Executive producer Ron Moore discusses thrilling 'Galactica' cliffhanger

Monday, March 26, 2007

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Fans of Sci Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica" are no doubt filled with questions this morning following last night's third season, cliffhanger finale. (If you didn't watch last night's episode: SPOILERS AHEAD)

Four of the last five unidentified Cylons were revealed to be patriotic Colonials, characters viewers thought were human -- Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan), Chief Tyrol (Aaron Douglas), Anders (Michael Trucco) and presidential aid Tori (Rekha Sharma). And in the final moments, Starbuck (Kara Thrace), recently presumed dead when her Viper shattered into a million pieces, appeared to Apollo (Jamie Bamber), and she seemed to be very much alive. Starbuck said she'd been to Earth -- Galactica's much-sought destination -- and will show them the way.

With so many questions raised, it was time to seek answers from the main man in the know: "Battlestar" executive producer Ron Moore. In our chat last week, he also discussed plans for a direct-to-DVD movie and the state of the proposed prequel series, "Caprica."

Rob: Why did music cause these newly-revealed Cylons to discover they were indeed Cylons. Sharon didn't hear music when she figured it out in season one.

Ron Moore: It's more that they arrived at a certain point in space and they were made aware of who they are. The music manifests a dawning awareness. These are four of the final five, which puts them in a separate category from everybody else. There are reasons for that I can't really get into. We'll be playing out those plot lines for quite a while.

R: Now there are two half-human, half-Cylon babies -- Hera and the Chief and Cally's child. Will you be dealing with that?

RM: Oh, yeah.

R: Are there other half-human, half-Cylon children?

RM: You never know.

R: We've never seen a child in Cylon society. Am I right that there are no pure Cylon children?

RM: That's true.

R: So Tigh and the others were put into the Colonial fleet as adults?

RM: I don't know if it's that simple. I think it's something that goes back pretty far. A lot of the specifics of the back story of how this came about will reveal itself over the course of the next season. Those four are trying to figure out their own story. They don't really understand what this all means. Tigh's been in two wars and wondering, how could this be? A part of next season's storylines will uncover how they came to be who they are and the specifics of that.

R: Why did Roslin have a mental connection to Sharon and Six and not the other Cylons on board?

RM: They are fundamentally different Cylons.

R: A friend of mine wonders about why even most of the Cylons don't know the identities of the final five. She thinks it may have something to do with the humans who created the Cylons or perhaps even the God the Cylons worship.

RM: Those are pretty good possibilities.

R: When did you decide to make these four characters Cylons and how much did you have to go back and check to make sure that fit with things we already knew about these four characters?

RM: It was something I came up with this season as I worked toward the finale. The conceptual framework in which these guys are Cylons, it all sort of works once we laid down their individual back stories.

R: Are these four all full Cylons?

RM: Yes, but they are different fundamentally.

R: Will we meet the final fifth Cylon next season?

RM: I think so.

R: When the Cylon D'Anna (Lucy Lawless) glimpsed the face of one of the final five, she said, "I'm sorry." Since D'Anna tortured Tigh, can we presume she saw his face?

RM: We're developing a storyline dealing with D'Anna and what she saw and who she was talking to. We haven't talked to [Lucy Lawless] about it and she was just cast in a pilot, which makes it tricky. But it's something we would like to look at.

R: So did Apollo really see Starbuck or was he hallucinating?

RM: This, too, is a fine question. It's exactly the kind of thing I want people to chew over the next few months.

R:Is Katee Sackhoff, who plays Starbuck, signed for next season?

RM: Yes.

R: Where do the plans stand for a direct-to-DVD movie that flashes back to tell more of the story of the Pegasus and Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes)?

RM: It's really just a couple of extra episodes for the fourth season that will air earlier than the rest of the season, sometime in the fall. They'll come out on DVD the next day.

R: Which cast members are in these two, one-hour extra episodes?

RM: The whole cast.

R: Why flashbacks?

RM: There is a tie from these episodes into the events in season four. ... It's an opportunity to set up something for the fourth season that had not been told to the audience and that the characters themselves hadn't realized, and then go into the fourth season.

R: Where does "Caprica" stand? Sci Fi Channel was supposed to make a decision about it this month.

RM: It's now back in development. They're not picking it up as a pilot at the moment. They might want to pick it up as a movie or as a DVD release. No one is saying it's over, but we're also not going forward at this moment. Right now it's on the back burner.

R: Why give Roslin (Mary McDonnell) cancer again?

RM: Even at the time when the cancer went away, I think I made statements to the press that it can always return. I've always seen it as a key part of her character and who she is. Mary and I had extensive conversations about it. Roslin was defined by that. The first moment we meet her, she gets the cancer diagnosis. But in the course of the first two seasons it became clear we couldn't maintain her illness in the same way. Part of her character is the dying leader. It has a Moses quality, the dying leader who's fated not to make it all the way to the Promised Land.

We've moved very strongly into the show's third act of the series and the end is in front of us in some fashion, regardless of how long it takes us to get there. We're moving into the final chapters, and Laura's cancer should return as a signpost on the road that says, you're getting closer because the prophesy is coming true. The prophecy says, "a dying leader."

R: Will we ever see Galactica reach Earth? I'm nervous because of what happened on the original series when they reached Earth and the show became "Galactica 1980."

RM: We're dusting off the flying motorcycles, man. We have some great ideas for those babies.

I think the series has a built-in ending. The series is about the search for Earth and when the time comes, I fully expect we will resolve that one way or another. You get to Earth and what might you find? Is it really their home? You've been promising the audience that end point from the beginning, so you're duty-bound to go there when you end it.

R: So have you started to formulate an endgame? Last week, Sci Fi Channel announced season four will be 22 hours. Will that be it?

RM: We have to know at some point. We're scripting the beginning of season four. I know how many chapters are left in the series and it will come up in this fourth season kind of quickly where we'll have to decide whether this is the last season. The network has made it clear they will take their cues from us if we say we're ready to end the show. [Executive producer] David [Eick] and I have conversations about that and we're pretty close to a decision.

R: And you'll have to decide long before the show returns for the fourth season next year, right?

RM: The decision has nothing to do with next year's ratings. It's first and foremost a creative decision. ... I have two chapters left in my head and I can see those being of different lengths. ... The question of how many episodes is the best route to get there and deciding how much do we want to go out now and end strong and how much do we want to try to extend it because we all love it and go for another year. It's an emotional/creative conversation that David and I have almost daily as we muddle through it all.

R: So this won't be "Farscape" where the series ends on a cliffhanger?

RM: It's very important to me not to do that. It's something we've talked about all along. We want to go out on our own terms and decide when our story ends. We wouldn't want to be in a situation where the story is not completed in the way we want to. ...

R: So you're going to have to decide whether or not to end it in season four or ask for another batch of episodes in which to wrap the story up.

RM: I think we would probably not go to them [and ask for more episodes] unless we were pretty sure they would give them to us.

R: Will the decision to end the show have anything to do with you and David embarking on other projects? I know he has the "Bionic Woman" remake for NBC and you're writing a pilot for FX.

RM: Not really. It's a separate track. It's not like those things are pulling our focus so much that we have to kill 'Battlestar' to pursue them. We have so much invested on a personal level, on a creative level, and it's such a special show, I can't imagine any of the things we're working on we'd rather do. 'Galactica' comes first and everything else plays catch up, which makes for an interesting home life.

R: Not to give away plot points, but what themes can fans expect in season four next year?

RM: It's about new alliances and broken alliances among the panoply of our characters within the rag tag fleet and without. Different allegiances in terms of loyalties, relationships broken and some new ones formed. All the pieces line up in different ways than they have heretofore.

Rob's call: The producers had better make the decision to end "Galactica" in these final 22 hours, because given the show's low ratings, Sci Fi Channel isn't going to give them more episodes. As it is, a fourth season of 22 hours is hugely generous. I hope Moore and company see that as the gift that it is and give the show and its fans the proper ending due them.

Carole Segal
"Hey, I'm not dead, unless that was a ghost flying that ship. Or maybe Apollo was hallucinating. Or maybe the past three episodes were all a dream!"  
Carole Segal
Number Six (Tricia Helfer), Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis) and half-human, half-Cylon child Hera (Lily Duong-Walton) get caught in the glare of their deity on "Battlestar Galactica."  
Carole Segal
"I don't care if the cancer is back, I'm not giving up my opera ticket subscription!"


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