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BSG 3x20: Here's your Watchtower

Friends and colleagues and acquaintances alike wax rhapsodic about the finale to season three of BSG, the significance of Bob Dylan in the background, the revelation of the Four, and the identity of the Fifth. Me? I just jot down barely coherent webs of musings and ideas and ill-founded theories.

I: See, it's all intertextual ...

... we've got 13 tribes, but there's also that 1999 masterpiece The Thirteenth Floor, a multi-layered virtual reality flick starring Gretchen Mol. 13 tribes, 13th floor ... this has happened before and it will happen again in a different simulation, and Leo-what-the-frak knows this because due to topological boozing these layers of s(t)imulation are linked as in a möbius strip, so it took Leo-who-the-frak a couple trips around (from our outside-the-manifold perspective—this is a möbius strip embedded in a Klein Bottle, after all) before he could tell a juiced up Starbucks™ about all this.

And to quote White Men Can't Jump, “You can't hear Jimi ...”—which seems to indicate that a cheesinated Jimi Hendrix (Jim & Seattle? check. Starbuck(s) & Seattle? check. a cheese-loving friend & Seattle? check. I rest my case, without a request for a mistrial, which is a bit like a miscarriage, which brings us to Chief and Cally: there is no problem with them having a squirt, him a Cylon, she not, since it's hard but not impossible for hybrids to knead the dough and put buns in the oven, and Doc Straight-out-of-Gunsmoke had no reason to perform a Baltar-esque 69th level check for Cylon thetans) is the final humanoid Cylon. Or the Cylon deity. I digress.

A close intarweb friend posted spoilers last week that were, indeed, straight from last night's episode, and even having read those, there was nothing in the episode ruined by it. The revelation of the 5 (or rather 4 so far) I was able to deduce from the previous episode and the trailer for this one ... it required little ${prefix}-duction, since they made it so clear. Reference to the way-back-Richard-Hatch (not Survivor) BSG (like MSG but without the soy) would make one suspect that given developments in that series regarding getting lost and running into Mormon-theology figures that Starbuck might just pop up again. Funny, that. And I was more into the performance or execution of this episode anyway, for we note that the music is driving the self-proclaimed “Oh frak, not me, not me ... oh, is this a line from X-Men 3?” four a bit bonkers, and likewise it is used to up the tempo and the tension and make the audience a bit on edge and uncomfortable, at least until that just-missing-the-eyeball straight from Contact™ concluding CGI shot.

You know the one.

As for the final Cylon, a certain symmetry suggests Roslin or Starbuck, since Xena, Six, Boomer/Athena/baby-oven, and I'll-be-your-presidential-intern only make four, whereas we have seven males (Quantum Leap, Mr. Futuretastic, I'm-short-and-overcompensate, I'm-the-token-black-dude, Colonel Sanders, Anders, and I-was-right-in-season-one) ... so, instead, we want 8 men and 4 women, or 7 and 5 ... 2-to-1 for baby-making or 7-5 for biblical numerology ... you decide. As far as infernal consistency goes, Starbuck makes the most sense, since all the rest on Galactica felt the urge to congregate, and even if the Prez's drug-induced visions let her “see things” (similar to but not the same as Cylon projecting, which even Baltar can do, no?), she didn't really hear the music. Of course, Roslin the Cylon-hater, Roslin the I-spied-Gaius-gettin'-some, as toaster would make sense, except it's basically excluded as a possibility due to the blood transfusion a season back.

II: and cyberpunk-BSG says ...

... well, mix with a little Dan Simmons (Hyperion Cantos) and the Five are not traditional humanoid Cylons; indeed, they download and resurrect, as do all Cylons, but it's a bit different—they reincarnate, occupying other, compatible psyches. Humans. No resurrection ship or fixed bodies.

Four of the five are on Galactica because that's where the bodies were that they had managed to occupy/possess. BSG as Exorcist. BSG as Mr-Smith-in-Matrix taking over a cop.

BSG, season 4: co-produced by JJ Abrams!

Or: Ur-Cylons created humans who created Cylons in their image ... bwahahaha ... hrm. I could go on with this, if not forever, at least for a good long while.

7 regular + 5 of The Five; 7 males + 5 females? ... 7*5 + 5*7 = 70, or, better: 7*7 + 5*5 = 74 = a good Steve-number?

BSG speculation as ... choose-your-own-adventure™.

Page 5
I got sacrificed to the Aztec gods again.

Goddamn choose your own book of Pithia ...

  1. You provide a Pithia response ... [go to page 23]
  2. Your Pithia response angers the God(s) ...go to page 47]

Page 23
After your Pithia response you resurrect in a slime-filled bathtub masquerading as a resurrection chamber in a Dick-via-Spielberg-inspired moment upon a Cylon ship. No Cylon arrives to greet you.

Do you ...

  1. ... project your way around the ship? [go to page 16]
  2. ... look for a boxed Xena lunch? [go to page 42]

Page 47
Your Pithia response angers the God(s) and after your sacrifice instead of upon a basestar or resurrection ship you find yourself on Kobol in a rain forest, not far from the site of a not-too-distant battle between metal soldiers and flesh-beings. Bones and toasters litter the battlefield.

You ...

  1. scavenge for roots, berries, and unused ordinance. [go to page 74]
  2. seek the high ground away from this location for an ambush. [go to page 94]

III: Viral marketing ...

... and the death of some toasters.

To summarize the situation: the old marker/outpost (at the Lion's Head) that points all in the right direction to Earth was also infected with a virus against which all humans had, over the centuries, gained immunity but which infected and killed Cylons, whole ships of them, in fact. Athena-Boomer is “immune” by way of having hosted Hera the parasite, or the Herasite, so to speak, for nine months, a half-human child with immunity. That doesn't explain the Six in custody or the other Cylons who come aboard Galactica mid-season. We just have to assume that things were quarantined well enough that the virus is not to be found on the ship. But the Four ... ah, the Four (Tigh, Anders, Tory, and Chief) ... they were on Galactica so much at this time that it's hard to believe that if they're regular humanoid Cylons that they weren't infected.

Without either retcon or major plot inconsistency, if the 4 (or 5, once the 5th is nailed down) are Cylons, they cannot be Cylons as we know them for precisely the reason given—the virus to which Cylons are not immune.

It would support the 5-as-psylons approach, so to speak (see: above cyberpunk musings), for they would be biologically entirely human, hosts of sorts more or less.

Of course, what we know is rather little, and we tend to fill it in with inferences, some well-founded, others less so. We “know” that there are 12 models of humanoid Cylons, 7 of which we have encountered with multiple models before 3x20, 5 of which are not talked about by the other 7. Ignoring all the story-internal stuff (Xena recognizing one, the events of 3x20, etc.), what we do not have is an answer as to the “creation order” of the 12; were the 7+5 created at the same time, the 7 first and 5 later, 5 first and 7 later, etc.? Nor do we have an answer to the “who created the humanoid Cylons” question, for while we “know” that man created Cylon (opening scroll, etc.), the Cylons meant are the machine-type, more like the centurions. Did the 5 create the 7, the 7 the 5, another force the 7+5, the 5 the thing that created the 7, etc. Or do we just have an accelerated evolution and/or emergence issue without a specific creator? I think we've already concluded that the 5 are in some way different, likely biologically if they have “their own” forms. The 5 as perfect human clones is not out of the question, either as early models of the other 7, or as refinements—neither is excluded, I think, by what we already “know.” Plus, the not-talking-about taboo (that the 7 do not talk about the 5) is consistent with a mythology of outcasts, failures, or rebels—plenty of Old Testament models for all.

—March 26 2007