On Pegasus, Helena and Gina are looking at each other, through glass. It could be a mirror. Gina's covered in blood; she's beginning to weep as the phone rings, ship-to-ship from Fisk, out of his element and wondering what to do. Not enough razor to get it done, not enough shoftim to lead. "Sir, they're denying us access to the rest of the ship. We're not dealing with just individuals, sir. We have full families here." Full families: true names. I mean to say that Helena Cain stares into the eyes of her lover, through glass and blood, and puts "family" on the list of things that don't signify. She will never ask you to do anything that she wouldn't do first herself. That she hasn't already done, on CIC and down here in the brig. "Then tell them you'll shoot the families of any selectee who doesn't comply. Just get it done." She puts family on the altar and her own goes first. She couldn't have told him this from any other room in the whole ship.
To me, "crazy" means losing a sense of right and wrong, or losing the ability to consider yourself rationally, to be conscious of the decisions you are making, to be unrooted from the world. This isn't crazy. This is the only sanity she has left. Helena Cain was a lot of things, but never rabid. I don't think she ever goes crazy, frankly. I think her madness keeps her sane, because these are decisions: logical, tactical. Built of the raw materials of her life, her orphaned childhood, her inability to step off the treadmill and rejoin humanity. It's a sad story -- war drives woman to insanity, suicidal actions, crimes of war and perversion -- but I don't think that's the story we're watching. I think the scariest thing here is that she stays sane throughout: she has to watch herself do these things, and believe in them. Battlestar Galactica is, at its heart, a story about crossing boundaries: from "us" to "them," over and over. Like how Hemingway said you can only write about America in Paris? You can only look back and define humanity once you move past it. You can only see the Cylons for what they are when you cross the line into love, or humanity, or that particular loneliness that only humans know.
Helena and her crew have been the dark mirror, the "them," for so long it's easy to sit back and think we've heard all these stories before, but to me, it's a rather radical retelling, in which plot points stay the same but the entire emotional landscape is upended around it: this is a story told almost entirely through Michelle Forbes's eyes, Tricia Helfer's fearful and compassionate and loving smile, in the firm set of Stephanie Jacobsen-Chaves's mouth and the stillness of her every muscle. Through the strength of these three performances, we are being asked, once again, to cross from "us" to "them." We are asked, in their grace, and in the quiet power of the script: Michael Taylor, again, is the poet in the bunch; he always tells you less, so that the story tells you more. If anything, I'd say this story's faults lie in complete opposition to those present in "Crossroads," where there was plot and more plot, explanation of what was happening, soliloquy about internal states. Nothing left for the actors to do but read their lines, nothing left for the viewer to do but sit at home, infantilized in the same emotional simplicity and Cliff's-Notes lack of variation or subtlety that has characterized science fiction television and film since the genre began.