fans alike, BSG’s arcing epic storyline, detailed character development, dynamite special effects, and top-notch acting makes it one of the best science fiction tales of our time. Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, and Jamie Bamber led a top-notch cast through 4 short seasons of one of the best television shows ever made. If you’ve seen BSG then you know, if you haven’t, then do yourself a favor- every episode is on Netflix, and it was just picked up for syndication on BBC America!
(WARNING- The following will contain SPOILERS, as it is my attempt to sum up the series in layman terms.)

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“My name is Saul Tigh. I’m an officer in the Colonial Fleet. Whatever else I am, whatever else it means, that’s the man I want to be. And if I die today, that’s the man I’ll be.” -Saul Tigh, Executive Officer, Galactica (played by Michael Hogan)

Colonel Saul Tigh is a tall, lanky man in his mid-60s. Married to Ellen Tigh, he has been Commander William Adama‘s right hand man for over a decade. Before serving on the Galactica, he was also the XO (exec officer) of the Valkyrie, under Adama as well. Earlier in his career, during the first cylon war, Tigh served as a gunner aboard a few different Colonial fleet ships. He bore witness to the brutality of Cylon Centurion (the old, clunky robots) warfare, including their tendency toward massive tissue damage, literally plowing their way through human resistance with spinning blade hands… vivisecting as they went. In both instances he lived, only to be severely scarred from the bloody tactics of the cylons. As a result, Col Tigh struggles with alcoholism for many years.

Saul Tigh later scraped by aboard a simple commercial freighter, showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder every time he smelled grease or machine oil. He would almost vomit because it was the same as the “stink” of Centurions. He drowned his troubles in alcohol for years, struggling with his own inner demons. Roughly 20 years after the war he bumped into William Adama, who had not seen as much combat experience as Tigh himself, and they quickly became friends. Tigh and Adama remained in touch after William was recommissioned into the service, and two years later, Tigh was reinstated as a captain.

Col Tigh was standing next to Adama the minute the cylons hit the Colonies, and he’s been there ever since. When Adama was shot and almost killed, he took over the Galactica, reluctantly, and with near-disastrous consequences. Like everyone else, his estranged wife was assumed dead in the cylon attack… however when Ellen Tigh suddenly shows up with amnesia, saying she’d been on a freighter in the weeks since the attack (not knowing who she was), and when suspicion leads to her being tested by Dr. Baltar’s “cylon detector,” she comes back in the clear. Rejoicing, Ellen and Saul reunite the Tigh way… with lots and lots of booze (not to mention belligerence, violence, and all around sluttery). [MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW]

Which side are we on? We’re on the side of the demons, chief. We’re evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go.”

Of course, none of this is realnone of this is really Saul Tigh… because not even Saul Tigh knows the extent of his own true history…

Saul, Chief Tyrol, Sam Anders, and Tory Foster all begin hearing singing coming from Galactica’s walls after the escape from New Caprica… coming to them from across the universe, and across the millennium…There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief…” The four wander the halls and follow the music until they find each other, standing quietly in a storage locker, the damning revelation of their being the final four cylons. Unbeknownst to them, they are part the original five humanoid cylonsthe only survivors of the lost 13th tribe of Kobol- who had found Earth, only to have it destroyed by their own version of cylons thousands of years later.

The 13th tribe of man had actually been a race of humanoid cylons, created thousands of years before the exodus from Kobol by the humans and “gods” of their pre-history. So when all fled Kobol, they fled to Earth, away from their creators. They eventually fell victim to their own cylon creations, in a great war that ended their Earth… but not before leading scientist Chief Tyrol and Saul’s wife Ellen, created the ability to “respawn.” Through a practice of digital extraction, the final five cylons were beamed to a ship in orbit when their apocalypse happened. They set off across the stars at near the speed of light, in search of their human creators, hoping to warn them of the possibility of a similar catastrophic experience with cybernetic creations and artificial intelligence.

They were too late. When they arrived 2000 years later, the first cylon war was already raging out of control. They decided to contact the cylons, in hopes of convincing them to stop the carnage. They did, by promising them to show them how to make humanoid copies of themselves. Through the digital extraction process, Colonial Cylons were soon able to make 8 different types of completely human-looking models. John, the original (based after Ellen Tigh’s father, John), turned on the “original final five” who had shown them how to finally defeat the humans. John then wiped the memories of both the Tighs, Tyrol, Anders, and Foster, and banished them to live as humans… to see how violent, sick, and twisted humanity had become.

“There’s just too much confusion, I can’t get no relief…”

…And so was born Saul Tigh, third generation Colonial military man, published cylon war historian, and excellent fighter pilot. Never the wiser to his real beginnings, thousands of years away, and a hundred lifetimes ago, on the lost planet of Earth. Best friend to Bill Adama, executive officer of the Battlestar Galactic, and ferocious military leader. From the decks of the Galactica to the cylon prisons on New Caprica, Saul Tigh (also leader of the human resistance, but that’s another post), has fought, worked, sweat, and bled beside humans for as long as he can remember… and yet he has always known there is something different about him. He’s covered it up with alcohol, unable to face the underlying emotional core the new memories had been laid over.

This is where we leave him now, confused, lost in his strange memories… on the run from the cylons… in the coldness of space.

to be continued…

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Most of the information gleaned for these posts is taken from the good folks at Wiki and BSG Wiki.

Coming Up on the BSG Files:
Galactica

The BattleStar Galactica Files (Ep 3)

BSG Sigul

Welcome to the BattleStar Galactica Files! Sci-Fi (Syfy) Channel’s classic series that captured the fear and the paranoia of the post-9/11 culture. Hailed by critics and fans alike, BSG’s arcing epic storyline, detailed character development, dynamite special effects, and top-notch acting makes it one of the best science fiction tales of our time. Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, and Jamie Bamber led a top-notch cast through 4 short seasons of one of the best television shows ever made. If you’ve seen BSG then you know, if you haven’t, then do yourself a favor- every episode is on Netflix, and it was just picked up for syndication on BBC America!

(WARNING- The following will contain SPOILERS, as it is my attempt to sum up the series in layman terms.)

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The Fall and the Flight of Man

Are they the lucky ones? That’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it? We’re a long way from home. We’ve jumped way beyond the Red Line, into uncharted space. Limited supplies, limited fuel. No allies, and now, no hope? Maybe it would have been better for us to have died quickly, back on the Colonies with our families, instead of dying out here slowly, in the dark emptiness of space. Where shall we go?” – Commander William Adama, eulogy for the dead. 

Doctor Gaius Baltar was born and raised on a dairy farm outside of the town of Cuffle’s Breath Wash on the farming planet of Aerilon. At the age of 10 he trained himself to speak without the accent of the locals… believing it to be unpleasant and crude. On his 18th birthday, he left, and tuned his back on his family and heritage. Years later, after settling on Caprica, Dr. Baltar became a compulsive social-climber after winning three major prizes for his work in the field of computer tech designer. Gaius (pronounced Guy-us) was also a self-obsessed nihilist, who’s own lust and greed made him vulnerable to manipulation. His Command Navigation Program, which the Ministry of Defense had appointed him to build, also had a “backdoor” planted by his blonde girlfriend who worked on the project with him, unbeknownst to officials. She was a spy… sent by the cylons to infiltrate the humans’ defenses and allow for a devastating attack.

After 40 years of silence, 40 years of peace, 40 years of prosperity… then (the cylons believing that it was their god-given fate to destroy their “evil” masters), genocide… The cylons attacked the 12 colonies with a fury like none other, as if dealt from the gods’ themselves. They exploited the backdoor in the colonial defense systems and caught the humans totally by surprise…. allowing not only for the total destruction of the colony’s defenses… but near annihilation of the human race. Using nuclear weapons launched from space, the cylons decimated the 12 worlds, going so far as to render Caprica completely uninhabitable due to radioactive fallout. What had once been a race of sentient machines designed by humans had evolved into models that look human through the help of the mysterious Final Five.” They had infiltrated almost every aspect of the colonial military and government, and humans had no idea until it was too late. Only a handful of survivors made if off Caprica before the end, Dr Gaius Baltar being one of them.

In space, some 200 million miles away from the destruction, flew the Battlestar Galactica. She was a massive warship, both a fleet carrier capable of maintaining 4 Viper squadrons of 20 fighters apiece, and tactical battlecruiser, equipped with huge artillery cannons, anti-aircraft batteries, and nuclear warheads. (A fully-armed battlestar is capable of performing a wide range of offensive maneuvers while her defenses ensure the ability to engage enemies at close-range) The Galactica was being decommissioned during the time of the attack, her Viper bays being converted into a museum, and anyone who was on board for the ceremony suddenly became one of the only 47,000 humans left alive in the universe.

Word of the attack spread across the galaxy, and many space-bound ships that were flying from one place to another for whatever reason, suddenly became the last hope for humanity… “the fleet.”  When the commander of the Galactica sent word for any remaining ships to meet them at a hidden military base called Ragnar Anchorage, a few dozen ships of varying size made it to the rendezvous.  The fleet was a rag-tag group of tankers, cruisers, civilian transports, etc, that made up the convoy led by the Battlestar Galactica and her crew… faced with superior numbers and firepower, the fleet jumped further than anyone had before… and kept jumping… hoping to out-run the cylons. Their worlds destroyed, their families gone, their hope crushed, the 47,000 people left in the fleet ran for the stars, their ships pointed toward an unknown destination- a myth handed down from the ancient scrolls- toward Earth.

“For now we have a refuge to go to. A refuge the Cylons know nothing about. It won’t be an easy journey. It’ll be long, and arduous. But I promise you one thing: on the memory of those lying here before you, we shall find it, and Earth shall become our new home. So say we all!”- Commander William Adama, eulogy for the dead (cont). 

It was written that 13 tribes left for the stars in the great exodus. 12 of these tribes headed toward the many worlds of the Cyrannus star system, while according to legend, the Thirteenth Tribe of man headed in a different direction- toward Earth. It was this same direction that the survivors of the fall of the 12 colonies headed… into the unknown and uncertainty of space. Chasing myth and legend, Commander Adama lies and tells the survivors he knows where Earth is.

Among the surviving ships is the government vessel Colonial 12 (becomes Colonial 1), which holds the only surviving members of the Colonial President’s staff- and the Secretary of Education Laura Roslin. In the beginning moments of the escape, a government fail-safe device appoints her President due to the laws of succession only a few hours after being told she has terminal-stage breast cancer. Dr. Baltar, President Roslin, Commander Adama, his Executive Officer Colonel Tigh, son Captain Lee “Apollo” Adama, and adopted-daughter Kara “Starbuck” Threiss all become the major players in a tale that starts at the end of another.

[And so we find them, in the first few episodes, a mini-series created by the Sci-Fi channel and NBC, at the end of their worlds… on the run from a determined and deadly adversary… humanoid cylons in their midst (unbeknownst to most of the fleet). Humanity’s desperate search for a place to hide, to stop, and to live again.]


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Most of the information gleaned for these posts is taken from the good folks at Wiki and BSG Wiki.

Coming Up on the BSG Files: