BSG As Horror Tale

We wanted to take the time to examine what happens to people when their dreams are shattered, when everything they held as true turns out to be an illusion. After a blow like that, how do you pick yourself up from the floor and go on? Are you able to pick yourself up at all? This is perhaps the most universal theme you can explore. For the people of ragtag fleet, the dream was Earth. (more)

I recently rewatched the entire Battlestar Galactica (BSG) series, and now have a somewhat different take on it. Many spoilers below – you are warned.

The world of BSG starts with cylon robots destroying the huge advanced human civilization that created them. The 50,000 remaining humans first try to evade pursuit, and then look for a new home. This much smaller community can’t support many scale economies; the show sometimes notes such reduced-scale problems, but mostly ignores them.

This universe contains, however, not just humans and cylons, but also hidden powers who influence events in standard mystical ways, such as via prophecies and dreams. While the main characters start out skeptical, over time evidence accumulates and they become strongly and justifiably convinced that such powers exist, and have a plan for them to follow. The main characters actions become increasingly aligned to following such plans, and to acquiring and protecting key mystical icons they see as related.

In fact, many violent deaths result from characters following mystical directions. The humans and cylons, for example, could have more easily gone their separate ways were it not for their wanting the same mystical icons, such as the mythic planet Earth. Once Earth is found, and found desolate, they barely have resources left to search for a habitable planet, yet they instead fight over a child of apparent mystic significance.

Along the journey the mystic signs are usually truthful in foretelling future mystic signs, but they aren’t usually very useful. Earth was useless, and the child didn’t matter much either. All they really got out of following the powers is finding a nice green planet, when only ~20,000 of them were left, and their equipment and resources nearly gone.

They decide to start a “clean slate” by spreading out as much as possible on this planet, throwing away all their tech, and trying to subsistence farm and merge with indigenous foragers. They seem unaware of how bad they’ll be at foraging and farming – in my judgement their actions pretty much guarantee they’ll die out, leaving at most a small genetic legacy.

The mystic powers don’t seem to have miscalculated; it seems they roughly expected what did in fact happen. So we are left to conclude that not only do mystic powers allow vast destruction without intervening to reduce it, they actively encourage more destruction by leading these characters on a wild goose chase, whose end is the almost complete destruction of humanity and robotity. And at the end, after being betrayed in all these ways, humans seem ok with just dying, cause hey, they are still being led by higher powers.

So you can read the whole BSG series as a horror tale, of the terrible influence of mystical powers on humanity. Not that I think most of the writers of the show saw it that way – I expect most of them thought the humans really should have been happy with how it all turned out. Sigh.

By the way, the current movie Brave also has this never-question-mystic-powers element. If blue fuzzy spirits seem to guide our hero to do something, she just does it. And even if that led to great troubles, the characters never later question their choice to follow mystic powers.

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