Frakking Amazing, Part 3: The Cylon


Ah Cylons…whenever I think of them, a subtle feeling of warmth spreads through me. For many reasons, Cylons are my favourite part of Battlestar Galactica. They are written really well, and they are made to be everything from an ever-present threat to sympathetic well-rounded people (I use the word ‘people’ deliberately). This is the true magic of this show. It makes you question if the ‘bad guys’ really are the bad guys and if the good guys really are all that nice to begin with. Today, I wanted to share my thoughts on a particular Cylon character that made me fall in love with Cylons and explore what this character can tell us about Cylons as a species. I am speaking about a particular individual of the Number Eight model of Cylons called Boomer.

When we start the show Lt Sharon ‘Boomer’ Valerii is a Raptor pilot on the Battlestar Galactica. We meet her as an unsure and under confident member of the Galactica family. We see her in an illegal relationship with the Flight Deck Chief (glorified mechanic) and instantly feel like we know her. As I've mentioned, she is a Cylon, but what makes her situation interesting is that she doesn't know this she is one. She identifies herself as a career military girl and (this is important) she clearly has feelings and opinions about people.

We see her beginning to question her humanity. She seems to be losing track of time and cannot account for her whereabouts for hours together. She finally realizes that she is a Cylon and does something truly terrible for which she is finally shown to be a traitor to the crew of Galactica. This ends with a crew member shooting her and killing her. Her last words before she dies are to the Deck Chief – “I love you”. At her very last moment she says the thing she identified most with. The human connection of love.

Considering she is a Cylon her consciousness is transferred to another body (same model) and she wakes up surrounded by Cylons who tell her that she was always a Cylon, and that is what she must identify as hence. This question of identity is the crux to understanding the Cylons. They are driven by this very question. The Cylons have a monotheistic religion (which resembles Christianity quite closely) and one of their commandments is to have children. Considering Cylons are synthetic, they are of course unable to have children in a natural way, they brutally experiment on many humans to try and achieve this goal of fruitful multiplication. They want to identify themselves as children of God and having a natural place in the Universe.

The Cylons have always been confused about this. They know very clearly what they can do, but very often question what they should. In this regard when Boomer wakes up she rebels against the idea of being a Cylon. She tries to block out reality because she is unable to truly feel like a part of the Cylon race. When she does accept her true nature, she is still very different from the rest of the Cylons. Up to this point, each individual model of Cylon always identifies themselves as being a part of a family. The family is all individuals of that model. All decisions taken by a model were always unanimous. However, this is where Boomer is different. Her identity was built up to be an individual. She is a singular person whose experiences were built upon being and believing herself to be...human. She had a job in the military, she fell in love with a human, she had her fears and insecurities and that made her less confident. She had all these traits that made her everything a person should be. She then obviously does not identify herself as a member of Cylon model number eight. She eventually goes ahead and finds redemption for the terrible things she did in the final moments of the show, thereby accepting who she truly is: not a Cylon or human or anything all encompassing; just ‘Boomer’.

This is interesting because the Cylons have an innate ability to be human in all regards that really count. But they often make incorrect decisions in their journey to be a part of God’s plan. They try to make Cylon babies without the one ingredient they choose to discount because it’s too ‘human’and that ingredient is love. Eventually a child is born of human and Cylon and the main factor that allows for this is true love. The most human emotion of them all. All Cylons are capable of love. Many see this as a weakness and just choose to identify themselves as better than human without the need for such useless stuff as love.

It is some sort of a parable or lesson that this race which actually actively made efforts to be ‘people’ just couldn’t be ‘people’ by their standards, precisely because they tried too hard. Sounds like a very human failing to me.

Scribe: Siddharth Talwar

Captain's Log: Siddharth Talwar is a full time music making software, when he isn't dreaming of electric sheep.