LadyGhosts of TV Past

LadyGhosts of TV Past: Battlestar Galactica, Episode 3.15, “Dirty Hands”

Remember how I’ve said I’m a sucker for a good resistance movement? Here is an episode about just that. Get excited!

Previously on Battlestar Galactica, Baltar wants a trial, and Roslin’s gonna give him one; Tyrol’s father was a priest, his mother was an oracle, and he’s served on Battlestars since he was 18, he’s also a resistance leader, calling for a strike on New Caprica; and he and Callie aren’t doing so well, relationship-wise.

Seelix, looking angry, faces Tyrol, who we see from the back.
Oh Seelix. You’re more than just a laundry-doing deckhand.

Currently, Tyrol’s at work, doing mechanical stuff, listening to people complaining, being a good Chief. Seelix shows up with laundry, and informs her coworkers that she’s again been rejected to begin flight training, either because she’s already doing an essential job, or because the pilots don’t want deckhands to become pilots. (Clearly, being a pilot is higher up on the ladder than being a deckhand. Pilots are officers, deckhands aren’t.) Seelix is angry, Figursky ribs her, Tyrol comforts Seelix down, and Seelix goes back to delivering laundry. (Oh bb, I feel you. We’re all under-employed and getting rejected from advancing these days. Ahem.)

A computer screen on a Raptor, saying "Fire in Engine B"
Remember that time Racetrack’s Raptor flew into Colonial One? Good times.


Racetrack’s out in a Raptor, and there’s a fire in her engine, and she and her copilot have to eject – and the Raptor’s dangerously close to Colonial One. In that it crashes into Colonial One, and while everyone’s okay, they have to relocate. Adama offers Roslin space in one of his beds. OH YEAH. More importantly to the plot, the fire was caused by impurities in the tylium (the fuel) in the Raptor. Roslin says that the leader of the tylium refinery, Xeno Fenner, is constantly sending her whiny messages, and that ship used to be very reliable. Adama says they’ve been more than patient, and its time to get back on the road to finding Earth. How the two of them manage to flirt during a conversation about a fuel refinery ship, I’ll never know, BUT THEY DO.

Fenner faces Adama and Roslin
Even Fenner thinks those two should make out.

Roslin and Adama call Fenner in for a talking-to. Fenner opens with the fact that most of his crew have been working 18-hour shifts for the past six months solid. Adama says that if the Cylons show up, they’ve got enough for two jumps at the most, which Adama considers unacceptable. Fenner says that he gets ignored when the fuel’s flowing, and it’s only when there are shortages that anyone pays attention to him. So maybe there should be more shortages? He then references a book, and Roslin has him arrested. After Fenner’s dragged off, Roslin explains that the book is Gaius Baltar’s, smuggled out by his attorney.

In Tyrol and Callie’s quarters, Callie too has been reading Baltar’s book, and she makes some good points – all of the officers and pilots are from rich colonies (Caprica, mostly) and all of the deckhands and enlisted soldiers are from poorer colonies. Tyrol points out Dee as an exception, but Callie counters with the fact that she was promoted because she married an officer from Caprica.

And then Adama calls! He informs Tyrol that Fenner’s been arrested (apparently, Fenner and Tyrol were friends on New Caprica). Tyrol’s been instructed to go over and get the tylium ship moving.

In his cell, Baltar holds out some folded pages to Roslin. They're surrounded by Marines.
You can take my pages, but you can never take MY FREEDOM. Also, I kinda like Baltar’s cute lil belly from this angle.

Down in the brig, Baltar’s cell is getting searched/destroyed. Roslin shows up, and asks for the pages from his book – My Triumphs, My Mistakes, by Gaius Baltar. She calls him out for portraying himself as the son of a farmer and a man of the people. Baltar refuses to hand over anything, and as the Marines show up, so does Head Six! But also, some pages are pulled out of Baltar’s pants, and surrendered.

Tyrol shows up aboard the tylium ship, and everyone there is happy to see him – the guy who answers the door hugs him hello, he was in the New Caprica union too. (Anyone else seeing parallels between the labor union on New Caprica and the Solidarity movement in Communist Poland? As a history nerd, let me tell you, THERE IS A LOT IN COMMON.) Anyway. There isn’t much tylium left. The factory’s grimy, sparks are flying everywhere, and it’s incredibly loud and unsafe when the conveyor belt’s running – which it isn’t right now. The workers are using the downtime to make essential repairs. Tyrol says he needs to see it running, so fire up the conveyor belt. A kid shows up and says it isn’t going to work. All the pressure relief seals are missing. Milo the kid says that the admiral can kiss his ass – they’re not refining anymore tylium until Fenner gets let out of jail.

Milo, a preteen, dirt on his face, in work clothes, world-weary already.
Milo could give us all lessons in “bitch please” face.

Tyrol goes before the president and Adama to make the case for the workers – most of the workers on that ship haven’t had a day off since the original attacks on the colonies (so, over two years ago?). Tyrol compares it to slave labor, but Roslin and Adama are, well, not sympathetic. Tyrol suggests they release Xeno Fenner, improve working conditions, give the ship some time to repair, and the problems will be resolved. Roslin’s dismissive, wants the new leadership arrested, and nearly “shush”es Tyrol. The Chief is not pleased.

Cabot, dirty, holds his head in his hands, his fingers bloody.
This is why you should not throw people into the brig for minor offenses when they’re still recovering from being tortured by Cylons.

He’s not sleeping, later that night. He goes to check on Xeno and Cabot (the second leader, who was also arrested). Cabot was in Cylon detention in New Caprica, and doesn’t take well to imprisonment – he spent all night scratching the walls of the brig until his fingers were bloody. Tyrol starts asking where the seals are, and Xeno gives in and tells him, because that will get Cabot out of prison. It’s a horrible scene – Tyrol doesn’t want to have to be asking this, and neither man wants to give in.

The seals reinstalled, Tyrol’s about to start everything up again, when Milo the kid from earlier shows up. He’s almost twelve, and he can run every machine on the ship, the only thing he hasn’t done is throw the start-up switch, so can he do it? Sure, kid.

Roslin on Colonial One, looking enlightened.
The president finally gets it!

The switch is flipped, and bells start ringing, everything gets loud, and Tyrol looks around and sees kids working, everywhere. He goes and reports this to the president, and again, Roslin is dismissive – there’s kids on every ship! It’s good, parents are teaching their children important skills! Tyrol counters with the idea that what, because he’s a deckhand, all his son can ever be is a deckhand? This, finally, gets through to Roslin. She orders Tory to make a list of everyone who could possibly be useful on a tylium ship, and get them over to provide some relief to the workers on that ship. Doing so, of course, creates other problems, exemplified by a kid named Danny Moon, whose occupation is listed as “farmer” – except he’s about 16, worked on a farm for one summer, and was planning, pre-Cylon attack, to go to college. He doesn’t want to be a farmer, he wants to be an architect. He gets put on a ship anyway, yelling about how he’s not a farmer. Tyrol finds Gaius’ book in a pile of tools, and thumbs through it, reading about class division.

A closeup of Baltar's face. He looks condescending.
Give us your best “I’m the smartest human left alive” face, baby!

And, whoa, Tyrol goes to talk to Baltar about it! Baltar claims that his entire book is true, including the fact that he was born on a dairy farm in Aerlon (apparently one of the poorer colonies.) Tyrol finds this hard to believe, and Baltar, in my single most favorite thing he does, drops his posh accent and slips into this rough, scratchy, growly voice that I find simply fantastic. Tyrol seems convinced, but also tries out the idea that the class divisions back in the colonies don’t exist here, but Baltar points out that’s what the aristocratic class wants you to believe – that you’re taken care of while you fight for scraps from the tables of the rich. (SOUND FAMILIAR TO ANYONE AT THE MOMENT?) Tyrol’s had enough, and walks away. Baltar asks if Tyrol believes that the ship will ever be commanded by someone whose last name isn’t Adama. He says there’s one set of rules for the aristocracy, and another for the rest of us. (Yes, I’m going into too much detail here, but you kids have a history/poli sci geek writing your BSG recaps. THIS WAS BOUND TO HAPPEN.)

Anyway, with that conversation rattling around his head, Tyrol goes back to the Tylium ship to check in on things. Fenner’s updating Tyrol when the conveyor belt stops moving and starts jumping. They’ve got to fix the problem before the ship literally explodes. Tyrol finds the problem, but can’t reach it – he’s too big. Danny, the not-a-farmer, reaches in and fixes the problem, but gets stabbed badly in the arm by some bit of metal in the process.

Close-up of Tyrol's face, looking determined.

Tyrol looks around at the faces of the workers, and you can see something in his face snap. With Fenner following, he heads down to the main switch, pulls it, AND CALLS FOR A STRIKE. There is copious rejoicing. Over on Galactica, the deck crew is only working on “essential missions only” and won’t get a ship ready for Starbuck and Racetrack.  This, obviously, gets Tyrol (whose face is a bit dirtier than usual, possibly signifying alliegance to the workers) called up on the carpet by Adama. Tyrol says that it’s a strike, Adama says it’s a mutiny, and that mutineers must be shot. Tyrol counters with the fact that we’re abandoning people. Adama counters with the fact that people on his ship are not allowed to disobey orders. Tyrol just wants a sit-down with the president. Adama counters with an order to shoot Callie. Which, WHAT THE FUCK ADAMA THAT’S SOME COLD SHIT. Adama says that the survival of the human race is dependent upon orders being followed. Tyrol calls off the strike. He’s then released, and Adama arranges a meeting with the president.

Tyrol, dirt-stained, smiles as he talks to Roslin.
Happy Tyrol is changing the world.

Tyrol’s meeting with Roslin is interesting – Tyrol would like to see some of the low-level dirty jobs in the fleet done by the upper class. Done. He also stresses the importance of R&R for the people working the high-stress, high-risk jobs, and therefore, a training program to find replacements so the labor pool can be increased. Roslin addresses Tyrol as head of the Colonial Workers Union, and Tyrol says that the Union died on New Caprica – she wants Tyrol to re-form the Union, and wants him to lead it. So, awesome all around.

And to end things on an awesome note, (this scene literally makes me cry happy tears) Tyrol’s back on the flight deck, giving out the day’s work, when Starbuck comes down and demands to know why one of her nuggets (new pilots) didn’t show up for training that morning. She’d like to know where the hell Diana Seelix is. SERIOUSLY ALL MY CREYS. Starbuck does the drill-sargent tough guy routine, yelling at Seelix to hurry up, but first Tyrol pins officer’s pins on her flight suit – you have to be an officer to fly Vipers, and now she is. As Starbuck hurries her off to training, Seelix’s face is just about the happiest thing you’ll ever see on this show.

Seelix, with the biggest smile EVER on her face.
This is the closest thing we’ll ever get to unbridled joy in this show. Study it carefully!

I rarely write conclusions, but this episode needs one. For all I go on about Hot Hot Helo and Shirtless Lee and the urgent need for Roslin and Adama to make out, episodes like this are why I really and truly love this show. Roslin coming around and being the great leader we know her to be, commentary on class and economic division, and the idea that humanity as a whole can change for the better if we just do what we know in our guts to be right – that is why this show is a pleasure to watch.

Thanks to monchichi for the screencaps! (LOOK AT ALL THE BALTAR AND HE WAS ONLY IN 2 SCENES.)

By CherriSpryte

CherriSpryte wants you to know that The Great Pumpkin loves you.

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