A Recurring Theme

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If there’s one thing that makes Ron D. Moore’s space-beard stand on end it’s the juxtaposition of science and religion. When you boil it down to space-ics this is the central theme of every show he’s ever run. He often broaches the topic in such s way that really gets you thinking about the wider implications of the argument. “If a planet of space-jews tell me I’m the messiah and treat me like the messiah no matter what I do or say, AM I the messiah? Is that all it takes? Is that what happened to Jesus?”

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But once the idea is presented from at least a dozen different angles it tends to wear thin. Why? Because in none of these shows does he ever actually come close to answering the question. Again, why? Because you can’t. It’s a universal unknown. And I think that’s his point. No matter how advanced we get as a species, spirituality and faith will always be open to personal interpretation and will typically go against the commonly accepted scientific theories of the day. That’s just human nature for better or worse. Robots, lasers, FTL’s and wormholes aren’t going to change us that drastically.

In each of the series mentioned in today’s comic Moore also gives plenty of evidence that both sides (science and religion) are probably believing the same exact truths, just with different perspectives. For instance, the wormhole aliens in DS9 ARE NOT GODS. They don’t claim to be. They are just super powerful, all knowing, non-linear aliens. The Bajorans view them as gods because… well they can do everything people expect a god can do. Then you ask the same question I asked about Captain Sisko/The Emissary in the first paragraph: if it walks like a god and bends reality to its will like a god, is it a god? I think Moore’s answer, again, is “it doesn’t matter.” DS9 never comes out and says the Bajorans are wrong in their beliefs or that they are the Alpa quadrant equivalent of an ant worshipping a human, but it also never affirms their deifying of their planet’s upstairs space-neighbors is really a great idea.

Ron Moore has always told SLOOOOOOOOW stories with a ton of gray area. Nothing is fixed, everything is open to interpretation. As I said earlier, this can wear thin. Those of you that shared my opinions on the conclusion of Battelstar Galactica (micro spoilers ahead) know what I’m talking about. In any situation where you’ve spent countless hours postulating and pontificating on the true causes behind a chain of emotional, intense and seemingly connected events “oh, what? oh, it was probably God that did it all” is not a satisfying resolution. It reeks of lazy story telling. But when you realize that is the ONLY way Ron Moore has ever told a story, you can begin to set your expectations appropriately.

Which brings us to Caprica. I pored my mostly negative feelings about the first few episodes of Caprica all over the LoFijiNKS Podcast and there they remain for your listening pleasure. Since then the show has taken a bit of an upward turn and really started to explore some of its untapped potential. The concept of V-World (the online, holographic, no consequences, virtual reality-scape all the kids are into) could be a show in itself. In fact, I won’t be surprised if Caprica begins to focus on the more “Matrixy” aspects of its reality as the season progresses. There’s a lot of meat on them scifi bones and it could make for excellent TV. The “I’m a dead girl stuck in a robot/am I really dead if my memories are in tact?/what are we if not the sum total of our experiences?/am I the robot messiah?” on the other hand is already more Moore than I bargained for. This space has been thoroughly explored to death by scifi since its inception as a genre and I doubt Caprica will uncover anything new in that arena.

I can say that I have changed my early opinion on Caprica from “PASS” to “PROCEDE WITH CAUTION.” You really have to understand Ron D. Moore’s M.O as a story teller in order to get into this series. He isn’t afraid to have ZERO sympathetic characters, incredibly slow pacing when the story calls for it and to borrow heavily from the themes of his previous work. He also just had an invincible virtual dead girl debug a few “agents” with her mind, and take out an entire online crime syndicate with virtual machine guns in a holographic version of Grand Theft Auto. So there’s that.

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  1. In the words of Homer J. Simpson "mmmmmmmmm sacrilicious"

    Is it going too far to get a shirt of Space Jesus? I the Godspeed shirt cause a few parental stinks what the hot fudge would THIS one do?

      • I regards to your updated post I totally agree, I've been lazily watching usually a week or two behind. I almost wasn't going to bother watching episode 5, the whole show has been a a snooze fest up until they started fleshing out the v-world specifically New Cap City. Put simply, I want to go to there.

  2. I have to add another caveat about Caprica: When I sit down to watch the show, I do so in the knowledge that every single person we see will die. Caprica City will be bombed to rubble. In five years we'll have moved from a disparate, populous solar system to a radioactive graveyard. The v-world and the high technologies will all be gone. The Greystone name will have become so black that apparently no one will speak of them in half a century.

    It's incredibly depressing, but I guess that is the whole point.

  3. Love the Ulysses 31 Space Jesus! If Jesus were real, he'd love to be that guy!

    Also, as a recent devotee of BSG (halfway through S4) I have loved the 'questioning humanity' parts of the show but as an atheist, am slightly fed up of the godiness of it all. The friend that convinced me to watch it assures me that the ending is awesome, but if it just comes down to the old 'God did it. There is no need to look any further.' I'm preparing for disappointment.

  4. The question of the nature of personhood has come up in his works before.

    He wrote the TNG episode where Tasha's Romulan daughter (a butch short-haired blonde, interestingly) tried to slip through the tachyon net to get supplies to Duras, but Data was the captain who figured out how to figure it out, but his first officer thought of him as a sort of glorified toaster that had to be managed, but then Data used his ACTING!!! to pretend he was angry, and the first officer did his job.

    Yeah. That was a good episode. I saw all sorts of BSG precursors in that episode.

  5. BTW, for future use, it's "wear thin", unless you were doing something terribly meta that went over my head. "Wares" are things you sell, so "ware" could be a backformation that means "sell", but isn't usually.

    "I cannot help but proof read." (see user name)

  6. I couldn't believe the little arrow was gone! I've now officially read the entire comic! I think my eyes are bleeding. Yay.

  7. Ron D Moore is a genius. But without someone to reign him in, like he had on TNG, you wind up with stuff like the BSG ending.

  8. He also ran Carnivale in the first season, writing 3 of its first 12 episodes.

    And yes, I'm totally insane for writing my senior thesis on his use of religion in his work. And also awesome.

  9. "The concept of V-World (the online, holographic, no consequences, virtual reality-scape all the kids are into) could be a show in itself."

    My dear fellow, have you ever heard of Second Life?

  10. Space Jesus of looks and feels like a charcter that Jack Kirby might have originally created. All the design would really need are some Kirby dots in the background and some flecks of color in the otherwise pupilless eyes of the comsic science-messiah.

  11. I haven't seen any of Caprica yet, but we're making our way through Carnivale. Which is pretty awesome. But every time I see the preacher or there's some mention of "the management", I remember Ron D. Moore, take a few breaths, and force myself not to get annoyed by the repetition. (Note: Carnivale is visually stunning, and worth watching even just for what it looks like.)

    • hey FYI, I tried to email you your vault password I believe and it was rejected. Can you send your your correct address?

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