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Monday, March 23, 2009

Why I Like the BSG Character Gaius Baltar

Since the Battlestar Galactica finale on 20. March, I have read a number of blogs where fans complained about the final hour of the episode. I think some aspects were hastily brought to a conclusion, and other plots were left unanswered. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the 3-hour finale.

From beginning to end, this show was about the characters. While I enjoyed most of the characters, my favorite is Gaius Baltar (wonderfully acted by James Callis, I might add). Here's why:

Baltar is an intelligent, egotistical, selfish man who is responsible for the destruction of Caprica. He allowed the Cylon Caprica Six access to the planet's defense mainframe, and she used it to let the Cylon sneak attack annihilate the colonies. Right there, the man is a traitor to humanity ... because he is selfish.

And yet, God uses him to unveil and unfold His plan to save both the humans and the Cylons from extinction. This is why I really like his character, because he is so much like many of the men and women that God used in the Bible to save humanity. People like Jacob and Samson come to mind, who when you read about their exploits in the Bible you scratch your head wondering why on Earth is God using people with such horrible personality traits, faults, and down-right sinful behavior.

Baltar is not perfect. He doesn't try to be perfect. Even though he thinks He is doing God's will, he still goes around using circumstances to further his own self-interests. He is like me and every other sinner on this planet. We often tend to hide those aspects of our nature from other people; Baltar didn't, and he was the most despised human in the Colonial fleet because of it.

As the seasons wore on, I kept cheering for Baltar to finally get it. Slowly he did, but he never got it perfectly nor did he act like a pious saint. He remained and acted like a fallen sinner. Again, he acted like all the saints in the Bible.

Finally, when ,,Daybreak" began, he had his last chance. Lee Adama challenged him to name one time when he did something that was not in his own self-interest. Baltar admitted that he could think of no instance. And then when he had a chance to join the mission under Adm. Adama, he chose to stay with the fleet ... until at the last moment he changed his mind. This action put him in the right place and the right time that God had been preparing him for from the very first episode. He was there to save humanity and the Cylons by rescuing the little girl, Hera.

I often wondered if BSG was really about the fall and redemption of Gaius Baltar, much like Babylon 5 was about the fall and redemption of Londo Mollari. It seems to me that Baltar is one of the main figures in the whole BSG storyline; I think it really was all about his fall and redemption, for he is the Everyman. If God can redeem Baltar and use him for His plan, then God can redeem me and everyone else, too. That is really what the Bible's salvation history is all about: God redeeming us and using us in His plan; Jesus Christ came to make it so.

The best part of the finale is one of the last scenes with Baltar and Caprica Six. He tells her that he's found a nice plot of land on Earth that looks suitable for farming. ,,You know, I know about farming" he tells her. And then he breaks down because his whole life had been one of denying his past, despising his father who was an overbearing father and farmer, so much so that Baltar studied science and changed his accent so no one would know his roots. But at the end, he has come full circle. He can embrace his past, his father, his despised roots, and he realizes that he can stop being a scientist and enjoy being a farmer. Why? Because God redeemed him and showed him that he has value. God did not give up on him when everyone else did. God loved him when everyone else despised and hated him.

Okay, BSG wasn't the greatest at portraying such ideas in pure Christian language (and I wouldn't expect it to because it is science fiction, not Biblical theology), but enough gospel handels snuck through so that any Christian could read into the plot and see salvation being played out upon the least deserving. And just like Baltar, God so loved us and sent His only Son to suffer, die, and rise again for us so that we would have peace with Him forever.


Brandon said...

Interesting commentary. Thanks

Dr. Clandestino said...

that´s the best analysis of gaius´ character and trajectory that i found on the net, congratulations.

from a cleric to another, you hit the bullseye!

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