Friday, March 2

Episode 3.16 - "Dirty Hands" Review

Source: UGO

"Chief Tyrol has been one of my favorites because of the realism he brings to a show about spaceships and robots." One of the ingenious new decisions that Ron Moore did when he reimagined Battlestar Galactica was in making a new character that showed the point-of-view of the people that maintained the Vipers. Ever since his introduction in the miniseries, Chief Tyrol has been one of my favorites because of the realism he brings to a show about spaceships and robots. Unlike the engineers from the original Star Trek, the "knuckledraggers" in the BSG universe get dirty, wear ugly uniforms and don't get to sit in command and give orders. Their jobs aren't glamorous and they don't get a pat on the back shooting down Cylons, but without the ground crew the Galactica wouldn't have a chance at survival. By extension, the people working on the rest of the ships in the Fleet are like the Galactica's crew, but the big difference is that we don't get to ever see or feel their presence because they aren't represented by a character like the Chief. Top Gun could've used a Chief Tyrol, don't you think?

"Dirty Hands" gets back to showing us the greasy side of flying spaceships. It also brings back the major role of the Chief that we haven't really seen since "Flight of the Phoenix." Chief Tyrol is a leader for the common man, the ones that do the repairs, pump the fuel and service the ships in silence. But with limited resources and supplies and the constant threat of death awaiting them, we haven't as yet gotten a good glimpse into what life would be like for the rest of the Chief Tyrols in the Fleet. Writers Anne Cofell Saunders and Jane Espenson show us that there's still plenty of drama to mine from the series without needing an imminent Cylon attack to deliver it.

In fact, the absence of the Cylons have given us the best two episodes of BSG since "Exodus Part II," getting us back into the groove of showing how the dark side of human nature will eventually surface and screw things up if it's left unchecked. Saunders and Espenson's script also fills in some of the blanks about the Colonials' former way of living and class system, further fleshing out the background mythology of the show and using it to give us a good story about the overlooked working class. For an episode that didn't use several of the main characters (no Apollo, Tigh, Athena, Dualla, Gaeta or Helo to be seen), "Dirty Hands" did a fantastic job of delivering old-school BSG conflict and drama. I did think that Adama and Roslin's characterization was a little too harsh at times, but I can forgive it; the writers needed to get the conflict across in a short space of time and it wasn't too far of a stretch to see the President and Admiral borrowing a chapter from the Helena Cain style of leadership handbook.

The B-story about Baltar's Lenin-esque book plays off well from Tyrol's Norma Ray impersonation and it's going to be interesting to see where the writers take this. Baltar's incarceration and his underground book now have parallels with Tom Zarek's history, making him a leader for the disaffected class and a dangerous opponent to the official government. Are the BSG writers thinking along the same lines for the evolution of Baltar as they did for Zarek? Just how many tricks does Gaius have up his sleeve, anyway?

Nice touches: the detailed CG models of the tylium ship - it's always great to spend some time looking at another ship in the Fleet; the Chief stopping work and calling a strike; Baltar's Aerelon accent; Adama offering to share a Galactica bed with the Prez; and Seelix is a nugget!

If the rumors are true, next week someone isn't coming back for the rest of the season.

UGO Rating
Direction: B
Writing: A
Performances: B+
Visual Appeal : A-
Overall: A-

Original Air Date: Sunday, February 25, 2007 - 10/9c

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