Saturday, January 31
Mark Verheiden, who wrote Friday's "Battlestar Galactica" episode, "The Oath," discusses the episode in detail. Please only read on if you've seen the episode. At the end of the post, there are also a few thoughts from me on the episode, which I thought was simply oustanding.
Questions are in bold type, answers are in regular type.
When does this take place? Is this the morning after the final scene in "A Disquiet Follows My Soul"? I would guess not, since it would take some time for Zarek and Gaeta to formulate their plan.
MARK: We’re talking a day or two after the last episode. During that time Gaeta would have been rounding up support in the crew and discussing the next step with Zarek.
Do you think that there was another way that Gaeta, Zarek or anyone else could have talked the leadership out of the Cylon alliance? If Roslin and Adama weren't going to listen to dissenters, do you think that a violent seizure of power was the only answer?
MARK: Gaeta tried to raise objections, but he was summarily shut down in the previous episode. Basically, his back was against the wall. What intrigued me when writing this episode was the idea that Gaeta and Zarek were, in fact, "right." Looking at the situation from the outside, the alliance with the Cylons was crazy and dangerous. And the revelation of the "final four" didn’t help. Adama’s best friend and first officer was a Cylon, Roslin’s aide was a Cylon, Chief Tyrol, Starbuck’s husband Anders, suddenly it was clear the entire command structure on Galactica had been infiltrated. On top of that, no one in authority was taking time to explain how this alliance was going to help the crew or the fleet. Gaeta’s motivations were pure, he was trying to save the human race, and that’s the real tragedy of the story.
Of course all that begs a larger question, which is whether mutiny is ever justified. I remember impassioned discussions about this, because while mutiny is the stuff of many dramas, in "real life" it’s an enormous step to take, especially for a loyal officer like Gaeta. But it certainly seemed to me that after all this time on the run in space, in the wake of the disappointment (to say the least) of Earth, mutiny might just happen.
Was Zarek's plan all along to kill Adama? Also Tigh? And did he keep this part of the plan from Gaeta? Or do you think Gaeta knew that Zarek might be playing him in some ways?
MARK: Zarek understood that Adama alive would be trouble, so he absolutely wanted him out of the picture. There was some discussion at early story stages whether the soldiers who opened fire in the CIC were operating directly under Zarek’s orders or Gaeta’s, and how that might start a rift between the two, but that idea was (more or less) dropped for this episode.
With Roslin out of the picture and the Quorum an afterthought, was Adama more or less running a military dictatorship? How much of what went down in The Oath could be laid at the feet of Adama and Roslin?
MARK: Adama was definitely leaning that direction, a point Zarek makes when he’s goading Lee into returning to Galactica. The dividing line between civilian authority and the military was always thin, and with Roslin openly sleeping with Adama, the line’s obviously on the verge of disappearing. There are some dramatic developments coming up that will continue to alter this dynamic…
Maybe this is a point I missed in earlier seasons, but have we seen the Pegasus officer who threatened to rape Sharon/Athena in "The Oath" on the Galactica before this? Were all those Pegasus people given a blanket amnesty? I was wondering why that guy would still be serving, given what went down with Sharon/Athena in "Pegasus" (though from the longer cut of "Pegasus" that was released on DVD, Thorne was the one who rapes her, not the man we see in "The Oath").
MARK: We had not seen Gage or Vireem (or "The Sunshine Boys" as we referred to them in the writer’s room) since "Pegasus." (Lt. Thorne was the sadistic officer who actually died during that show.) We had talked about bringing these guys back on several occasions, but this felt like the best time, given their animosity toward Helo and Sharon (and Cylons in general). Truth is Galactica’s crew is populated with people carrying a vast array of grudges and agendas. Pilots whose friends had been killed during Cylons raids, crew from Pegasus (Gaeta’s pal Hoshi came from Pegasus too, if I’m remembering that correctly), cranky civilians, etc. So they all had to learn to get along. More or less…
Even last week, after "Disquiet," some fans were wondering if Adama was unwell. Now more than ever, I am wondering -- could he be the "dying leader" that would lead humanity to … well, something better than a life on the run?
MARK: I think Ron’s made a statement on that (Adama’s taking pain meds, but he’s not dying), so… what he said. [Mo here: See last week's interview with Ron Moore about "A Disquiet Follows My Soul."]
It seemed like a great deal of care went into mixing the various "beats" of the show -- the quieter conversations, the action sequences, the tense moments, the more intimate moments. I know as you write this you have not seen the final cut yet, but do you think the final product will more or less follow the order of the scenes in the script? Was that a difficult part of the writing process -- knowing what sort of moments to put where?
MARK: After the very somber nature of the last two episodes, it really felt like it was time to amp things up a bit, but I certainly didn’t want to lose sight of the emotional stories. I’ve actually seen all but the final mixed broadcast cut and the show definitely tracks with the script. It would have been difficult to change the running order since the mutiny progressed in a very specific, step by step fashion.
Actually, along those lines, what was the hardest part of writing "The Oath"? The easiest or most fun part?
MARK: Trickiest part in crafting the episode was working through the steps of Gaeta’s mutiny. How to isolate Galactica from the rest of the fleet while keeping Adama and the officers in CIC in the dark. Once we nailed that…
I was especially happy to get Starbuck back in motion, giving her character a new drive.
Probably the most fun was writing the scene where Kara confronts the guys holding Lee at the Raptor. I really wanted to see kick-ass Kara again, and Katee delivered. Following that with her amped up moment with Lee and her declaration of "life" was really satisfying, because it felt like we were finally giving Starbuck a mission statement after some very hard knocks.
Were the writers planting the seeds of Gaeta's eventual betrayal as far back as New Caprica? When he lost his leg, was that also part of the process of getting him to this point, where he could betray Adama? Or when you began to outline the second half of the season, did this direction just make sense for this particular character? I guess I'm asking when you began the process of turning Gaeta into a revolutionary.
MARK: I don’t recall specific plans for Gaeta’s eventual turn as far back at the new Caprica storyline, but the mutiny story was something we definitely had in mind for awhile, and we gravitated toward Gaeta as ringleader as season four progressed. He was the perfect candidate after his near death in "Collaborators" and then the leg situation. Poor guy must have thought I had it in for him, I actually wrote the leg shooting for the end of "Road Less Travelled" but it wound up being used at the beginning of the next episode, "Faith."
Incidentally, the script for "The Oath" included flashbacks to the original mini-series at crucial moments, scenes that showed a very fresh faced Gaeta with Adama. It was quite poignant reviewing those moments, all before the Cylon holocaust, and juxtaposing them with the "strained" Gaeta/Adama relationship in the show now. Ultimately we didn’t use the flashbacks, but it helped me understand the depth of anger and betrayal that would erupt between Adama and Gaeta during the takeover.
What was it like working with John Dahl? Do you think he brought something new and/or different to "Galactica"?
MARK: John was great, very laid back and easy going, but he knew what he wanted and got it on a very tight schedule. People don’t realize how tight, I think we shot "The Oath" in seven and a half days.
Any interesting stories from the making of the episode -- did anything go differently than you'd planned? Better? Worse?
MARK: My very last day of shooting on my last episode of BSG was of course the day everything decided not to work. It was nobody’s fault, just stuff deciding not to cooperate. We were shooting the final scene in the show, in the airlock. The mechanism that opened and closed the airlock door broke after one take, the welder that was supposed to spit out sparks decided to stop spitting, it was just one thing after another. Ultimately we got most of it (we eventually reshot a short bit) but it was sure hectic at the time. When it was done I stole the canvas chair back with my name and BSG logo and flew back to Los Angeles…
A few other random memories from the shoot:
The scene where Baltar tries to talk Gaeta out of the mutiny was a suggestion from James Callis after we finished the cast read-through for the show. It was a great idea and I wrote it that night. I love the moment, both Baltar’s delivery and Gaeta’s reaction.
The big shootout: Since this was the first firefight in CIC, I remember deciding how many bullet holes should be added to the various glass surfaces. You’d think this would be a very deliberate process where someone painstakingly drills holes, but in fact it was a guy with an air gun shooting marbles at the glass, scoring it "bullet hole" style. He started shooting and suddenly marbles were flying all over the place. When that was over, I went around to the glass partitions and told him to shoot ‘em some more.
One last memory, totally at odds with the intensity of the show, was watching Eddie Olmos and Michael Hogan goof with their rifles. Some of their antics made the gag reel, it’s pretty hysterical stuff. And speaking of Eddie, I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see him tackle this story. He had several amazing moments, both the high octane intensity of the shootout, but also the sweetness of the first scene with President Roslin. The moment where Adama simply stops and faces off against the soldier hauling him to the brig came to mind because it felt like something Adama/Eddie could pull off. Of course, kudos to the entire cast, who did a uniformly great job.
I know upon pain of death you're not supposed to tell us what happens next (though there's part of me that wants to grab you by the lapels and make you tell me what happens next), but is it true that Romo Lampkin appears in the next episode?
MARK: We all love Romo, he said enigmatically.
Ron Moore said last week that things could get worse. Can they get worse than this?
MARK: Please. It’s Battlestar. We haven’t even scraped the surface of "worse."
It's Mo here: Below are my thoughts on "The Oath."
Maybe being a critic is supposed to be a purely intellectual exercise. Maybe it's all supposed to be done with the cerebellum.
But there's nothing I enjoy as much as an episode of television that produces a reaction that I can feel in my body -- tension, nausea, fear in the pit of the stomach, joy, anticipation, tears, whatever. The "good" variety of all those things, mind you. I'm not talking about the kind of nausea you feel when you watch people eat something gross on "The Amazing Race."
Friday's episode of "Battlestar Galactica," "The Oath," made me feel the way I did when I watched Cally running from a firing squad in "Occupation/Precipice," the Season 3 premiere of the show. Then, I felt physically sick at the sight of truckloads of human beings being unloaded in a remote field under a grey sky. I felt sick at the sight of armed enemies lining up to shoot all of those people.
And as Cally stumbled as she tried to run away, the entire core of my body was seized up with tension.
That's how "The Oath" made me feel. For the last few minutes, I could hardly breathe. And then Gaeta gave the order to fire on the president's Raptor. And then the rebels tossed a grenade in the room that held Adama and Tigh.
And then the screen said, "To be continued."
What a sensational episode.
It worked on a number of levels: There was the slow-building mystery of what the rebels were actually up to -- the tension slowly racheted up as various facets of their plan were revealed. Despite all the slam-bang action -- which was expertly directed by John Dahl -- the episode threaded through a critique of Adama and Roslin's methods and actions. There were conversations, attempts at conversions, politically charged moments and life or death moments. But the throughline of the episode never gave way: There was a taut inevitability to everything that happened.
Here's the thing about the rebels: I kind of agree with them. Theoretically. I didn't agree with what Gaeta and Zarek did, and I certainly wasn't on board with the revenge factor and the score-settling that was part of the appeal for several of the revolutionaries.
But as I said in last week's interview with Ron Moore, I think if I were Jane Schmoe in the fleet, I'd have a very bad feeling about not just the alliance with the Cylons but the idea that the entire fleet would be outfitted with Cylon jump technology -- which the humans don't understand. Even if this particular band of Cylons wouldn't betray the humans and use that technology against them, who's to say that Cavil or any other gang of unfriendly Cylons couldn't use that FTL technology to disrupt or destroy the fleet?
And Roslin and Adama didn't seem particularly perturbed about the objections to the alliance. Their thinking seemed to be, "We've decided this. Let's just browbeat the Quorum into line. Again."
The order to install the Cylon FTLs was referred to as a "lawful order," but who's making the laws? The Quorum passed a law saying that captains could refuse to install the Cylon technology. Wasn't that lawful?
As Zarek points out, the fleet seemed to be operating in a de facto military dictatorship. If Adama makes the rules and only his rules matter, then there is no democracy in the fleet. To me, that's why the scene with Lee Adama near the end of the episode mattered so much. Lee pointed out to his father that the fleet was only in this pickle because of the very Cylons that Adama wanted to ally with.
Lee: "… if this is what survival has come to…"
Adama: "It's all we've got. ..."
Lee: "It's all they left us."
The point is, many people had legitimate issues with the Cylon alliance, and Adama and Roslin didn't listen to them. Maybe they were just off their games after the crushing discovery of Earth and the even more crushing suicides and despair in the fleet. But what was the anti-alliance faction supposed to do with their legitimate complaints? They weren't getting a real hearing from the fleet's leaders.
Having said that, Felix Gaeta is going to hell. If he's not already there. He's betrayed his senior officers. He's been party to murder. He's attempted an armed overthrow of both the government and the military.
AND he lied to Hoshi. Now that's just mean.
Having said that, the way that Gaeta and Zarek played their hand was kind of beautiful. They knew where every weakness was, and not just tactically. They knew how to play Adama, Lee and even the officers of the Galactica like fine-tuned violins.
You had to hand it to them: They knew exactly which buttons to press, physically and emotionally.
But in the end, it was hard not to think that Zarek played Gaeta too (let's hope Gaeta was at least smart enough to see that coming). I've rarely been as shocked as I was when the Marines fired on Adama and Tigh in the CIC. I truly did not expect that. How many times has Adama quieted dissension in the fleet simply with his commanding voice? Not this time. (Laura had no luck either with her attempt at oratory later in the episode).
In any case, when the Marines fired at those officers, you had to think it was on Zarek's orders. In his mind, the only good William Adama is a dead William Adama (a living admiral is a "loose end," according to Zarek's annoyed comment to Gaeta).
But Gaeta is no better. By ordering pilots to fire on Roslin's Raptor, he was in essence attempting to assassinate the president. There will be no smoothing this over. As Adama said, bygones will not be bygones. Not after all this.
So much happened in this episode, so many things that I'll be pondering for days. But what I particularly appreciated about "The Oath" was that it expertly mixed in quieter, smaller moments amid tense antion and the big, jaw-dropping moments.
There was Lee and Starbuck's kiss, there was Laura and Baltar's wonderfully vicious conversation, Baltar's comedic moment with his adoring followers, Baltar's doomed attempt to stop Gaeta, Sharon's conversation with Anders in the brig, Roslin and Adama's kiss (and Starbuck and Lee's embarrassed reaction). And of course, there was Tigh's shocked reaction when he realizes that Roslin spent the night with Adama.
Michael Hogan and his Amazing Acting Eye -- is there anything they can't do?
As the episode was ending, I assumed Adama, Tigh, Lee and Kara were all going to get into the getaway Raptor. Only Roslin and the wily Baltar left, however. So it took me a little while to realize -- Roslin and Adama's kiss was so passionate because they realized this was the last time they might see each other. Ever.
I need a tissue. Something just got in my eye...
In closing, there's one word that we've heard a few times now: "reckoning." Gaeta threatened Starbuck with the idea that a reckoning was coming, and that she wouldn't like how that would go for her. Adama tells the Marines escorting him that there would be a reckoning for their actions as well.
But who gets to decide what the criteria of this reckoning are? Is it better to be a loyal officer, even when you think the course that your superiors set is suicidal? When do you begin firing on the people you once commanded? Where does loyalty stop and mindless violence begin? Who gets to reckon that?
I don't know what happens next week. But I don't think we'll be getting an answer to those questions any time soon.
Friday, January 30
I felt that this episode left much to be desired with the implied, sudden, and very marked, character developments in Tigh and Tyrol. Tigh, Tyrol, Anders, and Tori at one time agreed to stay with their current roles and identities, staying true to their cause. We watched Tori come to embrace her cylonness after feeling rejected by humanity. Although Anders did not embrace being a cylon in the same way, we at least saw him contemplating the idea with Starbuck’s return. Tyrol, on the other hand, was generally content to forget about his origins and go about his duties until his wife, Cally, died. Similarly, Tigh only revealed himself as a cylon when he was forced to, and up through “Sometimes a Great Notion,” Tigh wanted to explain his reasons for keeping his Cylon secret to Adama.
Contrast that Tigh with the Tigh in this episode. He and Caprica Six held hands anxiously as they searched the screen of the ultrasound machine and were fairly bursting with delight as they saw their baby, exclaiming that it would be the savior and hope of the Cylon race. When did we get any reaction from Tigh about the baby other than shock? Suddenly he’s bursting with pride and excited? And for a man who just realized that the wife he killed may be around somewhere, he seemed uncharacteristically unconcerned about figuring out how the resurrection may work for her. Tigh’s character history of obsessing over Ellen would have led me to expect that he would be as equally obsessed with the possibility of her being alive somehow. Yeah, he doesn’t know for sure that she’s out there, but when has something like that stopped Colonel Tigh? But Tigh’s busy pondering the savior of the Cylon race. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s interesting that Six and Tigh are having a baby, I just think Tigh’s actions and reactions are just out of character with what we’ve seen. I hope Tigh does think about Ellen-related possibilities in the next few episodes to come.
Similarly, Tyrol is apparently playing the go-between between the fleet and the Rebel Cylons. He even knows which models would be useful in ship repairs. Wow. How is it that he was so easily accepted by the Rebel Cylons as their negotiator in such a short time? And why didn’t we see or even get a passing reference to the arrangement? All we know is that Tigh and Tyrol are still in the fleet (perhaps only accepted by a few like Admiral Adama) and they are functioning as the go-betweens amid the Humans and the Rebel Cylons. As the negotiator, Tyrol asked for fleet protection for the Rebels in exchange for Cylon technology. Adama swiftly agreed, much to the consternation of Gaeta, who wasn’t the only unhappy camper as evidenced by Zarek and the Quorum. But again, I’ll come back to that. First, let’s take about Nicky for a minute.
I thought that Nicky’s paternity reveal was quite the shock. I think Aaron Douglas played the scene perfectly, first as a concerned father asking the right questions on how to save his son, then as a man slowly trying to come to terms with the knowledge that the child he had loved and raised for years was not biologically his son. The scene may have played out a bit differently had Nicky’s well-being not been on the line. As it was, Hotdog had to be informed that he was the Nicky’s biological father, and I predict that this will lead to difficult interactions between Tyrol and Hotdog as the season goes on. I did wonder though given the recap of Cally’s death, what might have Cally been thinking right before her death? We know she was distressed about the Four. Would she have revealed the truth about Nicky and taken him from Tyrol if she had lived? We have no way of knowing, I suppose. But what does it all mean for Nicky’s future? And what will it do to Tyrol?
Ok on to bigger things. Gaeta was a particularly intriguing character in this episode. Actually, scratch that. Gaeta has always been an interesting character, one that has often been used to illustrate what happens to lower level leadership figures in the fleet. Gaeta has never been particularly cylon-friendly and we started to see his extreme dislike of the race early in season three as he helped the resistance efforts in New Caprica, and later during Baltar's trial. In fact, Gaeta is decidedly pro-human. But who could blame him? After all the Cylons did obliterate Gaeta’s entire race just four years before. Unlike the character shifts with Tigh and Tyrol, Gaeta’s character development was remarkably consistent and set off like a lighter to a firecracker in this episode. We watched his anger mount as he waited for medical assistance from Dr. Cottle – an anger that was compounded by the sight of Saul and Caprica being happily served before him, and Nicky put before him when Tyrol rushed him in. Gaeta clearly didn’t think of the couple as a man and a woman expecting a child or see Nicky as a child needing help. He simply saw them as cylons, and that one difference was enough to spark fear and hatred in him.
Gaeta isn’t alone. We saw the fear on the face of the nurse tending to Six and Tigh, and Baltar and his followers trying to make sense of things. During the press conference, we watched as Zarek became disturbed by the thought of an alliance with the D’Anna Faction and barely managed to hide his displeasure from the reporters, who were quickly distracted by Lee’s fumble about the gender of the final cylon. I was glad that Zarek challenged Lee’s role at the conference. Lee’s stint as president should be over – Roslin’s back; we know, she’s not really back and it is hard to guess whether she will ever really return in her former capacity. Regardless, at the moment, Lee does not have an official position other than the Caprican representative to the Quorum.
Anyway, Zarek was unhappy and frustrated, so he convinced the Quorum to vote for giving the ship captains the choice of whether or not to allow the cylon technicians to update the ship technologies. He also ordered the Trillium ship to jump, forcing Adama to blackmail him in order to retrieve the fleet’s fuel supply. And then, Zarek hit Adama with an interesting and startling point: ‘The only difference between you and I is that uniform.” In a way, Zarek is right. Both he and Adama have certain ideals they will do anything to uphold. Adama just happened to hold the upper hand in that instance.
As the episode came to a close, we saw Gaeta ready to take action as he visited Zarek to discuss their plans to stop Adama from forming an alliance with the Cylons. The combination of Gaeta/Zarek is disconcerting. We know that each has been through enough that they are willing to do anything to get their way. There is a hint of mutiny already, and we do not know if they will also attack the Rebel Cylons or the cylon members aboard the ship. Put another way, we know there will be a reckoning between Gaeta/Zarek/ maybe Baltar & Co. and Adama/Lee/Tigh/Tyrol/Starbuck but it is unclear how far it might go or where it will lead. To me, that’s the charm of the show. It’s exciting, intelligent, and uncomfortable all rolled into one, and the dilemmas presented in the show parallel problems we face in our own society.
Well. I deliberately left Adama and Roslin for last. The episode opened with Adama waking up uneasily and getting dressed for his day. For some reason, this scene struck me with a sense of dread and I was sure that something was about to happen to the Admiral, but to my relief, he was fine. I had the same sense of foreboding later in the show when Roslin was out for a run. I don’t know what it is about these two characters but they almost function as the heart of the show. Maybe my sense of dread is preparing me for the likely possibility that one or both of them will die before the final episode, and I can’t take it.
I think the show has always done an admirable job of conveying the burdens and boundaries followed by Roslin and Adama as they worked to keep the human race afloat. They never let their fear show because they knew they had a goal to reach. Roslin has always had an incredible amount of faith, and as one would expect from any individual, we saw her slowly unravel when her faith appeared to let her down. Roslin seemed to give up and the revelation that the prophecies were “wrong,” (Oh, we know there’s something to them), led her to hit rock bottom. Once she hit the bottom however, she almost seemed to attain a sense of freedom and subsequently made a decision to live out the remainder of her life the way she wanted to. Adama understood and accepted that her decision and we finally saw Adama and Roslin let go of their boundaries and lay in bed together, actually thinking of the present for a while. It was a beautifully done progression, and a long-awaited nod to the Roslin/Adama fans.
Now that I’ve effectively put you to sleep with my novel of a review, let me give you a quick recap:
This episode was intended as an introduction for major storylines to come and it accomplished the goal to some degree. The setup for Gaeta and Zarek’s bid to wrestle power from Adama and an absent Roslin was done systematically, showing both Gaeta and Zarek’s distrust of the cylons and dissatisfaction with future prospects. Tyrol’s reaction to Nicky’s paternity was realistic and heart wrenching, and we finally got to see Adama and Roslin take the next step in their relationship. However, I think that the episode tried to set up too many threads for the rest of the season (Gaeta/Zarek vs. Adamas, Tyrol/Nicky/Hotdog, Tigh/Six), and as s a result, the episode appeared rushed in some places (causing characters like Tigh and Tyrol to be somewhat inconsistent in their actions), but had an overall, slow, rolling feeling. It may have been better to combine aspects of “Sometimes a Great Notion’ and “A Disquiet Follows My Soul.” The former was exciting, action-packed, and such a heavy hitter that it was almost too much at once; the latter paled in comparison and left you with a sense of “Huh? When did that happen?”
Final Rating: Given the ups and downs, I’d give this episode a 6.5 with some major room for improvement. But despite the mild disappointment, you can bet I’ll be right here on my blue comfy couch with some black spice tea and Cheez-its as the last episodes continue to air. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Friday, January 23
Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ronald D. Moore says Friday's episode will offer a bit of respite after last week's shocking revelations.
Here's how he describes "A Disquiet Follows My Soul," which marks his directorial debut:
"It's a character piece. It's a smaller show; I designed it deliberately to be that way. I wanted to take a breath after the events, the shocking events, of the past couple of episodes. Things were happening huge. Revelations were coming one on top of another. And now I wanted to do a smaller piece that was just about people on the ship and where they are in their lives before the next giant arc just sort of pulls them along into even bigger events.
How did Moore (pictured) like directing?
"I found that really fulfilling," he told Sci Fi Wire. "It was really fun, and I will be doing it again."
In another Sci Fi Wire story, the actress who plays the final Cylon speaks out about keeping the big secret. (We won't name her, just in case you haven't seen last week's "Sometimes a Great Notion" yet, but the interview with Moore and the actress gives it all away.)
"NBC and Ron asked me just to lay low, really, and to honor and respect this enormous hit that was going to happen eventually," she said. "Part of it was a thrill. Of course I was going to keep this quiet. This was one secret you wouldn't want to blow."
Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ronald D. Moore has explained his decision to make Ellen Tigh the Final Cylon.
The mysterious character's identity was finally revealed when the acclaimed series recently resumed its fourth season.
Moore told the Chicago Tribune: "There's a certain logic to it. I figured out early on that I liked the pairing of her and [Saul] Tigh. [I liked] that there was something deeper to their marriage and deeper to their relationship, that it was literally a relationship that had transcended time and space. ... And he had killed her for collaborating with the Cylons!"
Moore also explained his reasons for not drawing out the Final Cylon mystery for longer: "We wanted to shock, and we wanted to change the game plan. I knew that I didn't want to reveal the final Cylon at the end.
"I just felt like that was too much [pressure] on the end of the show, and I didn't want to have to answer this question [then]. And I didn't want the show to devolve into, 'Who's the fifth Cylon?'"
Tuesday, January 20
Gooby Rastor puts the reviewing cap on again, for "Sometimes a Great Notion."
I like to think that I’m not a complete idiot, so I don’t go into an episode of Battlestar Galactica looking for anything uplifting. I know what I’m in for: Grit and dark. And I like that. But my God. This... this may have been too much down, I’m afraid. I’ll explain what I mean: At the end of the first episode of the show, “33,” the writers and producers were afraid that they had crafted a show which was so relentlessly intense and depressing (what with the shooting down of the Olympic Carrier), that they would turn off their viewers. So instead of ending on the ominous note of Helo being “rescued” by Cylon Agent Sharon, they closed the show on the news of the birth of a baby boy on one of the ships. That one little glimmer of hope is what I was looking for here, and it was really nowhere to be found, wasn’t it?
The episode a hand, “Sometimes a Great Notion,” is one which the show probably needed, after the events of “Revelations.” It’s about the reaction to Earth; really it’s all about the reaction to Earth. And while this is a necessary thing, it means that the show doesn’t go so much into the question of “what now?” There are glimpses: Bill and Lee are starting to make motions of hunting around for an inhabitable planet—any inhabitable planet. Number Three has indicated that she’s going to stay behind on radioactive Earth. But these moments are the exception. Mostly, it’s all the reaction, and what a reaction it is. Some of my favorite scenes were of Admiral Adama walking down the corridors of Galactica, with all structure and military discipline falling apart: People lounging around listlessly; a fistfight erupting right in front of the CO; that sort of thing.
It makes sense that the show would need to hammer us with what an awful time this has got to be for the fleet, with their hopes for Earth dashed and nothing else to pin their hopes on. But the hits just keep on coming for these guys and for us, and I don’t know how much more I can take without something to make these people keep going. Just watching Roslin burning her Pythian Prophecies was heart-rending, as was Adama drowning his sorroes in alcohol (you’re not alone there, Admiral! Hic!), not to mention Kara’s discovery of her own frakking dead body! And that’s a downer almost totally unrelated to the big downer of Earth. Just the cherry on top.
But I don’t know that any more awful moment exists, in Galactica’s history than Dualla’s suicide. It was brutal, absolutely brutal. I actually managed to get my hopes up about one thing in this episode (yes, I am an idiot, despite what I said at the top), because it looked like she and Apollo might have a future together, and I was one of about half a dozen people for whom that was a hopeful prospect. So the show dangled that in front of my face before Dee pulled out her sidearm and blew her brains out. Seriously, I don’t think there’s been a more painful moment in the show’s history, and how bad does something have to be for me to say that? It was so bad, that when Apollo told Starbuck that Dee shot herself, I got teary just hearing him say what I already knew. But then again, I wasn’t 100% sober by that point.
Then there’s the big reveal at the end, which came... awful suddenly, like most everything else this episode. We move very quickly from Adama’s decision to move the Fleet on to Number Three’s decision to remain on Earth and... die of radiation poisoning or starvation or something, to the news that Ellen Tigh is in fact, the Final Cylon.
Actually, other than the odd pacing, which is an issue I’m getting to, I don’t really have a problem with us learning who the last Cylon is. At the top of every episode of season 4.0, there was the script which would remind us that “ONE WILL BE REVEALED.” And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really much care by the end. Was I interested in the identity of the last Cylon? Sure, but not as much as what’s going on with Virtual Six, and with Baltar’s new religion, and Anders and the Chief, Hera, Boomer, any of a number of other characters and mysteries. So I’m relieved that we’re not going to spend the next nine episodes wondering about who last is. Let it be Ellen. There are a number of questions raised by it, and there’s some potential there. Of course I still think Billy would have been a great choice because it would’ve given him another chance with... oh wait.
Right, so how about the “review” part of this review? I think I’ve indicated my feeling that there ought to have been a slightly less... devastating tone, but I also think that the show had something a bit off about its pacing, particularly in the first half of the episode. The whole episode had a note of “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” to it, where the show and the audience weren’t really given the time to witness and appreciate the reactions as they came. Instead, we were busy leaping to the next: To Kara’s sojourn with Leoben, then to the Final Four’s memories, then to... whomever. This pacing issue also led to some rather confusing timeline issues. How long, exactly, was Chief Tyrol sitting by that half-wall, anyway? If what happened in the meantime is any indication, I think at least a day.
Mind you, there’s a lot to like about this episode. Dualla’s death was extremely effective, obviously. I’m very interested in the revelations about Ellen and about Starbuck, and am intrigued about Earth being a Cylon-populated planet. Overall, I could appreciate this episode, while simultaneously being worried by it. If Ron Moore’s vision for the last half-season is as unremittingly dark as this, I think that my memory of the show will suffer for it. We, or at least I, need those moments of triumph which Galactica has fed us all along, at various intervals. But there’s nothing to say that this isn’t exactly what we’re going to get in these last ten eps. And if that’s the case, then I’ll remember “Sometimes a Great Notion” as an episode which was a bit depressing for my taste, and a bit scattered in its execution but which does a passable job at setting the stage for the show’s exit.
Sunday, January 18
Maybe the Cylon was Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell). The cancer eating away at her could've been some sort of clue. Many likely took it as a sign. "... And the Lord annointed a leader to guide a caravan of the heavens towards Earth." Nope.
For Kara "Starbuck" Thrace (Katee Sackhoff), it was all too obvious. Supposedly blown up, then comes back to life unscathed. Has weird visions, can 'feel' her way toward Earth and just got increasingly scatter-brained as the season went on. But not her.
Gaius Baltar (James Callis) saw a Cylon who wasn't there. All the time! Talked to her, interacted and even fantasized about sex with her. But he's just crazy.
Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos). That would be crushing. Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber). How? Helo (Tahmoh Penikett). Heck no. Doc Cottle (Donnelly Rhodes)? Hmmm.
Dee? Anastasia Dualla (Kandyse McClure). That was my choice. Communications officer, always close to the main power (Adama) in crisis situations, even married Lil' Adama, Lee. And the episode didn't let me down ... until the end. We'll talk more about her later. SPOILER AHEAD!!!
Great stuff to look forward to, and a good episode that unveiled when the Earth died (nuked about 2,000 years ago, says Baltar) and, through the Cylons, how it was when the bombs dropped. Chief Tyrol was in a market and was flash fried, Anders was most likely playing his guitar when the bomb hit. And Saul, in the aftermath, was busy trying to save his Cylon wife.
The psychological impact of the fleet NOT finding Earth was evident. Fights in the hall, 'Frak Earth' painted on the ship's walls, Bill Adama stumbling around drunk with a loaded weapon, and Dee.
Ah, Dee. Pretty actress Kandyse. We were rooting for Dee. She'd lost Lee and lost Earth, clearly the most shaken that we saw by the devastation found. Frakking writers got our hopes up for her getting better and taking more of a role as her date with Lee seemed to go really well. Felix Gaeta said that she was glowing. Stop here. All signs point to Cylon. The looks of secrecy -- she was hiding something. The anticipation we all felt for the reveal, then (now resume) BAM. Brains in her locker. Not suicide ... not Dee. 39,650, and Kandyse had some words about her departure.
Why'd she do it? "I don't frakking know," said Bill Adama, drunk. Me neither. At that point, I still thought it was Dee. Resurrection's coming! But it never came, and someone else took the fifth Cylon title.
What do we have to look forward to? Revelations include who or what is Starbuck and what actually happened to cause the war on Earth? Also, now that the final five are intact, what do they actually do? There are still reactions galore to take into account as well. How will Galactica and the fleet continue to react to the Earth debacle? Can they, and Laura Roslin, pick up the pieces and carry on? How will they unveil Ellen Tigh to everyone, including Saul?
Saturday, January 17
And so it begins….
Tonight, the long awaited final chapter in the “Battlestar Galactica” saga debuts on SciFi. Fans have been waiting months and years to find out what will happen in the final hours of Ron Moore’s epic series.
Jamie Bamber, who plays Lee “Apollo” Adama on the hit series spoke to our sister site, TV Guide On-Line about what fans can expect in the final installments…
TVGuide.com: With Battlestar coming to a close, what’s been the response of fans to you on the streets of London? Are they begging you for information on who the last Cylon is?
Jamie Bamber: Yeah, they are. And they’re normally quite surprised that I’m English and walking around the streets of London. I haven’t done anything in this country [in TV and film] for ages. Anything that they’ve seen of me on the screen here of mine has been Battlestar. And most of them came to me fresh from that and never seen me in anything before, so they’re like, “What are you doing here? Oh, you talk like I do!” They’re all shocked. I [also] get feedback from [fans] from all over the world and London’s no exception.
TVGuide.com: What do you think people are craving to see at the end of Battlestar?
Bamber: I think sci-fi fans in particular are almost legal in their obsession with story points. They want to know the reveal of the final Cylon, they want to know how the final five relate to the rest of the Cylons; I think they want to know what the story was on Earth. … They want to know if the prophecies of Pithia really are meaningless. They want to know all these real questions that have been raised inevitably over five years of hectic, break-neck flight across space. … I think the broader audience wants the relationships to play out and get resolved. For the characters who we’ve sort of loved to be tortured alongside to finally find a place of rest. And maybe, to borrow a title, find a “quantum of solace.”
TVGuide.com: Was the end of the show satisfying to you, and was it emotional?
Bamber: Yeah, it really was. The way that scripts are delivered, people read them at different times, and I think I was one of the last people to read [the finale] — just because I was working all day. Other cast members had had time to read it, and I looked up at Aaron Douglas wandering around with his iPod in his ears and tears in his eyes holding the script. Different people were falling down [crying] as it were and you think, “What’s up with everyone? Oh they’re reading the final thing.” So, I sat down and read it and the same thing happened to me, you know, you tear up. It was an extraordinary piece of work on the page. … And, [it] was so character driven. It was like a piece of music, with repetitive themes and suddenly the whole five seasons of these individual’s journeys was kind of all present on the same time onscreen. You felt the entirety of their experience. And that’s really the climax of the show; it was about who the final Cylon is … and we’ve already found Earth. All those things happen and then you’re left with actually what the story’s really been about. Which is: what is it to be human in a big old universe which is empty and cold and scary? What life is about and what consciousness is about? They’re left at the end with these big questions on their mind. And, wondering what they should do with themselves having reached a place of finality. It was really profound.
TVGuide.com: I have goose bumps!
Bamber: I did as well when I read it. … All I can say is we, the actors, were in the same boat [as fans]. We had waited five years for the final script and when it finally came, unbelievably, it lived up to and surpassed all expectations, which is an extraordinary thing to say. Ron Moore is so talented, he’s got a good heart and he’s a really sensitive human being. He’s not one of these bravado Hollywood writers that’s all about whiz-bangs, twists and likes to torture the audience. He does do all that, but he does it from a place of love, and at heart his writing is not very tricky. It’s really soulful, and I think that’s what’s most impressive — he could’ve pulled out all the pyrotechnics in the world, … but he didn’t go that way.
TVGuide.com: Was there anyone you were dying to work with over the past five years and finally got to share some screen time with them?
Bamber: I thank my lucky stars almost every time I walk on set because every actor you look at is someone you want to work with; every character has rattled into everyone else on the show, at least for a bit. My climax has very much to do with the characters that are dear to me. My climax is about Adama (Edward James Olmos) and Kara (Katee Sackhoff)… Those are the actors I enjoyed working with most and it was fitting that it ended that way.
TVGuide.com: As you look back on the show, can you share one of you favorite memories from set?
Bamber: My favorite memory was actually the very last scene that you’ve all seen [from last season’s finale] — there was a big tracking shot on a beach that was us on a husk of a planet that had been completely scorched and burnt. That was the last day of shooting before the writers’ strike took effect and we had no more scripts to shoot. And we were in, what could have been a very dark and bleak place, thinking “That is the end of the show.” And, if the strike had gone on for another month or to, I think it might well have been the last frame of Battlestar Galactica shot. So what it actually meant was that every cast member was there on that beach all day long, and there wasn’t a great deal to shoot. We sort of hung out and a few bottles of celebratory grain and juice were cracked open and we sort of had a party on the beach. We even all got to — there was a second unit going — and we all got to direct a little frame or sequence of the show. There’s a bit of what I shot in there and of bit of what Michael Trucco (Anders) shot … we all took the camera for a bit and became directors. It was a really fun day, and then we all went out for a meal and got very drunk. And, at the end of it, I got on a plane and took my flight suit with me — I guess what I was doing was holding the show hostage, until we came back. Because, if they wanted my flight suit they had to return to shoot [next season].
Anyone who watched Friday's episode of Battlestar Galactica knows the episode ended with a shocking surprise involving a longtime character. The rest of you: Massive spoilers ahead!
In last night's episode, Anastasia "Dee" Dualla (Kandyse McClure) put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger, splattering blood all over and sending everyone aboard the Galactica—and probably many Battlestar Galactica fans—into an even deeper funk.
Dualla's death, which occurred in the episode "Sometimes a Great Notion," is the latest in a long line of shocking and memorable events on the series, which just kicked off the second half of its fourth and final season. And it's likely a harbinger of more such things to come as the award-winning show barrels toward its conclusion.
SCI FI Wire recently spoke with McClure about her Battlestar experience, which dates back to the miniseries, and shooting that pivotal scene. Following are edited excerpts from the exclusive interview.
How hard was it for you to play the scene in which Dee commits suicide?
McClure: For me, personally, it was sort of bittersweet. At the time I was just very focused on what I wanted to put into that particular episode, and I wanted to give her a really strong farewell and bring her to a fitting close. In my own preparation, and in my own space, I remember not really speaking to anyone. It was sad, but very full, I guess. I was sad to be leaving, certainly, but I came to an understanding why they chose this particular ending for Dualla. And I felt very full emotionally about it.
How and when did you know what was in store for Dee?
McClure: Ummmm, how do I be politically correct about this? They didn't quite ... I got a first inkling when there were contract renegotiations, and there were only 13 [episodes] on the table. So I got kind of a clue then, because I was sure there'd be more than 13 episodes in the last season. And even then it was a bit vague. [Later,] I read the script in the hair and makeup trailer, and then very soon afterward I got a call from [executive producer] Ron Moore. He said lovely things. "This is the final season, and we're bringing a lot of storylines to their close," and this was part of a bigger plan they had for where the storyline was going. They said they'd enjoyed my work and it had nothing to do with that.
What was your reaction when you actually got the script, and it said something along the lines of "Dualla puts gun to temple and pulls trigger"?
McClure: I was floored. I think I was just as floored reading it as I'm sure people [were] seeing it. It's such a personal and violent and shocking way to go, not only for her, but for the implications for the people around her. Suicide is a difficult topic at the best of times. People see it as being an ultimate act of selfishness on one end, but certainly from the research that I did and the people that I spoke to, there are so many different reasons that people get to that point. But I think for Dee it was just the ultimate act of surrender and the final act of control over her own life. She really wanted to find some kind of peace.
As far as you know, will we learn any more about why she took her own life? In other words, will someone read out loud a will or a suicide note she left behind?
McClure: So far as I know, no. So far as I know, that was it. She couldn't see any way of ever finding any happiness for herself. That's no good. Her husband [Jamie Bamber] is still in love with someone else. He's turned his back on one of the things that joined them together, being in the military and that sense of duty towards the military and his father [Admiral Adama, played by Edward James Olmos] in particular. But I think that was it. It's her final peace. It's a very human reaction to a situation like that. Of course, I imagine that Dualla was not the only one on the ship and certainly not the first one during the course of the whole saga to choose that way out. I considered it kind of a strange honor to hold that archetype, to say, "Yeah, this is a very human thing. This is what human beings may choose to do."
How disappointed were you to not make it to the very end of the show?
McClure: That was kind of the most heartbreaking part, that I wouldn't be there until the very end. It makes me sad, still, that I wouldn't be there for the final episodes, that I wouldn't get to complete the journey with everyone that I'd started it with. I ended up missing the wrap party as well, which was kind of the last nail in the coffin for me. But it was a really great ride, and I'm still in contact with all these people. We're still very much connected, and I believe we will be for years to come. So that's certainly a long-lasting blessing of being on the show. But it was hard that she wouldn't be there to say goodbye, and that I wouldn't be there to say goodbye.
Thursday, January 15
Battlestar Galactica superfans around the country are prepping "frak parties" where they can watch Friday's Season 4.5 premiere with like-minded sci-fi addicts.
Some of the viewing parties, like the ones hosted by "professional smartasses" Cort and Fatboy, radio personalities at KUFO FM in Portland, Oregon, will be weekly events that follow Galactica into the grave as its final season winds down.
The free Portland frak parties (promo poster, above left) will take place at 10 p.m. every Friday at the Bagdad Theater, which just happens to be a brewpub. (Better brush up on your BSG drinking games.)
Not to be outdone, the 13th Colony, a Galactica fan club in Vancouver, British Columbia, will holds its own viewing parties each week (cool, eight-sided promo poster above, right). And it's not just a Pacific Northwest thing: Other frak parties will take place at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, and at the site of the Battlestar Galactica Prop Auction in Pasadena, California.
Aside from meeting fellow BSG fans, watching the show live will keep you from missing the three bonus minutes that will be tacked onto the season premiere if you fail to adjust your DVR.
Thursday, January 8
The other day we posted some of the highlights from the conference call with Battlestar Galactica’s Ron Moore and David Eick. Today, we have the full transcript from the call, which includes their thoughts on Caprica, The Plan and of course, the second half of the final season of Battlestar Galactica, which premieres in a little over a week!
What are you guys most proud about, about the way that the series ended?
David Eick: I would have to say that I'm probably most proud of the fact that I think we were able to answer most of the questions that we had raised over the years. And to resolve most of the mysteries and sort of the grander questions of the show. And also at the same time give a resolution to all the character arcs and to wrap it all up by the end. I think you'll find that we don't save everything until the last episode. We start answering questions along the way.
You know, and that over the course of these last 10 we bring a conclusion to a lot of things that we had set up over the years.
Ron Moore: Yes, I would add that it's so rare that you get to end things in the way that you intended. There are myriad details of course that changed and shifted. But we talked about ending the show this way I think two years ago. And just the idea that we were able to actually dovetail it in that direction is very satisfying.
How did you feel about the way the season ended? I mean with the way the series ends? I mean what does it do for you as a writer and a producer? What does this show mean to you?
Ron Moore: I would say I found it very satisfying. I was very pleased with the way that the show ended creatively and personally. It just feels like we've completed the piece. And now to be able to step back a little bit and look at it from beginning to end I feel good about the complete story that is Battlestar Galactica. And so it's just a tremendous amount of satisfaction in doing it. Creatively and on a personal level it's just been a tremendous experience. It's easily been the highlight of my career. The people that I've gotten to know and the cast and the crew and the production staff are just, you know, mean the world to me. I was just very proud of all the people I worked with and very proud of what we were able to put on the screen.
David Eick: It's telling that the show has provided such a great professional springboard for both of us. We don't tend to talk about that as much. But the reality is I started writing on this show. I hadn't been a writer prior to it. Ron started directing. Both of us have had doors opened for us. And, met people I don't think we ever would have met in the industry and [have had] some opportunities that will probably continue for some time. That's no small thing. It's hard to find those situations, that kind of fertile topsoil. This show really, beyond just the show itself, has meant a great deal to us I think in terms of our future.
Why should fans tune in? What are we going to get?
Ron Moore: Well I mean, why finish the end of the book? You've come this far. Don't you want to see how it all turns out? That seems like the most fundamental reason to watch the end. And it really is the end. It's the conclusion of their stories. It’s what happening - happened to them finally. Where did they end up and under what circumstance? And who made it and who died? And who's the last Cylon and sort of what did it all mean? I mean if you've been a fan of the show at all up until now why wouldn't you want to watch how it all concludes?
What's in the future for both of you? And what's the latest on Caprica?
Ron Moore: Well I think we both have various projects under way. Caprica has been picked up for a full season. We start shooting that probably in July. We're putting the writing staff together now and the crew. And, just staffing up and getting ready to go. We'll start breaking stories probably in February or maybe even as soon as the end of this month, kind of depending when all the pieces go together. We have a game plan of sort of what the general story line is and sort of some direction. So we're not starting completely from scratch.
So things are well in hand. In Caprica we feel really good about that. And beyond that, you know, there's, I've got some future things in development and sort of waiting to see what will happen with Virtuality which is a pilot at Fox.
David Eick: Nothing really, I'm going to shoot some pool. Try to do a lot of drinking. No, there's a lot, as I said, we both have deals at Universal. So there's a pretty active development slate for both of us in terms of pilots. There are two at NBC right now that I have that are in serious contention and, you know, various and sundry things elsewhere. So it's an act of time. But I think our focus, our most primary focus right now is Caprica because that really is the next at bat.
Just speaking of Caprica I was wondering how is that story, I know it's a prequel that takes place 50 years before. But is it going to tie into the mythos of what we learned throughout Battlestar Galactica? And how much will you have to know about Battlestar Galactica to appreciate Caprica?
Ron Moore: They'll certainly tie in. But we sort of set out deliberately to set up Caprica in a way that you didn't have to see Battlestar. I mean I think you could literally watch the pilot to Caprica without seeing a frame of film on Galactica and you would get it. And you could invest in that story completely on its own and just go from there. Because we wanted it to stand as its own project and we didn't want you to have to study up on Battlestar in order to enjoy Caprica.
There are questions remaining and hopefully they'll be answered in these final 10 episodes. But how do you answer them without making it feel perfunctory?
Ron Moore: Oh, well I didn't say it wouldn't be perfunctory.
David Eick: I was going to say who said it wouldn't be perfunctory?
Ron Moore: Yes what are you talking about? Some if it will just be on a crawl in the end credit. By the way, in case you were wondering.
Well, that’s the trick of doing it. The first decision was not to try to answer every single thing in the last episode. Because then the last episode just becomes a running tally of, oh and there's this question, and oh and there's that question and so and so and so and so. There were certain things that would be raised naturally earlier in the story line. Then you could sort of deal with them on a case by case basis. And you just wanted each sort of revelation and each answer to have its own kind of moment in the sun, and not to make everything a giant mystery. And to let it proceed organically. It was a bit of a trick. But it didn't seem like it was too burdensome as we went through it. It felt kind of natural.
As we broke out the last 10 episodes there seemed like there were natural places where we could explain this. And oh that revelation can go here. And, oh we'll fill this detail in there. And we'll still save these pieces for the end.
Battlestar Galactica is in essence a science fiction novel, a complete novel, with a beginning, middle and end. That’s only ever been done once before with a show called Babylon 5. So I'm just wondering what is your feeling on being essentially a historical event in terms of TV history?
David Eick: I don't know. My mind's a blank.
Ron Moore: Yes, it's just, this is just the show that we work on. I tend to sort of think of it just as a show that, you know, David and I put on for our friends and family and for the cast members. I mean it's just our show. And I'm always surprised when anybody watches the damn thing, you know. This is the idea that it's something larger. It's, well that's interesting. But it doesn't, I don't know, I'm not really emotionally connected to that idea.
David Eick: We try not to, I mean I think both of us have a tendency to be pretty pragmatic anyway. We like to keep normal hours. We don't like a lot of drama in our life. We like to have a happy group of people working together. There's not a lot of Hollywood hysteria. I think along with that comes a certain pragmatism in how we look at the work. It’s a lot of hard work. It's long hours. It's a lot of sweat. And if you try to take a step back from it and say to yourself look at us, we're making Peabody Award-winning work.
Or gee aren't we special. I think you lose your way. So we I think try to keep our nose to the grindstone. I think it will probably be a couple years before we're able to kind of step back and go - and assess it with any kind of objectivity.
I was just curious with the final four, what can fans expect for the remainder of the series?
Ron Moore: Well they'll certainly be heavily into the story line. What can I tell you about that. I mean with the discovery of Earth and the discovery of what Earth is, it certainly throws everyone's lives into question. I think where we wanted to get to at the mid season break was what if you took everyone's fondest hope and dream away from them?
Then what happens to these people? So the final four are sort of in the same boat with everyone else. And that's they're having to sort of re-evaluate well where do we go from here? What does this mean for us? I guess most profoundly for the final four is what are our specific origins? How did we come to be? What is our relationship with the rest of the Cylons? And what does this all mean for us specifically? Those story lines will definitely play out in a very large way over the last 10 episodes.
Speaking of the Cylons, when we get into Caprica, how do you think the fans will receive the whole Cylon thread? Considering that we already know how that pans out in the future?
Ron Moore: Well hopefully they view it as is intended, which is a period piece. We're doing a period piece. In any period piece you kind of know what lays in the future if you're doing Mad Men you know the '60s are a-coming. And you know that that whole world is going to collapse. If you're doing a World War II piece, you know the Nazis are going to lose. But, you know, you still are able to tell, you know, fascinating and compelling stories as periods. I think that's what we're doing for this as well. I mean that's at least the intent.
What's the status in The Plan? Will that air between the finale? Like how does that fit in?
Ron Moore: I don't know that we have an air date for The Plan yet. And I don't know that we have an air date for Caprica yet. So I think those are probably up to SCI FI. The Plan has been completed. It's shot. It's being edited. I haven't seen the cut yet. But it is done. Or it's in the can as it were. And I don't know what their plans are for air dates yet.
Ron, are you still involved with the - The Thing?
Ron Moore: Yes.
What's the status on that?
Ron Moore: Just working on some re-writes. And no, it hasn't been green lit or anything bigger than that. Features just run on their own pace. Much slower then the TV pace. I'm working on a re-write of the draft right now. They still like it and everyone still happy. We'll just kind of wait and see when and if it happens.
So I'm just curious about your intentions with these like Webisodes and the clues on the SCI FI site. I mean how much can viewers glean there? Will it ever be much more than what's shown on television?
Ron Moore: I think there is, there are things that are not on TV on the Web site certainly. Everything from deleted scenes to the Webisodes to podcasts and behind the scenes video blogs, and there's a wealth of extra material. I think we've designed it so that there is enough material there that you could go and enjoy. But if it's not going to give away the story. It was very carefully thought out so that you couldn't just go to the Web site and discern all the remaining mysteries.
But you could certainly get a leg up. And you could sort of explore the universe a little deeper and understand things on a different level.
Well it's interesting you say that because of the - as part of the Webisodes I know on the Internet I've seen all the way through 10, except for one particular one that wasn't leaked. Do you know anything about that? I mean people are speculating it's intentional?
Ron Moore: Of Webisode 10?
Webisode 9. Ten has actually been leaked out.
Ron Moore: Oh really?
Ron Moore: No, I haven't, to be honest I haven't tracked that very closely. I don't think it's a deliberate stratagem.
Well that just goes to show that how paranoid people are on the Internet. And I was just wondering if you monitor the Web sites to kind of see what those people are saying or?
Ron Moore: I have a habit of going and sort of monitoring Web sites on the night that a - that a new episode airs. I'll kind of surf around a few Web sites just to kind of pick up fan reaction. I get a kick out of sort of seeing message boards entries as the show was on the air. I'll try to go to like a, I'll put a couple windows up on my computer and watch live reactions to people as they get to act breaks. I think that's kind of enjoyable. And sort of receive some reviews and kind of see what the general tenor of it is. But after that I kind of don't, I don't monitor it very closely beyond that.
Have you ever read a theory you think that somebody got right?
Ron Moore: Oh sure. Yes there's theories out there of things, of guesses about different parts of the mythology or different revelations that are spot on. Fortunately they're buried with so many other bad ideas that it's like you just leave them alone. But I don't know that I've seen anyone who's nailed the whole thing. Or anyone who’s gotten exactly what the show is going to be at the end or anything.
David Eick: Yes usually the most vociferous and, you know, intensely felt theories are the ones that are furthest off.
Ron Moore: Yes. Yes those are always my favorite, the ones that are really adamant about it. Like oh really?
So how long are we going to have to wait for the biggest mysteries? You know, the final Cylon?
Ron Moore: Oh well that all I will tell you is that it is not in the final episode.
I think that would make a lot of people happy actually just hearing that much.
Ron Moore: Yes it's not, it is not the final - the last frame or the last shot or anything like that.
One of the things that interests me about Battlestar Galactica is that it's really the most religious show on television. Meaning that religion is such an important subject on the show. And I'm just wondering how did this get woven into the story? I mean it must be deliberate because when you think of science fiction shows they're, usually just don't even touch any of those themes.
David Eick: Do you want to tell them the Michael Jackson story?
Ron Moore: Yes. It was, it came very early on. The first draft of the mini-series and there was just a line in it, in a scene with Number 6 in Baltar where she said to him "God is Love". And when I wrote it I didn't really know what it meant. But I thought it was an interesting thing for a robot to say. And I just kind of liked it and kept it in there. And when we got notes back from the network there was an executive at the time named Michael Jackson who really liked it. And said this is a really interesting idea. You already have certain things going on with Al Qaeda and religious fundamentalism that are sort of thematic into the piece if you go further in this direction. And I thought well Hell, I'm not going to get the note to have more religious content on the show very often. And I just went for it. And then it, but it just played, it was also very organic.
It played into things that were already inherent in the show. You know, there was already the - there was a lot of terms, you know, taken from the Greek gods and the Roman gods that were already in the show. It felt natural to then make the colonials polytheists and then, you know, if Number 6 says the God, singular, is love, it made her a monotheist. And then I thought well that's fascinating already. The monotheists versus the polytheists and we're, you know, the colonial - the humans are the polytheists. And it just all became a really fascinating sort of blend of ideas.
Of these last 10 episodes would you say that overall there - if it's a definite kind of end to the series? Or is it an open-ended ending to the series in overall tone? Are there questions we'll still have when we're done? Will there, you know, will that be the end of it all and we can all go home without any question marks in our heads?
Ron Moore: I think it's pretty definitive.
David Eick: It's pretty much over.
Ron Moore: Yes, I mean this is it. You know, this is the end of the story. I think that there might be some things that are still somewhat ambiguous or you might want to think about more that are not spelled out in bold letters. But by and large I'd say the vast majority of the questions will have been answered. They may not be satisfying answers, but they will be answers.
How did you choose who the final five Cylons would be? Was it like picking a name out of a hat? Or did you have it from the very beginning?
Ron Moore: I think David has a dartboard and we...
David Eick: The answer is it was a little of both.
Ron Moore: Yes, it was a little of both. I mean the final four came up literally in a moment in a writer's room where we were struggling with the end of season three. And trying to figure out certain things. I just said because it was all about the trial of Baltar. And we had always set that up to be the end of the season. It was, the structure was working fine. But it just didn’t seem to satisfy. It didn't quite seem as big an idea to me. I said, I just wish that there was, we had some bigger revelation here. I just said, you know, I just got this image of like four of our people walking from different areas of the ship and all ending up in one room together.
They all close the doors and they look at each other. And they say, okay we're Cylon. And then we just reveal like four of them, you know, in one fell swoop. Everyone was kind of taken a back in the moment. And then we, the more we talked about it, it just became well let's, well why not. Why don't we really do that? Then we just talked about who they - who those final four would be with an idea of holding out the last one for the last season.
Then settling on the last one. We kind of had a good idea going into the last season who the final Cylon was. And, but we were willing to sort of, you know, look at other candidates and see who it could be and which one makes the most sense in the mythology. Ultimately we stuck with the original choice because it just made the most sense in terms of the history of the show and what it means for the characters.
So during the reveal, "All Along the Watchtower" of course was playing. Does that song have any significance to you particularly or to the story? Or how did you choose that as their signal?
Ron Moore: I had personally been obsessed with the song for a while. So, I had - I just thought it was a fascinating song and the lyrics. I had wanted to work it into a project of mine since, you know, for the last several years. In fact I wanted to do a whole Roswell episode about it. So it was just sort of always in the back of my mind. And as we started talking about music and using music as a trigger, I just immediately said oh and it has to be "All Along the Watchtower". Everybody kind of laughed. Then I just was very much, you know, dogged about it. And kept going and made, you know, and then we got the rights. And that became the song.
I know that watching the series I kind of just want to watch it all at once. Is there a particular reason why you split up the season into two parts? Or is that just something that you had in mind of doing the whole time?
Ron Moore: It's pretty much SCI FI. I mean it's really been more about their scheduling and when they want to air the episodes. We just got used to building in a mid season cliffhanger. And then left it up to them about how long the break in between the 10th and the 11th episode would be each year.
We've heard a lot of rumors about a very, very dark ending. And I suppose how dark can we get?
Ron Moore: I don't know, is there a limit?
David Eick: Compared to where we are now I mean.
Ron Moore: Yes exactly.
David Eick: I don't think we've ever, I don't think either of us have ever entirely understood that word. It's funny, we had a kind of a controversial debate very early on in the show's birth, the first season. About wanting to see more people sort of, you know, the society at large. And figuring out ways to still enjoy life despite their desperate straits.
And the one thing we disagreed with, that note or that impulse, but to Ron and I it just seemed that okay so if you show people celebrating and then suddenly something blows up, isn't that worse than just having the thing blow up? And so I just think that it's a kind of chic word to use in TV analysis because people like to analyze whether or not dark works on TV or doesn't work on TV.
I just think it's such a subjective word. You know, I don't know if you would characterize the ending as dark or not. I would venture to say no. But certainly we've said no with the - emphatically before. And had people look at us like we were insane so. It's in the eye of the beholder.
Obviously with all the scheduling difficulties and, between the writer strike and everything else. That must have had a large effect on how you, the decisions that you made regarding the story itself. Is that the case and has it affected the way you would look at writing going forward?
Ron Moore: Oh I don't know if it's affected much going forward. I don't think I took any grand lessons from it except that there is, well maybe I did. I'd say the one thing is that I took for - took from the break from the writer's strike was that there is a need every once in a while to stop and take a breath and be sure you like where you're going. Because we had structured out the end of the show, the last 10 episodes, and had locked them in and had begun writing some drafts.
And we were working actively on them when the strike hit. But over the course of the strike it gave me a chance to pause and reflect. And think that I just wasn't satisfied with some of the directions we were going. And when the strike was over we gathered the staff together and right off the bat and said, you know what, I had some time. And I think we're making a mistake with a couple of these story lines. So let's go back and let's re-break them and re-visit them. And I was very happy for that. And, you know, maybe the lesson going forward is just, you know, just that.
Every once in a while take a time out, even though you think that you're, there's this relentless pace that you have to maintain. And you're afraid to start over again. And sometimes it's worth it. And I'm ultimately very happy that we did have that break and I did get a chance to re-visit some of those ideas. And I think we have a stronger story as a result.
I'm glad to hear we're getting what you feel is the best ending.
Ron Moore: Yes. I think for good or for bad. I think this is in my opinion the best ending.
My question is regarding the length of the final episodes. There's been some mention as to possibly increasing these beyond just the finale itself. Have you been able to nail that down to an actual number of episodes that are going to have, you know, a longer - they're going to be longer or is this going to be all of them?
Ron Moore: Well I'm not sure - essentially the finale, the last story, is three-air hour - three on air hours. It's not in run time. But, you know, if you cut it up into three it would be three episodes. I think the intention is to show them all at once, you know, on the last night. I think there's still scheduling issues about they might show one episode, I don't - they're still playing around with the actual air schedule of it. About how they program those three hours. But they will be shown, it is my understanding, there will be at least one showing of all three of them together. And that means that overall there are 10 episodes, with the 10th episode being 3 parts. I mean it's all confusing of how you break it down. That's essentially how it is. There's 3 - there's 10 stories left, let's put it that way.
And the other episodes are going to be the standard one-hour episodes?
Ron Moore: Yes.
One other question I had for Ron was the transition that you're going to be going through from Battlestar Galactica to Galactica the Series, being more of a period piece. How does that affect you as a writer just kind of dealing with the thematic transition of that?
Ron Moore: Oh it's challenging. You know, it's a different thing. We set out to do a very different show. And you have to go back and start over. And it's a new cast of characters, new people, new story line. You know, we have to sort of, you can't just go on a glide path and say okay, let's just keep doing what we're doing. We know what this is all about because, you know, in this case we don't. This is a different feel. You know, it's a different style. It's a different method of story telling. It's a different group of characters. It's a different mood. I mean everything about Caprica was designed specifically to not repeat what we had done in Galactica.
And so now it's a challenge. Now it's about wow, okay now it’s back to square one. We have to sort of re-invent this. And we have to really make it work. And, you know, there's no guarantees that people will accept it. And we have to really, you know, rise to the challenge.
If you were re-imagining, I suppose, if Battlestar Galactica were to be re-made in 30, 25 years time. What would you least want someone to change about what you created?
David Eick: Oh God I have no idea. I would hope that they just come in and, you know, use their own best judgment. If you're going to re-invent, if somebody was going to do a new take on this version of Battlestar Galactica, you know, I'd want it to be fresh. I'd want them to sort of do what I did when I approached the old series, which was to just go in and take no prisoners. And say, okay I'm going to keep what works and I'm going to discard what doesn't.
This is what we're going to set out to do. I mean I would feel - personally I would feel honored if someone does want to do that. You know, it sort of says that then you've created something that has stood the test of time and that people are still interested in. People want to continue to tell stories in this universe. And they're interested in these characters. And they want to keep, you know, trying to explore different aspects of the show that we weren't able to explore.
We're all very excited about that as well as the remaining episodes of Battlestar. I was just wondering if you could comment on, you know, with Battlestar you were writing it for the most part with a distinct ending in mind, a definite ending. With Caprica are - you mentioned how you're trying to keep it different from Battlestar. So in that sense, do you - are you trying to keep this ending more loose and open-ended?
Ron Moore: Well right now we're nowhere near even thinking about what the end of Caprica is. And that's kind of the way it was with Battlestar. Although I guess with Battlestar we always kind of knew that eventually you were going to have to find Earth or not. With Caprica I guess we sort of have the same challenge in that we know that there's a war looming ahead of them. And the destruction of their entire race is looming ahead of them. But, you know, that's 50 years away. And I suppose the show could run 50 years.
David Eick: Or at the end of that three we could just cut to 50 years later.
Ron Moore: Yes, 50 years later. But we have no - we haven't had any discussions on what the end of Caprica is.
And as for the characters, I mean do you find that you're trying to also keep them very different from Battlestar's characters? I don't know if you can mention any examples.
Ron Moore: Well they are different. I mean I would say that there's probably going to be similarities only in that the way we like to do characters. And the way we like to make them ambiguous and challenging and surprising. That still matters to David and I a lot. And so I - we will continue to try to do that. But I don't know that there's any particular, you know, stand in for any of the Battlestar characters. I don't think, you know, oh here's this - here's their version of Starbuck and here's Caprica's version of Helo or anybody. It's just, it's its own thing.
David Eick: I mean there's a character for example who is Esai Morales's brother who in the realization of the pilot turned out really fantastically. The actor was sensational. And I remember thinking as we were looking at it, you know, this is another great character. And there's no one even remotely like this on Battlestar. So I think that there's always going to be a, hopefully if we're lucky, a distinction - a distinctive quality to the characters. But I do think that they will all feel very different and apart from those you've come to know from Battlestar. I don't think there's the Tigh guy for example, or the, you know, Tyrol guy.
Ron, having worked on Star Trek in years past, we're there any lessons that you took home from those spin off series that you're now able to apply to Caprica as a spinoff of the Battlestar universe?
Ron Moore: Probably first and foremost that you don't try to repeat the formula. You know, I think that, you know, I questioned at the time Trek's, when Star Tre - after Deep Space Nine when they developed the Voyager, and then subsequently Enterprise. Both those projects felt too similar to Next Generation and to the original series for me and by my lights.
I felt that, Deep Space was the way to do a spin off series of an existing franchise where you really are doing a very different show. It's a different format. It's a different feeling. You know, and the Deep Space Nine station lent itself to continuing stories. The Next Generation was episodic. I mean they were just very different animals. I felt that it was more creatively satisfying to do that instead of doing a, you know, a spin off that just felt like a different version of the mother ship. And so that definitely informed, you know, the process as we went into Caprica.
There's a lot of talk about Caprica. And I really wanted to know because there were some - there was some success with Razor. And most definitely will be with The Plan. Do you think that there will be any more opportunities for a prequel for Battlestar and for Caprica, you know, movie offshoots.
Ron Moore: Don't know about Caprica. Haven't had - haven't even thought about that direction. I don't know that there's really any opportunity to do more Battlestar pieces. We've struck the set. You know, I mean the sets are gone. So that alone, you know, raises a huge hurdle to try to do any more. Because, I don't know what, how they would scrape together the money to reassemble that ship. But, you know, there's always virtual versions of the ship. And you never say never. But I would say it's very, very unlikely that there would be any more.
Season 4.5 of Battlestar Galactica premieres on Friday, January 16, 2009 at 10:00 PM ET on Sci Fi.
Tuesday, January 6
Battlestar Galactica masterminds Ron Moore and David Eick were kind enough to participate in a conference call with us today to discuss the second half of the final season of BSG. While we don’t have the full transcript available just yet, we do have a few details about what was discussed to share with you.
We won’t have to wait until the final episode to learn who the final Cylon is. From what Moore and Eick said, the “answers” to the various questions will be spaced out over the final ten episodes. So they’re not saving all of the goodies ‘til the very end and this includes the big Final Cylon reveal.
As for the ending of the series, while both Eick and Moore were naturally pretty tight-lipped about that, they did say that the end of the series isn’t really open-ended and that, “The vast majority of the questions will have been answered.”
And speaking of the ending, the last episode is actually three hour-long parts. Meaning that the tenth and final episode is really the length of three episodes. That’s how I interpreted what Moore and Eick said anyway. They didn’t seem sure as to exactly how the final three-parter would air (whether all in one night or broken up). Sci Fi is still playing around with the actual air schedule. There will be at least one showing of all three of them together.
When asked how they decided who the final five Cylons were, Ron Moore joked that, “David has a dart board…” The serious answer was that they figured out the final four in the writers room when they were struggling with the end of season 3. As for the Final Cylon: “We kind of had a good idea going into the last season who the final Cylon was but we were willing to sort of look at other candidates to see who it could be and which would make the most sense of the mythology and ultimately we stuck with the original choice because it just made the most sense in terms of the history of the show and what it means for the characters.”
As for Caprica, they said that Non-Battlestar Galactica fans should be able to follow the Caprica pilot without knowing anything about BSG. Also, Caprica is a different feel, style and mood than what we’ve seen in Battlestar Galactica.
We’ll post the full transcript of the interview once it’s made available