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Recap / Battlestar Galactica 2003 S 03 E 16 Dirty Hands

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Season 3, Episode 16:

Dirty Hands

Tyrol and the rest of the hangar deck crew are working to refuel and fix Racetrack's Raptor, while several crewhands complain about fatigue and a lack of morale. At the same time, Seelix is feeling depressed after being told she cannot enter the pilot's program because the command crew need her for mission-essential duties on the deck, and nearly comes to blows with a fellow deckhand who teases her.

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When Racetrack's Raptor launches, the controls malfunction and the ship crashes into the side of Colonial One, resulting in several injuries. Afterwards, the crew investigate the accident and discover that the fuel used by the hangar deck crew was contaminated. They also discuss a possible issue with an outspoken foreman named Xeno Fenner, who is leading labor complaints aboard another ship.

Roslin and Bill meet with Fenner, who complains that they only called him when there was a dire situation. He complains about deckhands being exhausted and long shifts which are being ignored by the command crew. When Bill highlights that the fleet only has enough fuel for another couple FTL jumps before refueling, Fenner suggests intentionally causing a shutdown in the fleet using a quote from a book Baltar had wrote and (through his lawyer) secretly distributed through the fleet.

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An angered Roslin has Fenner arrested in response, then goes to Baltar's cell and confiscates his writings under threat of a strip search.

Later that day, the Tyrols (still recuperating from their near-death experience in the airlock) are eating dinner in their quarters. Cally suggests that work is being unfairly divided by class and race, and that she was only promoted because of Galen's status as a Caprican. Bill calls Galen and tells him of Fenner's arrest, then orders him to help get the refueling operations running. Afterwards, Cally reminds her husband that they still have a lot of power in the fleet because of the union they formed on New Caprica.

Galen goes to the refinery ship and investigates the situation, where it is revealed that several important pressure seals are missing. The workers, aware of his former union leader status, tell him that Fenner ordered them to hide the seals in the case he was arrested, and they are using this as a pretense to protest for better working conditions. He relays this information to Bill and Roslin, then asks to have them acquiesce to some of the workers' demands.

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Roslin refuses and has one of the workers, Cabott, arrested, despite Galen's pleas. He goes to the brig and confronts both Fenner and Cabott, and finds out the location of the seals.

Later, after the seals are restored, Galen notes that many of the workers on the refinery ship are children and teenagers. He then suggests to Roslin that mandatory labor conscription may be necessary because children are being forced into their parents' careers, but also notes that they should be fair in the process. To that end, he draws up a list of colonists with relevant experience, who are conscripted into working for the fleet.

Afterwards, Galen goes to visit Baltar in his cell, and they have a discussion about class strife in the fleet. Later on the refinery ship, Tyrol is helping the crew with processing the fuel when an accident results in one of the workers suffering a hand injury. Fed up with the treatment and unsafe situation, Tyrol pulls the plug on the operation and tells everyone that they're going on strike.

This strike extends even to Galactica's deck gang, as Starbuck discovers when she finds them playing cards instead of preping her Raptor. They're going to allow the flight of "vital missions only."

Smash Cut to Galen in Galactica's brig. Bill visits him and tells him that mutineers are shot for insubordination, then makes a call to have Cally dragged to the starboard hangar deck. He threatens to have her shot, then tells a terrified Galen that orders have to be followed no matter what, because in their situation, a lot of people will die if they don't. Galen relents and calls off the strike, while Bill releases Cally from her Marine escort.

Later aboard Colonial One, Tyrol suggests an alternate work schedule program with Roslin which allows for colonists to share different work tasks, which she likes and agrees to. She praises his union and his resolve to get things done.

In a surprise ceremony later on the hangar deck, Seelix is awarded her ensign rank and told to report to the pilots' briefing room.

Tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: Most of the supporting cast (including all of the Cylon actors except Tricia Helfer) do not appear in this episode, as it focuses on a labor issue within the fleet.
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: Baltar revealing his true heritage to Tyrol in the brig.
  • Dystopia Is Hard: Tyrol convinces Roslin that if mandatory labor conscription is necessary for the survival of humanity, it should at least be fair. In the very next scene, a young architectural student not fit for large-scale agriculture is hauled off to work by marines just because a background check reveals that he interned on a farm for a few months while in college.
  • Field Promotion: Kara promotes Seelix from deckhand to an ensign pilot at the end of the episode.
  • Freudian Slip: After the Colonial One accident, Bill cheerfully offers Roslin a place in his bed on Galactica because he thinks she doesn't have anywhere to sleep, then realizes his mistake immediately afterwards.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Bill notes to Galen at the end of the episode that, even though he was sympathetic to their cause, he had to do what was necessary to keep the fleet safe, including the potential execution of a mutineer (Cally) if he needed to restore order.
  • Infinite Supplies. Averted. It's mentioned that the fleet's reserves of tylium fuel are beginning to dwindle.
  • Oh, Crap!: Tyrol, when Bill orders Cally to be executed because of her role in the strike.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In-universe, and Played With. Baltar reveals that he originally came from the planet Aerilon and has a different accent, and effortlessly switches back and forth between his native accent and "upper-class" voice while speaking with Tyrol.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Subverted. Galen has a moment where he dramatically shuts down the refinery ship after an injury, to make a point about the unsafe working conditions and to go on strike. Immediately afterwards, he is arrested and threatened with a loved one's safety in order to stop the strike and get things back to normal.
  • What Could Have Been: The episode was originally intended to be a direct sequel to "The Woman King", and would have involved Dualla working to help the Sagittarons get more rights and their own ship, but it was jettisoned and rewritten to focus on the class struggle aspect in the fleet.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to that poor kid who got stuck with farming work?

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