Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: Who - or what - was Starbuck?

In preparation for MonsterCon I'm trying to finish my rewatch of Battlestar Galactica, and one of the things that came up as we hit the middle of season four was "what the heck is up with Starbuck?"

Now, I'm not one of those people who was - or is - up in arms about BSG's ending...but I have definitely always thought that the Starbuck storyline was the weakest link. However, I'm now beginning to believe that this is due to the fact that I basically shrugged my shoulders and accepted the extremely basic "she was an angel" explanation (despite not really caring for it). And of course, I accepted that explanation - and how simple it was - because I was too lazy to do my own research ;)

But this time, I wasn't too lazy. Pretty much the exact opposite, in fact, because I had to read through several (okay, more like about a dozen) blogs and old message board threads before I was able to begin piecing together a theory that had a bit more depth to and reasoning behind it.

First things first, though - for those who insist on still subscribing to the "Kara/Starbuck was an angel" theory, well, Ronald Moore is there backing it up with his explanation of her being a "super angel" who people can not only see, but touch as well. Many people also like to refer to Starbuck as a "Seraph", and admittedly I would say that this is my second choice in regards to what to believe about her - mainly because Seraphs existed in the original series as wingless angels who could take on normal human form as needed, and I think it would be a cool shout out for them to actually be kind of important in the reimagining. Especially as they were supposed to feature heavily in the Galactica 1980 series before it was cancelled - a script was written in which the original series' Starbuck actually joined the Seraphs.

Seraph from the old BSG series

The issue I have with this is that Seraphs are described as a "race of sentient beings" - not only that, they knew who they were and how they became what they were. Starbuck, on the other hand, has no memory of the time period when she was missing and presumed dead (or rather, when she died, period). Nor does she know who or what she is - at least not for most of the rest of the series.

All of that said, on to a Starbuck theory that I have newly adopted, because let's face it - we know that she wasn't a cylon, and her being some sort of angel always felt like, well, a bit of a cop-out.

The thing is, just because Kara Thrace wasn't a skinjob cylon, doesn't mean that she wasn't half cylon.

"What's this?" you say. "How in the hell could Starbuck be half cylon?"

Well, remember that cylon model - the seven, Daniel, the one that Cavil destroyed? While it certainly made just enough sense for the show to bring that model up and explain its demise the way it did, why did we need to know about the model's sensitivity, musical and artistic inclinations, and the fact that it was a favorite of Ellen Tigh's? I personally want to believe that there's more to it than just showing us how awful Cavil was - after all, did we really need that drilled into our heads yet again? We already knew that he hated being humanoid, that he turned on his creators (Ellen et. al.), that he wiped the other humanoids' memories of the Final Five, and that he boxed the threes after one of them saw the faces of those Final Five.

So Daniel was Ellen's favorite, and she clearly knows Cavil inside and out - yet she didn't foresee him killing off the sevens at all? Didn't, I don't know, try to save at least one of the sevens?

Let's just say that she did ;) After all, when Ellen talks about the Daniel copies being destroyed, she never once mentions what happened to the original Daniel, the one she loved so much. There's a much more in-depth review of Cavil and Daniel and the general cylon history over at Televisionary Blog, and this is a blog entry about Starbuck specifically, isn't it?

Starbuck, who seems to have some pretty artistic inclinations - inclinations that very likely came from her father...especially when we consider how Starbuck's mother acted and treated her daughter (she certainly wouldn't have been encouraging Starbuck to paint, of all things).

Especially since we know that he taught her how to play the piano. (I won't even get into the piano player from season four who may or may not have actually existed but who certainly, with the use of a few well-worded lines, put Starbuck back on her path again. Not to mention that they were playing The Song.)

Starbuck, who seems to have way more stamina than any other human. Who is constantly touted as being the best pilot in the fleet - and possibly even the best pilot ever, having amazingly short reaction times and almost extra sensory perception. Who was able to essentially hot-wire a Cylon raider on instinct alone.

Starbuck, who the Cylons - at least some of them - take a pretty particular interest the point where they even lock her up in their breeding facility and at the very least took eggs from her - and possibly even extracted genetic material.

The thing is, it's clear that Kara Thrace is extremely important in regards to the plotline of BSG and in helping the humans find Earth - or rather, later, a suitable replacement for it. With her genetic material in their possession, it makes more sense that she would have been essentially resurrected - or maybe perhaps cloned is the better word. The only thing I can't quite seem to place is how that resurrected/cloned version of Kara ended up with all of her memories, right up until she flew into the gas giant. However, there is some cylon technology that is never quite explained to us, and there's the information that Starbuck herself is very likely half cylon - add it all up and I'm sure there's a pretty plausible explanation for how new!Starbuck remembers everything from her "previous life".

After all, for some reason the hybrid thought that Kara was the "harbinger of death" - why? This prophecy of sorts was never realized, unless you count Kara's leading everyone to Earth only to find it a dessicated wasteland - because right after that Dee committed suicide, there were comments made about how suicides in general were up, and then Gaeta and Zarek orchestrated their failed coup, which led to plenty of other deaths.

But maybe the hybrid was simply wrong. Or perhaps she could tell that this Kara was brought back by the cylons, who hoped to use her against the humans, but then things changed when the rogue cylons joined the colonial fleet.

What it all boils down to is that Kara Thrace was - more often than not - a survivor. So to me it makes pretty damn good sense that she is a blend of the human and cylon races. She has human flaws, but she has some awesome qualities as well - qualities that could have either downright come from her cylon side, or were at the very least enhanced by it. And Starbuck was certainly as important - if not more so, as she was an adult and could make her own decisions and other people didn't have to rely on dreams and drawings to know what she wanted.

(And yes, I'm trying to ignore that whole disappearing act she did in the series finale. Honestly, my head canon is that she heard Anders say "I'll see you on the other side" and therefore never left Galactica. It's a lot easier to believe that those who loved her most - Apollo and the Admiral - were imagining her being on 'new' Earth for that super short period of time, rather than that she was a head-Starbuck for the entire effing human and cylon races for all that time after her death.)

I guess that I'd just prefer to believe that Kara Thrace, a.k.a. Starbuck, was a badass half cylon who came back as a resurrected version or clone of herself, rather than her being a troubled but exceptional human who died and came back as a nearly-unexplained supernatural being.

Some of my Sources:

Unified Theory of Kara Thrace

Battlestar Galactica's Kara Trace Theories

Starbuck Fix: Just What is Kara Thrace?

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