Sunday, January 08, 2006
The latest story arc, begun in an episode that aired last September, has the fleet stumbling across the Pegasus, a military vessel crewed by people who thought they were the only survivors of the Cylon attacks -- and who lost their grip on right and wrong as a result.
Where Adama has had his decisions and authority constantly questioned by Roslin and the rest of the civilian government and media, Pegasus Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) has grown used to unchecked authority. She lets her men rape and torture Cylon prisoners, and, in an incident described tonight in chilling detail by her second-in-command, she scavenged the handful of civilian ships the Pegasus found after the attacks and left their crews and passengers to die alone with negligible parts and supplies.
To Cain, the crazy ones aren't her crew, but Adama and Roslin, who sit around "debating the finer points of colonial law" while they're all at war with the Cylons. Trying to defend her actions to Adama's top pilot Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), she insists, "Inevitably, each and every one of us will have to face a moment where we have to commit that horrible sin. And if we flinch in that moment -- if we hesitate for one second -- if we let our conscience get in the way, you know what happens? There are more kids in those body bags, and more kids floating out that airlock."
Writers Ronald Moore and Michael Rymer obviously side with Adama and Roslin, but they're smart enough storytellers to not make Cain a raving lunatic straw-woman, easy for the good guys to knock down. As played by Forbes, Cain's remorseless approach can sound almost reasonable -- especially as a major character like Starbuck starts to buy into it.
During a news conference to promote the "Galactica" miniseries that revived the franchise three years ago, a defiant Olmos all but ordered fans of the original show not to watch, saying "it will hurt" for them to see such a different version. At the time, it just seemed like hot air, a veteran actor trying to drum up some controversy about his new project, but Olmos couldn't have been more correct. Moore and company have taken the basic premise and characters of a cheap "Star Wars" rip-off and used them to make a great epic drama that comments on American life today better than most shows set on terra firma.
If I were a fan who had spent 25 years weeping over the end of all those stock footage spaceship fights, then realized just how smart and exciting and moving and scary the original show could have been, I'd feel pretty hurt, too.