In terms of pop culture secrets there’s none bigger right now than the identity of the final Cylon on Battlestar Galactica.
While the identity of the last Cylon disguised as a human has been a secret from the BSG audience, the identities of the Final Five Cylons was a mystery that haunted the crew of the Battlestar Galactica for the first episodes of Season Four. Thanks to the revelations in the final episodes of that half-season, both the crew and audience knows who the “Four” are. But who is the Fifth?
That’s the milieu Dynamite Entertainment dives into head-first in March with the launch of Battlestar Galactica: The Final Five, a three issue miniseries that ties in with the series’ final episodes, which begin on Friday on Sci Fi.
The miniseries is fully authorized by Sci Fi and the show’s producers, and written by Battlestar alums Kevin Fahey and David Reed, with art by Nigel Raynor.
We caught up with the writing team, but first, we spoke with Dynamite President and Publisher Nick Barrucci about the Battlestar comic series, Final Five and more.
Newsarama: Nick, you're in a unique spot with the BSG license now - the series is ending, but obviously, the world is rich, and there are many opportunities for stories. Generally speaking, what's the strategy for you moving forward with BSG comic projects, and how closely are you working with Sci Fi/Universal on the avenues you can go down?
Nick Barrucci: We are in a very good position with the BSG license. The world they've created is rich and thankfully there are more opportunities for new stories with the right creative teams than ever before. Our strategy moving forward today is to release Cylon War - which tells the story of the very first conflict between humans and their machines, and then The Final Five which runs in tandem with this season finale coming out in March.
After those, we'll see what creative we can finalize with Universal, continuing to work as closely as possible with Universal to add layers to the BSG universe. Are we necessarily going to do a “Season Five?” I can't say yet because the focus here is on our two big releases and the Series Finale. It's been one of the best series on TV today and I hope everyone starts watching it January 16th – even if you've never watched BSG before this is the season to watch, this will make it all really come together.
NRAMA: So where does The Final Five fit into the mix? When is it set, and
what gap does it fill in?
NB: Final Five is . . . with this final season I can't say too much because it really has a lot of spoilers. It's written by Kevin Fahey and David Reed who worked on the show and they know all the ins and outs. All I can say is that fans that don't watch the show who have heard the hype will
appreciate it, fans who watch the show will really dig this.
NRAMA: Generally speaking, what can the comic do that the series isn't able to?
NB: When you think about it, fortunately everything that writers and artists do their CGI is limited to their imagination. While you could say unfortunately for the TV show their budget is limited it actually made the show better because it made it more grounded and it made the writers work on story elements that really connected to the world we live in. What the comic can do is expand on the effects, expand on the battles, expand on the worlds that haven't been done before and now that the series is coming to an end we'll be able to tell more stories.
NRAMA: How did you come to select Kevin and David as the writers on this, and what do they bring to the table?
NB: Kevin and David were just the right writers. Again they knew all the ins and outs for the final season. They knew what they were doing, they were the perfect people to bring to the table so we are ecstatic to have them, and I hope the fans agree.
Now, over to the writing team…
Newsarama: Guys, over the months and years that the Final Five have been seen/revealed, they've almost had a mystical aura placed on them by the other human-looking Cylons, not to mention the Centurions and the Raiders. Without digging too deeply into the area that you're exploring in this series, what's the larger picture of the Final Five?
S. Kevin Fahey: That question is one of the key questions we tried to answer by the end of this mini-series. Why the reverence? Why are they seen as semi-dieties in a way? What is the connection between the seven skinjobs and not only the Final Five, but the old school Cylons. Obviously, I don't want to give anything away, but part of the answer lies in the fact that these Final Five are old. They pre-date almost everyone. They've been through a lot and they're basically responsible for the state of things - on both sides - the Colonial Fleet and the Cylon world.
David Reed: Part of that reverence clearly has to do with the secrecy surrounding the Five - no one, including the Five themselves, knew their identities. I don't think it's giving too much away to say that the Five were the progenitors of the humanoid Cylons. How did they go from that to living anonymously among the humans? That's the best untold story in the Galactica mythos, and it's going to come out in pieces - partly in the final 11 episodes, but the real meat of the story is in this comic series.
NRAMA: The audience's learning of the Cylon agents happened somewhat in concert with the characters for many episodes, and now the final remaining Cylon. As you see it, in the larger plan, why was the identity of the Final Five held for so long?
SKF: In part because the writers were arguing who they should be. Honestly.
Once that was decided, it just seemed like something that you had to gradually build toward. There were so many layers to that onion, as a writing staff, we knew that the revelation couldn't be too early or it takes away from the denial, the struggle with coming to terms with that from a character standpoint. As far as the Final Five go, at least the Four that have been revealed, from the end of Season Two up until this midway point in Season Four, their story is essentially that of identity crisis. Also, it was a chance to revisit the series original notion of who can be trusted, who is the enemy. The paranoia and secrets and all that that launched this show and made it what it was. We had started to show the Cylon World more and more by Season Three, so this was the natural progression of heading toward the Final Five revelation, and those characters are what link the two worlds, human and Cylon, and force us to ask what is the difference between us.
DR: Exactly. And every time the identity of a Cylon was revealed, the series is twisted into a new direction. There had been lots of hints at the identities of the Five, like Tyrol being drawn to the Temple of the Five in "The Eye of Jupiter," but once that revelation is dropped on the audience, you can't go back. I think there's a desire to tell as many stories as you can with the characters as they are, before you irrevocably change the way the audience looks at them. I guess what I'm saying is this: the writers could have revealed that Tyrol was one of the Five mid-season three, but then they couldn't have done a story like "Dirty Hands." Similarly, once the Fifth is revealed, that sets the series on a course towards its conclusion.
NRAMA: So what exactly will you be exploring in this miniseries?
SKF: It's an origin series, so we will be going way back. It brings us up to the events of the miniseries.
NRAMA: What's the major throughline for this miniseries? It fits in with what the television audience has seen, correct?
SKF: Absolutely. There are references to events of the series, and it helps to better understand why these characters are who they are. Not to say it's just trying to answer questions, it's definitely an exploration and interpretive in that it's our ideas of what happened, what led to where we are in the show. But it's like the flashbacks in Godfather II in the sense it isn't absolutely necessary to explain to understand the show, but it's fascinating and it helps enrich that experience. Hopefully.
DR: I'd describe the throughline as "The Cylon Lineage." We go back to the very beginning and go through the whole epic Cylon history. In the beginning, we're not really dealing with "The Five" as we know them, but by the end we're all caught up. There's also an unexpected tie-in with the series, something that's been hinted at over and over, but we got to really make our own and run with. Really, this miniseries explains a lot more than just the Final Five.
NRAMA: As we've seen in the fourth season, the human/Cylon models are not simply
automatons, but rather, are independent operators within the larger Cylon infrastructure that enact change in their own, sometimes unpredictable ways, which seems to go against their "machine" nature. In your view, how do you see these models in the grand scheme of things? To what end do they serve the larger Cylon cause?
SKF: Well, if you follow the show, it's interesting what has started to make the Cylons independent. In part, in was the forbidden knowledge of who the Final Five where. It was played as if that pursuit was something they couldn't even think about. Then it became more and more a point of discussion, debate among the Cylons. That divided the Cylons. That led to a Civil War. Free will versus Determinism in a sense. A more human machine versus the automaton. In the beginning of the series, the skinjobs seemed like they were designed to better infiltrate humanity... what if that wasn't necessarily the case. All skinjobs, including the Final Five, are the manifestation of the bridge between human and Cylon/machine on much more than just a physical level, if that makes sense.
DR: What is the "larger Cylon cause," really? I think we're learning that they have more than one cause, and that's the whole problem. Cavil wants something very different from Six, and don't even get me started on the Final Five. This is a great place to throw in a shout out for "The Plan," the 2-hour special that Jane Espenson wrote, which will air after the BSG series finale. We all know that the Cylons are built to look and feel human, and that they have a plan, but Jane really digs into how fractured that plan turned out to be.
NRAMA: Finally - we're just days away from the start of the final episodes, and you guys are in the know...any hints on who the last Cylon is? Anything at all?
SKF: Look at the promotional "last supper" image that SciFi started to put out at the beginning of season four. I swear, the answer is right there. Although I think the revelation is very cool, I hope people don't think that it is an answer or solution... it's where the series goes from there, what characters do with that knowledge that makes it worthwhile.
DR: I'm going to echo David Weddle on this one. If you'd only look back at every single episode of the series, frame by frame, you'd have the answer. What are you waiting for? Get to it!