Number Six refers to a fictional model for characters portrayed by Canadian actress Tricia Helfer in the television “re-imagining” of Battlestar Galactica.
Number Six is a seductive, statuesque Cylon infiltrator. Most, but not all, versions of Six have platinum-blonde hair. She was the first example shown of a new generation of Cylons capable of adapting to human form and emotions. Little else is known of her earlier years. She can, like other Cylons, retain memories and be downloaded into another body if the original body is killed. Like her counterparts, her body was designed to mimic the human body at the cellular level, making her almost undetectable to testing procedures, and there are many copies of her in existence.
Copies of Number Six appear regularly, mostly within Cylon society. Several notable versions have had more prominent roles:
This Six copy is involved in an intense sexual affair with Dr. Gaius Baltar. Pretending to be an employee of a rival computer corporation, Six seduces Baltar while helping him with his work on the Colonial defense system. Six then reveals her true nature to Baltar, and informs him that the Cylons will use the computer secrets that he has given her to infiltrate the Colonial defense systems, disable the Colonial military and attack the Twelve Colonies. That day, the Cylons launch their attack and destroy most of humanity. Six uses her body to shield Baltar from a blast from the attack, saving his life and sacrificing hers.
In the episode “Downloaded”, this copy is downloaded into a new body. This Six, nicknamed “Caprica-Six” by fellow Cylons, is viewed as a hero amongst the Cylon civilization for her complete success in her mission to compromise the colonies’ defenses. She retains her sentimentality and expresses some regret at her actions, as evidenced by her constant visions of Baltar. This “Phantom” Baltar plays a similar role to her that the virtual or ‘inner’ Six plays towards the real Baltar, as a critical counselor and manipulator.
Baltar’s inner Six
A distinct copy derived from Caprica-Six resides in Baltar’s head following the destruction of the colonies, “Inner Six” appears as a figment of his imagination, invisible to everyone else. She suggests that this phenomenon might be caused by either a computer chip implant or insanity over his guilt. When Baltar undergoes an MRI-like “brain scan”, it reveals no sign of a computer chip or any other foreign object in his brain. While this briefly leads Baltar to think that he has truly gone insane, he concludes this is impossible, given Six’s knowledge of events unknown to him (for example, the prediction of the birth of the Human/Cylon Hybrid to Sharon Agathon while a prisoner aboard Galactica). Confronted with this, Six declares that she is neither a computer chip nor a hallucination produced by mental instability. When Baltar then asks just who or what she was, she simply replies that she is “an angel of God sent here to protect you.”
This Six often appears suddenly, without warning. She often advises and gives instructions to Baltar. While she usually appears to him as part of the real world, occasionally he interacts with her in an imagined but persistent dream-like setting within his mind. In this, Number Six resembles the character of Harvey from Farscape (who in turn was based on the “imaginary” character from the Jimmy Stewart film Harvey).
While Six can physically interact with Baltar in his imagination, she also appears able to physically affect him in the real world — for example, in one episode Number Six throws Baltar into a bulkhead and grabs him by the throat, and passersby see his physical reaction to this. On another occasion, she can be seen while she ties the knot on Baltar’s improvised noose.
This manifestation of Six in particular is extremely religious. In contrast to the colonists, and like the other Cylons, she believes in a singular God, whom she identifies as Love. She constantly attempts to convince Baltar to believe in the Cylon God, and to accept his part in God’s plan or will.
Her motivations are unclear. While some of her advice appears to benefit humanity, for example pointing out a Cylon device to Baltar on Galactica and helping him build a Cylon detector, it more often serves only Baltar’s needs, and she expresses enjoyment over what she considers the inevitable extinction of the human race.
Baltar’s inner Six appears to be somehow related to Caprica-Six, which is the Six model who seduced Baltar on the planet Caprica and encouraged him to give her access to the Colonial Defense Mainframe. This belief is encouraged by the fact that Caprica-Six has her own inner Baltar, implying some sort of transcendental connection between those two specific characters. The precise identity or nature of Baltar’s inner Six is unknown.
In the episode “Six Degrees of Separation”, a copy of Number Six in the fleet using the name “Shelley Godfrey” appears. Godfrey attempts to frame Baltar for betraying the human race with supposed photographic evidence. In addition, she attempts to seduce Commander Adama. She disappears abruptly after her “photographic evidence” is proven to be fake. As her appearance coincided with the temporary disappearance of Baltar’s Inner Six, it is often wondered (and indeed voiced by Baltar himself) whether she was a physical manifestation of Inner Six posing in a dual identity.
The episode does cause the audience (and Baltar) to think Shelley Godfrey is related to Baltar’s inner Six, however this is demonstrated to be a deliberate red herring by subsequent episodes of Battlestar Galactica. In Season 3, both when Baltar is on Cylon-occupied New Caprica and held as a prisoner on a Basestar, it is revealed that every humanoid Cylon is an individual – even amongst the same model type. Furthermore it is revealed that only the individual Cylon known as Caprica-Six has any romantic feelings or attachment to Baltar – all other Number Six models are indifferent to Baltar and his plight. Based upon this it is reasonable to conclude that Shelley Godfrey was simply just another Number Six model hiding in the Colonial fleet and unrelated to Inner Six. This interpretation might help explain the hidden meaning behind the name of the episode: “Six Degrees of Separation”.
This copy of Number Six had infiltrated the Battlestar Pegasus, posing as a civilian network engineer and using the name “Gina”. After Gina is exposed as a Cylon, she is imprisoned and subjected to torture and gang rape by members of the Pegasus crew. A lot of the backstory surrounding this is discussed in the New RAZOR Battlestar Galactica TV-Film.
Gina has honey-blonde hair, actress Tricia Helfer’s natural hair color, instead of the platinum-blonde of most Sixes. Like Shelly Godfrey, she sometimes wears glasses.
Other Number Six Facts
The name “Number Six” is, according to “Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion”, written by David Bassom, an indirect tribute to Patrick McGoohan’s cult 1967 television series The Prisoner — a series that addressed topics such as personal freedom and identity, mind control, illusionary experiences and the infiltration of society’s supposed guardians (secret agents) by a nefarious force (those behind The Village). Ron Moore himself later confirmed in his blog that the name is an homage to The Prisoner.
According to Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion, Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell were hand-picked for their roles, while the rest of the characters were cast by audition: among the actresses in the running for the role of “Number Six” was The O.C.’s Melinda Clarke, though the role ultimately went to Tricia Helfer.
With Battlestar Razor leaked on the web and soon to be released to the masses we’ll be sure to see more of Number Six. I’ll leave you with a taster of Razor courtesy of YouTube.