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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Battlestar Galactica: The Living Legend – Review

In this episode Glen A. Larson brings us one of the best characters the series ever produced, Commander Cain of the battlestar Pegasus.  With two parts Patton to one part Douglas MacArthur the character of Cain is a perfect foil for Adama’s more spiritual leadership, and who better to pull that off such a character than the late great Lloyd Bridges.


This excellent two-parter has your standard opening with Apollo (Richard Hatch) and Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) flying a reconnaissance patrol and once again they find themselves in the crosshairs of enemy fighters. Lucky for them it turns out these fighters are Vipers from the presumed destroyed battlestar Pegasus commanded by the legendary Commander Cain (Lloyd Bridges) and they are escorted back to the “lost” battlestar by Lieutenant Sheba (Anne Lockhart) and Lieutenant Bojay (Jack Stauffer) of Silver Spar Squadron. That Sheba and Bojay almost blow away our two heroes, until at the last second their ships scanners register the occupants as human, makes me wonder if in the past Cylons were flying around in Colonial Vipers. If not there is no reason why Sheba wouldn’t try and make radio contact with a pilot flying a Viper before trying to destroy it. Even after Sheba makes radio contact with Apollo and Starbuck she is still suspicious that it could be a trick.

If you are Colonial pilot tell me who won the World Series on Caprica.”

In the reimagined series by Ron Moore there is the startling revelation that there are Cylons that can pass for human, but in this series we never see any type of Cylon that could even remotely pass for human, nor are they known for elaborate ruses to trick humans. The betrayal and attack on the Twelve Colonies during the armistice celebration seems to be their only moment of deception, and that was orchestrated by a human. I guess we have to assume that being alone in combat with the Cylons for two yahrens has made the crew of the Pegasus a tad paranoid. Not helped when being led by the legendary Blood and Guts Commander Cain.

 “No bastard Starfighter ever won a war by dying for his world. You won it by making the other poor dumb Starfighter to die for his.

The crew of the Galactica are of course ecstatic to find out that another battlestar survived the initial Cylon attack, but shortly after things get a bit tense when it’s clear that Cain’s way of doing things is very different from those of Commander Adama (Lorne Greene). Cain informs Adama that the Cylons now control Gomoray, a society once thriving with 50 million people (I'm not sure how that works but let's go with it). This means the Cylons now control over half the universe and so it is imperative that the Galactica join forces with the Pegasus and destroy the Cylon outpost. Adama is against this plan because their fleet is almost completely out of fuel and if the two battlestars went off to attack Gomoray it would leave the rest of the fleet completely defenceless if the Cylons chasing them arrived.

Your plan is bad, and you should feel bad.”

Adama’s views on Cain’s bold military tactics is not the only drama this episode has for it turns out that an old flame of Cain’s is aboard the Galactica, Cassiopeia (Laurette Spang). This does not sit well with either Starbuck or Lieutenant Sheba, who turns out to be Cain’s daughter. We never find out how Cassiopeia met Cain, or exactly what kind of relationship they had, but if we were to go by her occupation as a socialator/space prostitute in the pilot we can see why Sheba wouldn’t be a fan. Starbuck at first doesn’t perceive such an older man to be a threat, but when she runs off to see Cain at the mere mention of his name gives Starbuck pause for concern. Boxey (Noah Hathaway) has a more realistic reaction to Starbuck’s troubled love life, “Poor Starbuck. Oh well. At least he's still got Athena. And Mirrian and Noday and..." It is kind of hard to work up sympathy for Galactica's resident man whole.  What is strange is that we barely see Athena (Maren Jensen) at all in this episode, one can only hope is that she moved on and is now dating Boomer (Herbert Jefferson Jr.) and so could care less if Cassiopeia is dating Starbuck or Cain.

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, Beauty and the Beast.

To get the much needed fuel for the fleet they plan to intercept some Cylon tankers with a raid led by Silver Spar Squadron but supported by Blue Squadron. At the last minute Caine joins the mission and while Apollo and Blue Squadron are off chasing Cylon Raiders he blows up the two Cylon Tankers. During the mission debriefing he claims that the tankers were destroyed by “incidental fire” which he implies is the fault of the less experienced Blue Squadron even though they were nowhere near the tankers.

I’m not saying you Galactica pilots suck, but…

With those tankers gone Cain once again urges an attack on Gomoray as that is now the only place to get fuel for the fleet, but Adama has another idea which involves taking Pegasus’s surplus fuel and dividing it amongst the ships. Cain argues that victory is still possible but Adama will not jeopardize the fleet, and when Cain refuses to follow orders Adama relieves him of command, and orders Tigh to assume command of the Pegasus. Needless to say this causes serious tension between the crew of the Pegasus and the crew of the Galactica. What is shocking is that when Sheba and Bojay approach Cain and tell him that they will back any play he has "no matter what" his response is, “Now I may be the most stubborn, egocentric warrior in the history of the colonies, but I’m also the best damn warrior in history of the colonies, and I don’t intend to be remembered as the one who pulled out and left a lot of defenceless civilians at the mercy of those tin-headed gol-monging Cylons.

But sir, Mutiny on the Galactica has such a nice ring to it.

Cain’s words seem to fall on deaf ears as Sheba, Bojay and a group of Pegasus warriors decide not to take the disgrace of their commander lying down and form a blockade to prevent Apollo and Boomer from proceeding with the fuel transfer. But just when it looks like a gunfight between Galactica and Pegasus officers is in the offing the Cylons arrive. It seems Cylon scouts have located the fleet and Baltar (John Colicos) plans to wipe out the Galactica once and for all as one battlestar cannot possibly stand against his three basestars. When Lucifer (Jonathan Harris) asks if they should get aid from the garrison on Gomoray Baltar goes into one of the most beautiful rants ever; “The only thing I want from Gomoray is a welcoming parade, a victory celebration, a tribute from the people of Gomoray for the greatest military leader Cylon has ever known. I’ve decided that the city of Gomoray will be my seat of power. From it, I will decide how and where I will extend my dominion throughout the star systems.


Note: Back in the pilot the Cylon Imperious Leader put a stay of execution on Baltar because of the belief that his knowledge of human thinking could aid in the tracking down and destroying of the Galactica. How does this translate to Baltar being some form of Galactic Dictator? Sure they gave him command of some basestars but he’s is still human, which is not something the Cylons are too keen on. Once the Galactica is destroyed you should be able to measure Baltar’s life expectancy with an egg timer. How does he not see this?


When the Galactica spots the approaching Cylon task force Adama and Caine put aside their differences and plan a decisive battle strategy. The Cylons not knowing that the Pegasus has joined the Galactica fleet makes perfect ingredients for a surprise attack, so they pull out the Pegasus and swing it around to catch the Cylon forces between them. To improve his glorious image Baltar actually gets into a Cylon Raider so that he can be part of this epic victory, and things do go well for a bit even to the point where the Galactica’s landing bays are on fire, but when the Pegasus arrives it becomes a complete and utter route. Baltar calls for an immediate retreat and flees back to his base ships.

Baltar seen here in a goofy as hell Cylon helmet.

After this victory over the Cylons Cain once again puts forth his plans for their two battlestars to make a joint attack on Gomoray. Colonel Tigh (Terry Carter) points out that there is no way they could survive a united attack from three Cylon base ships as well as four squadrons found on Gomoray. Cain states that with surprise on their side it’s possible. For some reason Apollo agrees with this even though it completely forgets the initial reason Adama had against an attack on the Cylon planet, that being it would leave the civilian ships defenceless. Adama’s only problem with this plan is that the anti-assault batteries on Gomoray would wipe out that battlestars, but Cain proposes sending a commando team to the surface to knock out the anti-assault batteries. When the basestars move to attack the Colonial ships loading the fuel Cain and the Pegasus would engage the basestars in a delaying tactic.


The strike team sent to take out the anti-assault batteries consists of Apollo, Starbuck, Boomer, Bojay, Sheba, but at the last second Cassiopeia comes along to be their med-tech when she finds out that Cain maybe going off on some suicide mission. She’s really only along so that when Bojay is injured she can save his life and thus impressing Sheba so she will no longer be upset if Cassiopeia is dating her dad. So the team para-drops in, shoots up the place and destroys the control room that operates the anti-assault batteries.
Mission Improbable

The second half of this two-parter is simply amazing. You’ve got a commando raid led by our heroes shooting and blowing the crap out of the Cylon population, the Imperious Leader making a personal visit to dedicate this new center for Cylon Culture, Commander Cain once again going against orders by instead of fighting a delaying tactic that would lead the three basestars away from Gomoray, but instead he will fly directly at them with the intent of killing Baltar once and for all.

We also see Cylon civilians for the first time.

But what makes this all so much fun is watching Baltar lose his shit. When he orders the attack on the Galactica and Pegasus he is shocked when Lucifer reports that they are not where they were expected but are currently battling on Gomoray. At first this seems like great news to Baltar as this means the civilian fleet is unprotected and he orders all his squadrons to attack, but when he is informed that a special envoy is on Gomoray, one that includes the Imperious Leader, he immediately re-tasks the squadrons to defend Gomoray.

Note: This is the only reason the civilian ships are not completely destroyed and being neither Adama nor Cain had any knowledge of the Imperious Leader's visit this could not have been part of their plan, which means their plan could have easily ended humanity.  Great work guys, I guess it's better to be lucky than smart.
When Baltar sees the Pegasus not stopping to engage his raiders he assumes she is a decoy and orders all his fighters to continue to Gomoray to engage the Colonial fighters. What Baltar doesn’t realize is that Cain is planning on taking out the three basestars himself, without a Viper escort.  Starbuck and Apollo figure out Cain’s plan and they fly in to take out some of basestars guns, and without Cylon Raiders to defend them Cain has every chance of making it through.

Playing chicken with Cylon basestars.

This episode was heavy in action but also with a fair amount of decent drama, the relationship between Sheba and her dad is handled quite well and it’s nice to see an equivalent female pilot to Apollo. If the series hadn’t been cancelled I’m sure there would have been more relationship fodder there. The love triangle between Cassiopeia, Starbuck and Cain is surprisingly effective and opens up some great character development for Starbuck. Of course the most interesting element in this two-parter is the differences between Adama and Cain as leaders and how the show doesn't clearly side with either of them.

The episode ended with the Pegasus's ambiguous disappearance amongst the exploding basestars so one can assume this would have led to the return of Commander Cain in further seasons, alas it was not to be as we only got the one season. But his character was so well regarded that he did kind of return in the updated series.

I shall return, but as Michelle Forbes.”

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