NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Two: “Pegasus (Extended)”

May the Gods have mercy on their souls.

Air Date: NA

Director: Michael Rymer

Writer: Anne Cofell Saunders

Synopsis: Amid the larger reality that engulfs the Fleet with the arrival of the Pegasus, Starbuck tries to convince its leadership to mount a rescue mission to Caprica, Baltar takes one of his biggest stands yet and a horrific crime takes place onboard Galactica.

Review

So, when “Pegasus” was originally being thought up, the BSG writers actually envisioned it being a 90 minute piece, something on a par with one of the Miniseries‘ episodes. In the end they didn’t have enough material to justify that, with the larger story arc turned into a three-parter, and the network wasn’t super interested in having a BSG TV movie at the time anyway. Instead an episode of just under an hour in length was filmed, and was then cut down for TV by about a third. The longer cut was restored for home media and is largely considered canon by the shows fanbase and creators. In this entry I’d like to talk a bit about the restored cut and some of the stuff that it adds or expands on.

One of the main things that the extended version adds is a fairly pivotal scene early on, the beginning of a sub-plot for the whole three-parter, as Starbuck tries and fails to sell Roslin and Adama on a plan to rescue the Caprica Resistance. Thrace took a while to get involved in “Pegasus”, but here we see her being given a reason to potentially side with Cain down the line, as the parents of the Fleet essentially reject the commitment that she made to Anders back in “The Farm”. Sackhoff is great here, struggling to rein her emotions in, and we can easily imagine this dispute becoming a serious bone of contention later on. Starbuck hasn’t had a lot to do since “Home (Part Two)”, but this reminds us of that sleeping narrative that will come up again and again in the rest of the second season.

The extended version is also able to devote more time to the idea of Pegasus as a benevolent force in the Fleet, or at least for Galactica. The deck crew get new parts they can use to repair ships, a digital library is shared with Galactica, Adama and Cain converse a little bit more. It’s good stuff as it helps to set-up the turn a bit better than the TV version did, by not having it come on quite as fast. The opening act of “Pegasus” is all about the joy in finding another battlestar and the exploration of what that could mean in terms of positives for the Fleet, and the extended edition has the time and space to let that feeling breathe a little bit more. It makes the realisation of what the Pegasus really is, and what it represents, all the more unnerving and, ultimately, sickening.

The turn also gets some additional scenes and lines to really flesh it out, which I appreciated. One of the big ones involves Tyrol, who gets demoted from being deck chief of the Galactica in favour of Laird (explaining why Laird appears to be in charge later during the “party”). Adama gets an expanded scene to play up the distaste for Pegasus with Apollo and Starbuck, while Thrace gets to go back-and-forth a bit more with Stinger. Even Roslin gets to complain more about how the Pegasus is ignoring the civilian Fleet. The little things accumulate, and then the big ones start to as well. Like with the pre-turn section, the uneasiness, then anger, with the Pegasus is given the requisite time to breath and really settle in, alongside the two major black marks against Cain and her people.

The first is Gina, and while she herself does not get any additional time in this extended edition of the episode, Baltar and his reaction certainly does. We really do see a bit more of the outrage that he feels with what has happened to Gina, with him essentially dressing down Cain as much as he dares to, and getting an additional scene with Sharon to get across how his “carrot” approach yields better results than that of the stick. His anger with Thorne and his band of military rapists is also given a few moments to become clear. I said in my review of the TV version that I didn’t buy Baltar approaching this issue with purely altruistic aims, but the extended edition does plant this possibility more firmly in the mind: Baltar here isn’t just horrified at what has happened to this Six model, he’s angry, and isn’t afraid to let that anger out a bit in front of others.

The last thing, and perhaps the most notable aspect of the extended edition, is the way that it alters the rape scene. Note I say “rape scene” and not “attempted rape scene”: “Pegasus”, in its home media form, goes the additional step and depicts Helo and Tyrol interrupting an in-progress sexual assault rather than preventing one. The network, I suppose understandably, balked at the idea of showing a full-on penetrative assault on-screen, but the producers were able to get it restored here. The benefits and deficiencies of the rape scene as they were for the TV version remain – it furthers the narrative in terms of depicting the Pegasus as an antagonist force, but it remains too focused on the male rescuers and not the female victim, both in the moment and in the aftermath – and I’m torn on whether the extended version has more value than the TV version.

In a way I do sort of prefer it, as it does feel a tad too convenient and fantastical that the assault is stopped before it can start, but, much like Game Of Thrones and its episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”, the depiction of the act here feels too exploitative, too mis-targeted in terms of its primary focus and just not necessary to the growing narrative for it to be shown in such brutal terms. I still love this episode, and I do think that the extended edition is an improvement, but it has what I deem to be that glaring flaw, that only gets more glaring in this format.

Are you getting too close to your subjects Doctor?

Notes

-Starbuck has to be pressed to reveal just how many FTL jumps it’s going to take to enact her plan to rescue the Caprica Resistance: 241. That is an awful lot of jumps, and Sackhoff sells really well how bad it sounds.

-Thrace has difficulty accepting “no” as an answer to her plan, and her pressing of the point comes close to insubordination. But Adama and Roslin are right, her plan sounds completely crazy. Nice moment as Starbuck hesitates in answering the Condition One call, like she’s so blinded by her anger that she’s forgotten she’s a Viper pilot.

-Adama gives Roslin a brief rundown of what he knows about Cain, dubbing her “Very young…very smart…well connected”. The first and last descriptors could be described as insulting, but Adama seems to have a degree of respect for Cain from the off.

-Nice touch where Cain knows who Baltar is. It’s good to be reminded that he was a celebrity back on the Colonies.

-Fisk and Tigh’s drinking session gets extended, and now includes a playful admission from Fisk that only Tigh has the right to insult his own ship. I liked that, since his running down of Galactica seems so blunt in the TV version.

-We get some additional lines here from Cain on the Scorpion Shipyards disaster, and as I said for the TV version, the impression is that she had a breakdown in the face of the chaos, hence the blind jump. It’s something that haunts her, and drives the current militarism.

-One slight plot-hole filled in here, as Cain outlines that the Pegasus’ computer systems were undergoing a refit at the time of the attack, hence why they were not effected by the Cylon virus.

-I like that Cain refuses to acknowledge’s Sharon’s existence in the scene in the Galactica cell. I suppose its better than how she treats Gina.

-I love Baltar, completely at a loss with how to interact with Cain, giving her a very awkward salute, with the wrong arm. This despite the fact that, as Vice-President, she should really be saluting him.

-The Pegasus digital archive was originally meant to be part of an abandoned plot point from “Flight Of The Phoenix”, where the wiping of Galactica’s drives would also have included the permanent deletion of Colonial media archives, which was meant to be a sticking point. Here it’s just Pegasus being neighbourly.

-Got to love Gaeta’s one-track mind when presented with that archive though: “Got any porn in there?” In fairness the Fleet’s been on the run for months.

-I like Aaron Douglas’ almost goofy “He’s come to see my ship” when Laird asks if he can look at the Blackbird, like an overly-proud kid showing off a toy.

-Baltar’s manipulations are clearer here than in the TV version, especially with Cain, as he vacillates between kow-towing modesty and something close to confrontation, always pushing the right buttons: here I especially note his practiced invective against the Cylons when Cain implies he is getting too close to his subjects.

-Having gone toe-to-toe with Cain and won, Baltar slips back into meaningless small talk with Fisk: “Lovely ship”. Interesting that Fisk happily is comfortable calling Baltar “Mr Vice President” straight away.

-Cain doesn’t have chairs in the ops room, as it makes for shorter meetings. Not a bad idea really, I must remember to copy it. As I recall her back problems come up again later.

-I like how Cain describes the Galactica as a “classic” design, as opposed to obsolete. She can play nice when wants to.

-Things have turned big time when Apollo tells his father “I think they’re gunning for all of us” upon word of his transfer. The breakdown in trust has been very quick, but has been adequately backed up by what is happening between the two ships.

-Nice new use of BSG’s favourite fictional curseword here, as Tyrol refers to the person replacing him as Deck Chief as a “frakwit”.

-Starbuck rubs Stinger up the wrong way almost immediately on the Pegasus, but gives the only reply she can when she’s threatened with the brig: “I like hack”.

-You don’t like lingering on it, but from a cinematography perspective I appreciated that the reality of what is happening to Sharon is given with small, fleeting visual details and we don’t linger too much on it. Such things must be a nightmare for the cast to film.

-Baltar doesn’t have time for Pegasus’ guards by the end of the episode, snapping “Do it” when one hesitates to remove Gina’s restraints.

-One small aspect I liked in the extended edition: Cally is shown waiting around for Adama to exit the ops room so she can talk to him about the Chief. It’s not just some random meeting in the halls, she’s not leaving without talking to the Commander.

-As Cain orders Galactica targetted by her big guns, the extended edition gives her a suitably creepy last word on the fate of its crew: “May the Gods have mercy on their souls”. Aside from being a suitable inversion of a real world phrase, it’s a good line to emphasise that she is perfectly willing to open fire.

Overall Verdict: Everything about “Pegasus” gets enhanced in its extended edition. Its performances are better, its script is better, its cinematography is better and its music is better. An already excellent episode is made even better. But that enhancement goes for its flaws too, and the episode’s key negative is made to look like an ever worse story-telling choice. It’s still a great part of the BSG canon all the same, and worthy of the longer cut this represents.

To read more entries in this series, click here to go the index.

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4 Responses to NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Two: “Pegasus (Extended)”

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