In class, we watched the beginning of the Battlestar Galactica mini-series and the beginning of an episode from season one, "Six Degrees of Separation." I have not seen any more of the series than that. We watched the mini-series to the point where Number Six shields Baltar from the blast of a distant bomb. The episode we watched to the point where Baltar confronts Shelley Godfrey in the bathroom. In the subsequent class discussion, the entirety of the series was referenced, but I haven't seen any more than that - yet.
As the mini-series begins, a human looking Cylon asks a human diplomat if he is alive. He says that he is, and she responds, "Prove it." The question of what is life and what is not is laid out in the remainder of what we watched in class. Our first look at the woman who would become President shows her painfully alive, diagnosed with cancer. The Commander of Galactica and his son are torn apart by grief over the son and brother lost. Emotion. Death. Grief. Are these proof of life?
The human looking Cylon, who we later learn is called Number Six, knows that the Cylons are about to destroy the colony Caprica. She is shown walking in a crowded market and finding a baby in a carriage. She asks and receives permission to hold the child and admires it, albeit in a kind of creepy way. And then, when the mother is distracted, she reaches down and kills the baby.
I didn't think that she was remorseful about killing the baby, but some of my classmates did think that. They thought that she looked sad immediately after, and I wasn't sure. If she was sad, then why? One person argued that it was an act of mercy, since she knew that the baby would soon die anyway. I argued that it was not, because the baby would not know if it died in a bomb blast, but the parents, until the bombs, would suffer incredibly since their baby had died. Does this demonstrate the depth to which the Cylons lack understanding of emotion? Or was it a purposefully sadistic action on the part of Number Six?
Or is she even capable of sadism? That would be an emotional response, a human one, however misguided. The actions that we see her take on screen seem to indicate that she has no capacity for true emotion, or at least that she has very little. And yet, she professes a belief in God. No, not just professes, she insists that she has a personal relationship with God and that Baltar, an atheist, should cultivate one. What does it mean for artificial beings, beings that know their creator is humanity, to believe in God? To believe that they are acting out God's plan?
Although we didn't view this part, the opening credits of the episode we watched and the subsequent discussion revealed that there are more human appearing Cylons, each with multiple iterations. Some of them have even been created to believe that they are human. In "Six Degrees of Separation," a woman who looks like Number Six appears on Battlestar Galactica and accuses Baltar of treason. She claims the name Shelley Godfrey and the identity of a human. At this point, there is no way to detect the human appearing Cylons. No way to prove that Shelley is not who she seems. Her appearance causes Baltar to question his own sanity, his perception of self and his much vaunted rationality.
Having seen a little more than an hour total of the show, I want to see more. Even though parts of it have been "spoiled" by the class discussions and viewing the opening credits before finishing the mini-series. I don't mind knowing what's going to happen before seeing it. I think it's a part of being an avid re-reader. If I can read books over and over again, despite knowing how they end, then it seems natural not to worry about knowing how a show is going to end, or what the surprise twist is going to be.