Too … much … information … can’t … process. Seriously, just one revelation after another in this week’s episode of Battlestar Galactica. Join me, won’t you, while I dump out everything I can remember, and make as much sense of it as as my puny human brain can manage …
RECAP DETAILS AHEAD (don’t read if you haven’t watched it yet) …
So after getting shot in the head last week, the bullet lodged in Sam’s brain causes him to remember everything about his and the rest of The Fives’ life on Earth, and he regales them– and Starbuck — with this information in frantic bursts right up till the point when Doc Cottel insists that the bullet be removed. At the same time, we rewind back 18 months, and see Ellen resurrect after drinking Saul’s poison cocktail on New Caprica, then fast forward through her life on Cavil’s base ship until we reach the present day. As a result, we get a TON of new information about the Cylons, both old and new, which I’ll try to put into some kind of chronological order …
1) The Five are born on Earth, grow up, and all work for some kind of research facility. Together, they rediscover the resurrection technology that was somehow lost to them in the years since the Thirteenth Colony arrived from Kobol, and they install it on a ship in orbit of the planet.
2) When Earth gets blown up by angry Centurions, the five of them resurrect on the ship, then travel at subluminal speed back to Kobol — since they don’t have FTL technology yet. They pass through the “Temple of Five” on the Algae Planet along the way, and tweak it so that it will one day show their faces to D’Anna (or presumably to whichever Cylon first found it). The trip takes about 2000 years.
3) The Five’s plan is to warn the twelve colonies of the dangers of mistreating the Cylons they create. But by the time they get there, the First War between the humans and Cylons is already in high gear. They broker peace by promising the Centurions the technology both for creating biological bodies and for resurrection. The Centurions agree, and the war ends. The Centurions introduce The Five to the concept of One True God.
4) Cavil/John (#1) is the first skinjob they create, and he helps create seven others — Leobon (#2), D’Anna (#3), Simon (#4), Doral (#5), Six (#6), Daniel (#7), and Sharon (#8). Daniel is an artist and is favored by Ellen, and Cavil/John is so jealous of him that he screws with Daniel’s cloning process, effectively killing off that line. (I just want to go on record as saying that I knew something was fishy about #7. Refer to this blog entry, where I compulsively rattle through all the numbers, and realize #7 was conspicuously missing. I don’t say this to brag — only to point out to those who might be thinking that the writers are making shit up as they go that this Daniel character was obviously planned all along.)
5) Cavil/John decides he doesn’t like his creators, and kills The Five, screwing with their cloning process too, so that they won’t remember who they are, and scatters them across the colonies to live out human lives. He does this presumably as a kind of revenge/punishment for making him live in a crappy human body, instead of a cool metal one with enhanced senses and abilities.
6) The seven new Cylons declare war on the colonies, which brings us to where the mini-series started. It’s unclear whether Cavil/John expected The Five to die in the attack on the colonies, or if — as Ellen seems to think — he wanted them to live long enough to return to Earth, remember who they were, and finally give Cavil/John the respect he feels he deserves. Regardless, they live, and remember what they are when they get close enough to Earth. But Ellen has “died” on New Caprica by this point, and has resurrected on Cavil/John’s base ship.
7) Of The Five, only Ellen remembers Earth and everything that happened before Cavil/John killed them. When the resurrection ship is destroyed, Cavil/John insists that she tell them how to rebuild it. She claims that she needs the rest of The Five to do it, but Cavil/John doesn’t believe her, and is going to extract the information from her brain surgically. But before he can, Boomer flies her off the base ship and FTL’s her away, presumably to join up with the human fleet, where Sam has just revealed some of The Five’s history to Saul, Tyrol, Tory, and Starbuck, including the fact that Ellen is one of them … and where Tyrol is planning to use Cylon bio-tech to keep the Galactica from falling apart, with Adama’s drunken blessing.
And there you have it. As for who Daniel might be … it’s anybody’s guess. Have we ever met a character named Daniel? Although really, there’s no guarantee that if he’s alive, he even calls himself Daniel any more. Look how many names Six has had — Gina, Shelley, Natalie. So really, he could be anybody.
Did I forget any important details? If so, then sound off in the comments!
My brain hurt consistently throughout the episode. There was just SO much dumped out at once. Something’s still not gelling about the Five’s beginning. They were on Earth and the cylons there could reproduce. Where there any humans there at all or was it an entire cylon planet? They said humans created them right? God, I am so fried.
Still don’t know what’s up with Starbuck. Could she be Daniel? She is an artist after all. How funny would it be if they bring back Dirk Benedict and say he was the original Daniel but with whatever Cavil did, his consciousness went into a female body.
Yeah, I’m still fuzzy about how we ended up with an Earth full of skin jobs. But I’m not sure if that’s because I missed something or because they deliberately haven’t told us yet.
And as for that Starbuck theory? No. Just … no.
I just wanted to clarify, but did Cavil say that he had another means of doing the resurrections other than the Resurrection ship that was destroyed, but it was not good enough? I seem to remember him saying something like luckily they had a small isolated hub that the humans didn’t get to. Though I may just have been hearing things, there was so much information to process.
He mentioned some kind of “colony”. Which I think is where The Five were living before Cavil killed them? They didn’t give us lot of information about it, which makes me think it will figure into the plot again later.
Although it may not come up again until the two-hour movie they’re airing later this year, which is supposed to basically do what I just did here — show everything that’s happened in the series form the point of view of the Cylons. Jane Espenson wrote it and Edward James Olmos is directing.
Thanks, I knew I heard something along those lines.
Here’s exactly what was said …
Cavil: “We can’t procreate biologically, so we’re going to have to find a way to rebuild Resurrection.”
Ellen: “Well good luck with that.”
Cavil: “Don’t need luck. I need your help. They destroyed The Hub, but they don’t even know about The Colony. All your equipment is still there.”
Over on TMFT, Hildy posed the idea that Baltar might be Daniel. Because Sam was talking about how on Earth, they saw people who weren’t there who warned them about the impending disaster, in the same way that Baltar sees Head Six.
Which actually sounds pretty compelling. Guess we’ll see next week if/when Ellen reconnects with the fleet.
Two non mythology details you missed that will be important later. Galatica is dying and Adama will use cylon technology to save her..and Roslin accepts her fate and give Lee de facto power.
I actually covered the Galactica dying thing quickly right toward the end there, but you’re right, I totally spaced on Roslin handing the reins over to Lee. Which in any other episode might have been a big deal. I also thought Lee’s idea about the new Quorum having representatives from the ships, instead of the old colonies, was also kind of an important turning point.
Great summary! Just what I needed after an information packed episode.
I am still having trouble understanding the Centurion’s time lines. How are the Earth’s and Caprica’s Centurions related?
Also, I am sure it will be revealed later but what are the details around how the Centurions were controlled – the who and how.
Adama is the dying leader, I think. This is the second episode where we see him in some sort of state of physical pain, taking some sort of pills washed down with booze.
Actually, the writers ARE making up shit as they go along; Ron Moore has said as much in various interviews. The “final five” were definitely not part of the original conception.
And this is the biggest pile ever. Ellen, Sam, et al were all really brilliant scientists? And they all just happened to survive the cylon attack, which only one in a million humans lived through? OR, it was all meticulously planned by the cylons that four of the five would be on the one surviving battleship, and one would be in the hills on Caprica. Either possibility is really just egregiously bad plotting/writing.
I agree. The show writers gave up on any real logic a long time ago. It’s a shame, because there were so many other fantastic possibilities they could have explored to tie things together. Instead they went with a path of least resistance and damn the facts (and fans) story line.
Avo – I haven’t read the interviews you’ve read, so I can’t speak to what you’re saying there. As for “egregiously bad plotting/writing”, I disagree. Other than a lapse into over-spiritualizing things in the past season or so, I’ve been quite happy with the plotting and writing. And I’ve been extremely happy with the episodes we’ve gotten since the return last month. But to each his own. Personally, I wouldn’t keep watching or discussing something that I felt was “egregiously bad”. But that’s me.
Bad Dog – Ditto. With a few minor exceptions, I haven’t had a problem with the logic of the show. Every series like this develops its own logic after a while — for better or worse — and I think this one has been true to its own. It’s not for me to judge that the show might have worked better using a different kind of logic that’s more to my liking when I have yet to create anything that’s even 1% as successful as this series has been. Like it or don’t like it, that’s fine. But a hyperbolic statement like, “The show writers gave up on any real logic a long time ago,” just seems designed to create an argument.
I love the series, and I loved this episode, even though it was clearly more about information than drama. But then the last couple episodes were just the opposite — all drama and no information — so I felt it was a fair enough reversal. Next week, it would be nice to see both at the same time.
0) The humans of Kobol created the first cylons(humanoid-style). When the planet supposedly “died” and everyone had to leave the humans went one way to the 12 colonies, and the cylons went to Earth. The cylons originally resurrected, but once they gained the ability to procreate they abandoned resurrection technology.
As for Daniel, I think there’s a strong chance that one of his copies escaped, maybe even before maturity. Possibly one of the 8 helped him escape and now doesn’t remember because Cavil/John wiped their memories of Daniel. (Boomer didn’t seem to know who Daniel was until Ellen told her). Could he be Starbuck’s artsy piano-playing dad? That would make her the first Hera. I’m not sure about the Baltar/Daniel possibility. Sam said the Five saw warnings on Earth. That must’ve prompted them to build the arkresurrection escape ship, and Daniel wasn’t one of the five and he was never on Earth. How does that factor in? Where did the warnings come from? I hope they don’t do the “sent from God” thing, but it sounds like where it’s going. I mean they’ve already covered mystical prophecies and biblical metaphors. That would make Baltar a real prophet of sorts after all.
Also it’s become obvious the the Galactica is the dying leader that leads the tribes to salvation. So this probably means the ship gets destroyed at the end of the series. Very sad.
I think it is clear now looking at the location of Cavil’s ship that they are in our solar system. I believe that “the colony” is our Earth or more of what people expected as our Earth. I watched the episode twice to see the stars in the back of the ship along with other details. Orion is right there to be seen when they flee the base ship.
Actually, you can say you like or dislike the show, but it should make sense, and if it violates its own logic I do get to cry foul as a fan without “starting an argument.” I watched four seasons of this fantastic show with intense anticipation built up over how it will all tie together, and I feel like I’m getting a Bob Newhart ending.
If I create a show and have a character say, “It’s always raining on this rainy, wet, water world,” and then in the second season it’s sunny all the time on the planet, then the show violated its own logic, which is just lazy and annoying. I know one blogger on BSG who has taken this to an extreme level and I’m not doing that. The show has often sacrificed logic for candy and I do like me some candy. I also understand the concept of fiction and willing suspension of disbelief. I do, however, expect the show to make an effort to stay true to itself. The show’s creator pretty much said they produced the plotting for the final episodes by the seat of their pants, and sorry, but it shows.
So: Love the show, and I’m digging these final episodes, but I don’t like the final plotting. Too many things are not making sense, and the plotting is overall disappointing. Doesn’t matter, ultimately. It is just a show and it’s still awesome. I just can’t help but be disappointed because it could have been even greater.
Okay, as owner of this here blog, I’m putting a moratorium on people feeling free to say things like, “Ron Moore has said as much in various interviews” and “The show’s creator pretty much said …” without producing some actual sources/quotes. Because in this case, what I’m hearing from you guys isn’t jiving with the interviews I’ve read. And while I’m not saying that Ron Moore didn’t say these things — he very well may have — if that’s part of your argument, then I’d just like to see it backed up. Because the episodes themselves are a common source material that we can all discuss and interpret for ourselves — Starbuck did this or that. But something “Ron Moore said” is only interpretable if we can all see the quote in question. So either share it or don’t use it as part of your argument.
As for the rest, all I can say is that I disagree. I don’t think the show has violated its own logic. I DO think the show’s primary assumptions have evolved from season to season, but I don’t think that’s the same thing. For instance, we didn’t know from any of the spiritual mumbo jumbo in the miniseries — no Roslin as Prophet, no One True God, etc. Which then by necessity affected the show’s tone and logic in a major way.
When the spiritual and prophecy details started getting added in the regular series, that affected the tone and logic. And when the show became heavily spiritual and prophecy-driven by Season 3, that affected the tone and logic even more. Many people didn’t like that — they wanted the show to remain more pragmatic and realistic and hard science fiction. Even I haven’t always been thrilled with the shift. But changing the show’s assumptions isn’t the same thing as betraying the show’s logic. New assumptions were established, and the logic changed accordingly.
So cry foul all you want. You’re right — as a fan, you’re free to do that. I just felt that a broad statement like, “the writers gave up on any real logic a long time ago” was a bit incendiary, especially for those of us who don’t think it did. Especially when you had just agreed with Avo, who said the writing/plotting was “egregiously bad.” It didn’t sound to me at all like you “loved” the show or that you were “digging” the episodes.
You know, what I’d love to see from those who feel the show went awry at some point — and I don’t mean this in an Eddie Haskel way — is exactly how THEY would have told the story. You know, just the broad strokes.
This is something I do all the time with “Heroes” — a show that for some reason I love in spite of the fact that it really went off the rails logic-wise as soon as the first season. And I could sit and talk for hours about exactly how the show would have been better if they did and this and this instead.
So I’d honestly be curious to hear what people would have done if the show was theirs to control after the initial premise had been laid out in the mini-series or after Season 1, or whenever it is you feel it went off the rails.
I don’t think the writing was bad. I just think the most recent plotting has been a bit of a downer after four years of anticipation, and left me scratching my head. Example: I didn’t like seeing Ellen arguing with Cavil, but the argument was amazing. His questions–why did you make us imperfect, and because you did, doesn’t that make you responsible for our evil deeds? was poignant and exactly what many of us would ask our own creator if he (or she) would talk to us. As for what would have improved the show, here are two things that would have improved it for me:
* General preference, not really critical, but it would have been nice if they had taken some of the critical story arcs, such as getting off New Caprica, and the mutiny, and stretched them out a little more. Some of the best story arcs were rushed, and then they had filler episodes with Lee shooting mob bosses while having affairs with prostitutes.
* Avoid the whole Planet of the Apes Cornelius and Zira pop out of the space capsule plotting with the Final 5 (who are really the initial 5 now, but who cares), and show a more definitive cycle, such as humans on Kobol invent machines, machines rebel, humanity almost destroyed, there is an exodus, the “gods” of today were the leaders of the exodus. Then have this cycle repeat. Note I say such as, not exactly. Basically, I was hoping for something more grand, more elegant.
* Too many characters are Cylons. I identify with the humans, not the Cylons, so every time a major character turns out to be a Cylon, I related to the show a little less. Then the spiritual/prophetic stuff took over (although it turned out to be not very spiritual, but rather mundane) and some of the angst was stripped out of the show as well as its common sense.
Anyhow, I got to get back to work–I’d be curious to see others take you up on your challenge and say specifically what is throwing the show off for them.
The mid-season stories, like the one you mentioned where Lee is shooting mob bosses, were definitely crap. From what I read, these came about because as each season started, they weren’t sure how many episodes they were going to be given. So they had to kind of run in place until the network confirmed the number for them, and then they could pace out the rest of the episodes knowing where they wanted the season to end. Which, if it’s true, must be kind of a nerve-wracking way to write.
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Brad Templeton dissects the plotting of Cavil as super evil bad guy in his blog at http://ideas.4brad.com/battlestar.
Brad has a tendency to overthink the show and hold it to a higher standard of logic than a work of entertainment would demand (think a Star Wars purist confronted by Jar Jar), but I think he’s spot on with some of his observations.
He also notes, but doesn’t cite a reference, that the writers produced the whole Final 5 plot for the current episodes only recently, meaning the whole show’s 4 years were basically produced and then the writers had to tie it all together.
Again, it strikes me that the show could have been so much greater.
Yeah, see, it’s that not citing a reference thing that always bugs me. I mean if people read behind the scenes interviews and want to pass that information along, that’s fine. But I see too many people reading this stuff, processing it through a filter of their own subjective sense of the show, then spitting it back out again (without citing exact words) in order to justify their opinion. As if their opinion isn’t perfectly valid all on its own. “Well, Ron Moore admitted that they’re just making it all up as they go along!”
Here’s a citation:
Ron Moore: “It’s so rare that you get to end things in the way that you intended. There are myriad details of course that changed and shifted. But we talked about ending the show this way I think two years ago. And just the idea that we were able to actually dovetail it in that direction is very satisfying.” CinemaBlend.com, January 7, 2009
And here’s another:
When asked, “Creatively, serialized dramas are tricky because you can plan some of it out in advance, but not all of it. Do you have story arcs plotted out over the whole series or over the season, and how much of it do you decide as you go along?”
Ron Moore: “A good amount of it is improvised in terms of how we develop story, which is how I like to do it. At the beginning of the season, we arc out about 10 episodes. I can think in groups of 10.
“Then we break all the interior shows. But as those shows get translated into teleplays and we get into production, things will change. We’ll get different ideas or get inspiration in the middle of a scene I’m writing and think, “Oh, know what? We should make a hard left turn here.” Then all the planning goes out the window and we have to make a change on the fly. But we still try to maintain that goal. We still aim to get to that same place by the end of the 10th episode, but the path to get there I consider much more flexible.
“As you get deeper into the series and start planning the next 10 and what’s the season finale, it’s the same process. You think you’ve laid out a path, but as you do it you find that there’s this other more interesting path to get there. It causes chaos and you have to scramble to change things that you’ve already set in motion. But I find that it’s just a more organic way to do it. It’s more interesting, it’s more fun, it allows the writers’ creativity to come to the fore. It certainly has its downside, because sometimes you make big mistakes. Something that sounded really good at that moment, and you grabbed onto it, doesn’t really pan out. Then you have a bad episode.”
– Salon.com, March 24, 2007
I think this is a fairly honest explanation of how the process works. It’s possible to know where you think a story is going to go, and have that change by the time you actually get there. Especially when different writers are bringing your story to life every week, and the fine details they create are introducing new ways of looking at the material that you hadn’t thought of when you were plotting it out. So do you stick rigidly to your original plan, or do you allow the material to evolve along the way, and explore new plot possibilities?
My guess is that some of the wrap-up they’re doing now is stuff they knew from the start and some of it only got made up recently. For instance, I would assume they’ve always known what the Six in Baltar’s head is. Because that’s not the kind of detail you can just throw out there without knowing why it’s happening. And the explanation for that probably ties into some other things they’ve always known about the nature of Cylons. Also, I assume they knew Tyrol was a Cylon by the time of the “Eye of Jupiter” episode back in December 2006. Because remember how he’s the one who found the cave for some mysterious reason? And so on.
But in the end … so what? People either like the plots or they don’t like the plots. Opinions are valid. But second-guessing the creative process that the producers/writers used to carry out what seems to be a very complicated and political process that the vast majority of TV shows fail at … that seems unnecessary to me. Just say you don’t like it.
I don’t know the source of what Brad was saying, but he’s not a dishonest guy. He’s a major fan of the show, as you can tell from his blog about it. Seriously, Moore probably should have hired him!
How do you answer what he’s saying? He’s not saying he likes or doesn’t like, just saying the Cavil plot changes everything and not necessarily for the better and has an ad hoc feel to it.
One thing, for example, I found a good observation: Cavil apparently always knows where the fleet is. So sometimes he attacks, sometimes he doesn’t, with apparently no rhyme or reason. It’s this kind of stuff that deflates the tires for me…
I’m not saying that anybody is dishonest. But everybody has a subjective point of view. And their point of view is going to color the way they interpret something that Ron Moore has said. Even I’m guilty of that. I went out to Google and found two quotes that I was able to interpret to support my opinion about the show’s plotting. But I at least put the whole quote out there for everybody to look at, instead of paraphrasing it and saying, “I read an interview with Ron Moore where he says he plotted out the ending of the show two years ago.” I could have. That’s pretty close to what he said. But it’s not exactly, and for semantic purposes, the gap between “close” and “exactly” in this case makes all the difference.
If you’re saying that Brad doesn’t have a subjective point of view, I disagree. Everybody has a subjective point of view about everything. In his case, it may get lost in the sheer volume of words and dissection he does, but he’s got one. The very process of dissecting the show the way he does is a point of view, and in my opinion, kind of a hostile one. It means he’s dissatisfied enough with the show that he feels the need to expose every inconsistency or lack of continuity. I’m sure he’d argue that he does it out of love, but I just don’t see any love in his words.
To be honest, I can’t read Brad’s stuff for more than about two minutes at a time, including this Cavil thing. I’ve tried over and over, because you keep sending links. But I cant shake the feeling that he’s like the kid in grade school who goes around telling the other kids that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, then brags because he was the first one to figure it out. And then expects you to be grateful because he enlightened you. No piece of art or entertainment (which is all BSG is) should have to live up to that kind of scrutiny. Good ratings or no, it’s not Shakespeare or Ulysses, and I don’t think Ron Moore has ever claimed it was.
The passage on Evil alone (which jumped out to my eye as I was skimming) makes it pretty clear what Brad’s point of view is. He doesn’t like it. The words “it’s wrong” and “I find that plot inferior” are used. Not sure how that’s objective.
And again, if he doesn’t like the show, THAT’S FINE. But don’t spend hours and hours making an argument that makes it clear you don’t like it, then claim you’re only performing objective analysis. THAT is dishonest. Or at least disingenuous.