What really happened to Starbuck?

Posted by Byrne, 7 Mar 2007


If you are a Battlestar Galactica fan and you watched last Sunday's Maelstrom, then there is no doubt in my mind what you have spent at least a couple of days thinking or talking about what is perhaps one of the most important episodes in the series. Even Ron Moore characterizes it as an important turning point in the show, "page one of chapter three" to be exact.


Image compliments of bsg_graphics community on livejournal

In Maelstrom, Kara succumbs to the call of the sirens and gave herself up to die. She did so with the faith that there was something more for her beyond the veil. But many fans are having a difficult time accepting her death. And I am one of them. So in my grief, the only kind of grief you can have for a fictional television character mind you, I have searched for answers. In that search I have come across primarily three different theories as to Kara’s fate.

First, the obvious: Starbuck really is dead. She is not coming back. I do not put it past Ron Moore to do something this bold, but I simply cannot believe Kara’s aforementioned “destiny” was merely to die, by suicide no less. Kara has always been the most important character of the series, so I just can’t imagine this being the direction the writers want the story to go.

Second, the other obvious and cheap ploy: Starbuck ejected at the last moment and survived. And perhaps she was rescued by the cylons. I suppose this is possible if you can’t accept her death, but man, talk about cheap. Again, I have too much respect for the writers to think that they would employ something as easy as this.

Finally, the third theory, the one I think has the most credibility among the three listed here, is that Starbuck is a cylon. I have even heard people theorize that Kara is a "hylon", or a human-cylon hybrid. But regardless of whether she is a cylon or hylon, this story arc will all be resolved when Kara is downloaded into a new body and we learn that she is one of the final five cylons models we haven’t seen yet.

This certainly would be a shocker for the episode and no doubt would appease the fan base by not having Katie Sackhoff out of the series. But it is still too easy and I don’t think it challenges us on more critical and intellectual level. At the core of Battlestar Galactica is a theme that lies at the heart of many Science Fiction stories: an attempt to understand and explore what defines us as human beings.

Battlestar routinely explores that philosophical question by constantly blurring the lines between human and cylon. Battlestar challenges us in the way the Sopranos challenges us, by making us sympathize with and even grow to like the people we are supposed to despise, fear and hate.

But my theory is different, or perhaps it is better characterized as a combination of several theories: I believe that Kara is most definitely human, and that she did in fact die when her ship exploded. But immediately upon her death she was downloaded into a cylon body. In this way she transcended her human form and became a cyclon.

I like this theory because of its implications to the ultimate question "what defines us as human beings?" Is it our mortality that makes us human? Does the fact that I can be downloaded into another body mean that my memory and experience is less of a defining characteristic than I think? And if I can be downloaded, does my humanity come with me to the new body, or is it lost? In other words, is my humanity defined by my corporeal form, or by some other more ethereal quality?

Regardless of Kara's real fate, which we will no doubt have some resolution to in coming episodes, I think Battlestar will be best served by choosing a path for Kara that will continue to challenge how we perceive ourselves as humans. Because whether you are a fan of the show or not, whether you like the scifi genre or not, it is that question that in some way propels us all, isn't it?

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Actually, there's a fourth idea, that harkens back to the original series. There is a third race around that intercedes in a similar episode in the original series, and this is most likely their introduction into THIS series.

Please tell me more! Third race? There's a third race?!

My vote is on her being one of the five cyclons. That would make the most sense given the storyline they've been building up for her... Scar, the trip, imprisonment and her experiences back on Caprica, her imprisonment on New Caprica, etc. Alternatively, she could just be dead (listening the podcast now and that's pretty much what it sounds like)

But James, if you were Ron Moore you wouldn't want to spoil anything would you? Of course he going to say she's dead.

Tell you what - listen to him talking about the death of Cat, and then the death of Starbuck. Then tell me if you really think Starbuck is dead. I would personally think he would be far more emotional about Starbuck then Cat... but I don't think that is true in the podcasts IMHO.

Like I said, in the podcast it sounded like he was saying she was just dead. At the end of the podcast however, they say a few things that really leave you wondering. My bet is on her being one of the five remaining cylons... or at least a hybrid. Her death basically kills her human body but her consciousness is downloaded into a cylon body -- which, if you think about it, would make sense given the apparent cylon ambition to become more and more like their human creators. Anyway, it'll definitely be interesting.

Dude, I'm surprised at what you wrote only because I thought it has been obvious for some time that Kara was one of the remaining five cylons. They've been setting this up for over a year and I've just been waiting for the other shoe (the big heavy one) to drop.

All of the historical evidence (and there is a lot) aside, one of the most important results of Starbuck waking up in goo is that it brings the relevance of the cylons back to front and center after that having been weakened by the Caprica "experiment" and cessation of hostilities. Since then, the cylons have been thinly represented by Gaius and the succubi. Boring. Boring boring boring. The cylons are as important as the humans in BSG and this serves to balance the scales and give them some character depth.

Now I will say this: If Kara is NOT a cylon, then they have perfectly executed the biggest mindfuck ever and will have to somehow explain away all of the hints, implications and flat out tells for the last three years.

If I had to go with a second theory, I would probably choose the "guardian angel" theory with a third-party (race?) coming in to save her. But like the eject theory, I think it's extremely cheap and would be a great departure for the production staff.

I guess I should make myself more clear: I believe that Kara was human, but that she will become a cylon.

I do not believe that she always was a cylon.

I also believe that her destiny is to be one of the final five, but the reason we don't know who the final five are yet is because they don't exist yet. Kara is the first of the final five to be "reincarnated" so to speak.

Byrne and I were just IM'ing about this. Like hime, I do not believe that Kara has been a cylon. If I were to guess, her consciousness is going to somehow end up being downloaded into a cylon body and thats how the final five are going to emerge.

In the words of us standards and spec junkies, James:


I'm late to this conversation, and I missed the episode, but you're missing the obvious idea that she's going to be reincarnated as Captain America.

Starbuck (Katie) was my neighbor, in real life. Would be a shame if she's gone from the show. She moved, so now I can't ask her if she is really gone from the show! Anyway, did anyone see a body? Eh? A Cylon? I don't like that idea. Starbuck was tough, I don't care if ejecting is hokey. Captured by Cylons is better for me. More than likely, Katie asked to be written out of the show so she could pursue "other projects", as she is a fine actress capable of many things. On another note, too much talking, talking, talking. More action, please!

Starbuck is not dead. There was a flash of very bright light in the cockpit before the Viper exploded. If you really followed the original show then you know that although there are changes to the new series, the same plot lines occur. Kane, the headstrong legend came back (but was a woman), starbuck is in this newer series to as a hot shot (but as a women) boomer is back as a loyal and trusted team mate(but as a women) - if your getting my drift-the women play the most important roles in the new BSG, and the plot lines follow with enough change to keep you interested but tell the same story. This said-Starbuck-and I will venture to say, eventually Apollo too (as in the original), will become the guests of the race of aliens that had the bright lights and crystal shaped ship. That’s the significance of the bright white light. The BSG crew thought starbuck was dead in the original too, as they do now. There will be some kind of new twist when she comes back, but she will be back and no, she is not a Cylon.

The Cylon that has been picking on her and made her think she had a child is trying to get her (trick her) to be a Hylon host. remember-in the opening credits..."and they have a plan...."...also, Richard Hatch wanted to make this a BSG that he wanted back in the late 70's/early 80's and now that he is in charge that is what he is doing-he has a story that he wants to share...and the women are important that is why he does not kill them. Athena had a baby which shows the Cylon Female copies can get pregnant with Human males, but it has not yet been revealed if the Cylon males can impregnate human females. This is my guess as to the Cylon Master Plan. Earth is probably important because the Cylons see it as opportunity for reproduction. The new BSG is obviously very sexually explicit so this would be a likely scenario.

If I had time, I would study the Greek mythology and history of religion to see if there is some relationship to women being most important to society. The crew members prey to the “gods” so this is why getting armed with knowledge of mythology and religion may help.

I do wonder one thing though-why was Boxy only in the pilot? Its been a while since we thought of him. Perhaps he is one of the 5? He has a robot (Cylon?) dog to boot. Where were his parents in that pilot episode? I don’t think Richard Hatch has forgot to put his former son from the original BSG when he was Apollo into the show. Season 4 is going to be good-I cant’ wait!

in fact try this:


Now what? After you all have seen the last episode of season 3, is Apollo suicidal too and Starbuck his guide into the next world? Or did Starbuck in fact find a way to earth? And when do they start showing season 4?