Battlestar Galactica #11: The Living Legend, Part II

"What about your warriors? Are you thinking of them when you take on three base ships all by yourself, or are you thinking of history? The legend of Commander Cain!"
SO SAY WE ALL: Commander Cain and the Pegasus draw off the Cylons so the Galactica can make off with fuel... and Sheba!

REVIEW: Part 2 of The Living Legend squeezes too much plot into its 45 minutes to be quite as good as Part 1, but it's still no slouch. It's action-packed and exciting, and still manages to pack an emotional punch, in no small part thanks to Anne Lockhart whose Sheba is strong and sassy, but wears her emotions on her sleeve and dares to show empathy and vulnerability. When her eyes get wet, MY eyes get wet. By the end, she'll have joined the crew of the Galactica and I couldn't be happier, though I do realize it means poor Athena will get sidelined more and more until she disappears entirely. And as an example of things rushing by too quickly because of the overfull plot, her quick adoption into the BSG family is one scene that rings a little false. It really does seem like this should have been a three-parter. Battlestar had so many two-parters, it wasn't that far from being a full serial. Would Lloyd Bridges' paycheck for a third episode have hurt the budget that much?

As it is, there are really two big missions in the episode, and both could have used more time. In the first, a small commando unit all in black drops into the Cylon city (with colorful parachutes, oops!) to blow their planetary defenses. Yes, this was Commander Cain's plan, so the back and forth between episodes seems to have been playing for time, but here we are. Stupidly - and again, this is because the plot is rushed - the group quickly splits up because one guy gets wounded and most of the unit stays with him while Starbuck and Boomer complete the mission alone (so that was easy). This is to allow Sheba to reconcile with Cassiopeia, who joined the group as its med-tech (a rare occurrence) and risked her life to help Sheba's lieutenant, Bojay. Apollo just kind of stands witness to this. This section also features the Imperious Leader visiting the city and a look at Cylon "civilians". Later, his presence will divert Baltar and his ships from his cause, but it's a piece of the action that isn't revisited, which is a shame. It just feels like the big bads are sent back stage and forgotten. With the human commanders showing they were able to reign in their egos in the previous episode, a clash between the Imperious Leader and over-ambitious Baltar might have made a good counterpoint. Alas.

In the second part of the episode, Cain makes a suicide run on two basestars, unleashes the full fury of his arsenal, and may or may not perish in the attempt. Apollo and Starbuck to a lot of useful "let's go back" and on two separate occasions, help turn the tide. In one instance, they help Sheba survive; in the other, they destroy the basestars' gun arrays allowing the Pegasus to get into position. Again, it's all a bit easy. Two Vipers render as many basestars defenseless? They really should have kept some fighters in reserve! A sacrifice and not, the show has it both ways. Trying to make it more personal, they have Starbuck, Mr. "No Attachments" (who is he kidding? what about his bromance with Apollo?), try to jump ship at the last minute, but that's not the where the emotional core of the story resides, so it's easily waved away. Even if we only just met Cain and Sheba, their parting has more resonance, and is all we need.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: For the first time, we see that Battlestars are armed with powerful missiles (nukes?). In the modern series, these are used almost exclusively. The raid on a Cylon planet for fuel will be re-used on the modern BSG's "The Hand of God", while the Pegasus throwing itself against two base stars will recur in "Exodus, Part II".

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: The only death we can positively confirm is one Viper pilot's. Cass isn't convinced all the wounded from the battle will make it. The destruction of the Pegasus, with Commander Cain and strictly necessary personnel aboard, is ambiguous. There were plans for the ship to return in a later season that never materialized. Conversely, all unnecessary personnel and the Pegasus' wounded (including Sheba and Bojay) join the Galactica crew.

VERSIONS:
In addition to the previously mentioned omnibus video, there were scenes deleted from this episode. One of these shows AL-series Cylons question the logic of the Imperious Leader coming to an unsecured capital. Both parts make more of a meal of Sheba's dislike for Cassie.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - It's all a bit rushed, but this is still an exciting resolution that happily ends with Sheba joining the crew.

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