31 Day Challenge: Battlestar Galactica, Day 20: Most Hated Scene

Well, I am just loving all the hard topics I’m covering this week. Jesus. Why did I do this to myself? Trigger warning again, you guys, for talk of rape and sexual assault.

From the second the Pegasus crew is introduced, the writers of BSG wanted us to dislike them. The CAG was a complete asshole; Admiral Cain was a cold-hearted tactician; the rest of them were basically frat bros, thrilled to have booze and proud of sexually abusing the captured Six they had aboard. Obviously having the civilian influence made a huge difference in the attitudes of the Galactica crew, even if they did refer to Caprica-Eight as “it” and “thing.”

When Lt. Thorne entered the brig to “interrogate” Caprica-Eight on the identity of the giant vessel (to be later revealed by Pegasus‘ Six copy as a resurrection ship), I knew something horrible was going to happen, and then, right as the frat bros started wondering aloud if Thorne would let them have a little taste of Galactica‘s Cylon, the lieutenant punched her right in the face. I had to leave the room; I knew what was going to happen* and just couldn’t watch it. It wasn’t until the show came to Netflix that I forced myself to do so, and I couldn’t keep from crying, especially after Tyrol accidentally brained Thorne and Athena just sat there, bare-assed, on the ground, bawling and shaking. I haven’t watched it since, and I don’t have any plans to do so ever again. As a rape victim, this scene is just too painful for me to watch. The sheer anger and simultaneous terror that tends to linger after I see things like this is obviously something I don’t really enjoy experiencing, and coupled with seeing one of my favorite characters undergo such a traumatic experience just isn’t worth it to me.

Now, that being said, I want rape** to continue to be portrayed on television like this: it wasn’t just to get a man to start his redemption story, and we fucking knew Athena, unlike so many unnamed or under-characterized rape victims in media. Her rape was used as a plot device, sure, but it served a purpose, to show how far gone the humanity among the Pegasus survivors was and to show our species’ ability to dehumanize anyone and anything if we deem it a threat. The Pegasus crew felt powerless against the Cylon threat, and if they could destroy at least one with their hands, it gave them that power back.

Granted, I do feel like this storyline was dropped too soon after Admiral Cain was killed. How did Athena deal with the trauma, other than visiting Doc Cottle to see if her fetus was okay? Obviously, she didn’t hold all of humanity responsible, as shown by her continued dedication to protecting the fleet, but the emotional toll it took on her most have been enormous, which begs that be addressed. At least, I would think we’d get some type of closure other than the perpetrators losing their lives.

* In an extended scene, it’s shown that Tyrol and Helo actually interrupt the rape, not stop it, which makes it all the more harsh.
** It is important to note that both Athena and Gina (Pegasus-Six) are female models, so it does beg the question of what would have been done to the male models. It is rare that the male models are captured, but when they are, their treatment is not sexual in nature. Starbuck physically tortured Leoben in “Flesh and Bone,” and Galactica left a then-suspected Cylon, Doral, to live the rest of his days on the Ragnar anchorage back in the miniseries. Even the two Cavils are spaced.

Art Credit: Wikipedia

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