Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 2 - Episode 14

BSG - 2x14 - Black Market - Originally Aired: 2006-1-27

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 4.1

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Synopsis
A thriving black market in food, medicine and luxury items has developed within the fleet, serving the rich and depriving the needy of essential goods.

When Pegasus's commanding officer, Commander Jack Fisk, is found brutally murdered in his private quarters surrounded by a cache of cigarettes, liquor and jewelry, Lt. Lee Adama is appointed chief investigator.

Lee discovers that Fisk was fronting a racketeering operation that ostensibly involves other prominent military and civilian authorities. The suspects include Quorum representative Tom Zarek and Vice President Gaius Baltar, who is angered by President Laura Roslin's suggestion that he resign, for the good of the office.

The investigation becomes personal for Lee when a gang of black-market thugs kidnaps Shevon, a prostitute with whom he has developed an intimate relationship, and her young daughter, Paya. The gangsters threaten to kill Shevon unless Lee abandons his investigation.

Intensifying his efforts, Lee tracks the gang's ringleader, Phelan, to the Prometheus, a renegade freighter packed with contraband. During a tense standoff, he brokers a Machiavellian deal with the criminals while gaining unsavory insights into human nature, including the true depth of his own depression and the burden of a guilt he has carried for far too long... [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- Adama promoted Fisk to commander.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 49597. This is only one less than the previous episode, yet there were at least three bodies seen blown out of the Daru Mozu in the prior episode. However simultaneous births could account for this.
- Much of the regular cast, including Starbuck, Helo, Boomer, Gaeta, Tyrol, and Cally are not present in this episode.

Remarkable Scenes
- Apollo scaring Paya.
- Commander Fisk's murder.
- Adama: "He was working the black market." Apollo: "Half the fleet's working it, Fisk was getting greedy."
- Apollo confronting Tigh about his black market trading.
- Phelan confronting Apollo, telling him to drop his investigation.
- Apollo's meeting with Zarek.
- Zarek: "Did you really expect some utopian fantasy to rise from the ashes?"
- Apollo visiting the freighter Prometheus and witnessing the black market.
- Apollo witnessing Paya locked in room with other kids, presumably being sold into sexual slavery.
- Phelan: "Without us, people would have nowhere to turn; the fleet would tear itself apart." Apollo: "And what about those children outside? How are they helping the fleet?" Phelan: "Everyone has needs. Some settle for cigars and liquor. You wanted Shevon. Others are more demanding. It's hard to find the moral high ground when we're all standing in the mud."
- Apollo shooting Phelan.

My Review
Black Market is an episode which largely comes off as incoherent, a collection of attempts at making a point, but none which really get driven home and succeed by and large. While the episode does have a few things going for it such as nice assortment of good scenes, an unusually refreshing tone to the the scoring (dubbed Standing In The Mud on the soundtrack), and a few other interesting tidbits, there's a larger set of little problems with the episode spread throughout as well.

Firstly, this episode is quite an abuse of flashback storytelling. It was kind of annoying in Act of Contrition and it was tolerable in Resurrection Ship, Part 2 but here it's over the top. We've got the ending shown in the teaser, then all these flashbacks into Lee's life on Caprica, and none of it makes any sense until the end of the episode, at which point none of it means as much as you'd hope it would. That, and certain details just don't make sense. Why didn't Phelan's thugs kill Apollo when he went for the gun, or after he shot Phelan? Why did Zarek have to tell Apollo about the Prometheus when everybody else seems to know about it? For that matter, why would Zarek bother to assist Apollo in the first place? And even then, wouldn't Apollo as someone who's already participated in the black market already know about that ship? So much just doesn't make any sense.

Next in the line of problems is the whole business with Apollo being depressed after having ejected from the Blackbird. I never really liked this plot point to begin with when it was introduced in Resurrection Ship, Part 2 and it wasn't sufficiently explored and further substantiated in this episode. Kara even directly confronts Lee in Epiphanies about the Blackbird ejection possibly causing his depression which he outright ignores and it's used as a sort of excuse for Lee's moodiness in this episode. It's also revealed that his regrets over a woman he lost on Caprica is a major contributing factor to his moodiness. It's just too much a jumble.

Another annoying plot point is how callously the Pegasus is handled. Fisk was an absolutely fantastic character that was killed off for no good reason. And his death was definitely far too close in the timeline to Cain's death. There should be repercussions for losing two commanders of the Pegasus in a matter of weeks, but it's not explored at all. Moreover, now we don't even know who's in command of the Pegasus at all. We're never told who succeeded Fisk. A gross oversight.

However, there's a certain realism to the whole concept of the black market on Galactica, and it's something I was hoping the series would explore. Phelan's character was particularly fascinating. I like how he just casually justifies child prostitution to Lee, like it's okay simply because there's a demand. I also like how Lee just summarily executes him without necessarily being provoked. Bold move, even if the consequences for it were grossly unrealistic. Overall though this episode is the biggest dud of the series so far.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2007-03-23 at 9:01am:
    This episode is poop. Two episodes in a row were about enemies within the fleet. First you got the Cylon sympathizers, and now you got the black market. None of which is as interesting as the Cylons. The episode is way too grim. The story about Apollo is a letdown, and the killing off of Captain Fisk was a waste of a good character.

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