Fuck season four of Battlestar Galactica and fuck most of all what it’s done to Caprica Six.
The thing is, the relationship Saul Tigh cultivates with Six is not, I suppose, that farfetched in the empirical. It’s a stupid, wasteful choice, it was always going to be stupid and small and beneath what these characters are narratively capable of, but I get where they found it: his Ellen pain reflected in the nearest thing to an Ellen shape, fine. I’m tired of his Ellen pain, I feel like after a season they should be making narrative use of it rather than using it to keep him static, but fine, fine, these are all elements that exist in the empirical and take up space in his head. Six, too, behaves in a manner consistent to her model: sees that need, solves that need, slips into the space left behind, love as an ingrained manipulation that lets her survive. They all have their ways. That’s her programming. That’s consistent, from the first episode, from Shelly Godfrey kissing Bill Adama on the mouth, that’s down the line. The Six line.
For any other Six, then. But not Caprica.
Not Caprica, because Caprica selected her love story and it made her iconic, because in the aftermath of Gaius Baltar it became about her. From both sides! She’s the centre of her story, a celebrity in a collective, so profoundly singular that she’s destructive. (That’s how we meet her again in “Downloaded”: full of love and fucking up the programming.) She’s half of the narrative that Gaius is carrying, consistently, for at least three seasons: they’re the creators of the new world, he’s the destroyer (who knew nothing) and she’s the hero (who knew everything) and they’re both in the exact same position as seen through the lenses of the two opposite sides of the war; he was her instrument and he keeps being her instrument, keeps her in his head to shape him into activity, but she’s always been active. She was the hand playing him. (Together: music. It’s not a cheap metaphor if the show’s gone there first.) She was the agent, the possessor of agency. It was about her and her mission. Her story, then, keeps being that once the mission is a success.
Not Caprica because Caprica deserves, needs, narratively, a story that is exclusively hers. Even if it’s a sideline, even if it’s just “Downloaded” existing on its own—her time is hers, her narrative is hers, the catalyst is her and her choice. That’s how she was made. That’s the force she was written to be. That’s what the narrative has promised. And the minute the narrative brings her into the main sphere of character constants, the show has a responsibility to keep faith with itself. To write her in character is to write her iconically—which isn’t about screentime, only about narrative consistency. Keep her mission in her hands.
Instead, we get an arc which erases her history and commandeers her body, that suborns her so completely that it edits over her face. Caprica Six, face of the mission, face of the new world: faceless. It’s the worst, most insulting thing they could possibly do.
Inside and out, this arc makes her a shell. There’s no mission here, nothing iconoclastic; it’s literally reduced her to less than a face, less than a body to call her own. She is a vessel of a body wearing another woman’s shape (in clothes, too, that she can’t possibly call her own—it’s a little thing, but this show’s very conscious of clothes for Sixes especially, and it kind of fucking hurts to see her stuck in a bunch of glorified sacks). Willingly, we’re supposed to believe. Nothing is supposed to be wrong with this picture—this picture which erases most of her, which puts her in second from the start. We see her smile, see her giggle, clutching Saul Tigh’s hand and talking about their baby, and we’re supposed to nod and take that at face value, like there’s nothing under it. Like he’s not waiting for Ellen all the while, like we don’t fucking know (and what a pallid, petty, stupid attempt at a triangle there arises in “Deadlock”! Both characters are better than this and also the show hasn’t equalized the relationships), like she’s never been anything more than this: second-choice wife-figure, second-tier mother figure, know-nothing daughter and military subordinate and foolish girl. (Athena angrily ~explaining how they needed to treat with the humans to her, like ugh Caprica why don’t you GET IT, made my eyes pop—like, I’m sorry, but whose fucking mission put this war in motion, again?)
This is Caprica Six. She is more than her capacity to love and her race’s desire to further itself; she has earned the right to select, to be an individual, to be nothing like anyone else on this show, and this show robs her of it with every choice they make in this stupid godforsaken season, this show robs her of it and keeps her smiling all the while. Smiling until it ends in tears, and robs her of the little that she’s meant to have been given within the confines of this arc. Smiling until she’s told she’s less, not just less than Ellen but less than Bill, that she’s never remotely factored. At which point her whole body rejects what’s been done to her and pushes the fruit of all this fucking subordination out of her like a virus—not that the show ever deals with it. Not that the show asks her what she feels about what’s happened to her body. As of “Deadlock“‘s end, the show is too pleased with the sanctity of the Tigh-Bill ~bromance~ to ask after the miscarriage victim (the failed Mary, who was once a failed messiah, who was named for the planet she was destroyed and meant to save, now that robot chick in the brig. “The prisoner” is the one who pregnant, after all, that nameless and faceless female-bodied void who was never remotely important to the telling of this particular plot).
After which point, the show forgets. She comes back to her own, comes back to us, in the finale, and it feels like the show staring the viewers in the face like: what? We never changed anything, what Tigh, what baby. And mother-of-fucking-God do I wish I could nod and say what Tigh indeed? right along with them, but I can’t. I watched it. I watched a season squander her, force her into subordination, refuse to talk about the politics of consent, fail to write her words, erase her fucking face. I can’t forget, and the show’s refusal to deal with it just keeps it raw.
We’re left with less than nothing: the arc doesn’t make anything, in the long run, and it sure as fuck fucking mars her. It’s an aimless, senseless, infantilizing, invasive, insulting arc that holds her character in active contempt all the while, and I want to punch whoever storyboarded it in the fucking face.
What a waste of the best.
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