Culture Magazine

Battlestar Galactica (2004), a Note on the Multiplicity of Beings

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
I’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica, the 2004 version. I’m sure I watched a bunch of episodes when it was on broadcast TV, but which episodes and how many I don’t recall. I’m now watching it from beginning. I’ve seen the initial miniseries and seven episodes of the first season and, yes, it’s good, very good.
What strikes me is the range of human and quasi-human characters in the series. We have full humans and we have Cylons, cybernetic beings. Some of them appear to be electromechanical robots. Apparently these were originally created by humans, but then rebelled and all but destroyed the humans. During that time these electro-mechanicals somehow managed to create biologically engineered humanoid creatures – recall Osamu Tezuka’s artificial beings – and these dominate the series. These humanoid Cylons have infiltrated the human ranks, with some of them being sleeper agents that do not even know they’re in fact Cylons.
And then we have Dr. Gaius Baltar, a super genius scientist who has been seduced by one of these humanoid Cylons. She exploits their relationship to gain access to the human defense computers and uses that access to facilitate the Cylon rebellion. Moreover, through some process she’s come to inhabit Baltar’s mind.
Finally – at least so far – we have the Cylon Raider, a small maneuverable spacecraft used in warfare. It turns out that these are not vehicles with Cylon pilots but are themselves cybernetic creatures, with organic innards housed inside a metallic shell.
Oh, and there is some kind of functioning religion in this world, one that is variously believed by some humans and some Cylons.
What’s up with all this? Why this graded range of beings? Sure, in some way the series is exploring, exploring just what? The nature of humanity? Really?
Who knows, maybe I’ll eventually have something interesting to say about this.

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