2003 Colonials

In 1978, the remnants of the 12 Colonies were a diverse group who worshipped in different churches, came from various cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds, and spoke different languages.  There were saints and sinners, honorable leaders and crooked politicians, stand-up citizens, murderers and thieves; they basically represented all of humanity.  They were led by a warrior/priest named Adama who led through his convictions and his hard-won tactical knowledge, who drew his strength from his family and his faith.  They spoke and dressed in such a way that it was clear that they were human, yet not of Earth.

The Colonials of the 2003 Battlestar Galactica bore no resemblance to that.

Portrayed by noted actor Edward James Olmos, William “Husker” Adama is a broken-down officer nearing retirement, in command of a scrap-bound battlestar. He mourns the loss of his wife through divorce, his oldest son through his inattention, and a younger son to a flying accident.  He was marking time before standing down when the Cylons struck.  As the extent of the attack became known, he assumed overall command and fled to Ragnar Station to obtain supplies and bullets, the Galactica having been stripped in preparation of it becoming a museum.

William Adama is a sullen, morose man forced into command.  He is not afraid to manipulate others to obtain his goals; he uses the gods of his people, the Lords of Kobol, as tools, and begins his quest for supreme leadership of the Colonial survivors by lying about knowing the location of a mythical planet the ancient texts call “Earth”.

Son of William, Lee (callsign “Apollo”) bears his father much hatred, blaming him for pushing his younger brother, Zack, into becoming a fighter pilot when Zack did not have the talent or drive to do well, which ultimately cost Zack his life when he lost control of his Viper and crashed.  Sullen and morose, Lee becomes CAG of Galactica, but consistently defies his father’s orders and is never really punished for his insubordination.  He eventually is given command of the Pegasus, an advanced battlestar.

Second in command of Galactica, Saul Tigh is a sullen, morose drunkard who is kept from a dishonorable discharge through his friendship with William Adama.  Once a good officer, he is now marking time until the Galactica is decommissioned and he is retired.  He is viewed as something of a joke among the junior crew.

Her callsign “Starbuck”, Kara Thrace picks fights with her superior officers, ignores her orders, smokes cigars, and has indiscriminate sex.  She is sullen and morose, a hot-shot pilot, a top-notch riot-control officer, sniper, and may very well be a Cylon – or a messiah.

As portrayed by award-winning actor Mary McDonnell, Laura Roslin is a politician in the mold of Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton – a far-left-wing liberal Democrat.  Which, naturally, makes her every decision the right decision.  She butts heads early on with William Adama, who is just about as much a liberal-thinker as she is but since he’s military he wants a military dictatorship; they eventually compromise and run the fleet jointly.

Laura Roslin is not always sullen and morose; she is often melancholy, as she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time as the Cylon attack and is likely to die.  Unable to obtain scientific medical care, the only available doctor being a sullen and morose smoker of Marlboro cigarettes, she obtains and uses an illegal herb as treatment.  The treatment gives her hallucinations, which the local priestess sees as prophetic, and we toy with the idea that Laura Roslin might be Moses and lead her people out of Egypt.  She doesn’t, although she is miraculously cured of her cancer near the end of the first season.

The brief profiles of these few main characters reflect the nature of the Colonial society and the individuals we see in it.  There are few minorities represented (although the actress playing Sharon “Boomer” Valleri is Asian and Mr. Olmos is Hispanic).  The religion of the Colonials is polytheistic – they worship multiple gods called “The Lords of Kobol” (in 1978, the “Lords of Kobol” were the equivalent of saints).

These Colonials speak colloquial, 21st Century North American English, complete with slang.  They wear jackets and ties found in any department store.  Obviously, these Colonials are supposed to be the current society of North America, and they are portrayed as doltish, petty tyrants who deserve the genocidal come-uppance the Cylons deliver.

Watching the December 2003 miniseries that introduced this universe, many fans found themselves rooting for the Cylons.

Written by John Pickard