Cylons as Seraphim and Nephilim

March 27, 2007

Fortunately, I didn’t hate “Crossroads, Pt. 2,” the third season finale of Battlestar Galactica, as I expected to.

On the one hand, I like puzzling over the sorts of unresolved ideas brought forth in a show like this, but I’ve also been doubtful for the last two years that Ron Moore and company have had any real idea what the hell they were doing in the long run on this show. Ideas get brought up and then dropped so quickly on this show that it’s hard for me to stay invested. The end of the second season set-up a three-episode arc that essentially reset the show, with a new exodus, a new loss of life, and a new rush to seek out Earth with the Cylons hot on our trail, while scraping off stuff like the Battlestar Pegasus.

Then this Cylon virus happens, and is forgotten. This artifact of the 13th Tribe is found, but ignored. This ridiculous Mary Sue LARP character — the Irish lawyer who wears sunglasses indoors, knows every character better than they know themselves, wears black, has a cat in an attache case, and is a kleptomaniac — comes in and doesn’t have the common decency to die. Ugh.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time brainstorming on behalf of this show and refining the idea I’m putting forth here. I have too many other things to do, but for the sake of the Internet that loves half-baked theories, here you go.

Spoilers ahead:

The Cylons are old-school Zoroastrian angels. Not literally, but in the metaphor of the show. They’re celestial beings that look like us, but aren’t.

The Cylons, moreso through retconning but also potentially by design, are surrounded by mock numerology. Their names are numbers. They organize according to their rank and fashion. They refer to their cousins (of a different type) through their number — the Final Five.

The Five may evoke the Hamsa, the Hand of Fatima (or Miriam), an Islamic and Jewish protective image. They are the seraphim, protectors and guardians (“All Along the Watchtower”). Each of the four Cylons revealed in “Crossroads, Pt. 2” are guardians, supporters and aides to human characters. Saul Tigh has long been at Bill Adama’s side. Galen Tyrol’s kept the fleet’s fighters running (and built them a fancy new ship). Tory is the aide and advisor to President Roslin. Anders was the emotional support for Starbuck and source of morale for all the Caprican resistance fighters.

Meanwhile, the human-looking Cylon models we’re more familiar with — Boomer, Athena, Caprica Six — are, roughly, nephilim or fallen angels. Things get a little confused here, both for the metaphor and for the actual angelology, but a nephil is a creature (a giant, often) born of lusty fallen angels and human women, so this doesn’t quite work. (This would make Cally’s child and Hera the nephilim, if they are the offspring of fallen angels — Cylons — and humans.)

The point is that, in a lot of the early Jewish and Zoroastrian folklore surrounding these beings, they are drawn to Earth to mate with humans, just like the Cylons. This isn’t an exact fit, but of course neither is the idea of Exodus being instigated by a nuclear attack by a bunch of rebellious robots.

The Final Five models might be seen as the Grigori (the “Watchers,” hence the Dylan song chosen for this weekend’s episode), who were arguably the fathers of the nephilim and are fallen angels themselves, sent to watch over humans but swept up in human feelings and lust. The Grigori aren’t typically guardians and allies, like seraphim, though. Again, the analogy is rough.

Alternately, if we assume that the seven seemingly villainous Cylons really are doing the work of their god — that even though they are antagonizing mankind, they are not evil — then those seven models may be the seven archangels. The Final Five, of whom the seven do not speak, may be the fallen angels.

Or it may all just be parts of this angelology reorganized into new structures. It doesn’t have to jive with any of the Apocrypha any more than the show jives neatly with current politics (it doesn’t). Rather, it just echoes familiar things, with a bunch of distortion. But if Roslin (or Roslin and Adama together) is Moses, and the Twelve Colonies are (duh) the Twelve Tribes, then all this early angelology seems appropriate.


One comment

  1. Crap, now I gotta go read the Apocrypha.

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