Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Galactica Pitch:

Baltar's Last Stand

Critics of Baltar's religion are calling his god "the Cylon god," he hears one of his followers praying in her sleep, "Dear god, make me a Cylon like Baltar so that I never have to die," and he learns that the first disciples of his cult heard of the "one true God" concept from a Six back on New Caprica. He thinks that he is being used by the Cylons to lead humanity to a surrender that will make them the religiously brainwashed cattle of the Cylons. He becomes disgusted with himself and thus begins a major transition in his views and character. He no longer wants to be or feels he is a Cylon.

He finally sides fully with humanity.

When his growing cult decide to take over some of the Galactica fleet's smaller ships and jump toward a Cylon fleet to surrender, Baltar himself has secretly sided with a group that wants to blow-up the Cylon resurrection ship. He's on a suicide mission to blow it up.

The above, I think, might be an example of how a high concept pitch is made in Hollywood, but it's probably longer than most and even then doesn't carry everything I'd like it to.

Just in case any Battlestar Galactica producers are reading my blog, a doubtful possibility since searching for "Battlestar Galactica, blog" turns up over 3 million links, I want to pitch this idea that's been evolving on the Galactic Watercooler forum with some input from me.

I observed that the driving force in the choices for who is a Cylon and who isn't was sadomasochism. (After all, this is a show that loves torture scenes. They tortured Leoben in "Flesh and Bone," they tortured one of the Sixes in "Resurrection Ship," they tortured Balter in “Taking a Break from All Your Worries” ...).

The writers will make the most sadistic choice possible. Consider Tigh, the guy who would sacrifice anything to destroy the Cylons learning that he is a Cylon. No other choice could have been as sadistic. So, while all the best clues point to Baltar being a Cylon the choice would be too expected and Baltar even wants to be a Cylon. The factors that weigh against him being a Cylon can be ennumerated thusly:

1) Baltar wants it, thus it has no emotional punch when he discovers he is Cylon.

2) Too many people expect it, thus it would not be a surprise.

3) Baltar doesn't have a good Cylon role to play at present. Saul Tigh, the second in command on Galactica, and Tory Foster, the right hand woman for the president are both in powerful positions to take down and influence Galactica's destiny.

All this weighs against Baltar being a Cylon for dramatic reasons, but not logical ones. It just wouldn't be emotionally effective to reveal Baltar as a Cylon even though so many clues point towards him.

However, NickB then offered his theory that the writers will make Baltar find out he's a Cylon only after they get him to accept and embrace his humanity, perhaps after he's made a sacrifice and "betrayed" the Cylons. It would be a nice mindfrak for the audience if after initially thinking Baltar was a Cylon at the beginning of the series (as many people seemed to), then dismissing him as too obvious a choice, it would be a triumph of writing to reveal him as a Cylon, having made him such an obvious initial candidate and then persuaded everyone that he was human.

Nick's theory addressed reversing two of the three points, Baltar wanting it and us expecting it, but he doesn't address how it could be best accomplished.

Adding substance to Nick's theory we can get Tory involved and accomplish the reversing of all 3 points:

Taking point 3: Baltar doesn't have a good Cylon role to play at present.

Baltar's role for the Cylons is to spread their religion.

And Baltar might also begin to embrace his humanity when he hears one of his disciples (who he is sleeping with at the time) praying in her sleep, something like; "God, dear God, please make me a Cylon like Baltar so that I never have to die?"

He discovers that many in his cult believe he can lead them to be accepted by the Cylons and made into Cylons if they please the Cylon God. Once he realizes that they've latched on to his secret wish to be a Cylon, Baltar would be more motivated to dig out what he thinks is his humanity and start to embrace it.

He discovers that the boy who was "miraculously" cured wasn't really all that ill after talking to the doctor and that his cult basically talked themselves into believing it was a miracle. He would also discover that the first women in his cult to adopt the religion first heard about the "one true God" from a Six back on New Caprica. Thus he starts to suspect that the Cylons are manipulating him to lead the religion.

Taking point 1: Baltar wants to be a Cylon.

Baltar begins to get disgusted with the religion and he blames the Cylons.

He goes back to his old atheism and starts wondering if such a religion is a form of psychological tyranny and mind control that is in some sense worse than the police state tactics that the Cylons used on New Caprica. (The basic arguments for that can be found in Nietzsche, Feuerbach, and even Hitchens and Harris.) He shares these doubts with Tory and when she learns that Baltar's disciples want to be Cylons she sees a shared religion as the only peace that is possible between Cylons and humans. So what if it's just a Cylon mainframe, it's god-like in its powers. She would start to more fully embrace what she thinks is her Cylon nature and this Cylon goal. Arguing with with Tory, Baltar says the religion will essentially reduce humanity to the state of being Cylon cattle, they won't be allowed to develop science, but will have to take lying myths as reality, they won't be able to create meaning for their own lives but will have a religious meaning imposed on them.

Tory points out that cattle, like cows, couldn't survive in the wild and that they have pretty good lives compared with their wild cousins. Thus, Baltar begins to figure Tory for a Cylon.

Baltar, now seeing the negative effects of the religion, begins siding more fully with the humanist values that he once preached but didn't really hold to. He starts to speak against the "Cylon God," but has to go against his new love, Tory. She convinces him that it's too late, he's done the damage and his current views no longer matter. His disciples believe in his religion, not in him.

His disciples now plan to steal a few of the smaller ships in the fleet and jump toward a Cylon basestar and surrender to the Cylons instead of following Galactica (towards Earth?). Baltar gains the trust of a group that wants to destroy the resurrection ship flying with the basestar and volunteers to sacrifice his life by flying his scout ship into the basestar and then overloading it's nuclear engine.

He tells his followers that he will go ahead of them just in case the Cylons don't accept them. If they shoot him down, or if there is trouble, they should head back toward Galactica or look for a planet to settle on. They all jump in near the basestar and start broadcasting "We come in peace. We surrender" on all channels. Baltar goes on ahead, escorted by Cylon raiders -- but when he gets near the resurrection ship he darts off course, overloads the engines and rams into the resurrection ship.

Baltar's ship punches through the hull like it was thin cardboard. The resurrection ship turns out to be hollow. It's a decoy. Baltar, being in a spacesuit, ejects from the scout ship before it blows. As he is flying out of the scout ship it blows up and it appears Baltar was too close -- he's hit by a fast flying bit of wreckage from his exploding scout ship.

The next thing Baltar knows, he's waking up in a Cylon resurrection Jacuzzi.

To be continued... maybe?

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