A new batch of Sagittaron refugees arrive on the Galactica, and with them comes a nasty but treatable disease. Unfortunately, the Sagittarons don’t want treatment, which leads to a tricky situation for Helo, who is in charge of the civilians aboard his ship, and a doctor accused of foul deeds.
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.
So here we are, at long last, the worst episode of the series. Most people bestow that dishonor on “Black Market,” which I can freely admit is a terrible episode, but even that failed noir isn’t as god-awful as this one.
I have two main complaints about this episode; the first one is that the villain just doesn’t make sense. He hates Sagittarons, everybody hates Sagittarons (even Dualla hates them and she is a Sagittaron), and he kills them to get them out of the way. By story logic standards that’s fair enough, but in this episode, he kills a Sagittaron who comes to him for treatment when there was medicine enough and he could have saved his life.
Later on in the episode, he kills a man, who was already past the point of no return in this illness and who refused treatment, because that man would have taken up resources that could have been used to save some more worthy. Hey loser, even poison is a resource, and you’re wasting it on people who are already dying.
See what I mean though? He’s complaining about using medicine on people who don’t want the medicine in the first place. Sounds like the only problem there is bad writing.
But that’s not what really bugs me here; “The Woman King” was written as a vehicle for Helo, who is probably the most consistently moral and upright character on the show. I love Helo for that, but I also think he works better as a sounding board for other characters. When he’s the star of the show, things get a bit hairy (and by hairy, I mean awful).
Michael Angeli, who wrote this episode and the fantastic “A Measure of Salvation,” does his favorite character a huge disservice by putting him front and center is this heavy-handed tale of racism and injustice, because in order to make Helo’s path seem clear, everyone else has to be an ass for the episode.
And I mean everyone. Tyrol, Lee Adama, Tigh, Admiral Adama, Dualla, Athena, Racetrack, Gaeta, Cottle, Cally all get painted by the racist brush this time around and it comes off as sloppy writing. Yeah, I can buy that this society continually looks down on Sagittarons and therefore our characters would harbor some racist feelings toward them, but it comes out of nowhere and is so over the top, you can tell it’s just a device from a hack writer.
Angeli has come a long, long way from this episode, but the awfulness will always linger in my mind. We deserved better, and so did our beloved characters.
One scene that really is a winner is a short one between the imprisoned Caprica Six and Athena. I love this show, and the writers clearly make an effort to craft believable and complex female characters, but still, scenes between women are pretty rare. These two Cylons who have crossed over to the other side share a unique bond, and it shows. Even in a crappy episode there’s usually a small silver lining.
All hail the return of Head Baltar!
The return of Tom Zarek, grand schemer, is less welcome.
Next up: “A Day in the Life”