Monday, April 07, 2008

When is a Cylon not a Cylon?

...when it just thinks it's a Cylon.

Bear with me, all those who do not partake in the joyous nectar that is Battlestar Galactica.

Ok, maybe that's over-romantacizing it. I'll leave the hyperbole to Michael discussing it and Doctor Who. But for those that follow the show closely, I have some ideas..

As we all know in last season's finale and this past Friday's final season premiere, four of our beloved Galactica cast members discovered they were actually Cylons. More specifically, four of the "final five" Cylons, a subgroup of the total twelve human-looking models that supposedly exist. Only the elusive twelfth remains unseen and unidentified.

However, I think we should actually take this with a grain of salt at this point, and here's why...

All during the two-part season finale last year, Tigh, Anders, Tory and Tyrol began hearing music in their heads. Snippets of a tune none of them had heard before, but seemed to be broadcasting from somewhere in the ship. All throughout the two-parter they searched out the source before finally in the heat of the battle came together in common purpose. Each had a line from Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" being sent to their brains, a signal which led them to the conclusion that they were all Cylons...


Ok, this may rehash arguments that have raged over the summer, but the leap of logic from "We all hear tunes in our head" to "We're Cylons" is a pretty big leap. A leap that seems to have been pushed along a bit by whatever is causing the signal in the first place.

Ok, now jumping ahead to the premiere episode.

Of the four cast members, only Tigh and Anders have actual experiences that might lend us (and them) to believe they are truly Cylons. Tigh reports to Admiral Adama on the bridge with renewed belief that he is in control of his own destiny. He is is own man, a Colonial Warrior for many years, and fiercely and faithfully human. Then he sees himself shoot Adama in the head, assassinating their leader and his best friend in cold blood just as another newly-discovered-Cylon did, Boomer. It's a vision, but an incredibly real one and it shakes him to the core. Proof he's a Cylon - ready to betray his friends and his people at the worst possible time, right?

No. Seems to me to be an easily explained hallucination of self-doubt. Tigh is a man who wants to be the best he can, but is continually attacked by his own inner demons. Demons of the bottle, of the wrong women, of anger, of power. He is extremely insecure and would consider betrayal the worst thing he could do. So of course, what would a Cylon controlling influence want to play up in his mind? The scenario that he might indeed become a traitor to his people. Which would make him believe more than ever he was actually a Cylon. Whatever influence the music signal has over him has suggested the idea of betrayal in his head, which manifested itself in a hallucination.

Anders is a natural hero, from sports to resistance and finding himself a bit useless - especially with his wife, Starbuck supposedly dead - becomes a nugget Viper pilot. When all available pilots are called to the air to defend the fleet, Anders is hesitant. He has the same doubts and fears Tigh has - that he will turn on a fellow pilot in combat. What happens to Anders is a bit different... he freezes when a Cylon Raider is in his sights - wait, his safeties are on. How did that happen? Did his Cylon programming subconsciously cause him to lock the safeties without him knowing it? But gets worse. The Raider he's chasing turns a quick 180 and locks him in its sights. The red laser eye of the Raider Pilot zeros in on Anders, and we briefly see our hero's eye turn red - red glows being a running symbol of Cylon-ness.

To many that was the big confirmation. Anders eye turned red...yep - it's confirmed for sure now. He's a Cylon! They're all Cylons! Everybody's a Cylon!

It seemed to me on further review that all the Raider Pilot did was illuminate Anders' eye with the beam, identify the Viper Pilot as one of the contacted "four", understand that Anders had had him in his sites and failed to fire which confirmed the contact and "suggestioning" was successful. The Raider turned and ran, and the attacking Cylon fleet did the same.

Again, the power of suggestion at work. I think the real Cylons found a way to send a signal to certain individuals to make them think they are Cylons. Tigh, Anders, Tory and Tyrol - all in positions of authority and close proximity to important people in the fleet (Adama, Starbuck, Roslin, not sure about Tyrol. Callie? Athena?) Regardless, all we've seen so far is the power of suggestion. The Cylons suggested, via the music signal, that the four were Cylons. Their imaginations and deep-seated fears and insecurities have taken care of the rest.

Until I see some of the current Cylon hierarchy acknowledge the four's identities (something I don't believe even they know for sure - witness Six's reluctance to even think about them) or see some kind of incontrovertible proof I am not yet convinced.

And I think this is a much more interesting plot direction to take, personally. Letting someone's fears work for you. Nice job.

Other Thoughts:

* If these guys are not four of the final five, who are the four? Other Galacticans we've seen before? Totally new faces? If there are four other cast members that actually are Cylons having them pop up later in the season would seem like a cop-out and retread, which is not good story-telling. This is the biggest hang-up to my theory, and I hate it because it's not a plot hangup it's a dramatic one.

* Which possibly means the Final Five aren't like we think they might be. As a matter of fact, I think the Final Five don't even have the same agenda or motivations as the original Seven. Why so mysterious? Why so "ethereal" as in Six and Baltar's vision? Why don't they come out in the open?

* I thought Baltar's Cylon detector actually worked, but that he made it appear to be a failure. The cast discussed it, saying it didn't work at all because it didn't detect Boomer. But I think I remember it did detect Boomer, but Baltar supressed the information. Am I remembering that right? If it does actually work, could it be used to test the "final four" at some point?

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