Bastille Day is the third episode of the TV series, Battlestar Galactica and aired during the show's first season.
- "An icy planet may hold the key to the Galactica's rapidly depleting water source, but when Lee visits a prison transport ship to round up "volunteers" for the mission, he unwittingly sets off a political firestorm."
- —Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series DVD cover
It is twelve days since the Cylon attack. Colonel Saul Tigh goes on duty drunk and meets with Deck Chief Galen Tyrol and Specialist Cally Henderson to get an update on the ice moon. Chief Tyrol reports that the planet has a surface temperature of -180'C with a liquid water ocean beneath an ice layer. While they have the equipment to drill for water, test drills have determined there is a 13% sodium chloride composition, making it unfit for human consumption. However, the ice has been found to be pure. Though equipment is available to mine and process the ice to replenish the water supply, this requires a much larger labour force of approximately one thousand. As Galactica was already a skeleton crew before the Fall of the Twelve Colonies, they cannot afford to commit that many people and must rely on those from the fleet.
Following the meeting, President Laura Roslin meets with Commander William Adama and her Military Adviser, Captain Leland Adama, to discuss the operation. Commander Adama insists on conscripting the prisoners on the Astral Queen - as they had been committed to hard labour for their crimes, mining the ice would serve their punishment adequately. President Roslin and Captain Adama disagree in it being their punishment, taking the view that it amounts to slave labour. As these prisoners were heading to Caprica for parole hearings when the Cylon attack occurred, their potential eligibility for release should be considered and Captain Adama advises it be an entirely voluntary service. This draws the ire of his father, who sees his son's role as inappropriate due to the chain of command and is concerned this political role will make him an unreliable or untrustworthy officer. At the close of the meeting, President Roslin decides to stay onboard Galactica to await a meeting with Major Cottle, the Chief Medical Officer, but she hides her recent cancer diagnosis from the others.
Captain Adama leads a team from Galactica onto the Astral Queen. He meets Captain Wilkens, who has no idea who any of the prisoners are, which is unhelpful in Adama's role in restricting the volunteers to people who won't be a danger. Captain Adama calls out on the tannoy explaining the situation. When the cells are opened for the volunteers to stand forward, only one man exits. He is quickly identified as a convicted terrorist, Tom Zarek. Zarek declines on behalf of the entire prison population, who see him as their speaker.
Captain Wilkens inquires who Tom Zarek is. Billy Keikeya attempts to describe him in a flattering manner of a prisoner-of-conscience detained for standing up to the exploitation of the Sagittarons are shut down by Petty Officer Second Class Anastasia Dualla, a Sagittaron, who considers him a "butcher" after his bombing campaign on the colony. Specialist Henderson suggests just leaving and finding volunteers elsewhere, though Captain Adama thinks that by negotiating with Zarek the others will do so.
On Caprica, Lt. Karl Agathon and the Number Eight walk through the streets of a deserted city. She notes it is eerily empty, but he explains away the emptiness as the survivors having long evacuated into the hills. They walk past a corpse being eaten by a large group of rats, which he shoots at in disgust. In search of anti-radiation medicines, they search for a hospital, as there is only enough for two days. They are observed from a nearby rooftop by a Number Six and a Number Five, who are aware of the mission involving Agathon and the Number Eight. Six is disappointed in Caprica's destruction, but Five insists it is their natural result; humanity is self-destructive and their demise was inevitable, and since the Cylons are the children of humanity it makes sense they should take their place.
Back on Astral Queen, Captain Adama meets with Zarek, who is given permission by a guard - Seaborne - to answer his indirect question. This brief observance leads him to the conclusion the officer has never been on a penal transport before and is unprepared. Adama pleads to Zarek's ego, having read his radical works smuggled out of a labour camp in college. Zarek insists that the prisoners are slaves ready to fight for freedom. Seaborne leaves the two to talk and knocks out another guard, Starke, before opening the cells to start a riot. Following the riot, Seaborne reports back to Zarek that a number of guards and crew have been successfully thrown into cells, with a prisoner, Mason, taking hostages with Captain Adama amongst them. Specialist Henderson; Petty Officer Dualla and Keikeya discuss the situation from their prison cells, perplexed why a prison riot even occurred if they were offered freedom.
On Galactica, Lt. Kara Thrace takes Captain Adama's place in briefing pilots in Galactica's pilot ready room. She takes a more jocular role and mocks "Flat-Top" for overspeeding in landings, suggesting he is desperate to masturbate in his bunk that he will risk injury. Col. Tigh enters the room and is appalled at her disregard for procedure. She should have come down hard on a pilot for bad landings rather than making it into a joke, and insists that smoking is banned in the pilots' ready room. Finally, he objects to Boxey being in the room to begin with, having been invited in by Lt. Thrace to help set up her jokes. Asking where Lt. Sharon Valerii is, Boxey answers in Lt. Thrace's place - it is 1400, which means she is in the tool room as always. Lt. Thrace doesn't take Col. Tigh's views seriously, as her jocular approach was something she was instructed to do with officer candidate school, as dry talk of following procedure won't always work. Finally, she points out Col. Tigh is obviously drunk based on the smell of liquor on him.
Dr. Gaius Baltar meets with Commander Adama in his room, where he is asked where the Cylon Detector is. Having supplied him with machinery and help, there has been no progress in the past two days, or any progress for that matter since Ragnar. Dr. Baltar tries to bluff his way through, reminding him the water shortage among other problems in the fleet is complicating matters. Commander Adama is not taken by this and calls it "BS", and asks once more if he has a means of telling human from Cylon or not. Baltar quietly admits he does not, but this angers the Messenger Six, forcing him to continue the sentence as saying he does not think he is right for the job. Messenger Six reminds him that if it becomes clear he has no device, he is at risk of being found out and executed - after all, he has no way of explaining how he determined Aaron Doral was a Cylon if he does not have a detector. Messenger Six forces him to repeat after her, and he tells Commander Adama that the reason he has so far failed at replicating the original experiment is because he requires the Plutonium of a nuclear warhead. Made to finish off the sentence, he realises that he needs the Plutonium to ionise the synthetic materials within Cylon DNA to expose them. There are only five warheads on the ship, and Commander Adama is willing to spare one for the cause.
Back on Astral Queen, Zarek interrogates Cpt. Adama for information on the government. By implying that he gained his government job from his father pulling strings, he learns that there is distrust between the President and Commander.
On Galactica, Col. Tigh interrupts Chief Tyrol and Lt. Valerii while they talk about the G-4 charges. He orders Chief Tyrol out of the room and demands she stop her liaisons with Chief Tyrol. Their romantic entanglement is an open secret which the senior staff decided to ignore due to the decommissioning, but now Galactica is prepared for attack at any moment he will no longer tolerate a pilot being in a relationship with a member of the deck crew due to the complications it poses.
Col. Tigh returns to CIC where he hears about the riot on Astral Queen. Zarek makes demands before the release of the hostages, calling for the resignation of President Roslin and for fresh elections. Wireless transmissions from the ship are jammed, but the whole fleet has already heard the initial broadcast. President Roslin refuses to make any deal with Zarek, and wants him eliminated before he uses the water riots to trigger an uprising. She mentions that President Richard Adar also offered to pardon Zarek in exchange for an apology, and he preferred to remain in prison rather than betray his principles. Three Raptors full of Marines meanwhile is prepared to take on the ship.
Zarek continues discussing the civil issues with Cpt. Adama, denouncing the legitimacy of the government in spite of its legality. He answers a message from Commander Adama who wants to check on the hostages; Zarek refuses his demands to end the riot. Cpt. Adama realises he intends to be killed in a Marine boarding to become a martyr. Meanwhile, Mason goads Specialist Henderson, who is quickly able to reverse it. He opens up her cell and takes her away from the other prisoners. She begins to scream as he tries to rape her, which alerts the Marines who think the prisoners are executing the hostages. When he fires a round, it gets the rioters' attention too, thinking it is the Marines. "Constellation Team" takes out one of the rioters and moves into a better position to attack. The other rioters have now flocked to the cell Mason took Specialist Henderson to, where they find she bit part of his ear off in the attempted rape and shot in in the stomach in response. "Bravo Team" takes out another rioter, with "Alpha" reporting the same over the wireless. Mason readies his gun to shoot Specialist Henderson again. At this point the Marines have the top floor secure and can see into all the cells, and begin placing snipers at the railing. Saving Henderson, Cpt. Adama grabs a gun and shoots him dead, then places it at Zarek's head. Rather than kill Zarek, he orders him to have the prisoners mine the ice but insists he will get his elections. Zarek orders an end to the riot, and is saved from being shot by Lt. Thrace, who accompanied the Marine team.
Meeting on Colonial One, Cpt. Adama announces that the Astral Queen has now been handed over to the prisoners, with its crew evacuated. As they are dependent on food and water supplies and the ship has no weapons, he insists they will no longer be a threat. President Roslin is forced to concede that she is legally serving the final seven months of President Adar's term in office. Celebrating the new water supplies, Col. Tigh has a drink with Lt. Thrace. The deck gang meanwhile meet with Specialist Henderson at sickbay to congratulate her on fighting off her attacker. Cpt. Adama meets with the President one more time, where he apologises for his actions, but offers to make amends be offering to vote for her in the next election. President Roslin decides to tell him the truth of her medical situation, but stresses it be kept secret, believing that having a seriously ill leader would be bad for the fleet's morale.
- Teleplay By: Toni Graphia
- Directed by: Allan Kroeker
- Alonso Ozaryun as Socinus
- Nicki Clyne as Cally
- Pat Adrien Dorval as Wilkens
- Ron Selmour as Seaborne
- Matthew Bennett as Doral
- Brent Stait as Mason
- Graham Young as Marine #1
- Curtis Hicks as Marine #2
- Colby Johannson as Flat-Top
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