At the risk of vanishing down a geek-trivia rathole here, I’d like to discuss one little problem I have with the state of Battlestar Galactica circa episode 4.17, “No Exit” (I actually had a fairly big problem with the inartful, anti-dramatic bullet-in-the-brain infodump, but that has been adequately covered elsewhere). The problem is thus: it is very hard to see how it could possibly be that the Cylons ever had a plan.
You see, way back when I first discovered BSG in the middle of the second season—before I had gone back and watched the miniseries or really understood exactly what was going on—the first thing that really grabbed me was the title sequence, which featured the following text:
The Cylons were created by man.
There are many copies.
And they have a plan.
That just kicks ass. It perfectly encapsulates the appeal of the show in those first two seasons, the way that it captured a post-9/11 zeitgeist. The twelve colonies had suffered a devastating sneak attack. They had no ability to distinguish friend from foe. They didn’t know where or when the next attack would come. And there was a certainty that there would be a next attack. Moreover, that the Cylons had a plan. The trap might spring at any moment.
After New Caprica, whatever plan the Cylons might have had seemed to have been set aside. Once the Final Five were revealed, it became clear that there were no more sleeper agents waiting in the wings and that the Cylons were every bit as clueless as the humans about their origins and destiny.
The only remaining thread to be woven in was the last Cylon, Ellen. (Or, as it turns out, the last two, Ellen and Daniel.) Maybe Ellen was part of the plan?¹
Wrong. Ellen sat out the whole “plan” phase of history, living on Caprica, married to Tigh, having no idea she was a Cylon.
So let’s recap. The plan was to: annihilate the vast majority of the human race in a nuclear holocaust; allow a small cohort to escape; chase the survivors through the universe, launching small-bore attacks here and there; allow the survivors to colonize a new planet and get complacent; occupy the new colony; allow the survivors to escape; then chase them some more.
Now, it’s possible the plan involved the presence of the Final Five in the fleet and that part of the plan was for Cavil to have Ellen present at the moment of his ultimate victory, so that she might understand how profoundly she had been defeated. In that case, Cavil is just a Bond villain. That plan is stupid.
We’ll see what happens. On the whole, I’m pleased with the mythological developments of this season (though I honestly don’t care about them that much). BSG is on track to wrap up without completely disgracing itself. But it’s hard to see how they’ll cap things off without leaving the plan in tatters.
P.S. There’s a BSG movie special coming out in June called… The Plan. As Balki said to Larry: “That spackle must be amazing stuff!”
¹ Daniel does not seem to have been part of the plan. I predict that Daniel will not figure in to the end of BSG. That thread will be picked up in Caprica.