Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: Epiphanies, Black Market
I’m a sci-fi geek who has never seen Battlestar Galactica. Yes, I know, I know. 2013 is the year I change that, and I’m blogging as I go.
Epiphanies was all right, but man… Black Market. I’m so glad Starbuck wasn’t in that episode. I wouldn’t want her to be sullied by it.
The time has come for Laura Roslin: My favorite fictional President (sorry, Morgan Freeman) is rushed to sickbay, her cancer diagnosis finally having caught up with her. Doc Cottle explains that he can make her comfortable, but she’s going to die, and soon.
Her body’s on the Galactica, but her mind’s on Caprica, flashing back to a time before the Cylon attack when she was still the Secretary of Education. The teacher’s union was on strike, and while Roslin wanted to negotiate with their representative, President Adar—whom it is revealed Roslin was in a secret romance with, not that I’m sure why that’s relevant—was firmly against it. Roslin, doing her own thing, pulled some negotiation-fu and got the teachers to come back, but instead of thanking her Adar asked her to resign, which Roslin was obviously against. They never got to duke it out, though, as it’s revealed that all this took place on the day before the Cylon attack.
This bit was frankly a bit boring to me; more of interest is how, in Roslin’s flashback, she remembers seeing Baltar canoodling with Six. It’s unknown by the end of the episode how much Roslin’s put together. But, as my grandfather used to say, “the cheese is getting binding.”
Roslin still has some moments of consciousness left, though, and some of them are spent talking with Doc Cottle, Adama, and Baltar about Boomer’s unborn baby. The doctor’s found some genetic abnormality in the fetus, and while he doesn’t know exactly what’s up with it his concern is enough to convince Roslin the pregnancy has to be terminated. Baltar tries to convince anyone who will listen that doing so will screw with his experiments, that Roslin’s judgement has been compromised, that Boomer has too much tactical value to piss her off in this way… basically he’s saying anything he can so that his secret half-Cylon surrogate love child with Six won’t be aborted. No one listens to him, though, because when does anyone ever?
Speaking of Six: She’s still around. No, not prisoner!Six. The Six in his head, whom I thought went way last episode, but no, that would be far too simple. She just took a siesta for a few weeks, but now she’s back to tell Baltar to somehow use the nuclear warhead Adama gave him for his scientific research to save their/Boomer’s child’s life.
Also more than a little displeased about the decision to terminate Boomer’s pregnancy: Helo and Boomer. For all that Boomer’s helped humanity they’re still afraid of her. When Boomer gets the news she completely loses it, bashing her head against the glass wall of her cell and saying that she’ll give them something to be afraid of if they take her baby.
I miss this Boomer. Not crazy banging-her-head-against-things Boomer, but ambiguous-loyalties Boomer. I want her to get loose somehow and start wreaking glorious havoc.
While all this baby drama has been going on Adama has been dealing with his own crisis. It’s discovered that an underground group of Cylon sympathizers has been sabotaging the Vipers, replacing real ammo rounds with empty ones, causing the guns to blow up. Their ultimate goal is to surrender to—or, as they would say, “make peace with”—the Cylons, whom they see as impossible to defeat. The unofficial leader of the peace movement is one Royan Jahee, who draws Adama’s craggy faced-ire when Lee and Starbuck discover a plan to blow up a tylium refinery. Lee takes a team to find and disarm the explosive, but it goes off before they can land on the ship, taking out the refinery and almost killing them in the process.
Adama throttles Royan, who at this point has already been arrested, and demands that he make the attacks stop. I only mention this because of Tigh’s face while Adama’s choking a peacenik. He looks like Christmas has come early.
Tigh would hate the pro-surrdender movement even more if he knew who another one of its leaders is: Prisoner!Six, newly escaped from the Pegasus. Netflix’s captions told me she’s called Gina, and Susana confirmed that that’s what her name was back on the Pegasus, so no more “prisoner!Six” for me, hallelujah.
A Cylon is working on the inside to try and get humanity to surrender to the Cylons. Oh, the irony. Hey, speaking of Sixes, I wonder what happened to that reporter version of Six from season one. I kind of disregarded everything from that episode because the line “No more Mr. Nice Gaius” kind of harshed on its credibility, but… she could still be around somewhere. Taking a break from Cylonitude, maybe. Learning to play bridge.
Gina invites Baltar for a visit on Cloud 9; after seeing her he proceeds to get all touch-y and grope-y, despite the fact that she’s a sexual assault victim and that, oh yeah, she tells him to back off. He eventually does, but only because she pushes him. Baltar, if you were here (and a real person) I would slap you on the back of your head. Gina then proceeds to try and convince Baltar to use his Presidential authority—which he should have soon, barring some miracle that saves Roslin’s life—to turn the fleet against Adama so the Cylons can swoop in and save their little family. He refuses, saying he won’t be responsible for the destruction of humanity. Good on you, Baltar! I wonder how many episodes that attitude will last.
While on Cloud 9 Baltar has one of those epiphanies from the episode’s title, this one about Boomer’s baby. He does some bloodwork and explains his conclusions to Adama: The fetus’ blood has no antigens, and as such it’s a magical cure for cancer.
Baltar’s news came just in the nick of time, as Boomer’s pregnancy was just about to be terminated. Instead they take a blood sample from the fetus and inject it into Roslin, who seizes a bit and flatlines before coming back to life cancer-free. Boomer’s baby is also saved, as Adama and Roslin agree that more study of it is needed.
Back in the game, Roslin visits Jahee and gets a personal assurance out of him that the attacks will stop. And she didn’t even choke him! Tigh wouldn’t approve.
Proud papa Baltar (seriously, he’s smoking a cigar) gets a visit from Head Six, who gives him flak for saving the President’s life. She can’t ruin his mood, though. He’s adorably happy with himself right up to the point when he opens a letter Roslin wrote him back when she was still dying. In it she says that he’s smart, but selfish and lacking in compassion. Only if he dedicates himself to providing justice for the people can he become a great leader.
Baltar makes the switch to bitter in two seconds flat, ranting about how no matter what he does Roslin will never trust him. But… she could? At least as far as Baltar knows. We know that Roslin suspects him of being involved with a Cylon, but he doesn’t. Everything she said in the letter was true! And anyway, she shouldn’t trust him, because he actually is a traitor. Baltar, you drama queen. You’d get your second slap to the back of the head for this.
The episode ends with Jahee, released from the brig, delivering a special present from Baltar to Gina. Oh good, it’s the nuclear warhead. And him giving it to her is supposed to be “proof of his sincerity.” I see no way this could possibly end well. Baltar, you said you didn’t want to be the cause for humanity’s destruction a few scenes ago.
Also in this episode:
Prior to watching Black Market I was informed by two separate people that it’s “that episode” of BSG that everyone hates.
But no. I’m going to embrace my inner masochist and recap this clusterfrak.
The basic idea is that a black market has reared its ugly head in the fleet. Roslin wants to institute trade regulations to stop it, but lots of other people—including Baltar and Jack Fisk—are of the opinion that that’s just not practical. Of course, that might be because both of them benefit from the black market: Fisk is a major player, and he’s been buttering up Baltar with fancy cigars. Fisk gets in too deep, though, and he’s killed on the order of the head honcho, a guy named Phelan.
No problems so far. One of the good things about Battlestar Galactica is its realism, and I like that it addresses a non-Cylon problem faced by the fleet. After all, when you have 50,000ish people floating through space for an indeterminate amount of time, illegal enterprise is going to pop up. And I also like how the episode raises the question of whether it’s OK for Roslin and the military to allow something like the black market to exist if doing so means they’ll know the major players and be able to monitor it, the only other alternative being acting against it and forcing it further underground. It’s an interesting moral quandary.
So where did Black Market go wrong?
If I were Jamie Bamber I’d be so pissed at this episode. More pissed than I am anyway, I mean.
After Fisk is killed Lee is tasked with figuring out who did it. Things are complicated by Lee’s secret escort girlfriend Shevon—wait, Lee has a secret escort girlfriend?—and Shevon’s sick daughter Paya. Throughout the episode Lee keeps flashing back to another woman, an ex-girlfriend of his on Caprica. This nameless blond lady wanted to have a kid with him, but he said no (Lee Adama daddy issues on line two), and they didn’t make up before Caprica went kaboom.
So we have two women here—one, Unnamed Flashback Lady, is the great lost love of Lee’s life—whom we are supposed to believe are incredibly important to Lee and integral to the understanding of his character despite the fact that neither of them have ever appeared or even been mentioned on the show? I’m torn between wanting to know what was up with Random Blonde Lady and wanting to completely disregard every single bit of Lee Adama-related character development that happened this episode.
Lee pokes around in Fisk’s office and finds his secret stash of black market items. In a case of spectacular bad timing, Baltar, who doesn’t know that Fisk has died, shows up to have a chat with his black market buddy. Lee, recognizing that the cigars in Fisk’s office are Baltar’s favored brand, immediately begins questioning the Vice President.
Lee. Dude. If Baltar were involved in Fisk’s murder, would he have waltzed up to the crime scene and casually asked the guards to let him in? He’s squirrelly and weird, but he’s not stupid. Stop posturing.
In the larger scheme of things the point of that particular Lee/Baltar interaction was to prove that no one trusts Baltar. That’s reiterated in a later scene when Roslin offers to let Baltar retire. Predictably, he turns the offer down, saying as he stalks out of Roslin’s office that he never wanted to be the Vice President before, but now that she’s trying to get him out there’s nothing he wants more. Baltar, you immature goober.
Lee’s investigation is progressing merrily; a bracelet he found in Fisk’s stash leads him back to Tigh, who traded it in exchange for fresh fruit and real alcohol. Sure, he was technically involved in the black market, Tigh explains, but it’s nothing everyone doesn’t do, Lee included. That doesn’t make it right, Lee responds. It just means a whole lot of people are wrong.
Lee, how can Tigh even hear you from all the way up on your high horse?
Lover boy gets a call from Shevon, who’s been beaten up by some black market thugs. Lee says he’ll take Shauna and Paya back to the Galactica to keep them safe, but before he can make good on his promise Fisk’s killer shows up and beats him half to death. Phelan, Mr. Black Market, then threatens to kill Shevon and Paya if Lee doesn’t let go of the investigation. When Lee wakes up from a bout of garrote wire-inducted unconsciousness he sees that Fisk’s killer has himself been executed, giving Lee extra incentive to call it a day.
Unfortunately Shevon and Paya have been kidnapped and taken to a ship called the Prometheus. Lee is told about the ship by Zarek, who pays Lee a visit because… because he wants to get blackmail on him? But he already knew about Lee and Shevon. To explain that he’s not involved in the black market… even though Lee never mentioned him as a suspect? Why is Zarek in this episode?
Ah. To fulfill the role fo Mr. Exposition. Got it.
When Lee visits the Prometheus he finds that it’s a literal black market. Seriously, it’s like an old-timey bazaar, but everything being sold there is illegal. BSG, I don’t think that’s how the black market actually works…
Lee’s escorted by a Generic Mafia Thug to Phelan, who tells him Shevon was working for him all along; she betrayed Lee because she needed medicine for her kid, who’s now about to be sold to some random pedophile. Still, Phelan defends the black market, saying it provides people with a necessary way to obtain things when legal means run dry. “It’s hard to find the moral high ground,” Phelan says, “when we’re all in the mud.”
Oh, don’t worry, Lee will figure out a way.
Lee offers Phelan a deal: Lee, Shevon, and Paya’s safety, plus an agreement to shut the black market down, in exchange for the Galactica not blowing the Prometheus and everyone in it out of the sky. Phelan refuses, so Lee gets his hands on a gun and points it at Phelan bald noggin. Phelan says Lee won’t shoot because he’s “not like me” (ugh, be more cliché, please), but Lee shoots him anyway, because he crossed a line with the kid stuff, darnit!
There’s an emotional confrontation between Lee and Shevon, where Ms. Plot Device Shevon tearfully explains that Lee wants her to be his Flashback Woman, but she can’t be, because she’s just not her! This is so soap opera, I just can’t.
Lee tells Adama and Roslin that Fisk’s murder has been resolved and that he’s given the black market permission to exist under the condition that the military will be keeping a very close eye on it. Roslin doesn’t like it, but once Adama backs him up there’s not much she can do. Still… shouldn’t the decision on whether to allow a massive criminal enterprise that effects the military and civilian parts of the fleet be made by more than one person? Maybe the Quorum—you know, the representative government—should be consulted? So it’s not just Lee “Arbiter of Morality” Adama getting an impression and then acting on it on behalf of the rest of humanity?
I am so done with this episode.
Thankfully, the episode itself is almost done, too. Lee and Adama have a father-son chat, with Adama saying Lee’s been distant ever since he went free floating through space (which is a bit o’ character development that’s a little weird and random and cheesy, but whatever) and that he should’ve told him—his dad—about his escort girlfriend.
Also in this episode:
- There was a scene with Lee and Dee where the latter asked if their relationship was “going anywhere,” even though Dee’s dating Billy and there’s been no indication that Lee/Dee sexual tension was even a thing. Granted, a few episodes back there was this awkward moment when they almost kissed, but I just assumed it was some freaky side effect of Dee’s brain being blasted by Cylon static because what the frak where is this Lee/Dee stuff coming from it is so frakking stupid make it go awaaaaaay.
- I would just like to note my regret at the passing of Fisk, who was shaping up to be a cool character. Hell, at least Admiral Cain died in a good episode. To be killed off in an episode this bad is a whole new level of ignominy.
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