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Battlestar Galactica 2K: "Pegausus"

Whoa, that was a jaw-dropper. Nothing which stretched belief, nothing we couldn't have foreseen, but we -- audience and crew -- have managed to find a comfort level with the situation over the last season and a half (which is about three or four months ship time, I believe). And Cain waltzes right in and turns everything upside-down, in a way Lloyd Bridges never could and Rudy Ransom tried but failed to. ("Pegasus" is based on a Classic BSG episode, "The Living Legend," although I don't know how closely the next episode will follow the Classic BSG's plot, so if you haven't seen it and would rather not be spoiled, don't read the summary.)

Can I just say how glad I am that there's no Sheba character? Moore was bright enough to keep the good people (Apollo, Starbuck, Boomer, Adama, Tigh) and ditch the dead weight (Sheba, Boxey, Cassie, the daggit -- although I wouldn't have minded seeing Athena reimagined, or Serena).

Strange and surreal background music for the opening scenes. Was Tangerine Dream in town and needed work?

Upon being introduced to Roslin, Michelle Forbes displays some surprisingly subtle expressions given all the obvious plastic surgery she's had since her days as obnoxious"freedom fighter" Ensign Ro. (Forbes was offered a role on DS9, but declined, so Ro became Kira Nerys and Nana Visitor was hired. To everyone's great relief. Kira was prickly, but Ro was a bitch.)

Cain instantly got on my bad side, even if I hadn't already known where this was going, by telling Galactica "welcome back to the Colonial Fleet." Do the math, dear -- Galactica already is the fleet, and you're not.

There was a slight hint that perhaps Cain was not as honest as she could have been in her report on what happened during the attack. She says they took a blind jump to anywhere because they were "completely defenseless." Tigh and Adama idly wish they could see her logs. One wonders if she really had no choice, as Roslin convinced Adama, or if she ran. Look at her crew: happy to be bullies, glorifying savagery, rationalizing dictatorship as discipline and mindless obedience as morale-boosting. Did they only get that way in a few months? Or was she already leading a bunch of barely-restrained barbarians who were looking for an excuse to go hunting? How could they have been defenseless three months ago but fully-armed and operational now?

One piece of very important information: there's a Cylon fleet tracking Galactica. Is it the same group which was taken out at the end of "Final Cut," or were they a strike force? The mysterious large ship most likely wasn't destroyed in that attack, and if it's a Raider factory (hatchery?) then more ships can come. Are they following Pregnant Sharon? Are they testing the human fleet like a large-scale Skinner box experiment? (Because not for anything, there have been more than enough opportunities to take out all or part of the fleet. If Gaeta is a Cylon, or even before Boomer tried to assassinate Adama, there have been so many openings to destroy the battlestar that you have to start to wonder if annihilation is still their objective.)

I thought it was hilarious that Cain called Roslin on her faintly horrified expressions. Roslin must be thinking that she spent all this precious time and effort forging a peace and an alliance with Adama, and now she has to start over with Cain -- and she simply doesn't have the energy for it. Moogie noted that McDonnell is doing a great job portraying Roslin as slowly weakening, slumping in on herself, dying by inches, although he thought that making her hollow-cheeked would add more to the effect.

Did Cain shoot her XO or not?

In Adama's shoes, I would not have told her "Don't give it [taking command of the fleet from him] a moment's thought." It's not his responsibility to assuage her feelings, and frankly, since he has been the (successful) leader of the fleet for several months, she should be concerned about disrupting an existing stable situation. In the moments afterward, when he's standing alone, he frowns and looks worried. I think that whether he meant his comment to her or whether it was a polite screen, he's realizing just what he's given her -- he surrendered dominance without a fight. She takes advantage of it and runs right over him the first time she decides she wants to change things.

We still don't know how analogous the Colonial government is to America's, so we don't know if Roslin has the power to make Adama an Admiral (and doesn't know it). In the U.S., the civilian commander-in-chief can appoint and dismiss high-level military leaders. But in the Colonies, it seems the civilian government and the military are equally powerful, and neither controls the other.

wombat61 brought up some good points to me: Cain, perhaps thinking her battlestar was the last remnants of the race, is on a mission of revenge. It's hard to imagine she thinks she can win, against such odds. Now that she's discovered there are around fifty thousand survivors, doesn't that change the tactics? Doesn't that make revenge less important than survival? I could see if she's only got the few hundred people, she might say fine, we'll take out as many toasters as we can on the way to extinction. But that's not the case any more. Why the continued dogged attack? And are the battlestars going to leave the fleet defenseless while they go chase the mystery ship? (That was addressed in the Classic BSG episode.)

In that same vein, Adama would rather save talented troublemakers (Tigh, Chief, Starbuck) than remove anyone from the team, or the gene pool. Cain isn't thinking of the future any more, or she'd at least blink about executing two young healthy skilled sperm donors.

I have to believe that Baltar's Six really didn't know who was in that cell. (The Cylon prisoner's name is Gina, according to the official site. Moore added it as an in-joke: Classic BSG fans who dislike BSG2K have been calling it GINO, Galactica In Name Only, so he decided to have fun with it.) She seemed far too shocked and upset to be faking it. If she had known, she would have dropped more hints. I guess that also means that Gina is not connected to the groupmind, or they would have known what happened to her.

When Baltar and Six walk up to the cell, Moogie noted that they move almost in perfect synchronicity. Are they of "one mind" (that is, are they having identical reactions) at that moment, or is that another tick in the "he's hallucinating her" column?

To Baltar's credit, since I don't think Six can control him to that degree, he looks revolted and deeply disturbed by the condition Gina is in. He's one of very few humans who has the capacity to see a humanoid Cylon as a potential equal, and he's as disgusted as if she were human. Six understandably freaks out, calling her an "abused woman," but even Galactica's crew wouldn't necessarily see her that way. (However, not even Tigh was planning on doing to Sharon what was done to Gina.)

Six says of Gina "It's me," but then "look what they've done to her." For a moment I thought she might have meant that she was a projection from that unit -- a possibility I hadn't considered before -- but then her second comment clarified that she meant it the same way the Sharon in the theatre on Caprica did when she said "I'm alive, she made it." The identity of the units blurs very easily.

Doesn't Baltar think someone might be monitoring his actions in the cell remotely? Watching him talk to thin air? Listening to him say kind things to the Cylon? (He handled Cain very well, however -- phrased his report in just the right way for her to hear it the way she wanted and give him what he needed.) Is he going to end up on Pegasus for any length of time, or escape with Gina to Galactica?

While on paper Cain may be right about the various pilots' infractions, they have all been under enormous strain the last few months, and her own ship isn't a model of decorous behavior either. I'm not military -- does it make more sense to observe an existing situation before barging in with tactical changes, or does a new CO always sweep house upon assuming command? But you know when you have a scene where the person who's accustomed to arguing with the commanding officer is told to shut up and obey orders from someone higher up the food chain that the arguer is going to be right, and vindicated.

Cain and Adama both have the loyalty of their crews, it seems, and each got the crew which fits their command style best: Adama has the conflicted moralists and Cain has the mad-dog martinets. Is any of her command style justified? Is there a place for the strict reliance on protocol at the end of civilization? Or is it more of the clinging to obsolete rituals which Zarek decried in wanting to change the Colonial government? Even Adama plays by the rules and regs, mostly. He's been more flexible because his command style is more personal. Cain has the fanatics who demand order above all else, who can't bear chaos or independent thinking because it would shatter their rigid views of the way the universe is constructed. Pegasus's CAG boots Kara from the mission because she challenged his tactics. Almost any other Galactica officer would have listened to an objection from any Galactica pilot, because they have learned to depend on one another as a team. Pegasus's crew has learned to rely solely on the chain of command and the people at the top. I don't mean to say that there shouldn't be military protocol; since it is a military ship, without control there's total anarchy. But Adama isn't afraid of being challenged, or of having his orders questioned (within reason). He isn't afraid to examine his own thinking. He can change his mind. He can admit a mistake. And that makes him a better leader than Cain.

Hearing the Pegasus crew joke about gang-raping Gina completely turned my stomach (which it was supposed to do). Moogie and I both spontaneously yelled in unison "oh my GOD!" when we realized what Thorne was about to do to Sharon. It was many times more powerful than Kara violently dunking Leoben, which, let's be honest, isn't too far from the same thing.

And that parallel made me think. Moore isn't afraid of setting up these very hard questions. We have Kara torturing Leoben, Kara and the other survivors at the Cylon Farm, Gina's gang-rape by the Pegasus crew, and Sharon's almost-rape by Thorne. The first two are clear-cut Us vs. Them: Kara is one of Us, Leoben is a Cylon who said he planted a bomb, the Simons and Sixes were Cylons who were kidnapping and violating human women to force them to reproduce with the Cylons. Hurting the bad guys (Them) is acceptable. Hurting the good guys (Us) is not.

But then you get the assaults on Gina and Pregnant Sharon. Sharon started as one of Them, but now is arguably trying to become one of Us. Thorne may be of the same species as Us, but he's not behaving like one of Us would, so that makes him a different kind of Them. The Pegasus crew is supposed to be more like Us, perhaps warped under pressure in a different direction than the Galactica crew did, so we're not sure if those crewmembers are supposed to be misled Us or vicious Them. And we don't know what Gina might have done, so we don't know if she's one of Them (genocidal toaster) or trying to ally with Us (toaster with an obsession with love). When is violence right? When is it okay? Is it okay to rape Hitler as revenge or punishment for ordering the deaths of 11 million people? Is it okay to come close to drowning a lower-level SS officer? As a species, I still think (so far) that the Cylons are genocidal toasters. But it's hard to say that it's okay for Kara to beat Leoben bloody to find the bomb he might have planted, but not okay to gang-rape Gina when she might (we don't know) have done something equivalent. We need to face that kind of quandary. I hope the characters face it and wrestle with it also.

Chief and Helo acted like many dysfunctional families do: together, they fought, but when faced with an outsider, they closed ranks and backed one another up. And they both loved a Sharon, and both immediately leapt to her rescue.

Huge huge marks to Tricia Helfer. She's been repeatedly remarkable as the Sixes, but there's a whole new range opening up for her as Gina. Moogie noted with some amusement that as she reached for the plate, "it almost looks like a robot hand." This iteration of Six, the proudest, smuggest, most superior of the models, has been reduced literally to machine-like gestures, as if her human mimicry has been beaten out of her. It's also a fair portrayal of how a beaten human woman might move. Baltar weeps to watch it. Is he going to defect to the Cylons after watching how the humans treated her?

Adama moved really fast in what is essentially another coup attempt to rescue Chief and Helo, but Cain is stirring things up so hard so quickly that he didn't have much choice. She lost his cooperation when she coolly ignored his objections to the crew transfer, and she lost Galactica when she ordered the execution of the two men. The fleet I don't know -- it depends on how they'd feel about the Cylon prisoner, and her treatment.

And we have to wait for January! agh!

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