Jammer's Review

Battlestar Galactica

"A Measure of Salvation"

***

Air date: 11/10/2006
Written by Michael Angeli
Directed by Bill Eagles

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

If BSG has its own sub-genres, one of those genres is the Star Trek-style morality play. "Downloaded" comes to mind. It might be worth noting, however, that the Star Trek characters didn't contemplate genocide the way the human characters in BSG are willing to.

Or, come to think of it, maybe they did. TNG's "I, Borg" contemplated the possible destruction of the entire Borg race in a way similar to how "A Measure of Salvation" here contemplates the possible destruction of the entire Cylon race. I guess the difference is that the characters in "I, Borg" couldn't go through with it, whereas the characters in "A Measure of Salvation" can. Or at least many of the characters can. They don't all agree, which is a promising point for drama.

The Galactica crew investigates the crippled Cylon basestar encountered at the end of "Torn" and discover that the entire Cylon crew has been infected by a deadly virus. The Colonial Raptors return with a number of surviving prisoners shortly before the basestar self-destructs. It turns out that humans are immune to the virus because it is similar to an ancient human disease. Sharon (whose new call sign is Athena in order to differentiate her from Boomer while throwing a nod to the original series) is also immune because of antibodies she developed while carrying her half-human child.

Dr. Cottle cannot cure the Cylons but says he can treat them with medication that will keep them from dying. The Cylons are afraid of what this virus could do to them collectively, so perhaps this treatment can be used to leverage information from the prisoners. Lee comes up with a more sinister plan: Stage a battle, and when a Cylon fleet with a resurrection ship comes nearby, execute the prisoners, and the disease will be uploaded into the resurrection ship and spread into the Cylon population, possibly wiping all of them out.

Okay. First some words on the technical details of the plot before I deal with the moral implications. I guess I simply don't understand how the resurrection ship works.

(1) Just what is this ship's range? In previous episodes, there was plenty of reason to believe it was quite a ways — certainly far enough to transcend one or more FTL jumps. If, for example, Boomer could be killed on Galactica with no Cylon ships nearby and still be resurrected, why doesn't the resurrection ship's receiving range reach the Galactica's present position? Why does the Galactica have to jump within engagement range?

(2) Wouldn't the resurrection ship have some sort of virus protection program? Why wouldn't it detect the problem with the incoming Cylon downloads and terminate the process?

(3) If Sharon is immune to the virus, couldn't the Cylons, with all their superior biological technology (they have taken human form after all) manufacture the antibodies to cure themselves?

(4) Since when is the resurrection ship a transmitter in addition to a receiver? If the virus is replicated in the downloading process, why would it spread beyond the resurrection ship? Why can't the Cylons simply quarantine the ship? Why would it spread through the whole population? (I suppose the Cylons don't have an adequate firewall either.) If the Cylons are so heavily networked, why do they need a special resurrection ship in the first place?

Suffice it to say, the whole downloading process of the Cylons strains credulity. I've accepted it in the past because it hasn't gotten so detailed, but now we have a plot that's based upon the tech, and I don't think it holds water. The more the downloading process is explained, the less I want to hear it. (Although I'm still awaiting the answer to how a Cylon is downloaded if it's blown to bits and the brain that houses its memories is completely destroyed. Where do those memories go until they're retrieved?)

I suppose the simple answers to all these questions are that, yes, the resurrection ship is a wildly implausible device, and, no, we shouldn't try to come up with answers for why it would or wouldn't work and instead concentrate on the moral implications. Fine; I'm willing to do that, because such questions are what make this an interesting episode. Lee's plan is quickly commissioned and put into action. The biggest voice against this plan is Helo's, who argues that genocide, even against machines, is simply wrong, despite what the Cylons have already done to us. If we do to them what they did to us, a piece of our own humanity is forever compromised.

He has a point, despite the fact that at times he also comes across as a Cylon apologist with a biased viewpoint and a Cylon wife. One of the strengths of the episode is how it puts up convincing arguments for both sides.

Even Adama is not sold on the morality of the plan. As a pragmatic military decision it's certainly the right one, but as a moral decision, he clearly doesn't want to have to make that call. Who would? That's a responsibility that shouldn't have to be anyone's. Roslin makes the call, and we sense that her experience in the "snake pit" of New Caprica plays a role in her attitudes here to destroy as many Cylons as possible. She has her own convincing points: The Cylons have already tried to destroy us all, and they still show no signs of stopping. This is particularly clear in light of the fact that everyone now knows Baltar is still alive and helping the Cylons find the path to Earth.

I found Sharon's personal stake in her people's possible demise somewhat touching, and found it especially interesting that even with that knowledge she remains steadfast in her determination to maintain her allegiance to the Galactica and its crew. She chose to be a human being, and that's a promise she intends to keep. If she's ordered to help destroy the Cylons, she will help destroy the Cylons. She won't like it, but she will do it in order to prove which side she's on.

Aboard the basestar, Baltar is found out for covering up his discovery of the virus on the crippled ship in "Torn," so D'Anna tortures him to find out what he really knows and if he actually orchestrated a plot with Galactica. Of course he didn't, so he has nothing to confess, so the torture of Baltar is essentially trying to squeeze water from a dry sponge. To survive his ordeal, Baltar tries to focus on his visions of Six, which leads to a truly peculiar torture/sex scene that has the strangest juxtapositions of any such scene I can remember.

At first when I saw this scene I couldn't decide whether it was inventive, pretentious, or absurd. But the more I think about it the more I like it. This is the first scene I've seen that combines torture, imagined orgasms, religious debate, unanticipated questions of faith, and somehow comes together and seems to make sense even if we can't be sure exactly what's in the characters' heads. Watch D'Anna in this scene, and you see the torturer become the one who breaks because of what she believes she might be witnessing. It's a complicated and intriguing scene that doesn't show all its cards, but shows how D'Anna is willing to operate on faith.

Of course the Galactica's plot to wipe out the Cylons fails, as it must. It fails because a character makes a decision: Helo cuts off the oxygen to the prisoners' cell, killing them before Galactica jumps within range of the resurrection ship. A few questions about that: (1) Hasn't it been established that a resurrection ship has the range to download dead Cylons from one or more FTL jumps away? (2) Wasn't it established in "Downloaded" that dead Cylons could be downloaded hours after they were killed? (3) Shouldn't Helo be court-martialed for treason rather than having the incident swept quietly under the rug, despite what Adama might have personally felt about the plan?

The outcome of this episode at least shows a character making a big decision and taking a moral stand. I'm just not sure that this could happen without severe consequences. You can't run a military ship with officers openly defying the chain of command. Hell, "Torn" showed that just last week.

Still, for all its flaws — and they are notable — I'm recommending "A Measure of Salvation" for asking a tough question and sufficiently dramatizing it, even if it's a question that this series has become quite familiar with.

Previous episode: Torn
Next episode: Hero

Season Index

46 comments on this review

Brendan - Mon, Mar 17, 2008 - 9:14pm (USA Central)
(1) Hasn't it been established that a resurrection ship has the range to download dead Cylons from one or more FTL jumps away?

Yes. It is also established later on in the season that they can ressurect on a Basestar... whether the ressurection ship is needed to facilitate is unclear, I guess so. Needless to say, the whole concept is muddy.

(2) Wasn't it established in "Downloaded" that dead Cylons could be downloaded hours after they were killed?

Yes. I guess that they have to intentionally queue it up if theres to be a delay or something.

(3) Shouldn't Helo be court-martialed for treason rather than having the incident swept quietly under the rug, despite what Adama might have personally felt about the plan?

Absolutely, and this is the biggest problem. It pretty much ruined the character of Helo for me.

My own addition: (4) How exactly is a biological virus supposed to transmit electronically? Simon mentions some bio-tech BS... no. Doesnt make sense.
Bats - Wed, Apr 2, 2008 - 12:51am (USA Central)
1.Yes but the fleet doesn't know that.That;s your mistake.Your using information not available to the majority of the characters.Also they wan to make sure it worked as they have no idea where the closest res ship is.
2.No it wasn't.We were never given time frames from how long it took for them to be resurected.
3.If people were going to be arrested for treason than the ENTIRE Galatica crew would be in jail.
4.Cylons are a amalgimation of machine and man.Their interlinked.What affects one affects the other.The mind can make the body do crazy things if it thinks something is wrong.
Wilian - Sun, May 18, 2008 - 3:22pm (USA Central)
I agree with Bats on (1) and (2). Regarding (3), there's a line from Adama at the end, about the virus, that I did not understand. It seemed logical on the moment that it meant the genocide scheme would not have worked anyway, even without Helo's sabotage. Hence Adama's call.
I have my own question: it seems that nobody in the fleet questions Athena's loyalty about wiping out her species, when she's sent on the mission. Isn't it weird ?
Wilian - Sun, May 18, 2008 - 3:29pm (USA Central)
I won't even try to grade this show, as nearly every BSG show so far, as nearly every ST show I've watched so far (that's many) would get between 3,5 and 4 stars from me. One thing I love with BSG is how much action & plot they manage to put into every show, this one included.
Grumpy - Wed, Jan 7, 2009 - 8:54pm (USA Central)
"The Cylons have already tried to destroy us all, and they still show no signs of stopping."

Is that so? They put up a fight in "Exodus, part 2," but arguably Galactica fired the first shot. As far as anyone knows at this point, the rapprochment is still in effect, if only they'd talk to them. That was an argument I wanted to hear, but it wasn't raised. The show made a big mistake in "Exodus, part 2" by assuming the hostilities had automatically resumed.

As for the range of the resurrection ship, Galactica had no way to be sure there was one nearby without a Cylon fleet present. (Unless... Athena has a sense of when one is in range; the tortured Six on Pegasus seemed to know.)

The idea of a rodent virus being downloaded is absurd. So absurd that I think the Cylons were paranoid and that no such thing would have happened. They seem to be biologically incompetent.
Nolan - Wed, Jul 1, 2009 - 8:16pm (USA Central)
I just watched the deleted scenes, and I think if they had been in the episode, they would have made it somewhat better. Not better from a techincal logical standpoint when it comes to this virus, but character-wise.
Simon - Thu, Sep 24, 2009 - 10:03am (USA Central)
We don't really know what's being downloaded when a Cylon die. Personally, I would think it's more than just memory. Who knows? Maybe that have something similar to DNA in their body. This being biological it could be infected. The infection could modify their organ's behavior to reprogram itself to recreate copies of the virus thinking it's some newly found defense system or something (explaining why their situation seemed to degrade really quickly. Instead of trying to fight it, it was thought benefical). The infected Cylon brain could have been programmed to share biological upgrades automaticly upon resurection. The Cylon would then potentially benefit from any possible immunity found by any other cylon. If the cylon brain perceive the virus as an amelioration, it could then be transmitted to the whole civilization. The fact that it also affect Centurion is bit more weird. However, it's also possible that the brain of an infected skinjob Cylon, could, potentially, send infecting packets to Centurion that were maybe already programmed to fall in complete dormant mode if it ever happened, protecting the cylon from a centurion gone mad.

All this is long-shot... it would also show flaws in the Cylon technology which is somewhat unrealistic. However, Cylon are already acting in a pretty unrealistic way. I fail to understand why diplomacy was never used in BSG. The two civilization potentially have a lot to share with each other. Anyway, I liked this episode for the questions it asked. I see Cylon more like people than "machine". For me, it would have been a genocide. I find it hard to believe they don't feel that way after seeing how Sharon changed. If Cylon wants nothing more than being human, why don't they give them the chance?
Jan - Sun, Oct 25, 2009 - 6:35pm (USA Central)
I just watched this episode and it was the first "jump the shark" moment for me in the series thus far. (I've been watching it obsessively on DVD). The Cylons are supposed to have killed BILLIONS of humans, are actively trying to kill more and are heading to Earth, presumably to destroy the human race once and for all. In these circumstances NOT destroying the Cylons given the chance is immoral.

In addition, the Cylons don't die. Isn't destroying them the only way of winning a war with them since killing them is meaningless? This contradiction in the set-up of the series makes the "moral argument" in this episode phony -- and that was very disappointing.

Too add insult to injury, not punishing Helo because somehow he was "right" and he saved humans from commiting genocide makes Adama complicit in an act of treason that arguably may lead to the destruction of humanity. That's so inconsistent with his character it's laughable. Or cryable.

The writers wanted to raise a big moral issue; great. But the way they did it here was phony. They damaged the characters they've taken such care to create.
Brendan - Sat, Jul 17, 2010 - 10:02pm (USA Central)
The deleted kara-leoben scene was amazing, I can't believe it was cut. If it was in, it would be the best of the episode. And it would actually make use of brining in Callum Rennie who was wasted as a corpse the rest of the episode.

The ready room scene too was necessary exposition to explain Helo's absence from CIC.

Really, both are examples of how this episode could have been so much better. It needed these scenes, better techical logic and exposition, and more of a reason why Helo might be right (say, it would have killed Athena too... that would do it).

P.S. Bats, I know this response is 2 years late but, yes it was established in Downloaded that downloading can be delayed by hours. It's in there.
Corrine - Thu, Apr 7, 2011 - 9:11pm (USA Central)
Does anyone else think that this virus is a perfect Cylon Detection thing? I mean just get the infected cylons to walk around the fleet and BAMM!!! Anyone who is a cylon is infected. You don't even need Baltar's machine that takes forever to analyze the blood. Simple.

K+L Forever
Jack - Thu, May 12, 2011 - 1:10am (USA Central)
Jan,

I completely agree with you. This episode was horrible. Helo is turning into an almost unwatchable character. He has "fallen in love" with a single Cylon and now apparently doesn't want to kill any of them, which is ridiculous. They are in a war. People die. If someone slaughtered 12 billion of my fellow species, I think I'd be okay with wiping out their entire race. Plus, the idea of this "genocide" taking a piece of their souls is just absurd.

The series is rapidly going downhill for me, as characters continually make ridiculous decisions that put the entire human race in jeopardy, yet seem to get away with it on every occasion. Adama is a great character, and it pains me to see him being marginalized by this atrocious writing. A man (Helo) commits high treason aboard his ship and gets no reprimand? Puhhhhlease.
Nick P. - Tue, May 31, 2011 - 9:42am (USA Central)
Jan and Jack,

Finally some kindred spirits. I completely agree with you. I made essentially the same analysis of I'Borg from TNG, and you should see the crap I am getting from the TNG people.

You are right, it seems like when shows make this argument, (TNG, DS9, BSG), people always say the same thing (both sides are convincing and well thought out). NO THEY ARE NOT! One side is patently wrong. The side whos' entire argument is "we lose a part of our humanity" is wrong. How is that even an argument? You lose alot more of your humanity if all humans are DEAD. Plus, how is the fight for survival losing your humanity? Somehow not killing those trying kill you is humane? Please..

Anyways, this episode sucked, and although I admit I had fun watching it, after thinking about it for a more than 3 seconds, this is easily the most embarrassing hour for BSG.
wishfire - Tue, Jul 19, 2011 - 10:15am (USA Central)
Words cannot describe my loathing for Helo. He commits treason against the entire human race for his own boyish, selfish needs, lining it with some pathetic moralistic platitudes. Let's just go kill the Cylons in brutal, hand-to-hand combat over the course of generations as more and more human lives are destroyed by these twisted, immortal aliens. That way, we wouldn't have to "sink to their level" or corrupt our precious little souls by doing it all at once. Such a disappointing episode. The writers forgot what Adama is all about. Why has he lost his edge in this way? Helo should have had charges of treason brought against him for so many damn reasons but Adama just blows it off.
Nic - Mon, Aug 29, 2011 - 10:26pm (USA Central)
I can't believe the above comments. Are you even watching the same show as I am?

I also couldn't believe that Adama and Roslin would contemplate Genocide, let alone go through with it. What happened to the lesson they learned in "Resurrection Ship" - that 'it's not enough to survive, one has to be worthy of surviving'?

Two wrongs don't make a right. PERIOD. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Helo may have been biased but he was 100% correct - by committing genocide they would become as evil as the Cylons. "They started it!" is not a valid defense outside of a kindergarten schoolyard.

And once the decision is made, it becomes kind of obvious that the plan will fail, somehow, because the series isn't over yet and needs its villains just as much as it needs its heroes.
Jack - Wed, Sep 14, 2011 - 3:08pm (USA Central)
Nic, I'm going to have to disagree with you. War is hell. People die, lots of people. When you choose to start a war (as the Cylons did), you should be prepared to lose everything.

I don't know about you, but I would not shed one tear if the race of beings who destroyed my entire planet were wiped out. They had it coming.

It's better to rip off the bandaid than slowly pull it off.
Weiss - Fri, Sep 23, 2011 - 4:23pm (USA Central)
this morality play reminds of Simpsons way back, when the real Skinner showed up, he was a complete ass, and a military MIA vet who society treats with respect. by the end of the episode his mom tied him to a train and said bye to him, thanks for your service, but she would rather have her fake son.

sometimes people don't choose the right moral decision, because it just isn't what feels good or is right for personal interests

bsg needed to release that virus b/c their survival is at stake, this isnt a college debate. do what you need to survive, and accept the punishment for that action later, better than never if you are dead.

now helo's action were convenient, seemed like he and athena would be in the brig temporarily when this virus should be unleashed.
Nic - Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - 10:11am (USA Central)
Jack: When a GOVERNMENT chooses to start a war, does that make the entire population of the country - even those who disagree - responsible for the consequences of that war?

Although we don't know much about Cylon politics, it was shown in "Torn" that decisions are made democratically (e.g. at least 4 out of 7 models have to agree). This means that up to 3 models could have opposed the attack on the colonies. Do those three models deserve to be exterminated? And just because one copy votes for war, does that automatically mean that all other copies of the same model are in agreement?

If my race was wiped out, maybe I'd feel the same way as you do, but it would be an emotionally biased point of view, not a rational one.
Nick P. - Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - 10:36am (USA Central)
@Nic

The flaw in your reasoning is that the BSG crew had no knowledge of what we do in "torn", thus humanity DOES have a moral prerogative to destroy that which is trying to destroy them first. They had no way to assume there were 3 cylons who objected to the attack, and even if they did, you could still make an argument in favour of total annihilation. I think if a jew had a weapon to kill every non-jewish German in 1944, he would be weell within his moral boundaries to use it.
Nic - Thu, Oct 27, 2011 - 2:31pm (USA Central)
The Cylon Cavil told Adama in "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II" that the Cylons no longer wish to exterminate humanity. But that is beside the point. Killing 10,000 people (or even one person) to save your own life is selfish and immoral and

Ask yourself this: if Japan had decided to erradicate the entire population of the United States in retaliation for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, do you feel that action would be justified?
Nick P. - Thu, Oct 27, 2011 - 6:18pm (USA Central)
@Nic,

YES.
Jack - Sat, Oct 29, 2011 - 12:24pm (USA Central)
@Nic,

Killing one person to save your own life when they are trying to kill you is immoral? Your moral code (while admirable) is so strict and inflexible that it could not possibly be practical. Not to mention, it goes against the very nature of your being. The ultimate goal of all life is survival. We don't live in a fairy tale; sometimes you have to make a difficult choice in order to survive. All life must kill other life in order to survive, and while I do believe we should make efforts to minimize the amount of life that has to come to an end, sometimes the best way to do that is to take drastic measures.

Let's use your WWII example. I'm assuming you were against the atomic bombs that we dropped on Japan. But the problem was that Japan was simply not going to lay down arms (they were raised to die for their country rather than surrender). By all estimates, the amount of lives that would've been taken had we been forced to invade Japan (the only other way to win the war) would have been around 1 million (this includes both dead and wounded). Thankfully, President Truman made the extremely difficult choice to drop the bombs, because in the end, he probably saved many lives (both Japanese and American). Had we not dropped the bombs and then chose not to invade, Japan may have wiped us out eventually (though this may be unlikely).

Now, let's go back to Battlestar. Though we know it doesn't quite work out this way, it was extremely probable that the Cylons would eventually succeed in wiping out the human race. If the choice is between the destruction of your species or the destruction of another, you will always be justified in choosing your own, because nothing is more important than survival. Sure, it would have been sad that some innocent (though you could make a case that none are innocent since they participated in the slaughter, or at least stood by and watched it happen) Cylons had to die along with all the terrible ones, but the survival of your species is at stake. War is hell, and is sure isn't for the faint of heart. No offense, but I wouldn't want to be serving with you in the heat of battle.
Michael - Mon, Nov 21, 2011 - 1:49pm (USA Central)
*I* can't believe some people's way of thinking. "Two wrongs don't make a right"? That's the same attitude that criminalizes people in some states who kill an intruder in their home. It's the same approach that relativizes right and wrong. It's what precludes us these days from being able to conduct war as war is conducted: You can't just drop a bomb on an enemy hideout in case a civilian gets killed and the pinko liberal media crucify you for it. So what do you do instead? You send in young men and women into the vipers' nest, risking their lives. It sickens me to my stomach.

You set out to kill me: Prepare to be killed. You set out to destroy a race: Prepare to have your own race destroyed.

Was bombing Nazi cities wrong? Was bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki wrong? Were those acts and many more like them wrong even though they actually saved lives (primarily the VICTIM's lives) and ended war?

Here we have an implacable enemy whose words and deeds attest to the determination to extirpate the human race. It was luck AND ONLY LUCK that prevented that from completely happening. We are greatly outnumbered and outgunned, and MUCH weaker physically (remember, they never need to sleep!). So long as there are cylons we can have no rest or freedom: If we stop fighting, they will--at best--subjugate us; if we continue fighting, we will have to fight for all eternity, expending lives and resources. And we didn't even fire the first shot!! What the hell kind of life is that?! Screw "two wrongs don't make a right" and obliterate every last one of them!!!

Incidentally, the free world faces that exact type of threat today from Islamofascist terrorists. The difference between them and, say, F.A.R.C. or E.T.A. or L.T.T.E. is that they cannot be negotiated with, reasoned with or even placated. The ONLY resolution whereby we can retain our way of life is their utter destruction. Wake up and smell the coffee!

What's the point of adhering to the not-below-the belt rule in a boxing ring if your opponent brings in a chainsaw? Or, as Nick puts it, what's the point of retaining the piece of your humanity you'd supposedly relinquish if it means the destruction of all humanity?

Helo is an idiot. He was SO affable for a long time, and I really rooted for him and Boomer (I still call her Boomer); but here he displayed arrant imbecility and, as other have said, treason. I'll say a kadish for him; he's dead to me. Adama also disappointed me spectacularly.

I'm (cautiously) surprised that Roslin of all people seemed to be the most sensible one among the bunch this time around.

Very, very disappointing.
Nick P. - Mon, Nov 21, 2011 - 3:10pm (USA Central)
I see you found the episode I was referring to earlier. I am happy you agree with me.

BTW, Season 3 already? Impressive.
Michael - Tue, Nov 22, 2011 - 10:16am (USA Central)
Oh, you got that right! It's a fantastic show; I'm just going thru them like nobody's business, usually two episodes per day. It's actually not my type of thing at all: The "sci" part of sci-fi is nothing special, and I'm not into fiction, fantasies and the like. So, getting me to watch it, stick with it and actually experience intense positive and negative feelings based on what happens on the screen, are a testament to what an awesome show this is. And judging by others' comments, I'm far from being the only one :)

Having seen your comments, I think we're on the same wavelength regarding quite a few things.
Elliott - Wed, Jan 4, 2012 - 10:16pm (USA Central)
I would like to weigh in on the morality debate:

First of all the comment from Weiss "this is not a college debate" is precisely why we have college debates, and colleges, and civilisation.

Jammer makes a point that Roslin's attitude stems in large part from her experience on Cap II. Now, what she went through (and hers was not nearly as hellish an experience as it was for some) was torturous, and as a result her feelings about her oppressors is totally un-objective. Rather than saying she's totally wrong for feeling this way, because she isn't, why not consider that the evil here is the experience(s) which turned a school teacher into a cold would-be perpetrator of genocide? The Cylon uprising itself stems from the experience of a different kind of torture, slavery.

Even if the annihilation of the Cylon were successful and every single last one of them eliminated, the deep, destructive scar of that action would live on in humanity--not only in palpable forms of descent from people like Helo (whose actions I wholly support), but how could Roslin or Adama make any claim to moral authority after having committed such an action, once news of it had reached the general population?

There has to be a reason for humanity to survive (and the Cylon). The human race is intrinsically noble if it is willing to sacrifice for its nobler ends. It's rarely an easy task, but it gives our species purpose, which we need. That's why we do the things we do, because we are fuelled by purpose. Those of us content with simply existing at any cost have it seems lost that nobility of purpose, and deserve pity, but never power.

@ Michael: Bill Maher once said "...which is a ridiculous statement because it contains the words 'Bush' and 'knowledge'"--I channel his sentiment here and say that any sentence containing the words "sensible" and "genocide" (implied) is equally ridiculous.

@ Nick @ Michael: What's the point of retaining humanity, etc. if humanity ceases to exist? Well, let's take the BSG universe as an example, shall we?

If the Cylons were to be successful in annihilating humanity (including Baltar), they would be left with the same scar I spoke of earlier. Already in this show (see "Downloaded"), we've seen dissent amongst them regarding this moral quagmire. That dissent would grow and eventually lead to political and philosophical revolutions which would lead to a society much like our own: fractured and multifarious. The legacy of humanity would survive in memory--just like the legacy of a parent survives his children; we're all going to die eventually. What matters is how we've lived (to channel Picard) so that those who come next have something for which to live.
Nick P. - Thu, Jan 5, 2012 - 9:06am (USA Central)
Look Elliot, there is no right or worng here, there is either survive or don't. This "are we worthy" non-sense is for academics (and discussion boards, I guess, lol)

At the end of the day, your attitude is why I do not consider myself a modern liberal. I am a classical liberal. I believe homosexuals should have the right to wed, I am pro-choice, I think American Foreign Policy has been a little too aggressive of late, I am for science in all of it's beauty, and I hate religous dogma. but that all being said, this idea that modern liberals have, that bad things should never happen, that killing is NEVER justified, that the more fit should not supplant the less fit, that we are all inherently equal, I just don't agree with those positions. They are too pie-in-the-sky for me.

A modern liberal would hate admitting the fact the us (homo sapiens) had to struggle to get where we are as a species today, that we had to kill, and yes, exterminate, many other species to achieve what we did today. Has anyone seen a Europen lion lately? The point is it kind of sucks they don't exist anymore, but we are safer as a species because they are not here. And our forefathers had no other choice, kill the lion, or my family starves.

I think where I stand apart from modern liberals is that I look at the human struggle for survival, even the warts, as a good and nescessary part of human evolution, and sometimes it may be nescessary to exterminate when something threatens your species. Something tells me you wouldn't hesitate to exterminate a population of roaches or rats that invade your home!, but they are life too, are they not?

In the end, I hope if we ever did have something like a real Cylon invasion, we have people like me or Michael, or even Adama and Tig, as opposed to minds like you or Nic, or Helo.
Michael - Thu, Jan 5, 2012 - 9:52am (USA Central)
Thank you, Nick, for expressing my sentiments to the T. I was going to respond but you stated exactly what I want to say, down to the last word. I used to be a liberal but it is precisely the unrealistic, disconnected-from-reality, moot attitudes and values such as Nic's and Elliott's that pushed me rightward to the G.O.P. ( I still abhor the Tea Party though!)

Nic and Elliott: Don't take offense. Nick and I vehemently disagree with you, but there's no personal malice intended.
Kyle - Sun, Jan 15, 2012 - 8:14pm (USA Central)
Helo's actions in this episode should have gotten him thrown in the brig and his status as Exo stripped. At the very least, he should've been confronted. I've read some negative things about BSG's later episodes going into season four and continuing throughout, but I'm enjoying it a lot right now so it's hard to accept that it [may] go downhill.

I tried to rationalize in this episode that the virus wouldn't have downloaded at all and that the cylons were simply paranoid and for the first time afraid of truly dying.

As for the point of the cyclons coming up with a cure for the virus, maybe they could have eventually. Up until now they were biologically immune to nearly everything so this fast plague must've come as a shock. In the moment, it's possible they were incapable of rationalizing properly.

I know this post seems apologetic for the episode's flaws, but up until this point the show's been consistent with its viewpoints. That still doesn't excuse not wanting to wipe out an entire race of machines that killed 20 billion humans.
ersatz - Fri, Feb 3, 2012 - 5:00pm (USA Central)
I know this thread is old but anyway. Me and my wife only recently discovered BSG and it's a great show for both of us - exactly because it has the power to draw and involve.
And that's exactly why we were both so pissed at Helo. I mean - OK, there are lots of series ahead - but they should've invented something better than just sabotage. But it's all been said before.
What no one mentions is - everyone is rooting for Athene but seems to forget that she destroyed the perfect weapon on board of that baseship. And it's quite obvious that she did it by the looks on everyone's faces in the raptor. But right after they arrive - no questions are asked. At this point I was already pissed enough to wish her out of the airlock.
Now, about the moral aspect. I was purposfully seeking comments on this episode to vent because it's just frakking ridiculous, especially considering how many people are defending Helo.
It was interesting to read comments on here, so just my 2 cents, in reply to some other posts:
First of all, generally life of each person is sacred and any violent death of a human being (or an animal imo but that's not the point) is horrid per se. So discussing how many people should die to grant the right to inflict genocide is immoral no matter how you look at it.
I'm saying this to show that i'm a sensible man and I understand morals.
No, I don't think the Japanese have or had the right to inflict genocide on the US citizens because A-bombs were dropped on them - because the proportions are skewed, it was not their entire race which was bombed
No, the Jews don't have the right to kill off ALL non-jewish Germans (yes, Holocaust was a huge tragedy, as was the Armenian genocide and the gypsy genocide by Indians, genocides in African countries, etc.) - even if we don't know how many Germans didn't actually support the Nazis (i think there were quite many though) and we don't know how many tried to help - we know that this happened, and besides there were lots of countries who fought the Nazis and generally tried to help the jews.

NOW, in BSG we have 40k people as a species (not even any particular race) which had faced almost complete extermination and barely survived. Billions were killed. There is no one in the entire galaxy who would help, offer an alliance or hide these people. Cylons keep pursuing and killing and there are NO cases where cylons would really help - even Athene fucked it up in this episode.
Oh and this 'co-existence' program - gimme a break, even for the most stubborn ones we were shown how there were proposed plans of getting population to manageable number of 1000 or less. These weak objections by 6 and 8 are not convincing at all: Ok, let's torture some more humies - We can't do that, it's not right... - oh c'mon, who cares, yadda yadda - *confused look* *shuts the fuck up*
This whole 'Sorry guys, destroying the entire human race was a wrong choice, er... well, we have a better idea now - we'll just keep you in a concentration camp and torture from time to time, this is humane, right' - it's logical from the series point of view but it doesn't really justify actions of Cylons.
It doesn't even cross my head as a "wrong moral choice" of using a biological weapon - it's not a fucking moral choice, it's a choice of survival or death, no alternatives, no co-existance - oh, and besides they're en route to Earth as well, right.
Josiah - Fri, Feb 17, 2012 - 11:58pm (USA Central)
The discussion for this episode is really interesting, because it made me reevaluate my view on Helo's actions and the general moral situation that this episode presents. Before this, I've always defended Helo's actions because we know that the Cylons are, in actuality, people, with feelings and the like. I'm looking at this from the window of my monitor, though. I know all the things that are happening on the show. The Cylons have become more sympathetic in the episodes of late because we're being fed that through the drama and writing. The humans in this show are not experiencing the same thing that I am, though.

So in the end, you have to look at things through the characters' points of view. What the Cylons did, no matter how much they regret it (some of them, anyway), are not excused from their actions. In fact, they are still chasing after the humans and trying to find earth; if they weren't so actively trying to destroy humanity, there might be a tiny bit of credence for the argument of morality. It's not about committing genocide, it's about surviving, like other posters said, and due to the unique nature of Cylon existence, genocide is truly the *only* way to achieve victory.

Of course, I *am* just watching a show, and of course I don't want the Cylons to be killed, because they're a hell of an antagonist. So in that respect, go Helo! He should have been court-martialed, though, for the sake of continuity and drama. Wouldn't that have been an interesting twist, Sharon talking to Helo from the outside of the cell instead of inside.
Ryan - Sat, Mar 3, 2012 - 6:13am (USA Central)
I just have to mention that the whole story of how the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to save a million lives is just that; a story. The Japanese were ready to surrender well before the bombs were dropped. You can read this in Truman's notes and diaries. The idea that all the Japanese would die for the Emperor and would take a million of us with them was used to rationalize what Truman felt was necessary; which was to show the rest of the world just how deadly our newly developed toys were and make them appropriately fearful. Was it actually necessary? Truman obviously felt it was. Others may think otherwise.

Is it conceivable that there could be a scenario in which genocide were necessary? Maybe, but necessary =/= right. To quote Adama: "We did what we had to do, son. A man accepts responsibility for his actions, right or wrong, and lives with the consequences, every day."

I'm reminded of a scene in the book World War Z; a German officer is ordered to pull his men out of Hamburg, leaving several hundred innocent refugees behind to be slaughtered. When hearing that the General who had issued the order had committed suicide he says this:

"Bastard. I hate him even more now than I did on the road from Hamburg. Fucking coward. Remember what I said about being beholden to your conscience? You can't blame anyone else, not the plan's architect, not your commanding
officer, no one but yourself. You have to make your own choices and live every
agonizing day with the consequences of those choices. He knew this. That's why
he deserted us like we deserted those
civilians. He saw the road ahead, a steep, treacherous mountain road. We'd all
have to hike that road, each of us dragging the boulder of what we'd done behind
us. He couldn't do it. He couldn't shoulder the weight."

Sometimes it's necessary to make a morally wrong decision in order to survive, but necessity doesn't free us from our conscience, from our responsibility to what is right and wrong. We do what he have to do for ourselves, our children, our children's children, but we must bear the weight of our actions always.

Having said that, none of it really applies in this episode because there was plenty of reason to believe that that Cylons, at this point, posed no imminent threat of extinction to humanity. In fact, how they managed to coordinate the original assault on the colonies is beyond me, because, thus far, they seem to be nothing but less intelligent copies of humans; nothing they do makes any sense and their motivations are all over the place from one episode to the next. Not only was genocide via virus unnecessary, it didn't even make sense for all the reasons already listed by Jammer. I've enjoyed this series a lot but sometimes it seems the writer's had their heads right up their asses.
Tim - Sun, May 27, 2012 - 10:34pm (USA Central)
@Michael

Under no circumstances should killing civilians be ok, no matter who is doing it - if it's wrong for them to do it, it's wrong for us to do it. But yea, the alternative isn't good either.

So maybe if we weren't there in the first place (see Iraq) we wouldn't have that problem... Just saying.
Elliott - Fri, Jul 6, 2012 - 12:21am (USA Central)
Helo is the most heroic character on this series. The issue is that those who baulk at the idea of not committing genocide refuse to admit that the metaphysical exists or that it matters. Phenomenal concerns of body and health are the subjects a materialistic universe. Ironically, the materialists' view of economics is equally baulked at on the star trek pages (materialism is a cornerstone of communism).

Compare the wonderful way which BSG utilises the religious to create a compelling moral argument and heartfelt character growth with "Sacrifice of Angels" from DS9, where the gods will the destruction of thousands.

Anyway, this episode lacks some of the style from "Torn", but is still a solid piece of work and a laudable creative act. It also contains the best transformation so far of the "Six motive", blending it seamlessly into the fabric of the Cylon dream music. 3.5 - 4 stars.
JR - Mon, Jul 9, 2012 - 5:14pm (USA Central)
I'm rewatching BSG and reading these reviews as I go through the series again. I have to say, I'm astonished at the previous commenters' strong condemnation of Helo's choice to prevent genocide. The very existence of Athena, Helo's wife, and the fact that they had a baby together, confirms that the Cylons are 1) more than machines since they are capable of breeding with humans and 2) individuals, capable of making moral decisions. Athena is the living proof that Cylons are capable of living peacefully with humans. Helo knows this better than anyone; therefore, it is completely natural for him to recognize the immorality of exterminating Athena's entire race. On top of that, he doesn't want his wife to live with the regret of having helped to commit genocide against her own people. In a purely "us or them" sense, I can understand the argument for wiping out the Cylons. But to borrow the analogies used by previous commenters, this would be akin to the US wiping out the entire Japanese population - not just two cities but ALL of them. Why wipe out the entire race when you can achieve victory by wiping out just two cities? The goal should be to achieve victory while inflicting the least amount of harm to potential innocents. I think Adama was very uneasy with the idea of genocide against the Cylons because he was so close to Athena and he recognized her personhood; this is why he felt almost a sense of gratitude that Helo basically saved him from having to go through with something he was morally uncomfortable with. If you don't believe in right or wrong, then it's all meaningless. But for me personally, I have always seen Helo as representing the best of humanity, which makes it fitting that he becomes the father of humanity via Hera.
Some Guy - Tue, Jul 17, 2012 - 6:04am (USA Central)
Man, this episode is full of plot holes. In addition to some of the above mentioned by Jammer and previous commenters:
- Why wasn't the execution squad in position just outside the cell? Knowing that Galactica is about to jump into a boatload of Cylons, why risk the extra time exposing the ship to mortal danger by having them move into position?
- Why is Lee on the execution squad? Shouldn't he be doing CAG stuff on this important mission?
- What happened to Lee's uniform in this episode in the dialogue scenes on Galactica and Colonial One - was it in the wash or something?
Alex - Sat, Sep 1, 2012 - 12:36am (USA Central)
What makes this hilarious to me is that if Roslin and those advocating for genocide had gotten their way...they'd have been frakked anyway. Roslin said that they needed to do it so that Cylons wouldn't follow them to Earth. Um. They got Earth because of Kara and the Final Five. Presuming the Final Five didn't die or were immune like humans (they evolved to have children after all), the fleet would still have arrived at an Earth full of dead Cylons.

What next? The battlestar eventually needed Cylon tech to just keep functioning. If Cylons and by extension, Cylon tech was exterminated via genocide, what exactly would happen to the battlestar? They found the second earth because of Kara, Leoben, the hybrid, and the Five. That certainly wouldn't have happened in a world where humans decide to partake in willful genocide too especially when the universe, a higher power, whatever seems to be pushing for a human-cylon reconciliation rather than only one race remaining at the end.

Also, this entire point is moot since it's likely that the Cylons panicked prematurely especially after hearing what Adama said at the end of the episode. Adama said that Cottle determined that the virus only spread because it was an accidental contamination.

Also, a contagion that affects the brain is going to spread via memory transfer (which is what we learn resurrection really is in S4)? Possible, I suppose, unlikely considering that the infected cylons - esp in the deleted scenes where Kara talks to Leoben - show that they had no issues with their memory and so their memory centers weren't affected by the virus. If their memory centers weren't affected by the virus and were still functioning properly enough to recollect memories, how could the strain of encephalitis be transferred to a new body? How, if the resurrection process is really just a memory transfer involving memory centers of the brain? So yeah, I think the plan was shot to hell anyway.

I understood Helo's points and Roslin's. But I was more where Adama was. Entirely conflicted. Also, since I am a POC from a country whom whites exploited and colonized for centuries, I have some affinity with the cylons who have definitely been viewed as "others", "less than human", and "not deserving of personhood" by the Colonials. Those are the same things whites have said about POC for centuries. It's different when you view things from the point of view of the people on the other side and as someone who is from the Middle East but who lives in America, I cannot abide with the idea of genocide from either side. I also can't help but read real-life issues into this fictional piece of work.
Christian - Wed, Sep 19, 2012 - 8:22pm (USA Central)
Tell you what, the writers have sparked a debate. It pisses off some people, other people defend it. Would be a boring show if everyone agreed wit it don't you think? That's the best SF - provokes people, asks questions and can do so 'under the radar.' I say BSG win, hands down. I can't imagine Star Trek getting people so hot & bothered.
Christian - Wed, Sep 19, 2012 - 8:26pm (USA Central)
(Even if Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks posed exactly the same question in more extreme terms. I mean, Cylons are
more sympathetic than Daleks right? :-))
chris - Fri, Oct 19, 2012 - 3:15am (USA Central)
Omg... Helo, the next time the Cylons appear and start attacking the fleet, you just sit tight and don't try to defend because you may kill Cylons this way. Just sit there and die, u frakking dumbass... Genocide??? They are machines ffs, they nuked and vaporised 12 billions people and now they seek to fully exterminate the human race. So, yes, let's not take advantage of this unique opportunity to solve the "Cylon" problem once and for all.
Nick p. - Fri, Oct 19, 2012 - 10:40am (USA Central)
@christian. As to your point about Star Trek not starting heated debates like this, I should point you to the episode I Borg because not only did it spark a heated debate, but it was on this very website about the exact same topic.


Btw I am firmly on the only honest side of this debate in advocating genocide when the other group is trying to genocide YOU and they pretty much as a group all want to. Survival of the fittest. If ancient humans hadn't genocided lions in Europe or saber tooth tigers in the America's we wouldn't all be happily on the Internet right arguing this absurd argument.
Dimitris Kiminas - Sun, May 26, 2013 - 9:56am (USA Central)
I'm watching Galactica all over again these days and saw this episode yesterday night, and you know what hit me? THIS EPISODE DOES NOT DESERVE THE 3 STARS RATING, because it has a huge RESET button at its end, the likes of which would make TNG and Voyagers' scriptwriters jealous.

Furthermore, it 'fakes' huge stakes to steal your attention only to pull the rug right under your feet at the end with the most contrived way possible.

Let me elaborate:

AA. Using any means necessary to build huge stakes

1. We make a 'wireless' virus that can somehow travel through a data stream and infect a newly created body by downloading into it. Then it must be it a state-of-the art cybernetic virus that an advanced civilization spend hundreds of hours to invent and perfect? Eh, 'NO,' the episode tells us: it is a virus that entered a 3000-old robotic probe because someone of its makers 'sneezed on it'. Then how is its 'wirelessness' possible? Because it is convenient for our plot!

2. We make it appear that if the 'download' happens, all the cylon race will disappear from the face of the earth. Jammer elaborated on the improbability of this in his above review but I'll just remind you that the Borg at some time terminated 10 or so borg cubes in order to eliminate the possibility of spreading an undesirable behavior. So I suppose the possibility of the cylons destroying their own resurrection ship the minute it becomes infected does not cross any minds, not even the cylons'. Why? Because the writers want us to believe that this IS it: Download success=genocide of the cylons!

3. All the other points listed by Jammer in his review, that were disregarded by the writers to set up their convenient premise: (1) (2) (3) (4).

BB. Checklist for pulling the biggest RESET switch in Galactica History.

1. Planning a cylon genocide in the presence of a minor officer who happens to be married to a cylon: CHECK

2. Said minor officer who spend time in Caprica where the cylons exterminated billions of people suddenly decides that it is 'bad' to do the same to the cylons (although his wife is in no danger from this). CHECK

3. Being able to reverse the airflow in a room by removing the internal PC power cord from your Hard Disk and connecting it to your DVD ROM drive (takes 2 seconds): CHECK

4. Putting said box of the PRISON CELLS in an unguarded place where even the janitor can trip the oxygen reversal by storing his brush inside by mistake. CHECK.

5. Forgetting about the possibility to use the virus samples you have in order to infect the first cylon that comes onboard in another episode, or even make a missile with a biological warhead to infect cylons in every basestar you encounter (or a cylon raider, since they ALSO download). CHECK.

6. Forgetting everything that happened in this episode so the next episode can be whatever. CHECK

CC. The specifics of Forgetting Everything That Happened In This Episode (TM).

1. Roslin says 'there are only 2 suspects for doing this', meaning Helo and his cylon wife. Do we investigate if the cylon we have onboard on hearing of the genocide decided that Galactica is again the enemy? No. Adama previously had Sharon paraded in iron bars just because she breathed the wrong way. Now? "I think I'll close the book on this one". Besides, putting Sharon back in the cell? Been there, done that.

2. Should we check if Lt Agathon who's our current XO is loyal to us? Besides, an episode ago we give a gun to Kara and Tigh to kill us because they said 'bad' words and dropped ship morale (ah, the danger!). But No! "I think I'll close the book on this one".

3. Do we mind that the person who actually did this, is in fact the murderer of EVERY human being that is killed by the cylons until the end of the series? "I think I'll close the book on this one".

(And by the way, WHY it had to be Halo the one to kill the prisoners? Couldn't one of the guards WHO DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE PLANNED GENOCIDE kill them out of revenge for what they did to them on New Caprica? When Sharon was in jail, and that was before the incidents of New Caprica, every 2-3 episodes somebody was trying or demanding to kill 'the cylon prisoner'.)

4. We have 6 cylon bodies full of virus, we have blood samples full of virus, we have the virus DNA analyzed by Dr. Cottle, we have a vaccine that would make any infected cylon begging us to help him. Then, what do you say we use this AMAZING weapon in EVERY future episode we meet a cylon? Nah, "I think I'll close the book on this one". (Perhaps we cannot because the virus is short-lived? No, we are talking about a virus that survived 3000 years exposed to space.)

The bottom line: I don't know if it was because Galactica has not used us to reset switches, but I'd take TNG's 7th season 'Genesis' episode any time, instead of this. At least Genesis' goofiness was enjoyable.
Ed - Thu, Jul 4, 2013 - 12:58pm (USA Central)
@Alex

I'm only up to this episode; thanks for giving away the end of the series, you jerk.
Grumpy - Thu, Jul 4, 2013 - 3:36pm (USA Central)
Don't worry, Ed. Alex's spoiler doesn't have to ruin anything. As far as you know "Earth" refers only to dirt; "the Final Five" is the title of an opera; "Kara" is an entirely separate character from Starbuck; and "the battlestar" refers to one of the other ships that joins the fleet at the end of the... Oh, but I've said too much.
Ducats - Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 11:51pm (USA Central)
It's amazing how one's morals can vary when dealing with fiction as opposed to fact. History reveals survival always trumps morality. Let's be honest.
J - Wed, Jul 31, 2013 - 11:08am (USA Central)
@Ducats: Striking, maybe, but amazing, not really. It is to be expected. None of us posting on this forum have ever been in a situation where our instincts for survival of our species have kicked in. It follows, then, that any arguments here on based on high level philosophies and morals, rather than behaviors that might actually kick in in a real survival situation.
Dutchstudent82 - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - 8:39pm (USA Central)
This was THE one moment in the entire series that made me think WTF!

*genocide on your attacking race? without even twinking my eyes. It is what I NOT share with star treks cosy little world, I much more prefer the Alternative relaity of Terra Prime / The Terran Empire -> but than one with a little more trust between humans, and a little less killing your officiers.
As such the survival of man must ALWAYS take priority and any and all that pose even the slightest risk to that factor must be wiped out.
They NEVER should have stroke the accords with the cylons back than, and running was NOT the prefered chooise of action, ever since the first eposide my feeling was, payback, genocide on the cylons, in this episode they could, why don't they!

And didn't they took blood samples? surely they are not all destroyed. Time to catch some new prisoners, for attempt 2.0

BTW why think so small, the ONLY reason they ever needed that resurrection ship was because of the distance towards their homeworld(s)(as such resurrection ships are mere signal boosters) killing them in orbit of caprica, or any of the colonies would infect ALL cylon homeworlds, retake what ours.

Also there is the fact of having to protect that possible 13th colony too (and as far as story goes we still believe those to be humans)

In the same line, in the earlier kara-episode, I would have killed that kid, even on the hint she was hybrid. Humun blood must be pure, everything that has ANY cylon in it must be eridicated.

It might be a quick end to the series.. killing the cylons off in this one, but it would have been the right call.
It leaves me VERY dissattisfied in the end not each and every cylon has been wiped out of excistance as should have been the priority mission from day 1 (even more than survival)

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