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BSG's 'The Hub': Why we're here

Tonight’s episode of Battlestar Galactica was incredible, layered thick in its rich depths of explorations of what it means to be human: the effects of the choices we make, the reality that we are all laid bare by our sins and leveled to the same playing field when it comes to God, the struggle between following orders (or the way of self-preservation) and doing what is right—and that sometimes the heart knows what is right while other times we must be taught or reminded. And maybe I’m just getting old, but there’s also the fact that this episode rests on one of the best love stories I’ve seen in quite some time.

And the part of this episode that resonated with me the most had to do with what it means to love—what it looks like to love those we care about as well as what it looks like to love one’s enemy. In that vein, tonight’s episode could very well have been titled “Why we are here” (a question raised by one of the Eights in the beginning of the episode) instead of “The Hub”—though, when I think about it, perhaps the terms do echo one another.

What it looks like to love plays out most powerfully in the scenes surrounding President Laura Roslin, who along with a cache of human pilots, Gaius Baltar and the rebel Cylons is along for the ride as the Hybrid jumps their Basestar through space towards the Resurrection Ship, aka The Hub (the place from which all Cylons who are killed can resurrect by having their consciousnesses downloaded into new bodies). As Roslin struggles to maintain the mission of finding a Cylon model on the Resurrection Ship who can tell them who the Final Five Cylons are (who are also living undiscovered among the humans), she’s also facing her own moral crossroads. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)

As the ship jumps, Roslin has visions in which Elosha (her former spiritual advisor who was killed on Kobol) leads her to a room in an empty Galactica in which Roslin sees herself dying from her cancer with Admiral Bill Adama at her bedside. She jumps back and forth between the present and these visions throughout the episode. Near the end of the episode, however, Roslin faces a dilemma: she hears the darkest confession from a critically wounded Baltar (whose weak, bent nature is again revealed in this episode) about his unwitting role in the Cylon’s attempt of humanity’s genocide. Roslin shakes with anger and disgust at the confession. She removes the bandage from his wound and decides to let him bleed to death instead of helping him, and turns away from Baltar as he pleads with her to not let him die.

Then the Hybrid jumps the ship again and Roslin’s vision continues. She finds herself back on the Galactica once again with Elosha, watching Admiral Adama sit beside her dying body.

Elosha gazes at Roslin’s unconscious and dying body on the bed as she says, “I’m not saying Baltar’s done more good in the universe than harm. He hasn’t. The thing is, the harder it is to recognize someone’s right to draw breath, the more crucial it is. If humanity is going to prove itself worthy of surviving, it can’t do it on a case-by-case basis. A bad man feels his death just as keenly as a good man.”

Roslin walks over to the bed beside Elosha. “What do you want from me here?”

The two watch Adama looks down at the Laura in the bed. He says softly, “Laura.”

Elosha looks over at Roslin and says simply, “Just love someone.”

Roslin looks thoughtfully at the scene before her and says, “Love. Huh.”

She watches the heart monitor go flat and Adama lean down to kiss her lips and then sit at her body’s side. “You go,” he says, looking at her body. “You go to your rest now. I’m not gonna be selfish anymore. You go. Rest.”

He takes off his ring and puts it on her finger and holds her hand. Laura stands and gazes at him, thoughtful.

Elosha’s answer to Roslin’s question (which could very well have been Why am I here) takes Roslin by surprise. As she watches Adama’s love for her play out, it seems as if she comprehends what it means to be loved—and that makes a difference in her real world. Instead of letting a man whom she hates and despises die, she works to save his life. And in many ways, that act frees her to later confess her own love for the first time to Adama.

This thread resonates with me because it not only answers the question the Eight believes is most important at the beginning of the episode but it also gets to the heart of why we are here in this life of ours. Jesus answered that quite clearly: Love God and love others. We are made to love. It is the beginning and the end and the middle of who we are because we were created in the image of Love itself. And Jesus clearly redefines that love to include not only those who we consider like us but also those who we consider enemies.

And I adore how in her final vision, Roslin is chided by Elosha for expecting more out of her single act of love for her enemy. Roslin tells Elosha that she feels lied to, that she thought she was “earning humanity’s right to survive.” Instead, Baltar lives but she still doesn’t know who the Final Five are or the way to earth.

“It’s not a vending machine,” Elosha tells her gently. “You don’t save a life, and then cue the celestial trumpets—here’s the way to Earth.”

This gets at the root of love. It is an unselfish act, one that expects nothing in return. One that loves because we are first loved. And that love we're loved with changes lives. For me, a favorite image of God’s love reveals it as like that of the father of the prodigal son rushing to meet his longed-for boy while he was yet a long way down the road. An unbridled child running to a love-brimmed father. A swirl of strong arms enveloping abandoned joy. Love. Acceptance. Right-ness. Oh-so-indescribable and abounding grace. We are new and free and loved beyond measure. When we embrace and trust the Message—that Jesus fixed it all, that he lives in us, that we are deeply rooted in him, that we live him (Col. 2)—we “throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise” (Romans 5:1-3). That reality doesn’t change when we mess up. Oh yes, we must recognize and confess that we’ve crashed and burned and turn around and go back to those arms (“take all those little limping steps back,” as Elosha puts it). And we will do that often—but there’s no need to hesitate to run to those arms that are always waiting, eager and loving. That is where we live now. That is the way it works in the Kingdom. (I can’t help but think how different this is from Baltar’s increasingly twisted version of God’s love. While his rhetoric reflects that of forgiveness, his theology actually seems to equate acts of sin as approved by if not acts of God himself. See here for more on that.)

And this episode plays out beautifully how the power of being loved enables us to love—both those around us whom we consider friends as well as those we consider enemies. The kind of love we are loved with is uncontainable. It must spill over. Sometimes, it comes with gushing feelings of affection and care. But sometimes it is simply an act of what is best for another, even an enemy.

Kudos to BSG. Well done.

(Images: SciFi Channel) bsgctgy


Anonymous said…
Hi Carmie--
I've started watching BG becuase of your blog and I am having the best time. I'm starting at the beginning on CDS. The plots seems to all turn on hwrenching Sophie's Choice sort of moral dilemmas that really fillet the characters' souls. The stories have the vividness, the parable power, of Bible stories. Great viewing, but so emotionally intense that if I watch them at night I don't sleep well.
Thanks for this post about the latest, and thanks for turning me, who never watches TV and doesn't have cable, on to the series.
xox, Susie
Carmen Andres said…
i like your thoughts about the series having parable power - i agree. there are episodes (like this one) that make me almost gasp aloud at their moments of clarity and truth. i must admit, however, it makes me really nervous about where they are going - will they live up to all they've put in play? will they leave us with great mystery (as it is in life) or will they explain it all away? we'll have to wait and see, arg.