Admiral Cain* was a great character. She was everything Starbuck wanted to be: tough, respected, had her shit together, got what she wanted, stuck with her convictions, and didn’t sleep with Baltar. She wasn’t without her flaws, obviously, seeing as she had Roslin and Adama planning on her assassination, but it’s not like she was this completely amoral creature who made decisions based solely around her ego (hi, Baltar!). She just simply lived in an echo chamber, unlike Adama, who had Roslin and his own son acting as his conscience. I can’t say that I’d have made the same decisions as she did, but I can at least understand the methodology behind them.
Cain’s treatment of Gina was abhorrent, yes, and in spite of my general fondness for Cain, I did feel a bit of “hell, yes” when Gina shot her in what I assume was her head. But if I were to be completely honest, I wish that Baltar had killed Gina out of mercy after the resurrection ship was destroyed. She wouldn’t have gotten her revenge against Cain, sure, but it was only when Baltar convinced her that her goal was really to kill the admiral that she resolved to do just that. His supposed support of Gina was exceptionally selfish, though. He wanted a relationship with her, disillusioned with his Head-Six and his Head-Apartment overlooking a lake. He completely disregarded her emotional pain of being raped multiple times and tortured, hoping that she’d just, oh, get over it. Then he’d have his Six back in real life, instead of some supposed messenger from God that had begun to grate on his nerves. God, Baltar, you are such a dick.
But had Baltar allowed Gina the dignity of death, Admiral Cain would have not been executed, paving the way for so many interesting stories featuring her. She had already shown she could reevaluate pragmatic, yet immoral actions when she rescinded her orders to kill Adama, so her working with him and Roslin is not so far away from possibility. A partnership/rivalry between her and our beloved Adama could have been organically developed; despite his disagreements with Admiral Cain, he had a great deal of respect for the woman** and would have happily given up some of his authority and responsibility to her, once she proved she wasn’t just going to strip the civilian fleet for parts and personnel. She and Roslin could have learned to respect each other as strong leaders, even if they didn’t always agree on methods or ideas. Cain might have been able to handle Fisk’s involvement with the black market, which occurred oddly quickly, considering they’d only been with the fleet for a few weeks and he’d been in command of the Pegasus for an even shorter period. With Cain viewing the military as a priority, she wouldn’t have stood for his behavior and would have demoted his ass for even lowering himself to that level. And for another check mark on the plus column, Lee wouldn’t have been handled a battlestar, and maybe he would have phased into a life of politics before he did.
Cain could have also fostered her mentor-like friendship with Starbuck, who really could have used a strong female presence in her life to inspire some sort of discipline, and that would have played off really well with Starbuck’s familial relationship with the Adamas. The elder Adama might have felt betrayed but would eventually accept that he couldn’t be the sole role model for Kara, while Lee might have even encouraged it, happy with the positive changes he saw in Starbuck.
While it’s possible the Cylon sympathizers would not have formed a cohesive unit without Gina, I do think they would have been informed that Caprica-Eight was helping the fleet. This alone might inspire them to create the group, although not with the radical, violent protest model that Gina gave them. But for the plot’s sake, let’s say that some of them did choose to go the blow-shit-up route and the Cylons come to New Caprica after a nuclear device is detonated. This still presents the opportunity for Admiral Cain to redeem herself for her earlier actions; she originally leaves with Commander Adama, as Dumbass Lee does at the end of the second season, but after spending months away with the commander and bonding with him over the rescue efforts for the New Capricans, she – again, like Lee – chooses to use her ship as a battering ram, instead opting to go down with the ship that helped her survive for the greater good of the fleet. Then the torch could be passed on directly from her to Adama via the comm to lead the entire human race to Earth.
Even if the Cylon sympathizers hadn’t detonated a bomb, therefore creating a signature for the Cylons to detect and trace, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have found the humans, anyway. The toasters have an uncanny ability to find their creators without the aid of nuclear blasts, so the story could have continued a few years*** in the future (possibly two or three) before the Cylons unceremoniously invade the new settlement. Then, you know, my above scenario could continue as planned.
There’s plenty of other wasted opportunities the writers could have explored with Admiral Cain. Given the theme of Baltar’s later trial for treason, Cain probably would have voted to acquit the man, based on her own choices that should have been grounds for her own execution, or at least, had she died like I described above, Lee or someone could have used her as an example of people doing terrible things in the name of survival. We might have been able to see a positive lesbian relationship portrayed on screen between Cain and, oh, I don’t know, Tory Foster. Like, I can come up with at least four or five concepts that could include Admiral Cain and would have made the second and third seasons even better than they were. Plus, we wouldn’t have had to sit through “Black Market.”
* Not gonna lie, Michelle Forbes is one of my favorite actresses ever. I’ve loved her ever since she showed up in Star Trek: TNG as Ensign Ro Laren. When I found out that she was going to be in Battlestar Galactica, I got ridiculously excited, kind of like I did when discovered that she’s going to be in The Hungers Games: Mockingjay Part 2.
** EJ Olmos continued his Lt. Castillo (Miami Vice) trait of only looking people in the eye if he respects them, and even when he’s royally pissed at Cain, he still holds a steady gaze with her.
*** I find it really difficult to believe that Starbuck and Tigh would have been as buddy-buddy as they were after only twelve months on New Caprica, since a big portion of their previous interactions were about how much they despised each other, professionally and personally. But given a few years, maybe they could have worked past it?
Art Credit: Wikipedia