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Five Thoughts on Battlestar Galactica‘s “Downloaded”

By | August 6th, 2020
Posted in Television | % Comments

1. Collective Unconscious

The media we produce reflects where we are as a culture during a specific period of time: our triumphs, our worries, our fears, our ambitions. When this season of Battlestar came out in 2006, the concept of downloading information wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as it is today. This series explores what it means for a species, albeit, a species of sentient machines, to never die; to be able to download their consciousness into another, identical body and continue living their life, uninterrupted. Is this a place we could reach as a human race? It seems far-fetched, but here in this episode we see Caprica Six wake up, reborn after being killed on Caprica, a death she welcomed after decimating the human race. We also see Sharon reborn after being assassinated on Galactica. Humans like to explore the realms of possibility in their science fiction, and Battlestar is no exception.

2. Experiences shape us

Cylons are machines. There are twelve models. They are programmed to behave in specific ways. Caprica Six was programmed to infiltrate and gain the trust of Gaius Baltar, as a professional liar, leading to the near destruction of the human race. Galactica Sharon was programmed to know nothing of her Cylon origins; she was provided a human past and believed herself to be a true member of Galactica’s crew. All of which led to readjustment problems upon both of their returns as Six could “see” Baltar and speak to him, a lovely and thoughtful parallel to Baltar’s Six, and Sharon simply refused to accept her true nature. A Number Three, D’Anna Biers, enlists the help of Six to reintegrate Sharon into life as a Cylon, but things don’t quite go according to plan. While Six manages to elicit the sympathy of Sharon after the former pilot’s outburst regarding the true love she found among Galactica’s crew, Sharon reveals to her fellow Cylon that the man she still sees, Baltar, is alive and well and serving as Vice President on Galactica. Caprica Six and Galactica Sharon are viewed as heroes by the Cylons, but they also haven’t had the same experiences as those Cylons, which changes their world views, importantly, on humans.

3. Hera Agathon

We’re rushed into a rushed birth here with the Doc making an on the nose comment about Cylons taking the time to “look like us, but not updating the plumbing.” And so Sharon and Helo’s human/Cylon child is born and brought into a world that is unprepared for its birth. President Roslin wants to know what they will do if the baby survives and her VP is appalled she is considering getting rid of the child. Adama states the obvious: the Cylons went through a lot of trouble for this baby, which means it’s good for them, and bad for us humans. But they’re in a tough spot; they can’t murder a baby, it just can’t be done, part Cylon or not. And so, Roslin has Doc look for suitable adoptive parents, whom they find, and lie to about the child’s origin. Sounds like this won’t be an issue at all moving forward. I’m sure this will be just fine. Oh, and they have to pretend Hera has died of natural causes all for Sharon and Helo’s sake, and Sharon does not take it well. She accuses Doc of being a murderer and he’s obviously severely affected by this whole charade. It’s not exactly a medically sound way of conducting business.

4. Martyrs

As it turns out, Anders and his crew have their eye on a coffee shop Six, Sharon, and D’Anna just happen to be meeting in on Caprica. And by eye on, I mean plan to bomb. Despite the almost interference of a toaster, Anders is successful, but is caught in the blast himself, along with the three Cylons, who are in a stairwell as they’re leaving the shop. It’s here, while the four are trapped, we get to the root of the issue at hand, and this is what makes this episode truly great. Caprica Six and Galactica Sharon have come to the conclusion that D’Anna has been playing both of them, and they’re in danger of getting boxed, having their consciousness put into storage, or true death. Six and Sharon won’t let D’Anna kill Anders when they find him because they’ve been changed by their experiences with humans, and they all recognize this. In George Orwell’s, 1984, there can be no martyrs, no one to die for what they believe in, no one for others to follow and build faith upon; here, Six realizes she and Sharon are likewise dangerous. They’re heroes in a culture of uniformity. Two heroes with different perspectives on the war and two heroes who love human beings. This cannot be for the Cylons, because they’d have to consider the slaughter of mankind was a mistake. And it’s here Six kills D’Anna and tells Sharon the Cylons need someone to show them the way. They need two heroes.

5. Let’s hear it for the women

I have to mention it again, in this episode, the female characters are given the meaty parts to work with, just like in Scar, except here we see the Cylon women struggling in complex ways. They’ve both been changed by humans and their love for those humans, but two different kinds of love. For Six, it’s romantic love, and for Sharon, it’s the almost familial love of her crewmates. This is a fantastic episode which humanizes Cylons and leaves us wondering if they truly are evil, or if they can change.

//TAGS | Battlestar Galactica

Liz Farrell


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