Battlestar Galactica season 2 episode 18 review: Downloaded

As we head towards the season two finale, Battlestar Galactica throws in another outstanding episode to get us primed...

2.18 Downloaded

After a few episodes where various balls have been juggled, pieces have been moved and characters have been fleshed out a little, Battlestar Galactica has, for me, once more delivered one of its finest episodes with Downloaded. Because what happens here is basically what we’ve seen with the humans since the start of the show, only this time, we spend a lot of the time learning about the Cylons.

It’s both surprising and refreshing to see a Cylon-focussed episode, but what’s especially interesting is that the same doubts and frailties are evident among the human-Cylons as we’ve been seeing with the crew of Galactica. This, of course, should be inevitable, given the Cylon link to humanity, but fleshing out the personalities of the foes that the Colonial Fleet is against further blurs the lines between good and bad.

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We spend most of the time in the company of copies of Sharon, Number 6 (complete, brilliantly, with a virtual version of Baltar giving her advice – how cool is that?) and Number 3 (D’Anna aka Xena The Warrior Princess). The former two are being widely hailed as heroes among the Cylon population for the pivotal role that the pair played in bringing down humanity, but given how close both of them had become to human beings, they’re both having problems. We know that when a Cylon is downloaded once more into a new body that they retain their memories and experiences, to learn from, but Sharon in particular we discover is acting strangely. Number Three sends the latest version of Number 6 to find out more, but this doesn’t prove to be a wise move.

After some initial reticence, the pair of them realise that their thinking is more closely aligned than they thought, and that both of them are very uncomfortable as celebrities. This is particularly so as both of them are regretting their actions, and feel that the genocide of the human race was very much the wrong thing to do.

The Cylons have an answer for when one of their models becomes too emotionally corrupted, and that’s they they’re ‘boxed’. This takes the memories away, and it sounds like the ultimate threat in Cylon society.

We get to see quite a bit more of the Cylons acting at leisure around Caprica, most notably when around 40 of them are sat in a café. This is a clever and nice scene, too, given the number of different copies who happen to be walking around. Eventually, Numbers 3 and 6, along with Sharon, leave the café and are heading up the stairs when there’s a massive explosion. It’s been set by the resistance, led by Starbuck’s mate, Anders, and it’s taken out most of the Cylons. But not, predictably, the three who’d just left the room, who are stranded in a garage.

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There too is Anders, who has some proverbial jousting with Number 3. But then in comes a change in Cylon behaviour, when after a bit of toing and froing, Number 6 kills Number 3. We’ve not seen the Cylons fighting each other before, and here we’re seeing them acting more as humans, whereas earlier in the season, we’d seen Admiral Cain being utterly robotic with her emotions. Never let it be said that Battlestar Galactica makes things nicely black and white for you.

In the end, both Sharon and Number 6 agree to fight the perception of humans among the Cylons. I might be wrong, but I’m guessing they’ll have a hell of a job on their hands.

There’s a major development too on the Galactica this episode, as if all of the Cylon in-fighting wasn’t enough. And the moment has arrived for the copy of Sharon on board to give birth to her child. Boy, is this likely to be a grenade lobbed into the middle of the already fractious world of Galactica. For there’s more deception in there, as Adama, Baltar and Roslin all agree to fake the death of the child – to the disgust of Dr Cottle, and place her with another mother. Entitled Hera, the baby is thus hidden away, while Sharon and Helo are left to grieve. Given how helpful Sharon has been, and given what we’ve seen just happen on Caprica, this could massively come back and haunt Galactica in the future.

Next up it’s the two part season finale, and after the episodes I’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t lay bets as to what to expect. I just don’t expect it to be quiet. If it’s up to the outstanding standard set here, then I’ll not be complaining. We’ll be looking at that next week, when we’ll bring these recaps to a close for the time being…

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