ARC 5: “This is what happens when you have to make 20 episodes a season”
EPISODES COVERED: “Epiphanies”, “Black Market”, “Scar”, “Sacrifice”
I will begin this review in medias res. Does it help? Does it improve your reading experience? Does it give you Breaking Bad flashbacks? Speaking of flashbacks, let us now flashback to the time when I began this review, spend a few unnecessary minutes there, do it again at various intervals throughout the review, and then assume that it’ll make everything more complex and intriguing moving forward. I’ll see you back here in 42 minutes after you’ve wasted your time.
You see, coming after such a strong arc as the Pegasus run, I expected a step down, but I never expected a step down off of a cliff. There are lots of things to like in these four episodes, but whatever enjoyment you may have is inevitably crushed by the weight of disappointment resulting from questionable writing. I, for example, understand Roslin’s decision to abort Sharon’s baby given the circumstances, and even though it’s a decision that people justifiably disagree with, I like the way it lends some more believability to Roslin as a flawed human being; there’s also some interesting stuff in there about what she ordered destroyed eventually coming back to give her more life. However, Roslin also had an affair with Adar, and I don’t give a shit.
The “coming back to give her more life” part also reeks of dramatic manipulation, a reset to the status quo after the writers wrote themselves into a corner. The amount of effort they put into this resolution amounts to “Well, we can’t kill off a main character, and we’re a science fiction show, so how about we have SCIENCE save her? Genius!” It’s rushed, it’s contrived, and it’s as stupid as Baltar giving Pegasus Six a nuclear warhead. But hey, I get where they’re going here. Bombs are scary, right? That should keep the audience members on the edges of their seats ’till next week. Drama 101, folks.
Of course, there’s a nice bit of foreshadowing also at play here, considering the nuclear bomb foreshadows the implosion of the show in the very next episode. Widely considered the worst episode of BSG, “Black Market” is an hour of being even worse than expected; not only does it pull an entire backstory, an entirely new Lee Adama, and an entire black market out of thin air, but it also sucks. I realize that’s not a very professional critique, but I can’t fathom how the show expects me to take it seriously when it suddenly introduces Prostitute and Random Lookalike and Threatened Child #1 and Threatened Child #2-too many just for the sake of it. Oh, and kill off one of the more interesting supporting characters–Fisk–while you’re at it, show. I certainly don’t care if that renders the Pegasus side of things essentially useless moving forward; it was only my favorite arc of the series thus far, after all.
I’m interested in the concept of a Black Market, though, considering how the hell does one even spring up here? Is there a new monetary system I don’t know about? Is there actually a hidden show in there, in which there are lots more than 50,000 people who aren’t getting chased by Cylons? This concept was doomed to fail from the start, and evidently, the writers agree. That explains the ending, which basically states “Well, we give up, so let’s just make everything go back to normal now.”
The next episode, “Scar”, is a significant step up (how can you get worse, anyway?), and there are a multitude of intriguing ideas in there: the final scene is poignant, there are clear parallels between the Starbuck-Kat dynamic and the earlier Starbuck-Tigh dynamic, and I like the Starbuck-Helo interactions. It’s nicely executed, and yet…I just don’t buy the Starbuck-Kat tension, which seems to have sprung up from nowhere; less so than “Black Market”, of course, but everything just seems off.
“Sacrifice”, on the other hand, just isn’t really interesting. I’m a sucker for hostage situation episodes, but especially coming after a run of mediocre episodes, this one is extra generic to me. Billy’s death makes for a really nice scene with Roslin in the morgue, but aside from that, it’s “shocking” for the sake of it. That love triangle they were attempting with Lee and Billy and Dualla? I don’t care for it. I also don’t care for the predictable way the hostage situation plays out, but hey, at least the episode doesn’t utilize some BS flashback narrative again. Or, maybe it does. I really don’t remember, which is great because I’d rather forget about these episodes.
GRADES: “Epiphanies” (C-), “Black Market” (D+), “Scar” (C+), “Sacrifice” (C)
-At least we have the soundtrack for “Black Market”. That’s the best part of the episode. Also, kudos to Moore for expressing his own disappointment with the episode.
-Katee Sackhoff’s performance in “Scar” is fantastic, I’ll give it that.
Photo credit: Syfy, Battlestar Galactica