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Did Battlestar Galactica Cross its own line?: Disssecting Maelstrom

Written by: Rob Van Winkle, CC2K Staff Writer

Image When asked about his starring role as Admiral Adama on Battlestar Galactica, Edward Olmos frequently says, “If a green-eyed monster ever shows up, I’m out of there.”     

Since the mini-series that started things off, other than the spaceships and cylons that make the show’s premise possible, the technology level hasn’t differed that much from our own.  People use phones and drive cars and watch TV (or did before the cylons attacked).  Science never resembles magic, so fantasy elements rarely infringe upon the plot.     

The show’s characters, especially, the cylons, hold a particular fascination with religion and the gods, (or the one God if you’re a cylon).  As with all fanatics, there’s a good deal of prophesies that have come true and symbols that have helped point Galactica in the direction of Earth.     

However, all that can be chalked up to coincidence.     


Even the Cylon Number Six who appears only to Baltar who claims to be an angel sent from God to help him could be construed as just his imagination.  Many of the show’s characters have seen dead people or heard their voices in fantasy-esque sequences or flashbacks.  But they’re mostly thought to be the mind playing games with itself.  The show has even introduced the concept of “projecting,” something the cylons do where they perceive their environments anyway they want.  They’ve gone so far as to have the actual Number Six see an imaginary Baltar everywhere.      

It’s not so far off to guess that humans can project too.  So basically, the hand of God or the hands of the gods have never been explicitly felt in the characters’ lives.  Admiral Adama himself has stated more than once he thinks it’s just coincidence.      

Now the episode named Maelstrom had Starbuck fly her viper into a maelstrom where an angel of death who looked like the obsessive cylon Leoben helped prepare her to die.  And naturally, she did.       

One possible take on the episode is that Starbuck finally cracked under all the pressure and everything was a part of her delusions which led to her suicide.  Yet, the show’s storylines had already introduced a subplot where the cylons thought Starbuck had a special destiny.      

The idea that the “Eye of Jupiter,” a supernova that helped point in Earth’s direction, resembled a mandala she used to paint helped reinforce this.  The maelstrom she flew down through even looked like it.      

And as everyone knows, a TV show wouldn’t just kill off a major character like that.  A lot of fans fully expect Starbuck to come back, but unless she’s a cylon, that’s just not going to work.      

All the fantasy elements, the manipulations of the gods and the prophesies are haunting and add to the show, but they’re best left to interpretation.  If the gods bring Starbuck back to lead everyone to Earth, it shatters the show.  It’s a deus ex machina.      

She’s dead and has to stay that way.  She can come back in flashbacks and delusions, but anything else is cheating.  This isn’t a show about magic.  It has to be the characters themselves and the obstacles they encounter that dictate what they do and not gods touching their lives.      

If they’re doing that, they might as well have Ronald Moore show up on an episode as the executive producer, possessing god-like qualities, and have him heal all the soldiers’ wounds, destroy all the cylons raiders with a wave of his hand, and then fly Galactica right to Earth.      

As of right now, the show hasn’t cheated.  The episode just aired and Starbuck is dead.  It remains to be seen in the future what they do with it, but any gods and obvious miracles actually take place on the show, it will disappoint me, and probably Edward Olmos, more than can be imagined.