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Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘A Day In The Life’ And ‘Dirty Hands’


This is the 26th in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Taking A Break From All Your Worries’ And ‘The Raymond King’” here.

Spoilers ahead.

Battlestar Galactica strove for a type of realism uncommon in sci-fi television to that point. In “A Day In The Life,” like the Beatles song of that title, Adm. Adama slips in and out of a daydream while bad news surrounds him. In this episode and “Dirty Hands,” the deteriorating condition of the fleet after its many battles and escapes is a quiet, growing threat.

Moreover, in “Dirty Hands,” the return to life trapped on ships again roils families and the larger society. The series has not always handled these types of issues well (e.g., Zarek’s vague platform in “Colonial Day” and the murkiness of “Black Market“). Here, the class conflict among the tribes and the potential for humanity to become a society of inherited jobs builds upon earlier references and emerges organically from the fleet’s dire situation.

‘A Day In The Life’

On his wedding anniversary, Adama reflects on his former marriage to Carolanne (Lucinda Jenney) throughout the day, a personal tradition. At 49 days since the last Cylon attack, the fleet is focusing on maintenance. Col. Tigh interrupts Adama’s reverie to report that with most of Galactica’s Vipers repaired, Tyrol will be checking Airlock 12.

Tyrol volunteered himself and Cally for the duty. Cally is annoyed, believing Tyrol is tired and not focused on raising their son Nicky.

In Adama’s reveries, we learn his marriage had more bad times than good. An imaginary Carolanne also suggests Pres. Roslin may be interested in him, while he maintains the officer’s facade Carolanne believes doomed their relationship.

Roslin and Adama meet regarding legal issues raised by Baltar’s criminal trial. She proposes that Apollo chair a commission of experts because he knows right from wrong.

Adama visits Apollo, who is warning his pilots against complacency. Carolanne criticizes Adama for also distancing himself from Apollo. Adama relays Roslin’s proposal. While revealing he once considered a law career, Apollo declines the offer.

As Tyrol, Cally and Diana Seelix (Jennifer Halley) work in Airlock 12, an air leak triggers the doors, trapping Tyrol and Cally as oxygen vents into space.

Adama, Tigh, and Apollo assess the crisis. The override system is damaged. Explosives would kill the Tyrols. Apollo plans to extract the Tyrols through the airlock into a Raptor without time to use a docking collar.

Tyrol apologizes to Cally as their oxygen dwindles. When the airlock is opened, debris buffets the Raptor but the Tyrols are ejected into its open hatch.

Apollo informs Adama the Tyrols are recovering in the sick bay. Upon learning it is Adama’s anniversary, Apollo says that after Adama left, Carolanne’s alcoholism worsened and she was not a good mother. Adama reiterates that he loved Carolanne; Apollo replies that he is unsure she truly loved Adama.

Seelix brings Nicky to the sick bay to see his parents. Tyrol promises Cally he will devote himself to balancing work and family – a promise overheard by Adama.

Apollo returns to his quarters to find a box of Adama’s father’s law books, which Apollo previously admitted fascinated him as a child.

Roslin gifts Adama a murder mystery (a callback to the mini-series and “Water“). They discuss the night of the groundbreaking ceremony on New Caprica. Although Adama says he doesn’t know whether he would have settled there but for the Cylons, Carolanne says he would. Roslin says she absolutely would have built her dream cabin. The romantic tension between them reemerges.

Later, Adama takes a final look at his wedding photograph before storing it, saying to himself, “See you next year.”

‘Dirty Hands’

Maintenance continues as a priority. Seelix’s pilot training application is denied because her avionics expertise makes her an “essential” deck crew member.

A Raptor suffers engine failure and crashes into Colonial One due to impure Tylium fuel.

Roslin and Adama meet Xeno Fenner (David Patrick Green), who runs the fleet’s refinery ship. Fenner notes his labor complaints go unheard until there is a “glitch” and suggests further glitches may gain Roslin’s attention. He also says, “If you hear the people, you never have to fear the people.”

To Adama’s surprise, Roslin has Fenner arrested for extortion. Roslin explains Fenner was quoting from “My Triumphs, My Mistakes,” a book written by Baltar and smuggled from the brig by his attorney. The book is both a biography and a tract fomenting class conflict between rich and poor tribes. Roslin has guards search Baltar’s cell for more pages, which Baltar produces from his shorts.

Adama orders Tyrol to restart the refinery. Tyrol learns the refinery’s pressure seals have been hidden pending improved labor conditions. Tyrol argues the refiners’ case to Roslin, but she orders the arrest of Cabbot (Jerry Wasserman), their foreman.

Tyrol visits the brig. Cabbot, suffering PTSD from his internment on New Caprica, scratches at the walls until his fingers bleed. Tyrol has Fenner reveal where the pressure seals are hidden in return for their release.

The refinery resumes operations. Tyrol again appeals to Roslin, arguing the fleet is becoming a stratified society of inherited jobs. Roslin directs Tyrol to start a lottery for people with relevant skills.

Tyrol visits Baltar to critique his book (inadvertently revealing the book is circulating). When Tyrol doubts Baltar’s account of his childhood as a farmer on Aerelon, Baltar slips into the working-class dialect he worked years to shed.

The lottery assigns a teenager who worked one summer on a farm to work in the refinery. Tyrol assures him the job is temporary, but the teen severely injures his arm fixing the Tylium conveyor line.

Tyrol declares a strike, which spreads to Galactica’s deck crew (excepting vital missions). Tyrol is arrested. Adama declares the strike is a mutiny and threatens that Cally will be shot on the hangar deck, followed by the rest of Tyrol’s crew. Tyrol ends the strike.

Adama then allows Tyrol to meet with Roslin. Tyrol discusses his ideas for labor reform. Roslin suggests he reconstitute the workers’ union to formalize their relationship.

Later, on the hangar deck, Starbuck chews out Seelix for not noticing she was reassigned to pilot training. Tyrol informs Seelix she has been promoted to Ensign and is to report to the pilots’ briefing room.