[This is some speculation I wrote about Battlestar Galactica after the incident at the Ionian nebula but before the rest of the series played out. I was wrong about everything. But I think I like my version better.]
Last week, I wrote a piece about the final Battlestar Galactica season in which I boldly revealed my prediction that the final Cylon was Lara Roslin. Unless it was Admiral Adama. Or Romo Lampkin.
This week, I want to talk about Earth.
For three seasons, the biggest question has been whether the Colonial fleet will find Earth. The last frame of the last episode of the third season showed us that the fleet was not too far away from a planet that looked like the Earth we know—the North American continent was clearly visible.
Producer Ron Moore has since said in an interview that a television series about the search for Earth can only be true to itself if Earth is eventually found. So I think we can safely assume that the Colonial fleet will find Earth. The real question then is what will they find there?
(I suppose Galactica‘s Earth doesn’t have to have anything to do with our Earth. It could be almost anything. But that would be kind of a cheat, wouldn’t it? Why call it “Earth” if it’s not in some way related to the planet we know? I think the writers are calling it “Earth” because in some way it is this Earth, or at least a reasonable permutation thereof.)
The biggest question about Earth is whether Colonial mythology is correct. The Colonials believe Earth is the lost thirteenth colony, settled by a tribe that migrated from the home planet of Kobol. Presumably, these people arrived on Earth in our distant past and are our ancestors, with their origin on Kobol having been lost to history.
However, based on information in the Sacred Scrolls, the tribe that settled Earth left Kobol 4000 years before the events of the series. If the series is taking place in our current time, that puts the thirteenth tribe’s arrival on Earth at about 2000 BC. That won’t work, because our historical records go back to about 4000 BC, long before the arrival of our supposed ancestors.
In order to avoid a conflict with our records, the tribe would have had to arrive in our pre-history, about 6000 years ago, in 4000 BC, which means that the events of the series are taking place about 2000 years ago. If they find Earth, they’ll arrive at an interesting time—the time of Christ.
That would be a great time for strange objects in the heavens and the arrival of miracle-worker Gaius Baltar with his gospel of the one true God. Hasn’t he been looking a little Jesus-y lately? (At least before he shaved.)
Stranger things have happened in television, but somehow I don’t think they’ll go that route.
My favorite super-geek theory of what could happen is that the timeline somehow works out so the Colonial fleet arrives in our time, but in the universe of the Stargate series.
Once they are found by one of Earth’s starships, the Cylons would be doomed. Cylon spacecraft don’t have long-range sensors or shield technology, so one of the battlecruisers could easily sneak up while cloaked and beam a nuclear warhead on board. It could destroy dozens of Basestars in a few minutes.
The Cylons could try to attack the SGC ships with their supposedly awesome computer viruses, but don’t forget that all the X-303 starships have been enhanced with Asgard technology, and the Odyssey even has an Asgard core. I’d pit Asgard anti-virus utilities against the Cylons any day.
I’d especially look forward to the conversation about the stargates that must have been on the Colonial worlds:
“Do you recall finding any big rings, about 5 meters across, with funny symbols on them?”
“You mean the holy circles? Where we held our ceremonies honoring the gods?”
“Maybe…where did the…’holy circles’…come from?”
“Oh, we found one on each of the 12 colonies. We never did figure out how they got there.”
“Were they standing on edge or…”
“No, of course not. How could you hold a ceremony on one if it was standing?”
“We had them lying on the ground…”
“…and we filled the centers with concrete to provide a raised dais for the priests.”
“Uh huh. Tell me, did any of your priests ever claim to see bright flashes coming from the cement floor?”
“Yes! A few of them did! Visions from the gods, no doubt. Why? Are they important?”
That’s probably not going to happen either…
On the other hand, maybe Colonial mythology is all wrong. Here in the real world, we certainly have reason to doubt it. Not only do we have written records going back thousands of years, we have archaeological evidence going back much further.
In North America alone, we have evidence of a human population 12,000 years ago. In the cradle of humanity, Africa, archaeologists have found spearheads that were chipped into shape 77,000 years ago. And that’s nothing compared to the skeleton known as Lucy, one of our distant ancestors, which is at least 3 million years old.
In addition, there is ample evidence in both morphology and DNA that humans are related to many other species on this planet. Simply put, humans evolved on this planet. We’ve always been here. We did not come from Kobol.
That must mean the Sacred Scrolls are wrong: If humans come from Earth, then Kobol must have been a colony of Earth, not the other way around.
That also shifts the timeline. The journey to Kobol must be at least a few years in our future, since we don’t even have manned interplanetary flight, let alone an FTL jump drive. That pushes the events of the series at least 4000 years into our future.
So what happened at Earth? What will the Colonial fleet find there?
First of all, if Earth had been a normal thriving human planet for the last 4000 years, it wouldn’t be hard to find. Ships from Earth would be visiting the colonies all the time. There’d be diplomats, and trade routes, and inhabited planets all along the way. None of that is happening, so I think Earth has suffered a cataclysm of some sort.
For a clue to the kind of disaster that hit Earth, we can look to the mantra, repeated several times in the series, that “All this has happened before, and will happen again.” Combine this with the Cylon observation that humans are their parents, but that parents must die for the children to come into their own, and I have a theory I like.
I think that the world of Battlestar Galactica has been repeating a cycle of uplift and strife for thousands of years, as each civilization manufactures, and then wars with, its successors.
It started on Earth, when natural humans (us) built a race of intelligent beings that eventually rebelled. Perhaps it was a network of computers that awoke as Skynet and conquered the world. Perhaps we uplifted dolphin intelligence and fitted them with arms, only to discover that they weren’t as friendly as they seem. Perhaps we enslaved apes to work as our servants…you get the idea.
For whatever reason, Earth went to hell, and humans fled, eventually settling on Kobol. Two thousand years later, something went wrong there, forcing humans to flee to what became the colonies. Two thousand years later, humans built Cylons, who rebelled and warred against them.
The Cylons too are having trouble with their progeny. The original Cylons were the shiny metal centurions we saw in Razor (looking just like the Cylons from the original series) who rebelled against their human creators. They, in turn, created the humanoid Cylon models, who promptly took over and enslaved the centurions again. They re-engineered the centurions into what they are now, but the humanoid Cylons are also clearly concerned that the centurions will somehow rise up against them.
Then there are the final five cylons, who seem to be serving an agenda all their own. They may not even be the final five but rather the first five. For one thing, Admiral Adama has known Saul Tigh for over 20 years, which would mean he predates the main seven humanoid Cylon models. For another, the Temple of Five that Chief Tyrol finds on the algae planet is 4000 years old. Also, the human Cylons appear to have been programmed to avoid even thinking about the five, implying that the five had something to do with their creation.
Finally, the hybrid we meet at the end of Razor predicts that there will be a conflict among the Cylons. Clearly, there are rebellions even within the rebellions.
All this means that the humans and Cylons are about to discover something they will have difficulty understanding: The remnants of the civilization that used to flourish at Earth. It’s been around for 4000 years, so it should command some radically advanced technologies, and it may have taken some strange turns. It probably isn’t even run by humans, at least not entirely.
We’ve seen a few signs of it, such as whatever power it was that robbed the entire Colonial fleet of power when they arrived at the Ionian nebula. I’m assuming that’s some sort of weapon or invasive sensor scan that’s part of the Earth’s defenses, and I’m guessing that it disabled the Cylon vessels too.
Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once observed that any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from magic. I think we could extend that to say that any really advanced technology will be indistinguishable from godhood.
And that’s what I expect to find at Earth: God.
Not the God, but rather an advanced civilization that is the basis of the Cylon god. My theory is that all the various visions people have been seeing are emanations from whatever powers control Earth. Think of it as an exotic communication medium, similar to radio but directly connecting to people’s brains. The Cylons seem to recieve the signals pretty well, as do a few humans such as the priests of Kobol. As everybody gets closer to Earth, the signals have become stronger and the visions have increased. It may have been these signals that unmasked four of the final five Cylons.
These signals may also be related to the resurrection process: If the Cylons can transfer their souls across the lightyears when they die, they obviously have some sort of long-range psychic transfer. Perhaps whatever is at Earth is able to tap into that.
Here’s another thought: We know that Cylons are so similar to humans that it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. Perhaps they are similar enough that it’s possible to have a resurrection technology that works on humans.
I think Earth has such technology, and that’s how Kara came back: At some point in their journey, the Colonial fleet has entered within range of Earth’s resurrection receivers, so when Kara’s Viper blew up, she woke up at Earth. Unlike Cylons, who can be dropped into a pre-existing copy of the same model, humans are unique, so the resurrection system had to grow Kara a new body to inhabit. That’s why she took two months to come back.
As I predicted, the return of Kara’s Viper is an important clue. We’ve learned that it seems to be brand new, without a scratch on it. Apparently, some entity also fabricated a copy of her Viper and helped her get back to the fleet despite the Viper’s lack of FTL drive.
Kara might not be the only one. The Cylons destroyed the Colonial ship Pixis in the battle at the Ionian nebula. If the fleet was still in resurrection range, then in about two months all 600 people on board are going to turn up again, perhaps riding in a brand-new duplicate of the Pixis.
Heck, maybe every human who’s ever died has been reborn on Earth, including Adama’s other son, Tigh’s wife, and everyone who died in the Cylon attack on the Colonies.
Or…I could be totally wrong about everything.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all this, and I like some of the ideas I came up with, so I figured I might as well write it all down. If I’m proven wrong—which might happen in tonight’s episode—nobody will ever care.
But if I’m right, I’ll be king of the sci-fi geeks!
(I suppose the series could also end like this.)
If you’d like to know as much about Battlestar Galactica as I seem to, check out the Battlestar Wiki. It has everything you’d ever want to know about the events of the series.
Update: If you liked the song in the ending I linked to just above, then you might want to check out the Season 3 Gag Reel. The last minute has the “Galactica Rap” written by the guys who do all the music for the series—“There ain’t no Earth anyway, motherfrackers!”