Battlestar Galactica #10: The Living Legend, Part I

"Working with you won't be a problem."
SO SAY WE ALL: Commander Cain, Sheba, and the Battlestar Pegasus enter the fray!

REVIEW: I've been waiting for this. Sheba's first appearance. An early crush of Siskoid's that still holds up today, she's easily my favorite (Classic) Battlestar Galactica character, to the point where I was sad Starbuck's (nevertheless brilliant) re-gendering in the new series apparently made her surplus to requirements. (But, I mean, why COULDN'T we have had TWO kickass female Viper pilots?) Then again, she wouldn't have been played by Anne Lockhart so the point may be moot. Right away, you can tell she's been created with an eye towards making her Apollo's love interest - Much Ado About Nothing sparking from the get-go, and picking up where Jane Seymour's Serina left off, i.e. as a headstrong Viper pilot - but I like her in spite of that.

Of course, in the story itself, it's her father Cain everyone fanboys over. Already a great military hero when his ship was thought destroyed two yarns ago, the fact that he's remained alive and keeps giving the Cylons a bloody nose in a positively infested sector, heightens his cred even more. His own troops show fanatical devotion, though this IS played as fandom more than zealotry, at least until they consider mutiny. His ambition puts him in conflict with Adama, who as always, is a prudent leader. Cain wants to use the two Battlestars to win a decisive victory against a Cylon city - an intriguing notion, here I thought they were all military killbots with a few strategic brains, but there are "civilians" - but Adama needs to take the more cautious road to protect his fleet of non-military ships. Cain's impatience may in fact be motivated by some mysterious illness, going by a conversation with Cassiopeia, who he had a relationship with and told his secrets to. Time is running out on the (for now) living legend. And with a name like Cain, you do expect some kind of treachery. The Commander indeed destroys Cylon fuel tankers to force Adama's hand, and to the latter's credit, he doesn't back down and even relieves Cain of duty! (Colonel Tigh almost gets to do something; you can practically see Terry Carter get discouraged he doesn't.) Where the script goes against cliché is in how reasonable Cain is. Lloyd Bridges plays him as uncommonly genial, someone you want to follow because he's got a positive energy, because you LIKE him. But when he's voted down, this maverick doesn't consider mutiny. He respects Adama, and when the Cylons attack, admits he was wrong about his plan to leave the fleet unprotected. And Adama asks him for tactical advice, bending to the war hero's expertise (in keeping with Adama's adaptability and experience with integration). These men respect each other and there's no actual clash of egos. How refreshing!

That may be another way he inspires loyalty, that sense that he has an unfailing integrity. Of course, his betrayal during the fuel run casts a shadow on it, and even Sheba is disturbed by it. He's doing it for a greater good, but it's still dishonest, and from her reaction, may be a line he's never crossed before. Sheba is also less than happy with his relationship with Cassiopeia, one that was apparently more than socialator business. I don't know how that job works in the Colonies... Is it common practice for "comfort women" (and men, there's no reason this is a gendered role) to be hired by, or assigned to, widowed spouse? And in this case, it seems love blossomed beyond the bounds of socialating, another aspect of Cain's charisma. Cassie even thinks of ending it with Starbuck, but who could blame her? He's never done anything to make her think it's anything more than a fun fling for him. And his speech about keeping a large circle of friends, but anything too intimate at a remove is an important one. He cares more than he lets on, but he can't show it. His deepest wound is abandonment (he's an orphan), and his salve is running away. It's not healthy, but it's real.

My one complaint about this episode is that the dialog is sometimes pitched to high melodrama, or else repetitive. There's too much "I can't believe it!" when it comes to the Pegasus' survival, which makes the characters look silly. Even Baltar gets in on the game, which is perhaps worth a smile if you're not too tired of the notion. He gets the worst of it, script-wise, his mustache-twirling at an all time high, though I suppose his sweet helmet made out of a Cylon skull makes up for it. The interminable references to Cain being a great man are likewise tedious.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: Commander Cain also appears in the modern series, as played by Michelle Forbes. Both are in command of the Battlestar Pegasus.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Unrevealed, but that much damage to the Galactica must mean casualties.

VERSIONS: The two parts of The Living Legend and the episode Fire in Space were edited together on the video release Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack. Scenes deleted from this episode include a moment where Adama muses about the plot's helpful coincidences and credits it to destiny, a theme that will bloom more fully in the modern series.

REWATCHABILITY: High - Despite some dialog issues, this is mostly a triumph. Despite leaving the Galactica impressively damaged, the cliffhanger does seem to create more tension for the Cylons however. I guess that'll teach Baltar to be so off-base (ha!).



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