Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

Return to season list

BSG - Season 1 - Episode 03

BSG - 1x03 - Bastille Day - Originally Aired: 2004-11-1

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 5.41

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 32 2 3 7 2 16 15 19 23 22 9

Synopsis
The fleet has found a source of water, but who will take on the difficult and dangerous job of mining it from the icy planet? Commander Adama and President Roslin send Lee to the Astral Queen, a prisoner transport ship, with an offer for its inmates: Volunteer for this mission and earn "freedom points."

The prisoners not only reject the offer but stage a uprising and hold Lee and his crew hostage. Their leader is Tom Zarek, a freedom fighter convicted of terrorism 20 years earlier. Zarek demands that Roslin step down as president and call for immediate elections to choose a new leader.

While Adama and Roslin organize an assault on the ship, Lee, who read Zarek's radical manifesto while at college, negotiates with his captor. Back on the Galactica, Adama pressures Baltar to develop a device that can distinguish Cylons from humans.

Many light-years away on Caprica, Sharon and Helo struggle to evade the Cylons, unaware that they are being observed by Doral and Number Six. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- In the miniseries the Astral Queen was said to have 500 prisoners, not 1500. There was some dubbing action in the recap to try and erase this inconsistency, but the true nitpickers are not fooled. ;)

Factoids
- The title of this episode, "Bastille Day" refers to the storming of a Paris prison which started the French Revolution in 1789.
- The Astral Queen is a direct reference to the Star Trek original series episode The Conscience of the King, which featured a ship of the same name. The ship even resembles a Federation starship quite a bit.
- The ship's doctor is named Major Cottle.
- Richard Hatch, who plays Tom Zarek, played Apollo in BSG 1978. Richard Hatch was a vocal opponent of a BSG remake, but ultimately decided to bury the hatchet and rose to the occasion to play this fascinating character. And indeed, Richard Hatch nearly steals the show with one of the best performances of the episode. He and Jamie Bamber were excellent together.
- Tom Zarek is from Sagittaron. According to Billy, Sagittaron was a colony that was exploited by the other 11 for centuries.
- President Adar offered Tom Zarek a full pardon if Zarek would apologize and promise to give up violence as a means of political change. Zarek refused Adar's offer.
- President Adar's term is over in seven months.
- Starbuck is an expert sharpshooter. "The best shot in or out of the cockpit."
- The Galactica has five nuclear warheads aboard, one of which is given to Baltar in this episode.
- This episode establishes that the Lords of Kobol are based on the Olympian gods of Greek mythology.
- Cally was originally supposed to be raped and killed in this episode, but the writers decided against it because they were impressed by the actress' performance.
- This episode features Boxey's final appearance in the show.
- According to the DVD commentary for this episode, RDM derived many of the names of the characters from an "ancient names internet site."
- According to the DVD commentary, they wasted a great deal of money on this episode due to the special effects necessary to flesh out the internal set of the Astral Queen.

Remarkable Scenes
- Colonel Tigh's odd behavior at the water extraction briefing.
- Roslin, regarding using the prisoners to mine the ice to procure water: "Slave labor?" Adama: "They are criminals and they've been sentenced to hard labor. And this is very hard labor."
- Tom Zarek's appearance.
- Helo and Boomer walking around an empty Caprican city while a Six and a Doral model observe.
- Six: "This all makes me so sad." Doral: "They would have destroyed themselves anyway. They deserve what they got." Six: "We're the children of humanity, that makes them our parents in a sense." Doral: "True, but parents have to die. It's the only way children come into their own."
- Zarek regarding the book he wrote: "Nice to hear I'm a big hit on campus." Apollo: "You weren't. The book was banned. I read it anyway."
- Zarek taking over the Astral Queen.
- Tigh to Boxey: "Where's your mommy?" Boxey: "Dead. Where's yours?"
- The scene in which Adama confronts Baltar about why there's no Cylon detector yet. I love the way Six coerces Baltar into procuring a nuclear warhead.
- Zarek discussing the legitimacy of Roslin's presidency and Apollo's callsign with him.
- Zarek regarding Apollo's callsign: "The son of Zeus, good with the bow, god of the hunt, and also a god of healing. Now a god can reconcile those two opposing forces, but a mortal has to pick one side or the other. Have you picked a side Apollo?" On the radio, Gaeta is heard: "Astral Queen, Astral Queen, this is the Battlestar Galactica. Commander Adama wishes to speak with Mr. Zarek. Please respond." Zarek: "Zeus is calling."
- Apollo getting a weapon, confronting Zarek, and offering him a compromise.
- Apollo informing Adama and Roslin of what he's committed them to.
- Starbuck to Tigh: "Umm, I have my flaws too." Tigh: "The differences is my flaws are personal, yours are professional."
- Cally regarding having almost been raped and biting off her assailant's ear: "He's lucky that's all I bit off."
- Apollo assuring Roslin that his loyalties lie with her, despite the fact that he's committed her to holding elections in seven months and Roslin divulging the existence of her cancer to Apollo.

My Review
This episode is all about Apollo and where his loyalties lie. The idea to introduce Richard Hatch as a recurring character on the new Galactica was a fantastic idea, and the idea to make his first episode have his character conflict directly with Apollo was absolutely perfect. It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but who cares? It's endlessly amusing. But besides trivial amusements, this is a very deep episode which develops Apollo's character extremely well and explores the very important issue regarding the remnants of the colonial government. Because after all, in the end, what Zarek's trying to do makes sense. Maybe he takes it too far, but it's important to preserve democracy. Roslin must not be president longer than what was left of Adar's term.

The story itself picks up wonderfully on Water's ending. Tigh was correct in Water when he said "the galaxy is a pretty barren and desolate place when you get right down to it." So they may have found water, but it's frozen. They're going to have to mine it, melt it, and then store it. This is hard work, so who's going to do it? Well, this episode also picks up on that little comment in the miniseries about the Astral Queen being part of the fleet. The Astral Queen was transporting prisoners. In this episode we learn a bit more about these prisoners. Adama says "they've been sentenced to hard labor. And this is very hard labor." Indeed. So what's wrong with forcing them to mine the water? I tend to agree with Adama.

But Roslin didn't agree with Adama, and that's all that matters. I don't agree with her decision to give the prisoners more rights and to make this work voluntary, but she's the president and that's that. She has the right to make these decisions. It's important to note that my disagreement with Roslin's decision doesn't degrade the story in any way. Presidents make decisions which are unpopular all the time. It's simply realistic.

Indeed, her decision led to the very conflict which this episode centers around. Her perhaps misplaced compassion for the prisoners gave Zarek his chance to take over the Astral Queen, which makes her "no deals, no negotiating with terrorists" stance rather ironic. However the centerpiece of this episode is the exploration of where Apollo's loyalties lie. I felt early on in the episode Adama was right. Apollo hadn't picked a side yet. What that means is sort of nebulous until Tom Zarek's conversation with Apollo about his callsign, which is the perfect metaphor for what Apollo's internal conflict is all about.

Zarek says that Apollo is one of the gods, a lord of Kobol who was god of the bow, god of the hunt, and also a god of healing. Zarek also says that a god can reconcile these two opposing forces but a mortal has to pick one side. Then he asks Apollo which side he's picked. This is a pivotal moment for Apollo's character, because in the events which take place after this scene, Apollo has clearly chosen neither side. At the end of the episode, everybody has compromised. Neither side gets exactly what it wants. Adama and Roslin are pissed off that Apollo has given Zarek the Astral Queen, and Zarek is not completely satisfied either because his original goal was to bring down the government and call for immediate elections.

But also in the end, this compromise works well enough for everybody. Zarek and his men do the water mining in exchange for their freedom, and the fleet gets water. While the situation is not resolved to everyone's ideal satisfaction, it is resolved the only way it could have been resolved. And in this resolution, Apollo proves that he doesn't need to "pick a side," for he can reconcile being "god of the hunt" and "god of healing" satisfactorily. Apollo, true to his callsign, can balance his opposing beliefs and internal conflicts, which is his most valuable skill of all.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From AuH2O on 2008-04-23 at 10:55pm:
    It seems that Lee makes this choice only really in Season 4 when he gives up flying for good and joins the Quorum. There is a high degree of continuity between this episode and what is happening in Season 4 right now.

Prove to me that you are a real person and not a spam robot by typing in the text of this image:

Return to season list