A while back I wrote about the conclusion of this half-season of Battlestar Galactica. I had a stray thought that didn’t really fit within that post. This post contains spoilers.

Logically speaking, the most important thing that happened in the mid-season finale was not that the BSG gang and Cylons found Earth, but rather that they made peace with one another. In a sense, that obviates the need for Earth in the first place (outside the religious context, which I will get to).

Without the Human-Cylon war, they have numerous places that they can land and re-start civilization, including the original Thirteen Colonies, New Caprica, and possibly even Kobol (the Cylons being the main obstacle last time they landed) and the Algae Planet (can’t recall if there were non-Cylon reasons for their departure). With a sustained peace, there isn’t much reasons that the Colonists can’t just go home and the Cylons take possession of New Caprica, the Algae Planet, and most significantly Kobol (as well as any planets they may have been hanging at during the armistice. Or alternately the humans can return to their ancestral land of Kobol and the Cylons can get the Thirteen Colonies that is their ancestral home to the extent that they have one.

The problem with any such arrangement is, of course, religion. Both the Colonial Gods (or at least the scripture thereof) and the lone Cylon God (or at least his messenger the Hybrid) have declared that their future resides on Earth. It is this faith in their destiny that allowed for the ceasefire to begin with. It could be rather hard to maintain peace if one or the other says “Oh, never mind, we’re going home!” The humans are the more likely of the two to decide to go home, but they could never be sure that the Cylons wouldn’t get bored on Earth and begin to want to play again. The Cylons, for their part, could never be sure that future generations of human leaders would not go back to taking their scriptures more seriously again or simply say that the Cylon threat needs to be elimitated once and for all and reclaim or destroy Earth.

Much of the Second Human-Cylon War has rested on the notion of pre-emptive war on the part of humans and it would seem existential boredom on the part of the Cylons. The Cylons started the second round of warfare with the original sneak attack for reasons unknown (though possibly relating to a breach in airspace, though they’ve never mentioned it) and then took over New Caprica with a similar lack of rationale.

The biggest problem with the Cylons is that they are a race without a purpose. They are (or at least seem to be) alone in the solar system with only the humans to accompany them. Other than their religion and the sporadic warfare, we never see what exactly it is that the Cylons live for. Their relationship to one another (with some, though rare, exception) seems to be more in the tone of partner or ally than any emotional connection. They have the technology to build whatever it is that they want, so simple survival isn’t a motivation, either. So all they have (or seem to have) is their relationship to the humans. Unfortunately, the only relationship with the humans that they know is subservience (which obviously isn’t an option) and war.

In fact, despite the scornful tone they take towards the humans, it really boils down to a love/hate sort of thing that occurs between parents that make mistakes and their children. It’s not hard to come to the conclusion that they want to love and be loved by the humans (or at least accepted) but absent that to at least be respected by them. It’s no accident that they’ve patterned their “skinjobs” after humans and have not deviated from that design. They’d obviously need some of them in order to infiltrate humanity, of course, but there isn’t any logical reason that they don’t produce at least some models with four arms, eyes on the back of their heads, and other things that could prove to be quite useful.

The humans, meanwhile, are reluctant to trust any armistice in the future and probably won’t be able to rest until the Cylons are destroyed. So in that vein, even if there weren’t another half-season it seems vanishingly unlikely that Earth or no, any ceasefire will persist. If the Cylons themselves don’t start another war, the humans will for fear that the Cylons will eventually.

The ultimate solution to all of this is not separate coexistence. The distrust level between the two is far too high. The only way it seems to me that the two species can survive is by integrating and to the extent they can procreating. I don’t really mean this is a flower-child “We will all be one, yay!” kind of way, but in a rather cold analysis of what it would take. The integration would not (entirely) be so that the humans and Cylons can get to understand one another and blah blah blah but rather so that they can keep an eye on one another. The difference in capacity to do damage with the humans living in South America and the Cylons in East Asia versus them living side by side is significant. Procreation would play a secondary (and perhaps less cold, more hopeful role) in that if the two get blended, each has a greater vested interest in the other. It’s hard to say “Cylons should die” when your grandkid is one.


Category: Theater

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2 Responses to BSG: The Danger of the Existential Boredom

  1. Barry says:

    You kind of lost me right at the beginning of your premise. The Colonists did not make peace with the Cylons – they allied with the Cylon rebels (Sixes, Sharons, Leobens and the one D’eanna). There’s a big difference there, in that the other main half of the Cylon race is still very much in active conflict with both groups. This includes the Cavills most obviously, and a couple of the other models.

    Therefore they can’t go back to the Colonies, they can’t go back to New Caprica, they can’t go back to the Algae planet, and they can’t go back to Kobol – the rest of the Cylons are still chasing them. Thus they still need Earth from a practical standpoint, both as a new home and save haven, and as possible allies against the rest of the Cylons.

    Also, while they’ve tentatively allied with the rebels there’s still a lot of mistrust involved. I wouldn’t even call what they did “making peace”. They’ve teamed up to help each other, and are making roads toward trust and mutual cooperation but especially on the Colonists’ part, there’s still a lot of bad blood toward all Cylons.

  2. trumwill says:

    Hey, I think that you’re right! For some reason I had thought that the Cylon Civil War ended with everyone folding under D’anna, but that was never established. Indeed, since she killed Cavil, that makes it somewhat unlikely (Anyone recall what happened to his “Pet 8” that was with him?).

    I agree on the mistrust, which was the point that I ultimately got to. Even if there were no Civil War, it’s unlikely that the peace can sustain.

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