I just watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the first time the other night (I know, I know) and it was awesome. As you might guess, I was intrigued by how many common themes the movie shares with BSG, especially when they discover the pod people Look Like Us Now.
A really weird scene in Invasion is when the doctor first discovers one of the aliens taking the human form of his lady friend, Becky. Becky-clone, like the others around her, is emerging from a foamy goo that seems to emanate from a giant organic pod. The doctor tells the real Becky to stay inside, then goes after the fake Becky with a pitchfork. He raises his arms to stab the clone in the chest, but can’t force himself to do it.
Ultimately, the real Becky does get taken over by the alien Becky (don’t ask me why they bother with duplicate bodies when they just take over their minds anyway), and the doctor realizes it in a terrifying moment of 1950’s intimacy. He leans in for the long-awaited kiss, and, when his lips meet hers, he realizes there’s no emotion in her kiss. He tears ass down the hillside, simultaneously voicing over: “I never knew the meaning of fear until — until I kissed Becky.” Which is hilarious.
But it does make me think of Helo and Sharon, and Gaius and Six. First, when Helo discovered Sharon was a Cylon, he struggled with himself not to kill her. He did end up shooting and wounding her, but like the doctor in the movie, he can’t bring himself to kill her, even if she’s not the real Sharon/Becky. Second, Invasion suggests that humans without emotions are not really humans – that’s what’s supposed to separate us from them. Yet Sharon and Six both clearly have emotions and reason.
Interestingly, the classical definitions of gods, humans, and animals (going back to the ancient Greeks again here) were the following: gods have reason and emotion, and they are immortal. People have reason and emotion, but are mortal. And animals have emotion and are mortal, but have no reason. Thus it is our ability to reason that makes us most like the gods. What I’m getting at is, these definitions have usually held up in the sci-fi world. So what makes the human-Cylon models non-human by these standards? It must be their immortality, no? If they can infinitely resurrect themselves, then they are, by this definition, gods (take a moment to shudder here). However, if they’ve lost their ability to reincarnate into a new body with the destruction of the Resurrection Ship, doesn’t that leave them with the same three qualities of humans – reason, emotion, and mortality?
So, how do we definitively separate humans from Cylons? Can we?