"Six of One"
Air date: 4/11/2008
Written by Michael Angeli
Directed by Anthony Hemmingway
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
If "He That Believeth in Me" served to orient us with all the changes arising from the various twists provided to us at the end of "Crossroads, Part 2," then "Six of One" is the emotional aftermath in which the characters begin to deal with these issues in earnest. The resulting drama is a powerful mix of raw emotion and intimate character detail — an episode sold almost exclusively on performances.
Consider the very first scene, which picks up from the end of "Believeth," with Kara pointing a gun to Roslin's head and demanding that she turn the fleet around and follow Kara's gut feeling to Earth. This scene is not played simply as plot development or a cliched hostage standoff. This is a scene about characters, about feelings, about identity, about choices.
It is also about performances; watch Mary McDonnell and Katee Sackhoff in this scene. It is raw, it is emotional, it is powerful. McDonnell portrays Roslin as genuinely alarmed by the gun in her face and the madness unfolding before her eyes, and Sackhoff plays Kara as a woman on the verge of a total meltdown: She has put her life on the line, watched her friends die, and now returns to this? A ship where many are assuming she's a Cylon? She puts her gun on the table and asks Roslin to shoot her. Roslin says, "They made you perfect, didn't they?" and then picks up the gun and pulls the trigger. She narrowly misses, but the fact that she fires speaks volumes. Kara is thrown in a cell, kicking and screaming the whole way. It's gutsy (and potentially risky) to take shrieking to such heights, but the rawness of the scene pays off.
The nature of what Kara is and how the Colonials respond to her brings up interesting questions. What if she is a Cylon? What does that mean? As Lee asked in "Believeth," does it really matter at the end of the day? One might ask Tigh et al this very question. (I love the fact that Tigh refers to Cylons as "skin-jobs" full well knowing that he is one.) Personally, I'm beginning to think that being a Cylon has reached the point that it might as well be a psychological condition, because it's about what you think you are and whether you might act on impulses outside your control. It's less and less so about whether you are a "machine," because at a certain point, what's the difference between a perfect biological machine with thoughts and feelings, and a human being? Sure, Cylons can be "programmed," but can't people be brainwashed? What, honestly, at the end of the day, is the difference?
The characters themselves will at some point really have to grapple with these facts. Adama has known Tigh for 40 years. Would Adama throw all that history away because Tigh thinks he's a Cylon? If Tigh came out tomorrow and said, "I'm a Cylon," would anyone truly believe him, or would they just dismiss him and think to themselves, "No, you're an alcoholic." And besides, don't people more or less trust Athena, even though she's a Cylon? At what point does being a Cylon no longer matter? If Adama, for example, can get over the fact Athena is a Cylon, couldn't he get over Tigh? Or would their relationship collapse under the weight of its history in light of that new revelation?
The question over what to do with Kara, meanwhile, results in a series of potent scenes, including one where Adama confronts Kara in her cell (even throwing her to the ground) for her reckless actions against the president. It's always entertaining to watch Edward James Olmos when Adama is really pissed.
But for me, the high point of the episode is the quieter — but equally emotional and powerful — scene in Adama's quarters between him and Roslin. Roslin can see that Adama wants to put his faith in Kara and she calls on him to admit it. I particularly appreciated the irony in Adama, the atheist, finding that he suddenly must reevaluate his position on miracles. The way these two characters fence is fascinating and at the same time painful. Roslin scoffs at the notion that Kara could be anything but a cancer, and tells Adama that he wants to believe because he's losing everyone around him — his son, who is leaving the ship to join the Colonial government, as well as Roslin herself, who is once again dying of cancer. Adama's response of denial — "No one's going anywhere" — is heartbreaking in its delivery. I also liked his line, "You can stay in the room, but get out of my head."
This is a scene of wonderful, nuanced performances, where a lot is said in dialog but even more is spoken between the lines. Watch as Adama pours a drink, then gets up, and pours another — then gets up again and pours yet another. Here is a man in deep conflict with what lies in front of him. Roslin, who seems so sure of herself and her beliefs — both her belief that Kara is a threat and her belief that Roslin herself is prophesied as the dying leader to take humanity to Earth — is anything but certain, and Adama uses cold, hard truth to remind her of that, explaining that Roslin's convictions are one of emotional necessity more than they may be one of truth: "You're afraid that you're not the dying leader you think you are — and that your death will be as meaningless as everyone else's." It's enough to reduce Roslin to tears after Adama leaves the room. What a scene, and, wow, how it's so quietly accomplished.
I also appreciated the farewell for Lee. He's leaving Galactica, and the fanfare really drives home the point. Again, this is an example of emotion trumping plot. Is this scene strictly necessary as plot development? No, but it sure lends an emotional and character current to the proceedings.
I haven't even scratched the surface of Tory agreeing to sleep with Baltar to gain insights into the Cylon condition and One True God religion ("He was poking a skin-job, that's for sure," Tigh notes when giving Tory her infiltration assignment; you gotta love this guy's directness.) Or how about the hilariously quirky and odd scene where Baltar is having a conversation with Tory and finds himself suddenly talking to a projection of himself. What does it mean? I have no idea, but it's funny and cool.
There's also dissension among the ranks of the Cylon fleet. Turns out the reason the fleet withdrew is because the Cylon Raiders sensed the presence of the Final Five in the fleet and as a result refused to continue fighting. The Cavils want to reprogram (i.e., lobotomize) the Raiders so that they obey, viewing them as nothing more than tools. The Sixes believe that doing so is morally wrong and a crime against God, and also believe the Final Five should be sought out to rejoin the Cylon race This divide splits the Cylons down the middle into two factions (Cavil/Doral/Simon vs. Six/Leoben/Sharon). Cavil and Six are deadlocked, and when Cavil dismisses Six's last warning, she takes the radical step of removing the sentience inhibitors from the Centurions, which take her side in the standoff and open fire on the Cavils/Dorals/Simons.
At this point, my Irony Detector was on full alert: Here's Six taking matters into her own hands and giving the Centurions free will. She is repeating the very actions of humanity in unleashing unpredictable sentience into the populace of its creators, who have up to now treated them as simple machines. The children of humanity, it would seem, are destined to repeat the mistakes of their parents.
"Six of One" ends with Adama giving Kara a ship and crew to investigate the path to Earth. He cannot commit the fleet to Kara, but he also cannot simply turn his back on what he believes in. This feels about right. At the end of the day, "Six of One" is about feelings and emotions more than it is about reacting from solid-ground logic. Sometimes you don't have enough information to make the fully reasoned choice, and you have to go on your gut.