Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 1 - Episode 07

BSG - 1x07 - Six Degrees of Separation - Originally Aired: 2004-11-29

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.91

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Synopsis
When Baltar and the Number Six who lives in his head have a falling out, she abandons him, only to surface a short while later aboard the Galactica. But now she's called Shelley Godfrey, everyone can see her, and she's telling them that she has evidence, passed on by the late Dr. Amarak, that will prove Baltar sold out the human race to the Cylons.

With Baltar in a panic and trying to save himself, Number Six focuses her charms on Commander Adama. But the Commander is wary of this stunning stranger and has her followed while her evidence is analyzed.

Kara struggles to recover from her injuries while Chief Tyrol and the crew try to reverse-engineer the Cylon raider she piloted home.

Meanwhile, dual Sharons face their own challenges. On Caprica, she and Helo are on the run from Cylon centurions; on the Galactica, she's terrified of being exposed as a Cylon herself. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- What was Shelly Godfrey? She couldn't be a Cylon agent, Cylon agents don't round corners and disappear. She also couldn't be a hallucination, because she interacted with the physical world.

Factoids
- Six Degrees of Separation is also the title of a 1993 feature film.
- Katie Sakhoff adlibbed the whole "treat it like a goat" line during the Cylon raider tests.
- This episode would seem to contradict assertion that the Six in Baltar's head made that she is not in contact with the Cylons. She must have been lying.
- During the bathroom scene Gaeta can be heard whistling the opening musical theme from BSG 1978.

Remarkable Scenes
- Six: "He's not my god, he is god."
- Baltar, regarding faith in god: "What you are doing, darling, is boring me to death with your superstitious drivel. Your metaphysical nonsense. Which to be fair actually appeals to the half educated dullards that make up most of human society but which I hasten to add no rational, intelligent, free thinking human being truly believes."
- Tyrol struggling with the Cylon raider.
- Cottle and Apollo taunting Starbuck regarding her recovery.
- Cottle's emergency house call with Roslin.
- Adama not at all falling for Shelly Godfrey's advances.
- The infamous bathroom scene, complete with the "no more Mr. Nice Gaius!" line.
- Boomer regarding the Cylon raider: "It's not really a thing, you know? It's probably a Cylon itself. More of an animal maybe than the human models. Maybe they genetically designed it to perform a task. To be a fighter. You can't treat it like a thing and expect it to respond. You have to treat it like a pet. Or... at least that's my guess."
- Tigh's reverse psychology on Starbuck.
- Roslin voicing to Baltar her gut instinct that he had something to do with the attack.

My Review
What an amazing episode ruined by such a terrible ending. Truly the low point of the season, this episode builds so well to a climax that isn't at all true the episode's premise.

The episode opens with Baltar finally setting Six over the edge with his blasphemous behavior that she summons a Six model Cylon agent to show Baltar the wrath that can be inflicted upon him for his blasphemy. With great comedy weaved into the fascinating drama, Baltar fights for his reputation.

Additionally the B plot having to do with all the dealings with the Cylon raider and the manipulation of Starbuck into getting off her ass and helping out Tyrol was great as well. I love the idea that nobody else can get the raider to work; that Starbuck's innate skill and instinct is what led to her ability to control it. That, and Boomer's scene with the raider talking about how it should be treated like a pet, not a thing, was just wonderful.

Speaking of Boomer, the Helo-Boomer storyline seems to climax somewhat in this episode, for their love has began to blossom. I really don't like the glowing spine during sex thing, but I understand that it's just a gimmick and that it isn't meant to be taken very seriously. So, the Cylons got them together. Now what? "Procreation is one of god's commandments." So, a baby as a result of the sex?

I strangely rooted for Baltar all throughout the episode because he wasn't directly responsible for the destruction of the colonies, and definitely not in the way Shelly Godfrey is indicating. One of the greatest scenes of the episode depicts Roslin declaring her gut feeling that Baltar was in some way involved with the attack. Things look grim for him when suddenly Gaeta discovers that the photo evidence was indeed faked; it's almost as if Shelly wanted to be discovered to be lying.

But it's also here that the episode completely collapses in on itself. Shelly rounds a corner and simply vanishes. Okay, I know the writers are purposely not placing an emphasis on technical things, but having Shelly vanish into thin air with no trace pushes the limits of suspension of disbelief. Because of this event, she couldn't realistically be a Cylon agent, because Cylon agents don't just round corners and disappear. But she also couldn't be a some sort of communal hallucination either, because she interacted with the physical world on Galactica. What we're looking at here is Galactica's first overt technical problem and it's a pretty big one. A showstopper, episode ruining technical problem.

There are a number of ways to rationalize this, along with other unanswered questions and potential technical problems on the show, but unlike those other issues, this one takes a lot of rationalization to explain away which we're unlikely to ever see on screen, leaving a gaping plot hole behind.

This episode exemplifies the danger behind taking a loose attitude toward technical details. RDM has stated that during his work on Trek they had write long explanations for why certain technologies (such as the transporter) couldn't be used in a given situation and that by loosely defining the capabilities of the various plot devices on Galactica (such as the Cylons, or Galactica's FTL drive) that they're avoiding writing themselves into such corners. But it's a double edged sword that had some kickback in this case. I hope they never do this to us again.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Jake on 2011-02-03 at 8:51pm:
    The technical problem with Shelly disappearing actually can be explained in the context of the 4th season (although this probably was not intentional). If head six is actually an Angel, then Shelly Godfrey might have been an angel or a mass illusion (God can pretty much do that if he wants to I suppose). The entire purpose is to punish Baltar and all of Galactica gets sucked into head six's little game.

    This explains how Shelly can disappear as well as why the entire flawed plan to discredit Baltar makes no sense as an actual cylon operation; it had almost no chance of actually working and only made Baltar more popular in the end.
  • From Kethinov on 2011-02-03 at 10:24pm:
    Yes. God is real. What a great rationalization for the technical problem! *sigh*
  • From Steven on 2011-09-24 at 4:40pm:
    It's remarkable to me how often you find 'technical impossibilities' to be show-stoppers. I don't quite get that. In this case there's not even a need to go into technical explanations. She was being followed, rounded a corner, and when the follower rounded that same corner, she was nowhere in sight. Do we know how closely she was being followed? No. Do we also know that the marines' testimony is fully reliable? No. So why is there the presumption that the only explanation is non-technical? Movies all of the time contain scenes in which someone being followed is able to lose their tail. Why presume that she did literally vanish?
  • From Kethinov on 2011-10-07 at 3:00am:
    Because the episode strongly implies that she vanished in precisely the same way that Baltar's hallucinations appear and then vanish suddenly.

    The post-season 4 BSG film The Plan actually rationalizes the technical problem introduced in this episode by depicting a convoluted trick involving two Six Cylons allowing her to appear to round a corner faster than the marines could tail her, thus creating the illusion that she simply vanished.

    However, that rationalizing was too little, too late. We shouldn't be left hanging for several seasons on such a silly thing and this episode makes a big point about how she "just vanished" in an implied quasi-supernatural sense. It's bad writing, and my rating stands.
  • From Dionysus on 2012-03-21 at 11:05am:
    Actually Jake is right..I understand people watch Sci-Fi for the science aspect, but you need to realize that BSG takes place in a universe in which a God exists. Now i'm an atheist too.. I understand that this show is not meant to promote a belief in God, it's just a part of a fictional storyline to create drama, and its not like BSG ended with divine intervention - obviously from this episode it was meant to be an overt theme all along...whats wrong with having religious themes in Sci-Fi?
  • From Kethinov on 2012-03-21 at 1:05pm:
    Religious themes are fine. What this episode did is not a religious theme, it's religious literalism. The story left no room absent of The Plan's convoluted rationalization for alternative explanations and heavily implied that the plot was the literal work of god, just like the series finale.

    The right way to do it is the way 33 did it. The religious themes in that episode were terrific because the plot makes it clear that coincidence is a perfectly valid explanation as well. The same can't be said here. The Plan had to do incredible amounts of work to de-god this plot.
  • From keiren on 2013-06-09 at 4:09am:
    And whatever happened to using your imagination?

    Besides, if the writers decide god exists in this universe, then he does. We have to accept that as part of this show & universe....
  • From Kethinov on 2013-06-09 at 1:48pm:
    That would have been fine if it were baked into the show's premise from the beginning, but it wasn't. Outside of the extremely rare oddball episode like this one (which later turned out NOT to be god's work after all), the use of god as a plot device didn't begin until the last third of the show.

    So basically it started as a gritty and realistic hard sci fi dark drama, then it flipped in the final third of the show into little more than fantasy. Again, there's nothing wrong with fantasy, but it's in poor taste to completely alter the premise of your story in the final third of the narrative.

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