Okay, so I know I said that Sharon was a runner up to my favorite character, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, but I really feel like she deserves her own post. She is such a strong character, starting from her Big Reveal, and without her, the series would not be the same. I mean, obviously, but still.
From the second she showed up to manipulate Helo Agathon while he was trapped on a nuked Caprica, I was intrigued where the writers would go with Caprica-Eight, who would go on to become Sharon “Athena” Agathon. So far, we hadn’t seen much individuality in the Cylons, at least in terms of within the groups of the different models: Twos (Leoben) were almost always manipulative, Fives (Doral) were militant believers in the destruction of humanity, and Sixes were infiltrators using their sexual prowess. But then this new Sharon came around and turned everything on its head.
“I’m Sharon, but I’m a different Sharon. I know who I am. I don’t have hidden protocols or programs lying in wait to be activated. I make my own choices. I make my own decisions, and I need you to know this is my choice.”Sharon in “Home, Part II”
Individual choice and the definition of humanity are Athena’s themes throughout BSG. Not only is she trying to prove to the human fleet that she is her own person – and that she is, indeed, a person – she has to prove it to herself. Her romance with Helo definitely plays a part here, since he is the reason she decides to defect to the Galactica, knowing full well that she would be suspect, even if she doesn’t anticipate the depth to which this goes. She even refuses to help her fellow Eights, saying that until they learn to be people, individuals with their own desires, and to be steadfast in their convictions, they will be nothing more than they appear: a tool to be used until it comes time to discard them.
Why Athena chose this path sometimes baffles me. Why she feels the need to be included in a group that detests her makes no sense, contrasting Boomer’s eventual decision to accept her role as a Cylon, an understandable reaction after Callie murders her as she’s under armed guard. Both are chained, both are beaten and ridiculed, both are in love with human men (well, both Boomer and Athena thought that the Chief was human), both end up integrating into their respective societies … only Boomer’s was much more outwardly easy, as she was a respected war hero for her attempted murder of Adama. But Athena? She fights and wins the respect of the Galactica crew, even by Adama himself.
Athena is the real reason the fleet wasn’t destroyed, and she was the beginning of the new race of humans and Cylons that would ultimately save both from complete destruction. Her path to that destination wasn’t an easy one, but she never lost sight of her hope and trust that she would someday be accepted for who she was. Seeing Hot Dog provide her with the call sign of “Athena” brought tears to my eyes, and even the other silly, joking options – “Chrome Dome,” for example – was the point I realized she had actually made it. Of course, she faces plenty of other problems through the rest of the series – her daughter being kidnapped like every five seconds, finding out Helo slept with Boomer thinking it was Athena, being incarcerated during the mutiny, etc. – but her journey to personhood was a beautiful thing to witness.