Fans of Battlestar Galactica packed the Centennial Ballroom at 1PM Friday for the “BSG—Children of Humanity” panel (American Science Fiction track). Panelists Michael Hogan, Edward James Olmos, Richard Hatch, Tricia Helfer, Tahmoh Penikett, and Dr. Kevin Grazier spent the next hour answering questions from fans.
The first question, whether Olmos thought artificial beings would ever become common, evoked the answer, “We’re there now.” Olmos went on to cite “extraordinary” work in robotics occurring in Japan and other countries, indicating we should all be expected to live a thousand years. “We may not call them Cylons,” he said, “but they’ll be mechanical from the inside out.” He later noted that, as artificial organs become common, the question will be how long people want to live, rather than how long they are able to.
Penikett arrived to the panel a few minutes late, having rushed from the airport. He moved through the guests, embracing each one, while the fans cheered. The outpouring of sincerity and friendship left a lasting impression on the audience and became a highlight of the event.
A fan asked Helfer how she prepared emotionally to play a rape victim in the episode “Pegasus.” She responded that she researched post traumatic stress disorder and the ways soldiers cope when returning from war. She also watched some intense rape scenes in films. During filming, she said, she preferred to stay in that mindset, to stay on the floor and uncomfortable. As a result, she had bruises the next day from the rivets in the flooring.
A question about how Hogan felt when he learned of Tigh’s upcoming affair with Number Six led to a discussion on the panel of the ways that scene evolved. Olmos, the episode’s director, said that he had the idea of having Tigh kiss Six when they were sparring and the storyline evolved from there. “Who knew there would be a baby?” he said, indicating that he didn’t believe that was planned, but the writers took that moment and built on it.
The writers’ tendency to build on what came out of the performances was a common theme during the panel. Penikett mentioned inventing backstory with Grace Park for a scene they played together, both actors shaping their performances around the material they developed . One of the writers later commented on the depth they gave the scene and said the team would be working that into future storylines.
When asked what Hogan would have done differently had he known ahead of time that he was a Cylon, he spoke of how invested people are, emotionally, in what and who they are and how terrifying it is when that knowledge is turned on its head. Tigh was “living in a nightmare.” The scenes wouldn’t have had the same emotional impact had Hogan known of his character’s true nature all along.
On Cylon biology, Grazer explained that only a small change to human biology would be required to create a Cylon. An email exchange he had with a fan on this topic morphed into a chapter in the book Science of Battlestar Galactica.
When asked about Tom Zarek as a villain, Hatch responded that Zarek played an essential role in challenging the government’s drift toward a dictatorship. Democracy can be lost if people don’t stand up and hold leaders accountable, he added.
At the end, the panelists stood and led the audience in a rendition of “So Say We All,” a tradition fans have come to expect.