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Battlestar Galactica 1-6: Litmus

Why only 12 Cylon models?

If you can make robots that pass for human beings, why limit yourself to 12? Wouldn’t it be easier to conquer and/or destroy humanity if you had 50, or 100?

But okay, let’s say you only get 12, for reasons I have yet to hear but may be totally plausible. Five Cylons are super secret and special, so you’ve got seven. But why do they have to be identical? They all have the same shape, same hair, same face, often the same clothes. Tricia Helfer changes her hairstyle and puts on glasses a couple of times, but that’s the extent of Cylon diversity.

Why don’t they have a Fat Doral? Or Bearded Leoben? Or even Boomer With Slightly Shorter Hair? Even if you’re stuck with a basic genetic template, surely, in the future, there are a variety of options for cosmetic enhancement?

Nope. The exact same Cylon shows up every time. So the humans look particularly stupid when they get blown up by a guy they already knew – or at least seriously suspected – was a Cylon.

Yes, yes – the point of Litmus is that the secret of Cylons looking like humans becomes public knowledge. So Adama probably couldn’t have given pictures of Doral and Leoben to his marines with CYLON stamped on them. But maybe he could have found some pretense for labeling them as security risks?

Alas, Litmus is all about human stupidity. At least part of it is deliberate, as the deck crew clumsily tries to cover for Tyrol and Boomer’s affair. Things get increasingly serious as their obvious and inconsistent lies are exposed, and the investigator Adama appointed gets carried away with her authority.

And then Adama calls the whole thing off, and the bitter paranoid investigator shuffles away, never to be heard from again.Which makes Adama kind of look like a flake. Perhaps he could have created the investigative tribunal in Water, which would have allowed it to build some dramatic power over a few episodes. It also might have made Sergeant Hadrian more of an interesting character instead of a stand-in for the Department of Homeland Security.

Sergeant Hadrian comes from more-or-less nowhere, goes crazy with power and paranoia, and then gets shut down. While she made a handful of appearances prior to this episode – usually showing up after an accident/sabotage to explain stuff – a tiny bit of prior character development could have gone a long way. Who is she? Was she always this paranoid and power-hungry?

I suppose Hadrian comes back spiritually in the form of Admiral Cain, who is similarly dedicated to eradicating Cylons and ensuring security at all costs.

Ultimately, Litmus was about moving a few plot points forward: The Cylon secret is out, and Tyrol and Boomer break up, clearing the way for the Boomer & Helo relationship.

It feels like it should be a more important episode, but it’s pretty forgettable. Not bad, just … there. Things happened, and then it ended. We remember what happened, even if we don’t particularly care about why.

Published in TV