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Tigh - by ingrid_m

Sometimes We Need Monsters

Bearing in mind that anything I say here may be rendered utterly ridiculous by tomorrow night's episode, I would like to engage briefly with a phenomenon in LJ BSG fandom that mystifies me somewhat: namely, the Cain ApologistTM.



The Cain Apologist believes that RDM (and company) has stacked the deck against Cain, hitting us with lurid accounts of her atrocities divorced from their contexts, and, in so doing, jettisoning the show's usual sophistication. CA's are chafed by the aura of relative goodwill that has decended over Roslin and Adama in the wake of Cain's appearance; they complain that in pitting Adama and Roslin against Cain, RDM has made the pair too unambiguously heroic. Some CA's even entertain speculations that Colonel Fisk is a Cylon trying to sow discord in the fleet - or they believe that Fisk is a man moved by frustrated ambition to lie about Cain's command.

A number of Cain Apologists are people I respect on the whole - but I find I must part ways with them on this particular issue.

On the matter of certain speculations: You can technically classify Fisk's conversations with Tigh as hearsay, but we quite unambiguously saw Thorne attempt to rape Sharon, we quite unambiguously saw a psychologically broken Gina with angry, red welts on her thighs and back, and we quite unambiguously saw Cain look upon Gina with utterly no sign that she was troubled by what she saw. Cain knew how her prisoner was being treated by her interrogator - and he was being deliberately cruel beyond anything we've seen on Galactica. (Compared to continued sexual torture, anything done to Leoben was downright merciful. I certainly hope we can all recognize the difference here, even while we decry torture in general.) Moreover, we've seen her display open contempt for the uneasy alliance Adama and Roslin currently maintain between the military and civilian colonials in their fleet, we've seen her wield her military authority like a sledgehammer, and we've seen no sign that she understands she's betraying anything by throwing her power around in this way (an understanding that has been shown to be present with Adama and even Tigh, though they, of course, have also abused their power to some degree). And lastly, it is surely significant that while Adama is planning a surgical strike against Cain's command, Cain hopes to take out the entire Galactica CIC. In light of all of this, I find Fisk's accounts pretty plausible. If they turn out to be definitively true - or, at the very least, they are never contradicted - I will not be surprised. The pattern of behavior I see on screen doesn't really throw doubt on the possibility.

Unlike my dear friends, the likelihood that Cain is just as maniacally fixed on military victory as they say does not trouble me. I think selenak has it right. I believe RDM intends for Cain and the Pegasus to serve as a warning - to stand as a dark mirror of the Galactica. Everything that Cain has either definitively or allegedly done stems from impulses and tendencies we have seen on Galactica - but Cain, unlike the Galacticans, has taken those tendencies to extremes. Cylons - even the human models - are "toasters" on the Galactica just as they are on the Pegasus. They are not considered worthy of trust or tender, loving care. This prejudice comes from something legitimate, mind - we must not forget the whole attempted genocide issue - but exactly how easy is it to go from this legitimate hatred to wanton, almost animalistic, cruelty? Saul Tigh can't stand civilians as a general principle. How easy is it to go from this attitude to openly using/abusing civilians for military purposes? I believe RDM wants us to meditate on these types of questions. The presence of the monster challenges us to draw the line. I plan to explore Admiral Cain in my writing in the future - to explain her reasons and put together the psychological building blocks - and I plan to do so with these questions in mind. That she appears to have become a monster - a consummate predator - does not make her any less interesting to me.

As for how Cain's presence is changing the relationship between Adama and Roslin, I have a little more faith than the CA's that the conflicts between Mom and Dad are not simply over and done. This is a moment intended to highlight that, differences aside, Adama and Roslin are both colonial patriots - and I believe we need moments like these sometimes to add urgency and tragedy to the moments of disagreement. In music, dissonance evokes emotion because it ultimately resolves to a consonant chord - you feel the music pulling you towards the pleasant harmony. Storytelling, in my opinion, can work the same way.



I don't know if I've made myself clear or not, but there you go. As in all things, one's mileage may vary.
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Comments

Personally, I see Cain as someone who probably wasn't like this before the attacks, but basically went over the edge and descended into madness, turning into a psychopath and allowing her crew to do things that contrast vividly with the way things were handled on Galactica.

In my fan fic piece, Thirteen, I decided to take the tact of Cain being mentally wounded and giving her a path at redemption (which is sort of a recurring theme through the whole piece). However, as I watch Resurrection Ship, I realized things that I admittedly missed in Pegasus that dramatically changed her character for me.

All I can say is that Michelle Forbes better get a Best Guest Actress Emmy for her performance or I'll never consider the Emmys legit ever again.
All I can say is that Michelle Forbes better get a Best Guest Actress Emmy for her performance or I'll never consider the Emmys legit ever again.

*blinks* You think the Emmys are legit? I mean, c'mon: they stiffed Joss Whedon for seven years running. Veronica Mars got no nominations this year. BSG got no nominations this year. The last time a genre show got an Emmy for anything other than technical categories (i.e., editing or cgi) was for The X-Files.

And I'd put a week's salary on Forbes being neither nominated nor winning. Won't happen.
Personally, I see Cain as someone who probably wasn't like this before the attacks, but basically went over the edge and descended into madness,

That's generally my interpretation. The military - and I say this from my own personal knowledge - does not promote madmen to its higher ranks. But soldiers can become madmen under the right circumstances - when the checks have fallen away. As Abigail points out below, Cain hasn't had a Roslin advising her to abandon the battles she can't win. As she's disclosed herself, she has always gotten what she's wanted.

And as for the Emmy Awards: Like cofax7, I gave up on them ages ago.
I don't have much useful things to add, except for "I agree". There have to be Cartagias and Refas as well as Londos, to use a JMS metaphor.*g*
There have to be Cartagias and Refas as well as Londos, to use a JMS metaphor.*g*

It's amazing how you divine my thought processes. *g* Yes, Cartagia in particular was precisely whom I had in mind when I wrote the above post. Of course, the alliance he generated was far less... friendly (affectionate, even) than the one we see presently between Adama and Roslin, but the concept is the same.
You realize that now I wonder how Roslin would react if Cain offered her Adama in chains as prisoner, don't you? *g*

Also, check out this awesome Cain story!
You realize that now I wonder how Roslin would react if Cain offered her Adama in chains as prisoner, don't you? *g*

The mind is certainly compelled. Damn you! *g*
I don't think I'm a Cain Apologist so much as I think that one final note -- that Cain had cannibalized the civilian fleet to continue her military efforts, wasn't needed to convince me she needs to be taken out and was in fact, too much salting of the point. Then again, I'm a pretty ruthless television watcher.
I don't think I'm a Cain Apologist so much as I think that one final note -- that Cain had cannibalized the civilian fleet to continue her military efforts, wasn't needed to convince me she needs to be taken out

I understand that position. But some people seem to have a problem with Cain being cast as a definite enemy at all, and that's what's giving me trouble.
In general, I have to agree that the writers laid it on a little thick with Cain actually killing civilians outright (I seem to remember hearing that the killing of the families was something the networks had Moore write in because they wanted Cain to be more obviously evil), but I do agree that there is something genuinely wrong with her, and that that wrongness has a very explainable, believable source.

What's stunning about Cain's character is that you can see every one of the steps that brought her to where she is and how each one of them must have seemed logical and right. Cain's treatment of Gina in their scene together is horrifying, but so is the note of betrayal in her voice - you can imagine feeling that betrayal yourself and wanting to strike out against the person who had caused it.

Whether or not Cain's introduction is meant to cement a bond between Adama and Roslin (I can't think straight during their shared scenes - the vibes they keep throwing each other are messing up my reception), it certainly has made it clear how desperately Adama and the fleet need Roslin, and how she really did save them - from the Cylons and from themselves - by insisting that Galactica's priority was not fighting a war that had already been lost. Cain didn't have anyone around her to point out that fact (although I suppose it's debatable whether or not she would have listened), which is largely why she ended up as she did.

Nothing unites a quarrelling family like an outside enemy

it certainly has made it clear how desperately Adama and the fleet need Roslin

Thanks for mentioning that: Hobsonphile's post brought to light why we needed to see Adama and Roslin relying on one another, and needed to see Roslin as the driving force behind the assassination of Cain. She's been fighting that battle the whole show.
What's stunning about Cain's character is that you can see every one of the steps that brought her to where she is and how each one of them must have seemed logical and right.

Yes - not only because we hear that note of betrayal in that cell with Gina, but because we've seen the Galacticans face some of the same temptations. In war, civilization is very difficult to maintain.

I can't think straight during their shared scenes - the vibes they keep throwing each other are messing up my reception

Heh.

it certainly has made it clear how desperately Adama and the fleet need Roslin, and how she really did save them - from the Cylons and from themselves - by insisting that Galactica's priority was not fighting a war that had already been lost.

Exactly. There were no checks on the Pegasus. Cain was the only authority and was always allowed to do what she wished. That kind of latitude in the middle of a war can twist human beings into some frightening shapes.

In space, no one can hear you choose

Hmmm.

*tries on shoe for fit*

believes that RDM has stacked the deck against Cain, Yeap.

hitting us with lurid accounts of her atrocities divorced from their contexts, Yeap.

and, in so doing, jettisoning the show's usual sophistication. No, I actually think that unreliable narration is a sign of further sophistication, not less, especially if done as well as this, where we hardly know its happening.

CA's are chafed by the aura of relative goodwill that has descended over Roslin and Adama in the wake of Cain's appearance. Nope. I delight in the (imo) temporary alliance and smoop while waiting gleefully for the other shoe to drop.

they complain that in pitting Adama and Roslin against Cain, RDM has made the pair too unambiguously heroic. Umm. She just ordered an assassination and he just asked his daughter to carry it out on a suicide run. Nothing either unambiguous nor heroic here.

Some CA's even entertain speculations that Colonel Fisk is a Cylon trying to sow discord in the fleet ooooo! I hadn't heard that one before, but I like the sound of it - nah. Not pretty enough. All Cylons are pretty. Too bad, it was a cool idea.

or they believe that Fisk is a man moved by frustrated ambition to lie about Cain's command. Emmm. No, but that doesn't mean he's entirely telling the truth, even if it's not ambition that's motivating him.

Do I count? *g*

I'd like to propose a third path, if possible - one that recognizes the damage Cain is doing to the prospects of human survival without denying her the righteousness of her convictions. And one that acknowledges that we don't know what atrocities Gina did before Thorne pulled out all the stops on her - or what info she gave them after they did so. While I think the least one can do is condemn Thorne's "attitude adjustment" technique purely on the grounds that it was clumsily overdone and did not permit flexibility or subltety on the part of the questioners, we have seen Leoban continue to manipulate and turn the tables on his captors to his last breath. And we've seen Six go undercover for a very long time, conducting genocide.

I think that we the viewer are invested in little, cute, female, love-lorn, confused, pregnant Boomer in a way that it is completely unrealistic for us to think Cain or Pegasus is.

I'm not saying Cain is right, I'm not saying I would choose the methods she and her crew did, I'm saying I can see why she thinks she's doing the right thing. And I can't call her a monster for that.

- hg

Re: The bigger they are, the harder they fall

And I can't call her a monster for that

If by that you mean "inhuman": I'm with you. There's no horror but we human beans can't get behind it. Outside of SF&F the Monsters are ourselves.

However, if you mean, not a "monstrous human," I must disagree. Yes, Cain certainly believed she was doing the right thing, and, in her monomania, let herself down what appears to be an unreturnable road to monster-hood. But the understandable, even justifiable starting place does not the end-of-the-road redeem. Not that end, at any rate.

It's a truth of human nature, that the more great qualities a man has to begin with, the more of a "monster" he will make should he go wrong.

Re: In space, no one can hear you choose

Um, yes - basically what carbonelle said.

You and I generally agree geopolitically, but I'm still having trouble with this:

And one that acknowledges that we don't know what atrocities Gina did before Thorne pulled out all the stops on her - or what info she gave them after they did so.

I assume your intent here is to point out why this is important to know purely on motivational grounds. Based on that assumption, I agree with you. But I find it necessary to emphasize that Gina's guilt has no bearing on the moral issue - that there are some forms of interrogation that are simply wrong, not because they're "unsubtle" or "unsuccessful" (to me, arguing on those grounds comes dangerously close to objecting to torture purely on the aesthetics), but because they are morally wrong full stop.