This is the third in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revising Battlestar Galactica: Episode 33,” here.
The “Water” and “Bastille Day” episodes showcase the colonies’ less-than-utopian politics, both before and after the catastrophic Cylon attack. The internal threats and intrigues also allow for more of the story to be revealed through character. Some of the arcs are directly plot-related, such as Boomer’s struggles and Apollo navigating between Roslin and Adama.
Yet these two episodes are also about Roslin learning that Adama is a more complex man behind the uniform. And the alcoholic Tigh is harshly professional. He busts chops all through ‘Bastille Day’ — including ending the Boomer-Tyrol affair — but concurs in naming his antagonist Starbuck to lead the task force because she is the best shot. Even the Cylons reveal something of themselves when discussing whether their parents — i.e., humanity — must die for them to fully come into their own.
Boomer, awakening from a blackout, finds herself soaking wet in the tool room off Galactica’s hangar deck. She has a bag containing a dry uniform, a firearm — and a detonator stuck into a brick of G-4 explosive.
With mounting anxiety, Boomer discovers other detonators are missing from the small arms locker. She confides in her paramour, deck chief Tyrol, who urges her to report the theft. Boomer responds that everyone will believe she is one of the rumored hybrid Cylons (as she is, though programmed to believe otherwise). Tyrol rationalizes that she was drugged and is being framed.
Meanwhile, President Roslin arrives on Galactica for a demonstration of the ship’s water recycling and transfer operations. She is enduring the ceremony to humor Cdr. Adama, but learns from Cpt. Apollo that his father hates protocol and is trying to make her feel presidential.
As Galactica transfers water to a ship lacking recycling facilities, the port tank ruptures, venting 60 percent of Galactica’s supply into space. In an emergency meeting, Roslin, Adama, Apollo, Col. Tigh, and Baltar plan for rationing and probable riots among the fleet. Adama orders Raptors to search nearby planets for water.
Tyrol, as head of damage control, reports the tank was sabotaged by explosives and another bomb may be missing. However, lax security will preclude identifying the thief.
After Tyrol leaves, the key figures agree to keep the existence of hybrid Cylons an official secret, despite the sabotage. Baltar lies about the obstacles to creating a Cylon detector. Adama assigns Lt. Felix Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani) to assist Baltar.
However, Baltar sheds Gaeta by joining a card game. Baltar beats Starbuck; not even she is as good at bluffing as he is. An inveterate hound, Baltar also flirts with Starbuck and gives her a rare cigar as a consolation prize.
Roslin asks Adama for troops to police anticipated water riots. Adama initially objects, noting the military is meant to defend against external threats and military police may come to regard the people as a threat. Roslin assures him that will not happen.
Boomer finds a planet with water, but struggles with subconscious Cylon programming to destroy her Raptor with the missing bomb. After reporting her discovery, she returns as a heroine and has Tyrol dispose of the bomb.
Roslin meets with Apollo and asks him, in addition to his other duties, to advise her on military matters — by which she really means on Adama and military culture, not strategies and tactics. He reluctantly accepts.
On Cylon-occupied Caprica, Helo and the copy of Boomer discover (as undoubtedly planned by the Cylons) that her Raptor has been captured. Regrouping, Helo asks why Boomer returned for him, seemingly hoping for an answer more personal than the military line about leaving no one behind. They overhear a colonial code transmission on their radio and plan to search for the signal source.
Following his morning booze, Tigh meets with the crew. He learns the fresh water on the planet they discovered is ice. Mining and melting the ice will be dangerous, requiring approximately 1,000 men.
Roslin, Adama and Apollo (in his new advisory role) decide to recruit prisoners on the Astral Queen for the job, rejecting forced labor in favor of offering credits toward parole. After the meeting, Adama tells Apollo he will need to pick a side. Apollo says he didn’t know there were sides, to which Adama replies: “That’s why you haven’t picked one yet.”
On the Astral Queen, the prisoners’ leader, Tom Zarek (Richard Hatch, who played Apollo in the original series), rejects the government’s offer. Zarek has spent decades in a labor camp; within the government’s delegation, Billy and Dualla debate whether he is a freedom fighter or a terrorist.
Apollo tries to sell the offer to Zarek, noting he read Zarek’s banned book in college and found it thought-provoking. Meanwhile, a guard politically loyal to Zarek assists a riot to gain control of the Astral Queen.
On Galactica, Adama confronts Baltar about his failure to provide a Cylon detector. Baltar — at the mental suggestion of Six — asks for a nuclear warhead so that he can use its plutonium for the project. Adama, having no other option, agrees.
Zarek demands Roslin’s resignation and an election. Roslin and Adama agree they cannot negotiate with a terrorist. Adama dispatches a task force led by Starbuck to retake the Astral Queen.
Zarek and Apollo verbally joust. Apollo deduces that Zarek anticipates and wants the coming attack to help delegitimize Roslin’s government.
Meanwhile, Cally (sent to assess the prisoners’ technical skills) is assaulted by a prisoner. She bites his ear off, but her screams cause Zarek and Apollo to intercede. Apollo seizes a weapon and forces Zarek to settle for an election within a year and control of the Astral Queen. Moments later, Apollo sees a sniper’s laser sighting on Zarek and saves him from being shot by Starbuck.
Apollo then sells his deal to Roslin and Adama, arguing the election is required by law; if there is no law, neither Roslin nor Adama is a legitimate authority. Seething, Adama notes that Apollo has picked a side. Later, Roslin discloses her cancer diagnosis to Apollo.
On Caprica, Helo and “Boomer” enter a city in search of anti-radiation medication as their supplies dwindle. They are observed by a Doral and a Six.