The Fifth Cylon revealed

Now we know who the 13th Tribe was, what happened to Starbuck (mostly), closure for the Lee-Dee romance, and of course the identity of the Fifth Cylon. Spoilers ahead!

Well, I was wrong, it wasn’t Gaeta, it was Ellen Tigh. Ellen Tigh! I am gratified that BSG can still surprise me 🙂

The specific identity of the Fifth wasn’t central to my earlier speculation, but many details need to be revised more in light of the additional details that were revealed. Let’s summarize the truly important information:

We learned that the Five are continuously reborn throughout time. Their bodies can be destroyed (Tyrol was vaporized, Ellen drowned, etc) but their consciousness is “downloaded” into a new vessel. Are they reborn as babies or are their consciousness transferred into fully-grown vessels? The former seems more likely for the Five, since all of them have extensive “human” backstories. This raises the possibility that Ellen is now being reborn as Tigh’s baby with Caprica Six.

Unlike the Five, the Cylons were (until the destruction of the Resurrection Hub) downloaded into new bodies. This seems to be what happened with Starbuck, who died on arrival at Earth and then was sent back to the fleet with a brand new Viper and body to match. It is clearly the same Starbuck, as far as memory and consciousness, but the experience of dying has definitely changed her personality. Still, she is human (at least as human as the rest of the Colonials are, anyway). This suggests that the whole download process is not unique to Cylons but one that can apply to both races. This further suggests the commonality between them, a commonality that is likely engineered.

The 13th Tribe were Cylons, we are now told. The difference between Cylons and humans can now be determined on te basis of bone remains, so presumably the 13th Tribe were Cylons v2.0. This upends a lot of my speculation about which race was the progenitor of which, especially since the 13th Tribe seems to have also made their own metallic centurions (who likely rebelled against them). So what is the origin of the humanoid Cylons? Were they really evolved from the metallic ones? It seems unlikely. The similarity of the centurion design across the centuries is also striking evidence of a direct lineage.

And, the ruins of Earth are 2000 years old – the same age as the great Exodus from Kobol. So the 13th Tribe settled on Earth 4000 years ago and 2000 years later both Earth and Kobol were destroyed – but Kobol seems to have recovered much more readily. My earlier assumption that the 13th Tribe destroyed Earth is clearly wrong since the 13th Tribe arrived at Earth 2000 years prior to its destruction, and we saw the Five living normal lives on the streets when Earth was attacked. This throws my timeline into disarray and I will have to think about how it all fits together now.

What I find intriguing though is how the fleet is the modern 13th Tribe, a parallel explicitly invoked by Adama at the end of the episode. The 13th were Cylon, the Fleet is human (with Cylon allies). Were there human allies with the 13th Tribe? Where did the 13th Tribe go after Earth was destroyed? Who destroyed Earth?

I just ordered basic cable. No more Torrenting!

3 thoughts on “The Fifth Cylon revealed”

  1. Of Earth and Kobol…

    I’m wondering if “Cylons” and “Humans” cohabitated Kobol, and some sort of war started there, resulting in the damage that we have seen. The “Humans” might have then headed to Earth and wiped out the 13th tribe (of “Cylons”), using sufficient firepower to ensure that no Cylon or Human might live there for 10,000 years.

    Then, across 2,000 years of history, memories fade and change, resulting in a history that differs significantly from actual events. (History is but a fable agreed upon…)

    I also wonder if the labels “Cylon” and “Human” are leading us to some possibly incorrect assumptions

    What I think is most likely, largely because so many allegories abound in BSG, is that there is NO significant difference between “Cylons” and “Humans” at any level (no more significant than the color of our eyes or hair, etc…).

    In support of this, we know that “Cylons” and “Humans” can produce healthy, viable offspring (who presumably can produce healthy viable offspring, unlike donkey+horse=mule). This implies that “Cylons” and “Humans” are pretty darn close from a biological (hardware) perspective.

    Kara’s apparent resurrection indicates that the “software” (soul) of both “Cylons” and “Humans” may be closely related as well; from a engineering POV, if the hardware is very similar, a sufficiently advanced low-level load/dump device could be adapted to work on both species. (JTAG anyone?)

    Another possibility might be that the labels are deliberately mis-applied; that is that we as the audience would naturally identify with “Humans”, not “Cylons”… and that we, as the audience, may find out that we are “Cylons” and not “Humans” just as the curtain falls (Twilight Zone/Eye of the Beholder).

    Any thoughts?

    1. there definitely have to be some biological differences – Cylons are stronger, they can interface with computers, presumably their bones are different somehow, etc. But the basic biological compatibility must also be there – they can interbreed, both human and cylon consciousness can be “downloaded”, etc. The real question is whether the “humans” are fully human v1.0 in the sense of you and me, or whether everyone is a Cylon (albeit different models).

      The implication of the 13th tribe being “Cylon” (in the terminology of the humans themselves) is that the 13th Tribe is biologically identical to the 7 Models (but presumably due to interbreeding with humans, had genetic diversity). The Final Five however were apart from them – so they represent an earlier iteration of Cylon. We can postulate then that the origins of the modern 7 model Cylons are actually the 13th Tribe, not the Colonials’ Centurions. The iteration of Cylons represented by the Five are also progenitors of the modern Cylons, but also possibly te “humans” as well.

  2. I’m not sure why the episode renders your timeline wrong. However, if we are confused, I think it is because Moore & Co. are confused.
    In the podcast for “Sometimes A Great Notion,” Moore says (I’m paraphrasing and quoting from memory) that they spent a lot of time at a writers’ retreat making sure they had the back story straight. Then he says that some time ago in the distant past humans and the gods lived together on Kobol. Then man angered the gods by taking on the role of creators by building Cylons. This eventually led to the cataclysm that destroyed Kobol and led to the 12 tribes founding the 12 colonies and the 13th tribe going to Earth.
    Which is what I thought the timeline was until I read your timeline entry about a week ago, with the idea that the 13th tribe left Kobol long before the Kobol cataclysm and the ensuing mass exodus. And i still think your timeline is more in sync with what we know than what Moore just said. In fact, I bet that what Moore said is wrong, and I probably got confused in the first place from hims saying something similar in an earlier podcast.
    That said, assuming that the Kobol cataclysm and exodus did take place 2,000 years ago, and that the nuclear annihilation of Earth took place 2,000 years ago, I think one of the new big questions to be answered is what is the connection — if any — between these two events. Coincidence? Synchronicity? A single cause?

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