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The Use of the Pentagon in Battlestar Galactica
Written by Jim Stevenson   
Tuesday, 09 January 2007

Jim Stevenson (aka 137th Gebirg) wrote an article on the use of the Pentagon in the Battlestar Galactica 2003 series (as well as in the orginal Battlestar Galactica 1978 series). The number 5 seems to be a recurring number throughout the series. Read his great analysis. We can only guess where this all leads to.

It’s been a while since I’ve commented on the symbolism within Battlestar Galactica 2003, and with the most recent Season 3 episode, “The Eye of Jupiter” under our belts, I figured it was time to write up a new essay.

For those who remember the Original Battlestar Galactica Series, you may recall a certain curious symbol painted on the Cylon Raiders: Two green concentric pentagons emblazoned on each wing.  Pictures here of original studio filming model (from Cylon.org):

Cylon Raider       Cylon Raider

 

Pentagon

This symbol seems to have been taken and re-used for the new series Raiders, also painted on the wing (render from Zoic):

Pentagon

Now, one would think that this was just some simple throw-away bit of decoration, as we haven’t seen any other instances of pentagon-shaped decoration elsewhere in the show. This begs the question, is there something more significant to this innocuous piece of heraldry?

It has been postulated that this is simply a symbol of the Cylon, used in much the same way as the ubiquitous symbol of the Original Series (possessing considerable symbolism of its own, originating from the Indian sub-continent):

Pentagon

Or the Phoenix motif of the New Series:

Pentagon

I personally think there’s more to it than just a passing in-joke or homage to TOS, particularly after the final episode of Season 3.0.

The Pentagon is a symbol that, in itself, is steeped in alchemical and mystical symbolism throughout the ages. We are all familiar with the “Four Elements” of the old science of alchemy – Earth, Air, Fire and Water. But there is a “Fifth Element”, also referred to as “Fifth Essence” or “Quintessence”. There have been different interpretations of this Quintessence, from various sources:

The classical definition of Quintessence is referring to the "Aether", or the space between the planets which holds no properties of the first four elements.

The Wicca believe that the single unifying force between the other elements is this fifth essence and is the spirit energy and soul of the Earth.

Masonic tradition mentions that humanity itself is the fifth element, the embodiment and unification of all four elements, balanced in perfect harmony.

Modern science states that Quintessence is the hypothetical form of dark energy that exists between stars and galaxies, used to explain how the universe is expanding - a modern form of "Aether". Strange how we revert to our "roots" on occasion, isn't it?

This is all well and good, but what does it mean in the universe of Battlestar Galactica? Assuming that there are some writers on the staff that are really doing their homework (I believe this to be the case based on other things I’ve seen in the show), there is definitely some form of associative symbolism going on here.

Not counting the Raiders, Basestars and Hybrids, we've only seen 7 humanoid Cylons:

  • Number 2: "Brother" Cavil (Dean Stockwell)
  • Number 3: D'Anna Biers (Lucy Lawless)
  • Number 5: Aaron Doral (Matthew Bennett)
  • Number 6: Shelly Godfrey; Gina; Natasi; Caprica (Tricia Helfer)
  • Number 8: Sharon Valerii; Boomer; Athena (Grace Park)
  • Unknown Number: Leoben Connoy (Callum Keith Rennie)
  • Unknown Number: Simon (Rick Worthy)

There have been references to the "Final Five", whom apparently nobody has seen and "are not talked about", according to Caprica-Six. Except one. D'Anna Biers, or "Number 3", is convinced that she has seen the Five during her downloads, dressed in hooded white robes, bathed in light, not unlike the beings of the "Ship of Lights" from the Original Series. Coincidence? Unlikely. D'Anna has even gone so far as having the Centurions intentionally shoot her dead so that, during her "download", she may get closer to the Five and attain a god-like state of being. This is in stark contrast with "Number 2" (Cavil)'s downloading experience, where he claims to feel like he's getting a "hot poker" drilled into his skull and that it's "not worth it" to download.

Here's a picture of one of the beings from the TOS Ship of Lights:

Pentagon

And here are the “Final Five”, as witnessed by D’Anna during her “download”, in what appears to be the same setting that Baltar and Six envisioned on Kobol, in the old opera house, identically clothed:

Pentagon

You may remember from my previous essay (Anachronistic Earth-Like Objects in Battlestar Galactica 2003), that I believe a picture of the Ship of Lights can be seen hanging on the wall in the lobby of the exact same opera house; a possible allusion to what lies beyond:

Pentagon

Originally, I would have considered shrugging this off as coincidence, but now I'm not too sure.

How does this all tie into Colonial mythology? Chief Tyrol, in "The Eye of Jupiter" is drawn to "The Temple of the Five". It is not certain who these "Five" are, or what place they have in the Colonial Pantheon. Are they the five remaining Lords of Kobol who oversaw the initial exodus from Kobol to the Colonies? Are they the remaining five Lords of Kobol who survived the war started by the one Lord of Kobol who felt that he/she/it should be elevated above all the other gods? Are they Human? Are they Cylon? Both? Neither? Uncertain. One thing is becoming certain to me, is that these "Five" may still exist and may also be responsible for the Cylons' evolution into sentient humanoids.

What is also certain is the continued use of the symbolism of the Pentagon in this newly re-discovered chamber, with vaulted ceilings and filled with the symbolism of "The Five", including strategically placed pillars, all shaped in the form of, yes, a pentagon, when viewed from the top:

Pentagon

It is amazing to me that there is now this apparent direct convergence between the faiths of these two warring cultures. Not only do I not think this is a passing similarity, I now feel that the belief system of the Cylons and the historical/mythological scriptures of the Colonies are inexorably linked, much to the eventual chagrin of both sides, once they figure this out for themselves. It will be fascinating to see how the Humans and the Cylons react when they realize they are not as dissimilar as they once thought. This may also give a clue to what lies at their shared destination of Earth.

An interesting side note to mention here is the "starburst" pattern in the temple - the "Eye of Jupiter" itself, etched in the central pillar of the temple. Dorian Thompson, a poster on TrekBBS in the Battlestar Galactica forum, cited another striking tie between the latest episode and an earlier one. This image:

Pentagon

Is stylistically identical to the image painted on Kara Thrace’s apartment wall:

Pentagon

…with a yellow outlying corona, orange second level, followed by a blue layer and finally a yellow core. Kara’s version seems to also have a tiny little stylized Caprica symbol in the middle, the symbol of her home colony:

Pentagon

She seems to also have nonsensical writings written all over her walls, not unlike the odd "poetry" being uttered by the Cylon Hybrid, who initially made mention of both the Eye of Jupiter and the actions of a "Chosen One".  Could Starbuck be that "chosen one?" Did Starbuck at one point dabble with Chamalla Extract and act upon her visions? She seemed thoroughly unfazed by the fact that all this graffiti was scrawled all over the place. One can only assume that she put it there herself. It has also been shown that she adheres to the scriptures and the sacraments of her faith and takes the Colonial belief system VERY seriously. No doubt, she will be playing a pivotal role in the future of the series as they come near the end of their journey.

Hopefully, many of these questions will be answered as Season 3.5 gets rolling. I love finding these hidden messages, puzzles and meanings within them and I am happy to see that the writers are continuing to give us these little noodle-scratchers. It only adds to the rich tapestry that has evolved since the show's humble beginnings.

Respectfully Submitted,

Jim Stevenson (137th Gebirg)

Read further: Rank Insignia and Symbolism Analysis for Battlestar Galactica 2003: Update

 
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