Jane Espenson On Battlestar's Morbid Humor And Superstitious Atheists

Last Friday's Battlestar Galactica left us excited, dazzled — and racked with debate about its implications. It was almost like we were having a civil war, as we argued over its implications for everything from monogamy to atheism. Finally we decided to ask writer Jane Espenson — whose trademark Buffy wit finally got to shine in a BSG episode — a few questions about the episode. Click through for her answers, which only fueled our frenzied speculations.

Jane Espenson On Battlestar's Morbid Humor And Superstitious Atheists

First of all, you've talked before about how your writing for BSG is way less comedic than your writing for Buffy or Firefly. But some of the Baltar scenes in "The Hub" felt very comedic — especially Baltar's "special" communication methods with the Hybrid, and his little sermon to the Centurion. Was that stuff intentionally funny when you wrote it, or did James Callis inject humor into it in his performance?

James Callis does inject humor above and beyond what's written. He's a truly gifted comic performer. But I did intend for those moments to be funny, and tried to convey that in the writing. Laura has at least one joke as well, her little "If you're my subconscious you're a little full of myself" line, which Mary delivered beautifully. I wanted to convey how suddenly *good* she felt when all the sensations of her illness lifted. I thought it would leave her a little giddy, a bit inclined toward humor. BSG is not as intrinsically comedic as Buffy and Firefly were, but it does accommodate dark comedy, irony, and the humor of everyday life really well. I'm always looking for places to put those moments, not because I want it to be a comedy, but just because scenes feel realer to me when characters get to show off more aspects of themselves, including their senses of humor.

Jane Espenson On Battlestar's Morbid Humor And Superstitious Atheists

Also, did Baltar confess his role in the cylon genocide on purpose, to confront Roslin with the choice of whether to save his life (and cause her to experience spiritual growth)? Or did he really just confess by accident, when he was drugged out of his mind?

He was drugged out of his mind. He may also have been wrestling with some things that he needed to talk through for himself when confronted by his mortality. But if there was intentionality to his confession in terms of how it affected Laura, it did not come from within himself.

Brother Cavil is the main atheist voice on the show, isn't he? And yet, in "The Hub" he once again repeats that the Cylons aren't supposed to know the faces or names of the "final five." Why is an atheist character so superstitious?

Why indeed? Oh yes... why indeed?

Jane Espenson On Battlestar's Morbid Humor And Superstitious Atheists

Is Helo, in fact, married to the entire production line of eights? After all, they all have access to Athena's memories, and they know how he likes to be massaged, and gods know what else. Why shouldn't he consider himself married to all of them?

They all *could* access those memories, but there's no reason to think they all have. And then there's the question of whether or not adopting someone else's memories makes you them. After all, you wouldn't forget your own memories, and those also contribute to who you are. And there may just be some core arrangement of your synapses that isn't quite identical to your twins' — that makes you *this* Eight and not *that* one, no matter how identical you and your experiences are. Helo loves Athena, and he's a one-toaster man.