Battlestar Galactica

Season 1 Episode 11

Colonial Day

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Mar 18, 2005 on Syfy
out of 10
User Rating
760 votes

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Episode Summary


Tom Zarek has himself nominated for the role of Vice President while an assassin is discovered on the Cloud Nine Luxury liner. As tensions flare, the cruel hand of politics leads to murder, and the election of the most unlikely Vice President.

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  • I'm starting to get a real feel for politics.

    Short story: loved it. This unbelievably good season has had more exciting episodes (33, Hand of God) and more touching episodes (Act of Contrition), but if you asked for the episode with just the best writing overall (excluding the finale of course), I'd have to point you to Colonial Day.

    At the same time, I completely understand how some fans of the series might think this is one of the season's lesser episodes. After all, it has a completely different feel from everything else we've gotten from BSG so far. It takes place in an outdoorsy atmosphere on the luxury cruiser (A+ set design, by the way) that takes away the distinct claustrophobic feel present in the other episodes. No one other than the shady Valance was ever at risk of any sort of physical harm or death, and so the difficulty is in crafting scenes that work just as well where the only risk that anyone is ever really at is political or social.

    But what the episode really ends up doing, through a delightfully convoluted political struggle, is advance the plot forward with a few shocking twists (Gaius, the vice president?) in preparation for the finale, while also giving us a lot of world-building insight into the way that government functioned before the tragedies that brought everyone to where they are now. The process that unfolds here parallels modern American politics, with "conservatives" in the Roslin party and "liberals" in the Zarek party. By the end, Roslin has won but only by a hair, and even then only due to some very quick thinking involving nominating a new, more popular potential vice president.

    Even though this was an episode about Roslin, all of the best bits of the episode were Baltar's, as well as Zarek's. It's great to see Tom Zarek back in a completely different setting than in Bastille Day, wearing a suit, flirting with Ellen (who doesn't, really?), and shaking hands with delegates as part of a pompous ceremony. His speeches, which connect him to the Tom Zarek we knew back in episode three, make a convincing argument. Unfortunately, I don't believe for a second that Zarek actually intended to be the people's president - especially not after the parts of Bastille Day in which he essentially admits to be out for no one but himself. He also, of course, admits that to a significantly more tolerable Ellen even in this episode. At the same time, we get to see some absolutely classic Baltar scenes. There's the one where he's giving a speech and we all know that he's just parroting back some fancy words from Six, and even better the one where he's forced into accepting a vice presidency IN A BATHROOM because he didn't want Roslin to know about the journalist in the stall. Just brilliant all around.

    Even on Caprica, something finally happened! Helo finally sees a Cylon copy of Sharon just as they're about to escape and at long last connects the dots. Watching him just walk away from the copy of Sharon he's with without even asking for an explanation is heartbreaking, especially when we know that Not!Boomer literally went against her people to go with him. It's a great way to end a penultimate episode.

    Oh yeah, there's that dance too which is just PERFECT.moreless
  • Colonial Day

    Colonial Day was another excellent episode of Battlestar Galactica and I really enjoyed watching this episode because there was a lot of political intrigue as Tom Zarek was nominated for Vice President and President Roslin was able to get Baltar nominated and it was fun to watch how things played out. The scenes were very character driven and intense. The drama and characters are so enchanting and make the show irresistible to watch. I look forward to seeing what happens in the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • The One Where: They all enjoy a dance! (Politcally and literally.)

    It was fun seeing all of the regular cast get all dolled up just before the end credits. A nice change of pace from their overused dreary robots-are-trying-to-kill-us-we-can't-sleep look. Something tells me that the small celebration was very much a glammed up calm before a very big storm. And speaking of changes in scenery, the concept of Cloud Nine is a neat one. Have we heard of it before now? You'd think the pilots (and everyone else) would be hitting up the place for some much needed fake-sun tanning every other day.

    Not a lot actually happens here overall. What you need to take away from this episode is that Helo finally knows that Sharon is a cylon, and, during an odd turn of events, Gaius is now the vice-president. Two pretty hefty shifts in the narrative, wouldn't you say? They're clearly being set-up for the finale, so there's very little screen-time allowed for us to process such huge changes.

    The pace is glacial even for this show. With a lot of political jargon thrown at us in quick succession. There's one small scrap involving Starbuck and Apollo, but that's about it on the action front. Long, arousing speeches are what's in store with this hour. I did kind of zone out here and there.

    No fraks, one guy killed himself, head-Six and two cap six's, suggested murder, and Sharon wins here.

    Not the best BSG has to offer, but far from the worst.moreless
  • Layers of intrigue make for a compelling episode

    This episode is for the most part very well executed, and offers lots of things to enjoy.

    Zarek is back, and thankfully way better utilized than earlier in the season. Here he gets more compelling dialog, and he makes some valid points. But it's interesting watching the shades of gray in terms of right and wrong in this episode.

    Various characters hate Zarek for being a terrorist, and write him off purely on that. But many of their actions are questionable: torture, turning off the radio (to silence a political figure) and starting a fight, and of course Roslin asking for Zarek to be bugged. Roslin's close relationship with the military leader and quite clear statements about who she would or wouldn't have as her vice-president all show the nastier side of these people, and give Zarek's words some weight. Ellen makes her second appearance, and starts to show that her main aim is to protect her and her husband. She's less bound by strong beliefs, and much more adaptable to the situation at hand. People will write her off as a drunken tart, but they could do well with learning from her to drop some of the old ways and preconceptions.

    It's great to see Baltar's arc continue. His in-head Six has definitely been building this up over a number of episodes and making him believe in himself. When she made him second the request for a vice president, it paved the way for his rise to power. Another step on the story of Baltar.

    Also other noteworthy things: it's interesting to see Cloud Nine for a change of location, and the ending where Helo discovers the truth about Sharon is a gem.

    There were a couple of things I didn't like about the episode though. The whole assassination subplot felt bolted on to the episode, and didn't really go anywhere. My other problem is a bigger one, and is a problem with BSG in general but I started to really first notice it in this episode. That is the fact that the writers don't stop to think more often that these people are not from Earth. Too often the show does things that are very American. The news reporters' style for example was played as very American -- there doesn't seem to be an effort to make them at all different. Also very Earth-like dialog comes into play, like Roslin mentions a "goon squad". All in all, with the exception of the assassination plot, this was a well crafted and interesting episode. Definitely one of the gems of season one.moreless
  • "I'm glad that we got to see the return of Tom Zarek." SPOILERS

    I'm glad that we got to see the return of Tom Zarek. I wonder if we'll see him again after this. I enjoyed seeing a luxury liner and what it is like in the show. It was kind of interesting how they created faux weather and stuff. The most interesting part about the episode is that Six practically forces Baltar to second the idea of a Vice President. Why? I wonder how this will play into the cylon's plan. Who killed Valence? I guess that's the most pronounced question of the episode. I hope it's answered. Baltar is the new Vice President. Was this part of Six's plan? Something that kind of struck me was when Helo ran away. He doesn't seem like the type, especially in this situation, to run away from something...anything. Boomer 2 obviously shot the other Boomer and never tried to hurt him. So why, even as she is calling after him, run away? I guess he thinks she could trick him but it's slim if he put the recent events together. I'm interested to see how this plays out. 8/10moreless
Edward James Olmos

Edward James Olmos

William Adama

Grace Park

Grace Park

Sharon "Boomer" Valerii

James Callis

James Callis

Gaius Baltar

Jamie Bamber

Jamie Bamber

Lee "Apollo" Adama

Katee Sackhoff

Katee Sackhoff

Kara "Starbuck" Thrace

Mary McDonnell

Mary McDonnell

Laura Roslin

Robert Wisden

Robert Wisden

Wallace Gray

Guest Star

David Kaye

David Kaye

James McManus

Guest Star

Alex Zahara

Alex Zahara


Guest Star

Kate Vernon

Kate Vernon

Ellen Tigh

Recurring Role

Aaron Douglas

Aaron Douglas

Chief Petty Officer Tyrol

Recurring Role

Tahmoh Penikett

Tahmoh Penikett

Lt Helo

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Baltar: Politics is the only thing more boring than blood samples.

    • Roslin: Mr. Zarek. Oh, don't worry. I won't be kissing you today.
      Tom Zarek: That's a shame. I shaved very closely in anticipation of being smacked by you.

    • (Boomer and Helo on Caprica, scouting a spaceport)
      Helo: Now all we have to do is wait until dark, infiltrate the most heavily fortified military hub on this planet, hope the Cylons have not completely wasted the spaceport, steal a ship, meet Galactica, and fly to her without getting shot to hell.
      Sharon: Is that all?

    • (talking to reporters about the state of the fleet) Zarek: Look, there's no economy. There's no market, no industry, no capital. Money's worthless. And yet we're all held hostage by the idea of the way things used to be. Look where we are (on Cloud 9). This man (points to gardener) wakes up every morning, tugs on his boots, and goes to work in this garden. Why? Because it's his job? What job? He labors, but he gets no benefits. And he's not the only one. Many of us are still going through the motions of our old lives. The lawyers still act like lawyers, but they have no clients. Businessmen still act like businessmen, but have no business! President Roslin and her policies are all about holding on to a fantasy. We want to survive. We need to completely restructure our lives. We need to think about the community of citizens. The group, not the individual. We need to completely free ourselves of the past and operate as a collective.

    • (in the locker room) Starbuck: Do you have a problem with my hygiene?

      Apollo: You have hygiene?

      Starbuck: I clean up good sometimes, alright?

      Apollo: Well, let me know when it's one of those times.

      (In the following scene at the Quorum meeting, Starbuck lifts her sleeve to her nose and sniffs it, checking if it smells bad.)

    • (at Baltar's victory celebration)
      Roslin: I thought you hated these things.
      Adama: It's Colonial Day. Where else would I be? I'm a patriot.
      Roslin: You really are, aren't you?

  • NOTES (3)

    • The building used for the Cloud Nine Ballroom is the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, located at the University of British Columbia, near Vancouver. The building is also used as the 4400 Center for the USA Network series The 4400.

    • This episode first aired in the United Kingdom on January 10, 2005, on Sky One. Sky One co-financed the first season of the show.

    • Alessandro Juliani (Lt. Gaeta) and Robert Wisden (Wallace Gray) also appeared in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Moebius Part I" together. Both that episode and this one originally aired on the Sci Fi Channel on March 18, 2005. They played Katep and Major Samuels respectively.


    • Adama: Politics. As exciting as war. Definitely as dangerous.
      Roslin: Though in war, you only get killed once. In politics it can happen over and over.
      Adama: You're still standing.
      Roslin: So are you.
      Adama: And I can dance.

      An allusion to Winston Churchill's statement, "Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times."

    • Zarek: (to Roslin) That's a shame. I shaved very closely in anticipation of being smacked by you.

      An allusion to the movie "Patton" when Field Marshal Montgomery said to General Patton, "Don't smirk Patton. I shan't kiss you." Patton replied, "Pity. I shaved very close this morning in preparation for getting smacked by you." The two men's armies entered into the city of Messina at the same time. Patton was not supposed to steal Montgomery's thunder, but couldn't resist showing him up.