Battlestar Galactica Interview: Mark Verheiden on Athena, Anders and the Hybrid
Welcome to the latest installment of Battlestar Galactica Weekly, our recurring Q&A with Mark Verheiden, co-executive producer of the hit Sci-Fi Channel series Battlestar Galactica. Each week, we’ll interview Verheiden about the events of the week’s episode, what those events might mean for both the season and the series, and hopefully unearth some clues about what to expect as the final season of Battlestar Galactica nears its conclusion.
Along with posing our own questions to Verheiden, we’re also taking questions from fans — so be sure to send your questions to me, your official BSG Weekly interviewer, after each episode airs at chris [at] comicmix dot com. New episodes of Battlestar Galactica can be seen every Friday at 10 PM EST on Sci-Fi Channel. You can read previous interviews via the links at the end of this article.
This week, Verheiden answers questions about the Episode #6 of Season Four, "Faith," which aired May 9, 2008. Note: These answers may contain spoilers, so read at your own risk.
COMICMIX (from reader Andy): Are all the things the Hybrid says supposed to mean something or is it only relevant to the story when she’s actually speaking to Starbuck directly? For example, the "toy soldier will become pliant" was said at one point. That could refer to Adama, especially in light of what he says about changing his mind at the end of the episode?
MARK VERHEIDEN: I don’t want to get into a line-by-line analysis of the hybrid’s monologue(s), though it’s always fun to write! At any rate, it’s safe to say that some of the babble represents the creature’s very mysterious mental gymnastics. And, if you listen closely, certain writerly obsessions with The Wild Bunch and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
Some of it is specific to the ship (repairs, altering temperatures, etc.) and some of it is very pertinent to the larger mysteries. Maybe this will help: Every line is scripted, none of it is ad-libbed, so everything our hybrid says, she was meant to say. As for interpretation, I leave that to you…
CMix (from reader Leah): Why does Athena pull back at the last minute and not want to touch the dying Eight? And why does Anders show so much compassion for a Cylon when he was about to kill one shortly before that?
MV: Athena’s feelings toward the other Cylons and her own model, especially given her confrontation with the other Sharons earlier in the show, suggest she’s decided where her allegiance lies. Anders, however, is still trying to process the revelation that he’s been a Cylon all along.
When the Six murdered Barolay, that was an affront to his human side, and I think you can see some self-loathing in his rage against her. On the other hand, treating the dying Sharon with kindness, recognizing her desperate attempt to make a connection, showed him there is a humanity in these "toasters" that he’s only been able to hate until now.
At least, that’s how I see it…
CMix (from reader George): I like the fact that we saw Starbuck’s vision realized, but why actually dissolve to her painting? Was it just to make sure people would actually get it? What was the thinking there?
MV: I think you got it. It was a nice visual way of making the connection.
CMix (from reader Solonia): What changed for Laura between her first bout with cancer and this one, that she would choose diloxin over chamalla? Why would she put herself through so much medicine-induced sickness if she does not believe it can cure her?
MV: Laura has cancer, but the diloxin therapy can still slow the progression of the disease, in the same way chemotherapy can extend life even if it doesn’t cure the patient. Laura may be dying, but she doesn’t want to die yet…
CMix (from reader Solonia): Also, didn’t they keep any of Hera’s blood around to help other sick patients?
MV: We actually discussed that possibility back in Season Two, it’s just not a storyline we decided to follow. Anyway, since the transfusion ultimately failed in Laura’s case, it’s become something of a moot point.
CMix: Was Gaeta trying to manipulate Helo to jump back to the fleet early when they were talking about his leg and the fact that Cottle might have to cut it off?
MV: I’m not sure manipulate is the right word. Gaeta was pointing out his justifiable concerns, which I think make sense given his miserable situation, and in his heart of hearts maybe he hoped Helo would respond. But Gaeta knows Helo.
He not only gave his word to wait for Starbuck’s Raptor, but watched while his wife went off with the scout party. Gaeta had to know Helo wouldn’t leave until the Raptor returned or the clock ran out.
CMix: Roslyn now seems to be reconsidering Baltar’s words and her belief in the Gods. Is this more a result of her knowing she doesn’t have long to live or does she now feel he might be on to something?
MV: I think she was moved more by how Baltar’s words gave Emily comfort. Given their long and exceptionally fractious relationship, it would take more than a few wireless broadcasts to make President Roslin a Baltar acolyte.
Still, hearing Baltar’s surprisingly prophetic words in the wake of her own experience had to be disturbing.
CMix: What was your favorite (or least favorite) part of this week’s episode?
MV: I was very moved by Mary McDonnell’s performance, specifically the scene where she talks about her mother’s death. It’s one of those scenes that was striking in the writing, and Mary took it to an especially moving level.
And I love the last scene between Laura and Adama, a rare moment of retrospection for the Admiral and just… nice.
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