In the updated Battlestar Galactica series, characters die. A lot. The series starts off with the extermination of much of the human race, and the opening of nearly every episode shows the dwindling population count. Not content to wait for their enemies to kill them off, numerous characters have decided to do the deed themselves.
The shocker for this new half-season’s first episode was the sudden suicide of a long-standing supporting character. Having at last reached their goal of finding a planet they believed to be the mythical Earth only to find it an uninhabitable, nuked-out wasteland, the ragtag fleet of survivors experience an increase in suicides, attempted suicides, and self-destructive behavior, most of which happens off screen among the faceless populace who exist only as numbers.
But let’s look at the show’s five most important suicides, and see if you can spot the pattern among them. (It’s something all these characters have in common besides their self-terminating inclinations.)
5. Boomer + Roslin = Not Dead Yet
We start off this list with a tie because they each only get half a suicide here by merit of the fact that, as of this writing, they’re not dead yet.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Sharon ‘Boomer’ Valerii embarked upon what is professionally known as a parasuicide, a suicide attempt which does not end in death. Distraught over the growing realization that she was not a human being as she had believed but was actually a Cylon sleeper agent living as a human lead to growing depression. She makes not one, not two, but three suicide attempts. She can’t bring herself to do it the first time. Dr. Gaius Baltar interferes the second time – for whatever that’s worth because he then heartily condoned her suicidal inclinations. Finally she shoots herself, but her Cylon programming kicks in to keep her from making the wound fatal.
Colonial President Laura Roslin, on the other hand, is attempting passive suicide, suicide by deliberately not doing something with the intent that this inaction will kill you. She doesn’t want to do. She just doesn’t like feeling ill from her cancer treatment and would rather embrace death comfortably than ridden with nausea.
Lieutenant Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace, tough as nails but cute as a button, is a reckless, insubordinate, and sometimes burnt out fighter pilot who calmly flies into a galactic storm (“Maelstrom”), apparently getting herself and her Viper (her fighter ship) blown up in the process as she pursues her ‘destiny’ in an attempt to find Earth. Weeks later, she inexplicably returns from the dead and from Earth, saying she has been there and can lead the fleet there. On Earth, while everyone else mopes about little things like how the entire planet is uninhabitable, Kara tracks a Colonial transmitter signal until she finds its source: a crashed Viper which holds a corpse that appears to be her own.
The original Kara Thrace looks dead, dead, dead, and this current Kara doesn’t know what the frak she is. Had taking her own life been Kara’s specific intent, this one would have easily ranked as number one due to the character’s importance, the spectacular nature of her demise, and the media attention it garnered at the time.
3. Gina Inviere
Cylons of the Number Six model have gone by many names. A Six known as Gina Inviere, having suffered repeated rape and torture while a prisoner aboard Pegasus (the humans’ next-to-last remaining Battlestar warship), detonates a nuclear device which destroys her, takes out several ships from the human fleet, and signals the location of the current human settlement to the Cylons.
This entry on the list tops all other suicide bombings, suicide missions, and various suicidal actions. No matter how dead a Cylon looks, though, it’s always possible for some unknown Cylon resurrection ship lurking in the neighborhood to bring you back. Besides, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of Sixes to spare.
Cally studies to be a dentist. Cally doesn’t get to be a dentist because Cylon wipe out most of the human race and now she’s an air maintenance Specialist on Galactica. (Back then, she didn’t even have a last name.) Cally gets pregnant. Cally gets somebody who’s not the baby’s father to marry her, thinking he is the baby’s father. Cally thinks her husband is cheating on her with a woman named Tory, but finds out instead that her husband and Tory are both Cylons, so guess what? Cally decides to off herself and her kid. (Back when the kid seemed to be half-Cylon, this made slightly more sense.) Tory saves the child whom she believes to be a human-Cylon hybrid, but blasts Cally out into space.
Despite her clearly suicidal resolve in preparing to blast herself out into space, in this case with in-family murder-suicide as her goal, Cally misses the number one spot because she didn’t actually finish the deed herself.
So Boomer finds out she has always been a Cylon, Xena once fleetingly makes Roslin wonder if she might be a Cylon, Kara seems to be a Cylon replacement for her own dead self, Gina’s willing to die to get back at humans who brutalized her after they exposed her as a Cylon, and Cally found out she’d married a Cylon. Number one on the list, however, has nothing to do with finding out anybody’s a Cylon. It’s about finding out that Earth sucked.
In the new semi-season’s first episode (“Sometimes a Great Notion”), Galactica crew multi-tasker Anastasia ‘Dee’ Dualla doesn’t seem to react as severely to what a disappointment Earth turns out to be. While other people are off sulking, drinking, or picking fights, she goes on a date with Lee Adama. After the date, she’s singing to herself and floating in the moment of how nice it all was. When another character says something about the crummy state of things, she tells him not to take this moment away from her. She puts some things away in her locker, pulls out a gun, and blows her brains out.
It came as a surprise, all right, especially when some of the commercials had been teasing us with the possibility that she might be the final Cylon, but no. As soon as she was dead, it was revealed to be someone else, so barring whatever brought Starbuck back working on her too, which seems unlikely. She’s just dead. At least the actress still has work as a supporting character’s girlfriend if Reaper ever comes back from its prolonged hiatus.
Incidentallly, Adama’s attempt to goad Saul Tigh into shooting him in the same episode as Dualla’s death doesn’t make the cut here because he wasn’t going to act as his own triggerman. Even Laura Roslyn’s passive attempt is about what she chooses to do or not do for herself.
So there you have it, the top five suicides in the current Battlestar Galactica series, and have you noticed what all six women (remember, entry number five was two different women) have in common? If you don’t, reread my previous sentence to see which word in it leaps out at you, a word so nice I said it twice.
Feeling empowered yet?
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