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Recap / Battlestar Galactica 2003 S 01 E 03 Bastille Day

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Season 1, Episode 03:

Bastille Day

The crew of the Galactica are busy preparing for supply operations on the planet Boomer discovered in the previous episode. There's one problem, though: the water supply is in the form of ice, and must be mined by a crew of roughly 1,000 people.

As the bridge crew debate what to do, they realize that none of Galactica's crew can be spared for the operation, and that it is unlikely that civilians will step up to volunteer. As a result, they decide to enlist the help of prisoners onboard the prison ship Astral Queen.


Roslin isn't sure about the plan, noting that the prisoners won't be forced into work willingly, but Lee offers to give them the chance to earn their freedom by performing the job. However, Bill doesn't take kindly to the suggestion, especially in light of the new position bestowed by Roslin on his son.

Later that day, Roslin sends Lee and Billy to the Astral Queen to broach the idea with the prisoners, but Bill (still angered over Roslin's actions) orders that Dualla be sent in order to facilitate the screening process, while Cally will be sent to assist the prisoners with using the mining equipment.

Together, the group goes to the prison ship and walks into a room with several prisoners. Lee tells them about the plan, but no one steps forward to volunteer. One man speaks, saying that the prisoners have all refused the offer, and Billy recognizes him as the noted political terrorist Tom Zarek. When the group goes off to mediate, Lee goes back and tries to get Zarek to help the fleet.


On Galactica, Bill meets with Baltar, who is still trying to figure out how to create a Cylon detector. Bill pushes Baltar for information about the device, and the latter man can't answer. This prompts a torrent of rage from Baltar's internal Six, who tells Baltar what to say. Baltar then explains to Bill that he needs a nuclear warhead for the device in order to get accurate results. As a result, Bill gives him permission to use a warhead.

On Caprica, Helo and Sharon are making their way through an abandoned city, only to be observed from a distance by a copy of Aaron Doral and Six.

Onboard the Astral Queen, the prisoners stage a breakout, and the group from Galactica is taken hostage. Zarek gets on the ship's comms and orders that Roslin and the other delegates resign from their position, as they don't represent the people. He then goes to Lee and grills him on information about his father and Roslin while, back on Galactica, Bill orders an assault team led by Kara to infiltrate the ship and stop the uprising, including killing Zarek if necessary.


Bill tries to persuade Zarek to back down, but to no avail, and Lee then realizes that Zarek wants to be a martyr by letting an assault team kill him and the prisoners, which would bring down the government as a result. Elsewhere, the Marines led by Kara arrive and begin cutting their way into the ship.

In the Queen's cellblock, a prisoner (angered at the way Cally has been looking at him) attempts to rape her, only for her to bite his ear off. In anger, he shoots her in the stomach. Lee and Zarek run to the cell to see what happened, and in the ensuing confusion, Lee grabs a weapon and holds it to Zarek's head. He tells Zarek that he can either die now or help the fleet and be given the Astral Queen and an electoral vote. As the Marines arrive, Kara tries to shoot Zarek, only for Lee to save his life. Zarek agrees to the terms.

Later, Bill and Roslin are not pleased at Lee's arrangement, and realize that they will have to hold elections in seven months as a result. However, the prisoners are being compliant and have their own ship to operate in.

After Bill has left, Lee visits Roslin in her quarters, tells her that he didn't mean to supersede her, and that he will vote for her in the election. Roslin subsequently reveals to him that her cancer has returned, and that she might not be alive to run for reelection…

Back on Caprica, Doral and the copy of Six walk through the streets of the city as they discuss their views. While Six is regretful that humanity had to be destroyed, Doral tells her that parents need to die so that children can come into their own…


  • Affectionate Nickname: The Viper pilots call Galactica "the Big G".
  • And Then What?: Lee to Roslin at the end of the episode.
  • Attempted Rape: Cally.
  • Casting Gag: Richard Hatch, who played Apollo in the original series, and was one of the most vocal dissenters prior to the miniseries airing, has a guest role as a prisoner who is known for causing strife.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The growing disconnect between Bill and Roslin, and how their respective methods of governing come into conflict.
    • Bill indicates that the fleet will face a fuel shortage at some point.
  • Hostage Situation: The incident onboard the Astral Queen.
  • Jump Scare: HeadSix, who threatens that the Galactica crew will shove Baltar out an airlock, is punctuated by a quick shot of her screaming into the camera, complete with prosthetics and makeup that cause her to look more evil than ever.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Lee is sent in as a negotiator, while Kara is sent to the Astral Queen as the leader of the assault team. Later lampshaded by Ron Moore on his podcast, where he notes that even though she shouldn't have been leading the assault team, it was done purely to speed up the plot while giving her something to do.
  • Mythology Gag: This episode is a bit of a reference to "The Cylon Death Machine," an original series episode, where prisoners were conscripted to mine water. This skips on the mining aspect, however.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Kara is seen giving a flippant briefing to the Viper pilots while wearing large aviator sunglasses and smoking a cigar. Not only that, but Boxey (who is not a pilot) is present during the briefing. Neither incident was referenced again, and Kara goes back to her previous characterization after this scene (which makes sense given what happens between then and the next briefing).
  • Prison Ship: The Astral Queen.
  • Retcon: In the miniseries, the Astral Queen was referred to as a luxury liner where the captain stowed prisoners in his cargo hold. In this episode, various lines in the opening recap are redubbed to state that it's a prison ship and not a liner.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The scene where Lee holds Zarek at gunpoint mirrors, shot-for-shot, the "Do you feel lucky, punk?" scene from Dirty Harry.
    • At one point, the warden of the Astral Queen says, "I'm a bus driver, not a warden".
    • The scene where HeadSix screams in Baltar's face during Bill's questioning is a reference to the film Jacobs Ladder.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Boxey isn't seen again in the series after this episode (although he appeared in deleted scenes for "Kobol's Last Gleaming"). As a result, his character is seemingly forgotten about.
  • Whole Plot Reference: For the original series episode, "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero".
  • With Us or Against Us: When Bill tries to get his son to pick between supporting him or Roslin:
    Bill: Every man has to decide for themselves which side they are on.
    Lee: I didn't know we were picking sides.
    Bill (to himself): That's why you haven't picked one yet.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Discussed at length between Billy and Dualla, the former seeing Zarek as a hero and the latter, a native of the planet Zarek operated on, seeing him as a mass-murderer.


Example of: