The Best Sci-Fi Series Lied To Fans From The Beginning

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

battlestar galactica

The 2004 Battlestar Galactica series was more than just a stellar reboot…two decades later, it is still widely considered the best sci-fi series of all time. One reason for that was the seemingly immaculate plotting of the overall story, and each episode began with a menacing promise about the evil robot Cylons: “And They Have A Plan.”

However, that tight narrative began to fall apart near the end, and showrunner Ronald D. Moore eventually admitted at the 2017 Battlestar Galactica reunion panel at ATX Television Festival that “there was no plan.”

Why Say There Was No Plan?

battlestar galactica

For frustrated Battlestar Galactica plans, this revelation begs the obvious question: if there never was any kind of overarching plan for these bad guys, why go out of the way to say there was?

One of the reasons is as straightforward as it is disappointing; according to Moore, co-executive producer David Eick thought it sounded like a really “cool” line.

Eick wasn’t wrong: the line made some of sci-fi’s creepiest bad guys seem that much scarier, and it was difficult not to get chills down your spine (assuming you don’t have one of those glowing red Cylon spines from the first season) when reading it.

Figure Out Later?

The other primary reason that Moore kept the “And They Have A Plan” tag is that it was something that he and the show’s various writers “could figure out later.”

Depending on how much you like both Moore and Battlestar Galactica, you could chalk this attitude up to either optimism or naivete. Either way, the bottom line was that the showrunner assumed that everyone involved would come up with a cool plan for the Cylons that would retroactively make sense, but that simply never happened.

After The Series

katee sackhoff

At this point, you might be frustrated enough at the showrunner’s false promises to throw something at him…maybe that frakkin’ toaster in your kitchen that doesn’t work like it once did.

However, Moore ended up paying his own kind of penance: after the series wrapped, he was constantly hounded by fans asking him “What was the plan?”

Not only was this annoying in and of itself, but it left Moore having to break fans’ hearts each time with the sheepish admission that there was never any plan in the first place.

The Cylons’ Actions

From a marketing standpoint, it’s fair to point out that this early promise helped fuel much of the buzz around Battlestar Galactica.

In addition to being a perfectly cast show with tight plots and awesome special effects, the opening of each episode gave the impression that there was a mysterious motivation behind the Cylons’ genocide of humanity and subsequent actions toward Galactica and her crew.

As audiences, we attempted to learn the truth at the same time as our onscreen heroes, and constant debates about the real answer fueled more than a few  early online communities dedicated to the show. 

A Grim Irony

battlestar galactica cast

For fans of Star Trek: Voyager, there is a certain grim irony in Ronald D. Moore’s failure to live up to the promise made by each episode of Battlestar Galactica.

Moore was a longtime Trek writer but only worked on two episodes of Voyager before leaving. His main gripe was that the show constantly hit the reset button at the end of each episode instead of exploring how the prospect of decades stuck on the other side of the galaxy would constantly affect the ship’s crew. 

An Inexplicable Finale

He created Galactica as a show where every decision had consequences, but his own show ended up being rudderless without the major Cylon plan he had promised.

The end result is that Voyager, for all its faults, had a crowd-pleasing series finale that felt like a culmination of years of storytelling.

By contrast, Galactica had a finale so inexplicably bad that you pretty much have to ignore it (and perhaps the rest of the final season) if you want to keep telling people this is the best sci-fi series ever made.

Flawed But Amazing

Even with this sad revelation that the show lied to us from the very beginning, I can’t help but love Battlestar Galactica.

Your mileage may vary, but I’ll always take a flawed masterpiece over the vast majority of bad and downright shlocky sci-fi series.

Still, it’s edifying to know that there was never a plan in place for the Cylons so we can all stop pretending that quoting a Jimi Hendrix song that wouldn’t be written for another 10 millennia was part of it.

Source: Los Angeles Times