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Battlestar Galactica 3.16: Dirty Hands review

Original US airdate: 25/2/07

Written by: Jane Espenson, Anne Cofell Saunders

Directed by: Wayne Rose

Starring: Rekha Sharma


The One Where: Tyrol calls a general strike.

A book by Baltar is sowing dissent. In it, he points out that the fleet’s society is rigidly divided by class: all the officers are from rich colonies; all the shit-shovelling is done by those from poor colonies.

There’s unrest amongst the fleet’s fuel refiners, who want better working conditions. Tyrol (a union leader on New Caprica, remember) is sent to take charge. After seeing child workers and a horrific injury, he switches sides and calls a general strike, which is also followed by his support crew.

Adama reacts to this “mutiny” by threatening to have Cally shot. But after Tyrol caves in, Roslin meets with him to discuss how to improve matters.

Can you remember the last time an American science fiction show discussed class? Not race, or sexuality, or medical ethics, but class? Me neither. You wouldn’t hear the phrase “disenfranchised underclass” in Star Trek...

Shining a light on someone other than the pilots was long overdue, and this story does so with considerable intelligence. I don’t really buy the notion of Baltar, selfish venality incarnate, suddenly becoming a Marxist theorist (is he morphing into Tom Zarek?) But as a Yorkshireman, I loved the scene where he reveals his humble roots by slipping into his native (or so he claims...) Aerelonian accent. Adding an intriguing extra dimension to the show’s finest character, this episode reminds you that Galactica is at its best when it’s politically engaged.

Baltar teases Roslin: “Perhaps you’d consider writing a blurb for the back cover?”

Ian Berriman

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