Let’s review for a moment the big picture so far.
In Galactica, Kobol is the ancestral homeworld of humanity. 2000 years prior to the series, 12 tribes left Kobol and founded the 12 Colonies. 2000 years prior to that (ie, 4000 years previous), a 13th tribe left Kobol to find a mythical planet named Earth. Each of the original 12 tribes corresponds to a sign of the Zodiac. 400 years after the 13th tribe left (1600 years prior to the Exodus, 3600 years prior to the events in the series), the oracle of Pythia recorded her famous prophecy about the exile and rebirth of humanity, some of which is written in past tense.
Kobol was ruled by the Lords of Kobol, which correspond to the Greek and Roman gods of mythology. These Lords were apart from humanity, but not immortal or super-natural, and could also die (for example, Athena committed suicide after the Exodus of the 12 tribes).
It is also known that there was one Lord of Kobol, known as the “Jealous God” and also as the one whose “Name must not be spoken“, who desired to be elevated above the other gods. This god’s ambition is what precipitated civil war on Kobol and led to the Exodus of the 12 tribes.
As Galactica retraces the steps of humanity, they discover Kobol, abandoned 2000 years previous. Moving onwards, guided by the Book of Pythia, they discover progressively older artifacts – a beacon in the Lion’s Head nebula dated 3000 years ago, and then the Temple of Five dated 4000 years ago.
What follows is my theory about the above, and the origins of Cylons and humanity. Since it is ridiculously spoiler-esque, and discussion of it will also be spoiler-laden by necessity, I am putting it below the fold. The key, however, is simply this: The Cycle of Time.
“If you believe in the gods, then you believe in the cycle of time that we are all playing our parts in a story that is told again, and again, and again throughout eternity” (Kobol’s Last Gleaming, Part I).
Or, as it is said in the Pythian prophecy, “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.” In addition, the very first line of the Sacred Scrolls states, “Life here began out there“. These broad concepts are the key to answering downstream questions such as Who are the Final Five and the identity of the Final Cylon.
There are numerous clues to the effect that the Jealous God of Kobol who cannot be named is also the monotheist deity worshipped by the modern day Cylons, as well as the patron of the 13th Tribe of Kobol. The Temple of Five was built 4000 years ago by the 13th Tribe on their way to Earth, and the Five are named as “priests” of the Jealous God. Note that the Jealous God therefore has a history that spans 2000 years, from the departure of the 13th tribe and the Five from Kobol to Earth, as well as 2000 years later when his ambition causes the civil war on Kobol and the great Exodus.
Also it seems clear that the 13th Tribe not only reached Earth but also sent some emissaries back to Kobol, because of the references to their journey to Earth in the Sacred Scrolls (written 4 centuries after they left). This return to Kobol is probably the original seed of the civil war that led to the Exodus two millenia later.
So the questions are, Who are the Lords of Kobol? Who are the 13th Tribe? Who are the Final Five? Who are the Cylons? And, in fact, who are the humans?
I think the answer is best found by moving forwards in time instead of tracing things backwards (which is how the evidence has been presented). Let’s start with the basic premise that the ancestral home of humanity is Earth, not Kobol. At some time in the distant past, Earth settled Kobol, and then from there Kobol settled the 12 Colonies as well as sending the 13th Tribe back to Earth. This however doesn’t quite answer the questions above, it’s more of the general framework.
Origins of Humanity on Kobol
My speculation is that the original humans of Earth created Cylons of their own. Those Cylons rebelled, and in the ensuing war, Earth was laid waste. Those Cylons are the ones who settled Kobol and became Humanity v2.0. In a sense, then, everyone on Galactica is a Cylon, though of differing generations. Humanity v2.0 created their own Cylons, who laid waste to the 12 Colonies, and the cycle repeats.
However there must also have been interbreeding between the Cylons and Humans. Assuming that the Cylons took Humans with them (as slaves, or even allies) to Kobol, interbreeding would ultimately have supplanted the old human 1.0 stock with human v1.5 hybrids. The Lords of Kobol themselves were probably “pure” Cylon 1.0, as were the founders of the 12 Tribes (who reported to the Lords, and governed the human-hybrid subjects). Hence, each Tribe of Humanity really corresponds to an initial Cylon v1.0 model, though of course with cross-breeding and inter-breeding, the genetic diversity of each Tribe would increase and everyone wouldn’t look the same anymore. Still, however, the general “Tribe” identity would persist.
The 13th Tribe and Earth
The status quo on Kobol then was of Cylons ruling over humans, the former being the Lords and the Founders and the latter being hybrid human-cylons. This state of affairs persisted over millenia, until the 13th Tribe decided to embark upon the voyage to Earth.
On arrival at Earth, the 13th Tribe either found Earth populated by humans v1.0, or as a wasteland. If Earth was populated by humans v1.0, the shock of not being “real” humans themselves probably led to the conflict that devastated Earth. Otherwise, they probably discovered Earth already devastated from the initial war between Cylons v1.0 and Humans v1.0 that spurred the settlement of Kobol. Presumably we will know which of these scenarios occurred by virtue of the age of the ruins on Earth; if they are 400 years ago, then it was the 13th Tribe that devastated Earth. If much older (on the order of 10,000 years), then it dates from the initial conflict of Cylons and Humans.
Regardless of what happened at Earth, the 13th Tribe likely returned to Kobol, with their new-found knowledge that Humanity was actually half-Cylon, as well as inferring that the Lords and Founders were also full Cylons themselves. The return to Kobol must pre-date the Book of Pythia, meaning that the 13th Tribe’s journey to Earth and return took 400 years or less.
The Lords of Kobol
Once the 13th Tribe returned, it is likely that they were not welcomed. The Lords, in particular, would not want their origins as Cylons to be known. However they surely had developed a love for humanity, partly because humanity was half their own children, and possibly over their own guilt at the conflict with humanity v1.0 that led them all to Kobol in the first place. We can presume various factions among the Lords (and the Founders), some with more love of their children than others. Among these factions, clearly, was one led by the Jealous God, the One Who Must Not Be Named.
The Jealous God
I see the Jealous God as the Gaius Baltar of his day – a self-absorbed, manipulative schemer. Unlike Baltar however, he is a Lord of Kobol, a Cylon 1.0. It was probably his influence that led the 13th Tribe to seek out Earth, and the 13th Tribe became his faction upon their return. The Final Five themselves are his lieutenants, also Cylons v1.0.
Upon the 13th Tribe’s return, the Jealous God sought to use the information that they discovered to his own advantage, and gain supremacy over the other Lords. This led to the civil war on kobol, with the 13th Tribe against all the others, and the Exodus.
The fate of the Jealous God after Exodus is unclear. However, it is possible that he survived the Exodus and battle, and may even himself have joined the Exodus in some sense. It seems clear that the head-Six in Baltar’s brain is the voice of the Jealous God directly, guiding his spiritual heir.
The events surrounding the Exodus, 1600 years after the Pythian prophecy and the 13th Tribe’s return to Kobol from Earth, are unclear. There is talk of civil war instigated by the Jealous God in his bid to supplant the other Lords, but also of a great “blaze” against which all the Lords were powerless. It is likely that the Blaze was the attack engineered against the other 12 Tribes and the Lords by the Jealous God, his lieutenants (the Final Five) and his followers (the 13th Tribe).
Elosha: “And the blaze pursued them, and the people of Kobol had a choice. To board the great ship, or take the high road through the rocky ridge.”
Valerii (continuing): “And the body of each tribe’s leader was offered to the gods in the tomb of Athena.” And the great ship was the galleon that departed from here, where we’re standing. And it took the founders of the thirteen [sic] colonies to their destiny. And those that didn’t board the galleon took the high road, a rocky ridge that lead to the tomb. (Home, Part I)
So, the people of the 12 tribes who chose to leave departed aboard a great galleon (the analogue of Galactica and the fleet), to found the 12 Colonies. Those who did not depart, went towards the tomb of Athena, among them the leaders of the Tribes themselves. I assume that the quote by Valerii above was misspoken, she actually meant that the founders of the twelve colonies departed aboard the galleon.
The leaders of the 12 tribes sacrificed themselves in the battle against the 13th tribe to allow the 12 other tribes to escape. However, among those who escaped, were the Final Five, devotees of the Jealous God who concealed themselves within the exodus, to continue pursuing whatever agenda they had.
The Final Five
So, who then are the Final Five? They are original Cylons v1.0, the high priests of the Jealous God, and they have been living among the humans (v1.5) since the Exodus to the Colonies from Kobol. That they do not remember anything about their identity, even after being “awakened” on arrival in the Ionian nebula, only means that there is further unlocking to be done ahead.
However, despite their passive state at the series’ outset, their role in the history of the Colonies cannot have been trivial; it seems very likely that they continued the agenda of the Jealous God by playing a major role in the creation of Cylons v2.0 (the metal toasters, and later the 7 models of the skinjobs that are the modern Cylons in the series). The monotheism of the Cylons v2.0 is their direct design. In a sense, the humans v1.5 and the Cylons v2.0 are both their children, with intention to repopulate the species and then become new Lords themselves.
The Fifth Cylon
By the events of the series so far, four of the Five remain unaware of their own long history. I stand by my earlier speculation that Gaeta is the Fifth Cylon; however what is his agenda? The events of the webisode prequels leave him with a deep distrust of Cylons, but he remains unaware of his status as a Cylon himself (making his final scene with Tigh rather ironic). The basic question is, indeed, what will Gaeta do?
Keep in mind that while Gaeta is outwardly unaware of his status as a Cylon, he seems to be subconciously driven by his agenda. On occupied New Caprica, he played both sides, though no one was forcing him to do so (something Baltar noted, tauntingly, in his jail cell confrontation with Gaeta prior to his trial – a scene revisited by the webisodes). I suspect that Gaeta has switched sides in his real identity as well; he is no longer on board with the Jealous God’s agenda and is now working in opposition to the Four.
The Jealous God is the power behind the Four, and they are the ones who drove the creation of the Cylons v2.0. But there is another power at work, that led Starbuck to Earth, the one which manifested as Leoben to Kara but explicitly said it was not, the one guiding Starbuck to a destiny that the Hybrid feared so much. That power is related to Earth and probably represents Humanity v1.0. So in a sense, the fundamental conflict is not between Humans (v1.5) and Cylons (v2.0), but between Humans (v1.0) and Cylons (v1.0), played out via their shared children as proxies. It is possible that Gaeta has allied himself with that power, in opposition to the Four and the Jealous God. If so, then Gaeta had to have subverted hius own programming to give him independence from the other Four, and this is why he was not “activated” at the Ionian nebula.
The fate of humanity
Recall, the visions of the Opera House shared by President Roslin, Athena, and Caprica Six, which focus on the fate of Hera, the Cylon (v2.0) and human (v1.5) hybrid. Hera is more important than Tyrol’s son because Tyrol’s son is the progeny of the old Cylons with the human mainstream, whereas Hera is the progeny of the new (and with guidance from the Four, improved) Cylons. In terms of version number, Tyrol’s son is v1.25 and Hera is v1.75. Those visions about Hera show her being taken away from Roslin, Six and Athena by the operatives of the Jealous God (Baltar and his head Six). Hera is symbolic of the fate of humanity itself, a fate under contention between the Jealous God and Old Humanity.
The fate of the Cylons
The First Hybrid, met by Kendar Shaw, says the following:
The denial of the one true path, played out on a world not their own, will end soon enough. Soon there will be four, glorious in awakening, struggling with the knowledge of their true selves. The pain of revelation bringing new clarity and in the midst of confusion, he will find her. Enemies brought together by impossible longing. Enemies now joined as one. The way forward at once unthinkable, yet inevitable. And the fifth, still in shadow, will claw toward the light, hungering for redemption that will only come in the howl of terrible suffering. I can see them all. The seven, now six, self-described machines who believe themselves without sin. But in time, it is sin that will consume them. They will know enmity, bitterness, the wrenching agony of the one splintering into many. And then, they will join at the promised land, gathered on the wings of an angel. Not an end, but a beginning.
I think this refers entirely to Cylons – v1.0 and 2.0. The first sentence is about how Cylons 2.0 sought to move into (old) Caprica after destroying the Colonists – an atempt to blindly ape humans instead of setting out on their own path. The Four are obvious, and the part about Him finding Her refers to Tigh and Caprica Six (whose progeny will be Cylon 1.5). Enemies joined as one refers to humans v1.5 and Cylons v2.0, joined in alliance to find Earth, an impossible longing. The fifth is still in shadow, in other words still unaware, but is gradually being brought forward to realization by his own suffering – more evidence for Gaeta, especially since Gaeta now seeks redemption for how he unwittingly sent so many to their deaths during the occupation, and suffers horribly by his amputation and experiences in the webisodes. And ultimately, the seven (now six) who believe themselves without sin, are the Cylons v2.0, who have now had civil war and splintered apart from their old unity.
What, then, do we make of the final part? that the Cylons will reunite at the proimised land, on the woings of an angel? Perhaps the angel is the Galactica herself. The location of the promised land is uncertain but the new beginning will have to be a fate joined with humanity as well.