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An angel?

Towards the end of the Battlestar Gallactica remake she "died" then came back, only to vanish when talking to Lee in the final episode.

UPDATE: All great answers below but I gotta give the check to the one that I think is right, though any could be strong contenders.

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should probably have a spoiler alert (although it's been over for a year or more) –  John Jan 19 '11 at 16:19
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If this was english.stackexchange, I'd answer: The first mate of Ahab on the Pequod in Moby Dick. ;-) –  ewindisch Jan 19 '11 at 17:58
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This spoiler box does not work at all. Because when you see this in Questions page, the spoiler text is in the summary for this question. You are spoiled even if you don't come to this page :( –  R. Martinho Fernandes Jan 20 '11 at 2:38
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That was added in there by another user, but I'm open to suggestions on how to fix it? –  Slick23 Jan 20 '11 at 2:38
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she was one of the white mice ;) –  Muad'Dib Feb 28 '11 at 6:04

12 Answers 12

up vote 34 down vote accepted

I had assumed she was an angel, or maybe something like a Seraph. The latter would make a nice tie-in to the original series.

Of course, it could easily be she was a loose plot thread. We certainly have no shortage of those in modern TV serials.

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I too, assumed this. That she was homage to the ... what were they called ... Beings of Light or something like that, in the original series. –  Slick23 Jan 19 '11 at 16:57
    
But what was the body of Starbucks they found on hearth in the destroyed ship then? –  Maurizio In denmark Sep 2 '13 at 11:54

I believe that Starbuck was a loose plot thread that the writers had a difficult time tying up in a meaningful way.

The problem probably all started when the staff killed Starbuck off, which worked great dramatically until they realized they lost one of the show's most popular characters. Then the writers brought Starbuck back with a great mysterious resurrection, making viewers believe she might be a Cylon. So I'm sure the writers sat around and tried to think up what would top being a Cylon. And unfortunately they couldn't think of anything so they just BSed their way through the last episode.

Update October 2013 - Ronald Moore talks about Starbuck's fate:

I liked the idea, conceptually, that her fate was ambiguous because, conceptually, we were tying her to whatever the power was that didn’t like to be called God and was involved from the inception. From the miniseries on, there’s definitely something else going on in this story, and it’s unknowable. I kind of felt like it should be unknowable. It felt wrong to give it a neat answer on something that was so profound and existential about these people and this situation. They were dealing with something that they had trouble defining, whether it was gods plural, or God singular, or something else out there. Starbuck was in some way representational of that power, or had some connection to it, having been brought back from the dead — literally. I just didn’t feel like I wanted to give it a “Oh, that’s what this means.” It just felt right that that, too, should be mysterious and unknowable. That’s the way I wanted to go. If I called her an angel, does that make everybody happy? That just seemed really unsatisfying. I don’t know what that means. That’s just putting a label on who she is and it doesn’t tell me anything more, really.

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Almost certainly. Having been in a few writer's rooms, this is exactly how it goes. If they had some awesome solution, they would have made DAMN sure we all knew what the deal was. –  DampeS8N Jan 19 '11 at 16:56
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That unexplained downvote was "cold as iicccceeeeee!" –  Mark Rogers Jan 19 '11 at 18:35
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Nonsense. She had "a destiny" all the way through, and when she died the angel Leoben was trying to get her over her fear of death so that she could be reborn and become an angel/guide/whatever. She was to meet the other angels ("they're waiting for me") in order to get on with her destiny. At no stage in Maelstrom did this seem ambiguous, so it's odd that you think the writers just "made it up" an entire two calendar years later. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 11 '11 at 10:58
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@TomalakGeret'kal: My impression was that other than the rockin' final battle, I felt the explanation was anti-climatic and mostly unsatisfying. –  Mark Rogers Jun 17 '11 at 5:03
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@Tomalak - I'm not trying to make you angry, but the top voted answer with +33 upvotes is rarely inflammatory nonsense. –  Mark Rogers Jun 17 '11 at 14:24

I've always figured she was the same thing that Head Six and Head Baltar were. Only visible to everyone and unaware of her own status. And Baltar's line at the end when Six calls their boss "god" seemed to suggest that whatever it was, it wasn't god.

You know it doesn't like to be called that.

So it seems she was the creation of some sort of very powerful godlike entity. I imagined it as something like the ascended from Stargate. Energy being perhaps. And Head Six, Head Baltar, and Starbuck were all probably also similar beings -- only with out awareness of their abilities.

This is of course, total speculation. Which is about all any of us can provide in answer unless some book or interview has provided a solid answer.

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While I think Mark Rogers explanation is closer to the truth in reality (what others sometimes call 'Our reality'). Your answer is what I figured for the BSG reality. –  user296 Jan 19 '11 at 16:30
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Oh, Mark Roger's answer is absolutely the answer for our reality. But I figured the question was about BSG reality. ;) –  Daniel Bingham Jan 19 '11 at 16:31
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i like your answer, however in an VH1 interview Ronald D. Moore said she isn't a common hallucination, so it won't be the ultimate answer although it would explain her role. I guess shes more of an jesus-like prophet - jesus was a prophet too and revived from the dead, making him the salvator. –  Samuel Herzog Jan 19 '11 at 16:37
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@Samuel Yes, but you could be misinterpreting RDM: I always assumed that Head Baltar and Head Six were more than just hallucinations. –  Glen Wheeler Apr 13 '11 at 10:21
    
Yes! They're called Seraphs in the original BSG and played a much larger role there. Their functional equivalent would be descended Ancients with temporary amnesia in the SG-1 universe. –  Theodore R. Smith Feb 5 '12 at 5:04

I thought, too, that she was an Angel in keeping in line with the original series.

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Starbuck was originally a human soldier who died in a crash landing of her viper on Earth, after flying there through the eye of the storm. The Starbuck that returns after her disappearance is not Starbuck at all, but an angel of death in Starbuck's form, sent by God to lead the colonists to Earth and ultimately to help bring about the destruction of cylons and humans alike, save for the few settlers of New Earth.

A.K.A. Deus ex machina

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This has many loose ends, like her connection with Leobin, the drawing of the Vortex, especially as a child, etc. I think she just had far less amnesia as to her true purpose after she was reinserted into their space/time dimension. –  Theodore R. Smith Feb 5 '12 at 5:06

I somehow had a theory that she was the child of the lost Cylon, who somehow mysteriously re-appeared. Again, this is just speculation, but that was always my thought.

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The episode where she has a vision of her dad playing the piano led me to the same idea. But RDM denied that her dad was the lost Cylon skinjob Daniel. –  Keen Mar 9 '11 at 22:24
    
I was thinking the same thing. Not only would it tie up nearly everything from before the Writer's Strike very neatly, it would've given them an amazing chance to show history repeating itself by placing the remake into the same continuity as the original... –  Izkata Dec 16 '11 at 3:08
    
This... I still think she's the real first human-cylon cross bred by poor Daniel... RDM is just trying to fool us by denying it! :) –  Frhay Aug 5 '13 at 13:26

IMHO I think Starbuck resurrected as an angel, Cylon-resurrection wouldn't explain the new Viper :s

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Why would the Cylons fail to build a new viper? –  Tshepang Dec 29 '11 at 9:07

I had always thought she was the daughter of a Daniel the 7th cylon. So she might have been the first cylon human hybrid. Explaining her resurection / dead body on the cylon homeworld requires about as many blue berry muffins as the Angel theory.

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The episode where she has a vision of her dad playing the piano led me to the same idea. But RDM denied that her dad was the lost Cylon skinjob Daniel. (yes, I posted this to two answers.) –  Keen Mar 9 '11 at 22:25
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This would have been a great way to resolve the plot thread! –  Wikis Sep 30 '11 at 6:49
    
Same as above comment... I still think it this way, whatever RDM says... :P –  Frhay Aug 5 '13 at 13:27

In the BSG universe

  • "angels" like Head(s) Six and Balthar are possible, though invisible and perhaps immaterial, yet
  • humans can "walk with the gods" on Kobol, and the gods can subsequently escort the survivors of said humans to new solar systems (presumably being material in the process, and perhaps visible)

If those two sorts of beings are both possible, then why presume that Starbuck was an angel. Why couldn't her nature be the same as the nature of the Lords of Kobol (though no doubt of lesser degree)?

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They called them Seraphs, and, yes, the Heads, Lords, and Starbuck are probably the same class of entities. –  Theodore R. Smith Feb 5 '12 at 5:08

a script is like a movie set. it appears complete and real but its really lots of patchwork to make it appear that way (especially over multiple seasons) and if you would move the camera a bit to the right, you would immediately notice that its pretty much just covering the scenes and otherwise ends apruptly. its no encyclopedia which covers every detail.

this smells like a simple hole in the plot and it makes about as much sense as j.d. from scrubs getting run over by a steamroller and suddenly reappearing next week after his funeral, with some vague references to angels by the janitor.

in the ep where starbuck "died" we saw her ship exploding. no uncertanity, no guessing, just bang, which indicates that they really intended her to die at this point. then there was her magical reappearence and this absolutely unlogical wreck on earth with her body in it, which somehow survived the explosion and got teleported there it seems.

either they became desperate because their ratings were dropping or it was a blatant cliffhanger without any kind of logic, "lost" style, which would even more suck. its also no surprice that the producer claims it was always meant that way. sounds a hell of a lot better than admitting that they made mistakes. george lucas did this all the time when he talked about the starwars movies while there were drastical plot changes all the time during shooting them.

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Personally, I see two possibilities:

  • She's a Seraph/Being of Light like in the original series, and that's that
  • She's an avatar of some kind, and the BSG universe is actually a simulation like Caprica's V-world

These two options aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. After watching Caprica, it would not be a huge stretch to take what is learned through V-world and how the Cylons came to be, then extrapolate that the universe that is presented in BSG is just another abstraction layer above V-world.

This would explain the hybrids and their prophecies (perhaps they are hooked into the source code of the universe), and would explain the angels and godlike individuals both in the series and in the backstory.

The key difference between the V-world and the BSG universe would be conscious awareness -- V-world participants have consciousness about their external lives, most of the characters presented in BSG do not, and likely do not have lives outside of the simulation. I would posit that Head Six and Head Baltar have awareness and have existences outside of the simulation, and the being that shall not be named "God" is perhaps the architect of the simulation. Starbuck is something of a glitch, or perhaps had been "installed" by "God", and was sent back after exercising her free will to commit suicide because her role was too important.

This does mean she is literally a Deus Ex Machina entity -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'd hesitate to label anything that can't be understood at face value as "bad writing", not everything can or should be told in a story without abstraction. TV used to be without abstract concepts -- everything was as it was told, and as it has improved as a storytelling media that has begun to melt away and if often incorrectly assumed to be just a result of bad storytelling. I would suggest that her reappearance in season 4 and disappearance at the end of the series is too blatant to be a mistake -- remember, she returned within a few episodes, too few to be a result of fan reaction (plus they filmed her return scene around the same time they filmed her death).

So, take the obvious anomaly that she is to infer something about the universe the story inhabits.

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What if Starbuck simply became a Cylon (with the same lack of self-awareness as the sleepers)? The show's tech existed for genetic cloning, so it would be fairly simple for the Cylons to get a DNA sample & make another model...

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