Battlestar Galactica season 2 episode 14 review: Black Market

Easily one of the weakest episodes of Battlestar Galactica thus far, Black Market has the unenviable job of following some of season two's finest work...

2.14 Black Market

The Cylons are put aside again once more with Black Market, as Battlestar Galactica takes time out to explore a couple of the side effects of the life that the fleet have been living since they first left Caprica. It’s one of the more self-contained episodes of the show to date, but as usual, there’s still quite a lot to get your teeth into.

The focus for a good chunk of the episode is on Apollo, specifically the fallout from his slow drifting in space in the midst of the attack on the Cylon’s resurrection ship, and what looked like him giving up as he slowly ran out of oxygen. Since he was rescued, it seems he’s not been the same Apollo, and he’s already admitted that he wished he’d died out in space. And in Black Market, there are signs that he’s going off the rails.

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We meet him for the first time here in bed with Shevon, a young woman who has a daughter, with whom we assume Apollo is friendly. Only it’s not that kind of friendship, as is casually revealed when she asks him for extra for staying the night. Hmmmm.

The episode also offers the opportunity to bump off another of the crew of the Pegasus. I figured, just working through the economics of modern day TV, that when the Pegasus arrived and we suddenly had two crews, that there were going to be casualties. After all, it’s rare that a show’s budget, yet alone its scripts, can get away with suddenly doubling the cast roster. As such, here, Colonel Fisk is murdered, and Adama tasks Apollo with finding out why.

And here we discover one of those aforementioned side effects. Because with the shortage of vital and luxury goods, a heavy black market has sprung up on the fleet, and it’s something that Roslin disapproves of intensely. It’s also soon clear that Fisk is tied into the black market, and all roads seem to lead to the off-the-grid ship, the Prometheus. We’ve got the increasingly helpful Tom Zarek to thank for that tip, too – just where is his character heading, I wonder?

So off Apollo goes to Prometheus, having rejected the romantic interest of Dualla first, and the road soon leads him to a man called Phelan. Phelan is played by Bill Duke – Commando and Predator, anyone? – and he isn’t a nice character. He advises Apollo to stop asking questions, and then sets things up so that he has Fisk’s murderer and the required proof handed to him on a plate. The message here is simple: don’t poke your nose in.

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Just to add extra problems to the mix, Shevon – remember her? – has her daughter taken away, and Apollo eventually finds her locked up, ready for some of the less scrupulous clients that Phelan’s black market operation is looking to serve. Apollo pulls a gun in the end on Phelan, who taunts Apollo that he’d never shoot. Phelan, however, clearly hasn’t sat through the past few episodes, and the trigger is duly pulled. This leaves Apollo to deliver a speech that says the black market will be left alone, as long as boundaries are observed.

When he returns and reports the news, Roslin objects, but Adama backs Apollo. Meanwhile, Dualla has given up on Lee, and headed back to Billy instead. And Apollo looks as much of a screw up at the end of the episode as he appeared at the start.

To be fair, this is probably the weakest episode of the show I’ve seen to date, although it’s still not without merits. It feels a bit like padding, like a Lost flashback, rather than anything that substantially adds much, but it was still an entertaining enough 40-odd minutes. After all, when Galactica has a blip in form, it still manages to blast pretty much every other show off the screen.

Next? It’s Scar…