The final episode of beloved, critically-acclaimed series Battlestar Galactica airs tonight, and we feel tragic that it has to come to an end. Especially when we still have so many burning questions.
1. What, exactly, is this "plan" that the Cylons have?
Remember how every episode used to begin with the promise that the cylons "have a plan"? Well, what the hell was that plan? To chase the humans around and then have sex with them? To continue nuking and nuking and nuking until all the humans are gone? To find Earth? To find Kobol? To find a spiritual something-or-other? Basically the cylons always seem to be going by the seat of their pants, not sticking to any kind of plan. And now they're having a civil war. Was that part of the plan too? Seriously, help me out here: I need to understand.
2. Who (or what) are the Head People?
Here are the facts that I've been able to salvage so far. First of all, Baltar has this cylon in his head who always looks incredibly sexy and in fact has sex with him, and she's a version of Caprica Six who was his lover on Earth. But she is very definitively not Caprica, because recently Baltar had a run-in with the real Caprica and she clearly wasn't down with anything Head Six was doing. Also, we know that the real Caprica Six also has (occasionally) had a Head Baltar who dresses in zoot suits. And finally, the piece de resistance: We know that the Final Five had Head People in the last days of Earth. They talk about how they each "saw people who weren't there," some male and some female, who told them about the impending disaster and warned them to get the resurrection equipment ready. So WHO ARE THE HEAD PEOPLE? After watching Baltar have sex with his Head Six for four seasons, I'd really frakkin like to know.
3. What is Starbuck?
This a pretty obvious one, but I still fear it may never be answered. Kara Thrace, AKA Starbuck, started out as a badass pilot and quickly developed into a badass pilot with visions and an uncanny ability to survive her own death by getting ported to a new body. She has repeatedly been identified as the "harbinger of death" by those cylon hybrids who act as ship navigators and spout prophetic nonsense all the time. Is she the first hybrid, an undocumented cylon model, a mutant, what?
4. Why can't everybody just go back to Kobol to live? And why did they leave in the first place?
In season 1, the Galactica stumbles across the planet Kobol, the planet where humans first evolved. From there, the 13 colonies zoomed across space, scattering to the 12 known worlds and to Earth. Kobol is looking perky and green, not bombed out like Earth. So why did the original humans leave it? And more importantly, why doesn't the Fleet return to it now that Earth is looking sucky? Adama and Co. keep acting like they have to go out and find some habitable planet when they know exactly where Kobol is and could just jump there tomorrow.
5. Where do Gaius Baltar's loyalties actually lie?
OK, so Baltar started out as a really selfish but ultra-smart human scientist rock star type. Then he had an affair with a cylon (though he didn't know she was a cylon) and sort of accidentally gave her access to the override codes on every defense system in the world. Which allowed the cylons to nuke the hell out of the 12 colonies, and also incidentally led to the bizarro love affair between Baltar and his Head Six. Baltar was still aligned with the humans, but was so emotionally attached to Six that his allegiances were muddied. He refused to reveal who his "cylon test" had fingered, for example; and then he rescued a Six from being tortured by Cain, which allowed her to become a radical subversive who blew up the only Fleet ship that had nice gardens in it. And then his loyalties were further muddied on New Caprica, where he became a cylon puppet dictator and ultimately defected to the cylon fleet. But THEN he defected back to the human Fleet, where he continued to consort with Head Six and Tory the Final Five cylon. Now he's leading a pack of acolytes, preaching the monotheistic religion of Head Six and scheming seemingly just for the sake of scheming. He's like a triple or quadruple agent at this point, so where do his actual loyalties lie? Is he a cylon-lover at heart, or a human patriot? Or something else? Will we ever understand Baltar's tangled motivations or will he remain an unctuous, manipulative cipher?
6. What are the powers of the human-cylon hybrids, not to mention the cylon-ship hybrids?
Like the question about Starbuck, this is a pretty obvious one. There are two types of "hybrid" in the series: Cylons who are wired into the Base Ships and control them with their minds; and human-cylon hybrids like Hera who are the result of interbreeding. Then there is the ill-explained old-school hybrid whom we see briefly in a flashback to Adama's time during the first cylon war. He seems like a version of the cylon-ship hybrid. None of these hybrids' powers are ever fully explained. When Hera was still a fetus, her blood cured the president's cancer. Now that she's been born, we know she has prophetic or at least psychic powers, and that she can "project" mental images to other cylons (something that apparently all cylons can do with each other). As for the cylon ship navigator cylons, we know they are called hybrids but why? And why do they spout nonsense while they are commanding the Base Ships, and how much of what they say is lifted from spam emails and how much is prophesy? Are they a more ancient type of cylon, in touch with a spiritual force? Must know!
7. What really happened on Earth that sparked the first war, which led to the Final Five, which then led to the Eight Skinjobs?
This is what I think happened, based on thinking about cylon history way too much. Planet Earth was covered in a bunch of skinjob cylons who all looked and acted just like human beings on the Earth that you and I call home. But they were oppressing Centurion cylons, who eventually revolted and destroyed all the Earthling cylons except the Final Five. But then the Centurions, who were also making war on the 12 colonies (where they were independently invented?), asked the Final Five to build them eight models of humanoid cylons. According to Ellen, that was because the Centurions thought that humans were made in the image of God, so they wanted their offspring to look like God too. Those eight became the skinjobs, who joined the Centurions in the Nuking Of Everything Human. Is that right? I mean, I'm putting that crucial backstory together out of several throwaway comments and I think we need some confirmation of that order of events. Did the Earthling cylons really invent Centurions that were almost exactly like the Centurions that the 12 colonies developed millennia later? And why would the Centurions think that humans, whom they hate, are close to God? Which brings me to my next question . . .
8. How did the Skinjobs get control over the Centurions?
So Caprica's Centurions rebelled against the humans. And then they met the Final Five, and agreed to stop the first Cylon war in exchange for getting a new line of skinjobs, because the Centurions believe humans were made in the image of God, so they want human-looking Cylons around. So, in a sense, the Centurions commissioned the creation of the seven or eight new skinjobs. And yet those skinjobs then installed limiting software on the Centurions, and lobotomized the Raiders. How exactly did the skinjobs pull this off? I mean, how did they go from being the Centurions' creations to being their masters who treat the Centurions like disposable infantry? I think we're missing some serious plot here.
9. Why do Cylons have to be in love with humans in order to reproduce with them? And what the hell was that glowing light in Athena's back? Plus why is resurrection so bad?
I realize that's really three questions in one, but they're basically all related to human-cylon sex. First of all, we hear over and over that cylons can only conceive with humans if they truly love the human. Why? And how does the cylon body know that it's truly in love? Is there some kind of love algorithm, or a measurement device that checks for how many loveon particles are floating through the cylon's emo systems? Seems like a really weird design choice on the part of the Final Five.
It seems as if the skinjobs are biologically almost the same as humans. They have no metal parts or LED eyeballs. So why does Athena's back glow red when she gets with Helo on Caprica? And why doesn't Six's back ever get glowy when she does it with Baltar or Tigh? Why didn't Ellen's back go red when she did the swirly on Cavil?
Most importantly, why the hell are the cylons so obsessed with mating and reproducing in the messy, old-fashioned human way when they can just resurrect or build new models? I'm still really unclear on why resurrection sucks so much, despite all the "dying is tramatic" thing all the cylons spout off about. OK dying is traumatic, but dying permanently is even more traumatic so just buck up and stop whinging. Either that, or explain to me what is so damn magical about pooting a baby out the biological way.
10. So why only seven or eight new skinjob models? Why not hundreds? Why make more than one copy of the same model? It doesn't seem like the cylons were like that on Earth.
11. Is there a God or gods controlling everybody's fate?
This is basically one of the overarching questions of the entire series. We've known from the beginning that the cylons believe deeply in a monotheistic God that looks human (except Cavil, who just believes in robot civil liberties and science). We also know that the humans are polytheistic, and that many of their gods seem to have left artifacts and scripture behind that are partially true and have genuine power. Various characters have had visions or encounters with the divine, including President Roslin, and their experiences turn out to have some relevance in reality. Baltar has occasionally called his Head Six an angel; Caprica, Roslin, and Athena have shared a vision of little hybrid Hera in an opera house where Head Six and Baltar take her away into the proverbial light. Many of the characters, including hybrids and Starbuck, have said that they know they are part of some kind of "destiny" that may or may not be controlled by God or gods. Going a little meta, we also know that showrunner Ron Moore wrote obsessively about godlike aliens in Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Plus, so much of the show is about how things are pre-ordained - like humans fighting their cylon slaves over and over - that it really does seem as if there's some kind of godlike force getting in everybody's business. So what's the deal? Is there a God? Are the Head People angels? Or is there just a bunch of aliens/AIs so ultramegapowerful that they might as well be gods? Obviously there's something preternatural going on, because there's no rational explanation for many of the shows' plot twists.
12. Bob Dylan???
Why do all the cylons hear Bob Dylan in the cupboards? Why do we as viewers have to hear "All Along the Watchtower" over and over, without ever getting a chance to hear the Hendrix or Prince versions? Seriously, though, what is the significance of this particular song and where does it come from? We know that it was played among the Earthling cylons, but why is it the trigger for their awakening to their true natures? And why is Starbuck hearing snatches of the same song (which her father played for her), while Hera is creating pictures of the notes from the song? AND why is everybody on the show quoting from the song in dialogue? Is Bob Dylan the God we've all been seeking? Or have hippies been secretly colonizing the galaxy for millennia, spreading their obsession with folk music everywhere?