Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 1 - Episode 06

BSG - 1x06 - Litmus - Originally Aired: 2004-11-22

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.77

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Synopsis
When a new copy of Doral, a Cylon who had been previously exposed while serving as the Galactica's public-relations officer, sneaks aboard and blows himself up, killing three people, Commander Adama and President Roslin must finally make public the terrifying secret known only to a select few: Cylons now look like humans.

Adama also appoints an independent tribunal to investigate the recent security breaches and names Sgt. Hadrian as lead investigator. When Hadrian discovers a hatch was left open, even after Chief Tyrol had reported that all were closed, she focuses the investigation on him and his relationship with Sharon.

Tyrol's crew covers for their chief, taking the blame for his failure. When Hadrian tries to expand the inquiry, haranguing Adama about his decision not to reveal the truth about Cylons, the commander shuts down the tribunal.

Meanwhile, on Caprica, a trio of Cylons observe Helo as he tries to save himself and find the woman he thinks is Sharon. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- The Cylon Helo fought in this episode didn't put up much of a fight. Again, if I were Helo, I'd seriously be wondering what the hell is going on. Maybe he's just too blinded by his love for Sharon to care?

Factoids
- According to the Six in Baltar's head, the Cylons are completely unaware of her being in Baltar's head.
- Tricia Helfer had never done a fight scene prior to this episode.
- Chief Tyrol's been under Adama's command for 5 years.
- Adama's father was a civil liberties lawyer.

Remarkable Scenes
- A copy of Doral showing up and blowing himself up aboard Galactica.
- The scene when Tyrol discovers his deck crew manufacturing booze.
- Roslin revealing the existence of human model Cylons to the fleet.
- Six insisting that Baltar complete the Cylon detector project.
- The Cylons beating up Sharon.
- Helo taking out a Centurion and "rescuing" Sharon.
- Hadrian questioning Adama.
- Adama to Tyrol: "What I can't do is I can't let someone who wears this uniform get on the witness stand and lie under oath. And that's what your man did. He either lied the first time or he lied the second time. And it doesn't matter. He's guilty and he'll pay the price. You, you'll pay a different price. You'll have to walk out on that hangar deck every day knowing that one of your men is in the brig because you couldn't keep your fly zipped. You're the most experienced non-commissioned officer we have left. You keep my planes flying. I need my planes to fly. Dismissed."

My Review
This episode advances Galactica's plot, but does not manage to stand as well on its own as many other episodes in my opinion. There are some milestone events featured here, most importantly Roslin revealing to the people the existence of humanoid Cylons. Also, we're given confirmation that Helo is an experiment in love by the Cylons. Helo is being manipulated into falling in love with Sharon. But these details do little to redeem what I felt was a fairly weak A-plot.

First of all, Doral's motives are unclear. Where was he going? To Baltar's lab? If so, why doesn't Boomer blow up Baltar's lab? She already blew up the water tanks on Galactica, what's one more bomb? My best guess is Doral's motive was to spread fear. The Cylons wanted the fleet to know there are agents among them so they'd start turning on each other precisely the way Cally feared.

The motives of the Six in Baltar's head are, however, even less clear. On one had she claims the Cylons know nothing about her presence in Baltar's head, but on the other hand, that could very easily be another tactic of misdirection. However, she is helping Baltar build a Cylon detector, so what's going on with this?

The story's biggest weakness is Sgt. Hadrian's witch hunt. I absolutely despise overzealous lawyer and prosecutor stories in TV and film and Galactica's version is only barely tolerable. This BSG episode reminds me of all the things I hated about Star Trek TNG's episode The Drumhead. However, Adama's final scene with Tyrol almost makes up for all the rest. That wonderful lecture Adama gives Tyrol is great and just as emotionally powerful as when Roslin dressed down Adama and Apollo in the previous episode.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From DJB on 2011-12-04 at 8:29pm:
    I thought the psychological drama in this episode was amazing. It had a physical effect on me. It's funny you should mention TNG's "The Drumhead" -- I was also reminded of that episode by this one. Unlike you, though, I thought that episode was brilliant, and I felt the same way about this one. The acting was amazing, and the script was excellent. I especially liked Tyrol's conversation with Adama at the end (which you also liked), where Adama places responsibility for the Specialist's taking the fall for him on Tyrol's shoulders. I came away from the episode thinking, "forget the Cylons -- these people have enough trouble dealing with each other!"
  • From Jonathan explains it all on 2013-04-14 at 11:13am:
    The (wordless) reactions of the investigators sitting at the back of the tribunal room were very funny. Especially the Asian woman. Hilarious.

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