Galactica: Downloaded (via Jammer)

I’ve been subscribing to Jammer’s reviews for years. He’s a scifi otaku extraordinaire whose episode synopses and reviews have been so high quality that it’s almost sinful that they haven’t been published in book form yet; you can get them all for free at his website. He started out reviewing Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG) and moved on to Deep Space Nine (ST:DS9), Voyager (ST:VOY), and Enterprise (ST:ENT). He also reviewed each of the Star Trek feature films. He’s got complete archives for every episode of every season of each of these shows, and is presently working on the original series (ST:TOS). I can’t recommend his reviews highly enough to anyone who is/was a fan of Star Trek.

Near the end of Enterprise’s run he decided to begin reviewing the new Galactica series. This was partly a decision borne of frustration with the Rick Berman era, especially the massive wasted opportunities of ST:VOY and ST:ENT. Galactica offered a fresh start of sorts and he has approached the series with the same attitude he always had for Star Trek – high expectations. And no pulling punches when the series failed to meet them. The basic philosophy of science fiction as a genre – not spaceships and aliens for their own sake, but rather exploration of human society and the human condition by alien (biological, or circumstantial) perspectives – is one he keeps front and center as he reviews an episode and renders judgement on a season or a series as a whole.

And thus far, Galactica seems to be dethroning ST:DSP in that regard. Jammer’s review of Downloaded just arrived in my inbox, and his insight into Baltar and Six’s relationship is both succinct and insightful:

the central idea in the story is the notion that Six hallucinates visions of Baltar, in much the same way Baltar hallucinates visions of Six. (The copy of Six in “Downloaded” is the same one from the miniseries that deceived and used Baltar to gain access to the defense mainframe, making the sneak attack on the Colonies possible.) The story’s most crucial choice is that it approaches Six with a genuine curiosity about her conscience. Yes, she used Baltar and specifically their sexual bond to take advantage of him, but how did she actually *feel* about it?

The fact of the matter is, she feels very guilty about it. She carried out her mission effectively, and the sneak attack was successful even beyond the predictions of the Cylons’ own war architects. Six is now known as “Caprica Six” and holds a hero/celebrity status. But always appearing to her is the vision of Baltar, reminding her of the massive crime she assailed upon humanity, and by extension, upon him.

As a storytelling device, this is a masterstroke. Logically, one might wonder if the Cylons in general and Six in particular are sentimental enough to be capable of this sort of psychological weakness — but of course they are, because they are us. Besides, this allows for a Six/Baltar duality that is now fully complete; they are their own mirror images. Where Baltar’s guilt has created a Six in his mind that drives him mad and leads him down a path of increasing darkness, with Six it’s just the opposite — she sees an image of Baltar that reminds her of what she did (and what she might in the future do to atone for that sin). The psychological details to ponder are endless; the most intriguing thing about the episode is realizing that these two characters are intrinsically one, and exist as a dichotomy that allows them to take completely different paths.

I hadn’t even considered the inversion aspect of the duality – that virtual-Six leads Baltar down a dark path and that virtual Baltar leads Six down a light one. I wonder – are the two characters headed away from each other, or towards?

You can read the rest of Jammer’s Galactica season 2 reviews at his website.