Battlestar Galactica 1-7: Six Degrees of Separation

July 29, 2011


Last episode, Number Six did a pretty good Bruce Banner impersonation, warning Baltar that he wouldn’t like her when she’s angry. In Six Degrees, she makes good on that threat: After Baltar makes fun of the Cylon god a few too many times, the Six in his head disappears, only to be replaced by a real-life Six, who claims to have evidence of Baltar’s treason.

We can pause, for a moment, to recognize one of the funniest scenes in the entire series: Baltar arrives in Galactica’s command centre to find his fantasy woman standing among the crew. Except she’s not imaginary at all, and Baltar’s discovery of this fact plays out like a Marx Brothers routine. There aren’t a lot of funny scenes in Battlestar Galactica, but I suspect most of them involve James Callis.

Six Degrees is kind of a party for Callis. Baltar’s had a lot of nice moments, but this is his first time in the spotlight, and he shines. I mentioned before that Baltar is a great character because he’s not strictly villainous in the traditional sense: He really doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but he’s also not about to let himself get hurt, or in any way punished, if he can avoid it. He’s selfish, vain, cowardly, and dishonest, but he probably would have been a perfectly decent guy if he’d been able to keep his old life as a celebrity scientist. He’d be an asshole, sure, but probably not the sort of guy who’d betray humanity as a first impulse.

Six Degrees sets up an interesting dilemma: Baltar participated, more-or-less unwittingly, in the Cylon invasion and genocide.  But the accusation he faces here is false, and it’s being made by a woman he knows to be a Cylon. Except he can’t prove that she’s a Cylon to anyone without revealing how he knows she’s a Cylon, which would require confessing to his actual crimes.

So Baltar honestly believes he’s being framed and persecuted, and he is, despite being a liar, a coward, and a traitor. His desperation is real, and he’s

The great thing about this episode is that it answers its own plot holes. Are the accusations against Baltar plausible? Did Shelley Godfrey overplay her hand by trying to seduce Adama? It doesn’t matter! The Cylon plan was supposed to suck. Baltar ends the episode with a far better reputation and more prestige. He was kind of a silly git at the start, but now, after he’s been the target of a nefarious Cylon plot, he’s almost a hero.

I always enjoyed watching James Callis, since, like Starbuck, he’s often on a completely separate emotional plain than most of his cast mates. Under any other actor, Baltar might have been an absurd, villainous charicature, but Calls makes his self-interest sympathetic, if not quite heroic.

 

Random Observations:

  • Six is wearing blue! That’s crazy. Also unexplained: Why, in Baltar’s fantasy, would she wear red 99% of the time, but now blue?
  • I know the title is trying to be clever, but it really doesn’t make any sense. “Six degrees of separation” refers to the idea that everyone is connected to everyone else, or at least Kevin Bacon. This is about a fairly mild