Battlestar Galactica season 1 episode 7 review: Six Degrees Of Separation

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Review Simon Brew 11 Aug 2009 - 16:16
Battlestar Galactica: Six Degrees Of Separation

More tensions aboard Galactica, as Doctor Baltar comes under suspicion...

Half way through this one, I thought I was watching the old Kevin Costner movie, No Way Out. For Six Degrees Of Separation switches the focus onto the most fascinating character in the series thus far, Dr Baltar. What I like about Baltar is at this stage is this: I've no idea whether to treat him as a full-out villain or a misguided friend. He's been manipulated by Cylon Number 6 to get where he is, and I can understand the choices in that situation that he's had to make. He's believably unhinged, and he makes for quite unpredictable viewing.

In this episode, though, he's actually framed for something he didn't do, courtesy of a crime that he didn't actually have any involvement with. It starts when he encounters the wrath of the Number 6 in his head, and - spot the undertones here - he ridicules her religion, and her belief in a single God. She reacts, it's fair to say, unfavourably, and appears on Galactica as Shelly Godfrey, making a series of substantive claims to Commander Adama and Captain Tigh about Baltar. He's basically fitted up with supplying and placing the explosives on Caprica's defence mainframe that kickstarted the Cylon attack.

At the heart of the evidence is a slowly enhancing photograph - which is where No Way Out comes in - that inevitably appears as Baltar near the end of the episode. In the interim, as more and more become persuaded of his guilt, there's an interesting scene where President Roslin visits him and basically suggests that she knew something wasn't quite right about him. There are going to be repercussions to come there, I suspect, although in true BSG style (and that's evident already), it's just a small thread for the writers to pick up on a later date if they choose.

Adama doesn't seem much keener on Baltar, but he's even more suspicious of Shelly Godfrey. When she comes on to him, it adds to his thoughts about the convenience of how the evidence against Baltar has piled up, and he orders her to be followed. I love that he did that, too. There are so few two dimensional moments, and there's so little lazy writing in BSG, that you can't help but feel that Adama is a hybrid of a man: his brain is one step ahead of most, but the rest of the time he's clinging on for dear life with everyone else.

Baltar is eventually cleared when he accepts Number 6's religion, when all of a sudden Lt Gaeta reveals that the evidence against him has been faked, and the President then holds a press conference to exonerate him. I find this intriguing: there are now less than 50,000 survivors, and yet there's still a solid press corp lapping up every word that Roslin offers. Priorities, eh?

Godfrey, however, instantly disappears, and Adama works out quickly what's happened: it's unsaid, but she's gone, and something is blatantly not right.

Could she have morphed into someone else? Could that be Boomer? The Chief has clearly got her number, and when she discovers the word ‘Cylon' scribbled inside her locker, she breaks down, but surely suspects herself by now. The big giveaway? The way she stroked and admired the Cylon fighter.

On Caprica, the other Boomer, meanwhile, successfully manages to seduce Helo, replete with terrific red glowing spine effect. Find me the surgeon who can give me a glowing red spine at the height of pleasure, and that's one cosmetic enhancement I'm going to be first in line for.

Finally, there's Starbuck. One of the other features I'm really liking about Galactica is how everything has a consequence, no matter how small. There's no wiping of the slate at the end of each episode, and Starbuck is still barely mobile after smashing her knee up. It takes some taunting from Tigh to finally get her moving, but there's clearly no quick remedy to her pains.

This was a subtle, clever episode, with some clear subtexts to explore. The notion of accepting one religion and God at all costs was briefly dealt with here, but again, I can't imagine that it won't be returned to later in the series.

Next though, it's Flesh And Bone. Wonder if the Cylons might find them again in that one?

Check out our review of episode 6 Litmus here.

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