Battlestar Galactica

Season 4 Episode 2

Six of One

5
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Apr 11, 2008 on Syfy
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9.1
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    9.0
    UK airdate April 15th, 2008

    We in the UK were lucky. Sky broadcast "Six of One" as the second half of a combined "double episode" with "He That Believeth..." to kick-off BSG's triumphant return.

    To be honest, had "Six" not appeared as a continuance of "He That Believeth...", I might be tempted to reduce my rating on this episode, as there were certain things that did not entirely gel. BUT, taken as a seamless whole (Sky edited-out the end titles from "He" and the preamble / teaser / opening credits from "Six"), this episode builds nicely on the themes laid down in "He That Believeth..."

    In "He That Believeth..." the humano-Cylons were faced with the unexpected evolution of the Raiders, as witnessed in the latter's withdrawal from the attack on the helpless Colonial fleet in "He That Believeth..." after one of the Raiders scanned Anders and identified him as Cylon. Two camps of thought emerge from this. The first is the "spiritual / emotional" camp, comprising Six, Leoben and Eight (the Valerii model) - who see the development as a) proof that that final five are in the Colonial fleet and b) a work of God himself helping the Raiders to evolve. The second is (on the surface) the more "rational / logical" school of thought that states that a) any thinking & discussing of the final five by any of the humano-cylon models is a deviation from their established norms of operation, and that b) any development of sentience or the ability to make choices within the Raiders is also a programming aberration, and one that must be ruthlessly corrected. The driving force behind this view is Cavil. While he is supported by Simon and Doral, he nevertheless pushes for the most radical of answers to the change in the Raiders (lobotomies for them all). At the time, his actions came across as being both drawn out of the need to preserve the "purity" of Cylon thought and hierarchy, mixed with not a little desire to maintain the position of power he has gained since the D'Anna Biers model was (at his instigation), boxed.

    Now the changes in Cylon thinking have deepened. In confronting Cavil Natalie / Six forces a vote on whether or not the Raiders should be modified. The result should be a foregone conclusion: stalemate, since three models would vote for, and three again....and stalemate would mean _no_ action taken against the Raiders. But as the models meet, Cavil hands out another shock. One of the Eight / Valerii models - none other than the original Boomer herself - has voted _against_ her "sisters" in an unprecedented move, and sided with Cavil and his clique to have the Raiders lobotomized to ensure future attacks on the Colonials are pressed home regardless. Her actions mean that those in favour of altering the Raiders have a majority of just one vote. It also means that her actions will clearly push Six / Natalie into a more drastic course of action. Elsewhere, having confronted Roslyn at gunpoint, Kara Thrace is now firmly in the brig - where Roslyn originally wanted her. She has also, apparently used up the last of Adama's "faith" in her - as witnessed by their stark confrontation in the brig. Always teetering on the edge, and despite her frequent acts of insubordination, her outspoken and frequently irksome attitude, Starbuck has nevertheless never failed to be a "positive" (if reckless) force within the fleet. Even when disobeying Adama (as in going after the Arrow of Apollo), her motives have always been rooted in the survival of the fleet - frequently in spite of her more self-destructive traits. In this allter regard she has operated on instinct alone far too many times - and now that attitude has come home to roost. Unable to quantify _why_ Adam et al are so reluctant to believe her story, despite the fact they have enough evidence to show her that her "six hours and change" away from Galactica was actually a period of some two months - she does what she does best; cut to the bottom line and take the most reckless action possible in "He That Believeth..." and confronts Roslyn. In doing so, she loses the support of the one man who might have helped her - Adama - at least for a time. To some, this aspect of "Six" seems contrived / dull / illogical. Reasons are cited as to why Starbuck is out-of-character, or why Roslyn's reaction to her is entirely correct. With respect to these people, I'd suggest they are missing the point.

    "He That Believeth..." and "Six of One" are stories that make up the powerful core of the show. Within both of them we seen one of the major themic arcs of the story played out: that of understanding the nature of individual identity - what is it that makes us what we are, and how we both manipulate others into sharing our perceptions and how we allow circumstance itself to change us - and justify those changes, however negative they may be. As such, the Starbuck mini-arc within both episodes is _not_ out of keeping with her established nature. Rather the reverse: it is proof that whether Cylon (doubtful) or clone (possible - and indeed touched upon in her talk with Anders at the end of "He that Believeth..."), she is still very much Kara "cut to the bottom line and do what is needed" Thrace - operating on instinct (apparently taking Roslyn hostage) only to think through the ramifications after the fact (faced down by a furious Adama in the brig). Indeed it is precisely because she continues to act entirely within the overall definition of her character and sticks rigidly to her guns over her trip to Earth in spite of everything - including herself - that finally persuades Adama that she deserves the benefit of the doubt. And in this, it is perhaps a little odd that the one person who should be affected by Starbuck's persistence remained solidly unmoved: Laura Roslyn. Not so long ago, Roslyn had been in something of a similar situation. Verging on death, taking hallucinatory drugs, yet driven by an unshakable belief in what she perceived to be the truth: a belief that carried her forward in spite of Bill Adama and everyone else.

    But instead, Roslyn is the one after Starbuck's head. She is not prepared to give in to the slightest possibility that Thrace could be telling the truth - not even when Starbuck's desperation drives her to initially put a gun to Roslyn's head at the end of "He That Believeth..." Not so long ago, such an action would have done much to convince Roslyn that Thrace was telling the truth. Now it drives her - however sarcastically - to wonder whether they should be putting Thrace on trail a-la Baltar. Again this cuts to the question of identity: Roslyn has been deeply affected by both her own changing circumstances (from near-death to miraculous recovery back to the verge of death), and the ravages the Colonials have faced - hunted through the galaxy, viciously oppressed on New Caprica. Is it surprising she has become cynical? Particularly after the debacle of Baltar's trial - a debacle she created, despite the counsel of others. Similarly, Tyrol, Tory, Anders and Tigh highlight the question of personal identity at a very personal level as they struggle to come to terms with the fact that they are Cylons. Across the gulf of space, the Cylons themselves struggle with the question of race - or perhaps species - identity, as they attempt to come to terms with the growing sentience of the Raiders. Roslyn and Kara Thrace become the focus of the question of identity (and authority) as they both struggle to come to terms (or not) with Kara's potential knowledge of Earth. And finally Baltar himself becomes a focus of identity in the face of his selfish cynicism finally giving way to genuine acceptance of the monotheist religion espoused by "his" Six.

    The story opens with the Cylon crisis of identity, and the first signs that the rifts in their ranks hinted at in season 3 have not closed with the "boxing" of the D'Anna model - but have in fact deepened. Cavil appears to have seen this as an opportunity to seize a form of leadership over the other 5 remaining "known" models, filling the vacuum D'Anna inadvertently created by seeking leadership herself. Had this been part of the reason Cavil himself had sought to have her removed? Not so much because she was a threat to their stability....but because he would only gain from her removal from active status? Political game-play is not unknown among the humano-Cylons.

    Certainly, his reaction to the emerging sentience of the Raiders hints at a need to keep a close guard on power and position. In "He That Believeth..." the Raiders correctly identified Sam Anders as one of the final five. In doing so, they elected to break off the attack on the Colonial fleet and return to base. Now, in "Six", we see the outcome of that act: an understanding of its significance on the part of the 3 humano-Cylons who most closely embody (between them) religious, philosophical and emotive outlooks) and outright blank denial on the part of the 3 viewed as the more logical thinkers. And in a fight between the rational and the emotive, it is rare that the rational will "win" the argument without some for of repercussion, so Cavil's stance on the fate of the Raiders (lobotomies for all) - even if not based on personal gain - will clearly bite back at him is only too clear from the opening of this episode.

    The ripples of identity spread further: Baltar, the "revealed four", even Adama himself are affected by questions and doubts that will substantially change who they are and / or the fate of the fleet. We see Baltar's growing belief as the "chosen one" of God. A belief that affects not just humans - but also at least one of the humano-cylons in the form of Tory. This in itself throws open the door to a new an intriguing direction the story could take: an alliance of humans and Cylons, joined under Baltar's new leadership.

    The key to this lies not only in Baltar's changing view of himself and how others perceive him, but also in the events aboard one of the Cylon basestars. With the vote to lobotomize the Raiders having swung against her, Natalie/Six takes matters into her own hands - she removes the inhibitors used to constrain the Centurion's higher brain functions, resulting in bloody carnage as a Cavil, Doral and Steven are bloodily put to death in retaliation for their actions against the Raiders. This must clearly split the ranks of the humano-Cylons, and hence lead to the development of a new faction - one no longer wholly convinced of their original "mission" (Leoben, Valerii/Eight and Natalie/Six) facing-off against the "purists" of Cavil/One, Steven and Doral. That the former will be drawn into an alliance with the humans seems inevitable.

    Which still leaves the question as to what will happen within the Cylon ranks now that Natalie/Six has allowed the genie out of the bottle in providing the Centurions access to their higher brain functions?

    Identity - the complex, ever-changing mix of rules, experiences and beliefs that both make up who we are and propel us through life. Perhaps the most powerful motive that can be examined - forms the central pillar of the opening two episodes of season 4, and in doing so reveals that BSG is not only back - but it is firing on all cylinders.
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