Monday, November 13, 2006


A month ago I posted about Battlestar Galactica and reader Lawrence King noted a plausibility problem: the Cylons killed 99.9999% of all humans and have been attacking them ever since, yet some humans still think they're not so bad.

In the most recent episode, this problem came to the fore. Captain Apollo figured out a tactic that might wipe out the Cylons. He explained it to leaders Roslin and Adama, as well as the lower-ranking Helo.

Everyone thought it was great except Helo, who argued it was genocide. (He's married to Sharon, the "good" Cylon.) That's the whole point. Kill them all if you get the chance, and then have lunch. They're an implacable foe, far more powerful than the humans, and apparently still interested in killing whoever's left. It's insane Helo would have any doubts.

So after stating his strong opposition to their greatest wish, what did the top brains on Galactica do. Did they shoot him because he's so dangerous? Did they lock him up in solitary for a day while the plan is attempted? Did they at least order him not to talk about the plan to anyone, or do anything about it? No. They let him go on his merry way, unattended, back to his wife, and have full run of the ship.

Needless to say, Helo queers the deal. Roslin and Adama are pretty sure he's the one responsible for endangering the continuation of the human species, and what does Adama say? "Let's torture him "? No. "Let's throw him out the airlock?" No. He said he's "closing the book" on this.

Now maybe Adama's lying, but I saw no indication of that. So the biggest saboteur in human history is getting off scot free.


Blogger Irene Done said...

I'm glad to see someone else struggled with this episode. I thought it was completely implausible -- the hand-wringing before taking action and the non-punishment after the mission was sabotaged. Or is the point here that only Roslin has the will to survive?

And remember, Helo's the whole reason Gaius got off Caprica. Helo's such a good guy, so upbeat and encouraging to others, such good intentions -- and the results are always, always disastrous.

5:40 AM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Captain Picard had this same issue issue with the Borg. As I recall he was subject to witch hunt which he beat with a sort of "Have You No Shame" appeal (and the fact that these particular Starfleet witch-hunters would have made Joe McCarthy and Fred Thompson seem subtle)

7:18 AM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Probably no one is still reading this thread, but I've been behind in my BSG watching and just saw the episode in question.

To me, there are two key moral question. One, whether Cylons should be treated as people. Two, whether Apollo's plan was the only safe way to save the human race.

If Cylons are just machines, wiping them out is certainly moral.

If Cylons are persons, but they are fairly certain that they can save the human race by lesser means than genocide, they shouldn't do the genocide.

If Cylons are persons, but their death is the only solution, then it's a real moral difficulty. But I would argue that the morality of wiping out the Cylons in a single stroke can't be different than wiping them out completely, one by one. And is there any chance that humans can survive if the Cylons continue to survive too, in the long run?

Babylon 5 also had a similar dilemma: when the rich human magnate on Mars (Efram Zimbalist Jr) had a plan to wipe out all telepaths.

Anyway, Steve's original question was about the consistency of Adama not punishing Helo. Heck, no one gets punished on this show. Insubordination is practically expected....

6:24 PM, November 20, 2006  

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