Battlestar Galactica: S01E03: Bastille Day
This was another strong episode for the series, but not as strong as the season opener 33 in my humble opinion. Bastille Day might have passed for some people as an action episode, but much like last week; most of the action was in the background. And also like Water, this episode sets up the relationships between characters. Unfortunately, with such a large cast, it’s hard to really develop any single relationship.
The episode starts out with a reminder that the fleet is running desperately low on water. So much so that even Col Tigh has to ration his water. He wakes up one morning and goes for a drink of water… fire water that is. He starts off the morning with a finger of whiskey. If I were in his position I’d be more careful with my booze. There’s only a few shots left of whiskey in the entire universe, he shouldn’t waste it on some mundane morning. And more to point, alcohol is a diuretic, it will make him more thirsty! Not a smart thing in a water shortage.
We’ve already seen Tigh as a mean drunk in the mini, but now we get to see him as a silly drunk too. He walks into a briefing of the water mining operation, more than a little buzzed. After making a few silly comments like:
“Not exactly Caprica beach down, huh Cheif?”
“Cheer up, you know how lucky we are to have found this ugly rock?”
“Civilians: whiny, civy cry babies, can’t stand unless they have a hot shower every day…”
“13% sodium chloride! What the hell, we can’t drink salt water!”
“Ohh well there you go: pure water, couple a lemons and we can make lemonade”
It’s obvious to the enlisted men (and woman) that he’s shitfaced. They can’t say anything to him about it, so they just try to follow his “orders” to the best of their ability.
Most of the moon is liquid salt water. So they can’t easily pump up the water, Instead they have to drill and melt the pure (water) ice. It won’t be easy either, mining the new-found ice moon will require a thousand strong desperate workforce. The higher-ups don’t think its safe enough for the civilians to mine the moon, so instead Adama suggests using the slaves, err prisoners to do the job.
The liberal Roslin won’t agree to it. She feels that they are prisoners, not slaves. As usual Apollo finds a happy medium, he suggests letting the prisoners work toward their freedom. He will personally oversee the selection of the prisoner workforce, with Presidential majordomo Billy, Petty Officer Duella and Specialist Cally helping out as advisors. Duella’s appointment would seem odd to an outsider, in fact she was only chosen because Billy saw this as an opportunity to get closer to her.
At the end of the meeting Roslin asks Adama if she can see the ships doctor, some nonsense about allergies. After the meeting an upset Adama tells Apollo, that one day a man must choose sides. Apollo hasn’t done that yet. But it’s a foreshadow that he will soon.
The four head over to the Astral Queen (the prisoner ship) and Apollo makes an offer to the prisoners. The response is underwhelming to say the least. only one man steps out of his cell to talk about the proposal. That man is Tom Zarek (Richard Hatch, aka the original Apollo), and he declines the offer on behalf of the entire prisoner population. The prisoners universally start chanting his name, and at the same time, the Galactica crew is in disbelief of who they see standing in front of them. And I bet so are some TOS fans!
Next up are the credits, which still aren’t getting any easier to watch. Maybe next time I’ll try watching them drunk, maybe that’ll improve it a bit. At least this time the second half cut sequence enticed me to keep watching the episode.
The Galactica representatives have a little debate about who Zarek is. Billy sees him a freedom fighter, fighting for the rights of Sagittarans everywhere. Sagittaron is apparently the bitch of the other 11 colonies, or at least was… Dualla, a Sagittarian herself, views him as a butcher and a terrorist and laments, “That man doesn’t not speak for Sagittaron” Their relationship is not getting off to a good start.
It seems clear that the prisoners won’t cooperate, and Cally wants to move on. Apollo on the other hand knows that Zarek controls the prisoners, and thinks he can convince him to get the prisoners to help mine the moon. And it’ll get some great screen time with just the old and new Apollo’s.
**Meanwhile back on Caprica, Helo and Caprica-Boomer are looking through the ruins of CapricaCity. It’s a ghost town, the streets are empty, and there is the occasional rotting corpse being eaten by rats. Boomer is disturbed by this, and Helo shoots a rat that’s eating a dead human to help comfort her. Stupid move on his part, he shouldn’t waste ammo like that, and besides she’ll probably sleep with him whether he shot the rat or not. After moving away from the sight, Helo makes a comment about how it’s like someone is looking out for the two of them and keeping them safe.
One very obvious lead in later and we see #6 and Doral up on a balcony looking at the duo. #6 comments that it’s sad that they had to nuke the humans, their “parents”. But Doral just says that “humans would have just killed themselves sooner or later”. And
“But parents have to die. It’s the only way that children can come out into their own.” And that’s the last we see of the Caprica arc this week. Back to the Astral Queen, where Apollo is trying to talk with Zarek. Apollo first tries stroking Zarek’s ego. He tells him that he read his illegal book in college, and that it really opened his mind. And then he slides in how desperate the fleet is, and how he really needs Zarek’s help.
This scene is interrupted by a prison guard walking through the cell hallways. As he passes, the prisoners tap out something, and the message is spread through the ship, in similar taps. When the guard reaches the control center, he knocks out the other guard, and releases all the prisoners.
Apollo’s attempt and diplomacy is interrupted by a prison riot. He leaves Zarek’s cell (despite his warning not too) and starts fighting back the prisoners. It’s a lost cause as Apollo is shortly taken down by several prisoners.
With Apollo’s absence, Starbuck is the acting CAG. And she is way too excited about this. She escorts Boxey to the meeting passing Baltar along the way. Their conversation is too good not to include here:
Baltar: Lt. Thrace, how nice to see you!
Starbuck: How nice to see you too!
Starbuck walks away giving Boxey a high-five, leaving Baltar to stew in his rejection. And just to add insult to injury #6 arrives just in time to cheer him up.
Baltar: I wonder if she’s a real blonde?
#6: I doubt it.
Score one pyrrhiv victory for the insane scientist.
Starbuck hold the briefing in a very relaxed (read: cocky) manner. She’s smoking a cigar and wearing aviator sunglasses, while giving out flight assignments. Then very sarcastically burns another pilot in front of the other pilots by commenting on how poorly his landings are. She even gets some help from Boxey. Starbuck might not be the best role model for the orphan, of course she’s still better than Biocylon Boomer. Anyone else notice Starbucks sunglasses disappear after Boxey names the pilot. If you did, give yourself a gold star, or even better a shot of whiskey, because Col Tigh walks in to see her in all her cocky glory. After the pilots leave Tigh takes great pleasure in scrutinizing her management style. But the quick witted Starbuck fires back some comments about his hypocrisy. He prematurely ends the hostility by asking where Boomer is. Boxey replies that it’s 14:00 and Boomer is in the “Tool Room”.
In the last two reviews I’ve badmouthed Adama for his inability to solve a problem in a timely manner. In 33, it took him 237 jumps before he wanted to try a different kind of jump maneuver with the fleet. And last week he was taken in by Baltar’s lie about the Cylon detector. This week he redeems himself, slightly. Adama calls Baltar into his ready-room and starts to ask him about the Cylon detector
Baltar does a half assed job, err more like ¾ assed really, of lying to the commander. Adama tells him in a solemn manner, to “Cut the BS, you said you have a way of detecting human from Cylon. Do you, or don’t you?” Baltar comes forward with the truth, much to #6’s dismay. He tells Adama that he doesn’t have a method. Then quickly changes it up to imply that he does, but that he’s not suited for this kind of job. He then rambles on for a while, until #6 cuts him off.
Actually cutting him off is an understatement. She yelled at the top of her lungs! “What? You have to do this”, “Listen to me, if you don’t tell him what he wants to hear, he’s going to find you out. And when he does, THEY’RE GOING TO TEAR YOUR HEAD AND THROW YOUR BODY OUT AN AIRLOCK!!” This scares not only us, but also Baltar and he retreats with a girly scream. Adama has an unsurprised, but angry reaction to all this.
Baltar apologizes and makes another lame excuse. #6 tells him to repeat everything she says. Ohh goodie, Baltar is doing his impression of Dubya at the first debate!
#6: Listen to me, this is what you say: Commander the truth is there is one way. SAY IT!!
Baltar: Commander the truth is there is one way.
#6: I didn’t want to have to ask you for this
Baltar: I didn’t want to have to ask you for this
#6: But what I really need to complete the project is
Baltar: But what I really need to complete the project is
#6: A nucular (sic) warhead.
Baltar: A nuclear… (looks to #6) …warhead. (gulp)
HAHA, he walked right into that one. By the way Tricia Helfer, its NU-CLE-AR, not NU-CU-LAR. I’m a nuclear engineering student, and mispronouncing “nuclear” is a major pet peeve.
Adama’s reaction is priceless. #6 then tells him to figure out the rest for himself. And he does. By placing the plutonium core into some carbon nano-fiber tubes, he can recreate the radiation found at the Ragnar Anchorage. All one has to do after that is expose the tissue to the radiation. Any damaged tissues will belong to the bio-Cylons. Adama thinks it over, and then agrees to let him use the material from one warhead.
This was an interesting scene. For one, #6’s slinky white dress was a nice sight to see, but super-bitch #6 wasn’t. But mostly because it changes the #6-Baltar dynamic. Why did she get so aggressive with him, so suddenly? And why did she tell him how to detect the Cylons. More on this later.
Meanwhile in the “Tool Room”, Tyrol lets Boomer know that no evidence has turned up about who took the explosives. They embrace, just as Col Tigh enters the room. Tigh dismisses the Chief, and has a little chat with Boomer. He tells her that back when they were decommissioning the ship, they let them get away with their romance. They let people get away with lots of stuff. But now that it’s wartime, everyone has to take their jobs seriously. He orders her to end the relationship.
It’s time to get back to the “A” plot. Zarek has taken over the prison ship, and is holding the crew hostage. He demands that Roslyn step down, and elections be held to rightfully elect a new president. Of course this isn’t an option, as nobody wants to negotiate with a terrorist. So the command staff chooses to raid the ship. Since the Galactica has only a few marines, none of which are sharp-shooters, Starbuck insists that she go over with the teams to help raid the ship. She proclaims that she is the best shot, in and out of the cockpit. Everyone agrees.
Over on the Astral Queen, Zarek and Apollo have a little chat. It’s a one sided conversation. Zarek proves to Apollo and the audience, that he is an ass. He prattles on about how it’s the colonials’ fault that there are criminals, and why the criminals behave so badly.
He even brings up the meaning of his call sign, and how it relates to the Lord of Kobol. This shows that the Colonial religion is the Greco-Roman religion. He tells Apollo that he is not a god but a mortal. And mortal must choose sides, this reinforces what Adama told him earlier that day. Which side will he choose?
Adama gives Zarek a call, and wants to “negotiate”. It’s a bad attempt. Everyone, including Zarek, knows that the marines are on their way. He blows Adama off, and tells him that the fleet will hold him (and Roslin) responsible for the blood bath. By now Apollo has realized that Zarek is just doing all this to get more attention for himself. Although deep down he realizes that Zarek does have some truth to his arguments. At the same time, the marines start storming the ship. They take out all the moving sentries without much effort.
Back in the holding cells, one of the prisoners/turned gaurds (Mason) takes an interest in Cally. They banter back and fourth, with the tweeny trying to act tough. But she doesn’t intimidate anyone. Eventually the horny prisoner gets tired of her and tries to rape her. Dualla and Billy scream for Apollo to come help them, but it’s no use, he can’t hear them.
The marines however can, sort of. They hear a gunshot and lots of screaming. They abandon their non-lethal combat techniques and just start killing off the prisoner sentries. We cut back to the holding cells, and see that Cally has been shot in the side, and Mason had his ear bitten off. The gunshot also attracts Zarek and Apollo to the cells.
Now everyone is in the same place, roughly. Apollo tells Zarek that the attempted rape invalidates their stance that they are not animals. But Tom “the ass” Zarek shouts back the “You locked him up! You made him into a monster!”. Apollo’s heard enough, when the Mason tries to shoot and kill Cally, Apollo grabs a random prisoner’s gun, and kills Mason. Then he presses the gun to Zarek’s head and makes him an offer.
Either Zarek can: surrender, agree to have the prisoners work the water crews, and accept a new election within a year, or Apollo will bust a cap in his head. Zarek chooses the former.
It’s back onto the Galactica for a recap. Roslin and Adama are appalled that Apollo agreed to have a new election. But he points out that Roslin is finishing up the late Presidents term, which expires in 7 months. Legally there has to be an election anyway. After seeing his logic, Roslin agrees to it, and Adama is forced to concede to the law. On the way out, he tells his son that he (Apollo) has finally chosen a side.
Later, when it’s just Roslin and Apollo, they have a “mother-son” like chat. Apollo says that he likes the work she is doing, and that he’ll vote for her in a few months. But she confides in him that she has cancer and won’t likely live that long. Apollo agrees to keep her secret.
Also at the end, Starbuck comes to apologize to for her earlier behavior. She toasts it with a glass of the newly mined water. After sniffing the liquid to see what kind of alcohol it is, he rebuffs her apology.
I’d rate this episode a conflicting 29,610 out of 10.
Dissecting the Episode:
Which side did Apollo choose?
I’m not sure. I think he choose his own side. The side of the law. He certainly didn’t side with Adama, and he did go “against” Roslin by making a “compromise” with Zarek. He definitely didn’t side with Zarek, whom I believe he thinks is an ass.
What’s going on in Baltar’s head?
That scene in this episode certainly reminded me of Chricton and Harvey from Farscape. #6 seems to act as a natural defence for Baltar. Could she be an actual chip, like in Farscape, and like she suggested. Or is she an act of his subconscious. Baltar even suggests it to Adama, that his subconscious has been acting up. It’s a hot debit right now, but presently I’m siding with a chip in the head.
Why did #6 get so defensive and then offensive about Baltar’s Cylon detector lie?
If they kill Baltar, they kill the chip in his head too. My guess is that she can’t transmit her memory if that chip dies, unlike the other Biocylons who can transfer their consciousness. Plus she’s in love (the creepy stalker kind) and thus doesn’t want any harm to come to him. She went on the offensive to make sure he kept himself alive.
Why did #6 tell Baltar how to detect the Biocylons?
See above. She’s a defector, she wants him alive, and if that means that humanity has to survive (and disrupt the Cylons plans) then so be it.
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Review is Copyright Ryan Bechtel 2005
Battlsestar Galactica names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of Sci-Fi Channel, NBC Universal and R&D Television.