I’m a little behind in watching the first run of Battlestar Galactica episodes, and finally managed to see “The Hand of God” this afternoon. First off, I was completely blown away by the kind of insight into the characters that went on in this episode. Most sci-fi shows take space combat for granted, and make piloting a ship relatively easy — more of a “point and shoot” than a “fly and fight” type of activity. But even more than that, the focus on Starbuck making the transition from a simple pilot into a strategic planner. Sure, it’s easy to understand the difference between the roles, but seldom do television shows actually show the difference in such stark terms. And of course, there’s the ultimate irony in the fact that Adama, the most senior officer in the Colonial fleet and Commander of the Galactica, is actually less in control of events than the most junior pilot in the Viper squadrons. And Starbuck was obviously facing with the loss of control. (Wow, that’s deep!)
But what’s really got the gears in my head turning right now is the thoughts about theology in the Galactica universe, and more specifically the mythology and history of the Twelve Colonies. As Ron Moore pointed out in his excellent blog, the Human civilization in place at the start of the series (or rather the miniseries) were based on colonies — and by definition, colonies are new settlements that are descended from some original civilization. That strongly implies that the Humans actually evolved elsewhere, and then settled on the worlds that became the Twelve Colonies sometime in the (relatively) recent past.
So what does this mean? It all ties in with Number Six’s statement that “this has all happened before”. What propelled the early Humans to leave their home (original or not) and settle on new worlds, apparently cutting off all ties to their past in the process? We can’t be sure exactly what it might have been, but it must have been cataclysmic.
As cataclysmic as, say, a race of probably sentient machines launching a nuclear holocaust and wiping out pretty much all traces of Human civilization, save for some fifty thousand survivors, who flee in a small group of spaceships in search of a new home?
Then, of course, there’s the first hints of ancient prophecies that predicted the destruction of the Colonies and Humanity’s search for a new home. On one level, it’s easy to dismiss ancient prophecies as too vague and too distant to truly have any direct meaning. Without having direct quotes to work from, it’s impossible to determine any useful context or find how accurate the prophecy may truly have been. (Heck, even today, some real-life scholars are debating the possible validity of religious prophecies that are thousands of years old.)
At any rate, what all this adds up to is an extraordinarily intriguing tapestry in the making. As a history student, I just love these types of tales, with a rich background and deep and complex motivations. It’s pretty clear that Ron Moore has some idea where all this is leading... I certainly can’t wait to find out!