Right for the Wrong Reasons
Written by Dan Carlson • @firstname.lastname@example.org
Published March 2, 2009
Stop the presses, folks! I’ve actually got a post about a recent episode. Believe it or not, this is an article that actually is going to have major spoilers in it! I’d strongly advise against reading further unless you’ve seen the Battlestar Galactica episode “Someone to Watch Over Me,” which aired Friday, February 27.
It all started with an apparent plot hole.
A couple weeks ago in “No Exit,” Boomer had a change of heart after siding with Cavil in the Cylon conflict. Poor Boomer has been thrown all over the map: after downloading back to Cylon-occupied Caprica, she’s kept trying to fit in. She wanted the Humans to love her for what she was on New Caprica, but that clearly didn’t work out. She tried to be a surrogate mother for Hera while she was in the care of the Cylons; she failed miserably at that. And she tried to be a mediator between the opposite sides in the prelude to the Cylon civil war; that ended with the destruction of most of the rebels and the exile of the rest of her model to eventual death.
Clearly there were some strong elements of truth in Boomer’s conversations with Ellen in “No Exit.” Boomer has been forced to choose her sides, more out of circumstance and necessity than out of true desire. She’s so sure that her former friends on Galactica — or rather, one friend in particular — hate her because of what she did. Her desire for love has been spurned at every turn.
How do you stand it? Knowing that he hates you for the things you’ve done? Boomer figures that Ellen’s relationship with Saul must be just like the way she pictures hers with Galen. And it is; except that it’s the opposite of what she thinks. Because despite everything that’s happened, both Saul and Galen love them.
Like some other people, I’m a sucker for redemption stories. And so, I missed — or rather, ignored — a ridiculously obvious plot hole: the ease with which Boomer and Ellen made it back to the fleet, apparently getting away with minimal effort searching in the vastness of space. Vastness so huge, that Boomer had to have already known where the fleet was. And if Boomer knew, then Cavil knew.
But at the time, it seemed so clear that Boomer realized her error: that she wasn’t hated for what she was, that her actions weren’t irredeemable, and that someone could ever love her as she is.
Maybe I was just too optimistic, but I was still surprised with the hatred that Roslin and Adama seem to carry for Boomer. Certainly, getting shot in the chest is incredibly personal. But we, the audience — and I thought, maybe, the characters — would remember that Boomer was acting under prior programming. Wouldn’t her dominant personality — the one we saw furious at how she betrayed her friends way back in “Downloaded” — still be trustworthy?
After all, how many times have the leaders of the fleet granted amnesty, even forgiveness, for past crimes? Some of the crimes were imagined, like Baltar’s surrender to the occupation of New Caprica. Some of them were real, if inadvertent, like Baltar’s original complicity in the destruction of the colonies. Even Caprica Six, the one primarily responsible for making possible the deaths of billions, the one granted a unique name by her fellow Cylons, has been forgiven in some form. (Aside: I wonder how Roslin and the others would feel if they’d seen Caprica Six break that baby’s neck back in the miniseries.)
But no, Boomer gets sent immediately to the brig. As if the shooting, all those years ago, warrants no forgiveness.
Had events not taken a different route, I think that Boomer’s so-called “trial” by the rebel Cylons could have had some very strong parallels to Baltar’s trial the previous season. Like the fleet, the rebel Cylons need their own catharsis for the events that led them to their exile. Boomer provided an obvious scapegoat: her dissension in the vote to lobotomize the Raiders directly led to the civil war.
Both Roslin and Adama and the Cylons made their decisions to scapegoat Boomer based on their own past grudges. Despite all the precedent of forgiveness and amnesty, they decided not to extend said amnesty to Boomer. Roslin and Adama, especially, made their decision without any actual evidence.
And yet, their decision turned out to be absolutely correct. Not only did she “rescue” Ellen under false pretenses, but the elaborateness of her deception of Galen proves that her agenda never differed from Cavil’s.
Not only did Boomer conjure up this elaborate projection for Galen, but her assault on Athena and her fornication with Helo prove that all her interactions with the fleet had a malicious intent. No matter how much she might love Galen, it’s clearly a wistful, what-if kind of love. She still hates what she is, because everyone else hates her.
Strange as it sounds, it’s only after she’s let out of the brig by Galen that she truly crosses that unforgivable line. The fierceness of her attack on Athena is proof enough of that. (Not to mention leaving her semi-conscious and able to watch while she fraks her husband!) Despite everything else that’s happened, its only the vicious, personal way in which she treats those whom she hates that makes everything unforgivable. The gall with which she manipulates Galen and Helo has irrevocably committed her to Cavil. At long last, her actions really are unforgivable.
And so it turns out that Adama and Roslin were right all along. Even if it wasn’t for the right reasons.