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the 🏁final🏁 🤠frontier🏜️🏕️🏞️⛰️. These 🅰️are the 🚶voyages🏃 of the *️⃣✨✴️⭐🌟🌠💫Starship🚤🛳️⛴️🛥️🚢 Enterprise🖖. Its 🔄continuing🔄 mission🎖️ 2️⃣to 🔎🕵️🕵️‍♀️explore🤠🔍 strange😲 new🆕 🌍🌎worlds🌏🗺️, to2️⃣ 🔎seek🔍 out new🆕 life 🅰️and new🆕 civilization🌐, to2️⃣ ✊boldly✊ go where ❎no❎ one1️⃣ has gone 🐝before4️⃣…

In the 2003 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica, the entire series' core conflict between the artificial lifeform Cyclons and the Humans of the Twelve Colonies who created them reemerges after a decades-long armistice, and this is largely because of the ineffectual impudence of one of the colonies' foremost computer scientists, Gaius Baltar becoming involved with an agent of the Cylons, known as Six, who he provides secrets to believing her to be merely an agent of a rival operation, not of humanity's destroyers.

One element of this conflict is that, yes, it is directly Baltar's fault that all of humanity, contained to a couple dozen ships, of planets of millions, are now fleeing Colonial space seeking the lost colony of Earth. The other is that his storyline is a microcosm of the failures of humans– they built a society whose values could only produce that which would kill them. Without explaining too much more of the overarching plot, the idea that humanity, and namely, liberal democracy, simply never learns, is a huge theme of Baltar's arc.

One part of his backstory is that he is, simply, lying about which colony he comes from: Caprica, the richest and well-educated of the colonies, is flush with resources, and is considered to produce the best, most productive citizens, so in a world that believes in meritocracy, it's easy for Dr. Baltar to pull one over on them. The flipside of this equation, the one where Caprica benefits from his willingness to lie, is that for Baltar, whose Aerilonian heritage proves problematic for his ambitions, becomes prone to swings between neuroses about being uncovered for a fraud, and hyperconfidence in ultimately being as talented as if he were Caprican. He become arrogant, he believes the myth, and soon all he can see is the abstract nature of corporate espionage as an ethic he's willing to bend, in reality just one of a systemic series of compromises that enable the placement of Cylons so deeply into their society that even when Baltar is tasked with creating a test, it is simply next to impossible.

The cruelty of colonial life is even exemplified to Six in meeting Baltar's father, still in character as another human, she understands his grift, why he does it, and seeing that it creates a conflict for Baltar between being seen for who he became, and resentful that he cares for his ailing, abandoned father as the Aerilonian he once was, even once slipping into a parody of the Aerilonian, lower-class dialect to demonstrate to Six the bind he is found it. To the Cylons, monothiestic fundamentalists (this is important– the pilot showcases Dr. Baltar's atheism amidst the lapsed polytheists of the colonial society, attributing only to the gods what favors, not challenges, them), humanity has lost its way, spiraling into narcissistic self-doubt, rather than higher faith in the ideal of their species. Why shouldn't the Cylons perpetuate the cycle once more? Or why can't the extremism of this position (after all, the armistice was broken, more less, unprompted) be tempered in the name of solidarity with their creators? What does a synthesis look like here? Well, the series ending, I think, handles this question quite well, so I won't describe it here.

I will, however, say that the purpose of this struggle, this rediscovery of what their humanity means in existential terms--is it just survivalism, do they still feel their existence has a meaning they have yet to fully explore- is summarized in the first episode of the season immediately preceding the miniseries. Col. Tigh, the executive officer of the Galactica, says after nearly a week of sleepnessness, as every 33 minutes, the Cylons seem to catch up to the colonial fleet of remaining humans, and the Galactica fights them off until the rest of the civilian fleet can "jump" away to the next rendezvous point, says "All of this has me feeling more alive than I have in years". You come to understand what kind of society the humans left behind, for even those in the traditional power elite, who didn't even realize they were already dead. Baltar a willing participant in gambling with his society many times, even after the Cylon attack, attempting to cover his tracks; a President and military fleet leader willing to, more than once, take their society to the brink by threatening each other's lives; but once again, humans forced in every episode of this series to make existential decisions about what each outcome would say about their humanity.

In Radical Sacrifice, Terry Eagleton argues that, while a death itself can be meaningless,  death--sacrificial death, in particular- gives value to life as a construct. This assumes said participation is in something like a war not of attrition, or for the sake of another, or as is so often the case for justifying self-sacrifice, a higher ideal. One could argue that, in Baltar's decision t0 act as he had, there was meaning found in life for humanity, but that the Cylons had no right to intervene in this way; or, perhaps as Eagleton might, one could argue that the Cylons were created by man for this purpose, a guide on morality and the orderliness of what an existence is idealized to be, from machines capable of developing a sense of ideology, religious or otherwise. Eagleton's core thesis is that life is precious because it is temporary (everybody dies), so "is an extremist act of terror justifiable in an instance where humanity loses sight of that value, living in order to die, rather than dying to preserve humanity?" becomes the task of the viewer, answerable in the dialectic, perhaps.

The show, however, elects to moralize in a very specific way; this is all tragedy, this is all cosmic, moral failure, but fundamentally, again, asks one question, regarding whether or not the taker of a life has any right, posed before in Balzac's Old Goriot: “Who is to decide which is the grimmer sight: withered hearts, or empty skulls?”