Sunday, September 25, 2005

BSG: Pegasus

Admiral Cain
This was a tough episode for me. The episode had a lot of drama and it ended on a cliff hanger that was the natural culmination of many various storylines, but it exposed some ugly undercurrents that have been bothering me since last season. I’ll come back to that thought.

What I Liked

  • I always like when the producers of the new Battlestar Galactica pay homage to the original show. They did it in Final Cut by unexpectedly playing the original Galactica theme, they did it last season by introducing the dilemma of what to do with the inmates on the prison barge and they did it in this, the season finale, by reintroducing Cain, one of the most popular characters from the original show. But of course, this ain’t your father’s Commander Cain. This is Admiral Cain, and he is now a she.

  • I don’t like the fact that we have yet another gender switch of a popular character, but Michelle Forbes, AKA Ensign Roh from Star Trek: The Next Generation, was a good choice. She was one of the few bad eggs in the clean-cut Star Trek universe, so she fits in well in the anti-Star Trek universe of Galactica.

  • Discipline on the Galactica has been consistently shown to be lax, ever since the 2003 miniseries. The repercussions of that lack of discipline comes back to haunt everyone in the episode. Admiral Cain reviews the Galactica’s logs and, as is her right, makes drastic changes to correct the problems as she sees them. Apollo is demoted as CAG and he and Starbuck are reassigned to the Pegasus because both have proven to be insubordinate to Adama. An aeronautical engineer is sent to the Galactica because he is more qualified than Chief Tyrol to supervise ship repairs. And so on. It’s hard to argue with her reasoning.

  • Baltar is given something useful to do. He’s sent to the Pegasus to study their Cylon captive, which happens to be another Number Six replica, of course.

  • Tyrol and Helo work together to save “Caprica Sharon” when they are made aware that the Pegasus’s interrogation expert uses sexual assault as one of his tools. For them Sharon is a woman, Cylon or not, and they’re determined to defend her. When they end up killing the interrogator Thorne, it’s -- like most of the best writing on Galactica -- a natural culmination of how these characters have been scripted from day one in the series.

  • Even Callie, who shot “Galactica Sharon” to death, is appalled when the Pegasus’s crew openly brags about what appear to be regularly scheduled sexual assaults on their captive Cylon. Does Callie consider Cylon women to be “real” women? Who knows? But what Callie does know is that once that behavior is condoned, it doesn’t stop. It’s one tiny step from raping the enemy to raping somebody else. Military women know this. You’ve got as much to fear (if not more) from the men in your own unit than from the enemy. I bet the female fighter pilots on the Pegasus don’t frolic around in their mixed gender quarters dressed only in towels. Not if they know what’s good for them.

  • Tigh’s drunkenness actually becomes useful in this episode. He befriends the XO of the Pegasus by offering him moonshine and the other XO reveals a chilling tale -- he got promoted to XO when Cain executed the previous one for disobeying a controversial order. She shot the other guy in the head with his own pistol.

  • When Tyrol and Helo are taken to the Pegasus, tried and sentenced to death, Adama demands that they be tried by an independent tribunal. Cain says no, and she reminds him that he himself dissolved the Quorum’s independent tribunal (in the episode Litmus from season 1) when he didn’t like their verdict last time. And Tyrol was a defendant then too. Again, I love when bad decisions come back to haunt people on this show.

What I Didn’t Like

  • We’ve got yet another gender switch -- Cain is now a woman. They should’ve stopped this mess with Starbuck.

  • In The Living Legend, the two-parter from the original show that this episode is based on, Cain, played by Lloyd Bridges, was a much more charismatic and interesting character. He was a tactical genius and a “fly by the seat of his pants” type of guy. The new Cain is a flat character -- a mean bitch with no redeeming qualities.

  • Since original Cain and Adama were the same rank, there was a rivalry there that can’t exist in the new show with Admiral Cain outranking Commander Adama.

  • Also missing from this new version of Living Legend is the history between some of the characters on the two battlestars. In the 70’s show, Cain and Adama knew each other on a personal level. This Cain and this Adama seem to know of each other. Also, original Starbuck’s love interest, Cassiopeia, was the original Cain’s ex-lover. That extra drama and backstory stuff is lost.

  • There’s no Sheba counterpart on this Pegasus. In the original Living Legend, Cain, like Adama, was a single parent with a fighter-pilot child whom he was very proud of. Now, it would’ve been bad to introduce yet another ball-busting chick to this show, but couldn’t the new Cain have had a son that would’ve been a decent love interest for Starbuck and a rival for Apollo?

  • Starbuck doesn’t seem happy to be assigned to the Pegasus. Come on, Kara -- why the long face? That’s an entire battlestar full of men you haven’t slept with yet. You should be ecstatic.

  • Cain claims that she found the Galactica by perusing Cylon ships that were, unbeknownst to her, chasing the Galactica. She claims to have been fighting Cylons the whole time. Isn’t the Pegasus one of the newer battlestars with networked computers? Why wasn’t her ship or her Vipers affected by a Cylon virus when the attack on the colonies went down? Why haven’t they been affected since?

  • Where the hell has the Pegasus been getting its water, food and fuel from since the colonies fell? I couldn’t tell if the Pegasus had its own set of satellite ships like the Galactica does, but I think it doesn’t. They don’t seem to have the burden of protecting civilians.

Fears, Questions and Hopes for Next Season

  • Where the hell is Tom Zarek and what is he up to?

  • Can we see what the Quorum of Twelve does on a regular basis, please?

  • Again, where exactly is the fleet? Is there a coherent plan to the jumps they make?

  • Doc Cottle said last episode that Laura has only a month to live, so are they really going to kill her off when the show returns in January, or will they do some hokey mess and give her a miracle cure?

  • If Laura only has a month to live, why isn’t she forcing Vice President Baltar to absorb all of her administrative knowledge so that humanity will have the semblance of a functioning civilian government when she passes away?

  • The season finale ends with the two battlestars poised to fire on each other. I suppose the Cylons will conveniently show up now so everyone has to work together.


Florida Voter said...

I had not thought of the cylons showing up to distract the two commanders, that's a good call.

Another possibility is that if the Pegasus is vulnerable to the Cylon virus that disabled all the other battlestars and vipers, that Adama will tell Gaeta to use it against the Pegasus.

Also, with regards to Roslyn, she should stand up and take charge as well. If they are structured like a proper democracy, she is technically the 'Commander in Chief' and therefore can fire Admiral Cain and put Adama in charge of the fleet.

Definitely some holes in the story line, but again you have to suspend some of the pratical stuff when dealing with drama... science fiction in particular.

Overall a good episode. I just got my Season one DVD's and am going through to watch the episodes again to see what I missed the first time. Plus the commentary is always insightful.

The Box said...

I agree with a lot of your points and I'm glad to see that consequence for some of the shit they let slide has come back to bite them in the colonial ass. It's one of the things I loved about the show I was worried was fading. I mean, the way the whole 'Arrow Of Apollo' story arc ended, it felt like the Star Trek reset button effect.

I'm pretty sure the Pegasus won't stay long, though I hope the writers have better tricks then the whole 'let's put aside our differences cos there be cylons present, lads' device. I don't think the show can support two Battlestars anyway, seeing as how it dilutes the horror of their singular refugee status - a key tenet of the show.

Some other stuff I didn't like:

Stuff I didn’t like:

The new music. I swear, if the reunion scene where Cain came on board went any longer, they’d have thrown in a guitar riff to join the modern drum beats. Also, what’s with the old western guitar twanging in that scene with Baltar and the abused cylon prisoner.

The Cain vs Adama camera work. The handheld camera work that has been their signature added to the realism of the show. It was fresh. The ‘standoff’ with both of them having words on the phone was a bit too Michael Bay for me. Swirling ‘carousel’ shot and all.

The near-rape of Sharon was a butal thing to watch.
I flinched, and I've read about shit perpetrated against enlisted women.

Whatever this show's shortcomings, you can't say they don't take it to the edge.

I loved your review.

Michelle Pessoa said...

FV, that's a good idea about Roslyn being able to "fire" Cain. Cain has the firepower to ignore her of course, but it's important to make a statement like that for the sake of the civilians.

I picked up my Season 1 DVDs too! I'll probably watch them this weekend.

Box, you're right about the Pegasus not being around long. In the original show the fate of the Pegasus was unknown, but it was assumed that the ship made another blind jump and headed out to deep space. The same will probably happen in this version of the show, but instead of people hoping that the crew of the Pegasus made it, the Galactica crew and the fleet may dread their return.

Thanks for the compliments on my review!