Ladyghosts: Battlestar Galactica “Water”

So last week, “33,” the first episode post-Mini-series, introduced us to the everything-is-so-crazy-we-can’t-sleep-and-look-like-zombies world that is this rag-tag fleet of would-be survivors (I swear I don’t usually use so many hyphens), where, shall we say, difficult choices have to be made at an increasingly alarming and accelerated rate. Makes for delicious storytelling that, and edge-of-your-seat watching. And often, good story-telling comes out of a simple question: What if…? What if two kids from rival families fell in love? What if zombies overran the world? What if pigs could fly?

The second episode, “Water,” was a revelation to me the first time I watched it. If it wasn’t already apparent, it is now: BSG isn’t just a space opera. This is a drama about life and death, both of the individual and of civilization; this is an exploration of culture, society, and ideology, and this is fundamentally about being human, a biological entity with needs that cannot be ignored, in space, while being pursued by your worst friggin’ nightmare. This is where the heart of the actual story-telling lies and acts as a vehicle for all that other good stuff.

So what if you take a bunch of humans, throw ’em in space, and limit their water supply? (Off topic, but what if you take a bunch of humans and pollute all the water on their planet until it’s completely toxic? Hmmm.)

“Water” is that what if.

"Woah, where am I? Why am I so wet? Wait, who am I?"

Drip, drip. We find Boomer sitting alone, disoriented, in her flight gear, sopping wet. She appears at a loss, as if she is just waking up. Oh, and what’s that in your bag there, Boomer? PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES! She is as astounded (actually more, given that she’s a Cylon sleeper agent) as we, the viewers, are. Out on the flight deck, she has to be told it’s morning. Woah, what happened last night? Surreptitiously, she takes the explosives back to the arms storage only to discover seven missing detonators. “Where are the rest of them?” Armed somewhere on Galactica, obviously.

Cut to Colonel Tigh, Cranky Pants (TM), looking for his military sash. The President is coming aboard to play. He happens to find a bottle with five fingers of liquor left; it’s not a lot, but maybe he doesn’t need that much anymore – that remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Lee is having a little trouble carrying the burden of the Olympic Carrier. His dad tells hims to shake it off. Lee, the pure golden child that he is, questions this (responsibility, leaders, obligations, other noble stuff), to which the Commander responds:

We did what we had to do, son. A man takes responsibility for his actions, right or wrong. He accepts the consequences and lives with them. Every day.

That shit with the Olympic Carrier wasn’t easy for the Commander either, but he won’t cry about it, because he’s mother effing Commander Adama who can pierce a hole in your naivete with a glance of his laser blue eyes.

Pew! Pew!

President Roslin arrives aboard Galactica after some cuteness with Billy (inevitable, really, because every scene with Billy is pretty cute; he is, after all, Cute Canadian – no relation to Handsome Canadian). Politicking occurs, friendly presidential words in the C.I.C. – hey, President, check out this stuff we do in the C.I.C., we on Galactica recycle our water very efficiently, isn’t that neat? We’re going to share our water with those in the fleet who can’t sustain themselves. Yay! It’s all very awkward and patronizing, and everyone knows it, though they pretend it’s cool. And it actually is cool, because even though it’s awkward, everyone is trying really hard to make it work.

Back on the flight deck, Boomer decides that Chief Tyrol is the best person to inform about the missing detonators. He freaks out, of course. Wouldn’t you if you lived on a space ship? Putting a hole in something like that would be catastrophic. We’ve all seen Titanic.

Oh, look at that, it’s Billy. He really likes Dee’s hair. And he doesn’t know anything about women. Aw, Cute Canadian.

But then, shit gets real. Ka-blaam! Every water-storage tank on the port side blows its load faster than a 14-year-old boy and leaves a big, broken cave empty of 60% of Galactica’s water. In practical terms, this means two days and there won’t be enough water to go around the fleet. At a briefing on the situation (which notably has Baltar at, because, you know, he’s smart), Lt. Gaeta guesses for the president that the cause is to do with the previous Cylon attack weakening the tanks. Seems plausible, I guess. Adama orders a search of nearby star systems for water, and rationing measures are put into effect. Hope you had a shower this morning, because it’s about to get funky.

At the scene of the as-yet-determined crime, a team headed by Chief Tyrol is sent to investigate the tanks from the inside. On the outside in a Raptor is Boomer. They have an awkward conversation full of double meaning that roughly translates to “I got your back”:

Boomer: How’s it look in there? Can you tell what happened? [trans: Can anyone tell I bombed the crap out of that?]

Chief: Lieutenant, don’t worry… (awkward pause) about my team. I got things under control.

Boomer: Copy that, DC1. I feel better knowing that you’re on it. [trans: Don’t tell anyone, ‘kay?]

Everyone can tell something weird is going on, especially when Callie finds a burnt piece of metal that the Chief is pretty non-committal about.

While the fleet struggles with its crisis du jour, Hot Hot Helo is back on Cylon-occupied Caprica doing some spying with Sharon (the Sharon he thinks is his Sharon but is not his Sharon and in fact is another Sharon… tricky!). Conveniently, other Cylons, the toaster kind, have found Sharon’s Raptor. Alas! Sharon and H-Cubed are stuck on Caprica.

Can you believe it? They found your cleverly hidden Raptor!

So it turns out it was a bomb (at least five, actually) in the water supply. It also turns out that the bombs came from one of Galactica’s arms lockers (which we knew) and that one detonator is still unaccounted for (which we did not know). Baltar is put on the spot, and President Roslin asks him about his Cylon detector. So of course he jets off to fantasy land and then makes up excuses about not having the needed supplies. Supplies are assigned in the form of Lt. Gaeta.

Lee sends Boomer on the incredibly super-imperative mission of finding water. If only they knew! Off in the Admiral’s quarters, gestures of friendship are being made – Adama offers Roslin a book as a gift. Never lend books, he says. Pfft, yeah right. That’s all well and good if you’re a dignified soldier guy, but if I lend you a book, you better give it back. In order to maintain stability in the fleet, security measures might be needed, and Roslin suggested the military take a role. Adama is initially (rightfully) hesitant, but Roslin assures him of the safety, so he agrees. They are working together to make this whole crazy thing work.

Lt. Gaeta is pretty pumped to be working with Baltar, who in turn is irritated by this bright-eyed fanboy. Instead of dealing with his new assistant, he decides to play cards with some of the pilots, Starbuck included. They play for keeps, and it looks like Starbuck is going to take the game, but wouldn’t you know it, Baltar has the infamous “full colours.” He’s pretty dorky about winning but graciously offers Starbuck a fancy “one of the last left in the universe” cigarettes as a parting gift. Oh, and there’s some weird sexual tension.

Out on patrol, Boomer is busy hating on Crashdown. I don’t really know what it is, but she really doesn’t like this guy. Maybe it’s because he’s not as hot as Hot Hot Helo (though he is cute), or maybe it’s because she’s a Cylon. Who can say?

Hey, I don't appreciate that tone.

What we do know for sure is that the missing detonator is located under Boomer’s seat and that all the other Raptor teams have been unsuccessful in finding a planet with water. It’s up to them now. Should they fail, the fleet will have to jump at random to find water, like looking for “a grain of sand on a beach.” But would you look at that – though Crashdown hasn’t found water, Boomer’s computer is reading H20 positive. Unfortunately, Boomer’s Cylon programming runs deep, and though she senses something, she sees nothing. No water. But she knows something isn’t right. They run the water sweep again, and while Boomer unknowingly fingers the detonator below her, she presumably subverts her programming and yells out the discovery. Everyone back on Galactica is stoked. And then, holy shit, Boomer finds the bomb.

In contrast to Boomer, back on Caprica, Sharon does know she’s a Cylon. Helo looks like he’s suffering a bit from the conditions – you know, nuclear wasteland and all that. He asks Sharon why she came back for him; she tells him she couldn’t leave him behind, and they bond. When Helo picks up a Colonial Fleet signal, they bond some more, in the form of hugging and intense lusty forbidden feelings kind of looks. Then we all admire his jaw line.

Notice, this Sharon, too, is wet and full of betrayal.

Everyone is celebrating on Galactica as Boomer and Crashdown return. Boomer sends (insists) Chief Tyrol to inspect something in her console. Oh, by the way, it’s a bomb. Surprise!

Not to leave any loose ends (story-tellingwise), President Roslin talks to Lee about the Olympic Carrier. He quotes some tough-guy stuff he learned from his father. You know, don’t second guess and what have you. Roslin’s take is that as a leader, in public you present one face, but in private, you can doubt your choices. And carry the names of the dead in your pocket. Lee likes that. He’s not his dad, but he walks the line well. Which is why Roslin asks him to be her personal military liaison. I mean, someone needs to tell her how to pronounce C.A.G. His first assignment is to tell his father about his new role.

Th episode closes with bomb-toting Boomer (get it?) alone with Chief Tyrol. After mushing his face with hers, he tells her he used a clever cover story and returned the detonator to the Master-at-Arms. Simple as that. He’ll take care of her. Not to worry. No, indeed.

Up next week (assuming all is back on schedule) will be the third episode of the season “Bastille Day,” in which the consequences of a water shortage are felt and an interesting new character comes on scene.

Thanks to Goddess Monchichi for the screenshots, much obliged.

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dellbot

Shamelessly enjoys ramen noodles. And romangst.

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