Sci Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica" has long been heralded as one of the best shows on television, and the show's raucous season-three finale last week — with its constant stream of mind-blowing revelations — did nothing to diminish the buzz.
Now, amid the announcement of a TV movie that will revolve around Battlestar Pegasus and air later this year, MTV News sat down with series visionary and co-executive producer Ronald D. Moore to discuss the upcoming two-hour event, where the show is heading and which characters are really dirty Cylons.
Spoiler alert: This interview concerns story lines from the most recent season.
MTV: Why pack so many cliffhangers into the finale?
Ronald D. Moore: It all started with the trial of Baltar [James Callis]. As we got further into the development process of the second half of the season, I felt there wasn't enough going on in that scenario. And I had this notion that I've been kicking around in my head for a while about what if four of our characters were drawn into a room for reasons they didn't know, and they walk in, close the doors and look at each other and say, "We're Cylons." At about the same time, we were working on the episode "Maelstrom," where Kara [Katee Sackhoff] was killed, and we decided that it was a hell of a story if she actually died, embraced her fate and came back later in the series with knowledge of where Earth was.
MTV: There have been rumors out there on the fan sites that Lee's [Jamie Bamber] vision of Kara was just a hallucination, like Baltar and Caprica Six [Tricia Helfer].
Moore: It's not a hallucination.
MTV: How did you decide which four of your characters should be Cylons?
Moore: Some of it was a process of elimination in deciding who we wanted to make Cylons and who would make sense and who would damage the show. We quickly came to [the decision] that we didn't want it to be Adama [Edward James Olmos] or Laura [Mary McDonnell] ... there were just too many reasons not to do that. It had to make sense why it would be these people as opposed to anyone else on the series.
There were certain logical reasons for each one. Chief Tyrol [Aaron Douglas] was literally drawn to the Cylons, first personally and then for reasons he couldn't quite name, like when they got to the Algae Planet and he found the temple. Tory [Rekha Sharma] was the one we knew the least about, and yet she had been around enough that she wasn't a completely new face, so she was a bit of a wild card. Anders [Michael Trucco] had mysteriously survived the holocaust on Caprica originally and then the struggle through two resistances, and ... he was so drawn to Kara and she was so drawn to him. And since Kara had a specific destiny and a specific sort of lone play on our mythos, it felt right that Anders did too.
Tigh [Michael Hogan] was the biggest gamble. He was the one where we really had to do a lot of soul searching to make sure we were doing the right thing. You're going to lose something with the revelation that he was a Cylon, but you're also going to gain a lot too. Tigh was a very human character with deeply human flaws and weaknesses — his alcoholism, the killing of Ellen [Kate Vernon] and his friendship with Adama — and I didn't want to lose all of that amazing character stuff that we've built up. I mean, here's a guy who killed his wife because she was collaborating with the Cylons, and now he is a Cylon. What does that do to him?
MTV: And those four characters are 100 percent Cylons, or is there a chance that something will happen to change that?
Moore: I'm pretty sure they're Cylons.
MTV: In one episode, audiences saw what seemed to be an American military Humvee on Caprica. Now the characters apparently know Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." Is this all meant to demonstrate that our two realities are closely interwoven?
Moore: There is an idea in the show that all of this has happened before and all of it will happen again. There's a cycle of time and there's a sort of larger story that is told many times in many ways and that there is a direct connection between their reality and our reality. We will get to the reasons why all of these things are connected.
MTV: It's been reported that the fourth season will possibly be the last. If that's the case, are you now writing your story lines with that in mind?
Moore: It hasn't been definitively said that the fourth season is the final one. What I had said is that the show, since the end of this season, has really moved into the third act in the three-act structure where we're all moving towards the finale and the climax of all these different plot lines. In my head there's two chapters to go in the story and those can be of varying lengths.
MTV: Are we going to see Earth as it exists in the show?
Moore: I think the show eventually gets to Earth. We promise that to the audience in the main title every week, and it's what the show's about on some fundamental level. And I just think that this series, unlike some series, is a show that has a beginning, a middle and an end. There will be an end, and it does involve getting to Earth eventually and what they find and how that wraps up the tale.
MTV: The story of Battlestar Pegasus is getting its own television movie later this year. Tell us about that.
Moore: We're doing two extra episodes, and it's my understanding that the network will broadcast them one night, and then they'll be released to DVD either the very next day or two days later, or something like that. It's a story line that picks up a lot of the Pegasus [plot] but also involves Galactica, and eventually it becomes a story that pays off into the fourth season. The script is still being written right now, and we've talked about all of the established Pegasus characters [appearing], but it's still too early in the process to say who will end up in the final draft.
MTV: Since this is going to have a DVD release, have you talked to the studio about providing a larger budget for things like visual effects and larger sets?
Moore: Yeah, it's a separate budget that's not related to our episodic budget. They've set aside a specific pot of money for this release, and it is more than our usual parent show.
MTV: Could you ever see a "Battlestar" theatrical film? Is that something that's ever talked about?
Moore: We've talked about it internally. There's never really been any sort of discussion with Universal Features, and I'm not sure creatively what I would want that to be. Even with these two hours that we're doing for the DVD release, I think of them as tied very specifically into the show. It's hard to come up with what's the completely stand-alone version of "Galactica" that isn't really tied into our mythos. I don't know that there's a great theatrical story out there waiting to be told.