Baltar Kitteh is trying to erase the photo. Made by didymos1120 at the SciFi Forums. More BSG LOLCats in this thread.
The first episode of BSG I ever saw was Six Degrees of Separation. I caught it by accident one night - it had a terrible airtime, something like 11:30 PM on Fridays - and I didn't become a rabid fan or anything, but it was an interesting watch. I've tried to go back to what I felt watching it then, and it's rather amusing to compare that to my current knowledge of the character. It's also a case study of what a casual viewer might pick up about Gaius Baltar.
My impressions, as I remember them:
-This guy is the villain. He's obviously guilty and they're about to find out. He's very despicable - lecherous, cowardly and selfish. I like this type of villain a lot more than the cackling evil genius, because he obviously suffers for what he's done.
-He's some kind of mastermind behind these "cylons" (are they robots?) - he knows more about them than the others do, and even seems to share a mental connection with this female cylon. Has he designed the cylons? Does he control them?
-What's this house it keeps cutting to? Is he actually on the spaceship or inside this house? Maybe the house is where he really lives and he's only mentally projecting himself on the spaceship. Or the other way around. No one else has this alternate reality thing going on, so he must be some cylon agent - or the cylon creator - living on the ship and finding out about humans.
-Wait, they let him go? WHY? Clearly he's guilty. He looks like the embodiment of guilt and deceit. How can they not see it? He must have played some mind game on them.
-Eww, he's so lecherous. (The scene where Baltar runs up the stairs, unzipping his fly, and going, "May God's will be done" - I still consider this to be one of the more yucky sex moments for some reason.)
It's interesting that I gave Baltar so much power, even if he spends most of the episode in a state of cowardly panic. Obviously he has no power whatsoever, and HeadSix controls him - but on a first watch, without knowing anything about the show's themes, I saw him as the mastermind with all the power, and Six as some kind of ... love slave for him? I don't even remember what I thought of her. The alternate reality he has going on - which I thought was about where he is, but is really more about who he's with - sets him apart from the other characters and gives him a special dimension. I thought he was on the cylons' side, which is really sort of true, although he's not the criminal mastermind I thought he was - a thought that rather amuses me now. In the third season of the show, the other characters actually see him somewhat that way, especially Laura, who even asks him if he is a cylon.
One thing that strikes me about my initial reaction is how disgusted I was by him. I found him repulsive. It's not just the scene where he unzips his fly, either - throughout the episode, I found him intensely unlikeable, yet fascinating in some way. The nervous ticks and emotional highs and lows make Gaius interesting. If he didn't suffer at all on an emotional level, I think he'd make a very boring standard villain, even if he didn't knowingly collaborate with the cylons. I've always been a sucker for guilt, especially the deserved kind that isn't redeemed by the character becoming a better person. If the baddie expresses any guilt over his actions, no matter how slight, I immediately start liking him a little. You could say that what Baltar experiences in this episode is not guilt, but the panic of being caught; I personally think both are in there, but the latter is definitely stronger - perhaps strong enough to conceal the very real guilt Baltar feels, which would have made me like the character a lot more.
But that's not all. I thought he was ugly, and that's what shocks me the most now. When I began to watch the show from the beginning, I instantly found him likeable and attractive - and I don't find many men attractive. All of the other men on the show leave me cold. It's not that I have such high standards, I'm just gay.
Why did I think he was ugly, then? He had oily hair and a sweaty gray shirt on most of the time, so he wasn't at his best in that episode. But what else was there? I seem to recall something about his lips - this is where the Baltar character happens: arrogance, narsiccism, lechery, cowardice. When you see an interview with James, the same lips signal intellect, humor, kindness and modesty; this must be why I mostly find him more attractive in interviews than on the show. Maybe this also explains why he's not usually toted as one of the hunks of the show, and doesn't have a thousand-page bunny love thread at the Sci Fi forums. There may be some not-conventionally-attractive cues I'm missing, but I dare say that there's something so detestable about Baltar's face that most viewers don't want to feel anything positive for him.
I can say that James did an effective job portraying him in that episode, since I was able to deduce so much about the character. I saw him as someone who stands out from the rest of the characters, and I still see him that way. This episode shows how alone he really is, and how he has no one to turn to in times of need - other than Six and her God, both of whose motives are at best questionable. I don't focus as much on the sexual debauchery and such anymore, knowing about the more intricate details of his life and character, but it's not like he's not debauched, so I read him right there also.
One more amusing memory - I thought Gaeta had more power and a higher status than Baltar. I didn't realize he was the apprentice at all. It must be because he was so composed and calm throughout the episode, as opposed to Baltar's panicky weakness. He does play a major role in the acquittal, so based on this episode alone, he has a pretty central role on the show.
Maybe it's not that surprising that I should have read Baltar as detestable and lecherous. The real question might be why I like him so much and find him so attractive now. I blame James - he gave Baltar a human, relatable edge, a layer of guilt and compassion that I personally find irresistable.