|“Battlestar Galactica: The Final Five” #1 on sale in March|
When the mid-season premier of “Battlestar Galactica” bows tonight on Sci Fi, over five years of speculation, subterfuge and award-winning storytelling will start its ten-episode march to the finale. Over the remaining episodes, viewers will finally be treated to answers to some of the show’s biggest questions, from who the final Cylon is to what fate waits for humanity in the wake of Earth’s discovery.
Still, as two of the series’ creative voices tell CBR News, the last episodes of the series won’t be a mere mythology binge.
“[Series developer] Ron [Moore] came in to the writers’ room and wrote in big letters ‘It’s the characters, stupid,'” recalled “BSG” writers’ assistant David Reed of the planning of the final season. “There were a lot of mythology points that are left hanging, because ‘BSG’ is a character drama first. Does it matter who the Final Cylon is if we don’t care about that character? Obviously, there are certain threads that have to be tied up: where are they going to live now that Earth is gone? Will Lee and Kara ever make it work? Will we ever see Boxey again? The design of the final season pushes everything to a giant climax – we’re hurtling towards catastrophe from the moment Kara flies back in that pristine viper.”
Staff writer Seamus Kevin Fahey, who along with Reed co-writes the upcoming Dynamite Entertainment miniseries “Battlestar Galactica: The Final Five” for returning artist Nigel Rayner, agreed the moment galvanized the writing staff. “Ron writing that on the board was the defining moment for ending this series right. That was the mantra. We all knew we were involved with something special and I think there was this sense that we would be judged by how it comes to an end, so we didn’t want to frak that up.”
Of course, the most anticipated moment – character-wise and continuity-wise – of the finial run of episodes remains the eventual revelation of who the last hidden Cylon model is. Fahey, who co-wrote this season’s webisode prequel “Face of the Enemy” with Jane Espenson, admitted the revelation of all of the Final Five came late in the game for both the writers and the actors of the show, so specific clues from past seasons may be scarce to find.
“It’s interesting, because the notion of the Final Five was something that really evolved,” Fahey explained. “It was a numbers game. There were Twelve models, that was established from the beginning. Then simple math dictated how many were left and at one point it was the five. Then that became ‘The Five,’ you know?
“It just seemed like an opportunity for not only a hook to the show, but something significant. I think Ron and [executive producer David] Eick had been kicking the idea around that some of them might be different, but I remember one day, Ron just looking around the writers’ room and saying: we need to pull the trigger. And we just stayed late that night and argued and mulled it over and decided who The Five should be. If memory serves, I think we put out fake script pages, but Ron probably had to make some interesting calls to the actors that week.”
A grand plan does exist for this season, one the writers hope will be as satisfying for readers as it was for them. “When I started on the show [at the start of season 3], they already knew the end of the series,” recalled Reed. “The last shot was already planned. All of that came from Ron’s head. He and David Eick would periodically meet at a bar and toss ideas back and forth, and those bull-sessions became the skeletal framework of the show. The rest of the writers then take those ideas, flesh them out, and twist them into new and ever more interesting directions. When it came time to talk about the final episodes, Ron had some things in mind, but a lot of it came out of a big group retreat we took to Lake Tahoe.”
“That Tahoe session was incredible,” Fahey said. “It was kind of the ultimate think tank, brainstorming session, and dysfunctional family gathering. Probably the best way to layout the foundation for the end of the series. Ron knows what he wants. And he’s usually right. But he was definitely open to ideas – whether it be a tiny, subtle moment or who one of the Final Fifth should be. So, there definitely was a map, but we had to go off course a bit to make the final destination that much more of a journey worth taking, I think.”
Of course, if ever a show has proven that story can stretch far beyond the actual series screentime, it’s “Battlestar Galactica.” Aside from a raft of webisodes, a planned prequel series, the “Razor” movie, dozens of comics have been published over the last five years, and March’s “The Final Five” miniseries will serve as an official piece of the show’s canon.
“‘The Final Five’ takes place over a long, long time,” explained Reed of the Dynamite comic book. “It’s the story of how the Final Five came into existence and the cataclysmic rift that threw them into human society. It’s about the original creation of the Cylons, and the conflicts with the humans and within the Cylon ranks that forged the characters we know.
“From the moment we realized the identities of the Final Five, I knew there was an amazing story to be told about how they became the characters we know and love,” Reed continued. “I’m particularly interested in the deep backstory – who they were as Cylons **before** their lives were changed and they were inserted into human society.”
“Also, the fact it’s their origin story dictated where we would be spending our time with these characters, and what their conflict would be. No one gets along that well in the ‘BSG’ universe,” noted Fahey. “It’s tough because every aspect of the ‘BSG’ universe is worthy of expansion. But leaving the show, it is something where you wonder at what point you want to leave something as is and walk away and what can’t be left alone.”
Luckily, Reed and Fahey didn’t dive into the writing of Dynamite’s “The Final Five” until they’d already help craft the final episodes of the TV series, so there were clear boundaries on what would work and what pieces of the story could use more revelations.
As for the transition from TV to comics writing, the pair relished the chance to work without the constraints of reality. “I think [the two kinds of scripting] are remarkably similar, the difference being that we’re free to show anything in the comic. No visual effects budget, no issues with actor availability – it’s the perfect way to tell this kind of story,” Reed said.
Fahey added, “Comic writing and screenwriting are more similar than I originally thought but it’s much more visual storytelling, so the emphasis in your writing is adjusted to that.”
And on that visual end, Reed concluded, “I’m always amazed by the art. It’s so easy to write ‘a hundred centurions march down the street,’ and I feel a lot of pity for Nigel having to actually draw it. Everything I’ve seen so far looks twenty times better than I imagined.”
“Battlestar Galactica: The Final Five” #1 goes on sale in March from Dynamite Entertainment.