Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Battlestar Galactica: On "Faith"

The spiritual dimensions of BG zoomed past cliche to profoundly theological last weekend in the episode called "Faith," which has Starbuck's rendezvous with the Cylons and President Laura Roslin's gripping confrontation with mortality via the speeches of Gaius Baltar.

The religious imagery was much more rich than typically portrayed on TV. The mix of machine and living tissue on the ships of the Cylon battle fleet conveys incarnation in its most ambiguous sense. The scene where one of the dying Cylon "Sixes" "Eights"--shot by a centurion while trying to disconnect a "hybrid" from the basestar--bleeds into the hybrid's immersion tank seemingly making the latter give a profound revelation to Starbuck ("the missing Three will give you the Five who come from the home of the Thirteenth") reminds me of baptism and blood atonement. It also reminds me of the end of Pan's Labyrinth where a dying Ofelia bleeds onto the cave altar, which opens up either a portal to the underworld and her reunion with her family or her fantasy that she has done so.

That BG writers called this episode "Faith" fits. Faith isn't an unadulterated certainty, but incarnated, which means that it is both the windshield and the bug: it is often crushed but unbowed, and it beyond on the petty, arbitrary fickleness of the everyday to matters of life and death. Faith, both the episode and the existence, is finally about life and death. And according to the hybrid, Starbuck is the "harbinger of death." When we find out what that means I doubt it will be either absolutely bad or absolutely good, because faith inevitably comes mingled in both.


  1. Ok, so this is nitpicky, but it wasn't a "six" that was shot by the centurion. It was an "eight."

  2. Nope, not nitpicky at all; it's an important distinction. I stand corrected. Thanks.