Battlestar Galactica (1978): Tylium

An Introduction to the series:

There have been three major series in the Battlestar Galactica (BSG) universe. The original series debuted in 1978, followed by a continuing series in 1980 and a reimagined series in 2004. For those of you who do not follow Battlestar Galactica, the series does not take place on Earth. The humans in the series inhabit the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, which are twelve different planets. At the beginning of both original and the reimagined the colonies are attacked and destroyed by the mortal enemy of the humans, a species of artificial life-forms known as Cylons. The series follows the survivors of this attack, which are protected by the military ship, Battlestar Galactica. The goal of the survivors is to outrun the Cylons and eventually settle on a new world. The main fuel source for these ships as they travel through space is “tylium”, which is a substance that is mined and refined into fuel. Remember, there are spoilers in these posts.

Battlestar Galactic (1978) Episode: Saga of the Star World-parts 2 and 3—

These episodes take place immediately after the Cylon attack on the human home worlds. Cdr. Adama gathers as many survivors as he can to protect them. The convoy needs to gather more food and fuel. The stop at a nearby planet, Carillon, where they think they will go undetected by the Cylons.

The convoy makes it to Carillon and everyone travels to the planet’s surface. Carillon seems too good to be true. The planet has more than enough food for the refugees and there is a fully functioning casino for their pleasure. Carillon also has the largest tylium mining facility in the galaxy. Starships use tylium as fuel.

Eventually Adama discovers that the native population of Carillon, the Ovions, mines the tylium on Carillon exclusively for the Cylons in exchange for their continued survival. The casino serves as a distraction for the humans from the incoming Cylons.

Eventually the Battlestar Galactica crew catches on to the plan of the Ovions and Cylons and is able to save themselves. They get into a firefight and the tylium mine is ignited. Tylium is so volatile that the ignited tylium triggers a massive explosion and destroys the planet, taking the pursuing cylons with it.

This episode is an example of a negative energy narrative. It is unclear what the motivations of each side are so the narrative could be structured in one of two forms. First, the stronger force, the Cylons, is threatening a weaker force, the Ovions, with their extinction unless they provide fuel to the Cylons. The Cylons are also manipulating the Ovions to destroy the humans. Second, the Cylons could have promised the humans as a food source for the Ovions (Ovions were seen feeding humans to their larvae in the episode) in exchange for the Ovions providing a fuel source for the Cylons. In this case the Cylons and the Ovions combine to be the stronger force and the humans are the weaker force. The Cylons also know that the humans need fuel in order to continue to flee from them, so they seek to control that resource and lead the humans into a trap.

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