Battlestar Galactica: the dark, subversive sci-fi series that Star Trek could never be

Which brings us to to the gripping twist. The Cylons are monotheists who believe they are chosen by the one true god. Humans by contrast, worships a hodgepodge of deities –  much as indigenous people across the world did before organised religion came thundering through. 

Who, then, are we the viewers to empathise with? The baddies, with their relatively familiar spiritual framework? Or the pagan heroes? Oh and that woman in red that Baltar sees everywhere? She is, in fact, one of seven humanoid Cylons created to infiltrate mankind. He and she have quite a history too. As Baltar’s lover back on the Colonies, she coaxed him into surrendering codes required to disarm humanity’s defence network and unleash destruction. 

Now a rag-tag fleet, led by the Galactica, is on the run and searching for a mythical “13th Colony” (Earth). Along for the ride is Baltar – and the woman in red, aka Cylon “Number Six”. Yet, as pointed out, only he can see her. Is she a voice in his head, embodying his guilty conscience? Or perhaps something more dangerous? 

Battlestar Galactica never spells out its messages and generally leaves it up to the viewer to tease out the nuances. But it certainly isn’t wishy-washy or unsure of itself. Moore, who would later oversee time travel romance Outlander, keeps a firm grip on his universe. He knew what he was about, having learned the ropes in the writer’s room on Star Trek: The Next Generation. 

That series had pushed the envelope for a network drama. Yet Moore was frustrated at not being allowed to write Captain Picard, Commander Data etc into a spot where they became actively unlikeable. They were the good guys and had to stay as such. The moral ambivalence of the prestige TV era was still a way off. 

“I just knew that I wanted it to be political,” he said to Wired of Battlestar Galactica. “I knew I wanted to really get under the skin of a lot of things that at Trek you sort of dealt with but in very safe ways, in my opinion. We dealt with a lot of issues and concepts that we also deal with in Galactica, but it always felt like there was an easy moral answer by the end of the episode, and if it was ambiguous in the end it was a safe ambiguous.” 

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