Boomer’s life wasn’t all a lie. She might not have been born on Troy and she might not have had parents named Abraham and Katherine, but between the end of that cover story and the moment she shot Adama, was over two years of life that was wholly and exclusively Boomer’s. It was Boomer who worked and trained to become a qualified pilot. It was Boomer who earned her promotion to junior lieutenant. It was Boomer who fostered relationships with the Chief and Helo and the Old Man to build herself a new family in the absence of her old. It was Boomer who made herself a part of Galactica, a loved and respected member of her crew. All of those accomplishments, all of the things Boomer most treasured, were Boomer’s alone. They weren’t part of some sleeper agent cover story. They were never a lie. They were hers.
And she loses all of it. Her commission, her home, her friends and family, her entire life – all these things she’s earned and built with her own two hands – are all snatched away from her in an instant and handed to someone else. Athena never dented the flight deck over and over learning how to land her bird. Athena never worked her way up from ensign. Athena never even called herself Sharon Valerii until she needed a cover to seduce Helo. All of that was Boomer’s, and the people Boomer trusted and loved more than anything in the universe gave her entire identity away as if it was never really hers to begin with.
Boomer is reduced to her callsign and remembered as even less. For all Adama’s talk of her being a “vital, living person aboard my ship”, no one really remembers her that way. She’s remembered as Galactica’s boogieman, invoked by those who fear for their own identity. “Like Boomer,” Kara whispers. “Boomer thought,” says Chief. She’s the face of the cylon threat, “the one who shot the Old Man” according to Tigh. The sum total of Boomer’s two years aboard the Galactica gets reduced to a single instant. No one remembers the raptor pilot who watched their backs on CAP or the friend who lost to them at triad. That’s all ascribed to Athena now. Boomer is remembered as something between a warning and a curse. They didn’t just give her identity away; they forgot that it had ever been hers in the first place.
It takes Boomer a while to realize this. The dream of going home, of reclaiming her lost life as if it were still there waiting for her, underpins all her efforts to bridge the gulf between human and cylon. Even as each effort fails increasingly spectacularly, she continues to cling to that dream until the moment she comes face to face with Athena in the halls of Galactica in orbit above the algae planet. Athena stands there in Boomer’s uniform, surrounded by Boomer’s friends, and both literally and figuratively shuts Boomer out of her own life. It’s the moment that Boomer realizes that everything that was ever hers – everything she’d ever built, ever fought for – is someone else’s now.
So Boomer does the only thing she can do. She pretends she never wanted it to begin with. Cavil offers her two things. First, he promises to help her become a better machine. Being human is hard. It hurts, and for Boomer it has hurt worse than most. Now Cavil is giving her the opportunity to turn herself into a machine to get rid of the pain of being human. Second, he gives her a focus for her impotent rage. He paints a target on the backs of the Five and says, “Blame them for making you so human in the first place.” There’s something else implicit in both of those though: the rejection of the human identity of Sharon Valerii that Boomer has already lost. You can’t take this away from me, she seems to say, to Adama, to Athena, to everyone who isn’t listening. I never wanted it. It’s petty in the way that is so characteristic of her model, but it’s the only little bit of vengeance she can manage anymore. Boomer takes the last remaining shreds of her old identity, crumples them up, and throws them back in the universe’s face in one last act of defiance. I was never really Sharon Valerii in the first place. Boomer’s life wasn’t all a lie until everyone – Boomer included – turned it into one.
That’s what makes Boomer’s final scenes so powerful, because Boomer ostensibly doesn’t rescue Hera simply because it’s the right thing to do; she does it because she owes the Old Man a favor. Boomer explicitly connects her actions aboard the Colony to a promise she made in the very life that has been stolen from her, the very life that up until that moment she herself had rejected. “I’ll pay you back, sir, one day when it really means something,” Sharon Valerii promises, and five years and a lifetime later, Boomer does. It’s an affirmation on Boomer’s part, a way of asserting that those two years – and the life she built during them – were real. They happened and they mattered and they were hers. In the end, Boomer’s life wasn’t all a lie, because in her last act, she made sure that it wasn’t.