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Cylons' world on 'Battlestar Galactica' gets complicated

Scripps Howard News Service

23 February 2006



Lucy Lawless has won many fans with her starring role in "Xena, the Warrior Princess." The New Zealand actress could develop a similar following for her depiction of a villainous leader on "Battlestar Galactica."

Lawless effortlessly becomes comfortable with her characters, and that proves true again as she returns as D'Anna Biers, a wicked Cylon _ a robot in a humanlike body. The episode, "Downloaded," airs at 10 p.m. Friday (Feb. 24) on Sci Fi.

Previously, Lawless' character had pretended to be a reporter aboard the Battlestar Galactica. This week, D'Anna uses her leadership role to change the heart of the resurrected Lt. Sharon "Boomer" Valeri (Grace Park) on Caprica, the world conquered by the Cylons. She wants Sharon to get back into the spirit of being a Cylon.

But these Cylons are becoming as human as they look. Sharon, who didn't know she was a Cylon when she served aboard the Battlestar Galactica, is angry about how the Cylons used her to try to kill the man she loved like a father, Cmdr. William Adama (Edward James Olmos). (Sharon was killed on the Battlestar, and as is customary among the Cylons, her consciousness was downloaded into another copy of her body.)

Lawless' D'Anna Biers wants Sharon to get over that remorse in a plot full of surprises and involving Number Six (Tricia Helfer). Number Six gained the defense codes that allowed the Cylons to drop nuclear bombs on Caprica.

The episode is a strong one because of the writing and the performances by Helfer, Park and Lawless. The Cylons, whose entire culture is based on total agreement on their mission, are now faced with a question for which they weren't programmed: individuality. Friday's episode is powerful because it shows that individuality in action. And that could change the whole dynamic of "Battlestar Galactica."

Lawless will return next season as a regular cast member, and her presence will add another layer to one of the most complicated and genuine sci-fi shows on TV.