Battlestar Galactica: Black Market

Zarek: "Did you really expect some utopian fantasy to rise from the ashes?"

This may be my least favorite episode of the series. So far, anyway.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I like Lee a lot, and I care about him as a character. But what happened here? We saw him go all Sam Spade with the black market thing, and that somehow managed to be incredibly dull even with the garroting and blood and all. We saw him turn down a romantic overture from the beautiful and sweet Dualla, which just made no sense considering he was encouraging her interest in previous episodes.

And we discovered that he regularly visits a prostitute who appears to remind him of some woman from his past, and wow, this just felt out of character for upright, forthright Lee Adama. Why would Lee treat a hooker like a girlfriend? Is he just more comfortable with an artificial relationship over which he has total control? Did Blonde Flashback Woman die in the war, and was she pregnant? Is that why Lee picked a hooker girlfriend who was also a mother?

At least Lee and his father have rebonded, and that was good. Gaius was also really interesting here, acting all vice presidential and confident for a change, enjoying his power, standing up to Lee, standing up to Roslin. Harvey Six said Roslin was afraid of Gaius, but I'm not so sure of that. Roslin offered Gaius a chance to resign, so I bet she does indeed remember seeing him with Six, and she's going to hit him with it pretty soon. That'll be interesting.

Phelan, the really really bad guy, said at one point, "It's hard to find the moral high ground when we're all standing in the mud." Well, some mud is muddier than other mud. There are degrees of badness, after all. Lee may have failed at stopping the black market, but at least it is now a kinder and gentler black market that doesn't sell kids.

Bits and pieces:

— This week's survivor count: 49,597, which is one less than last week's. Since the number was shown after Fisk's murder, I'm assuming this was Fisk. I guess no one was killed in the tylium explosion last week.

— I'm certainly not going to miss Fisk. He was creepy in a strange way. Fisk and Gaius appeared to be forging some sort of alliance before Fisk's murder... or was that just the cigars? And who is going to command Pegasus now?

— What actually happened with Zarek? I'm confused. Was he involved with the black market or wasn't he? He said he wasn't, but I don't believe him.

— It has recently occurred to me that "Astral Queen" is an unfortunate name for a ship full of male convicts. What were they thinking?

— Harvey Six's extreme red dress has returned.

— Ellen Tigh's bracelet made an appearance. Ellen Tigh did not.

— Prostitution is legal in the BSG universe. Smart of them.

— The black market ship was called "Prometheus." Prometheus was the mythical titan who was punished eternally for bringing fire to humankind. Appropriate.

— This week's Most Obvious Symbolism was probably the one-eyed doll that Lee gave to Paya. (Is her name short for Papaya, perhaps?)

— Roslin: "You know, I'm never quite sure where we stand with each other, Doctor." She's very astute. After all, Gaius himself doesn't know where he stands with anything.

Two stars, barely. Maybe just one,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


Patryk said...

Lee was encouraging her before he decided to die right? Do maybe it's part of his darkness induced apathy.

Roslin is playing it slow with Baltar. I wonder how it's going to develop.

Zarek probably was involved and used the situation to take control over it.

Overall a weak episode and felt out of character. Also after Pegasus and both parts of Ressurection Ship it's tougher to let a bad episode slide. In season one it would be almost average, now it's just weak.

Jess Lynde said...

I've always found it funny that what is quite possibly one of the series' worst episodes (this one), came so soon after one of the series' best ('Resurrection Ship, Part 2'). My husband and I still make jokes when we get a bad episode of a series we like, "Well, at least it was no 'Black Market'!" Just a terrible episode. And what a horrible let down after the awesomeness of the Pegasus arc.

ChrisB said...

A weak episode, but I didn't think it was as bad as the rest of you. Something has messed with Lee's head -- and I think we are just seeing the beginning of this.

I actually laughed out loud at the scene at the end with Lee and Abama. A few years ago, my siblings, my mother and I were all having dinner. After a few bottles of wine, my siblings and I started laughing about all the things we had gotten away with as teenagers.

Without missing a beat, my mom took a sip of her wine, looked each of us in the eye and rattled off half a dozen things we had no clue she knew about.

Into the stunned silence, this very wise woman said, "When you are parenting, you pick your battles." The look on Abama's face reminded me of that moment.

Baz said...

Finally forced myself to watch this one last night & it wasn't as bad as I remember. Don't get me wrong - it was still probably the worst episode so far, but still better than most episodes of most procedural shows!

I didn't care for the story about the prostitute and Lee, even with the addition of the cute kid.

The best scene was Roslin trying to convince Baltar to give up the VP job - and I'm now worried to see where he'll be taking his anger at her. The petty, petty man.

Martin said...

Probably the only episode so far that i can honestly say i didn't like, it should have had a filler warning at the start

Aside from this episode i am loving this show, i had never even heard of it until one of my many visits to the site so thank you for that. This site unlike any other makes every episode feel like a two parter where the reviews are as enjoyable as the episodes

Billie Doux said...

What a lovely comment, Martin. Thank you so much.

Unknown said...

It's the least I could say for all the shows I have discovered whilst using this site, the time and effort that must go into this is amazing and it is much appreciated

Does the series maintain this high standard all the way through?

Billie Doux said...

Martin Napier asked: Does the series maintain this high standard all the way through?

I think so. I had an issue with the finale, but it was still excellent.

magritte said...

The characters remain extremely well-written and acted throughout the series, though I'm not a fan of some of the narrative arc choices in later seasons. This was a weak episode though.

Victoria Grossack said...

Ugh, even the podcast is flawed! I find it useful to learn why a writer thinks something doesn't work, but there's all this gardening noise in the background.

magritte said...

I liked this episode even less on rewatch. At the time I first saw it, I was just starting into the show. When you've seen the whole show over a few weeks, it's really jarring to see Lee so obsessed with a woman he's never mentioned to this point that he's developed this surrogate relationship with a prostitute. It's a shame, too, because the idea of a black market is an interesting one, and I'm onboard with both the idea of developing more backstory for Lee and forcing him to compromise his rigid morals a bit. But the way it was done just muddled the character instead of illuminating it like good flashbacks should.

I suppose after the high drama of the season to this point a bit of a lull was unavoidable.