|"Black Market" Podcast|
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|Ronald D. Moore|
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Hello, and welcome to the podcast for episode 14, "Black Market." I'm Ronald D. Moore, executive producer and developer of the new Battlestar Galactica. And today's podcast we're gonna be do something a little bit different, actually, than the norm. We're going to be talking about an episode that I don't particularly like (Chuckles) and discussing maybe the reasons why it doesn't work and the problems that I think are inherent in this particular episode. I think I should also make it clear from the outset that the criticisms and implied criticisms of this episode really should not be laid at the doorstep of the production team, or the cast, or crew, or the writing staff, or anybody else. It's really my responsibility as head writer and one of the executive producers. The decisions that led to this episode being something that I'm not as enamored with really can all be tracked back to decisions that I made at various stages in the creative process. So this is really a- a podcast devoted to self-examination and self-criticism, more than anything else, and going through why this particular episode doesn't seem like it fits as well within the- the pantheon of what we've established.
Ok. Here we are at the top of the show. This particular opening was not scripted this way. This was the ending. And it is- it's a flash-forward to the end of the show, with Lee facing down Bill Duke's character [Phelan] and the question of whether he's going to shoot him or not and then this provides, essentially, the frame for the entire episode. But this was not as scripted. This came out- this move of putting the confrontation of Lee pointing the gun at Phelan came out of desperation, more than anything else. I saw the cut of "Black Market" initially and I was depressed. I wasn't happy. I was really disappointed in the show and myself and what we had done and didn't feel like the episode really had anything going for it. That it started too slowly, that the initial scenes were not engaging, the story wasn't grabbing me and so one of the ways that we set out to try to fix the episode and to get the best episode that we could. I came up with this idea of, "Well let's take..." It's a classic device. This is not rocket science. It's take the end and put a piece of the end at the head of the episode so that you tease the drama. You're essentially setting up a jeopardy situation that's intriguing and compelling, one would hope, and let that pull the audience into the show so that they will then hang on- "Well, what was that confrontation about? Who was the Bill Duke character? Why is Lee pointing that gun? Is he gonna shoot him?" And that kind of tension undergirds the rest of the episode. I think the theory works, surprisingly. (Chuckles). It does provide a certain amount of tension throughout the episode. In fact it's one of the few things the episode has going for it, in my opinion, is that we do have that underlying question of, "What is that confrontation about and when are we going to get to it?"
The storyline came out of a lot of pretty interesting discussions in the writers' room about the black market and what would be happening in the Fleet. Our discussions centered around the notion of, "What is really happening out there economically? Where are people getting things? Who are they turning to? What criminal elements crop up at some point, if not well before now, at least it could be acknowledged now? And how do the people, and the government, and in the military deal with these kinds of problems? There is no (quote-unquote) "police force" that's been established in the Rag Tag Fleet and it doesn't seem realistic that there could've been a police force established in the Rag Tag Fleet to date. So Adama and the Galactica and now Pegasus are really the only enforcement that they have. And what happens when people on- the new arrivals on Pegasus having their own agendas, their own backstories, their own motivations, what happens when you move them into this mix and maybe the new man at the top gets involved with the black market?
I think one of the difficulties of the show, conceptually, is that the black market is a difficult concept, in this particular world, to get your mind around. In a world of Galactica where the Rag Tag Fleet is out on its own, there is no socioeconomic structure beyond the Rag Tag Fleet. There's no government. There's no social system. There's no nothing. Other than these particular ships. Isn't everything black market? Isn't everything to be bartered? One starts to wonder what the distinctions are that Laura is upset about. We gravitate towards place where we said, "Well the criminal element and the black market is essentially taking essential goods and holding them hostage and extorting other goods from other people and some kind of system of distribution for rations and for goods is being upset because people are starting to exert undue pressures in certain directions." It's a heady, intellectual argument. It doesn't have the visceral nature of, "Well, there's the thriving drug trade," or "There's a white slavery ring," or something like that. Which isn't really where we wanted to go. It was supposed to delineate forth the socioeconomic difficulties that the Rag Tag Fleet is dealing with while also at its core focusing, of course, on Lee Adama. This is a "Lee story". And the insp- the place that the "Lee story" starts from in this telling is from Lee classicly going up the river. That's an allusion to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness which is the basis for "Apocalypse Now". It's a model that is tossed about a lot in writers' rooms in a lot of industry of discussion has to do with... My apologies. You're probably picking up a great deal of gardening noise today and sorry, that's the risk you run with these podcasts. Anyway, Heart of Darkness is one of those archetypes that is tossed about a lot in writers' rooms where you're taking a character and he is either literally or metaphorically going up a river of darkness, getting darker and darker and going to places that the character never really thought that he would go. And so this is Lee's journey up the river, ultimately finding Kurtz, as it were, the Bill Duke character. I think we were all in love with the notion on a character level, well, I'll get back to that. I was gonna talk about Lee and the prostitute.
This sequence is- this is what's wrong with the episode. This is far too conventional. I think if I had to sum up what's wrong with this episode in my opinion, it's that this time we went for a much more tv, conventional tale and execution. The murder of Fisk with the gadget. The reveal of the villain smoking the cigar. You feel like this is a scene from another series. And I think that's what disturbs me the most is that it just- this doesn't feel as much like Galactica as it should. This feels a little bit more of television. Which sounds like a slap against television and it kinda is I mean a lot of television is very comfortable, very predictable. The stories are quite conventional. You tune into most hour-long dramas on the air and you know where the story's going as soon as you tune in. And there's a- there's a familiarity and a comfort to that- that audiences look forward to on some level.
In our case, I don't think that comfort and familiarity really work for us. I don't think it's helpful or useful that the audience knows where this story is going from the opening moments. I don't think it really is in keeping with what the show tries to do- it tries to be. Now, that said, we struggled mightily to try to bring a lot of unexpected quality to this show. Part of that struggle was to give Lee a more complex personality, to delve into darker waters with Lee using the escape sequence, rather, the ejection sequence from "Resurrection Ship" and his experience there as the jumping off point into his own journey, and to discover things like Lee has this girl. That was in the teaser and I love, I do like the idea that Lee is with this girl, and you're playing, he's got the girl, and she has a daughter, and it seems very sweet, and then he pays her at the end. And the idea that there's this- there prostitution is very common in the Fleet, and that it was probably legal back in the Colonies, before the attack, and that it's not a big- it's not a major deal. It's not like, "Oh my God! Lee is seeing a hooker." It's just dealt with.
In some sense it goes to, actually, ironically enough, an element of the original Battlestar Galactica series. There was a character named Cassiopeia or Casssiopeia, depending on how you like to pronounce it, played by Laurette Sprang, who, of course, every adolescent boy that watched it in 1978, including me, had the hots for her, and she was what was called a socialator, which was essentially a prostitute, and it was legal on one colony and wasn't legal on another, and then she came aboard Galactica and became Starbuck's girlfriend. So we used that as a jumping off point, that ok, it's legal. It's something interesting about that in the world, and that Lee, the classic clean-cut good guy, is actually seeing this hooker on the side, and has been for a while. The implication is that he's gotten caught up with her, is having a relationship with her that he did not anticipate and is actually getting emotionally involved, and that becomes a vulnerability within the episode. That all seemed interesting. And what made it even more interesting, conceptually, was the idea that through this story there would be flashbacks not just with her, but that would actually delineate a relationship in Lee's backstory that we hadn't even hinted at. That there was a girl. That before the attack Lee was a man and Lee had relationships and why is that a surprise? That there was a girl that we didn't know about and that we would get hints of that and there would be images of her and (clears throat) there would be this whole other tale that would start to come up and we'd realize that Lee actually left somebody behind. That there was this tragic story of Lee and this woman and she got pregnant and he wasn't ready and kinda panicked in the moment or didn't react well when she told him and she left and he has all these regrets because then the world ended, quite literally, and that relationship was never resolved and is a hanging- it's a thread of Lee's life that hang- that dangles there and tortures him on a certain level and is informing his relationship with the girl in the present.
It all sounds good and it sounded interesting when we were talking about it. I think the problem is that when all is said and done we really didn't get deep enough into it. We didn't really use- we have these two contradictory impulses going through in this episode. One is the plot, which is the "up the river" aspect of it. Here's Lee, in this scene, Fisk's quarters. He's uncovering clues, clasically, he's pocketing a clue. Here's a suspect. There's a procedural aspect to this show that is driving the plot forward and sending Reef up the river. But on the other hand, we're trying to tell this more texturalized, complicated backstory about one of our central characters and peeling away layers of the onion as it were and discovering things about him as we go along and I'm still not quite sure on some level why that doesn't gel better than it does. 'Cause usually you try to marry up a good solid plot with a complicated, interesting character dynamic and usually that's a formula for success. In this particular exercise it feels like they- it's not that they really fight one another because, in strictly structural terms, the scenes lay out quite nicely in how it advances. I think it's more in how we've executed this and how we've actually chosen to tell those particular stories. The procedural aspect is not quite complicated enough. We don't quite have enough twists and turns on the procedural level to make the plot rocket forward and to give you enough, "Oh my God! I wasn't expecting that to happen," kind of moments to make the procedural aspect work. And on the character side of the street the revelations of Lee and his past are- never quite get beyond the teasing phase. In other words we tease you with knowledge of him seeing a prostitute. We tease you with knowledge that there's a blonde other woman in his past, but the tease never quite leads you to consummation. You never quite get at the satisfaction of truly having gone through a plot that you had no idea where it was gonna go and you're shocked where it ended up. And you're not really sitting back and going, "My God. Lee Adama is nothing like I thought he was." It just doesn't- it falls in between. It's classically standing on the two chairs and falling in between both of them.
And again, I have to keep going out of my way to say this is not really the fault of the writer, Mark Verheiden wrote this episode. He's our co-executive producer. He's an incredibly talented- he's essentially my right-hand man on the writing staff. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mark and his abilities and his write and- (to himself) his write... (chuckles) his draft and the rewrites of "Black Market" were guided by me. I gave notes on these episode- on this episode and I was very clear on what I wanted done. And I was very happy with it. That's the other aspect of this that sometimes is surprising. That you get happy with a script and you think it's working really well and you get it vaguely, more than vaguely, there were points in the process of this one where I was a bit defensive about criticism of this. I thought this was a- quite a good episode. And then you get to the place where you watch and you go, "Oh my God. What was I thinking?" In fact I actually alluded to that in a blog I wrote around the time that I was watching. The time that I wrote- I'm sorry- the time that I watched the first cut of this episode really depressed me and I was very unhappy with myself. I was unhappy with what I had done as executive producer. What the piece of material that we had produced and realized that all the decisions, all the fundamentals of why this show didn't work and what was wrong with it could all be laid at my doorstep and I wrote- there was a blog where I alluded to the fact that I was really unhappy and "Oh my God! This is terrible." I didn't really want to say that it was at that point, 'cause you know hope springs eternal and you hope that you're gonna turn it around and get it to a great place. But now the truth can be told.
In any case, all these scenes went through a great deal of revision and editing. We played around with structure quite a bit, where the flashbacks would take place, what order they were shown in. Oh. I should say that this scene, with Tigh and Lee, is my favorite scene in the episode and other people on the show agree. This scene works really well, 'cause this scene is actually Battlestar Galactica. This is two of our characters coming into confrontation over something personal. It deals with actual ethical issues. Tigh and Ellen and Ellen's involvement in the black market and she's getting things for Tigh, who is a senior officer in Galactica. There's a whiff of corruption here and what does it mean? We're not gonna- we don't take the easy way out. Tigh isn't shocked at what his wife is doing and promises never to do it again. He understands what she's doing. There is an implication that, "Who knows what else Ellen Tigh is doing with Commander Fisk?" I'm not sure that's a picture I want in my mind, but, ok. And Lee is also a bit dirty in this scene. Lee is also engaged in things that are probably not that above-board. There's an implication that Lee helped get the medicine for the little girl and probably went outside official channels. And it's a personal, emotional, confrontation with people with conflicted and conflicting motiviations. And I think this scene worked particularly well. It's also extremely well acted and shot. And this is the- this scene changed very little in the editorial process. We were always proud of this scene and we always liked this scene and this would always be the moment when you would start- look at that. That look on Tigh's face. That speaks volumes about who that man is and the character of that man and he's a complicated, complex individual and you can love and hate him in the very same moment. And it's really- Michael Hogan has really developed a singular character within this series and within science fiction in general. There's- I don't know who to compare the character of Tigh to at this point. And it's in large measure due to what Michael brings to it.
And I should also just say, again, being critical of the show- the cast never lets you down. The cast delivers. The cast takes the material, elevates the material. The cast is right there for you. So it's really, again, all the things we're talking about go back to the script and why the script isn't working.
This scene comes out of nowhere a little bit, but there was another scene that we cut where Dualla was following Lee out of the Raptor and Lee arrived back on Galactica earlier and they had a similar conversation in that she's hinting that there was something going on between them. He didn't want to talk about it. He was caught up in his own thing, his own demons about the girl that he left behind, literally, and the girl he left behind back on Caprica and we started to repeat scenes in a bad way.
This is interesting in that Dualla says, puts her cards on the table to an extent and says, "What's the deal, Captain- Major? What do you really want here?"(whispers) Oh, I didn't mean to say Major because that'll be a (raises voice) surprise later. Whatever. We cut and recut this scene to give- there was a lot more dialogue here where Lee explained himself more, talked more in general terms about themselves, but ultimately got to the same place where he didn't know what to say and we chopped all of that dialogue and stripped the scene down to its emotional essence. You're not quite clear what's going on with these two, neither are they, that kinda works. But again, it's not really getting deep enough. It's not really getting to a place where we're explaining, or at least hinting, or making you think about what is the nature of the relationship between Dualla and Lee. Why is Lee interested in her and vice versa? What does it mean to him as a character? We had conversations in the writers' room that dealt with things like, "Well, Lee's got the girl he left behind on Caprica, he's seeing the prostitute, and then there's Dualla." So there's the classic- there's three women in Lee's life. One dead, two not. What does Dualla represent in that? What is- what is Dualla to Lee in juxtaposition to the dead woman and to the hooker with the little girl? Is she the hope? Is she the future? Is she something more realistic? Is the hooker the hope? There's a lot of ways you can just sit and talk about it endlessly about what it all represents, and it was all facinating conversation. Unfortunately it just doesn't quite sync-in to what we have. You don't ever- you never quite get to a place where you're rooting for Lee and Dualla. I think that's might be the central problem with it. You're never quite rooting for her.
Again we're back to the James Bond-ian thing coming off of his wrist. This sequence, I think, moved up an act, a full act, so that we could get a little bit more juice going into the early going. And enter Bill Duke. Bill Duke is a great actor. I so like Bill Duke. I always liked his work. He's also a great director at this point and having him on the show was a big plus. It's a big plus in the episode because he brings a presence and a weight and threat that gives you a needed discomfort and a sense that something really terrible's gonna happen. And now that we know that he's the ultra bad guy from the tease, you're looking forward to these confrontations to see where it's gonna lead and you know that Lee's gonna pull a gun on him. So that's all kind of to the good. I think to the bad is that the character we've drawn here is too broad. That he's too much of the big baddy.
I was saying he's too, Bill Duke's character, he's too much of the big, bad character. He's too over- it's just a little over the top. He's just doesn't fit- I mean, right down to his suit, which is a perfectly lovely suit. Sorry, Glenne, who's our costume designer, it's really not her fault, but again, it's goes to what the character is. The big Bill Duke with the cigar and the suit and entering and saying the lines as scripted, it feels pretty much like he walked over from the sound stage adjacent to Battlestar Galactica and entered into our show. There's such a disconnect between the reality that we've established and carefully cultivated and Phelan's entrance into that world and the way he behaves.
Interesting scene coming up here with, I believe we're going to Richard. Are we going to Richard Hatch here? See sometimes I even forget where we are in all these things. No we're not going to Richard right away.
This scene works well. This scene with Baltar and Laura is nice. I like the fact that it's following up on the end revelation of "Epiphanies" that Laura knows Baltar's secret, or at least knows in her gut even if she doesn't have a shred of evidence and there's not a single thing that she could do to actually out Baltar. I mean, what could she really say? She can't really go around and say, "Well, you know when I was dying and you were pumping my body with the Cylon baby's blood and I was- I had all those drugs, and I was pretty much out of it? In that moment I kind of remembered this detail that I hadn't mentioned for the past couple months and, oh yeah, Baltar's working with the Cylons." She can't really do that. I mean, they'd say she's crazy. There's nothing to back it up. It's his word versus her word. It's also nice in that we've inoculated Baltar from that particular charge in Season One, during "Six Degrees of Separation", the episode where the other Six, the Shelly Godfrey character, shows up and accuses him of just that thing and is ultimately exonerated. It's- if Laura came out and started accusing him of the exact same charge that would be a sense of, "Been there, done that," and I don't think she would get anywhere and just- she would a needlessly provoked confrontation with her vice president. Nevertheless, she doesn't trust him. Doesn't like him. Wants him to go away. So this is Laura's tack is to go to him one-on-one and try to get him quietly to go do something else and try to play the fact that she knows he doesn't like being vice preseident. But it pricks Baltar's ego. That's the thing, I think, anyone and everyone probably underestimates about Gaius Baltar is the truly astonishing size of the man's ego. And in a s- there's a very straight line that can be drawn from here to the season finale, from this moment. From Baltar, starting as a disinterested political player, who just fell into the vice presidency for other reasons, to the point where he's going to be seriously considering a presidential run himself. Kinda begins here with this moment, where the character just cannot be insulted. The character cannot be told that, "You're not up to the job or maybe you should do something else." Any implication that maybe he's not capable of doing something, the man can react in extraordinary ways. You saw this at the end of "Epiphanies", that the criticism in- from in Laura's letter to him prompting this reaction. Give a nuclear weapon to terrorists. I mean the man is a dangerous man because of the incredibly fragile nature of his ego combined with the amazing breadth of his intellect.
This is an interesting little scene because it brings Zarek back into the mix. It has Zarek say things that, I think, need to be said in the episode. It's interesting to play Zarek as the realist, the guy that's way ahead of the curve that knows how these things work and operate. That the black market is going to happen, and you're foolish to try to stop it and he's-. I like the fact that Zarek knows what Lee was doing here, that he has his people all over the place. It's always good to put him and Lee into confrontation, which has been something we've been doing since "Bastille Day". It's ver- it's a nice little beat. And again Richard comes through for us and gives us a needed jolt right when we- right when we wanted it. Unfortunately it just doesn't quite go far enough. It doesn't- he's not involved enough and he's not disinterested enough. It's a complicated, somewhat complicated, backstory having to do with logs, Fisk went to see Zarek, there was talk that happened, Zarek's not involved with the black market because Fisk was asking for too much of his cut, but he sends Lee on the road to the ship that every- see, it's a contradiction. It's like- we're playing that Zarek needs to tell Lee about Phelan and about this ship out there where you can get anything you want that's the hub or the nexus of the black market. And yet everybody else seems to know about it. It's clearly the place where all this activity is going, but somehow Lee needs to be told by Zarek that it even exists, which tends to undercut Lee's role as an investigator and the procedural aspect starts to feel a bit weak because you feel like he should've- Lee should've known all that on his own and again, it's an element that doesn't work and it's not a- it's not a result of the director or the cast, it's a problem with the script.
Generally speaking, while there have certainly been exceptions, things that don't work usually can be traced back to something that doesn't work on the page. Especially when you're looking at an episode in a larger sense, when you're looking at an overall sweep of an episode and why things work and they don't work. Generally, it's something to do with the script. Sometimes it's a director who doesn't get an episode or get the show or an actor who doesn't- can't quite deliver on the material that you've given them. That happens. Sure, it happens. People- there's people that don't do exactly what they need to do in all categories all the time. That's just, that's life. But, usually, in television at least, it's more result of the material. It's more result of- you didn't give them the building blocks to create the thing that you're trying to create. You didn't provide the right raw materials. You didn't give them a good blueprint for this house and then they go out and they build a house and the house is leaning to one side. You say, "Oh. Well. The idiotic carpenters didn't do it right." Well, might be that the blueprint was off. That's probably more in keeping than the carpenter (phone rings) doesn't know how to- oh, and there's the phone. I'm sure everyone's very happy about that. I'll try to- (phone rings) (unintelligable) as best I can. Sorry folks. Anyway.
So Lee leaves the Richard Hatch confrontation. (phone rings) Again we're back at Cloud 9. I've talked about Cloud 9 before in "Epiphanies" and how there was all- we always wanted this darker, edgier place but Cloud 9, for budgetary reasons, we had established that particular set. We continue to use it.
Ok. Now we're with Lee. There's also a subplot here that got dropped that I wish had not been dropped, which was that Lee- Lee there in that Raptor is actually flying for the first time since the ejection sequence, since his experience in "Resurrection Ship", and that texture got lost and his return to flight status and the fact that he was avoiding it or maybe deliberately avoiding- deliberately failing some of the flight physicals 'cause he was on a some level afraid, on some level he just didn't want to get back in the cockpit. That all kind of got dropped along the way. Which is unfortunate.
Prometheus is the ship I was talking about earlier. The ship where you can get everything you need. It felt realistic that a ship like this, and probably several ships, would exist. I mean, these people are out on their own and they ha- and some ships have more goods than others. There's certainly gonna be high-value trade in things that people want. Where does Cottle get his cigarettes? He probably gets his cigarettes from here. I like that shot of the Galactica guys are there getting their own things too. The problem, again, I talked about this earlier. You're not quite sure why this is all a problem. Why is any of this raising an eyebrow? Why is this illegal? People need things. The entire economic structure has been shattered. Of course they're going to barter. Of course they're going to be there, trying to deal things. And it's no shock that they're dealing drugs. I mean, yeah, ok, no kidding. Maybe the authorities want to try to discourage that as much as possible, but it's crazy to think it's not going to exist.
This tips us into a different territory. Now there's, like, kids being handed around and now there's like kids being bought and sold, is the implication. This is the only place that you kind of get to, "Oh. Now I see why the black market's a bad deal. Because we've got kiddies being traded back and forth." I don't think that's quite fair, I think, to the audience or to the characters. It's somewhat of a cheap shot that we've gone for here that it's- it's the kids. I always hesitate to- when you start doing it. When you do something like that in order to really undergird the point it's because you haven't really established the rest of it as clearly being bad enough. It's almost a desperation, "Well, it's about the kids." The kid gets caught up in it. You kind of wish you didn't need to do that.
And again, this sequence just doesn't- this sequence just feels familiar. I feel like I've been in rooms like this with lead characters on many other movies and tv shows. I just kinda know where this scene's going. There's the bad guy. We're now going to have the confrontation. There's gonna be a lot of talk. There's gonna be the head bad guy confronting the classic hero, telling him in very cynical terms why the hero's view of the world doesn't apply. The hero trying to maintain his own credibility. Blah, blah, blah. It seem just kind of writes itself. Again, the thing that does make it work, if it works at all, is that we have Bill Duke. I mean, Bill Duke gives you this interesting presence and textures that you want to watch, and I find myself always watching him, every word he says, I'm always watching Bill Duke and fascinated with the way he plays these characters.
The best thing in the whole show, in my personal opinion, is the end. Is that Lee shoots him, which was an early idea in the whole episode that you get to that classic moment where Walker, Texas Ranger, or fill in the blank, Sonny Crockett, is pointing the gun at the bad guy and the bad guy says, "You won't shoot me." And, lo and behold, they always find an excuse for the ba- for the good guy to shoot the bad guy. The bad guy goes for the gun, the bad guy makes a move, there's some double cross and then you always get the satisfaction, the visceral bloodlust of the audience demanding that the bad guy get shot, but never quite being brave enough to just have the hero shoot the bad guy. Which brings its own set of moral and ethical issues, and if you're gonna- it's sort of like the convention of that method of- that particular story has always been, "The good guy won't shoot the bad guy unless the bad guy threatens him in some way." But it's a complete manipulation 'cause the audience's only interest is to see the bad guy get shot. But the audience wants to have it both ways. The audience sort of wants to be satisfied and have their bloodlust satisfied in that, "Well, thank God, I got to saw- see Walker, Texas Ranger, shoot this guy, but his hands are clean 'cause the bad guy kinda reached for a gun or he kinda flinched or he double crossed him, and that's why the good guy's still good." And I was interested in subverting that and, "Ok. Let's- you want your bloodlust satisfied? Fine. Hero's gonna shoot the bad guy, but guess what? The hero's just gonna shoot him. He's just gonna execute him. And how do you feel about that?" 'Cause again, that's the territory I'm more interested in, in the show, is presenting more complicated moral dilemmas to the audience. To not giving them the pure, clean comfort of, "Hero shoots bad guy, 'cause bad guy did something bad." But making more complex where, "Thank God. I really wanted hero to shoot bad guy, but I'm not quite entirely comfortable with the way it happened, and how do I feel about that?" That's territory I think the show is better equipped to explore and the show fires on all cylinders when it does go into that territory. Here, I think the problem is that beyond that simple... what's the word I'm looking for?- beyond the sort of diagrammed explication of the conflict and why it works and doesn't work, that I just outlined, about hero- hero, villain and audience expectation, etc., etc. But beyond the simple construction of that as an intellectual exercise, I don't know that we've delivered on the central premise here, which is that Bill Duke's question- Bill Duke's statement at the head of the show, "You won't shoot me. You're not like me." When Lee shoots him, you should feel that he shoots him because, "Oh my God! I'm realizing that he is like Bill Duke and oh! Woah! I'm like shocked. And that's- I don't know how I feel about Lee, but I'm really surprised because he's more like Bill Duke than I thought." I don't think the show really says that. I don't think we've accomplished that mission. And that should have been the mission here, is if you're going to predicate a whole show on this concept, about this central confrontation it should pay off that idea.
And it doesn't pay off that idea. It simply- it sets up the pieces and yet doesn't really give you a sense of satisfaction when it's all over with. See, now we've caught up to the tease at this point.
It's close. It's kinda there. I mean, he's saying the right things and if the journey to get to this place had been richer and more complicated and more- you felt a little bit more adrift, ethically and morally in the show when you get to this moment, it would work. It's an interesting idea. It's an interesting show conceptually. It just doesn't quite play in specific terms. Which is unfortunate. You try to make each episode the best you possibly can. I think one of the problems is the difference between, frankly, the difference between a thirteen episode and a twenty episode season, is that it's harder to maintain the same level of quality on every single episode. Thirteen is easier in that you're- why aren't these guys beating the crap out of Lee? I don't know. But when you have thirteen, there's just more of an opportunity to make each one a gem. And I think we were able to do that the first season. And there never was a point in the first season where I felt the need, obviously, to get on a podcast and say, "I don't like this episode as much." And here we are. So that alone should speak volumes about the difference between the two. That said, there's no excuse. Twenty, or twenty-two, I mean, we did twenty-six at Star Trek, when I was there. That's what the job is. That's what they pay you for. That's what you're here to do. Is to deliver every episode. To make every episode work. To make every episode a winner. To satisfy the audience every single week. And if you don't do that, there's no sense crying about and whining about it and "Oh, it's so hard. Oh, it's hard. It's just hard. You know? Fightin' terrorism is hard." If you just stand around and say it's hard, well then you shouldn't really be doing the job. And I like doing this job, so the challenge is to do it better. To get up and say, "You know what? That was stupid and I don't know how I let that one get past the goalie and get into the net, but go back out there and don't let that happen again. Don't let season three have a weak link. Make all twenty of season three a gem. That's your job. And you need to go do your fuckin' job, 'cause noone else is gonna do it for you."
This- your heart should just be torn out at this point in the story- in the drama, if you're looking at this in terms of puzzle pieces this piece of the puzzle should just be devastating you. You should be like caught up in this relationship, and you should also realize that not only is this relationship screwed up and doomed, obviously, but that the thing about the backstory should tear your heart- I mean, all these things. This should be the emotional center of the show. If the action and suspense center of the show was when he shoots Bill Duke, this should be the moment when all the emotional threads come together and pay off. But it doesn't. It's a little too simplistic. It's not quite- it's just not quite there.
And... we go from- when we go back to Galactica the final scene with Eddie and Jamie, the Adama-Lee scene was actually something that I believe Mark Verheiden- (to himself) Mark Verheiden. Mark Stern actually came up with, but, oh but we're not there yet.
This is an interesting sort-of callback to the end of "Bastille Day", which was a similar concept in that it was an "all Lee" story that dealt with him dealing with- wrestling with moral issues and then gets to a place where he had made decisions and went back and had to tell the higher-ups about what he had decided.
I don't quite understand this. I don't quite understand what's really happened in this scene, to be honest. They've- was he supposed to wipe out the black market? Was he supposed to get to the root of the criminal enterprise? Is Galactica- Laura's trying to institute a new economic system. She's trying to make an official trade policies. What does that all mean? How bad is this stuff that's happening out there on there on the ship? Adama's giving Lee authority over it, why? It's just- it's a confused moment. It's a confused moment.
This is an interesting little shot that I wish went somewhere more interesting than the somewhat- it is somewhat implies that in the death of Phelan, Zarek shows up and takes over. That's somewhat of the implication. But it doesn't really go anywhere. So again it's a grab bag of things we're trying to do.
This scene, I think, had a lot to do with Mark Stern, who is our network executive at Sci-fi channel. The interaction between Lee and Adama, I think he wanted more in the script, a more interesting beat at the end, because there wasn't much there. This was his idea. Thank God he did- he gave that note. A lot of times you hear writer/producers bagging on studio and/or network execs about interference or dumb notes or whatever. That's not always true. Sometimes they add things that are quite invaluable. I don't think- if Mark hadn't given us the idea for this scene and talked to us about the content in this scene, we wouldn't have a nice ending to the show. We have a great little ending to the show now. "You should have told me about the woman." That's a nice beat. I like the look on Lee's face to end the episode with.
So there you have it. There's "Black Market". There's my digging through the guts of a show and telling you all the reasons why it doesn't work. So I hope you're happy now. (feigned sadness) I hope you're happy that you've broken me down to this level. (resumes normal voice) Next week, I can tell you we have a great episode. "Scar" will be something I think we're all very proud of and very excited about and I look forward- forward- I'm looking forward to going through the podcast commentary track on that with you. Thank you and goodnight.