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Battlestar Galactica 2K: "The Captain's Hand"

Okay, Apollo went from Captain (which is what the audience thought he was) to Major to Commander (which is two ranks, going right over Colonel) in the space of one episode. I know Richard Hatch has his own BSG2K character now, but I bet that for about 90 seconds, he was pissed.

So why was it called "The Captain's Hand"? On Trek we're accustomed to thinking of The Captain as the person who runs the ship, but on BSG there's one Commander and one Admiral. Lee was a Major for most of the ep. Kara is the only Captain being discussed. Did it mean her hand moving things behind the scenes? A hand of cards? That seems too subtle for her. Was it in fact a reference to Lee, even though that's no longer his rank? Seems sort of strange.

yay Connor promo! :D

Wow, Lee and Dee are truly boring together. No chemistry at all, even less than Lee and Kara. But it's not revolting, just boring, so I don't care. (Maybe the problem is that what Lee really needs is a boyfriend?) They're both great actors, and I like both characters, and they're actually fun as friends, but there are no romantic sparks at all.

The Beast and The Bucket -- that's amusing. Realistic too, considering the reputation of the ships and their COs. But why would Adama assign a "temporary" XO? That's what Lee was serving as, which I didn't realize until I read the official site synopsis since Garner was so prickly. Unless Garner's command itself was still on probation? Wouldn't you want to establish a stable command team? Did Adama promote Lee just for the position? (Ooh, I bet that comes back to bite him on the ass: he doesn't feel he deserves the two promotions in quick succession, that he hasn't earned the right or the experience to be there. If Pegasus gets FOOMed, five will get you ten that'll be the emotional blowback.)

See, I was right about the attitude of the Pegasus officers. They took their cues from Cain. She surrounded herself with like-minded people. Garner thinks it's okay to disobey orders -- although let's face it, so does practically everybody; it's a wonder anything gets done -- and keep Galactica personnel out of decision-making loops because they're not Our People, rather than thinking of the Fleet as one group. How long can that keep up before the dramatic tension gets to be too much, the way it did with Cain? The character had to be removed for the show to advance. Will Pegasus have to be FOOMed as well? The situation was really getting out of control, in terms of character conflict. Now that Lee is in command, maybe it won't have to be sacrificed.

On the one hand, because we the audience have figured the Raptors were caught in a trap, we frown on Garner disobeying orders and defying Adama and Lee and Kara to rescue his pilots. On the other hand, if the situation were reversed, we'd be cursing the other admiral for being so conservative and for letting the pilots die out there. Tip of the hat to the writers...

Garner's flaw is that he expects everything to work like clockwork. But he should know better -- Chief Engineers have to be flexible and inventive, not rigid and protocol-obsessed. Scotty is a miracle worker, not an accountant. Sure, you have to follow safety procedures and physics has unbreakable laws, but bypassing EPS conduits is a daily occurrence, not a rare glitch. (and may I just add, our Chief Engineer didn't have these problems commanding a ship in trouble. Or under enemy fire. Several times.)

I wonder how dangerous Baltar would be on his own, without Six and Zarek (and Gina) whispering in his ears. He likes power, but he doesn't like having to work for it. He's a coward. He plays hard-to-get with Zarek, letting himself be seduced for an exchange of political favors, because he wouldn't have the guts or the desire to go it alone. Then when the moment is right (and I gotta admit, that was beautifully orchestrated, the bastard) he leaps on the wave of popular sentiment and rides it, with Six cheering him on. Would he bother with any of this without his Axis friends? Would he dare?

Okay, let's take a little while to detour and talk about criminalizing abortion absolutely and prioritizing reproduction (which are related but not the same thing). I understand the dilemma of continuing the species, but removing the fundamental right of a woman to control her own body is wrong. Roslin has gone an enormous step backwards, toward the way of the Cylons, treating women as no better than breeding cows. Sandy, one of the loyal TripHammered Half-Dozen, sent me a long and eloquent dissection of the issue, which I'm going to use and expand upon here with her permission. (Credit 80% of this to her.) I should say that many of these issues would have to be dealt with anyway even if abortion were still legal, so these are not necessarily the direct result of this decision, but it escalates the timing of when they would happen.

So, according to this new executive order, which neatly bypasses the elected representatives of the Quorum who represent the will of the entire Fleet, not just the fundamentalists, every pregnancy, wanted or unwanted, must be nurtured and come to fruition, so to speak.

How will this law be enforced? If a woman is rumored to be pregnant, she has to undergo a forcible exam? Every woman must submit to a government-administered pregnancy test every month, or show the red flag to prove that it's not needed?

In the real world, somewhere between 20% and 30% of pregnancies end in spontaneous miscarriage in the first four months. These are women who have done everything right, and lose the baby anyway. Would Roslin punish them regardless? How do you prove it's a natural and not assisted miscarriage? Will she prosecute women who fall down stairs?

Is she planning on outlawing any form of birth control? Do parents no longer have the choice of how they want to space their children for best development? Do parents no longer have a choice of how many children they want? If birth control is still permitted, like everything else there's a finite amount. Will resources be allocated to producing more pills or condoms or diaphragms or spermicides?

If a woman is raped, is she still required to bear her rapist's child? If a woman is too old or her own health is too precarious to continue the pregnancy, is she still required to risk her life to have the baby? What if she's 14? What happens when women die in childbirth? What happens when she leaves behind four children? Who's going to take care of them?

If a fetus is shown to have genetic abnormalities, or terrible defects -- especially defects which would be a drain on the Fleet's already limited resources -- is she still required to have the child? Is Roslin going to call for genetic testing of every person in the Fleet, to see if there are any genetic diseases lingering, to keep them from being passed down to the limited breeding stock? Or is it okay to allow sickle-cell anemia and Tay-Sachs and hemophilia and the breast cancer gene to continue? What about the reverse? Will people of "good stock" be encouraged to bear or sire as many babies as possible? Would Lee be told to "spread his seed" around many women to ensure his DNA gets mixed into the gene pool as much as possible? On the third side, there is a limited and finite gene pool. Don't they need to be careful about inbreeding?

What happens when the first coat-hanger deaths start being reported? Because you know there will be women who will want to end their pregnancies at any cost. Roslin was upset about the black market for goods? She's just created one for abortion. If there's mandatory testing, there might also be a black market for "clean" urine or blood.

Will women of breeding age now be banned from dangerous jobs? Say, like Viper pilot? Even though there are barely enough pilots and trained competent military personnel as it is? Would they have to take an oath of celibacy? Will there be one set of rules for civilian women and another set for military women? Will Cottle be sneaking his people in the back door? If military women are not exempt and they too have to breed, will the rules about fraternization between ranks be suspended? Recall that Tigh ordered Tyrol to break it off with Galactica Sharon because she was an officer and he was non-commissioned.

What about pregnancy versus marriage? Lee and Dee are an item for the moment, but he's now Commander of Pegasus. If Dee is pregnant, will he be ordered to marry her so "it looks good"? If reproduction is the most important thing, what about the fundamentalists? Rya, the Geminese girl who wanted the abortion which kicked off the plot, was likely freaking out because she didn't want to marry her boyfriend. Will the religious nuts be ordered to give out-of-wedlock pregnancies an indulgence? Or is Roslin going to insist on shotgun marriages to go with the forced breeding? Pair this with the eugenics problems above: Will monogamy be officially out of favor, because it prevents the best genes from being shared?

Are Roslin and the Geminese representative going to lead by example and carry babies for the good of the species?

Then you have the course of the pregnancy itself. Expectant moms need extra food. Food is apparently rationed. Out of whose mouth will food literally be taken to feed pregnant women? Are they going to sell "baby bonds" and have "pregnancy gardens" to raise "ration cards" for breeders? These women need medical attention. If Cottle is one of the few doctors in the Fleet of fifty thousand people, who is going to monitor all these pregnancies? Who is going to deliver high-risk babies? Where are moms ordered on bed rest going to stay? Where are they going to find medications to treat these women? If midwives wind up stepping in where there are no doctors or nurses, and something goes wrong, are the midwives going to be jailed for infanticide?

Would a woman be arrested for not eating properly or taking her prenatal vitamins? Would there be Mommy Monitors on every ship to keep an eye on pregnant women to make sure they're not doing something which might endanger the child, like stand too close to a microwave emitter or use Retin-A for their skin? How about arresting a pregnant woman who drinks or smokes? Would smoking be outlawed so that no pregnant woman or baby is exposed to the smoke? Let's say Cottle comes up with something to help women through morning sickness, and it turns out to be thalidomide. Would he be prosecuted? Would he get an exemption for being one of the few doctors?

Will every person in the Fleet have to have their DNA registered so fathers can be tracked? Will fathers be required to support any baby they sire? Will it now become a point of pride for swaggering young studs to have a bunch of "baby mommas" scattered around several ships? Remember the Pegasus crew who were boasting about how many times they'd raped Gina.

Speaking of Gina, what about potential Cylon agents? We know, obviously, that Cylon women can carry human babies. Until the other six models are identified, how does Roslin know the sperm donors of the Fleet wouldn't be helping the enemy along by interbreeding with them? Why hasn't Six's/Gina's photo been publicized? Reverse it: what if Cylon men can impregnate human women, and succeed where the Farms failed? Imagine how much "damage" one Cylon Lothario could do with this kind of carte blanche permission to breed.

Let's look at a few specific scenarios, shall we? Shivon is the prostitute whom Lee visited. If she becomes pregnant by one of her johns, she can't work. Her pimp offers to support her while she's not working. But in exchange, she has to let him adopt the kid when he turns five, so the child can be sold to a pedophile. Or invert it: if a prostitute is pregnant, she can't get pregnant again, so only pregnant prostitutes are now in favor, so these women try to stay pregnant all the time, and again sell off the kids to the pimps.

We've already seen what the Pegasus crew can be capable of. Let's say the Adamas make Starbuck the CAG of Pegasus again, and the hotshot pilots don't like it -- they don't like her, or they want one of their own in charge. So they track her down, beat the crap out of her, and gang-rape her. Now she's pregnant. And as a pregnant woman, she can no longer fly a Viper, so she's out of a job -- and as a bonus, she's forced to carry and bear the offspring of the bastard who did this to her.

Will there be a surge in "heteroflexible" behavior, with otherwise straight folk seeking out homosexual encounters to avoid pregnancy?

What about infertile women? Men? Are they going to be shunned as pariahs for not contributing? What about fertile women who have no male partners? What about gay women? Are they going to be forced into surrogacy to keep the population up? Will gay men be forced to make donations? What about straight married folks who just don't want kids? Is that no longer legal?

Since not every woman has a partner, and even if she does it won't allow for maximum gene mixing (which is the best way to keep the gene pool healthy), are they going to start taking sperm and ova from everyone, mixing them in vitro, and injecting them into random surrogates?

And the bundles of joy arrive. Where are they going to live? Space on the various ships is also limited and finite (except for Cloud 9, which seems to have some kind of special entertainment dispensation). Are burgeoning families going to have the right to kick someone else out of the quarters they now live in? Are people going to start having kids just to qualify for better homes?

What are they going to eat? I mentioned this above regarding extra food for pregnant moms, but now we're talking about literal additional mouths to feed. How are they going to be clothed? Is Roslin prepared to create or exponentially increase funding for welfare? As above, who is going to treat these kids for their various maladies? Where are they going to get medicines for vaccines?

How will the food and medicine and clothing be paid for? If the society is still capitalistic (which is increasingly ridiculous and unworkable), then just like us, parents have to work to earn something to pay for or exchange for goods and services. Who's minding the kids if both parents have to work to make ends meet? Is Roslin going to fund day care on every ship? Who's going to staff those day care centers? Who's going to train those staffers? Where are they going to be located? Will parents have to supply their own food, or is the government going to pay for lunch? When there are second and third and ninth pregnancies, will employers be required to give women time off for doctor's appointments and severe morning sickness?

Gods forfend, what about a woman (and a man) who doesn't want the child she's been forced to bear? Is Roslin going to start encouraging adoption, and make the termination of parental rights easier? Will foster and adoptive parents be vetted, or will pimps be allowed to "buy" excess children?

What happens when the little darlings of this baby boom need to start school? What happens as they get older, the Fleet eventually outruns the Cylons, and they need to find work for all these able-bodied people? Is Roslin planning on giving up the search for Earth and settling down at some point?

Basically, unless Moore intends to kill this subplot quickly, he's just opened up the biggest can of worms to hit sci-fi TV in twenty years. Back to the rest of the commentary.

Just a thought: I don't mind the idea of having a group of religious fundamentalists in the society as a dramatic device, but I think Moore should drop a note to Casting to make sure that all the characters aren't played by black actors. That could lead to some ugly and completely unnecessary audience assumptions which would detract from storytelling and could easily be avoided. The pregnant girl is the first white Geminese we've seen.

I'm glad Lee and Kara have sorted things out personally, but she still isn't taking responsibility for her attitude. Maybe she just shouldn't have any authority besides squadron commander. She does a great job in the cockpit, but put her in charge of things and she immediately assumes there's no one else above her to whom she has to answer. Maybe that's because when she's in the cockpit leading a wing, there is no one else to whom she answers.

The scenes of the three basestars strafing Pegasus were awfully reminiscent of the two battlestars ripping apart the Resurrection Ship, weren't they?

So Garner rushes down to Engineering, gets a sledgehammer and a wrench, and goes off to close the TECH valves. He yells at his little buddy two and three times to close the door so the air doesn't leak out through the breach, so it's not like they don't know where he is or what he's doing. Now, when the air in the room all bleeds out into space, and Garner passes out closing the last valve, the other guy keeps yelling for Skipper to open the door and get out. Two months ago show time Lee was in a suit which lost all its oxygen and a Galactica pilot plucked him from the vacuum of space to resuscitate him. They had to use paddles to restart his heart. Garner is only on the other side of a closed door and has only just passed out from lack of oxygen. Why doesn't anyone try to rescue and revive him? I guess Skipper's little buddy doesn't care that much about him after all? Or is that more of the pervasive Pegasus attitude, that if he couldn't save himself then he didn't deserve to live?

Lee does pretty well for his first time commanding CIC; he has a few moments of hesitation because he doesn't quite have practice for this, but he is trained to command and he keeps his head. I guess shouting comes with time. There's a new Commander Adama in town!

Here's our early guess: Baltar runs for president and selects Zarek as his VP. Roslin announces that she remembers seeing him with Six on Caprica, it sinks his candidacy and Zarek steps up (to lose). Or Gina is discovered and revealed to have the weapon, and they realize there's only one way she could have gotten it. For the structure of the story I don't see how Roslin can lose, because the purpose of her character is to be President. If she loses, it take a huge contrivance to get her back into office, and if she doesn't get back into office, what's the purpose of having her around? Would Moore really lose one of his main characters that way?

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