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Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Litmus’ And ‘Six Degrees of Separation’


This is the fifth in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revising Battlestar Galactica: ‘Act of Contrition’ And ‘You Can’t Go Home Again'” here

Spoilers ahead.

Two hybrid Cylons infiltrate the Battlestar Galactica itself in these episodes, with two very different plans for advancing their campaign against humanity.

The show draws on more recent history — including the Clinton administration and the 9/11 Commission — for a look at the political risks of appointing independent counsels to investigate scandals or security breaches. Viewers are left to ponder when it might be acceptable to shut down an ongoing investigation and whether this one has become a witch hunt.

Baltar faces a separate internal security investigation that reveals how little trust Cdr. Adama and Pres. Roslin really have for him (and rightly so). Ironically, the Baltar-centric “Six Degrees of Separation” features a breadth of performance from James Callis with relatively little of the mental sparring with his Six — often while juggling conversations with humans — that viewers have come to revel in from him in the role.


A copy of Doral boards Galactica as part of a visiting civilian group. Meanwhile, Boomer and deck chief Tyrol have another tryst (against the direct order of Col. Tigh in “Bastille Day”). Boomer mentions she was able to sneak into the chamber from the causeway on “C’ deck.

Doral breaks off from his group and is spotted by Tigh (who stranded a Doral on the Ragnar anchorage in the mini-series), also on “C” deck. Tigh summons security, but when Doral is also spotted by Cdr. Adama, Doral reveals he is wearing a suicide bombing vest. Tigh pushes Adama out of the path of the blast.

Adama assigns Sgt.-at-Arms Hadrian to investigate the incident, disclosing to her the existence of the hybrid Cylons. Hadrian receives a free hand to investigate, given the prior sabotage of Galactica’s water tank and the bomb found in Boomer’s Raptor.

Adama and Pres. Roslin discuss establishing an independent tribunal to report on the matter. Roslin advises against it, as her political experience has been that they become witch hunts and take dangerous detours.

Nevertheless, Roslin accedes and announces the formation of the tribunal during a press conference. She also reveals the existence of the hybrid Cylons, displaying photos of Doral and Leoben — the two models known to the fleet. Public paranoia ensues.

During the investigation, Tyrol’s crew – covering for his liaison with Boomer — all lie badly regarding his whereabouts before the bombing. Boomer lies about continuing her relationship with Tyrol, while he invokes his privilege against self-incrimination. (Hadrian claims this will be used against him, but Adama will later tell Roslin this is improper. Adama reveals his father was an attorney, but his opinion could be a bluff.)

Spc. Socinus, a member of the deck crew covering for Tryol, falsely confesses to leaving his post before the bombing, visiting the galley through a hatch on the “C” deck causeway.

Baltar visits Starbuck in the sick bay. After she suggests his Cylon detection project may have been Doral’s target, he decides to destroy the equipment, but is deterred by the rage of the Six inside his mind.

Adama is summoned to testify. Hadrian questions him regarding his decision to keep the hybrid Cylons secret (which might have precluded better security measures) and his failure to stop the romance between Boomer and Tyrol romance (both suspected by Hadrian as Cylon collaborators).

Adama declares that the tribunal has lost sight of its purpose and is being closed down. Hadrian orders the guards to return Adama to the witness chair, but they side with Adama’s order to escort Hadrian to her quarters.

Roslin announces the tribunal has found Hosinus’s negligence caused the security breach. Tyrol pleads Hosinus’s case to Adama, who responds that Hosinus will be imprisoned for lying about the incident, while Tyrol will have to live with his own misconduct putting Hosinus in the brig. Tyrol then ends his relationship with Boomer.

On Cylon-occupied Caprica, Helo decides to search for the copy of Boomer. A Six then beats Boomer with her fists (Dirty Harry-style), so that Helo can rescue the injured Boomer from a Cylon Centurion.

‘Six Degrees of Separation’

Baltar has one of his arguments with Six about God; he rejects the Colonies’ polytheism and the Cylons’ monotheism. Six becomes so angry that she leaves the memory of Baltar’s lake house.

Shortly thereafter, Adama summons Baltar to the CIC, where a copy of Six named Shelly Godfrey accuses him of having sabotaged the Defense Ministry’s mainframes before the Cylon attack on the Colonies. Godfrey has a videodisc she claims was given to her by Dr. Amarak to smuggle off the Olympic Carrier before he and that ship were destroyed (in “33”).

Adama, Tigh, Baltar, Godfrey and Lt. Gaeta review the disc, but the video shows only the rear view of a man placing an explosive in one of the mainframes. Adama orders Gaeta to have enhance the video to determine whether the reflection of the saboteur’s face is Baltar.

Baltar attempts to plead his case to Roslin by phone, suggesting Godfrey may be a Cylon, but she collapses at her desk during the call. Dr. Cottle learns Roslin overmedicated herself and administers a shot that will allow her to appear before the press that overheard Billy’s call to Cottle.

Adama questions Godfrey, who attempts to seduce him. He rebuffs her and orders Tigh to surveil her, though he also mistrusts Baltar.

Gaeta enhances the photo, which reveals Baltar’s face. But Baltar pulls a fire alarm and attempts to destroy the evidence while the crew is distracted. Adama quickly realizes this, catches Baltar in the act, and orders him taken into custody.

In the brig, Baltar prays to God, albeit in the bargaining, prayerful petitioning one would expect from Baltar. The Six in Baltar’s head returns to comfort him. Gaeta also arrives — to free Baltar after running a security scan and determining the video had been doctored. Godfrey vanishes, angering Adama.

Roslin publicly exonerates Baltar. Six explains to Baltar thta no one will be able to credibly accuse him of treason now.

Elsewhere, Tyrol struggles to understand the Cylon Raider captured by Starbuck (in “You Can’t Go Home Again”). Boomer suggests Tyrol treat it like an animal (and later finds “Cylon” scrawled on her locker mirror). Tigh goads Starbuck into leaving the sick bay to assist Tyrol, with some success.

On Caprica, Helo and the Boomer copy evade Cylon Centurions in a forest and eventually make love during a thunderstorm.