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Ronald D. Moore on the Message of Battlestar Galactica

"Battlestar Galactica Episodes 421-423 Commentary" (March 23, 2009: 1:27:00)

And this is the key moment of the finale, [Baltar] realizing the connections. Baltar is the man who has been thinking about and talking about God from the very beginning. Since the moment that Caprica Six said “God is Love” and Baltar dismissed her belief and mocked her belief. There is a direct connection between that moment and here where Baltar in the finale realizes, truly realizes, there is a different, there is another hand at work here, that there is something else going on, that there is a greater truth, that there is really something to this idea of destiny, that there is really something to this notion that he is a player in a grander play, and that he has to fill that role. I was really intrigued by that and I really wanted that to be a part of what happened at the end…

We’ve had moments where it looked like all is lost, and the question here was who is going to save this, who is going to step forward and say the thing that gets them out of this circumstance. And it felt right that the man who started it all, Gaius Baltar, who allowed the cylons entry into the mainframe at the very beginning, he’s the guy that is going to get them out of this. And he gets them out of it by realizing the larger story, by realizing the supernatural, by realizing the divine, the divinity of something, and realizing that there is some force here — whether you want to call it God, whether you want to call it the gods, whether you want to call it the energy of the universe, or mathematics as Einstein would probably term it. The acknowledgment of this man, of the secular man, his acknowledgment that there was something greater that wanted them to make it, that was rooting for them, that was trying to help them and trying to guide them. That felt right…

There are people who say that the show is nihilistic, and the show is bleak, and the show is too brutal to watch, and the show just says something negative about people. I never felt that. I wanted the show to be brutal and honest. I wanted the show to talk about truths that we were afraid to talk about in polite company, we were afraid to put into our fiction on some level. But I didn’t want it to be nihilistic and I never felt it was nihilistic. I always felt that there was something beautiful about the show, that there was something poetic about it, something that did speak to the better angels of our nature. I wanted the finale to end on that note. I didn’t want it to end on something horrible. I didn’t want it to end with the idea that life is meaningless, that life has no purpose. I wanted to give an idea that there is something greater, and something beautiful, but that you can only really appreciate that by acknowledging the ugliness, by acknowledging death, by acknowledging brutality, horror, and evil, and to realize that good and evil are tied up together and one cannot exist without the other. That’s part of my personal understanding and awareness of life. I don’t pretend that that’s particularly profound, or particularly new. It’s just that the story I chose to tell, that’s how I chose to end it.

[Note: This quote is a transcript of an extemporaneous audio commentary, hence the run-on sentences and repetition. No doubt the exposition would be more terse had it been committed to the page.]

One thought on “Ronald D. Moore on the Message of Battlestar Galactica

  1. nathanjacobson says:

    To the brink, and back. What is especially remarkable about the final note of faith and optimism on which BSG ended is how quickly the show turned back from the brink of utter despair in just a few episodes. At the beginning of this last half season, all their hopes, prophecies, and toil were apparently for nought when after their long journey, “earth” was discovered not to be their salvation, but rather an uninhabitable wasteland. Based on the grim realism that characterized BSG throughout, it seemed a real possibility that the show would in fact deliver a final message of nihilism. And yet, having stared long and hard at humanity’s fallibility and apparent loneliness in the universe, Moore affirms his belief, in the end, that that is not the whole story.

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