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Star Trek veteran and Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore discusses religion, revelations and resolutions in the series' final season, which begins January 16.
Q: You admitted recently that Battlestar's themes of faith and religion were something the network requested after reading a line in the miniseries. How did it evolve?
A: It was very natural. At Trek I was always trying to work in those angles and blur peoples' religions, but it was very much not a part of what Trek was about -- it just wasn't part of Gene's vision. It appealed to me because science fiction shows just didn't go there. I thought the idea of robots who believe in God was just a fascinating concept. And then I really liked the idea of the polytheists versus the monotheists, and that the monotheists were actually the "bad guys" because there's certain repetition in Western society of the one God driving out the many. There were just layers and layers to play with.
Q: Fast-forward to the Season 4 mid-season finale, when they find their faith has driven them to hell. Was that faith for naught?
A: There's a lot of that going on. The journey is not over, but certainly both sides are suddenly faced with the prospect, "Maybe it's all been for nothing. Maybe there is no God, and if that's the case where do we go from here? What does it all mean and what are we going to do with ourselves?" which I think is a great place to take the characters.
Q: And then you have Baltar, who goes from a man of science to a man of faith.
A: Since the beginning, Baltar has been challenged on that very issue. He begins with a profound, shocking realization that he is personally responsible for the destruction of billions of people, and that there seems to be a God who wants him to do that. He's gone through so much, and had so many failings -- been so vilified-- that there's a part of him that wants somebody to take the responsibility off his shoulders, and is hoping against hope that as a scientist and atheist he's wrong.
Q: The build-up to the final Cylon has been unprecedented. How is the revelation not going to be a letdown?
A: It will never be as powerful as the build-up. I resigned myself to that a long time ago. The "Who Shot JR" of it all is an instructive lesson: No matter who it is, it's still going to be a bit of a letdown. But I decided that precisely because of that, it wasn't going to be in the final episode. I didn't want that to become the entire series. I'm sure there will be a variety of reactions. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. But I think when you see how the revelation fits into the overall mythology of the show, when all the questions are answered by the end, then it'll make sense and you'll think, "Oh, well it kind of had to be that person."
Q: Next you've got Caprica. Are you surprised it took so long for SciFi to greenlight it?
A: I'd literally given up. You hear that a lot from studios and networks: "Well it's not really dead, we're not saying no." But they're saying no. It's never coming back, and I just thought we were in that spot. It's a gamble: We're making a character drama in a science fiction universe that has nothing to do with action/adventure each week. Nobody's been able to pull that one off, and it would be great to do that. It would be another way to validate the genre as supporting interesting and good programming.
Q: You once said you thought the Sopranos finale was perfect, and you wished you'd thought of it...
RM: I felt like the series I was telling, unlike The Sopranos, had a beginning, middle and end. So as much as I love The Sopranos, I never seriously thought that was an option for us because it's just not part of our narrative. Theirs was about these characters' lives that presumably were going to continue beyond the final fadeout. Our finale will be the end of our narrative, the period at the end of the sentence.