|Battlestar Galactica episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Jonas Pate|
|Written by||Carla Robinson|
|Original air date||UK: January 10, 2005
US: March 18, 2005
"Colonial Day" is the eleventh episode of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica television series.
In the episode, Tom Zarek seeks to become Vice President, but President Laura Roslin thwarts him by nominating the popular scientist Gaius Baltar, who ultimately wins. A possible presidential assassin is captured but cannot be linked to Zarek. On Caprica, Helo discovers that Caprica-Boomer is a Cylon.
The human fleet
Colonial Day, the annual celebration of the signing of the Articles of Colonization, is approaching, and Roslin uses the occasion to reconstitute the Quorum of Twelve, a representative body within the Colonial government. One colony names Zarek, a former terrorist who in an earlier episode led a prison riot and called for Roslin's resignation, as their representative to the Quorum. Zarek's first action at the Quorum meeting is to call for the election of a Vice President, and Roslin is dismayed when disgruntled Quorum delegates nominate Zarek.
Apollo and Starbuck arrest a man named Valance who has smuggled a handgun aboard Cloud Nine, the ship where the Quorum meeting is being held. They interrogate him but get no information. Apollo suspects that Valance works for Zarek and that Zarek intends to assassinate Roslin if he wins the Vice Presidency. Roslin orders Apollo to spy on Zarek. Apollo taunts Zarek with the knowledge that Valance is in custody. Zarek meets with Ellen Tigh, flatters her, and tells her he is looking for Valance, whom he describes as a friend. Apollo and Starbuck find Valance dead in his holding cell shortly after, his wrists slashed open with broken glass - it is unclear if it was actually a suicide, or a murder cover-up.
Roslin's initial choice for Vice President is Wallace Gray, an aide and friend who is a technocrat but who proves uncharismatic. Over the wireless radio, Roslin hears Baltar, also a Quorum delegate, mocking Zarek and charming the press. She has Gray step out of the race and drafts Baltar, who narrowly wins.
During the Colonial Day celebration following the election, Head Six promises Baltar "great things". Apollo is surprised by how good Starbuck looks in her dress and dances with her. Zarek warns Roslin he will be back during the presidential election in six months and claims he did not kill Valance. Roslin and Commander William Adama compare politics and war and then dance. As Ellen and Saul Tigh dance, Ellen tells him she has secured a luxury suite aboard a civilian ship through means she refuses to reveal; she also nonchalantly asks him to agree to meet with some unspecified people she knows on that ship. She and Zarek share eye contact.
On Caprica, Helo speculates (correctly) that the Number Six copies he has seen are Cylons. Caprica-Boomer suggests that the humanoid Cylons may have emotions, but Helo rejects this proposition. As the two prepare to hijack a Cylon ship to escape the planet, Helo sees another Number Eight copy. As Boomer shoots her duplicate, Helo realizes she is a Cylon. He flees as she calls to him.
"Colonial Day" was originally conceived as the first season's "West Wing episode." Executive producer Ronald D. Moore characterized the Quorum of Twelve in the original Battlestar Galactica as a hybrid political-military body whose unwise decisions Commander Adama frequently overruled. The creators revived the Quorum in this episode as a political body similar to the United States Senate and the United Nations Security Council to exhibit a democratic, republican Colonial government in order to draw parallels with real-world governments, particularly that of the United States. Moore believed that a story about people making difficult political choices in an environment where their survival was threatened would be relevant for questions in contemporary American society about the War on Terror, perceived creeping authoritarianism in American government, and the tradeoff between liberty and security. The assassination subplot was added to give the episode, in Moore's words, "a certain tension and jeopardy" beyond what one might see in an episode of The West Wing. Moore was ultimately not fully satisfied with his own writing in this regard because the assassination fizzles, but he thought director Jason Pate made the episode work nonetheless.
Moore wanted to show life in the fleet away from Galactica but was opposed to a "planet of the week" format. Cloud Nine was created as a location within the fleet that could provide a visual environment replicating that of Caprica and the other Twelve Colonies. The exterior shots on Cloud Nine were filmed at the University of British Columbia, in the Rose Garden and in front of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. The Quorum meeting was also filmed at UBC.
The writers intended with "Colonial Day" to expand upon the character of Roslin. Before the Cylon attack in the miniseries, she was a quiet person who preferred to avoid attention, but the crisis has brought out her leadership qualities. Moore characterized Roslin as a pragmatist, as shown by her recognition of Baltar's media savvy, her selection of Baltar despite lingering distrust following his actions in the episode "Six Degrees of Separation", and her willingness to push aside Gray despite his personal hurt. Moore contrasts her with Commander Adama, whom he sees as more of an idealist.
When Zarek arrives on Cloud Nine the press and Zarek himself are unsure whether she will shake his hand; she does. The tension over this was inspired by questions over whether Yitzhak Rabin would shake Yasser Arafat's hand at the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Moore conceded that there may have been a larger in-universe media presence in this episode and elsewhere in the series than would have been strictly realistic under the circumstances. He defended the choice as one that shows a setup similar to the White House press corps and thereby grounds the viewer in a familiar understanding of the influence of the Presidency.
Several weeks after shooting of "Colonial Day" completed, the writers inserted a short scene appearing immediately before the vote count in the Quorum. In this scene, Apollo and Starbuck discuss the possibility of a future assassination attempt as they dress on Galactica. The writers inserted it to augment the assassination subplot when early cuts of the episode ran short. At the end of the scene, Apollo reacts incredulously to Starbuck's claim that she "clean[s] up good sometimes." This sets up Apollo's astonishment at Starbuck's appearance at Colonial Day and further builds the characters' romantic tension. Adama and Roslin's dance is also an expression of mutual attraction, though a smaller one.
Helo and Caprica-Boomer's second scene in "Colonial Day" marks the debut of the Cylon Heavy Raider. The shot with the Heavy Raider was filmed in front of UBC's Koerner Library. This location was also used in the Battlestar Galactica spinoff Caprica.
Jason Davis of Mania gave "Colonial Day" an A, commending the performances of guest stars Richard Hatch (Zarek) and Robert Wisden (Gray) as well as main cast members Bamber (Apollo) and Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck). Davis also praised the perceived connection between the themes of the episode and contemporary politics. Simon Brew of Den of Geek also reviewed the episode favorably. Susan Tankersley of Television Without Pity gave "Colonial Day" a B-, agreeing with Moore that the main plot and assassination subplots did not fit together well but nonetheless calling it "not a bad episode".
Connections to other series elements
- In a podcast accompanying the episode, Moore compared the process of appointing the Vice President of the Colonies portrayed in "Colonial Day" to the process by which Gerald Ford became Vice President of the United States in 1973 following the resignation of Spiro Agnew. Moore said that under normal circumstances the Vice President would "presumably" be elected together with the President. The question of how the Vice President of the Colonies is normally chosen in-universe is resolved in the second-season double episode "Lay Down Your Burdens", when Zarek is elected Vice President as Baltar's running mate.
- Starbuck and Baltar dance together at the Colonial Day celebration. In the first scene of the following episode, "Kobol's Last Gleaming", they have a one-night stand that ends abruptly when Kara calls out Lee's name. The writers intended the sexual tension evident between Lee and Kara in this episode to contrast with this.
- During the first Quorum meeting, Head Six tells Baltar she doesn't mind if he has sex with other women. Baltar has trysts with journalist Playa Palacios later in "Colonial Day" and then with Kara Thrace in the following episode, "Kobol's Last Gleaming". Head Six reacts negatively to the latter encounter.
- Adama and Roslin's closeness in this episode contrasts with the events of "Kobol's Last Gleaming", in which Adama mounts a coup and throws Roslin in the brig. Their mutual attraction becomes a sexual relationship by the fourth-season episode "A Disquiet Follows My Soul".
Notes and references
- (special guest star)
- This character is listed as "Playa Kohn" in previous episodes.
- "Colonial Day". Battlestar Galactica. Season 1. Episode 11. 18 Mar 2005. Sci Fi.
- "Bastille Day". Battlestar Galactica. Season 1. Episode 3. 21 Jan 2005. Sci Fi.
- Moore, Ron (17 Mar 2005). "Battlestar Galactica episode 111 commentary" (Podcast). Retrieved 16 Jul 2011.
- Moore, Ron (30 Jan 2005). "Battlestar Blog: Q&A". Sci Fi Network. Archived from the original on 27 Mar 2009. Retrieved 15 Aug 2011.
- Suwalski, Pat. "BSG - Season 1 Locations". Retrieved 16 Jul 2011.
- "Episode 3: Reins of a Waterfall". Retrieved 16 Jul 2011.
- Davis, Jason (19 Mar 2005). "Battlestar Galactica: Colonial Day". Mania. Retrieved 17 Jul 2011.
- Brew, Simon (19 Aug 2009). "Battlestar Galactica season 1 episode 11 review: Colonial Day". Den of Geek. Retrieved 16 Jul 2011.
- Tankersley, Susan (Strega) (23 Mar 2005). "Let Baltar Be Baltar". Television Without Pity. Retrieved 16 Jul 2011.
- "Lay Down Your Burdens". Battlestar Galactica. Season 2. Episode 19-20. 3 & 10 Mar 2006. Sci Fi.
- "Kobol's Last Gleaming". Battlestar Galactica. Season 1. Episode 12-3. 25 Mar & 1 Apr 2005. Sci Fi.
- "A Disquiet Follows My Soul". Battlestar Galactica. Season 4. Episode 14. 23 Jan 2009. Sci Fi.
- "Colonial Day" at the Battlestar Wiki
- "Colonial Day" at Syfy
- "Colonial Day" at TV.com
- "Colonial Day" at the Internet Movie Database