Save The Pegasus!
Wherein Much Lamenting Ensues About What Could Have Been
Written on 2006-10-20
Quoth Admiral Cain, "Pegasus has always been a rather lucky ship." She said this in the extended version of the episode Pegasus. The line rings with irony in my ears when you consider what happens to the poor ship over the next fourteen episodes. The ship lost three commanders in the span of a few months, sustained battle damage during the battle of the Resurrection Ship, sustained significant battle damage in The Captain's Hand, and even withstood Commander Lee "Fat Apathy" Adama for over an entire year. But in terms of "fan time," we barely knew the poor ship.
After The Captian's Hand, I wanted nothing more than to see Commander Lee do some commanding. But instead, the poor Pegasus barely got any screen time at all. I can count on one hand how many scenes we get to see of Apollo in his commanding role after The Captain's Hand and before the jump ahead one year in time, and I almost cringe at watching him in his commanding role after the jump forward one year. Could the writers not see the enormous potential for drama with Lee commanding the Pegasus?
I wanted to see Commander Lee adjust to his new role as commander of a battlestar. I wanted to see how the crew of the Pegasus would react to being asked to follow such a young commander. I wanted to see objections in the Pegasus crew from longtime officers who would feel more deserving of the command. I wanted to see the long term implications of Apollo being in command of a bigger, better battlestar, but technically being inferior in rank to his father. I wanted to see father and son at polar opposite ends of an issue. I wanted to see the Pegasus and the Galactica fight it out, shots firing, over this important issue. Imagine that as a season finale. Adama and Apollo on their CICs ordering each other's destruction. Yes, Battlestar Galactica is a dark enough show to go there.
I wanted to see more eye candy like the battle of the Resurrection Ship. Oh how glorious was that battle. Finally did we get to see real battlestar vs. basestar combat, not just battlestsars and basestars sitting back while vipers and raiders dogfight. I've wanted to see such capital ship battles since the miniseries, and I didn't get it. Now I'm finally presented with the Pegasus and the possibility of more well choreographed capital ship battles to come, and they deliver me nothing more than a small taste of it before ripping Pegasus away from the fleet and pressing the magic reset button, resetting the show more or less to the state of affairs prior to the episode Pegasus.
Quoth my critics, "But the writers had to blow up Pegasus for budgetary reasons!"
Yes, I know RDM said this in the podcast, but I find that argument specious. I have enormous respect for RDM, his show, and his writing ability, but this to me reeks of lack of imagination. The problem, as I understand it, is a lack of money to keep the Pegasus sets around. What sets? The ship had barely any to begin with. Any number of standing sets could have been scrapped to keep Pegasus around permanently, including the ever so loathed (by the production team for its inconvenience) Colonial One.
Imagine this scenario in Exodus Part 2: instead of sacrificing the Pegasus, Tigh's character gets even darker, even more sinister, and even more deep and interesting by his ordering civilian ships, including Colonial One, to pull a 9/11; ramming into basestars, allowing the Galactica and the Pegasus to escape. To me, that would have not only been a great way to keep the Pegasus around in the context of the story's narrative, but also a far more interesting story on top of what was already easily the best episode they've ever done.
How ungrateful I must seem to criticize what is easily the best episode of Galactica ever done, but I think it's no secret by now that I hold this show to a very high standard. RDM said in his podcast that sometimes budget can have an effect on the story; that it's a fact of life. You know what? Screw that. I don't care. Don't ever let that happen. Because if you let any one, single thing begin to compromise the quality of your story, you've opened the floodgates for more such compromises to occur. While it's of course still possible to tell a great story without the Pegasus (gods know they did that quite well in season one and early season two), I'm amazed at what a vast missed opportunity the destruction of the Pegasus was. Nearly all of the potential storytelling greatness that could have come out of Lee Adama as the Pegasus Commander was utterly wasted.
Pegasus was not a lucky ship at all. Admiral Cain should have lived longer, and Commander Lee Adama should have commanded the Pegasus longer. I would have even been happy with the poor ship just finishing out the third season. Just as long as we got to see all the drama potential properly milked. But it wasn't. And now something's missing. I'm not sad in the sense that a great ship is lost, I'm sad in the sense that a number of incredible storytelling opportunities have been lost. A writer should never leave his audience feeling that way. Destroy something so great only when you've milked it for all it's worth. RDM did a fantastic job with that destroying the Enterprise in Star Trek Generations. Shame he dropped the ball here.
Maybe they'll make it up to me and send me that "Save the Pegasus!" sign the visual effects people made when developing the episode. It deserves a place on my wall. :) Here's to hoping the show continues to do well without the Pegasus. So say we all.
Update: This article was written prior to the airing of the season 4 special Razor which almost seemed to personally answer for the complaints I made in this article. However, while Razor was a fun nostalgic romp, it does not even come close to entirely making up for the issues raised here.