Asta 2

Podcast for 'Black Market'



For anyone who doesn’t already know, Ron Moore strongly dislikes this episode (I'll say this for him, he takes *all* the blame for why it failed). I’d say he spent about 80% of the commentary telling us what didn’t work and why. He also mentions what he wanted to see and what his intentions were. It dawned on me about half way through the commentary what the problem was. Ron had about a million things he wanted to accomplish and it’s just not possible in forty three minutes of time. I mean, the man wanted to show us the corruption within the fleet while simultaneously depicting Lee’s journey into the Heart of Darkness. Yes, *that* Heart of Darkness with Phalen being Kurtz. Moving along….

* They wanted to give Lee a more complex personality since he’s usually depicted as the classic, clean-cut good guy. One problem is they didn’t get deep enough into his backstory, specifically, his unresolved issues with his past relationship and how it tortures him on a certain level. It never got beyond the teasing phase. (I think we can all agree that a lot never got past the teasing stage.)

* The prostitution element harkens back to the original series. He mentions the character Cassiopeia and how she was introduced on the show as a socialator.

* The Tigh/Lee scene is his favorite because he thinks it well represents what the series is about - interaction between characters, confronting ethical issues, and not taking the easy way out. Neither Lee nor Tigh is doing things above board.

* OK, as much as I would like to see more Lee/Dee interaction to explain their supposedly growing relationship there was a scene cut in which Dee follows Lee after he exits the raptor. Yes, she’s Stalker Girl! again. : ( She confronts him about what’s going on between them; he doesn’t want to talk and walks away. In the scene we did see, there was additional dialogue with Lee explaining himself more.

RM admits that none of the Lee/Dee scenes have gone deep enough. Why is Lee interested in her and vice versa? What is Dee to Lee in juxtaposition? What is she compared to Shevon and the girl from his past. His hope? His future? And they haven’t positioned her in a place where you are rooting for her. Great, now that you know that, do something about it!

* There was a subplot dropped involving Lee flying the raptor for the first time since the accident and that he had been avoiding doing so. (Actually, I’m glad this was dropped. The CAG afraid to fly???)

* The pedophilia angle was Ron’s idea. He felt that the way they had presented the black market, they hadn’t sold you on why it was a really bad situation. After all, people need things and the economic structure is shattered, so why would trading be illegal? So they presented us with kids being bought and sold. Yet, he also admits it’s a cheap shot he didn’t want to take.

* I’m really confused by Ron’s take on Lee shooting Phalen. He feels it’s the best part of the episode – the hero shooting the bad guy and the audience isn’t given anything to soften his actions. Er, accept Phalen is selling kids for sex.

* And Lee was supposed to be much darker, coming off more like Phalen. Ron, again, you may have not wanted to throw in the child sex ring.

* Interesting Point #1 – I’ve seen discussed in many an LJ why season 2 has not been as strong as season 1. Ron admits it’s been harder to maintain the same level of quality with a 20 episode season as they did with a 13 episode season in which each ep, in his opinion, turned out to be a gem. At the same time, he says that’s no excuse - he worked on 26 episodes of ‘Star Trek’ in a season. The goal now is to make sure season 3 doesn’t have any weak links.

* Interesting Point #2 – The Lee/Adama scene at the end which everyone thinks is great? It was the idea of Mark Stern…a Sci-Fi exec. HE wanted to see more father/son interaction. Yes folks, once again, the network knew best.


And this has nothing to do with the podcast, but something that dawned on me earlier today. I found it very telling that Lee chose to spend the night with Shevon. At some point in their ‘relationship’ it moved beyond sex and he became involved in a situation he did not anticipate. That’s not to say I think he was deluding himself into thinking they had a future as Shevon seemed to think he had, but Lee is desiring closeness and comfort – a connection with someone. He may not have realized it at the time, but he desires something more and I’ll take that as a hopeful sign that he’s slowly finding his way out of his despair.
  • Current Mood: stressed headachey
I saw your post last night regarding the podcasts, interviews, spoilers, etc. I don't blame you. And this podcast was particularly tough to get through. I wanted to say 'OK, Ron, just nail yourself to the cross already.'
The Tigh/Lee scene is his favorite because he thinks it well represents what the series is about - interaction between characters, confronting ethical issues, and not taking the easy way out. Neither Lee nor Tigh is doing things above board.

I think this is true in principle. Alas, there was not good execution in this episode, because we saw physical evidence of Tigh trading in the black market (plus it jibes well with his previous behavior and his wife), but were told Lee did without any evidence.

Knowing he was trying to do so much in a single episode certainly explains a lot, though. As does this:

Ron admits it’s been harder to maintain the same level of quality with a 20 episode season as they did with a 13 episode season in which each ep, in his opinion, turned out to be a gem.

It is no excuse, and I'm glad he sees that, but creators do have years to dream of their first few plotlines and much less time to come up with the next ones.

It's so funny that the SciFi suits are pushing for more father/son interaction. Don't they usually want more scantily clad babes and hawt sex? This is at least different!
but were told Lee did without any evidence

OK, I'm glad I'm not the only one who was confused by that. Were we supposed to think he'd traded, like, baby livers for that doll or something?

This is at least different!

No kidding. Huh.
Were we supposed to think he'd traded, like, baby livers for that doll or something?

A delicacy on Caprica perhaps? ;p Seriously. Lee is trading for children's toys and life saving medicine. Tigh is stocking the liquor cabinet. Lee can keep his air of superiority as far as I'm concerned.
Maybe I just missed something, but I wasn't even sure Lee had traded for the medicine... I thought that that's why Shevon sold him out, for the medicine. (Not that Lee wouldn't have done it, just that she beat him to it.) I only watched it once, though, so it's very possible that I'm misinterpreting.

In any case, either way, you're right--Tigh and Lee are hardly on equal footing here.
I think in one of his conversations with Shevon he mentions doing something to help, implying he'd get her medicine. Of course, for all we know, he could have just gotten antibiotics from Cottle. :/
Actually, I thought he was surprised to see the medicine there, because it seemed like he picked up the bottle to see what it was and wondered about it. He did say he wanted to do something to help, but there wasn't any indication whether or not he was able to; I think it's just as likely that Shevon got the drugs from Phelan before Lee had a chance to get them for her. In an episode less muddled, that might have been clearer though. I could be wrong.
Hmmm, now you've got me wondering. I thought in one of the flashbacks, he mentioned something about helping her. However, when he picks up the medicine bottle, Shevon makes a comment about getting the drugs from a friend. In Lee's final confrontation with Phalen, a roughed up Shevon says she had to tell him what he wanted to know. I assumed her sharing of knowledge was a recent development after being beaten up, but, now that I think about it, she could have traded the information for meds weeks before.

Good grief, something this simple should not be so complicated!
because we saw physical evidence of Tigh trading in the black market (plus it jibes well with his previous behavior and his wife), but were told Lee did without any evidence.

Yeah, it was very hard for me to put Lee on equal footing with Tigh. OK, Lee was paying for sex, but that's legal. He got Paya a doll, which I'd hazzard to guess he wasn't trading guns for. And he obtained drugs that likely saved the childs life. Tigh's trading for booze. I still think Lee has the moral high ground there.

creators do have years to dream of their first few plotlines and much less time to come up with the next ones.

That's one reason I'm willing to cut the show some slack. Even during Buffy's best years, the show had it's fair share of clunkers and some of those ('Dead Man's Party' anyone?), unlike 'Black Market', fill me with rage.

It's so funny that the SciFi suits are pushing for more father/son interaction. Don't they usually want more scantily clad babes and hawt sex?

Hee. Well, they already have Tricia who is often scantily clad, so now the must fight for content! ;)

Asta, I figure you'd know this.

Do they do the 13 episodes in the same amount of time as they do 20? That is, is it that the arc is longer and they've been trying to figure out how to pace things, or is it that they have to do more in the same timeframe?

There really were a number of things I liked about this episode, but overall I was really, really, really disappointed.
There production schedule is longer for a twenty episode season. I *think* each ep takes somewhere between 7 and 10 days to shoot depending on whether they have to go out on location or not. The first ten eps were shot in the spring of 2005. Then the cast and crew (minus the writers) were given a month break before filming the final ten. I do think, perhaps, they were a bit thrown by the request for additional episodes. Ron may have known what he wanted to do with a 13 episode season, then had to find stories to fill out the additional commitment.

I liked 'Black Market' well enough, but, yeah, it could have been much, much better. Mediocre BSG is still ten times better than most of the crap on TV.
I'm all for giving Lee some more storylines and fleshing out his backstory. But I'm sorry, they were never going to make him like Phalen without being completely inconsistent with everything we've seen him do and believe in so far. Shades of gray are good, but let's at least stay near the same side of the spectrum.

I do hope they do a better job with the Lee/Dee stuff going forward, if they've realized some of their mistakes there.

And I'm not too freaked out that this season has sputtered a bit. I think they can find their way again. I mean, look at S2 of both ST:TNG and X-Files. It's not like it's unrecoverable.

Ron, again, you may have not wanted to throw in the child sex ring.

This made me giggle insanely for some reason. I really need to find a way to work that sentence into everyday conversation.
I never felt Lee was a boy scout (which I've seen some people refer to him as). He can sulk, be cruel, judgemental, repressed, quick to anger and self-loathing. He has more than his fair share of flaws. But he's also an idealist willing to fight and die for what he believes in. When push comes to shove, he'll always put himself second. It's because of those aspects of his charcater that Lee Adama can never be judged against someone like Phalen.

I really need to find a way to work that sentence into everyday conversation.

He's no Kent McCord either!
Wow...lot to cover and might have to make 2 posts.

First off the plot and story wasn't setup right. Most viewers are used to ambigious hints given in each episode that leads to something later on. This episode seems to assume one was reading spoilers, early drafts, or casting sides to fill-in-the-blanks and know who the new characters were and what they represented, especially in the flashbacks. The casual viewer was left scratching their heads wondering who all these new people were and how they are interrelated to the main character.

A casual sentence or two when Lee was in bed with the hooker reminising about his former girlfriend(?) that was possibly pregnant(?) would have been sufficient. Then when the flashbacks started, nobody would have been lost. Only questions left would be why Lee didn't chase after her and what his reasons were for the breakup. That could be told later.

Personally, I would have kept Fisk and Phelan around for awhile. Both had shown the potential to be very complex characters that could have been substituted for the Cylons in future episodes. Phelan tangling with Zarek over control of the black market would have been good stuff. Underworld politics and dirty dealings are always interesting and they could gain the ability to influence elections or end up running the economy. RDM keeps the bio-cylons around, why not humans? The viewer doesn't even have the chance to get to know and hate the "bad" humans before they are killed off.

Selling kids to some syndicate is commonplace in poor countries, especially daughters. Showing how desperate the situation is for some people and the difficult decisions they have to make in order to survive. They may feel their kids may have a better chance to survive and at least eat well if they were sold off or even turn into the main provider (also happens in poor countries where money is sent home). The writers could take some of the edge off by permitting the parents keep in contact with their children or even make it a black market unwritten policy for the childred to sleep at home. This still would have shown an uncomfortable slice of civilian life and the possible planting of the seeds of discontent and loss of hope.

Shooting Phelan didn't make sense for a couple of reasons. Phelan was smart enough to give up Fisk's killer, so why did he suddenly become dumb by telling Lee he wouldn't stop the child trade? Even if he wasn't going to stop it, he could have just lied and moved that operation to other ships. The prison ship, Astral Queen, would be an ideal venue (the military said the prisoners would run the ship as they saw fit with minimum interference) and setup Zarek as the fall guy. Phelan's muscle *appear* to be former prisoners since they are seen at the end of the episode following and protecting Zarek, the hinted new boss of the black market.

In any case, the Phelan character wasn't developed enough, like Kurtz was, to make the killing him either from an order, some basic change in Lee's ethics and morals, or if he just felt like doing it. Lee didn't end or greatly curtail the black market. He just wanted certain items to be taken off the list. The rest is fair game. If Lee was to be Capt Willard (Apocalypse Now), then where was the setup to show him going down the dark path or becoming even more depressed?

There was some sparkage between Lee and Dualla in an earlier episode, but nothing to explain why Dualla would ask Lee if anything was going on between them. Unless the rules were changed off screen it would have to be secret anyways since both are in the military. Deleted scenes are great but most don't consider them canon and I'm not sure if adding them in would have explained anything better. Believe the writers are going to use Dualla as the woman-at-the-right-time-and-in-the-right-place for Lee.

Dualla certainly is the empathy character in the show who knows the pulse of the crew and ship and is well liked and respected by everybody. So maybe Lee needs somebody like that right now to lean his shoulder on and spill the beans. Dualla becomes the psychoanalyst girlfriend that helps Lee find his way and maybe growup. Afterall, she did make Adama see his mistakes and put aside his pride to reassemble the fleet. Maybe this mess will be straightened out in the next few episodes and a clearer picture will be revealed.

The Lee/Adama scene at the end raises a few questions. Adama's knowledge about the hooker hints that he has a grapevine to the black market's activities. Does Adama's backing of Lee's decision to allow the black market to continue mean that some prior deal was made by Adama with those in charge or in a position of influence in the black market? Things to ponder.

Dualla certainly is the empathy character in the show who knows the pulse of the crew and ship and is well liked and respected by everybody. So maybe Lee needs somebody like that right now to lean his shoulder on and spill the beans. Dualla becomes the psychoanalyst girlfriend that helps Lee find his way and maybe growup. Afterall, she did make Adama see his mistakes and put aside his pride to reassemble the fleet

For the reasons you sited I think Dee could be very good for Lee at this time. He needs someone with whom he doesn't have a very complicated past with and is willing to listen and help him work through his crap. We've seen her be a very calming influence and he needs that right now. I just wish we had seen more interaction between the two to get why there is an attraction there (other than the obvious of course ;-). And I have no problem with Lee/Dee in the short term if they can sell me on it. I don't expect Lee to head back to the black market to look for an engagement ring. ;)
This episode seems to assume one was reading spoilers, early drafts, or casting sides to fill-in-the-blanks and know who the new characters were and what they represented, especially in the flashbacks. The casual viewer was left scratching their heads wondering who all these new people were and how they are interrelated to the main character.

I've gone back and forth on being spoiled (I tend to obsess about things so worrying how something might turn out on screen does my nerves no good ;), but for the last few episodes I felt it helped tremendously to be spoiled. Largely because what was intended did not clearly come across on screen. Lee's near suicide in RS Pt2 would have made even less sense had I not known about the pregnant (?) girlfriend who died on Caprica and Lee's guilt regarding it that was to be revealed in BS. And Jamie had said in interviews that Lee believed he had been abandoned and left for dead in space which was completely contradicted by Dee repeatedly trying to contact him. In 'Black Market', one would have been clueless as to who the blonde on Caprica was until Shevon's revelation in her last act analysis of Lee (which I didn't even feel she got right - Lee knew they had no future together, he's not delusional).

I had no problem with Phelan being killed. I love the secondary characters on BSG, but I don't think at this time we need to add to them. However, I do agree that Phalen's death lacks sense. At the most basic level, how did he expect to take on the entire military? And had he went through with his threats to kill Lee, he didn't realize that Adama wouldn't stop until he was dead? The Prometheus may have been on the fringes of the fleet, but it wasn't invisible. You're right, the smart thing to do would have been to promise to put a halt to the trafficking of children and the withholding of drugs and he could have continued to run his 'business' and, more importantly, live.

Fisk I wish had not been killed so abruptly. Not only did we just go through the death of a commander with Cain, but he had shown some really interesting shades of grey. In RS Pt2, he steps in to stop the beating of Helo and Tyrol because, as Colonial officers, they deserve respect. Yet, he sees nothing wrong with the rape and torture of Gina because he doesn't view her as a person. I would have liked to see what he would have been like as commander of Pegasus and how he may have rationalized the black market and it's necessity.
reposted for spelling errors (GAH NEED CAFFEINE)
* And Lee was supposed to be much darker, coming off more like Phalen. Ron, again, you may have not wanted to throw in the child sex ring.


The whole child sex ring thing threw a lot of the rest of the story off. If they had just not added it, I think it would've been a stronger episode. I was rooting for Lee to shoot the bastard after we find out what's planned for the kids- if he hadn't, I would've been worried. Lee would've come off much darker had the child sex ring never have been part of the black market, and he just shot the guy just 'cos. It would've portrayed him compromising his values because of his mental/emotional state- and for Lee- Mr. Goodie Two-Shoes and Defender of Democracy- that would've been a dark place.
Re: reposted for spelling errors (GAH NEED CAFFEINE)
Being a craptacular speller, never feel a need to repost. ;)

The child sex angle was a sort of get out of jail free card. I can't believe Lee is going to lose any sleep over preventing children from being sold for sex. On the other hand, I really had no problem with Lee shooting him without that revelation. Phalen may have not had the blood on his hands, but he ordered two people murdered. Essentially, Lee executed a murderer something that likely would have happened to Phalen had he been brought to trial. Still, the fact that Lee has now allowed himself to be judge, jury, and executioner is a stunning contrast to the Lee Adama of season 1.
Oh fabulous! I really appreciate your summary. I have zero desire to listen to the podcast myself after hearing this.

I think sometimes it can be good *not* to know too much about the creative process... it's interesting to know he felt it didn't work but also frustrating. Still I come from the Fandom of Frustration (SV), so it's got a ring of familiarity to it! ;)

I’ll take that as a hopeful sign that he’s slowly finding his way out of his despair.
Oh yeah! He's got coping skills and reaching out to someone this much, no matter if it ended up messy, is a good sign. But will he be ok now he's lost that? I fret, but I'm also pretty sure he can handle it. He's very high-functioning, even at his most troubled (so I'm also glad they canned the 'afraid to fly' plot!).