Battlestar Galactica: Black Market

Commander Fisk, leader of the de-Cained Pegasus, is murdered aboard his ship, and Lee Adama is called in to investigate. Lee’s discovery of a thriving black market leads to some shocking developments and a personal low  for our golden boy.


A note to first time BSG watchers; these aren’t the reviews for you. I plan to write about the show with the ending in mind. If you haven’t seen the show, you will be spoiled on stuff that happens at the end. You’ve been warned.



It’s not often I write that about my beloved show, but “Black Market,” one of the most reviled episodes of the entire series, deserves it.


The story itself is not really that awful. In the Fleet’s situation, I absolutely believe that a criminal organization would spring up like that. I believe that most of the *good* guys would be involved in it somehow. I even buy the argument that some folks in the fleet would be looking to buy children. And while it comes out of nowhere, Jamie Bamber’s performance sells the idea of Lee’s lost love/child (and subsequent infatuation with a prostitute and her fake daughter).


That part all makes sense; what irritates me to no end is that the writers took the most clichd route they could to tell this story.


The little guy with the heart of gold goes up against the big, bad mob boss and manages to save the girl and make life for everyone that much better, all on his own.


Yawn; it’s an old story, and the BSG folks do put their own dark spin on it, but the whole episode just feels tired.


However, it’s not a complete waste.


Lee Adama has always been a tricky character to write about. He’s a young man who has probably spent his entire life in his dad’s shadow and, as our villain here points out, he’s also spent most of his life trying to be as different as possible from his larger-than-life father.


Of course, children can never completely escape becoming their parents, and Lee has a lot in common with his dad, but as “Caprica” shows us, he’s a lot like his grandfather. Lee is incredibly idealistic, easily swayed by a good argument, a forgiver, and good man who is not afraid of getting dirty to do what’s right (such as executing a mob boss).


In the beginning of the series, he began as a whiny ingrate; at the end, he’s a true leader who embodies the best of both his parents (Adama’s compassion and Roslin’s pragmatism).  After his *death* in “Resurrection Ship, Part Two,” his journey to his new self takes place mostly in the background, but he earns it just the same.


Also of note here is the simmering tension between Roslin and Baltar. The two of them have declared war on each other, and in both cases, the other party is unaware of the change. Roslin tries to get him to resign the vice presidency and he refuses, setting up his campaign for the office he will win.  


In better episodes to come, we’ll get to see more of this. Can’t wait.


Last bit before I leave you for the week is how Tom Zarek looks in this episode. He and Lee have always had this bond born out of idealism and hope for a better world (Lee will even attend Zarek’s execution down the road), and Zarek is not shy about using that connection for his advantage.


Here, he tells Lee the truth (that the mob boss baddie is looking to sweep Fisk’s murder under the rug by delivering the murderer to Lee), but Zarek being Zarek, he neglects to mention his own involvement in the aforementioned black market goings-on. In fact, since Lee unceremoniously executes the man in charge, Zarek is free to move in and start running the place how he wants to. Zarek is just that type of guy; shifty, calculating and patient.


I’m betting that in a few seasons (“A Disquiet Follows My Soul” to be precise), when Adama (bluffs) threatens to reveal Zarek’s wrongdoings to the fleet at large, these are the dealings that Zarek doesn’t want getting out. As Lee proved here, every idealist has a dark side.


Next up: “Scar”

  • Jim

    Every idealist has his dark side; and every great show has its “Black Market” (or “Stranger in a Strange Land.”

    Lee’s lost love/child and his infatuation with the prostitute and her daughter really annoyed/angered me (mainly because of it coming out of nowhere), but I’ll say this: At least the prostitute wasn’t played by Bai Ling! :)