At the end of series one of Battlestar Galatica, we see Boomer shooting Adama twice in the body at near point blank range. As a member of the military (and a Cylon), if her true intention was to kill him, then surely at such close range a head shot would do the job far more effectively? I realise it is just sci-fi and makes a good season cliffhanger, but given the often gritty realism of the show (which should be applauded) I find it a bit strange that if the creators would make such an oversight.

Therefore, I was wondering if this is in fact intentional and meant to represent a struggle for her to accept that she is Cylon. Or indeed, if this is some further element of the "This has all happened before" religious aspect of the show. I have watched the series, but not watched and documentaries or read any further material about the show. I was just wondering if this scene has hidden meaning or just there for dramatic purpose, because in the context of a war this a terrible military decision and missed opportunity (from a Cylon persepective of course).

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    I always assumed it was because pulling a gun out for a point-blank head-shot is a lot more noticeable than pulling one out just far enough for a gut/body shot.
    – phantom42
    Apr 18, 2013 at 18:15
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    Pretty spoilery question title isn't it? >_>
    – jono
    Apr 18, 2013 at 19:12
  • @jono Someone has edited it. I tried to think how to ask the question in a way that would arouse interest and yet not give the game away. Clearly I failed.
    – bazz
    Apr 18, 2013 at 22:29
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    @bazz Yeah, that was me. And don't worry, it's a tricky thing to pull off syntactically. If I hadn't seen other people use the "this person/place/event" phrasing I probably would have been stumped too :)
    – jono
    Apr 18, 2013 at 22:37

3 Answers 3


This is actually explained in The Plan. Cavil order her to kill him, but she could not do it because she wasn't fully in control as a sleeping agent and the human part of her didn't want to do that. That's why she just didn't shoot him in the head (or didn't hit him more times), the scene was supposed to show the struggle inside her.

She also tells Cavil after the shooting that she lost the best part of her when she did it.

btw if you haven't seen The Plan, I recommend it. It explains some background on the story and gives sense to some scenes. (It's not a documentary, it's just part of the story with some scenes that had been cut from the series.)

  • Thanks for this answer. To be honest, until this answer I did not even realise that The Plan existed. I will be buying this at the earliest opportunity and thanks for bringing it to my attention.
    – bazz
    Apr 18, 2013 at 23:26
  • You're welcome. You should also check Razor, that's another similar movie. If I remember it right, Razor is dated during the 2nd half of 2 season and The Plan is mostly about stuff from season 3.
    – Jaa-c
    Apr 19, 2013 at 23:19

Everyone who trains to use a handgun is told shoot center body mass. It's drilled into you. Some receive special sniper training to take other more difficult shots, in hostage situations and whatnot, but that is not the norm. Shooting center body mass is the quickest way to fell someone, and generally-speaking the most lethal way as well. They weren't bad shots, he just received medical attention quickly.

Had she attempted to shoot him in the head, she's even more likely to miss. And, supposing she did hit, it's not necessarily going to kill him. People survive headshots too. Your brain isn't an 1/8th of an inch below your scalp, it's smaller than you believe it to be, the size of a grapefruit. A bullet can penetrate the head and exit it without ever doing any brain damage.

I rate the manner in which this was depicted as 100% accurate to real life. I'm personally happy they didn't try to "go Hollywood" or anything.

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    Genuinely thanks for this answer. I guess this highlights the gruesome details that ordinary civilians can go their entire lives without knowing about... I guess as a UK viewer who has live his entire life without even seeing a gun in real this question may seem naive.
    – bazz
    Apr 18, 2013 at 22:27
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    "...the size of a grapefruit" - What???
    – bobbyalex
    Oct 3, 2014 at 8:24
  • I upvoted this, but I want to emphasize that we train to shoot center mass not to kill, per se, but to stop a threat. In the sorts of encounters in which a handgun is useful, you simply haven't got time to line up a head shot anyway. It's much easier to hit center mass.
    – user8693
    May 17, 2015 at 20:20

I think you're correct, and I always read it this way, that her failure at the assassination was an internal conflict between her human identity and her cylon reality.

She would be the first we see having such a conflict, but not the last... take note also of Caprica Six, and Boomer's later doppelganger, Athena as they progress through the show.

There were prior shots (e.g., her suicide attempt upon realizing her Cylon nature), that show she was clearly having problems accepting and adapting to her new reality. Add to that the fact that she (along with most everyone else on the crew) seemed to be extremely fond of Adama as a commanding officer, and it seems quite likely that her human side didn't really want to kill him, and was fighting her cylon programming.

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