Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 1 - Episode 11

BSG - 1x11 - Colonial Day - Originally Aired: 2005-1-11

My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 6.53

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Synopsis
When President Roslin calls an Interim Quorum of the Twelve Colonies, she discovers that democracy brings its ugly stepsisters, politics and deadly intrigue, to the party. Tom Zarek, the charismatic convicted terrorist, is elected as the delegate from Sagittaron and immediately proposes elections for the vice-presidency.

Roslin encourages her trusted adviser, Wallace Gray, to run against Zarek, but when he proves less than popular, she turns to the suddenly popular Baltar as her candidate.

Meanwhile, two shady and heavily armed characters, Grimes and Vallance, have infiltrated the Quorum site. Lee and Kara foil the assassins' plot, but then Vallance mysteriously dies in custody.

Light-years away, on Cylon-occupied Caprica, Sharon must make an impossible choice. If she is to save Helo's life, she must finally reveal to him that she is a Cylon. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- Safiya Sanne, one of the colonial delegates, is seen representing both Picon and Leonis in this episode.

Factoids
- This episode was aired on my 20th birthday.
- This episode was inspired by The West Wing.
- Cloud 9 was damaged during the Cylon attack and had to be evacuated, but has since been repaired. It is the most luxurious cruise ship in the fleet.
- The Cloud 9 sets are actually the University of British Columbia.
- The Colonial Day holiday in this episode is the 52nd anniversary of the signing of the articles of colonization.
- Roslin's whiteboard can be seen to read 47898 in this episode.
- The scene in which Zarek says to Roslin that he shaved very closely in anticipation of being smacked by her is a reference to the 1970 film Patton.
- The scene in which Starbuck got to wear a dress was at the actress' (Katee Sackhoff's) request.

Remarkable Scenes
- Starbuck informing Baltar that he has been selected as Caprica's delegate.
- Starbuck spraying Apollo with the hose.
- Six pointing out to Baltar that Playa's not wearing any underwear.
- Tom Zarek's move for the election of a vice president and his nomination for that position.
- Zarek's speech to the press.
- The bar fight.
- Helo speculating that the two Sixes he saw were in fact Cylons.
- Baltar praising Roslin and bashing Zarek on the Talk Wireless.
- The bathroom scene.
- The party, complete with Starbuck all dolled up.
- Adama: "Politics. As exciting as war. Definitely as dangerous." Roslin: "Though in war you only get killed once. In politics, it can happen over and over."
- Adama dancing with Roslin and Starbuck dancing with Baltar.
- Helo seeing another Sharon and Helo's Sharon shooting her counterpart.

My Review
While not as annoying to me as Six Degrees of Separation, this episode is perhaps the season's next weakest offering. The main problem is the hollowness and straightforwardness of the plot. Most episodes thus far have been delivered in layers, but this one's pretty plain.

In addition to that a number of weak plot points are introduced here. The most glaringly obvious ones are regarding how both Cloud 9 and Wallace Gray appear to have came out of nowhere; only cheap throw away lines justify their existence. There's not necessarily anything wrong with that, for other TV shows pull these shenanigans all the time. But on this show, that sort of writing style sticks out like a sore thumb compared to prior excellent preplanning.

Another valid point of criticism is why hasn't all the stuff in this episode happened earlier in the season? Wouldn't the establishment of a vice president and the quorum of twelve have been a top priority if these are indeed staples of Colonial government? The only answer is that the characters just didn't get around to it, which seems fairly weak.

Also, it is stated that it's the 52nd anniversary since the signing of the Articles of Colonization, but no other information about the nature of the founding of the Colonial government is dispensed at all, despite its apparently conspicuously recent founding. What exactly do the articles signify? Did their signing occur during the Cylon war? Or just after? What system of government did the Twelve Colonies operate under prior to the signing of the Articles of Colonization? Was each colony independently governed? I found this subject fascinating, but it wasn't explored at all.

The final note of criticism in this episode has to do with the fact that large portions of it are all setup for events that either don't happen or haven't happened yet. The whole assassination attempt thread was pretty close to becoming filler; the only interesting thing to come out of it was Tom Zarek forming an alliance with Ellen Tigh. Truly a match made in heaven. Or perhaps hell. Depends on how you look at it. ;) But the nature of their apparent alliance is vague, at best. There is a hint that Ellen had something to do with Valance's death, but the true implications of their alliance remain to be seen.

There are two things about this episode which redeem it. The first being Baltar's rise to the vice presidency. Well acted and well written all throughout, Baltar's role in this episode steals the show. Every facet of his character is used well in this episode and the larger implications of this event I'm sure also remain to be seen. I found it fascinating that just weeks after declaring to Baltar her suspicions of his involvement in the Cylon attack, Roslin is turning an about face and using his popularity to help her political career. "The devil you know" indeed.

The other thing that makes this episode great is the Helo storyline. Helo has finally put it all together. He probably doesn't know about Sharon's baby yet, but he's discovered that there are human Cylons and that she's a Cylon. Helo freaks out and runs away from her.

Overall though a fairly weak episode, but not the worst. There's some good stuff in here, but it drowns under the weight of an unusual tone of mediocrity.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Jonathan explains it all on 2013-04-19 at 7:14pm:
    "In war you can be killed only once. In politics, many times." This is a Winston Churchill quote.

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