'Downloaded' came out of leftfield for me. I don't know what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting a cylon-centric ep. I feel like we've been jerked around from one plot to another a lot in this latter half of Season 2. On the plus side, I was pleased to see a return to the cylon plot--particularly the developments with Sharon, Helo and their child, since I didn't want that to sit neglected for much longer. And the episode was, of course, full of fascinating revelations.
However, I'll say right up front that this episode has changed my viewing of the show. One of the biggest 'reveals' for me was the double-nature of the Six-Gaius relationship. Discovering that Six has visions of Gaius, just as he has visions of her, was the last thing I expected. And part of me is sad at the loss of (some of) the ambiguity and mystery in that relationship. I enjoyed speculating about what the nature of that experience was. I particularly liked reading her as a form of psychosis. And I enjoyed the threat that the connection potentially posed. That we have learnt that Gaius's Six was not a plant, was not feeding information to the cylons and that Gaius himself is not a cylon strips several possible layers/readings away.
On the other hand, we're left with a new puzzle: what is this bond or connection that Gaius and Six have and why is it so vivid for both of them? What does it mean? Gaius has shaped the future for humanity at every turn so far--those acts have always had a dark edge to them for me, wondering whether he was being manipulated by the cylons. In Downloaded we got to see the reversal--Six being visited and 'manipulated' or 'aided' (depending on your theory) by Gaius. This puts Gaius's own experiences in a completely different light: it throws the emphasis onto the bond between them, rather than either one of them individually. (Incidentally I was wondering why they suddenly felt 'sexier' to me and I figure that's why.) And we're still left with a paradoxical situation: the bond between them is special and leads Six to 'rebel' against the other cylons (just as Gaius rebels against the humans), but doesn't their connection echo the cylons belief that humans and cylons must interbreed, must connect to form the future? So who's really in control here? What role does destiny play? Although it feels like the cards have been reshuffled, we're still playing the same game. (Which is not to say I don't feel really disoriented--did ya notice?!)
In other matters... hoo boy, the humans are making a scary mistake! That cylon child is a bomb waiting to go off--if/when Sharon ever finds out about that they're doomed. And yet you can just see them walking into it. And poor hapless loyal Helo!
The insight into the cylon experience was fascinating, but I initially had similarly ambivalent feelings about the mystery being stripped away from the rebirthing process. We're told it's very painful, but actually seeing it made that less convincing somehow... nevertheless, it was great to see Anders tapping into the idea that the rebirthing does psychologically damage the cylons, just at the time when we see that demonstrated so intriguingly in the Six-Sharon alliance. I love the idea that close contact with humans changes the cylons in some way (and vice versa).
I am racing a little as I also watched Lay Down Your Burdens Part I, so more rambles to follow.