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The Cylons Take Over Galactica

Now Playing Magazine

23 February 2006


Written by Scott Collura  

Thursday, 23 February 2006

It’s hard to believe we’re almost done with the second season of the Sci Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica already. But if it seems as though these episodes are coming and going so quickly, it’s largely because of the quality of each installment of the hit show. Things never get boring on the good ship Galactica (or the not-so-good ship Pegasus for that matter), and that mandate has never been more true than in this Friday’s episode, the long-anticipated “Cylon POV” segment.

“Downloaded” finally presents us the world of Galactica as seen by the Cylon androids, the enemies of the human Colonials who are typically our series leads. It’s an idea that’s been brewing for some time, says executive producer Ron Moore, and it will feature some familiar yet nonetheless surprising faces.

“The episode is essentially following two Cylon characters,” he explains. “It’s going to follow the character we’re calling Caprica Six, who is the Six that Baltar was involved with in the beginning of the miniseries, and she’s the Six that was killed when his house was destroyed. She wakes up and is reborn. And then we’re also following Boomer, the Cylon that was shot on Galactica by Cally. And it’s the same thing. We follow her and she is reborn. And it’s essentially the story of those two characters. … I don’t think all the main cast is in the show. The A-story takes place primarily on Cylon-occupied Caprica, and there is a B-story on Galactica.”

It makes complete sense, of course, that both Caprica Six and the Galactica Boomer (or Sharon) would be reborn into new bodies – even though audiences have generally taken it that both characters were dead and gone. But they’re also changed creatures as a result of the experiences they had in their former bodies, with Six still lamenting the loss of her love Baltar, and Sharon refusing to give up on the life she had when she was conditioned to believe that she was human. Hailed as heroes of the Cylon for their part in the Colonial holocaust, the two meet on Caprica and take a path by episode’s end that certainly isn’t expected of them. And “Downloaded” itself perhaps takes an unexpected path too, as many fans have always believed that the “Cylon” episode would take place on the heretofore unseen mysterious Cylon homeworld rather than on plain old Caprica. Moore warns, though, that we won’t be seeing that particular planet any time soon.

“That episode will not have that, and we still don’t have any plans to do that,” he says. “My instinct is kind of not to go there. I feel like I don’t have a great clear vision of it; at this point if we tried to do something there it would look very familiar and not as interesting as it is in your imagination.”

Afterall, the Cylon world must be fairly similar to a Caprica or Kobol, right? The Cylons are, more or less, humanoid. “It still has to be a place where bipedal creatures can walk around and do things,” laughs Moore. And that makes sense, too. How disappointing would it be to go to the Cylon homeworld and find that it looks a lot like the outside of a Canadian shopping mall? Or that the Imperious Leader still sits in that really high chair in that really dark room, where the production budget really can’t afford props? Besides, fans thought they weren’t getting this episode at all up until a few weeks ago.

“In fact, it was never off track,” says Moore. “I’d seen that speculation and I was wondering, ‘Why do they keep saying that?’ There was probably some confusion because we were talking about doing a clip show at one point for budgetary reasons. They’re much cheaper to produce and we were having huge cost overruns, but when we split “Resurrection Ship” into two pieces and got another episode out of it, we didn’t need to do a clip show. So that was the episode that got kicked out, and “Downloaded” just moved down the line sequentially because there was an extra episode before it.”

The mention of a clip show (a “greatest hits” sort of segment that relies largely on footage from past episodes) sounds abhorrent, but Moore sees it as a viable option – and in fact he sites several current successful shows that have made the idea respectable again.

“It was a possibility,” he says. “The lion’s share of the reason was that it was strictly money [and] budget. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Part of it was also seeing the success clip shows have had. Desperate Housewives and Lost have been able to have entire clip shows, and they don’t even have the pretext of some kind of framing device where characters think back or whatever. They just put up a whole bunch of [past scenes] and get really good ratings for it! For a show like this that has so many serialized elements to it and complicated stories, there is value to at least considering the idea of putting up a show that does nothing but catch up audiences. There’s still costs because whenever you use a clip you have to pay the actor and director and the writer of that particular episode. So it’s not a freebie, but it’s certainly substantially less than a full-blown episode.”

Click here to read the second part of our interview with Ron Moore about Battlestar Galactica, where he discusses reviving the Battlestar Pegasus (without blowing it up an episode later) and… curing cancer!

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