Jammer's Review

Battlestar Galactica

"Pegasus"

****

Air date: 9/23/2005
Written by Anne Cofell Saunders
Directed by Michael Rymer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Says Adama to Roslin: "I've been taking orders my entire career. This is no different."

Like hell it isn't. Adama just hasn't realized it yet — or maybe he's putting up a comforting front for Roslin. Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes, an actress who comes with a built-in tough edge, although she strikes me as awfully young to be an admiral), commander of the Battlestar Pegasus, outranks Adama and has left no room for misunderstanding that she intends to take command of the entire fleet. And thus begins the uncomfortable foreboding, which becomes more alarming with every scene.

"Pegasus" is a gripping hour that is sold purely on emotional and visceral impact, as opposed to plot and subtlety. Because we care about the characters and because we are invested in the society that has been created from their ragtag fleet, we can't help but wince when Cain says she's taking the reins. And as we begin to learn what the Pegasus and her crew are about, it becomes clear this is a club we don't want to be a part of.

The episode's presentation is operatic in approach. Restraint is not the name of the game here. The writers have created a premise where we have no choice but to side with the Galactica, because the actions of key Pegasus players are clearly immoral. I'm told the "Pegasus" episode from the original series was more tempered, with a more sympathetic Pegasus crew. Not the case here. Here's a storyline that knows where it stands and intends to take sides. It's larger than life and doesn't shy away from that knowledge.

It begins with high jubilation. The Pegasus appears, and even the music knows this is not your typical day on the Battlestar Galactica. A formal greeting of Admiral Cain on the Galactica flight deck is played with epic military pomp that's so effective it gave me chills. There's a terrific shot of the two battlestars flying together that conveys a renewed sense of magnificence. As Adama and Cain both say at the beginning: This is a miracle.

But not so fast. After the initial jubilation and celebration, "Pegasus" almost immediately becomes a quietly, unbearably unnerving experience of waiting for the other shoe to drop. It does — fairly quickly — but then there's another shoe, and another, and another.

Who's in charge here? In the first scene after the greeting, we realize that Cain intends to take command, and Adama, following military protocol, intends to hand command over to her without a second thought. In the dinner scene, when Adama says "Yes, sir" to Cain, the look of shock on Roslin's face is downright chilling — as if foretelling where the story is headed. Cain takes note of Roslin's apparent worry: "Madam President, you look like I just shot your dog." After Roslin leaves, it's pretty clear that Cain has little regard for Roslin: "Secretary of Education?" she asks Adama.

Meanwhile, Tigh has drinks with the Pegasus XO, Colonel Fisk (Graham Beckel). Fisk tells a dark tale about how Cain shot the previous Pegasus XO in the head, in full view of the crew, because he refused to order an attack on the Cylons. Fisk breaks out laughing and plays it off as a joke, but we can't really be sure what that means. Tigh believes the story actually happened, and relays it to Adama, who responds by saying "context matters," and reminds Tigh that the Galactica crew themselves destroyed the Olympic Carrier with over 1,300 civilians on board. Yes, but there was certainly a context there. What exactly was the context of Cain executing her own XO, a former close friend, if indeed it happened? Adama prepares to turn over his logs to Cain. Tigh says, "We should ask Admiral Cain for her logs, just so we can put her in context." Adama responds, "Wouldn't that be nice." The chain of command pulls only in one direction.

The ominous foreboding continues through various scenes of character interaction, like the scenes where the Galactica pilots meet their Pegasus counterparts, a seemingly humorless bunch that tallies their kills on the sides of their Vipers. The Pegasus CAG, Captain Taylor (John Pyper-Ferguson), is an all-business dude who has some mild friction with Lee and tells him that Admiral Cain's way is now Galactica's way. Cain's way apparently has no qualms recruiting civilians into the ranks of the military; the Pegasus deck chief (Vincent Gale) was a civilian who was recruited into the military ranks by a Cain-imposed draft. Just what is the status of the civilian population among the Pegasus? Do they have their own ragtag fleet and politics? We aren't told, but you get the feeling that if they do, they're all under martial law.

Quietly and slowly — but unmistakably — this all adds up to build a very disturbing sense that the Galactica way of life is over. Society as it has been under Adama and Roslin is about to become the unbending Law of Cain. Adama at first takes this in stride, yielding to his own humility and the establishment that is the chain of command. But brick by brick, the foundation of Galactica's world seems to be on the verge of dismantlement.

Cain, who at first offers assurances that she has no intentions of interfering with Adama's ship or command, soon is telling Adama that his logs reveal he is too close to his officers — to Lee, to Kara, to Tigh — and that she intends to integrate the crews and make personnel changes. She reassigns Lee and Kara to the Pegasus, which for Lee is an instant demotion. The way Cain uses Adama's logs as a weapon against him is unnerving.

At the end of last week's "Flight of the Phoenix," there was a big emotional scene that conveyed the sense of a family that this fleet of military and civilians had become. That scene takes on a new dimension here, because it seems likely to be lost under Cain's command.

All of which is about personal feelings and what the Galactica fleet has become accustomed to. Perhaps Adama goes along with it because that's what the chain of command says he does. But there's also the matter of what the Pegasus crew is capable of, and the story ventures into inflexible matters of right and wrong. The Pegasus also has a Cylon prisoner. She happens to be another copy of Number Six, which is revealed to Baltar in a scene that sends the usually cocky hallucinated version of Six reeling with shock and sadness — a welcome change of pace. This prisoner has not simply been imprisoned like Sharon, but also repeatedly beaten and raped and deprived of food and water. She exists now as a broken shell, psychologically destroyed. Baltar plans to work with her to get information ("You have already used the stick," he says to Cain. "It's time to use a carrot."), which later leads to a powerful and emotionally revealing scene where he confesses to this prisoner how he fell in love with a Cylon that looked just like her.

When you consider how the Pegasus crew has treated their prisoner compared to that of Galactica, you begin to see evidence of an alternate path that has unfolded under similar circumstances. Pegasus seems like Galactica's evil twin. Not that everyone on Pegasus is capable of these sorts of atrocities (indeed, we don't learn much about them overall). But the fact that Cain apparently permits rape as an interrogation tactic (or at least turns a blind eye to it) is hugely significant, because as a leader she sets the tenor for the crew. There are issues of prisoner abuse and morality and leadership and human failure and the capacity for evil that this story inherently brings forth, but for the most part it doesn't address them philosophically or polemically and instead chooses to tackle them via storytelling microcosm.

That microcosm is Pegasus' Lt. Thorne (Fulvio Cecere), a Cylon interrogator well known among the Pegasus crew for his tactic of raping the Cylon prisoner for information. This tactic becomes clear to us in a scene where Tyrol and Helo are talking with drunken officers from the Pegasus, who describe Thorne's practices — as well as their own personal involvement in rapes — in pathetic alpha-male guttural. This scene is truly effective in its ability to rile our feelings of distaste and outrage, and the only reason Helo and Tyrol don't pummel these officers right here is because they realize that Sharon is in very immediate danger.

Thorne, at this moment, is interrogating Sharon about the purpose of a massive Cylon ship — bigger than a base star — that the Pegasus has photographed on recon missions. Thorne starts by smacking Sharon around and then has the guards hold her down. Helo and Tyrol charge in to the rescue, and there are visceral shots of them in a frenzy as they do some serious ass-kicking. Caught up in the scene, I was energized and wanted these Pegasus guys to pay. Thorne is accidentally killed in the struggle. My gut says he got what he deserved, which is a testament to this episode's amped-up emotional provocativeness.

Sharon's rape — or attempted rape — is edited perhaps too carefully and responsibly in the interests of making the scene easier on the audience ... which may be an odd thing for me to say. No, we don't need to see Sharon being raped to get the point, but the editing is so cautious in its attempts to spare us that we don't know whether or not the rape was actually prevented by Helo and Tyrol's charge-in. It seems to be, but Sharon's reactions suggest otherwise. Ultimately, I suppose it doesn't matter. The point is: Thorne commits rape, which is subhuman behavior that infuriates us, and we don't feel regret when he dies.

Helo and Tyrol are arrested for murder and treason, and taken back to the Pegasus, where they face court-martial. Adama wants to be sure they get a fair jury trial, but that seems unlikely, and the situation begins to turn increasingly tense.

This main thrust of the story exists alongside the subplot where Kara and Lee report to the Pegasus to prepare for an attack on the mysterious Cylon ship. The episode further sells its reality with details aboard the Pegasus, which show it as a more modern and higher-tech battlestar. The pilot ready room is shinier and has video monitors instead of cardboard charts. Captain Taylor explains the mission, and Starbuck's response is, "Your plan sucks," which she punctuates with a self-satisfied, smart-ass grin that had me laughing out loud. She recommends instead the use of the stealth ship constructed in "Flight of the Phoenix," a plan Taylor refuses while immediately taking Kara off the mission. These seeds are obviously planted for the next installment, but they keep the business of the war at hand moving along. For the mission, Lee is saddled with Taylor co-piloting a Raptor, which is somehow hilarious in its indignity.

The episode is yet another hiatus-entering cliffhanger. Like "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2," I'm not about to complain that cliffhangers are cliche when they are also this riveting. The episode ends with Adama and Cain squaring off over the fate of Tyrol and Helo, whom Cain has found guilty and has sentenced to execution in a hearing where she was the only one who had any say (she apparently thinks she can do whatever the hell she wants without consequences, which may provide an insight into the way the Pegasus works). The scene where Adama gets this news provides a satisfying climax to an episode full of percolating tensions not acted upon. He winces as if in pain, then orders the preparation for a fight and charges toward CIC with a determined game face on. It's a moment of catharsis where I felt like cheering.

I loved Bear McCreary's music in this episode, which goes out on a limb and is unlike most music on this series in that it draws attention to itself and blatantly cues our emotions without apology. It lends to the operatic feel, which is never more clear than at the end, where Adama gets on the phone with Cain, says he's getting his men back, period, and launches the alert fighters. Military themes take control of the soundtrack. Violence might yet be averted, and any number of solutions to this problem are possible, but we see the line in the sand drawn here, and it makes for great drama. Even great melodrama.

Previous episode: Flight of the Phoenix
Next episode: Resurrection Ship, Part 1

Season Index

28 comments on this review

Ethan - Sun, Sep 9, 2007 - 7:53am (USA Central)
Maybe the best hour of TV in many years. The rape of Boomer was one of the most difficult things I've had to watch in film.
Jason - Fri, Apr 18, 2008 - 12:06pm (USA Central)
I've only just begun watching this series, having purchased the S1 box set as well as the s2.0 set. This episode alone has cemented the series as one of the greatest of all time. Can't wait to get 2.5. I have a lot of catching up to do. It's so difficult not to use your reviews to read ahead and see what happens. I'm doing my best, lol.
Jason (Again) - Sat, Apr 19, 2008 - 10:59pm (USA Central)
Not sure if you've seen the extended version of "Pegasus" on the 2.5 DVD, however, in that version, you can clearly see that the rape of Sharon did indeed happen. It also explains how Admiral Kain became an Admiral at such a young age. I'd highly recommend a viewing if you've not done so already.

Cheers
Mark - Tue, Mar 31, 2009 - 11:42pm (USA Central)
This episode deserves praise on many levels, most notably its evocative direction similar to Kobol's Last Gleaming. Obviously, Sharon's "interrogation.." and Baltar's monologue with the other Six stand with the highlights of the show thus far. However, as the review points out, the Pegasus under Cain serves as Adama's Galactica's evil brother, so much that it's at least possible Cain's name is an obvious old testament allusion.

And herein lies the problem: to us viewers, much of the Pegasus crew we've seen are irredeemable scum. Perhaps the problem is we've entered their world so far into their indoctrination into despotism it's hard to see them as anything other than one dimensional. I would have appreciated more time, more buildup foreshadowing the inevitable schism between the two remaining powers of humanity rather than having the fact thrown in my face from the get-go, as it was. Some believability, even fallbacks on clichés, to rationalize the Pegasus's fall from grace would have been more amenable to the arc, I maintain.

Whatever, it was still a fantastic episode; maybe it just resides inside the uncanny valley.
Daniel - Wed, Apr 15, 2009 - 4:51pm (USA Central)
My favorite episode of the entire series. The cliffhanger was just simply amazing.
Nolan - Mon, May 4, 2009 - 11:43pm (USA Central)
I absolutly love the end of this episode, when Adama, learns about the sentancing of his men, and storms to the CIC and the Music swells, and hes talking to Cain over the wireless while the camera rotates around the both of them, amazing.

I remember thinking, "Man Adama is pissssed." :p
Will - Sat, Jan 2, 2010 - 10:40am (USA Central)
A truly amazing episode. This is the best episode of Battlestar Galactica, and maybe even the best television episode I've ever seen. Season 2 of BSG was arguably the best, thanks to episodes like this.

During the rape scene, I actually got ANGRY. I wanted that guy to die and he did. No episode of TV has ever done that to me. Truly amazing writing. I'm only sad I'm nearing the end of BSG.
Jeff - Thu, May 20, 2010 - 6:19pm (USA Central)
Nothing short of fantastic. I've just begun watching the series on DVD and am flying right through them. I just watched this episode last night and Season 2.5 came to my library this afternoon. I can't wait to get home tonight and watch the following episodes. Ron Moore, et al (both cast and crew) should be very proud of the exceptional work they have produced. Ever since the miniseries I've heard nothing but great things about this show. I'm very pleased to see that it was all true. I can't wait to see it all.
Max Udargo - Sun, Jun 20, 2010 - 3:54pm (USA Central)
Along with the next couple of episodes, this episode is fantastic television. Gripping, tense, and almost perfect. I suspect this is the high point of the whole series. I can't imagine it getting much better than this.

At the beginning of the series, Adama wanted to go off and hunt Cylons, and it was Roslin who convinced him that his responsibility was to stay and protect the fleet. He didn't accept this easily, and I remember him insisting that "we are at war," and Roslin coming back with "the war is over. We lost."

Adama eventually realizes she is right. He makes a choice to recognize the fleet as the civilian population he is sworn to protect, and Roslin as the civilian government he must respect.

Cain chose the other path, the path Adama initially, instinctively wanted to go down. For Cain, a war had begun and her job was to charge off into the darkness to hunt Cylons. There was no civilian authority and she was at the top of the chain of command. She and her crew did what they were trained to do: kill Cylons.

So to a large extent we can see the Pegasus as the alternate Galactica, not really its evil twin, but what it would have been if Adama had followed his original impulse and not listened to Roslin.

The Pegasus hasn't had to adjust to any of the political realities the crew of the Galactica has had to deal with. The military culture on the Pegasus is undiluted and uncompromised. It is still rigid and mechanical.

So the way the conflict plays out makes perfect sense. The initial jubilation inevitably gives way to a conflict of cultures.

Like Mark, I wish they hadn't made so many of the Pegasus crew so completely irredeemable. The conflicts are more interesting when we see the logic of both sides, and realize the source of the conflict isn't a failure of character on one side, but the incompatibility of two perfectly legitimate perspectives.

And then ultimately the single defining moral issue would come into focus: how should they treat the Cylon prisoners? This is the most interesting question because it is hard to answer. Fisk's disdainful comment that "you can't rape a machine," is not unreasonable. And there's a fascinating question there, although it might have been too much of a tangent for the series to tackle. If an act of rape is "simulated" on a machine that simulates a human female, is the man who commits the act still a rapist? Even if there is no victim, isn't the man who performs the simulated act revealing himself as a man who enjoys rape?

Do we define a crime in terms of the victim or in terms of the intentions of the perpetrator? A sexy Cylon female can blur the line between crime and toughtcrime, it seems to me.
Brendan - Mon, Jun 21, 2010 - 8:39pm (USA Central)
Max and Mark,

I would argue that while the Pegasus crew and Cain are depicted as being really vile, it's not as black and white if you think about it.

I mean just for a second, consider that yeah, rape and torture is abhorrent, but on the other hand, this machine/person personally caused the death of a huge portion of the crew, and was part of a plot to annihilate the entire human race. There is no worse crime than what she committed. That alone lends some blurriness to the moral analysis.

Furthermore, Cain's integration of the crews and criticism of Galactica's practices are entirely legitimate. Not one thing she cites as a problem with how Adama runs things is actually wrong. We hate her for saying it, because it's "family business" and she's a foreigner interfering with no sympathy the contexts.

She's also within the law having Helo and Tyrol executed for murdering a colonial officer. And Adama technically makes the hostile action at the end.

We side with Adama and Galactica because we know them as people, we love them, and we as an audience have a better understanding of the nature of Cylons humanity than the Pegasus and even Galactica crew do.

In the end, we are on the right side especially after knowing the Pegasus backstory from Fisk and in detail from Razor, but this episode demonstrates a really interesting way of having shades of grey in morality in dramatic situations that are completely black and white.
Luke - Mon, Jun 28, 2010 - 2:47am (USA Central)
In general, a very interesting episode and hard to watch in places. But here's the glaring problem:

Why isn't President Roslin involved?

Of course, it's clearly established that Cain has no respect for Roslin. But seeing as how the Admiral has depended on the official chain of command throughout the episode (and, it is implied, throughout the journey of the Pegasus), it would put her in a much more difficult position the commander-in-chief required a fair trial or forbid the raping of prisoners, for starters.

If Admiral Cain disobeys president Roslin, well the entire foundation of her leadership is undermined and any of the officers of the Pegasus or the Galactica would be completely justified in disobeying her orders.

I can't get around this problem; it really needed to be addressed.
Max Udargo - Mon, Jun 28, 2010 - 6:28pm (USA Central)
Luke:

There's a scene in this episode that was designed to address your question, I think. When Cain and Adama appear together before Roslin on Colonial One, two things are made very clear: First, that Cain is not the least bit impressed by Roslin's claim to presidential authority. Second, Cain's command of the Pegasus represents a palpable menace and a disruption of the balance of power achieved between Roslin and Adama. Cain's battlestar is now the most powerful force in the fleet, more powerful than the out-dated, poorly equipped Galactica. Their is no way they can force Cain to conform to their culture. Cain must be appeased or she will simply impose her will by force.

I thought the actor did a great job of communicating that menace in the scene. She never said anything about imposing her will by force, but her tone, body language, and everything about her communicated the threat of potential violence. She's holding the biggest stick and she knows it, and there's no point in provoking her.
chris - Tue, Mar 29, 2011 - 2:08am (USA Central)
That was the best BSG episode I watched so far. I especially loved the final scene, where Adama decides to attack Pegasus in order to get his men back!!! I was cheering at that moment, go Adama!

Kudos to Cain (hello Ensign Ro Laren) for her great acting.
Nic - Sun, Apr 3, 2011 - 10:19pm (USA Central)
There is a lot to love about this episode. It certainly accomplished what it set out to do - like you said, instantly side with the Galactica, cheer when Helo and Tyrol kill Thorne and later when Adama attacks the Pegasus. I almost cried during Sharon's rape. I can only hope it was not just a plot device to serve this episode, and that the psychological consequences of the rape will be realistically depicted in future episodes. I also loved Baltar being the good guy for once. I hope they continue to develop this.

However, the "moral dilemma" (if you can call it that) was too black-and-white for my taste. Where are the wonderful shades of gray DS9 did so well? There is no way to justify Cain's actions. She's just a nasty person (as are at most of her crew, at least that we've seen) and should never have gotten command of a Battlestar regardless of her age. Which leads me to question Colonial military recruitment practices.

As for the music, I'm on the fence. I usually love the music on BSG, but there were a few moments in this episode where it called TOO MUCH attention to itself and took me out of the moment.
brad - Sun, Apr 10, 2011 - 8:28am (USA Central)
Great review, great comments - kudos to max for an excellent analysis, and great episode. Loving this series.
Nick Poliskey - Tue, May 3, 2011 - 12:42pm (USA Central)
Another Wow episode for BSG, which is starting to become quite normal for this incredible series. I almost enjoy the few crappy episodes because it really makes you appreciate the amazing ones like this. I can't QUITE give this one 4 stars because the Pegasus crew was a little to contrived. There absolutely should have been more backstory here.

I agree with Max and Brendan, if you ignore the raping interrogator, and the 5 minute execution sentence, I think there could be a very strong argument that I would RATHER be serving on the Pegasus over the Galactica. it is clearly newer and more powerful, it is obviously more orderly, and let's face it, that civilian government and free press IS a pain in the ass. Also, as Max (I think) said, I really don't think this was meant as evil Galactica but more an alterate Galactica with different people making different choices.

As Jammer said a few episodes ago, this show goes out of its way to show that what we decide to do in life has very real consequences, and we very rarely have all the facts to make the correct choice, if there even is such thing as correct choice. And BTW, how was Admiral Cain wrong in her critique of Adama? She was right in every way, which I think Adama kind of recognizes. I posted that all the way back to the episode where he has frakkin Starbuck interrogate a Cylon. How the hell is she in any way qualified? Frankly, Admiral Cain may be obviously evil, but she wouldve gotten more intel than Starbuck did.

And OMG the Sharon rape scene, like a previous poster I was just about in tears watching this. I don't, however, think that a mandatory death sentence was appropriate, since it was fairly clear that Tyrol was trying to push him away from Sharon, versus actively trying to kill him. Unfortunately, I feel it was another contrivance to make us feel us versus them with the Galactica versus the Pegasus.

Further, I felt that Adama almost felt relieved to not be in charge of humanities future, at least in the VERY early parts of the episode.

BTW, just when I started liking the Ensign Ro Starbuck, the real Ensign Ro actually shows up!! I can't wait for Denise Crosbys' return as Sela the Cylon next week!!!
Weiss - Mon, Sep 19, 2011 - 1:50pm (USA Central)
I think they brought int the Pegasus to continue their theme of showing the lesson that BSG needs to create a better socieity, not just go back to the old way.

Cain is the past, clearly defined, no grays, just black and white.
The gray texture come from the BSG crew, they are learning, not sure what the right choice is, they have had a positive experience with couple Cylons, so they are at least asking questions. Pegasus does not care to ask questions, or learn.

eventually the BSG crew would cleanse themselves of their own hard-liners who were unwilling to change, but the Pegasus was a starting point for that conflict and theme.
Nick P. - Mon, Sep 19, 2011 - 2:11pm (USA Central)
Weiss, I don't know if you are right about your analysis of why they brought in the Pegasus plot-line, I personally don't think you are. I think this series (unlike) any trek has repeatedly shown that sometimes the more "moral" choice sometimes leads to disaster.....

:::::SPOILER::::::

I think most notably if Adama had died instead of Cain,you could make a very strong argument that new Caprica never would have occured and almost definately the Cylon threat would have been averted as Agathon would never have been allowed to serve after his sympathetic cylon views and he wouldn't have been in a position to prevent the destruction of the cylon race in the episode "a measure of salvation."

and that is just the one that jumps out at me, in a hundred other ways I think Cain would have been superior to Adama.

:::::

I don't think it is clear at all the Ron D. Moore has a similar liberal "let's all get along" philosohpy as Roddenberry's Star Trek.
Michael - Thu, Nov 17, 2011 - 9:07am (USA Central)
@Luke:
I was thinking the exact same thing, viz, Cain gets her authority and rank from the same source as Roslin. If she fails to defer to Roslin as the holder of the office of the president, then her own authority and rank are rendered null and void.

@Nic:
You verbalized another thought I had: The show makes it too easy to hate the Pegasus. They are all, from the get-go, depicted as depraved and vile, q.v. the menacing first disembarkation of Cain and posse on Galactica.

I was near tears on a couple of occasions: The Six scene and the Boomer shots. And I actually did cry at the end when the resolute Adama decides to take on Cain.

@Nick P.:
You are probably right. If the Pegasus had not been portrayed through the actions of Cain and Thorne, it could and would have been seen as a legitimate--and easily more favorable--alternative to the choices Galactica has made and the path it decided to follow.

That though was obviously not the aim; the aim was to evoke strong sentiments in the viewer and cement our relationship with Galactica. It accomplished that par excellence.

A very, very emotive episode. Outstanding. Beyond outstanding.
Nic - Tue, Dec 13, 2011 - 3:46pm (USA Central)
Now that I have seen the whole series, I would put this episode at the very top of my best-of list. "33" comes close, but no hour of TV I have seen better demonstrated the futility and immorality of torture under ANY circumstance than "Pegasus".
Zane314 - Fri, Jun 1, 2012 - 4:38pm (USA Central)
Hi Jammer, Not sure if you or others look at these comments much now-a-days, but I sure do! Your reviews are excellent, very nice site, thanks for your tremendous time and effort. I read your DS9 season summaries during my recent rewatch but I'm a total BSG nut so I'm reading all your stuff on it plus the comments. This is my first post because Pegasus is such a good episode and these are really excellent comments.
Zane314 - Fri, Jun 1, 2012 - 4:45pm (USA Central)
@Brendan "There is no worse crime than what she [the Six, Gina Inviere] committed"
Well, many (including myself) see torture as unacceptable under *any* circumstance, even when to save your own life or your entire race. Torture is done to punish, for sadism/revenge, and to get actionable information. The first 2 reasons should be discounted out of hand by any rational, human being as acceptable reasons to torture. The third reason is debatable but there's no doubt that torture is completely unreliable when trying to get info. A torture victim might give up the information due to torture but she might give false information or any information to get the torture to stop. And even to get accurate information, don't we loose our human nature when we inflict physical and mental anguish in such controlled circumstances? It should be noted that for our free, democratic, idealistic United States, we got lots (as in tons) of actionable intelligence using non-coercive, non-pain, non-stress methods with German POWs. Our torture track record since 9/11? Not so good, in fact, non-partisan government and news investigations say zero, zero actionable intel from our torturing prisoners. So, no matter Gina's crimes, serial torture using rape and beatings is completely unacceptable. But isn't this what the BSG wanted to inspire, discussions like this? :)

@Brendan "... executed for murdering a colonial officer."
They didn't murder. The Chief and maybe Helo as an accomplice clearly committed Voluntary Manslaughter: "the killing of a human being in which the offender had no prior intent to kill and acted during "the heat of passion," under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed."

@Brendan "... this episode demonstrates a really interesting way of having shades of grey in morality in dramatic situations that are completely black and white."
Amen, I totally agree!

@Nick P.: "I don't think it is clear at all the Ron D. Moore has a similar liberal "let's all get along" philosophy as Roddenberry's Star Trek."
IMO, I wouldn't call that liberal per se but more idealistic. Similarly, I don't think conservative ideology necessarily means "let's all NOT get along". But, your point is well taken, this isn't Roddenberry's Star Trek and finally Moore had a universe were he could have a show set to his liking. Even on DS9 he was constrained by the Roddenberry tradition of a military focused on peace and exploration (ha!) alongside a benign, caring civilian government. Moore pushed DS9 into darker areas for sure, like the Admiral subverting Earth's defenses to hype the Dominion threat. But all in all, it was still closer to ST TOS than to BSG!
Zane314 - Fri, Jun 1, 2012 - 4:48pm (USA Central)
@Max Udargo
"And there's a fascinating question there, although it might have been too much of a tangent for the series to tackle. If an act of rape is "simulated" on a machine that simulates a human female, is the man who commits the act still a rapist? Even if there is no victim, isn't the man who performs the simulated act revealing himself as a man who enjoys rape? Do we define a crime in terms of the victim or in terms of the intentions of the perpetrator? A sexy Cylon female can blur the line between crime and toughtcrime, it seems to me."

Spot on insight, well done! I think the writers were purposely being a little heavy handed by always calling the humanoid Cylons "machines" - I'd rather have called them engineered biological humanoid lifeforms which sure doesn't roll off the tongue but is more accurate. I mean, though it's hard/rare, Humans can interbreed with humanoid Cylons. Plus there's blood, organs, etc all in there, no inorganic moving parts, at least none we can see. But I think they were trying to really shove the debate in our face which certainly worked on me since I always got riled up by the "machines" tag.

Your comment reminds me of Adama (crushed over Boomer being a Cylon agent) talking with the Chief (ashamed of himself, disbelieving):
Adama: Boomer, did you love her?
Tyrol: I thought I did
Adama: when you think you love somebody, you love them. That’s what love is – thoughts. She was a Cylon. A machine. Is that what Boomer was? A machine? A thing.
Tyrol: That’s what she turned out to be.
Adama: She was more than that to us. She was more than that to me. She was a vital, living person… aboard my ship for almost two years. She couldn’t have been just a machine. Could you love a machine?

So if we love something that isn't a natural, 100% human, is it still love? If you rape a 99.99% human like Cylon, is it still rape? Is it rape if you commit it against a bunch of photons on a Holodeck? Probably yes to all this but Pegasus and BSG in general stirs up these great discussions.
Zane314 - Fri, Jun 1, 2012 - 4:57pm (USA Central)
Ok, time for the serious Pegasus stuff. So much was so good: the impressive, modern Battlestar; the music; Caine and Fisk (their acting); the Adama, Roslin, Cain triangle; and the alternate vision of how a Battlestar culture can evolve (or not) after the great attack given some differences, most importantly no Roslin saying flee and no Adama saying I respect a civilian government.

But as a huge Eight fan the rape scene was powerful centerpiece of the episode to me and I think emblematic of the BG and BP's differences. And like many things in BSG, it "went there" like every other sci-fi show usually doesn't. What I this so powerful about this sequence is how the writing, direction, and acting take you on a roller coaster, whipping and jerking emotions around and at the end punches the viewer in the gut.

The Pegasus rape sequence which built the tension masterfully with:
* crews mixing at the "frakking party", Pegasus frat boys make sexist comments about Athena, Helo gets hot but calms down (I want Helo to squish this scumbag)
* Thorne enters Athena's cell (tension mounting, worried about Athena)
* Pegasus frat boys admit to helping and enjoying Gina's rapes, Cally leads the women out in disgust (now really worried about Athena but still want Helo to smash Gage&Vireem)
* Athena is being beaten by Thorne (danger is here, very worried for Athena)
* Pegasus frat boys joke about their getting in line to rape Athena, Helo goes nuts but Chief tells him "we have to go" (I'm torn, Pegasus frat boys must die but Athena needs saving)
* Athena's beating intensifies and turns into a sexual assault (critical tension, stop the rape, kill Thorne!)
* Helo and Chief race through the halls (go, go, go, get there!)
* Thorne is raping (in the extended epi, the broadcast he's about to) Athena (stop Thorne, stop Thorne, stop Thorne!!!)
* Our heroes intercede, the rape stops, Thorne is accidentally killed (Yay! Justice! Righteous violence! I'm satisfied!)
* Then THE HAMMER FALLS: Athena's moaning, sobbing, crying ... the camera comes to her and she curls into a fetal position while she pulls the stiff prison blanket part way over herself

The viewer's emotional flow is manipulated: we first get mad at the Pegasus frat boys but then the urgent danger to Athena pulls us away. Now we want Helo and Chief to get to Athena to save her, and they do! And Thorne dies in the process, bonus! But we're jerked back to the real issue: Athena was sexually assaulted and she just wants to disappear, be safe, to forget. The blanket can't possibly hide her, even super slim Athena will be noticeable under all of the blanket and she only partially covered herself. But it's not about the reality, she wants to physically and meta-physically disappear, any shred of protection will do, just be separated from the rest of the world.

The blanket bit was an improv by Grace Park, brilliant, just brilliant. The flow of it all was masterful, everyone did a great job with what could be heavy handed and clichéd. In the Pegasus podcast, Ron Moore said: "That little piece there of Sharon- of Grace pulling the blanket over her, I just- it's like... it's a powerful moment. Grace is a very smart actress." Agreed!
Zane314 - Fri, Jun 1, 2012 - 4:58pm (USA Central)
So I don't leave this comment thread on too heavy a note, Grace has a funny story about shooting the rape scene. The interview also has more on the scene's development and lots of other Grace Park nuggets:

www.thescifiworld.net/interviews/grace_park_01.htm

Gilles Nuytens: What’s the funniest thing that has happened on the set?

Grace Park: A lot of really weird things happened, I think one of the funniest things that I can remember that after the rape scene, even though it sounds pretty morbid, but we’d done it so many times… Lt. Thorn always had to pull down my pants. I was wearing something underneath, but still, when we were done, I said now that we’re done here, turn around and drop your pants. And I was joking, but he said sure, and he turned around, and dropped his pants. So I saw his butt too, I thought that was pretty funny. Then we shook hands, and we said thanks.
Elliott - Mon, Jun 25, 2012 - 9:09pm (USA Central)
Fantastic episode to be sure. I enjoyed the scope of it and agree that its finest feature is the "momentum." I have to voice my objection to two things however, both related to music.

1) The score for this episode is awful. The emotional intent is pandering with those sickening high-hat beats and corny harmonic rhythm. I have no problem with the music calling attention to itself, whatsoever, but what was there was cheesy and blasé.

2) "Operatic" does not mean "comic book' which is the implication of the review. To a certain extent, I agree it is impossible not to side with the "heroes", this is a comic-book trope. To label something "operatic" is to imply that the sub-conscious machinations of the piece overshadow the literal details. BSG has been operatic (most notably in the opening sequence to "Kobol's Last Gleaming Pt. 1"--not coincidentally to a musical motive which is eventually linked to an opera house). I don't find that to be true of "Pegasus" in the slightest; it's about dialogue and plot.
Jason K - Thu, Oct 18, 2012 - 7:20pm (USA Central)
Regardless of what Elliott above me says, check our Bear playing the "Pegasus" theme on solo piano. It's awesome

www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHtnmAsWIIs&feature=relmfu
Cureboy - Mon, Dec 23, 2013 - 1:13am (USA Central)
Holy Equinox, Batman! (This one reminded me a lot of Voyager's "Equinox" two parter) Just finished this episode and its definitely one of my favorites so far, possibly THE favorite.

I also was silently cheering when Adama gave the order to get back Helo and the Chief. I was even genuinely proud of Dr Baltar. It sounds like this episode was a mid-season cliffhanger when it first aired? I can't imagine having to wait so long to find out what happens. I want to turn around and watch the next episode right now. But I can see its a two parter and I'll be up al night if I go there :)

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