Count Iblis

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Iblis
Battlestar Galactica character
Portrayed by Patrick Macnee
Information
Species Seraph
Gender Male
Title Count
Colony Ship of Lights
Affiliation Darkness

Count Iblis /ˌknt ˈɪbl/ is an alien on the TV series Battlestar Galactica. He was part of the original 1978 series, and was central to the plot of the two-part episode War of the Gods. In that episode, he was played by Patrick Macnee. He did not appear in the re-imagined series.

1978 continuity[edit]

When a Colonial Viper expedition from the Galactica consisting of Lts. Starbuck, Sheba, and Captain Apollo lands on an unexplored planet to investigate a massive explosion, they find a man named Count Iblis, who warns them away from the wreckage of a huge starship which had crashed on the planet some time before. Due to high radiation levels around the crashed ship, the Galactica crew is unable to explore it further.

Iblis is taken back to the Galactica. He proves to be charismatic and likeable, and quickly becomes very popular among the crew. However, several mysteries surround him — he is very elusive about his background, speaking only vaguely about being pursued by "enemies," he objects to having medical scans taken of him, and when he walks on the bridge nearby instruments go off-line. Nevertheless, Iblis' popularity grows further when he promises to protect the fleet from the mysterious Lights that have been following it recently and to lead them to Earth, which he implies he has visited, if he is given command of the fleet. To prove himself, Iblis moves some objects by psychokinesis and makes food grow on the farm ships, and offers to perform three miracles chosen by the Quorum of Twelve.

The Quorum quickly picks the first two miracles: to have Count Baltar delivered to them and for Iblis to plot a course to Earth. Hours later, Baltar delivers himself to the Colonials.

Baltar is shocked to hear Iblis's voice, which he claims to have heard before. He later recognizes it as the voice of the Cylons's Imperious Leader. But for that to be possible, Iblis must have been on the Cylon homeworld thousands of yahrens ago, when the original biological Cylons were wiped out by the mechanical Cylons, and the robotic Imperious Leader was built to duplicate the biological Imperious Leader it replaced. That means, Iblis says, "I'd have to be a thousand yahrens old!"

Meanwhile, Count Iblis's tricks are being uncovered. Apollo learns that there is a scientific explanation behind the sudden growth of the plants on the farm ships (the mysterious light ships give off radiation and the plants were affected when they flew past the farm ship), and Adama remembers that the Colonials have latent psychokinetic abilities. Baltar, fearful of a powerful new common enemy, had come to the fleet to discuss the appearance of the Lights under a flag of truce. Although Iblis had had no direct effect on any of these occurrences, it is too late. The Quorum of the Twelve is considering giving Iblis the presidency.

Convinced that accepting Iblis's leadership will lead to disaster, Apollo and Starbuck head back to the planet where Iblis's ship was found. They are followed by Sheba, who is still under Iblis's spell, and Iblis himself, who teleports himself to the planet when he senses the plot. Apollo and Starbuck realise that the high radiation levels around the crashed ship were an illusion; they enter the ship and learn Iblis's true identity. Apollo reminds Sheba of the ancient texts that talk about the deceiver, by various names we know in Earth holy texts. (He cites the names "Mephistopheles," "Diabolis" or "Diaboles," and "The Prince of Darkness.") Apollo points out to Sheba that Iblis is, very literally, the Devil. Iblis and Sheba try to stop them, and the confrontation leads Iblis to curse Apollo by saying, "May her soul curse you throughout eternity." He then tries to kill Sheba; however, Apollo takes the blow and dies in her place. Moments later, when the Lights appear, Starbuck, crying, shoots Iblis with his laser, to no effect but revealing his demonic actual appearance. Iblis vanishes, swearing to the Colonial warriors that he will see them again, in another place and time.

On the flight back to the Galactica, Starbuck, Sheba and Apollo's body are taken aboard the Ship of Lights. The angelic beings aboard it explain to them that Iblis used to be one of their kind, but was expelled from their number for trying to rebel. His power is limited to those who freely give him power over them, and he uses that power to corrupt and lead others away from the truth. By killing Apollo, who had rejected him, he had overstepped his rights, and so he must now "forfeit a payment of our choosing." The beings restore Apollo to life, and give the Colonials the coordinates to Earth.[1]

Comic continuity[edit]

In the 1995-1997 comic series take on Battlestar Galactica, the Count Iblis was the catalyst for the fall of the original organic Cylon race. Count Iblis deceived the last organic Imperious Leader, named Sobekkta (Sobek being the crocodile–god of ancient Egypt), into a deal with the promise of power akin to his own. But instead, the Imperious Leader found himself transformed into a half-cybernetic being. Enraged, the Imperious Leader swore revenge upon him, firing at Count Iblis while he vanished away, laughing cruelly. As a result, the succeeding Imperious Leaders' voices all sound exactly like Count Iblis.

Because Count Iblis' actions resulted in the destruction of the organic Cylon race and the creation of mechanical soldiers who would threaten the universe, Count Iblis was arrested by his angelic brothers, the Seraphs. As punishment for his crime against creation, he was forced into an amnesiac, non-corporeal existence during which his essence would remain trapped within the pain-wracked lives of others. He would only briefly gain full remembrance of his identity when such painful lives came to an end, suffering death. This punishment he would endure for a thousand yahrens — the exact time length of the initial conflict between the Cylon Empire and the Colonies.

For his actions on board the Galactica, Count Iblis was most likely going to be punished again, as the Seraph that spoke with Starbuck, Sheba, and the resurrected Apollo stated that he would be. However, the Count escaped, hiding himself "amongst eternity", as he related to Count Baltar. Reunited with the mechanical Cylons, Count Iblis would again wage aggression against the Colonial Fleet.

Count Iblis was now depicted as being bald, and of having supremely enhanced powers, above the level that he previously displayed. During an attack upon Baltar's Cylon squadrons by the Seraphs' ships of light, Baltar entreated Count Iblis to stop the Seraphs before the attack wiped out all of his base star's raiders. Iblis agreed, and with a gesture and a distorted depiction of his true face, he destroyed all of the attacking Seraph ships, proclaiming in the act: "Hear these words, Seraphs, and know them to be true: No one has dominion over me! No one!! Die, my brothers, and writhe in the fires of Damnation!!"

Count Iblis' next act was hypnotizing Sheba, who is now Apollo's wife, into killing Apollo. To do this, Count Iblis deceived Sheba into believing that Apollo had lied to her about the true nature of the remains that he and Starbuck discovered in the crashed ship on the planet where Count Iblis was discovered. Iblis told Sheba that the remains were actually those of her father, Commander Cain, and he transported her to the wreckage where they'd first met, and she looked inside and saw bodies she believed were those of her father and other Colonial warriors. When enough doubt had been sown into Sheba's mind, Count Iblis seized control of her will.

When Baltar's fleet overtook the Colonial fleet and launches a devastating attack, Apollo was confronted by the hypnotized Sheba, but she proved unable to go through with killing her husband; she then turned the gun on herself, but when Apollo stopped her the gun discharged into his chest. He was soon but reluctantly resurrected by John, a Seraph with whom Apollo has had previous dealings (the television episode "Experiment in Terra"). Apollo explained to John that the corpses that he and Starbuck discovered aboard the crashed ship were not human remains, but those of deceased demonic creatures, the followers of Count Iblis who paid the ultimate price for their loyalty to him. Apollo also explained that his second death was now once again the result of Count Iblis' machinations, and that if John didn't return Apollo to life, more lives and souls (especially Sheba's) would be in jeopardy because there would be no one to stop Iblis' rampage — an indirect consequence of which was the death of Commander Adama, shot by Baltar. An armed Baltar was transported dangerously into Commander Adama's direct presence by Count Iblis' own power. After a brief skirmish in which the newly resuscitated Adama felled two Cylon Centurions and Baltar swiftly escaped, Commander Adama was mortally wounded.

The Colonial fleet, however, was rescued by the appearance of Commander Cain and the battlestar Pegasus, through the efforts of the Seraphs. Baltar escaped, and after another attack on the fleet was thwarted (during which Lieutenant Starbuck disappeared, sacrificing himself to stop the Cylon saboteur Ares), he was demoted by the Imperious Leader. Iblis, however, undertook his next act of vengeance by hypnotizing Apollo into shooting Commander Cain, for which Apollo was jailed. Count Iblis then freed the imprisoned Borellian Nomen (from the episodes "The Man With Nine Lives" and "Baltar's Escape") as well as human prisoners to launch a revolt against the Colonial government. Apollo escaped, where he was taken by Count Iblis and seemingly persuaded that every tragedy in his life (the deaths of his brother Zac and first wife Serina, the death of his father, the disappearance of Starbuck) was a result of his direct lack of intervention, and that the only path of his life is the path of overthrowing the descendents of the Lords of Kobol - i.e. the survivors of the Colonies.

After being returned to the world of the living, however, Apollo defeated Count Iblis using his father's medallion. This medallion carried a power that magnifies the psychic strength of the individual who wears it. Count Iblis knew this, and tried to entice Apollo into giving it to him. However, Apollo's strength of character and force of will prevailed and Count Iblis was twice wounded by blasts of psychic energy, which was enough to push him into retreating from the fleet. Apollo then used the medallion's power to undo the chaos created by Count Iblis, including restoring to full health the dying Commander Cain.

Amid the battle between Apollo and Iblis, the Cylons had transported a gigantic fleet of base stars across the universe to destroy Earth and the surviving members of humanity. This fleet was diverted away from Earth, however, by Baltar, who wished to lead the humans' destruction himself; as a result the Cylon in command of the fleet, Spectre (the television episode "The Young Lords") was deactivated by Imperious Leader.

Another god of evil[edit]

When they came to Earth, the Colonial Fleet found structures upon its surface similar to the ancient and decaying ruins found on Kobol. Within one of these structures were the bodies of a human male and female, who were kept in a state of suspended animation. Upon being revived, these two individuals identified themselves as Adam and Eve, members of the Thirteenth Tribe that left Kobol during its final days. Adam remarked that this expedition found itself under attack by an ancient "god of evil", whom he described as resembling Anubis.

The relationship between these two gods of evil, Anubis and Iblis, (or if they were one and the same person) was never explored, though the comic hinted that Anubis was a spiritual father of Iblis.

Possible Origins of the evil[edit]

Iblis: Iblis (Arabic إبليس ) or Enais is in Arabic and according to the Islamic faith is the actual name for the Satan who is also in the Christian and Judaic faiths. The name 'Shaitan', which directly corresponds with "Satan" in English, appears more often in the Qur'an, 'Iblis' occurring 11 times, whereas 'Shaitan' appears in 87 passages. Iblis is known as the leader of all the devils and was cast out of God's favour when he failed to accept the first human, Adam.

According to Encyclopedia Galactica (a non-canonical piece of merchandise published in 1979): In the Book of the Word, Iblis is described as a "fallen Angel (sic), known variously as Diaboles (Diabolos|Devil) or Mephistopholes [who] repeatedly attempts to lead the humans astray, but is bested always by the intervention" of the Beings of Light.

Diabolis: the Greek word diabolis which is the root word for the English words diabolical and the devil, may also be the root of the Arabic word Iblis used in the Koran.

2003 continuity[edit]

Count Iblis was not part of the 2003 remake of Battlestar Galactica.

References[edit]

  1. ^ This entire section is from the episode "War Of The Gods," available on DVD.

See also[edit]

  • Iblis, the Islamic name of the devil.