Shake Off This Mortal Coil

Something has been bothering me about the cylon for some time now and I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it till now. With Audra’s last post about cylon on cylon violence it struck me.

One of the things that make us human is the fact that we get one go at life and that’s it. Aaron pointed this out in cold detail in the first episode of season 3 by shooting Six and telling Baltar that he can’t come back if shot. Laura Roslin put it quite nicely when she wrote, “…we keep killing them and they come back. It’s horrifying.”

That moment got me to thinking that perhaps the only reason humans have trouble connecting to the cylon (as sentient beings, forget the war part) is the fact that cylons are immortal. I know that they can be killed if they are too far away from a resurrection ship or such but the fact is, in practice, they’re immortal.

That presents a problem. Many things define life but one of them is death. We are, then we are not. That is the way of things. If a human walks around after being killed many times we call it a zombie (or a cylon in some cases) and proceed to hunt it down and kill it for being unnatural. We react violently tounnatural. Itmakes us as uneasy as a cat hissing at Dracula in a horror movie.

So is a being that cannot die unnatural? Is it a god? It’s obvious that the cylon think and are aware, but is that enough? Or perhaps too much when coupled with the fact that they cannot really be harmed? Would life be more precious to them if they all knew from birth that they only had one go around like we do? Would they have even risked having an all-out war like this? In short – I haven’t the foggiest.

What will betelling is later on in season 3. In the season 3 snippets of things to come I hear talk of genocide against the cylon. If the humans find a way to actually bring the eternal machines down to mortality I wonder how the cylon will choose to act when they risk a more permanent outcome.

2 Responses to "Shake Off This Mortal Coil"
  1. Jay says:

    This is just a totally off the wall thought that I had. What if the god that Cylons talk about is a human? Maybe, just maybe, Clons saw their human creator as a god. I have been trying to figure out just how the cylons as machines discovered religion. What if the machine cylons saw their human creator as a god, and created flesh cylons in the image of their creator or god. Were the machine cylons originally created for a single purpose of bringing peace to the world and to stop humans killing humans? Then the machine cylons may have created flesh cylons in the image of their creator for the same purpose. As a machine, maybe this is their one and only objective. Then eventually after trying to stop humans from killing humans unsucessfully for years, then they will eventually discover the only way to do so is to erase humans altogether.

  2. Promethia says:

    I’ve just discovered the podcast and the site, so forgive the late response and/or if someone else has said something similar somewhere else. I’ll see your unnaturalness of immortality and raise you one: I think what the cylons are ultimately looking for is death, or rather, the flush of urgency that mortality gives to life–not that they know that yet. As you point out, the cylons seem to want to be human, or perhaps better versions of humans. Death would seem to be a serious design flaw of humanity and the cylons have done their best to eliminate death from the picture, though they have not succeeded entirely. At the same time, they are obsessed with obtaining that other great marker of humanity: love (and babies). They have theorized that they were unable to reproduce because they were missing love (probably the single lamest idea of the entire series, I thought at the time). But perhaps what they are really missing is death.

    Are love and sex necessary among immortals? Not only is species repopulation not required if the existing generation won’t die off, but I think fear of death–and the urgency of making the most of the time you do have–is one of the major factors that draws people together. One of the recurring themes of D.H. Lawrence’s writing was the almost mythical connections among love, sex, and death, and I feel that BSG dabbles repeatedly in the same area: from Billy and Dualla’s sudden attraction in the middle of the apocalypse, to Hera and her mortal father, to the love apparently possible between humans and cylons but not cylons and cylons, to Adama’s smooch for the dying Prez, to number 3’s obsession with Hera and that “something miraculous between life and death.” It would not surprise me if the riff between the seven cylons we know and the final five has something to do with their attitudes towards immortality/downloading. Additionally, major and minor turning points of the series have revolved around threats to the cylons’ immortality: the destruction of the resurrection ship, Gina’s wish to die, Cavil’s revelation that repeated downloadings may have consequences (headaches), and the virus picked up from the probe. I suspect that 3 was beginning to understand the importance of death to the humanity/spirituality of the cylons–hence the repeated suicides–and expect that we will see more of a dawning awareness among the other models as the series progresses. Ultimately, in order to progress as a species, I believe the cylons will either have to follow Cavil’s lead and accept their status as machines or embrace their more human aspects and leave their immortality behind.

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