Sometime near the beginning of season 3, the human settlement on New Caprica is invaded by the Cylons, who proceed to imprison and torture those living there.

This is the result of the Cylon "heroes" (the number 6 that saved Baltar and the number 8 known as Boomer) having a change of heart and convincing the rest of the Cylons that they should not destroy the humans.

What I can't figure out is how "Let's not destroy the humans" turned into "Let's imprison and torture the humans." What was the reasoning behind this? Did they actually think this would lead to them living in harmony with the humans?

  • I'm not sure if it makes sense to use spoiler tags for this question so let me know if I'm doing it wrong. Jun 12, 2014 at 15:50
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    I forget which episode (which is why I'm not putting this as an answer) where Cavil (Number 1) says he was trying the peaceful/legal way to be with humans, but his ignorance and human resistance + cylon-phobia turned Caprica into the prison camp that it did.
    – calccrypto
    Jun 12, 2014 at 17:18
  • Considering your question's title does the same spoiling you hide in your question body, it doesn't matter.
    – user16696
    Jun 14, 2014 at 1:22
  • @cde good point. Fixed. Jun 14, 2014 at 2:21

5 Answers 5


At the beginning, the cylons (at least the dove party) wanted to coexist with the humans, but unsurprisingly the humans did not trust them and started attacking the cylons.

This caused the cylons to face a difficult choice:

  • Just plain extermination. Not what you would expect from a "dove" party.

  • Control the humans remotely (keep the human camp contained, don't mix with them). Safer for the cylons, but would make the cohabitation process take longer (which maybe was a good idea). It would risk more radical humans taking control from Baltar, which could lead to a frontal confrontation afterwards. Also, the humans could end up dying anyways due to Baltar's incompetence (more on this later).

  • Control the humans with help from the less anti-cylon faction. The human police would purge the violent element and after that the two races could coexist. Failed when terrorists began targeting the human police, which in turn helped radicalize the police force.

  • Non-violence: just tolerate the human attacks and keep resurrecting. Even if resurrection is at hand, the cylons consider dying an unpleasant (at best) situation. If they allowed it to happen, the dove party could lose power to the radicals. Also, the humans knew that the cylons would resurrect anyway, so the gesture would not mean as much as it would had it come from other humans. Finally, it is possible that this option was simply not in their nature.

  • Leave the humans undisturbed. This option was not possible, as it was mentioned several times that the cylons feared that letting the humans alone would mean that, in the future, once the humans had regained their strength, they would attack again (and the cylons would no longer have the advantage of infiltrators).

A point to consider is that the humans were in terrible shape when they arrived at New Caprica (in part because the planet was barely habitable, mostly due to Baltar's incompetence), so maybe the cylons chose a more direct approach in order to sustain the colony.

Another possible influence could be the cylons' mysticism. Once they had decided that God wanted them to coexist with the humans, they were interested in learning why.

  • What is a dove party? All Google searches yield chocolate results. Jun 13, 2014 at 15:07
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    @Koveras en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_dove... In short, the proponents of more peaceful politics (in relation to the politics of the hawk or war party). Note that is relative and does not imply pacifism, and in some occasions "doves" may favour war but with certains restrictions (v.g., "doves" during the Korean war could those who asked for the UN troops to not cross into North Korea).
    – SJuan76
    Jun 13, 2014 at 16:42

I thought this was a pretty clear reference to the US occupation of Iraq at the time. The authors wanted you to ask all these questions, as the same questions could be asked of the occupying US army:

How did "Let's liberate the Iraqis" turn into "Let's imprison and torture the Iraqis"? Did the US actually think this would lead them to living in harmony with Iraq?

As it turns out, the world is complicated, and the best-laid plans of governments often go astray (both in the BG universe and in real life). This is an overarching theme of the series.


It was more like "Let's not destroy the humans, but let's keep them under control".


The same reason a Leoben essentially imprisoned Starbuck. The cylons were so deluded with religious belief that they couldn't comprehend that humans wanted nothing to do with them for any reason, let alone the torture and horror inflicted on them in multiple wars. Leoben and the Cylons believed that Starbuck and the Humans could love them, even if it required forcing and controlling them to do it. It was an attempt to institutionalize Stockholm Syndrome amongst the entire colony.

But Stockholm Syndrome requires both Hostages and Hostage-Takers to reciprocate feelings and a third party for the hostages to rebel against (Police/Authorities). Those are the three phases of Stockholm Syndrome


I always thought it was a reference to what happened on Kobol in a smaller scale...some from that time were like caprica 6 and 1st sharon so they left for earth while the others became the lords of kobol and had human sacrafice and crazy stuff like that tell a natural disaster forced the humans to leave for the colonies, of you draw that out earth could actually be the only planet humans evolve on and they just have been hopping from planet to planet for 200,000 years which would explain how 12 planets ended up habitable so close and as they say this happened before it will happen again....

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