Jammer's Review

Battlestar Galactica

"Downloaded"

****

Air date: 2/24/2006
Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by Jeff Woolnough

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Now here's an episode of Battlestar Galactica that's made in the best tradition of classic Star Trek. Also Deep Space Nine, since it has all the messy and labyrinthine character relationships (not to mention two of its former writers). "Downloaded" is a morality play with the fascinating twists of science-fiction, creating a scenario that asks difficult human questions in circumstances no human being could ever experience.

It's hard to believe that this episode almost never happened ... or at the very least almost never happened at this point in time in this particular form. According to previous Ronald D. Moore commentaries (for the record, I listen to all the episode commentaries, but not until after I've written my reviews) "Resurrection Ship" was originally planned as one episode, with the slot for "Downloaded" assigned the status of a clip show because of budget constraints. When "Resurrection Ship" was expanded across two hours, "Downloaded" became possible. I am thankful. This might be BSG's best and most enlightening episode of the season. It's emotional, psychological, informational, and intellectual.

When a Cylon dies, he or she is downloaded into a new body, and we get to see that process first-hand in the episode's intriguing opening minutes. They play like a variation of The Matrix, with a traumatic birth-like emergence into a strange new world. Granted, "variation" is a polite way of saying "rip-off," but the idea itself is effective. Six wakes up in a download/resurrection chamber (a Matrix-like bathtub of transparent slime) after being killed in the nuclear blast of the miniseries. She's coaxed back to consciousness by her fellow Cylons, who guide her in rebirth like helpful parents. There's also a scene where Sharon, after being shot in "Resistance," undergoes a similar rebirth. Sharon's rebirth is far more horrifying than Six's, which is perhaps an insight into the natures of their programming and the duality they face in "Downloaded."

For me, however, 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.

Like I said, this is a morality play. It's about Six facing up to what she did and figuring out now what to do about it. Her choices play out through her interaction with Sharon, whom she has been assigned to help reintegrate into Cylon society. Sharon is even more wracked with guilt than Six, mostly because she wasn't aware of her assignment as she carried it out. In a society of lies and deception, Sharon is the ultimate victim because she was an unwitting perpetrator. The cosmic joke was not simply played upon her, but also used her as its instrument. Sharon is understandably bitter about that joke. Seeing Sharon, Six grows more troubled with the moral implications with each scene.

Another of the interesting aspects of "Downloaded" is that it shows us more about how the Cylons operate. Early scenes show the Cylons rebuilding occupied Caprica, and the dialog establishes more facts about the resurrection process that has been slowly but steadily revealed in previous episodes. (Even months after being reborn, Six confesses that she doesn't feel quite at home in her new body.) There's also the dynamic among the Cylons themselves. Six takes orders from a copy of D'Anna Biers (Lucy Lawless), who says that if Sharon can't be brought back in line with the acceptable Cylon temperament, she will be "boxed" — her memories put in cold storage. (This would be the Cylons' apparatus for quashing possible internal dissent.)

Watching "Downloaded," the other thing I couldn't help but think about was the long string of cause and effect and how all the characters in motion led us to this point. Consider the multiple Sharon roles: "Galactica Sharon" from season one is now "Caprica Sharon" here, and reveals to Six that Baltar is still alive. Of course, Galactica-turned-Caprica Sharon is the one who rescued Baltar from Caprica in her Raptor in the first place. Meanwhile, the Caprica Sharon of season one is now the Galactica Sharon of season two; after spending the entire first season on Caprica with Helo, she now carries their hybrid child. This sounds like a dizzying mess, but these characters have been so well established that we understand immediately who and where everyone is and why they feel what they feel.

The story crosscuts between Caprica and the events on the Galactica, where the pregnant Sharon has complications and must give birth to her daughter prematurely. The baby, named Hera, has underdeveloped lungs and must be incubated. This now means that Roslin and Adama must decide what they are going to do about this Cylon child. Meanwhile, Baltar, still believing he has a symbolic claim to this baby, hovers ominously over the proceedings, and I must point out that I love how all these characters are connected in such strange and twisted ways.

Roslin's plan for Hera could be its own morality play, and makes use of the classic ends-versus-means argument of necessity. She's right, and she's pragmatic, but she is not strictly moral. She decides that Sharon cannot be allowed to raise the child, and the Cylons cannot become aware of her. So she orders Dr. Cottle to take part in an elaborate kidnapping scheme while faking the death of the infant. Hera is turned over with a cover story to a human mother who has no idea she is becoming stepmom to a Cylon hybrid (and a potential future target).

The presumed death of Hera is understandably devastating to Sharon, who accuses Cottle of being part of a conspiracy to murder her baby. Notably, she's not wrong about the fact there's a conspiracy. Not only does the kidnapping of Hera open up future story possibilities, it also makes for a good intellectual companion alongside the Caprica storyline involving Six's and Sharon's own struggles of conscience. At one point, D'Anna says, "Humans don't respect life the way we do," which is smug hypocrisy coming from someone complicit in genocide. One could also argue that Roslin's willingness to treat the Cylon infant as an innocent is an action that speaks for itself. My only problem here is a plausibility detail: Just where did they find a dead baby that could substitute as a stand-in for Hera? Somehow, I doubt the fleet has conveniently similar female infant corpses just lying around.

There's also a thread in here involving Anders and the human resistance on Caprica (see "The Farm"), which uses guerilla war tactics to blow up a cafe full of Cylons. After the bomb goes off and everyone is buried in the rubble, much of the rest of the story is stripped down to a four-character dialog piece (Six, Sharon, D'Anna, Anders). Such pieces — involving a few characters wielding ideas much larger than themselves — were often an effective staple of Star Trek; it proves to be effective here, too.

The story arc is ultimately Six's: Her doubts about the destruction of humanity take her down a path toward a new destiny — that of a critic of Cylon policy. In seeing Sharon's plight and D'Anna's inflexibility, Six comes to realize what's right and wrong, and what she needs to do about it. She has a choice, and realizes her voice as a Cylon celebrity may carry more weight. Tricia Helfer's performance in the episode is crucial, and she's up to the task. Helfer communicates a lot with looks and glances, suggesting depth, guilt, and introspection. She creates a character we can empathize with and eventually root for, because we want to see Six think for herself and go against the establishment. She was a villain; now she's something else. "What kind of people are you?" Anders asks her. "I don't know," she responds.

And always in the back of her mind is Baltar, coaxing her in that new direction. She loved him, and wants to do right by him. When she kills D'Anna and decides to embarks on a new path with Sharon, the image of Baltar tells her, "I have never loved anyone more in my life than I love you now." The message is that love makes us see not only the other person but also ourselves, and it can make us try to become better people. That's what Six experiences in "Downloaded."

Previous episode: The Captain's Hand
Next episode: Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 1

Season Index

52 comments on this review

Confuzzled - Mon, Apr 21, 2008 - 10:50am (USA Central)
Hi Jammer,

While I agree this was a 4-star episode, it confused me a little. Do you have any insight into what the extent of this "download" process is?

It would seem to me that the downloaded consciousness is in a 1:1 ratio, meaning that when a cylon dies, it's memories are downloaded to a new body and to that new body only. So how does that explain how the Sharon on Galactica has the memories as well? Is it a 1 to 1 download, or are the memories dissemenated to all the Sharon models. I'm fuzzy on the subject.

It's also worth noting that I've not yet seen season 3 or 4 yet, so therefore should I just wait??
David - Fri, Aug 1, 2008 - 5:45pm (USA Central)
Like Confuzzled, I'm also still unclear about how the original Caprica Sharon had memories from the (at the time) Galactica "Boomer" Sharon, when she had not yet died. (???) I've seen everything up through the mid-season finale of S3 and I still don't get it. If Jammer has some idea, it'd be nice to get a comment if he's got a moment.

But on the point raised by Jammer in the review about the baby corpse used to fool Helo and Sharon: I thought the implications from the dialogue--as well as the otherwise unnecessary repeat of the plot-point heard over the radio that Roslin had recently banned abortion--was that one of a handful of pregnant women in the fleet who'd like to abort late-term was allowed to do so if the fetus could be used as a stand-in baby corpse for this deception. The dialogue is cryptic, but I thought that was what was going on when Roslin hands over a list of "qualifies and willing" names to Cottle. I don't think Cottle would be involved in making a choice about who would be a good adoptive mother for the baby--who needs a Doctor to make that decision? So surely he's looking over a list of late-term pregnancies of women who've voiced that they would have an abortion if they could get it legally? So then he finds one that he thinks will yield the appropriate fetus to stand in for Hera, performs that desired abortion in secret, and it's win-win for both the woman who wanted the abortion and the adoptive mother of Hera? That's how I saw it, so I'm surprised to see Jammer mention it as a plot-hole. Did I just somehow make all this up? Wouldn't be surprised if I did, but I think it makes sense!
Jammer - Sat, Aug 2, 2008 - 1:44am (USA Central)
David,

Your analysis of the Roslin/Cottle scene, I must say, makes a hell of a lot of sense. I'd have to go back to the scene itself to reconfirm, but based on what you've mentioned here, I think you've made a point that I completely missed. And, if so, that's a dark and interesting development. Wow. Never thought of that.
David - Mon, Aug 4, 2008 - 12:02pm (USA Central)
Jammer,

My girlfriend thinks the reason it's all done so subtly--to a fault, such that one is likely to miss it--is that it was getting into more controversy than even BSG and the network would be comfortable with given the widespread sensitivity about very late-term abortions. But, yes, please on your next rewatch keep this in mind and see if it's not apparent to you as well. Cheers.
Greg - Fri, Feb 6, 2009 - 5:12pm (USA Central)
Very late to the game on this discussion, but wow, David has a very interesting take on that scene with Cottle and Roslin.

I don't have anything to support the theory or fight against it, but take a look the 'death' scene with Cottle, Sharon and Helo later in the episode. The exchange of ashes, "murderer!," and "I don't kill patients" is particularly interesting in terms of Cottle. In the episode previous, he seems very willing to terminate a 4-month pregnancy ("I don't ask a lotta questions" he says to Adama) but it'd be very difficult to argue that a (potentially unborn) baby such as the one presented to Sharon and Helo is NOT a human life. Later when Roslin explains to Cottle WHY it had to happen, the man looks truly sick to his stomach. Never in the series has Cottle ever been shown this way.

The fact that The Captain's Hand and Downloaded are shown back to back suggests a very, very subtle, dark, and interesting mini-arc. The subtle development (as David said, subtle almost to a fault) would certainly be lost on viewers seeing the episodes too far apart - and combining them into a single episode would have likely produced extremely hammy and OBVIOUS results.

Good job David, seriously. This may not have been the producers' intentions, but the way it appears on screen it is difficult to argue AGAINST what you suggest. BSG comes off as a deeper-written series than a lot of people give it credit for. Myself included, and I am one of the show's biggest supporters.
Toph in Blacksburg - Wed, Jun 17, 2009 - 8:16pm (USA Central)
Like Greg, I am late to the discussion of this episode. I agree that it was a 4-star episode, and must point out my favorite five seconds: When Caprica-six is asking about what happened to Baltar and we hear a "shh"-ing sound followed by the reveal of head-Baltar. I don't know about anyone else, but for about 4-5 seconds I really thought this was a reveal of Baltar being a Cylon. The writers smartly debunked that thought immediately, but wow, did it have my shocked attention for those few moments. :)
Hasjtracker - Mon, Apr 19, 2010 - 11:30pm (USA Central)
The list of names Roslin gives the doctor is a list of mothers,not a list of baby corpses/future abortions.

The assistent hands out the list saying : capeable,willing,anonumous and trustworthy.

Something you can say about a future mother/stepmother and not about a baby thats part human or better said alive.

Unless Roslin uses her glasses to scan pregant bellies of all prospects she doesnt know the outcome of the baby apperal etc anymore then we do.

Anyone who has kids,knows that you know every wrinkle and exactly where that resistant hair is.Not even talking about hair and eye color,the fact that she is part asian(or robotic asian).

As a plotdevice its ok,but using this as a excuse to make more of the story then it is isnt :)

Hope to make sense,english is my third language and highschool was ages ago.
Max Udargo - Tue, Jun 22, 2010 - 9:50pm (USA Central)
I have to say, it was so much fun seeing Baltar tormenting Six the way she has long tormented him. Baltar is definitely somebody you don't want inside your head.

The only problem I had was that reborn Six seemed jarringly different from killed-in-Baltar's-lake-house Six. The Six that shields Baltar from the shock wave is icy calm and composed, indifferent to Baltar's emotions, the destruction of Caprica, and her own impending death. Remember, this is the individual who snapped a baby's neck just days (hours?) before Caprica was destroyed, and she apparently did it for the same reason Johnny Cash shot that guy in Reno. But as soon as she's reborn, she's suddenly a tormented soul pining for her lost love. I'm intrigued by where this is going, but it was a big cheat.

Brendan - Sun, Jul 4, 2010 - 1:25pm (USA Central)
The most important line of the episode hasn't been mentioned here. At the end when Doral says "they're down here, they're alive!", Six turns to Sharon and says "yes.... we're alive". It echoes the first line she had in the miniseries, "are you alive?", because they didn't really understand what it meant... until now. And that's a big turning point.
bigpale - Sun, Feb 20, 2011 - 9:01am (USA Central)
Sorry if already stated, but I'm pretty sure it was implied that Maya's dead newborn baby was the "stand-in" for Hera.

She said something like "When I lost my baby..." which is where I get that. I don't think it's a mystery, or that the BSG has a container of stillborn infants lying around.
AeC - Sat, Apr 30, 2011 - 3:07pm (USA Central)
I assumed the same as bigpale, that it was Maya's baby.

@Max: I don't recall whether this notion was ever put forth, nor do I know whether it will be revealed in future episodes to be the case, but regarding Six killing the baby in the miniseries, I always read that scene as Six, knowing that the Cylon holocaust is imminent, showing mercy and giving the infant a quick, painless death, sparing it from what could have been a far worse fate. In that light, it could have been considered the first indications of her internal conflict over the Cylon occupation/genocide.
Nick P. - Sat, May 21, 2011 - 2:57pm (USA Central)
@Hasjtracker:

I think you are overestimating parenting. I am a parent myself of 2 amazing boys, and I recognize every square millimeter of them. But they are not just-born, and just born premature at that. I remember thinking at the hospital that I didn't want them separated from us for the very real reason that if they gave us the wrong one back, I really wouldn't be able to tell.

@maxundergo:

I completely agree, this six is barely recognizable personality wise, as the previous six.
Ilya - Thu, Jun 2, 2011 - 12:30pm (USA Central)
Wow. What an awesome episode. Not only BSG is back to its story-driven show, but events of this episode throw a lot of things viewers thought about the plot into question.

So, Baltar is a Cylon! ... No, he is not, he is a Hallucination, akin to Galactica Six. Why is he a Hallucination? Are Balter and Caprica Six just imagining seeing each other? Well, Galactica Six seemed to have insights into incidents with Olympic Carrier and Baltar's security photo, that Baltar could not have known. Were those coincidences? Inconsistent writing? I hope not. On the other hand, Galactica Six did not know that "her" baby was still alive, which is a pretty big omniscience fail on her part.

On a personal level, it was so rewarding seeing Caprica Six tormented by Baltar. With "her" being a major villain for the entire show so far, it was REALLY nice to see her reduced to a shaking, neurotic mess, like what she did to Galactica Baltar.

Seeing "real" Sharon again was nice. She also gets the most emotionally poignant line in the episode "I shot a man I love, and fracked up life of another one".

Well, let's see how Six's and Sharon's "We are alive" revolution plays out. Too bad, next 2 episodes are rated as only 3 stars.
Nic - Tue, Jul 12, 2011 - 9:25am (USA Central)
!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is without a doubt the best episode since "Pegasus". If "Epiphanies" was channelling an average TNG episode, that "Downloaded" is channelling the very best of TNG and DS9, but it's doing so on its own terms an in a way that doesn't feel like a rehash.

Personally, I buy Six's transformation. Although back in the Miniseries I wouldn't have believed she was in love with Baltar, it was obvious she cared about him enough to protect him from the explosion. That plus her transmission to a new body (which we learn is very traumatic and life-changing) could have brought those feelings to the surface. I love her inner Baltar much much more than I liked Baltar's inner Six.
Nic - Tue, Jul 12, 2011 - 11:24am (USA Central)
I also buy that Caprica-Sharon (who is now Galactica-Sharon) would have Boomer's memories. Her original mission was to pretend to BE Bommer so Helo would fall in love with her, so it would make sense that to be able to accomplish that mission she would be given Boomer's memories, which are probably archived on a regular basis.
Weiss - Wed, Aug 17, 2011 - 3:54pm (USA Central)
Tricia once said in an interview, that she views the killing of the baby, not as an act of cruelty, but mercy. she knew the holocaust was coming and killed the baby to prevent it from experiencing it.
Michael - Sat, Nov 19, 2011 - 1:39am (USA Central)
Wow, wow, wow, WOW!! A stupendous show!!

LOVED the suspense when we thought Baltar was a cylon for those few brief seconds.

LOVED the reversal of Six's and Baltar's usual roles.

LOVED Boomer's retort to Six's religious tripe about "god's love": She takes a photo of her and her colleagues and exclaims "THIS is love! THESE people love me!"

LOVED the conclusion.

* * *

I was never clear about how Baltar survived the thermonuclear blast: The force, the heat, the radiation. Six's body shielded him but cylons' bodies are pretty much just as fragile as humans'. Six was obviously vaporized; how come Baltar escapes with no more than a few cuts and bruises?

* * *

The opening sequences of cylon rebirth are very confusing. There is anguish, torment, insecurity, pain. There is necessity to be comforted and soothed by the attending cylons. And then the entire premise of Six and Boomer "coming to terms" with their actions. How can that be if cylons are--as we are repeatedly told--mere machines with software?! How are they capable of genuine, un-manufactured emotions?? What's the deal with their interactions on Caprica, their strolling around in a park, rebuilding savaged cities, the cafe...? Put it in other words: How can there be mass-produced machines that are unique in actions, desires, thoughts, tastes, intentions... - i.e. machines with individual personalities???

I would surmise that it is because they are, in fact, not mere machines. There must be a clear biological component in there, which extends beyond the reproduction of the (somewhat enhanced) physical human body. As we saw a few episodes back, that extends to the actual machine-like cylons, namely Scar in that case.

If so, and I see little contradictory evidence, then the cylons--and this entire story--are far more interesting than I imagined. The cylons are not Star Trek's Borg or a Terminator-like amorphous assembly-line of mechanical units. Would that make them, pretty much, bionic humans? It certainly makes them weaker and more vulnerable than initially portrayed. It also vitiates Galactica crew's unremitting insistence that they are just hardware and software.

The question is: Where does their cylon-ness stop and "humanity" begin, or vice-verse? Galactica's Boomer evidently has strong feelings for Helo and has redeemed herself many times over; yet, can there ever be any guarantee that she HAS "crossed the Rubicon" and could/would never be incited to do harm to humans again?
Elliott - Tue, Jan 3, 2012 - 11:19pm (USA Central)
Regarding the change to Six :

Let's not forget the series makes a point of calling downloading "rebirth" and "resurrection" and (plagiarised or not) the new models are born as though in a baptismal font (the symbol is appropriate given their belief in a proto-Judeo-Christian god). One cardinal idea of baptism is that is the beginning of a whole new life, a new existence--one need not be the same person he was before, even though he carries the same memories.

I may have acquired a bit of infamy for pissing and moaning about DS9's handling of religious topics, because I think they were poorly handled on that series, but BSG has (for the most part) done a superb job of demonstrating a nuanced and meaningful understanding of religious belief and practice. Bravo.
Nick P. - Sun, Jan 29, 2012 - 11:50pm (USA Central)
Uhhhh, mixed feeling upon the re-watch.

SPOILERS.....

After having finished the series now I can honestly say this was the hardest episode to watch from a continuity point of view. I would never say it made the show hard to watch, obviously, BSG is incredible, but this one through me some curveballs, in relation to the rest of the series. This episode plants the seeds of the little cylon civil war that comes later, but whats' the point of anything in between? In fact, what is the point of the any of the cylons motivations at all? It all seems somewhat pointless in the context of the new-Caprica arc. So they were going to pursue peace....OK...Then why the occupation?

They wanted to ignore the humans just to control them? I think it can all be explained as your watching, but after finishing the series you can't help but get the feeling that the Caprica arc was nothing more than a story telling vehicle to get Hera to the Cylons, get Baltar on a Baseship, get rid of Ellen and Tighs' eye, and numerous other character marks. I think the fact that the entire 4 months occupation and escape is a mere 4 episodes testifies to this conclusion.

This didn't bother me so much on the first run through, but now the whole New Caprica arc is a little more plot vehicle obvious to me (and others judging by some of the comments) And I think a good chunk of that is just the placement of this episode. I think the producers messed one up here. I think it would have been better almost anywhere else in the series, but a couple eps before the occupation just keeps flashing in my mind as completely in the wrong place. This would have been PERFECT after the New Caprica arc.

Plus, I was never a fan of revealing to much of baddies. Let's be honest, we all love BSG, but the Cylons were never scary after this episode were they?
Nick P. - Sun, Jan 29, 2012 - 11:52pm (USA Central)
I gotta just come out and say it. This is my least favourite episode.
Justin - Sat, Jul 7, 2012 - 2:19am (USA Central)
"Remember, this is the individual who snapped a baby's neck just days (hours?) before Caprica was destroyed, and she apparently did it for the same reason Johnny Cash shot that guy in Reno. But as soon as she's reborn, she's suddenly a tormented soul pining for her lost love. I'm intrigued by where this is going, but it was a big cheat."

@Max, maybe Six woke up with the Astral Queen Blues...
Caleb - Thu, Jul 19, 2012 - 11:57am (USA Central)
Six snapped the babies neck as a mercy kill, so it wouldn't slowly die from radiation poisoning or starvation or something horrific like that if it wasn't killed in one of the blasts. I thought that was pretty clear, so Six's moral wrestling does go all the way back to the beginning.
Anyway... awesome episode, one of the best, and so far the highlight of season 2 for me.
chris - Wed, Oct 17, 2012 - 5:12am (USA Central)
In the "Farm" episode, when Kara kills that "Simon" (if i can recall his name) Cylon doctor, he comes back in his new body to confront Kara after a few minutes.

But in this episode, we see that the "downloading" phase lasts a lot longer actually.
Patrick - Sat, Jan 12, 2013 - 1:32am (USA Central)
@Nick Umm, no. This episode was setting up the New Caprica arc. The whole point of New Caprica was that it was the Cylon's first attempt and peace with the colonials. Only, they went about it in an American intervention in the Middle East kind of way. It seems you have COMPLETELY missed the point of that arc.
Nick P. - Tue, Jan 15, 2013 - 1:59pm (USA Central)
@Patrick,

I did not miss the point. Since I made that comment, I have listened to the Ron Moore podcasts, and I only feel moreso on my opinions. In fact, in the podcast he even says "my only fear would have been that the Cylons will come out not as scary after we reveal their society, sort of like what happened on Next Gen with the Borg." That is from Ron Moore, the creator of this show.

Further, he reveals that in the initial drafts of the Occupation arc, the "motivation" of the cylons was that they were after Hera, and the whole occupation was a distraction until they could confirm where Hera was. They were going to kill all the humans after they found her. With all the re-writes they just got away from the motivation of why the Cylons are there. Which is exactly my point. The Cylons have no real motivation for what they are doing. It is obvious (to me) that Ron Moore wanted a story about thye Cylons Occupying a human settlement, and he bent heaven and hell to get that story.

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVED the occupation arc. My complaint is that of the 4 seasons of BSG, that was the least organic of the entire series. It all just seemed to manufactured to get to a certain point.

Back to Downloaded, I still think that between the caprica arc and this episode, the cylons were never scary again.
J - Mon, Jul 29, 2013 - 5:18pm (USA Central)
By the way, and I know I'm late too, but regarding David's comments about the baby; I saw that happening as well. In fact, I didn't even think it was that subtle. The girl who wanted an abortion said she lost her baby, and she was also given the Cylon baby as a replacement. The only reason that girl was even in this episode was to give them a baby to abort and give to Sharon. Otherwise they wouldn't have needed her, they could have just shipped the baby off to a mother that was never involved in the episode.
Teejay - Tue, Aug 20, 2013 - 3:45am (USA Central)
Regarding Max's comments on Six:

I don't think she was as cold as you think. Once I'm done with the series, I'll have to go back and watch the miniseries to be sure, but if I'm remembering correctly as Six walked away after killing the baby she seemed, at least by her facial expression, to be rather upset about what had just occurred. Now she was looking upward as she did this; was this a "looking up to God" for forgiveness? Was it her subtly questioning why God would want to destroy humans? Was it something else? I'll wait until I watch it again to see what i think or if I'm totally off-base, but otherwise I think there was a complexity displayed even that early on in the series you might've missed. Or I'm crazy(which is entirely possible :) )
beej - Thu, Sep 26, 2013 - 1:17am (USA Central)
@Chris

Yeah, that was the first thing I thought of when I watched this episode. The Cylon doctor that confronted Starbuck maybe could be explained away by saying it's another copy, but then it surely should've been a lot more surprised to stumble upon her exiting the hospital.
Jason D - Tue, Mar 25, 2014 - 10:54pm (USA Central)
Excellent review, excellent ep. This season went off the rails after Ressurection Ship. Watching Black Market through Captain's Hand, I started to wonder where BSG had gone (yes, even 'Hand,' because by that point I was seriously sick of Lee Adama and his new-job-every-episode).

This story gets BSG back on track and away from cop shows, hostage situations, and ruminations on abortion rights (oy).

We were overdue for an update on Caprica's cylons and humans, overdue for a resolution with Sharon's baby, and way overdue for some insight into cylon society. Beyond that, this episode corrects a series-long problem for me: why should I care about the rights, religion, and emergent humanisim of the cylons when the whole show is about their attempt to kill all humans? "Downloaded" provides a firmer foundation for these recurring themes than just "hey, this Sharon is helping now." Good stuff.

And Jammer called it - Six seeing Baltar was a "masterstroke."
Michael - Wed, Mar 26, 2014 - 1:21am (USA Central)
@Jason D:
Let me respond to your two points (from my own point of view, of course).

I found the "cop shows, hostage situations, and ruminations on abortion rights" were in a way necessary to let myself calm down, let my brain process the enormity of the preceding events, and be able to establish an understanding for - and even a rapport with - the remnant human population. The human race had just undergone an existential cataclysm, barely making it out alive. If you ask me, the effects of that and how the shibboleths of that race behaved in the aftermath could have been explored even further (and, admittedly, much better). I always wondered what would happen to us if we underwent such a profound experience in real life. If the Katrina wake is anything to go by, many of us would turn into savages (looting, rapes, murders) whereas it would bring out the very best in others. We might find out sooner than we think: A rogue solar flare has been estimated would send us back to the stone age for the best part of a decade (no electricity, hence no gas, no food distribution or production, no water pumps, etc.). Anyway, knock on wood...

Your second point, i.e. "why should I care about the rights, religion, and emergent humanisim of the cylons when the whole show is about their attempt to kill all humans?" is more important than you think. There is a very influential "school of thought," primarily in the West, which these days advocates never ever breaching certain principles. Just yesterday someone wrote in a Star Trek episode comment that they were dismayed humanity still had boxing and "violent" sports in the 24th century. Then you have those who would prohibit torture of any kind under any circumstances, even in a hypothetical "ticking bomb" scenario. Such mentality is also seen in actual real-world situations: When the British navy caught a bunch of Somali pirates who had been hijacking boats and kidnapping their crews for multimillion-dollar ransoms, instead of literally blowing them out of the water, they wrapped them in blankets, made them hot tea, and provided them with a skiff back to the shore. You really couldn't make it up.

I think the more time passes for certain parts of the world to live cocooned away from violence, especially wars, the more of this way of thinking we are going to see. Previous generations went through some kind of a conflict about 2-3 times a century, and they recognized that fire must sometimes be fought with fire. They realized that when someone is trying to destroy you, you shoot first and, MAYBE, ask questions later. These days you have college-sociology-inspired "debates": the "we're all human," "why can't we all just get along," "let's try to understand their point of view" drivel. There's nothing wrong with that per se; it is just that it takes us to the other, extreme pacifist, er, extreme.

Therefore, were we to find ourselves in B.S.G.-type scenario, I do believe there would be nutjobs who would seriously advocate a nonviolent approach to endeavor to "resolve" the conflict.
Paul M. - Wed, Mar 26, 2014 - 9:47am (USA Central)
@Michael: "Previous generations went through some kind of a conflict about 2-3 times a century, and they recognized that fire must sometimes be fought with fire. They realized that when someone is trying to destroy you, you shoot first and, MAYBE, ask questions later."

Don't you think that previous generations had war all the time precisely BECAUSE they shot first and asked questions later?

Seems pretty straightforward.
Michael - Wed, Mar 26, 2014 - 11:13am (USA Central)
@Paul M.:
...and in a world that universally subscribed to such a view, it WOULD indeed be "pretty straightforward."

As it happens though, much if not most of the world does not quite see it that way and the notion that nonviolence and reason always ultimately prevail is total nonsense. Violence and use of extreme force IS sometimes necessary. What is more, total annihilation of your enemy is also sometimes necessary.

In the present context, if we were fighting B.S.G.-style war, I would consider those advocating rapprochement with the Cylons every bit as much an enemy as the Cylons themselves.
SFKeepay - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 3:49pm (USA Central)
The Baltar reveal, complete with brilliant lighting, camerawork, and a perfect musical cue, left me thunderstruck, although for some reason my immediate take wasn't "whoa...Baltar's a cylon?!" it was "Wow! Six has a Baltar chorus just like Baltar has a Six chorus! WTF?" Awesome moment, second only to the final four (of five) reveal/Kara back from the dead episode. If felt like a loop closing with some weird, perfect logic back in on itself. And regardless of how one might feel about where this plot thread was taken afterwards, this was a brilliant hour, and Tricia Hefler was amazing, and very well supported here by Park and Lawless. Almost every moment Lawless was onscreen, I felt an undercurrent of danger, even malice and hatred. Her performance, unlike Hefler, isn't at all subtle, but is nevertheless nuanced, paced, and very effective; she suggests a capacity for immediate, unconcerned lethality that forces one always to stay on one's guard.
Park, meanwhile, has a hell of a job here. To Jammer's point about what a mess all these multiple versions of various digits could be, and yet are so well executed as to be perfectly clear, I had to remind myself that Park was of course Sharon on Galactica, giving birth (well, a c-section anyway) and losing a child (well, or so she thought) AND Sharon on Caprica, caught in a mind game with Lawlwess and buried under a building. Hell of a day at the office, but she manages to inhabit both characters so well as to effectively dispell the very fact of it.

Michael, you seem to think that torture is permissable under some circumstances, and even that it is effective. Please forgive me if I have misinterpreted you. The "ticking bomb" scenario does, for me, change the moral equation, except that the scenario is a hypothetical. It is akin to, and onky slightly more likely to occur than, the "would you throw the switch that diverts the train and kills one person if it will save five people" schtik.

Yes, pop culture and Mr. Rumsfeld et.al. would have us believe It, but reallly, it's preposterous; if it has ever happened, or ever does, it must be vanishingly rare. It is just a rhetorical device to take us, manipulate us really, into following a logic that immediately and of necessity deviates from reality. I think, for what it's worth, that we should beware always these quick calls for violence from people who have never seen war. Underneath there is, at least it seems to me, a pornagraphic distance from all consequnce at best, and too often a history of rage and helplessness via discredited discipline twisted by decades into gleeful, smug, eager nihilism and cruelty. Torture is morally wrong. Killing is morally wrong, although because so many seem not to realize or believe that, it is sometimes necessary.

But if you must, torture also does not work. It does not work, except, that is, for those who have been trained to expect it, and who can so easily manipulate their captors. The facts are now largely public record, and all the claims for tortures' effectiveness in revealing important terrorist-fighting "intel" have been proven false. The truth is unequivocal.

I believed it, for a time, because they said it so often, over and over and over and over, that it "yielded actionable information we couldn't have gotten any other way." But all that was so much bull****.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I accepted it. I could blame the Wolfowitz and Cheney crowd, or the spineless, corporate-controlled media, but that would be a cop out. The truth was written into history for all, and certainly for me, to see; It seems as though we are condemned to learn this stuff over and over. Well, I had to anyway :-(.

ES - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 9:06pm (USA Central)
1. Don't spoil future episodes for future readers.

2. Her name is Tricia Helfer
Michael - Wed, Jul 9, 2014 - 11:46am (USA Central)
@SFKeepay:
Yes, I support torture. TO be honest, I don't support it ONLY because it may and does yield invaluable information. I support it also because, and I won't mince my words here, most of the bastards deserve it. Gods know they'd have ZERO compunction about torturing me or my loved ones, so they may as well be taken out of the equation. Having said that, I have to confess that I would personally find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to torture someone--anyone--personally.

I found a snippet you wrote very insightful (though for different reasons than those intended): "[W]e should beware always these quick calls for violence from people who have never seen war." This is the biggest and the (perhaps only) unfortunate side-effect of the West not having had to fight a war on its own soil for several generations. We have grown up not having a clue about what happens in a war and getting all our ideas about it from movies and video games. At the same time, we have been increasingly getting our values--including concerning warfare--from "alternative media," assorted sociologists, various theorists, Facebook activists, etc. The end result is that we feel perfectly qualified to pontificate about what a soldier should do or have done in the heat of battle (because real battles also have a pause button, you see, that one can press and then proceed to ponder and make a fully rational decision in consonance with international legal norms). Crucially, we idiotically end up thinking that our opponents share those values and worldviews of ours (or that they will somehow rub off on them), and that they will not torture us, murder our civilians in cold blood, rape our women, etc. I fear imagine how we would fight World War 2 today. I cannot envision any of our leaders deciding to, say, bomb Dresden or drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima or Nagasaki, even though such "atrocities" and "war crimes" were instrumental in our winning the war and ending it before earlier than it otherwise would have (thereby, of course, saving thousands of further lives).

If, by some chance, the Moslem terrorists vandalizing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, and others do bring the fight to a town or city near you, I hope you grow a pair real quick and get over your aversion of doing The Unthinkable(TM); otherwise, we don't stand a prayer in hell
Paul M. - Wed, Jul 9, 2014 - 1:08pm (USA Central)
Michael, why don't you then support the same philosophy back home (in the US, I presume)? If someone tortures a member of your family, do you think the state should torture the perpetrator because "he deserves it"?
Michael - Wed, Jul 9, 2014 - 2:11pm (USA Central)
@Paul M.:
In a way, I do. I am a firm believer in long prison sentences in harsh conditions. I maintain that prisons are about punishment and revenge first, with rehabilitation a distant second. It is nothing short of offensive that many prisoners lead more comfortable lives incarcerated than they ever did or could on the outside. I also support a swift and cheap capital punishment for certain crimes.

To clarify: I don't believe in pulling nails and electroshocking perps, even utter scumbags, unless there is rocksolid proof they have important information but are unwilling to relinquish it. But I have no problem with some terrorist slimeball having the bejesus beaten out of him, whether he's hiding something or not.
Paul M. - Wed, Jul 9, 2014 - 2:50pm (USA Central)
Thing is we have evidence, real solid evidence, on the efficiency of rehabilitation vs "punishment and revenge".

As I understand it, US prison system is pretty brutal, especially prisons housing dangerous criminals. US has huge incarceration rates, enormous murder rates, etc. As far as I understand, the harshness of the system isn't all that helpful in combating these trends.

European incarceration systems, and especially Nordic, are much more humane and geared towards rehabilitation. And guess what? Violent crime is much much lower than overseas.

I mean, if you put away a young guy, a criminal, in a max security prison where he's treated like an animal, what do you think he'll do once he gets out? According to published data, recidivism in the US is the highest among the developed countries.

If you want to follow "eye for an eye" philosophy, then I guess, that's OK. If you want to build a safe and humane society, well... there's factual evidence that "punishment and vengeance" is NOT the way to go. Priorities, priorities...
Elliott - Wed, Jul 9, 2014 - 3:14pm (USA Central)
The only possible justification for what Michael supports is satiating the emotional needs of victims and the public. If one's goals are safety, intel, funds efficacy, and peace, there is no question that humane, non-torturous military strategy and domestic incarceration are the best options.
William B - Wed, Jul 9, 2014 - 3:21pm (USA Central)
Yeah, I'm with Paul M. and Elliott on this one. HOWEVER, I do acknowledge that, as they say, if one views the emotional needs of the victims as paramount, then Michael's reasoning makes sense. I'm not being facetious. The emotional needs of the victims really *are* important. I personally can't condone torture or punishment-for-punishment's sake, but I also know that I've never been the victim of a violent crime, and I have a hard time *condemning* victims for wanting people who have hurt them from suffering. I think that's an unwise tactic for a society to take, and I think hurting people unnecessarily is wrong -- but I also know that I say that from a position of privilege.
Michael - Wed, Jul 9, 2014 - 5:22pm (USA Central)
@Paul M.:
Well, England seems to be a glaring exception to the rule you postulate. Its prisons are a joke, and the rate of recidivism off the charts. The U.S. has a massive prison population as well as a high murder rate, but--crucially--the murder is not being done by those incarcerated. So, attempting to construe a crime rate prison conditions correlation is meaningless. There are some other factors that determine how violent a society is, and that is worthy of a whooooooooooole other discussion. Now, is prison supposed to serve as a deterrent or to punish or to "rehabilitate"?

Before I delve into that question, let me just state that I DO subscribe to the "an eye for an eye" philosophy. I do not believe in any afterlife, and hence hold that justice, insofar as possible, has to be exacted in this life. And to me, someone who brutalizes an innocent individual should be brutalized him/herself, not hugged and encouraged to declaim about his/her childhood "traumas." Simple as that.

Now, see, here's my core belief: If a perpetrator of a crime really, genuinely feels remorse for what he/she did, then even an hour of incarceration is extraneous. OTOH, if he/she does not end up feeling remorse, then decades of doing time serve little actual purpose. I think that (1) whether a person feels such remorse cannot be measured or ascertained with any degree of certainty, and (2) such remorse cannot be induced in any way through any techniques (and claims to the contrary are meaningless anyway, owing to (1)). With that in mind, I fully support prison with all its harshness--and preferably more.

One day we might be able to devise methods to alter some of the above. For instance, if we manage to find a way to reprogram a criminal's mind, then we would, in effect, create a new person and the criminal would be "dead." That, of course, is likely to be strenuously opposed by the liberals who will probably come up with some facocta "right to personhood" baloney. Alternatively, a scientist recently released musings about the possibility of programming a criminal's brain to feel as if it had been imprisoned for centuries, possibly factitious memories of severe punishment (victims' thoughts, feelings, imagery, etc.). Though still very much science fiction, that, too, has evinced objections as being "cruel and unusual" punishment.

*sigh*

Can't win...
Michael - Wed, Jul 9, 2014 - 5:30pm (USA Central)
Well, thanks for this discussion, guys. It's refreshing to be able to have a civilized exchange of views without it degenerating into a flame-war.

I guess this issue depends on one's ethical perspective. To me, it's foremost a matter of justice being done and being seen to be done. Some call it revenge; I call it achieving a balance.

In any event, we've digressed here from the original topic, which is the permissibility of torture. In a scenario as depicted on this show--an existential war at the verge of being lost and an enemy combatant who most likely has vital information but it not prepared to divulge it--, I support torture without any reservations or qualms. Put in a situation like that, I might even perform the torture myself.
Peremensoe - Sat, Jul 12, 2014 - 10:41am (USA Central)
Good god, Michael. If *forcibly reprogramming someone's mind* isn't cruel and unusual, I don't know what would be. More civilized to just execute them.
Michael - Sun, Jul 13, 2014 - 12:02pm (USA Central)
@Peremensoe:
Just as I thought. Neural reprogramming is out. Lengthy prison sentences in harsh conditions are out. The capital punishment is--I'll go out on a limb here and assume--out.

How DO we punish... - oh, oops, my bad: Punishments are vengeful, hence barbaric, hence outdated. How do we ADDRESS (better?) those who transgress against the society, often with destructive and disastrous consequences? How do we deal with those who leave another person in a wheelchair for the rest of their life or those who destroy a family by murdering a loved one or those who condemn a person to a living death by raping them, etc.?

I guess the "enlightened" and "progressive" answer is to understand them, appreciate how they did their little misdeed because they were disadvantaged and/or disenfranchised, empower them by allowing them to express themselves and their feelings, perhaps even give them a warm hug. Above all, let them know they're not alone...

*barf*

(To make matters infinitely worse, I did not make ANY of the foregoing up! Such "perspectives" are actually espoused and promoted by some... - usually those who never experienced serious crime.)

Call me a Neanderthal but give me a good old death sentence over any of that any day of the week. I'll pull the lever myself.
Elliott - Sun, Jul 13, 2014 - 3:04pm (USA Central)
Michael, what is the source of your sarcasm? I think there can be little doubt on how you feel about this issue, but why do you feel this way?

Punishments are meant to teach people by negative reenforcement; parents don't punish their children so they suffer, they do it in the hopes they will learn a lesson. A dead man (or a man so abused as to have been tortured) cannot make a contribution to society. He cannot make up for his crime. I grant that there are some criminals who cannot be reformed, and they become burdens to the state--just like the infermed, the elderly, the poor and the disenfranchised. How we treat those burdens says something about the kind of people we are and the kinds of lives we deserve.
Michael - Sun, Jul 13, 2014 - 3:58pm (USA Central)
@Elliott:
(I know this is long; just read the last paragraph if nothing else.)

Firstly, I think we're conflating two issues: criminal justice and torture. I think I made my views on torture clear: I oppose without reservations sadistic torture for its own sake, but hold it to be a perfectly legitimate tool in the arsenal of methods of extracting information that is (1) valuable, and (2) certain to be there.

As far as the criminal justice and penal systems, I am guided by the simple rule: retribution before rehabilitation. Yes, I believe in revenge (though I call it justice), not compassion, toward criminals. A mugger, rapist, murderer, child abuser, etc. does not perpetrate crimes out of ignorance; they are fully cognizant of what they are doing but, generally speaking, do not care. Even when there are "extenuating circumstances," such as "diminished responsibility," I do not care: I am primarily interested in redressing the crime.

To me, prison is not about deterrence; it is about ex post facto punishment, which I believe has to be proportional and proportionate to the gravity of the crime. Period.

Put it this way: If some bored, hopped-up youth pulled a knife on, say, my mom in order to rob her, causing her distress, trauma, injury, and worse, I want to see that little S.O.B./D.O.B. punished. And punishment, to me, is done by keeping the robber in such appalling conditions for an appropriate amount of time that he/she never thinks about pulling such sh!@ ever again. "Rehabilitating" them using "modern," "enlightened," "progressive" methods MAY do the same thing (though statistics are very sketchy), but they lack the punishment aspect, which I believe is paramount in combating crime.

Hope that explains it.
Paul M. - Mon, Jul 14, 2014 - 3:44am (USA Central)
Michael, I appreciate your position, but I find several logical and practical problems there.

"I think I made my views on torture clear: I oppose without reservations sadistic torture for its own sake, but hold it to be a perfectly legitimate tool in the arsenal of methods of extracting information that is (1) valuable, and (2) certain to be there."

And who should determine the value of information and if it's certain to be there? Courts maybe, but any potential torture by the state is not going to be brought forward to the courts. So, we are left with various "men in the field" to make the call. "Well, I guess this one knows something and it's kinda valuable, right?" Any state that condones such quasi-supervised and ad hoc behaviour is only perpetuating the cycle of violence and promoting the culture on violence and disregard of consequences. Each time a state wants to engage in a little torture, all it needs to do is put the propaganda machine into overdrive and convince the ill-informed public of the "necessity" of such behaviour. Once that genie is out of the bottle, god knows where it ends.

"Yes, I believe in revenge (though I call it justice), not compassion, toward criminals. A mugger, rapist, murderer, child abuser, etc. does not perpetrate crimes out of ignorance; they are fully cognizant of what they are doing but, generally speaking, do not care. Even when there are "extenuating circumstances," such as "diminished responsibility," I do not care: I am primarily interested in redressing the crime."

A very simplistic view that presupposes that 1)almost every crime is carried out with intent; 2)perpetrators "generally" don't care. As someone who who's had professional experience with the legal system (not in the US), I can assure you it's not the case. A surprisingly small number of perpetrators are hardened incorrigible criminals who are best left locked up. But if you stuff them all together in inhuman conditions for long periods of time, you will not be addressing future crime. You'll be paving the way (with good intentions?) for more criminals, more crime, and more suffering under the guise of justice and "retribution".

"And punishment, to me, is done by keeping the robber in such appalling conditions for an appropriate amount of time that he/she never thinks about pulling such sh!@ ever again."

Then you've already failed. By keeping people locked up in appalling conditions, you're practically ensuring that they'll "pull that shit" first chance they get.

Admittedly, prisons and justice system are only a part of the solution, maybe not even a major part. A society that doesn't care for equal opportunity and that is unwilling to assume even partial responsibility when so many of its members turn out the way they do is one of the main culprits behind rampant crime.
Elliott - Mon, Jul 14, 2014 - 4:36pm (USA Central)
TORTURE :

Michael : " I oppose without reservations sadistic torture for its own sake, but hold it to be a perfectly legitimate tool in the arsenal of methods of extracting information..."

First, it has been proved, for once and for all, that torture is not a reliable means of extracting information. Therefore even by your own standards, there is NO circumstance which would justify its use.

JUSTICE :

Those areas dealing with the torture of enemy combatants and the treatment of criminals may be distinct, but there is a significant overlap. What I think is lacking in your reasoning, Michael, is that there is a difference between a right and a freedom. Human beings submit to their freedoms being curtailed in order to live in an ordered society. To what degree that curtailment is warranted is a matter for debate. When a person violates the social contract and commits a crime, he negates that order. Therefore, he loses some of his freedom, presumably to a degree which correlates with the severity of his crime--again, this degree is a matter for debate. Human beings also have certain inviolate rights; the right to life, to body and to dignity (the American framers called them "unalienable")--meaning there are rights which are endemic to the species homo sapiens sapiens which no action or inaction can negate. No crime is severe enough to justify losing a right--only a freedom.

***

That philosophical point aside, Paul M's notice of the utter ineffectuality of inhumane punitive justice on curbing crime is difficult to argue with. The only real "reason" I have seen offered for the use of torture or punitive justice comes down to retribution. Retribution is an an action which causes a person to feel pleasure at the suffering of another, which is exactly the definition of sadism, which you said you oppose as a justification for these methods.
Peremensoe - Wed, Jul 16, 2014 - 7:00pm (USA Central)
I don't think I'm going to really get into this extended tangential discussion, but I will clarify one thing: I really do think capital punishment is preferable to many of the practices mentioned above, such as torture and the deliberate brutalization of prisoners. Some people may be irredeemable, but official sadism degrades all of us.
Michael - Fri, Jul 18, 2014 - 1:50pm (USA Central)
@Paul M.:
That is precisely the type of abstract narrative being churned out in college sociology and criminology classes by aloof theorists and academics detached from the reality. One aspect--which is (well, SHOULD be!) inherent to any discourse about law, order, and justice--that is missing from your equation is THE VICTIM. It's all nice and well ultimately blaming "the society" for producing the criminal delinquent and enumerating ways of assaying to turn its errant former member into an upstanding, reformed full member. However, where does the victim stand in all that?! The little twat who attacked me for no good reason gets to spend a few months in the equivalent of four-star accommodations where he plays video-games and attends counseling where he "shares" how the root of his actions was his mommy's refusal to buy him a candy bar when he was four years old. Dandy. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to do what: Chalk it up to experience, shrug my shoulders, and live with blurred vision (if I'm lucky!) for the rest of my life!?! Yeah... I don't think so...

The gist of what you are saying is that punishment is wrong because it (supposedly) equals sadism. Yet, without punishment, there is no justice. I don't have a fancy theory or facocta model to advance in support of this; I just have my gut, which says that somebody who knowingly does wrong needs to be proportionately punished for it before we can talk about reintegrating them into the society.

Being a criminal is a choice, not the society's fault. Every single type of society from time immemorial experienced crime and dealt with it in a myriad of ways, from the extremely asringent to the extremely lax. Still, if we do pursue the folly of inquiring as to why there is crime--"folly," because people today (yes, even the supposedly marginalized ones) have more rights and money than ever before--, we usually get the stock answers of "she comes from a broken home," "he was beaten by her mother's boyfriend," "he fell in with the wrong crowd," "she got pregnant at 13," etc. The irony of it is that it is precisely the anti-punishment type of lobbyists that gave rise to the societal breakdown, which in turn caused so many broken homes and other social ills. It is they who pushed for the abolition of coroporal punishment in schools so that a teacher who even looks at a student "wrongly" now at the very least gets suspended. It is they who fought to de-stigmatize divorce. It is they who militated for "free love." It is they who agitated for welfare protection for single parents by the state. And so on and so on and so on. (Incidentally, I happen to support most of those initiatives and principles; I'm just making a point.) Untimately, it is they who engineered a decoupling of the individual and the society, whereby each individual is now permitted to develop completely independently of and from his/her society, without any hindrance, judgment, stigma, penalty, etc. The end result is that kids these days do not get "proper" values inculcated into them at home (repeated studies show that in "one-parent families" boys especially are disadvantaged by not having a strong male role-model), or in school (where teachers are scared shitless of enforcing discipline), or through the media, or--crucially--through sheer societal pressure to conform.

All that though is a whole other story, which I have neither the time nor desire to explore here. The bottom line is that a criminal needs to, yes, SUFFER for what they did; that is why it is called JUSTICE. Otherwise it would be called simply COUNSELING (or whatever). If a meaningful, thought-out process of rehabilitation is undertaken concomitantly, so much the better. But a victim of a crime wants an equilibrium to be reestablished, and taking punishment out of the equation is just plain silly. And before you retort with the rights vs. freedoms sophistry, by punishment I do NOT mean being forced to watch basic cable in a single en-suite cell with a choice of menus three times a day.

Incidentally, since you mentioned recidivism, notice that the U.S.'s rate of repeat offenders is almost identical to that of Great Britain, even though our approaches to crime and justice--especially sentencing and prison conditions--are markedly different.

Let me close with this. In this episode we have the entire human race fighting an existential war, which it is on the brink of irretrievably losing. Even if the chances of the captured enemy's holding valuable information are 5%, would you SERIOUSLY continue to vehemently oppose using torture on him/her!? Would you really rather your entire human race perish forever than take a shot at preserving it, even if through less than salutary means?! If you would, then I despair for us all...
Michael - Fri, Jul 18, 2014 - 2:08pm (USA Central)
Man, you guys are really making me work here, huh! This will be my last response because, hey, this IS just a discussion board on a sci-fi show's review site!

@Elliott:
Torture is not a reliable method, but that does not mean it is utterly ineffective. If there is even a slim chance it might work, then--depending on the circumstances, of course--it cannot be discounted wholesale.

As far as "rights" vs. "freedoms," that is, again, abstract pedantry designed to act as a red herring. You have also grossly misunderstood both concepts. The "inalienable rights" to which you refer concern FREE people. Convicted criminals forfeit freedoms AND RIGHTS, including--in many jurisdictions--the right to life in some cases. And most ALL convicted criminals lose the "inalienable right" to liberty and pursuit of happiness.

You cast mention an "utter ineffectuality of inhumane punitive justice on curbing crime" as a fait accompli. Do you have evidence for that? It is indisputable that countries--both historically and at present--that have/had more stringent punitive systems had much lower rates of crimes. Now, of course the deterrent effect was not the ONLY factor, but it is simply ludicrous to argue that fear of severe punishment does not to some extent act to prevent crime!

Lastly, sorry for conflating some of your with Paul M. points! I did have a long day.
Gandhi - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 1:37am (USA Central)
An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind

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