Okay, if you’re not caught up on your BSG, stop reading now! I’ll pause for a moment in case your eyes are like mine and tend to skip ahead for a few words anyway…. So, for those of you who have seen the mid season finale, there is a rumor swirling around about the Battlestar Galactica series finale, which boils down to the idea that the radioactive wasteland the cast was bitterly strolling around on was not in fact Earth, i.e. the ball of rock you and I live in, but a different planet that got smashed up in an earlier war. Humans left this Earth Mark I to settle on Earth Mark II, which is as yet unseen in Battlestar, and which is the rock we live on, you and I. Upon hearing this, I just had to get my nerd on.
Unless the BSG writers have decided to do a Star Trek and shred their own continuity, and completely throw science out the window (both of which they’ve been pretty careful not to do so far), I think we can safely say the rumor is bogus because:
a) at the end of the third season, the camera pulls out from the fleet-on-fleet space battle action and zooms in on a ravaged planet with the familiar outlines of Earth’s continents. For the Second Earth theory to hold up, either this planet is Earth Mark II (in which case, why did it look like it had suffered the kind of damage seen on the ground of the putative Earth Mark I), or it’s Earth Mark I (in which case we’re saying that our planet, the putative Mark II, was molded to match the exact continental patterns of the Mark I. Someone’s been reading too much Douglas Adams perhaps? In any case, the kind of civilization that could alter one planet’s continents to look like another’s should have no problem cleaning up even a planet’s worth of pesky radioactive fallout, so why bother moving?)
b) The Earth found by the Colonial-Cylon Alliance is clearly in our neck of the galactic woods, as evidenced by the deliberate insertion of the Orion constellation into the starfield of an earlier episode. Move very far from our location in space, and the geometric arrangement that creates this constellation is destroyed. We also know that habitable planets are few and far between in the Galactica Universe: in all their travels, the rag-tag fleet has only met three. Kobol was Earth-like enough, but New Caprica and the Algae Planet were marginal and really marginal respectively. This makes it unlikely that a planet on which to establish an Earth Mark II could be found right next door to an Earth Mark I, galactically speaking, even if you allow for terraforming.
c) The moon. The Earth seen at the end of season four has a moon that looks just like ours, certainly in terms of size. The moon is even pointed out by characters, so it’s not depicted by accident. Potentially, our moon could be even harder to duplicate than the continents–Earth’s moon is something of a unique feature. No other planet in our solar system has a moon that is so large in proportion to its parent planet. Our moon was formed as the result of a collision with a Mars-sized planetoid billions of years ago. It’s unlikely that another Earth-like planet in another solar system would have a moon that looks just the same size as ours.
d) The landing site of the colonials looks an awful like New York Harbor might after a nuclear war, as the camera looks out from near where the Brooklyn Promenade is today towards downtown Manhattan, complete with remnants of the Brooklyn Bridge. Since many disaster movies have used this location as a backdrop, I can’t think this is coincidence.
So, to the Second Earth theorists, I summon forth every ounce of my nerdhood, lo, from the uttermost reaches of my soul, and I say to you (and you will understand): Worst. Rumor. Ever.
In the interest of fair play, let me put out my theory for ridicule. Based purely on the on-screen action (I’m as adverse to spoilers as anyone), my guess is that sometime in our future, on this Earth, there’s an apocalypse. Survivors flee, not to an unseen Earth II, but to Kobol. Then there’s another apocalypse on Kobol (which relates to my idea that the colonials are themselves descended from rebellious Cylon-style entities), which in turn forces the colonials the settle the Colonies. Whereupon they get hit with yet another apocalypse, which is where the show comes in. This fits in nicely with the Cylon mantra of “All of this has happened before.”