The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sin, Redemption and BSG

Geek/Spoiler Alert--Presumes Knowledge of/Interest In BSG's Series Finale, Daybreak

Now that Battlestar Galactica has ended its run, I want to make a confession: I identify with Gaius Baltar, and have as long as the show has been on air. Baltar's panic, his desire to survive, his struggles to do the right thing, if he could figure out just what that would be--I have to admit, these aspects of the character speak to me. On the rare occasions when I've been in physical peril, I've had to force myself to act. And, oh, how James Callis cpatures those wonderful words of St. Paul, "for the good I would do, I do not, but the evil I would not do, that I do." (Not to mention--and Baltar never mentions the concept--St. Augustine's famous, "God, give me chastity, but not yet." )

So I for one was delighted with the depiction over the course of the series, with the character arc in which Baltar slowly sought redemption. For me, the process began with Baltar's appalled reaction to the abuse of a Cylon Prisoner (the Number 6 named Gina) and his slow learning of empathy. In the last half season, his empathy steadily grows, and we see Baltar acting unselfishly (enjoying giving away food in Dogstown, keeping watch with the doomed Felix Gaeta before his execution, and attending his execution so that there would be someone as a witness for Gaeta). In the finale, Baltar, though frightened, plays his part. And it's he that gets Brother Cavil to the place where he wants to stop the fighting, although Tigh provides the incentive that rationalist Cavil needs to call it a day. And, finally, Baltar learns how to love Caprica 6, and to be worthy of her love--by being what he ran away from, a farmer. He has come home to his true self.

I summarize this because Baltar seems to me a marvellous Everyman. Oh, he has scientific genius, of course, and can't attend a bris without a harem springing up for him. But Baltar goes on what Christopher Bryant termed the Journey to the Center. At the end of things he could be thought to have come full circle, but that's not so, in fact. Baltar can be a farmer, now, not because he's lost everything, but because, by becoming willing to give his life for a higher purpose, he has regained it.

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