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- When Aaron Doral turns up on Galactica and detonates a device made from the ship's own munitions, Adama orders a full investigation - and Galen Tyrol's relationship with Boomer becomes the focus of the investigation.
- A group of civilians board Galactica. As they make their way through the ship, one of them slips away to make his way through the ship on his own.
- Elsewhere, Chief Tyrol secretly meets with Boomer after their relationship had been forbidden by Colonel Tigh (You Can’t Go Home Again) – they meet in the inspection space above the refurbished water tanks.
- The visitor to Galactica is seen and recognised by Tigh, who covertly calls security. At the same time, he is seen and challenged by Commander Adama.
- Turning to face them, the visitor turns to reveal himself as a copy of Aaron Doral – suspected Cylon (Miniseries) – who has a bomb strapped to his chest, which he detonates – almost killing Adama and Tigh.
- With three people killed in the blast, Adama orders an investigation into how Doral got aboard and accessed Galactica’s munitions store, and places his Master-at-Arms, Sergeant Hadrian, in charge of what becomes a public inquiry.
- Interviewing hangar deck personnel, including Cally and Socinus, Sergeant Hadrian is given three different locations for Tyrol’s whereabouts at the time Doral came aboard the ship. The time coincides with Tyrol's meeting with Boomer, and his people are covering for him.
- At the same time, Laura Roslin holds a press conference, revealing the truth about humanoid Cylons and releasing pictures of Doral and Leoben Conoy. The news is greeted with a stunned reaction throughout the Fleet.
- As a result of her investigations, Hadrian brings both Boomer and Tyrol before the board of inquiry for questioning.
- Boomer is questioned first – specifically about her relationship with Tyrol, which she claims has stopped on the orders of the XO.
- Hadrian then focuses on Tyrol and his whereabouts at the time of the bombing, and Boomer claims she has no idea.
- Putting Tyrol on the stand, Hadrian questions him about a hatchway that was left open – a hatchway he should have ensured was closed, and which leads directly to the small arms locker from which the explosives had been stolen, and to which he had the access code.
- In response, Tyrol points out that several people have the access code to the locker – including Hadrian herself, who is also responsible for internal security aboard the ship.
- Hadrian challenges Tyrol as to whether Boomer may have left the hatch open. Remembering their meeting, in which she stated she had used the hatchway to avoid being seen on her way to him, Tyrol lies and states he has no idea.
- He is then challenged to explain why his claim to have been in his bunk at the time of the bombing is disputed by three of his own crew, who put him in different places, doing different things at the time Doral was aboard.
- When Hadrian accuses him of being a Cylon collaborator, Tyrol refuses to answer, citing his right to not self-incriminate himself under the 23rd Article of Colonization.
- Specialist Socinus is next on the stand, and when he realizes his original statement has landed Tyrol in trouble, he changes his story: he actually left his post and went to the galley for food, using the companionway and hatch in question to get there.
- When challenged about the hatch, he admits he was the one who left it open, thus accidentally providing the Cylon with the means to get to the explosives.
- Hadrian still tries to involve Tyrol, demanding to know if he ordered Socinus to leave the hatch open. Socinus won’t be moved: he left the hatch open.
- In sickbay, Gaius Baltar visits Kara Thrace, hoping to rekindle the attraction of their first card game ("Water"). She, however, is not in the mood. To get rid of him, she asks him about the bombing and whether he felt the Cylon was after his super secret project, which is located close to where the bomb went off.
- This scares Baltar to the point where he leaves Thrace alone, demanding to know from Six as to why the Cylons are trying to kill him when he’s following her orders.
- Six points out the Cylon were probably after the detector – and that anyway, the Cylons don’t know about her and Baltar.
- With Socinus apparently the guilty party, Adama discusses the outcome of the inquiry with Roslin – when he is called before the board himself, where Hadrian comes close to building a picture of conspiracy rising all the way to Adama.
- Realizing things are out of hand, Adama calls a halt to things, confining Hadrian to her quarters and disbanding the board of inquiry.
- Roslin holds a second conference, issuing Socinus’ name and stating he has been removed from duty and placed in the brig for dereliction of duty.
- Hearing this, Tyrol goes to Adama to try and secure Socinus’ release. Instead, he is confronted by the truth: as a result of his unauthorized tryst with Boomer, he has created a poor example of leadership and can’t actually say where Socinus was or what he was doing. Socinus will remain in the brig.
- As a result, Tyrol meets with Boomer and ends their relationship. He then asks her if she left the suspect hatchway open the last time they met. She refuses to answer.
- Helo sets out to find his missing Sharon Valerii.
- As a result of his decision, Six gives Valerii a vicious beating to feign a fight with Cylons once he "finds" her.
- Helo later discovers a lone Cylon Centurion dragging a bound and apparently unconscious Valerii, whom he rescues.
- Litmus is a chemical substance used to determine whether a solution is acidic or basic. In politics a litmus test is a question posed to a candidate in order determine whether or not he or she will be nominated for a certain office, thus deciding a political career.
- Some 24 hours have passed since the events of "You Can’t Go Home Again".
- There was at least one additional Doral in the Fleet.
- This is the first episode without an appearance by Apollo.
- Underground activities are beginning to take place on Galactica – as shown by the creation of the still.
- Baltar’s Six claims not to be in contact with other Cylons in the Fleet, but it is far from clear as to whether she is speaking the truth.
- Adama’s father was a civil liberties lawyer on Caprica.
- Adama has a hobby: constructing large models of sailing vessels.
- Baltar is now actively working on his Cylon detector.
- Civilians routinely pass through Galactica.
- Cultural oddity: when Adama sets down his glasses, a volume of the Reader's Digest Condensed Books series is clearly identifiable, including the Reader's Digest logo.
- Number Six intimidates Baltar with the line, "Don't make me angry, Gaius. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." This is a possible play on the classic Bill Bixby line from the pilot episode of the Incredible Hulk. The line is partially repeated in flashback in "Six Degrees of Separation" and again in "Collaborators" by Adama.
- The building seen prominently in the background of the first shots of the Caprican city can be clearly identified as a ScotiaBank building in downtown Vancouver.
- According to Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion, "Litmus" is a "cost saving episode", a pattern which happens several times on genre shows: the season premiere (33) is intentionally given a larger share of the special effects budget to try to attract new fans, but to balance this out an episode later in the season must involve little or no new special effects or new sets. Often these episodes are "filler", but "Litmus" strongly contributes to the ongoing storylines in the series and seems to have avoided these potential problems.
- This episode features the minor characters on the deck crew to a large degree, giving them scenes with actual substance. Their reactions show how the common people in the fleet are affected by the decisions of people at the "top", Roslin and Adama. Rather than being "redshirts" who do not appear again, these characters will continue to reappear throughout the season, demonstrating how the series features a large ensemble cast, and given time even many tertiary characters become fully fleshed out.
- For answers to the questions in this section, click here.
- Why did Hadrian fixate on the Tyrol / Valerii relationship? This line of questioning was distinct from her attempts to expose Tyrol as a "Cylon conspirator."
- Will the "outing" of Aaron Doral and Leoben Conoy make Cylon activities within the Fleet that much more difficult? What of Number Six? Does this mean that the other still-unknown models take on a more active role?
- Why is the concept of love so important to the Cylons (RDM)?
- Was Baltar's lab really Doral's intended target?
- "Major question: it looks like discipline hasn't really improved on the ship in the first few episodes. In some ways, it's getting worse. Commander Adama didn't help matters at all in "Litmus" when he essentially declared himself to be above the law."
- Security and discipline are definitely problems on Galactica and they're not going away. The ship was far from the best of the best at the time of its retirement and the people on board weren't either. The discipline was lax and many procedures had been allowed to fall by the wayside. Now, this ship and its crew are forced to operate far above what they considered to be the norm and it's not an easy transition for any of them.
- This was a deliberate creative choice. It's one thing for the finest ship, with the finest crew to deal with the end of the world and a long flight from a relentless enemy, it's quite another when you were just a bunch of people trying to get by. I find it a more challenging and interesting environment to tell stories in and I find these people more heroic in their actions just by the nature of the obstacles they have to overcome in their day to day existence.
From RDM's Sci-Fi Channel Blog
- Adama, to Sergeant Hadrian and her Board of Inquiry:
- Adama: You’ve lost your way, Sergeant. You’ve lost sight of the purpose of the law: to protect its citizens, not persecute them. Whatever we are, whatever’s left of us – we’re better than that. Now these proceedings are closed. You’ll be transported back to your ships and we appreciate your help.
- Board Chair: This is an independent board. You have no power to close our inquiries.
- Adama: This is a witch-hunt. I will not have it aboard my ship.
- Adama to Tyrol, after Socinus has been incarcerated:
- Adama: What I can’t do is I can’t let someone who wears this uniform get up on the witness stand and lie under oath. And that’s what your man did. He either lied the first time or he lied the second time. And it doesn’t matter. He’s guilty, and he’ll pay the price. You? You’ll pay a different price. You’ll have to walk out on that hangar every day knowing that one of your men is in the brig because you couldn’t keep your fly zipped. You are the most experienced non-commissioned officer we have left. You keep my planes flying. I need my planes to fly.