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Battlestar Galactica eyes 'technology run amok'

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Freewill Triumphant

We see the role of freewill shaping the story's outcome repeatedly. Boomer, a particularly torn version of the Number Eight Cylon model, forsakes her ringleader Cavil by returning Hera to Galactica. The blow is too much for even Cavil, by far the most calculating of the Cylon models, who soon decides to exercise his own free will by putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. Even Baltar, whose collaboration with the Cylons touched off the genocide in the first place, plays a role, when he decides to stay on Galactica for the final confrontation with the rebel Cylons.

And yet at the same time, the series always acknowledged that events are irrevocably shaped by random occurrences too. Sometimes, they came in the form of chance happenings, such as an asteroid that whacks a nuclear-armed Colonial Raptor, which leads to the accidental destruction on the Cylon colony.

Other times, the series was purposely ambivalent about whether outcomes were the result of statistical anomalies, destiny and free will or some combination of them. Such was the case with Kara Thrace's mysterious childhood song, which leads her to punch coordinates into Galactica's faster-than-light transporter that just happens to lead her nomadic civilization on the brink of collapse to its new home.

And that's what has made Battlestar Galactica such a satisfying journey. There were no clear answers, just a series of worthwhile questions that involved the intersection of human kind, technology, God, and society.

Sometimes the dystopian story was almost too dark to take. But even then, the series knew when to pull back and offer the possibility that things on this new Earth - even with its decadence and dancing robots - could turn out differently this time. For the first time, it suggested, mankind could decide to do things differently. Hence, mankind set the surviving Centurion Cylons free so the robots could plot their own course. And it flew Galactica and the rest of the fleet into the sun so it could truly start again.

Then again, maybe all the dark series of events will happen again, as they already have occurred so many times before. Or if they don't, maybe it's only "mathematics" and the "law of averages" that will make things different this time around. As the Number Six points out to Baltar at the end of the series: "Let a complex system repeat itself long enough [and] eventually something surprising might occur."

But even that is too much certainty. So the Number Six adds: "That, too, is in God's plan." ®

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