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Must read, but disappointing interview with Moore and others

An interview by Maureen Ryan of Ron Moore and others is available on the Chicago Tribune site.

It contains a lot of important information, and some that dashes a number of my hopes.

To wit:

  • Yes, you can take it as fact that the 13th tribe were Cylons, though not 12-model Cylons of course
  • Yes, they colonized the planet and "christened it Earth."
  • No the timelines aren't wrong (timing this war at the same time as Kobol exodus and presumably 1,600 years after Pythia and 2,000 after Temple of Five) and we're going to see more which makes the timelines all make sense.
  • Dee is just a suicide, nothing more (or less.)

This is so out of odds with other clues, including the Tomb of Athena, and of course the real Earth. The real Earth wasn't colonized by cylons. We evolved here, and Moore acknowledged in the past that this is a scientific fact that he was not going to ignore.

The simplest explanation may be he just changed his mind, which I would find disappointing.

I can think of some convoluted explanations:

  • We are programmed to think we are human, so we imagine fossils in the ground and all the history of evolution
  • When he says "christened it Earth" he doesn't mean in English. That Earth is a translation for the viewers of the name this Cylon colony gave to the planet they "discovered."
  • We now have to draw a plot that has Kobol colonized long ago by humans or Cylons from Earth, Earth falls, Kobol forgets where they came from, Kobol sends out a colony of cylons which rediscovers Earth. Later there is a war which nukes Earth.

But I can't say that any of these explanations make a lot of sense, or that I like any of them.

A possibly nicer plot is a plot of many more cycles of war and exodus, which involve both Earth and Kobol, and regular repopulation of the one planet from the other, so that eventually it is forgotten which planet is the original. When we learn these extra timeline details which explain how the Temple of Five is 4,000 years old and the Pythian story of the exile, rebirth and the colonization of Earth is 3,600 years old, and the exodus of the 12 tribes is also 2,000 years old (too close to be coincidence) we might see something along these lines.

These cylons who lived on Earth are a different class again. There are not the 12 models, and in fact what we see is absolutely identical to a modern Earth situation, including identical clothing and other styles, a possibly Christian poster, and a perfectly typical 20th century post office, with mail slot and wall of P.O. boxes and faded posters without the corners cut off. I mean the set designers and costume designers didn't change anything from normal, which doesn't feel right with a supposed 1,600 year advanced civilization.

And these cylons don't seem to download, or if they did, there is no sign of them. But the final 5 are set to download. And Ellen tells Saul that "All is in place" for them to be reborn again. If everybody downloads this is not something he needs to be told. She says it in a way that makes it sound like she's informing him of this for the first time. This could be because it is the first time (unlikely -- there is that 4,000 year old temple with them in it) or because Saul does not have all his memories.

We also learn in the interview that Moore was thinking exactly as I predicted in his reasoning for choosing Ellen. So I'm glad to get a few things right... I came to the conclusion in a very similar way to how Moore did. Looking at the candidates, I asked, "What story would make Ellen interesting as final Cylon" and concluded the really long term relationship with Saul had to be it. They could have done the same with Cally, or even the newly revealed Tory-Anders potential relationship, but Ellen made the most sense, and Saul was the most important character.

Overall I felt (and still feel) it made a lot more sense to not have a 13th tribe that is real, though it was always possible to write the multi-cycle plot where it was. So I'm disappointed, but hope that there is something to please me in what's coming up.


I get the sense I've been told porkies and have been let down. This turns interest and excitement into disinterest and hate. Can't say it's a road I want to go down but there you go. I really don't care what Ron says any more. It's entertaining TV. I'll watch it to the end but beyond that will drop it and wait for something else to plug the gap. It has happened before. It will happen again. *sigh* This isn't necessarily a comment about the show, just expectations and delivery tripping over themselves. It's a perspective of where I'm at. Nothing more (or less). Such is life.

The Plan looks like more of a marketing gimmick than anything else, and it's being retconned as we write these words with leaks suggesting that the plan wasn't some cool unanimous and coldly executed thing but a general lurch with a whole bunch of Cylon office politics behind it. Then there's the Final Cylon who was supposed to be in there from the start. Perhaps, but that looks a bit weak now especially in the light that Ron nearly went for the hybrid in Razor and only clicked on the back of an emergent decision over the other four.

Ron's also retconned his earlier comments about clues. All that stuff about dropping hints and the Last Supper picture look like a load of waffle. He had folks chasing their tails over that for months. Yeah, the schedulers refusing to air this last episode so they had a hook to keep people hanging on for the rest of series, and all that 'viral marketing stuff', might play well with egos and suits but it leaves me feeling disappointed, angry, and abused. It's too late and nobody will put themselves in the firing line for it but it's shitty.

Couldn't be bothered to read beyond the first quarter of the interview. I hit the non-event horizon so just skimmed it.

There are interviews with more than Moore, you might find the later ones of interest even if you don't like what Moore says.

I took a break and looked at the later stuff. I can appreciate the difficulties and efforts they made to push out this series but there's a bit of "get over yourself" mixed in there. I can smell hype and backslapping. Yeah, it's great and everything but after the way I feel let down I'm not in mood to indulge it.

Here's the funny thing: I "got" the Maelstrom episode where Starbuck "died". It was no biggy as I know that plot device and it was legitimate. What I don't like is the hype and fannying around over the latest episode. As, I said: making a monkey of characters in the story is one thing but messing with the audience is something else.

It's just a show, and both fans and crew can take themselves a bit too seriously at times. As much as I'm having to absorb the on-screen stuff there's some real world spillover I'm having to deal with. I am, actually, feeling quite angry and upset about that, so it's my turn to take a break. Might feel better later or tomorrow. We'll see.

Not sure how involved a fan you are, but RDM has never suggested anything other than they were making this all up as they went along. As far back as season one, with "and they have a plan", RDM admitted that they didn't have a clue what that plan was for a good chunk of the season. And that plan was simply to get Athena knocked up.

What Ron said, and pretty much all he said, about the picture was true - the final Cylon wasn't there.

As for Ellen being the final Cylon, she's been a candidate from the start (just rewatch Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down). While they may never have actually pulled the trigger on that idea, the seeds had been rolling around for years. Same for Tyrol. Certainly the idea that X, Y, or Z could be a Cylon was on the writer's minds from the start, and elements of that worked their way into the stories. I think you'd be surprised just how often writers manage to pull this sort of thing off.

I am not sure I get it - what is it some of you are so angry about?
Why do you feel so let down or made fool of?

Admitedly, some ideas here and on other blogs are much more interesting and more plausible than the direction the show seems to be going in, but still, there are 9 (or 11) more episodes to go. Let's wait and see how it all plays out before we make the final judgment, eh?

Why do my comments always get flagged as potential spam?
Now, there's something to be miffed about. ;)

I understand why you are mad, but it is silly. So what if they retconned the story, so to speak. So the guessing game wasn't based on something you could see in the show. Big deal. Watch the show and enjoy the story. You never know how it is gonna turn out. The point of the show wasn't a whodunnit. This is about character. The characters aren't dead...yet.

RDM and Co intended to produce a piece of work that would make the audience feel what the characters are feeling and they succeeded. I think however since they were so successful I’m not in the mood to forgive the technical blunder the set on Cinder Planet represents. After 2000 years none of the metal, wood or shadows on stone would exist. The article in the Chicago Tribune doesn’t help because they go on about production budget issues with the extravagant Cinder Planet set when they would have been better off shooting in any old empty field. So they succeeded in evoking an emotion and now I’m going to use that feeling to call them on their mistakes and wonder what else they’ve messed up. The time line seems shot, or the characters are really bad at dating artifacts like the beacon with the disease being 4000 years old, the Temple on the Algae planet being 4000 years old and the 2000 year old Kobal ruins that actually looked right. One possibility I’m seeing for the Cinder planet is what this guy on the Sci-Fi forums who says that the Star Patterns at the Temple on Kobal and the Cinder Planet don’t match real Earths star patterns but they are close. He presented evidence with computer analysis and I didn’t look too hard but perhaps he was right. He also contended that the sight of the Cylon Civil war battle was in our Solar System and the planet was Jupiter because the star patterns did match at the battle site where Starbuck found the damaged Baseship. So is the star the Cinder planet orbits one of the Stars that make up a system like Alpha Centari which is a Trinari system 4 light years from Earth's sun. Starbuck talks about such a system when she said she was at Earth. Adama at the end of Sometimes a Great Notion orders Geata to find the closest Star system of the types with habitable zones. I’m sure this is SOP for the RTF but it’s the first time the order makes it in a scene that I recall so does it have significance? It’s said in the show by Tigh and the interview with RDM that the 13th tribe of Cylons moved to the Cinder planet and called it Earth. Does the wording mean something? Why don’t they say the 13th tribe moved to the planet called Earth. I’m thinking the guy with the Star pattern analysis is on to something. As far as I know the only time we’ve actually seen what we would recognize as being Earth was the end of season three. They've been at the Cinder Planet two episodes now and we have not seen any continents or the moon and any shot or scene. So I’m now really disappointed and confused and hope they didn’t botch the whole thing like they botched the set on the Cinder Planet.

I did find the reaction of some of the Cylons interesting. Everyone is going to go on about Dualla, Adama, Roslin, Tyrol and Tigh but this is what I noticed more.

Leobin was beside himself when a dead Starbuck is found. He was so convinced he was on to something all through the series. I was never sure of what it was and now it seems he’s as confused by his nonsense as I always was.

D’Anna went from protecting the last darn three in the Universe and threatening to nuke the fleet for the final four to completely giving up over dead Cylons on the Cinder Planet and finally staying behind. I wonder why she never told Tigh who the fifth was? She could have really yanked his chain with it.

Anders asked the ultimate question and I wonder what significance it has. How is it possible that the war that killed them on the Cindar Planet in a prior incarnation could have been 2000 years ago? Perhaps he saw the history channel show, “Life after People” in a prior life and now he’s got his doubts.

There’s to much confusion and disappointment.

If you watched Life After People, you know much of the loss of human creations is due to the activity of living beings, most notably plants and bacteria. I think, based on the small corner of the planet we saw, the world was nuked so badly that hardly anything managed to survive. That could allow any number of things to survive the ravages of 2000 years, at least in the shape we saw.

I don't think we can believe a single thing RDM says at this point and that's fine. I'm just going to sit back and be entertained. BSG got some real hardcore Science Fiction fans interested and those fans expected it to make sense on several levels. These are the people who are going to pull out the star-maps etc. and look for real scientific explanations for story elements. That's part of the fun for Science Fiction fans, but BSG isn't holding itself up to those standards and the backlash is due to this gap in expectations. Wasn't it Sackoff who early on said something like the show was not really Science Fiction, but a drama in space (like Dallas?).

So who else thinks Ellen is going to mysteriously show up in Tigh's shower?

SERIOOUSLY! You are takign your theories and speculations too serious! There are 10 more episodes more to go, why don't pass judgement afterwards? I thought "sometimes a great notion" was totally awesome and excellent, and really pointing in the right direction (for me at least).

Just remember, RDM said that the Thirteenth Tribe settled on this planet and christened it Earth. This planet who we never saw from space. So it might not be OUR Earth. There are more revelations yet to come. One way of looking at it is this- today's Cylons want to imitate their masters. Who's to say the 13th Tribe of Cylons didn't imitate the people of Earth to the point of finding their own planet and giving it the same name?

Brad, I think you have been making a big mistake counting on Hollywood writers' knowledge of science. An even bigger mistake is assuming that even if they're scientific wunderkinds (which the writers are not) that they would hold true to science for the sake of the story

Listening to RDM- 95% of what he says about developing the series is about character, not science. This show may make fewer mistakes than others, but it doesn't explain how this low-level society has artificial gravity and FTL, because those are necessary for the show. For example, in another post where I pointed out that they have made mistakes in the past (the algae planet orbiting a star going supernova, when those stars don't live long enough for habitable planets to develop). You pointed out it was likely intended to be a nova, that they used the cooler term, and that it had to be a nova because the neutrino burst would have killed everybody, etc... missing the point, because it's likely the crew of the show doesn't know about that, or likely decided to ignore it.

The often quoted Q & A from RDM about reconciling the concept of the original show with evolutionary theory:

"The question I would really like to see addressed is how to reconcile the underlying quest of Battlestar Galactica with actual scientific plausiability. The quest of Battlestar Galactica is to find Earth, the 13th Colony. However, it is a basic and well-substantiated tenet of science that human life here on Earth evolved slowly from a primate ancestor. Attempts to deny evolution based on the notion that human kind deserves a far more worthy origin than what evolution details, are a diservice to the pursuit of scientific truth and endeavors in our own world. There was always that reactionary sense to the original series, which drove it away from a secure standing as *science* fiction. How will the new series avoid this pitfall?"

RDM: I don't have a direct answer for this question yet. There are a couple of notions rolling around in my head as to how we reconcile the very real fact of evolution with the Galactica mythos, but I haven't decided which approach to take. However, it was a fundamental element of the orginal Galactica mythos that "Life here began out there..." and I decided early on that it was crucial to maintain it.

This quote, seemingly the one that gave you hope that they would accurately acknowledge human evolution, is the one that worried me that they would do the opposite, thanks to the last sentence, even though I know the quote in the new series was delivered from a Colonial perspective. And who's to day he decided to go ahead and keep it?

Anyway, in regards to the timeline- the important events are all based around disasters and exoduses, so we can assume that they were able to keep accurate records in the tumult, so any mistakes can be chalked up to that. And dating finds on the show with the equipment on the show- basically whatever they happened to have on hand in any of the fleet ships, allows a retcon in terms of the stated timeline.

And one more thing- based on what RDM has said, you cannot look at ANY prop, and piece of clothing, any line of dialogue as dating BSG at any point in our past, present, or future. From a frak party podcast RDM took part in:

And then that stuck with me, and I've— as early as Season One, I wanted to use "All Along the Watchtower" playing in a jukebox, in the background, not in the familiar Hendrix version, but just a Galactica version of "Watchtower", as a way of saying to the audience that there is a tie between this show and our reality. That, essentially— y'know, you've heard us say, over and over again throughout the series, that "all this has happened before, and all of it will happen again", and there's a sense of the cycle of time, that certain of these events are preordained, and that there's a cycle, there's truly a cycle. If you remember, in the episode "Flesh and Bone" in Season One, Leoben, the Cylon, is talking to Kara and he says that "there's a cycle of time. And maybe the next time through the cycle, I'll be the interrogator and you'll be the prisoner", and that the story is the same, but the players swap positions. And the idea that there was a song or verse that transcended that cycle, that certain things repeated themselves— I mean why do they wear ties, why do they speak English, why are there certain phrases— there are phrases from Shakespeare sprinkled throughout the series. And there's a certain idea that all these things repeat themselves in certain ways for certain reasons, and so I wanted to use "All Along the Watchtower", something that would grab the audience to go: "Wait a minute, how the fuck could that be?! How could they possibly know what that is? Does that mean the show takes place in the distant future? Does it take place in the distant past? And what are the connections of that?" So it is a clue towards the larger explanation of what Galactica says the cosmology is, and so—

And the finding of Cylon Centurions in the ruins proves this. Not just that they built robots, but that they built ones physically so similar to the Centurions that attacked the Colonies in both wars. So looking at our own society, based on the quote above, we're gearing up for the beginning/end of another cycle because our own civilization is so similar to the

After I heard the above, I decided that it would take the name of a city or location on Earth to accurately determine when the show takes place. Add to the fact that they have left the planet the 13th Tribe christened Earth and are looking for a new home planet, and

A casting call went out for (I'm paraphrasing from memory) Athletic extras willing to have their hair braided and must be comfortable waring a bathing suit. I imagine they might be referring to primitive loincloth wearing humans they find on the real Earth. IF the show is in the past, it's hard to understand why they would bother with an intermediary stage in post show history between then and now, taking time to show the RTF's caveman descendants. From JAmie Bamber to TV Guide: Jamie Bamber says, "Who's to say the cinder planet the audience saw was a look ingo Earth's future? Maybe it's the far, far past. It could be prehuman. That question will stand until the climax of the show."

If the show keeps the homeworld as Earth idea, there may be room in humanity's 200,000 year history for a space-faring civilization to travel to Kobol and start the history we know from the show, and their EArthly cousins could have been wiped out by an even akin to the Sumatra supervolcanic eruption. 50,000 years is more than enough time for all of its remnants to vanish, according to "The World Without Us."

Brad, I like you, your ideas, but I've been postulating so much I may have buried my main point. For good reason, as it may sound rude to sum it up in one or two sentences. No rudeness is intended, so here it is: The show might be in the past. Prepare yourself for that possibility and deal with it if it comes to past.

It seems every person points out the "World without us" but in reality while our civilization might well fade from casual notice in a modest amount of time, that's a fair bit of difference of fading from archeological notice.

And a spacefaring civilization is another matter. We've left stuff on the moon that will be there for a very long time, and that's by barely visiting it, with no vipers etc.

But yes, I could see Moore or others making such a mistake in trying to set this in the past. I call this the "Atlantis" plot in my blog post on the subject from some time ago. It's not a very credible plot.

A World Without Us?

Guess what... A few other science shows repeat over and over again that space ships can't make sounds in space, because sound can't travel in a vacuum, but there's those Vipers, Raptors, and Raiders making all those fly by sounds!

It's science FICTION, quoting what a science show says to support the plausibility of a science FICTION show, in the context of that science FICTION world, is flawed. Einstein's theory of general relativity also states that nothing can travel faster than light, yet the Galactica universe has them darn FTL drives.

Another problem with your use of the "A World Without Us" show, is that the show itself doesn't claim humanity was destroyed by way of a nuclear holocaust, in that show humans just seemingly disappear, there is no damage to the ecosystem. The Earth on Galactica has been scorched, irradiated, the idea that nature would return to normal if mankind disappeared as a result of that is absurd, the Earth is DEAD on the show. Kobol is a better example of your "A World Without Us" scenario, but not Earth.

Episode Commentary from RDM. Early in the episode he again says the 13th Tribe came from Kobol and settled a planet they called EArth.

The point I made about things transcending the cycle of Time is driven home in the commentary- RDM intended that Anders wrote "All ALong the Watchtower" while on Earth and that this was an intended subtlety that was lost, not discarded. Whether this was kept our not, it is very telling- RDM said "wrote," not just "performed," or "covered." He wouldn't have considered this idea if based on the backstory he had in place.

This is not our Earth. It's certainly not in the future of our Earth. At the very least, so much time has passed on EArth (if it is the future) that ALL versions of Watchtower have been lost, and the Earth Anders tapped into the same "Ethereal Source" (Bear McCreary's words for how different societies came up with it).

I thought it was obvious by what Tory said. "You played it for ALL of us." Anders was a famous musician on Earth. On Caprica he was a famous Pyramid player. In some way everyone always has the same basic role. I think we could assume if this happened all over again in the next cycle, Anders would find a Pyramid ball and feel a connection to it.

Jimi HEndrix' version was more famous than Bob Dylan's version, so Tory's statement doesn't necessarily mean he wrote it. It's funny that this statement from RDM might be more devastating to Brad's theories than anything else in the episode.

Your reasoning about this is flawed. It is an opinion. Either way it doesn't change Anders being a 'famous' musician on Earth.

Yeah, you're probably right. Looking at it from a screenwriter's point of view, that was probably the intention. I doubt they'll spend too much more time on "Watchtower" after this with the full plate they still have.

Unless "all of us" simply refered to the Final Five.

He said that Anders wrote the song?

Well, that pretty well screws up the "two Earths" theory. So we get only one Earth in this universe, and it's based on our Earth the way a James Bond movie is based on an Ian Fleming story.

Sigh. That's very disappointing. It doesn't make the show irrelevant, but it sure makes it a lot less relevant. I would enjoy it more if it were potentially in our future, not the future of some random other planet.

The impression I got is it's Earth in the sense it's "Earth" but not "Earth, Earth". This is confusing and contradictory. It looks like the show painted its way into a corner and is trying to handwave itself out but it doesn't work. That's not some deep mystery, just bad writing. It's a show. It happens but I don't have to like it.

After my earlier bitching I'll add that the immersion bubble has popped for me. I'm less absorbed by the show, and discussing the technicalities and mythologies looks pointless if they pull stunts like that. It shouldn't be the job of the audience to figure that or deal with Deus Ex Machina shifting sands.

Now, rather than pull a big downer on your sub-blog, the angle I'm taking is to maintain my own integrity and ride this one out. Specifically, what's the best credible perspective and creative direction for me, and just enjoy the bubblegum train ride for what it is. It squares the circle so doesn't leave me bitching or feeling like my time is wasted.

I get the impression now that whatever planet they settle on will be our Earth, and given that JAmie Bamber quote from TV guide I posted (It is indeed on page 44 of the current issue), it might be our past that they land in. Noticed how RDM is very specific when asked about EArth: "This is the planet the Thirteenth Tribe settled and called Earth." He never says it's OUR Earth.

See the main article on that if you want to know more.

ACtually, it doesn't screw it up at all. In the frak party podcast I quoted earlier, RDM basically described certain things such as "Watchtower," wearing ties, the characters speaking English, phrases from Shakespeare as examples of how things transcend the cycle and repeat themselves- presumably meaning without any previous influence from that culture.

It would mean that if this story is in the future, it had to take place so far in the future that Dylan and Hendrix' version would have been forgotten.

I'm a Buddhist (Zen Buddhist like Ron) and am familiar with theory about cycles of time, metaphor, and so forth. But, I don't buy this one. Through all the ups and downs, twists and red-herrings, the audience was set up to expect the real bona fide Earth. This is not it. So, yeah. I hear what you're saying but I can't see how it can be painted any other way that Ron frakked up, as Brad's new topic puts it. I'd put it more strongly than that but it's not my blog.

It is Earth. At least it is the Earth talked about in the scrolls and the one Roslin and Co. have been following the trail to. How do you know? Gaeta confirmed the star charts from the Tomb of Athena. Whatever planet they found is the one that has the star chart inside the Tomb of Athena. Is this is ONLY Earth? Obviously not. I think it is pretty apparent at this point that Earth and Cylon are the same word just in different translations. Wherever the people who lived on this planet fled to is also gonna be called Earth/Cylon. One thing people assume is that there are distinct human and cylon races. There aren't. There are different evolutions of the same race. Whatever the biological construct is that was first created by the original humans, so to speak, was enough human genetically that they could breed with their creators. All the people are different variations of interbreeding between these species.

If RDM states that he isn't ignoring the fact that we evolved here on Earth, than the show it completely pointless! If not just pointless, it's stupid and senseless. Humans evolve separately on 2 different planets, they culturally evolve a long the same lines on 2 separate planets, the alien humans, unknown to them, use the terrestrial human names found in Greek and Roman for Gods and planets, they have the same names for the constellations... The show was based on the premise that human life began somewhere else, and migrated elsewhere, that we are directly related to them, and for the past 3 seasons RDM didn't stray from that premise, so it would ridiculous to suddenly say that humans evolved here.

The way Ron's getting everyone stressed out he's got to have something planned. I see Tigh rolling his eyes, Adama slapping Roslin who then punches him out, and a very angry and camp Cavil breathing down their necks as they go tearing off to the sound of Spanish Flea.

Well, it could happen.

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