Saturday, February 04, 2006

Nowplaying Mag's Review of Black Market. Finally

Nowplaying Magazine has posted up their review for Black Market, which aired last week.

Battlestar Galactica - “Black Market”

Written by Scott Collura
Friday, 03 February 2006
As President Roslin returns to good health, she decides it’s time to take on some of the issues of the fleet that have been ignored in recent weeks. First up: the growing black market that has come to control many of the precious commodities that keep the Colonial survivors going. Obviously Roslin is on to something, as Fisk, the recently appointed commander of the Battlestar Pegasus, barely gets a chance to settle into his new job before being garroted by the sketchy underworld types who he apparently had dealings with – and ran afoul of. Roslin and Admiral Adama, wishing to quell this trend towards criminality before it overwhelms the fleet, assign the Admiral’s son Lee to investigate the situation, not realizing that the young Adama already has ties of his own to the mob.
I love this concept – Lee Adama, the golden-boy pilot, heir apparent to the great William Adama, the hero of heroes known as Apollo, has turned into somebody you’d find in a Raymond Chandler story. Ever since his brush with death a few episodes back, Lee has become one morose dude, and “Black Market” is Lee’s episode and Lee’s alone to allow exploration of this development, with very little in the way of B-story or subplots to distract from the character’s film noir-esque inquiry into the whos and hows of the black market. From his heretofore unknown liaison with a femme fatale and his pained memories of a lost love on Caprica to his grey-area resolution of the black market situation and his dubious final dealings with the mob boss, this is definitely not the smiley Richard Hatch Apollo of yesteryear.
Which isn’t to say that Richard Hatch isn’t here, because he is. Yes, Tom Zarek is conveniently and creepily onboard the ship where Lee’s lover – who’s also a hooker whose services Lee pays for, by the way – lives, and he of course has just the right information that Apollo needs to locate the scary Phelan (Bill Duke), the sort of underworld boss figure whose measured justification of his actions almost makes sense. As usual Zarek isn’t given quite enough to do here, but whereas his motivations last time we saw him in the two-parter “Home” were too obviously on the wayward side, here the writers have moved him back into the ambiguous ground between light and shadow. No one knows who Tom Zarek serves except for Tom Zarek.
Speaking of the self-serving, Vice President Baltar has taken a turn for the dark himself since last episode. No longer content to let others (real or otherwise) push him around, Baltar seems to have finally chosen a side in the Cylon-Colonial War other than his own. His tense confrontations with Lee and President Roslin in this episode show a side to the character we didn’t think he had.
But the guts of “Black Market” are found in Apollo’s story, in his discovery and semi-resolution of the titular situation as well as his attempts to deal with the regrets that he still has from his former life before the Holocaust. Some fans have been complaining lately that Battlestar Galactica is becoming too “flashback heavy,” but if those glimpses of the past (they’re practically non-narrative and almost literally flashes) continue to flesh out the characters as they do here and in last week’s episode, then I say keep flashing away. A-

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