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Ellen Tigh

From Battlestar Wiki, the free, open content Battlestar Galactica encyclopedia and episode guide
Revision as of 10:34, 24 January 2006 by Undc23 (talk | contribs) (Wallace Gray link)
Ellen Tigh
[[Image:200px|200px|Ellen Tigh]]

Name

{{{name}}}
Age 40s
Colony
Birth place {{{birthplace}}}
Birth Name Ellen ?
Birth Date {{{birthdate}}}
Callsign
Nickname {{{nickname}}}
Introduced [[{{{seen}}}]]
Death
Parents
Siblings
Children None
Marital Status Married to Saul Tigh
Family Tree View
Role Civilian
Rank
Serial Number {{{serial}}}
Portrayed by Kate Vernon
Ellen Tigh is a Cylon
Ellen Tigh is a Final Five Cylon
Ellen Tigh is a Human/Cylon Hybrid
Ellen Tigh is an Original Series Cylon
Additional Information
[[Image:|200px|Ellen Tigh]]


Ellen Tigh is a man-hungry predator, and the reason, according to William Adama, that Saul Tigh took to drinking. While her husband was away from home, she apparently "went through half the (Colonial) fleet" in her sexual promiscuity.

Estranged from her husband, Ellen Tigh claims to have been on Picon at the time of the Cylon attack, on her way back home for a reunion with her husband. When the airport was hit in the attack, she claims an anonymous hero found her unconscious body and got her on to one of the last transports out, where she had been unconscious aboard the Rising Star for some three weeks prior to Adama finding her.

Following her reunion with her husband, Tigh claims she wants to make a fresh start (Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down), but no sooner as Saul (still hopelessly in love with her) agrees, Tigh influences him back to drinking heavily and begins flirting openly with other men. Her first target was an unwilling Lee Adama, with whom she tries to engage in a game of footsie under the table while she and her husband have dinner with Lee, his father and Laura Roslin. Later she flirts with Gaius Baltar with greater effect - annoying her husband in the process.

Not only are her claims of being rescue considered suspect - no one on the Rising Star can remember treating her through her long weeks of unconsciousness - Tigh takes an unnatural interest in Adama's plans to lead the fleet to Earth, almost badgering him into trying to reveal how long the journey will take. Her actions seem to support Adama's precaution of having Baltar scan Tigh's blood sample to see if she is a Cylon (unbeknownst to Saul).

While Tigh's mischief-making could be put down to her nature, and so hidden desire to drive a wedge between her husband and Adama, she does appear to be human, according to Baltar's tests, and this has quieted Adama's suspicion. However, unbeknownst to all, Dr. Baltar has sabotaged his own Cylon detection efforts; fearing that exposing a Cylon agent would make himself a target for assassination, Dr. Baltar now lets everyone "pass" the Cylon test, regardless of the test's true result. Tigh's status as a human or Cylon remains an open question, but as Commander Adama pointed out, "Cylon or not, she's nothing but trouble"...

Involvement with Tom Zarek

During Colonial Day, Tigh states her belief that terrorist-turned-politician Tom Zarek is "the future", and greets him warmly over her husband's objections. Later on in the next day, after Wallace Gray's poor showing at the Quorum, Zarek pours her a drink.

Tigh at the bar aboard the Rising Star where she meets with Tom Zarek in Colonial Day.
Tigh: So you worried about Wallace Gray? I hear he's ahead in the vote count.
Zarek: Whatever the people want is fine by me.
Tigh: Everyone has an agenda. I know I do.
Zarek: And what would that be?
Tigh: Same as yours, Tom. Me, myself, and... ooh. I.
Zarek: You are... clearly a well connected, well informed woman.
Tigh: Wife of the XO, for whatever that's worth.
Zarek: Ah. Quite a bit. Now, and in the future.
Tigh: That's what I'm interested in, Tom. It's my place, and my... husband's place in the future.
Zarek: Okay. I'm looking for a friend of mine. His name is Valence.

Valence is found dead immediately thereafter. Saul Tigh was among the only individuals privy to the location he was being held. The following evening, at Gaius Baltar's victory celebration, Zarek slyly comments to Roslin "Ah, one thing you should know. I didn't kill Valence. I wonder who did?" Shortly thereafter, Tigh dances with her husband and tells him:

Tigh: I have a surprise for you.
Saul: Uh-oh. Should I be worried?
Tigh: Not unless you consider a day in a luxury suite aboard the Rising Star something to be worried about.
Saul: How did you swing that?
Tigh: I have my ways. What you need to do is to figure out a way to get slave-driving Bill to give you the day off. And while we're there, you might want to talk to a few people about... your future.
Saul: What?
Tigh: Later, my love. It can all wait until later.

She then embraces her husband and locks eyes with Zarek, seated across the room.

The general subtext of these scenes is not difficult to determine: Ellen Tigh furnished Zarek with the information he needed to arrange Valence's death (or as Zarek implies, arranged it herself) in return for favors with Zarek's cronies. More difficult to determine is what the nature of these was intended to be. Two days later, Adama is shot at by the Humano-Cylon infiltrator known as Sharon Valerii and the entire the Fleet is thrown into chaos (Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part II). Saul becomes the acting commander of Galactica.

Although this turn of events is certainly beneficial to Ellen from her own standpoint, and possibly even to Zarek as it gives him another opportunity to vocally oppose an unpopular government, it is difficult to imagine Zarek having anything to do with it, given the identity of Adama's would-be assassin. If, however, Ellen Tigh is indeed a Cylon agent, she could easily have had the means to predict this, if not as clear a motive.

Martial Law

After Adama's attempted assassination, Tigh encourages (some viewers may say "nags") her husband to take extreme measures to assert his authority, sometimes in contrast to the more reasoned approaches he was proposing. While Saul seems to shy away from having authority, Tigh is intoxicated by the idea. Given Zarek's known views, Ellen Tigh may be influencing her husband's rule into a strong-handed military dictatorship in order to give Zarek the perfect opportunity to raise support among the fleet. Ellen convinces Saul to let the Quorum of Twelve witness the delusional Roslin, who she saw earlier in poor state. But, thanks to a smuggled Chamalla dose, Roslin shows her resolve and power, which invigorates the Quorum, although it appears to throw off any plans that Zarek had in the political presidential game. Frustrated of the civilian government's popularity, Saul Tigh later declares martial law to subdue protests by other Colonial government members on Roslin's arrest, particularly by the Quorum of Twelve (Fragged). Tigh would continue to spur on Saul to ill-advised behavior. Col. Tigh began to relent and consider reconciliation with the captains of other ships in the Fleet, but Tigh goaded him into advocating "stern measures" instead, which eventually led Col. Tigh to try to forcibly re-take supplies from unwilling ships, leading to the incident on the Gideon that left four people dead. Soon after, Apollo escaped with President Laura Roslin from the brig, and fled in a Raptor. Col. Tigh could not bring himself to fire on Commander Adama's son, and was receiving a scolding from Tigh in his quarters when the recently awakened Commander Adama arrived. Ellen slinked away, her hand gripping the door frame fiercely in frustration of her turn of fortune as she leaves (Resistance).

Assassination Attempt

Lt. Joe "Hammerhead" Palladino later attempted to exact revenge on Col. Tigh for the Gideon incident, forcing his way into Tigh's quarters and tying up Ellen, then holding Saul at gunpoint. However, Col. Tigh was able to difuse the situation (Final Cut).

Unanswered Questions

  • Did Tigh arrange for Valence's death herself, or just provide his location to a third party?
  • What favors did she receive in return? What did she intend Saul to discuss on the Rising Star, and with whom?
    • Does her choice of a "getaway spot" have anything to do with her mysterious appearance aboard that ship four weeks earlier?
  • How surprised was she by Zarek's defeat? Is her association with him still advantageous to her?
  • Is Ellen Tigh a Cylon operative? (This would stretch believability, according to Ron D. Moore. See the speculated infiltrators section of the Humano-Cylon article for more.)
    • If not, how does the attempt on Adama's life impact her plans?
    • If so, what would be her motive for advancing her husband's position?
      • Is there evidence for cooperation between Zarek's people and the Cylons, or manipulation of one by the other?
      • Perhaps she is attempting to create internal strife by playing hardliners such as Saul and Zarek against one another.
      • When Col. Tigh was elevated to the position of sole commander, as per Ellen's wishes, the Fleet degenerated into self-destructive chaos because of the poor command decisions he made. Many of these decisions were made as a result of Ellen's manipulations. Even when things turned horribly violent and even Col. Tigh wanted to stop the downward spiral, Ellen couldn’t seem to care less and just continued with her manipulations. Perhaps spreading chaos was her true intention all along.

Cinematic Trivia

Jennifer Birchfield-Eick as Ellen Tigh in the Mini-Series.

In the DVD commentary for the Mini-Series, it is revealed that Ellen was originally portrayed in picture form only by executive producer David Eick's wife, Jennifer. The picture was later replicated for the series with Kate Vernon taking the place of Mrs. Eick and the scene reshot, so Saul Tigh is seen burning a picture of Vernon in the "flashback" sequence at the beginning of "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down", even though it's really not a "flashback".

The Macbeth Connection

Mrs. Tigh can be profitably compared with one of Shakespeare's most memorable women. Like Lady Macbeth, Ellen is married to a man who is in the line of command, but who doesn't want the top job. She uses a combination of insult, flattery, and sexual temptation to get her husband in the game, arranges the murder of others, and even makes alcohol one of her most potent weapons (in the play, Lady Macbeth gets the castle guards drunk so that she and her husband can kill the king and princes). In the words of Lady M herself, to her husband, "Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear, and chastise with the valour of my tongue all that impedes thee from the golden round."

In fact, of all Shakespeare's plays, Macbeth is a particularly appropriate one for a series about evil robots who seem human on the outside ("fair is foul and foul is fair"), who are experts at lying and manipulation ("And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray us'n deepest consequence"), and who chase our heroes through the gulf of space (at least one scholar has noted that all of the play's most memorable scenes "take place either at night or in some dark spot"). Like Macbeth himself, Tigh is famous for a bout of vicious hand to hand fighting in the recent war ("For brave Macbeth ... disdaining Fortune, with his brandish'd steel which smok'd with bloody execution ... carv'd out that passage").

It is tempting to attempt to extrapolate future plot points based on the Tigh-Macbeth analogy, but we must remember that so far Saul seems to have resisted his wife's manipulations better than his Shakespearean forbear. Nonetheless, this does help to supply a motivation for Ellen's actions: she doesn't have to be a Cylon to be victim to envy, the "green ey'd monster."