Thursday, March 8

Galactica Station's Review of Dirty Hands

Marine Viper Tech offers his review on the 315 episode Dirty Hands.

Knuckledraggers Revolt

There is grit under your fingers. Your palms ache, sending stabbing pain up your arms. Your muscles burn, flames beat at your back like the workman’s whip. You have not slept in two days, relying only on protein rations and caffeine to maintain your awareness. You eat, sleep, bathe where you work. You may have a son or daughter; she probably works beside you, under the machines. This has been your life for two years since the Cylons attacked the Colonies, destroying your home, and any hope you have ever had of a better life for yourself or your family.

Anne Cofell Saunders (Lay Down Your Burdens, prt 2) and Jane Espenson (The Passage) co-write “Dirty Hands,” a story revealing the harsh working conditions in the Fleet and the stark realities about the nature of democracy in its refugee society. As a stand alone episode, Saunders and Espenson are able to skillfully reintroduce material that has gone unused since its introduction in “Colonial Day”. Walking through the beautiful gardens aboard Cloud Nine, Tom Zarek notes, currying favor with reporters, that the gardener “labors, but he gets no benefit!” Espenson and Saunders take this concept a step further, suggesting that not only are labors receiving little to no compensation for their work, but their jobs are being inherited by their children.

The knuckledraggers and blue collar working men and women, however, find a voice in the reluctant Galen Tyrol, who resumes the mantel of a union leader after the Second Exodus. As Galen investigates the working conditions aboard the fleet’s fuel refinery, Aaron Douglas portrays Tyrol as a man struggling with the realities of life after the holocaust, who desperately wants to help his people, but is unable to truly aid them without coming into direct conflict with his commander and the President of the Twelve Colonies. Staring down the line, aboard the refinery ship, his eyes grow wide, his mouth is agape as he realizes that children are working along side adults. Their hands are calloused from endless days at the machines. At this moment, Douglas shows Galen’s true motivation for representing the working-class, he does not want his son to follow his footsteps. He does not want little Nicky Tyrol to be knuckledragger, simply because he was knuckledragger. He does not want his son’s hands to be cracked, aching from the day’s labor.

Douglas gives one of his best performances, showing that he is able to act along side heavy weights Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos. When Tyrol disturbs the two leaders after dinner, he acts as a foil to the “aristocracy,” represented by Roslin and Adama, attempting to drive home the reality of the disenfranchised populace. In their role as the symbolic “aristocracy,” Olmos and McDonnell are aloof, casually dismissing Douglas’ soft-spoken Tyrol. Roslin will not allow her administration to become extorted by strikers, she will not allow a few disgruntled workers threaten the survival of remnants of the human species. Adama will not allow Tyrol’s deck gang to participate in their Chief’s general strike, calling them “mutineers” even threatening the life of his wife Cally, a “ring leader.” Olmos and McDonnell play their respective parts as cold, pragmatic leaders, slightly separated from the plight of their brethren. Sitting in the admiral’s opulent quarters, they are willing to allow others to get their hands dirty so they do not have to be sullied with the problems facing their society.

Interrogating Baltar, the source of this new labor movement, whose manifesto My Trimphs, My Mistakes has galvanized the yearning masses, Mary McDonnell plays Roslin in one of her more philistine moments, in spite of the fact, it can be gleaned that she secretly enjoys shaking down the former president cum war criminal. There is a glint in McDonnell’s eye as she coolly delivers the line about how she is so curious to find out how Baltar’s book ends. In a performance that harkens back to Roslin’s first Cylon airlocking and the torture scenes in “Taking a Break from All Your Worries,” McDonnell shows a side of Roslin that would have been a far cry from the idealist in the miniseries. Roslin is willing to strip search Baltar, a shell of man, in order to confiscate the remaining pages of the memoir. Always her hands are in her pockets, pristine, white, never allowing the dirt under her fingers.

While Roslin is characterized as a member of the Caprican oligarchy, Gaius Baltar in his memoirs paints himself as a humble, Aerilon farm boy, born next to a dairy, always dreaming of becoming a Caprican. James Callis, always the chameleon, shows yet another side of Baltar, the self-righteous revolutionary, making his way to inevitable martyrdom at the hands of ruling-elite. In a memorable soliloquy by Callis, Baltar reveals his native ancestry to Tyrol dropping his formal raised pronunciation for a harsher, rural Yorkshire accent, he describes the people of Aerilon as being treated “ servants, like labourers, like working-class.” Baltar invokes the harsh realities of the backwater colony with his gravelly accent. In currying favor with the Colonial populace, he hopes to wash his hands clean of the sins he has committed in the court of public opinion.

The vestiges of the old Colonial society are slowly slipping away, being replaced by a world in which familial and tribal distinctions play a key part in roles citizens play in the Fleet. “Dirty Hands” unlike its predecessor “The Woman King” shows the realities of life for the common citizen, a view rarely afforded from the cold, neon CIC, or the clean, organized desks of Colonial One. Galen’s mission to cure the ills of the working man, reveals the differences between the Twelve Colonies, a difference that has as much to religious dogma as it does class struggles. Saunders and Espenson’s script shines through the performances of Douglas, Olmos, McDonnell, and Callis, making this one of the stand out self-contained episodes of the third season.

Source: Viper Tech

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