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In Brief: Ryan Mottesheard Acknowledges "No Exit," Sartre Link

While I was fairly effusive with my thoughts about last week's episode of Battlestar Galactica ("No Exit") and my theories about the history and future of the Cylon race, Daniel, and Kara Thrace, there was one thing that I wanted to know more about: the episode's title.

As I mentioned in my previous write-up about the episode, the title seems to be a deliberate allusion to Jean-Paul Sartre's 1944 existentialist play "Huis Clos" (translated in English as "No Exit"), given the episode's use of Ellen Tigh, John Cavil, and Boomer in a similar fashion as the three characters (Garcin, Ines, and Estelle) in Sartre's work, which provided the basis for his most quoted aphorism, "Hell is other people." (And the Cylon centurion who helps Ellen out of her goo bath? Clearly a nod to the Valet in Sartre's play.)

I emailed Battlestar Galactica's script coordinator, Ryan Mottesheard, who wrote "No Exit" to ask him if he intentionally selected the title in order to directly evoke Sartre's work.

"Yes, the title is a nod to Sartre's 'No Exit,'" wrote Mottesheard in an email to me. "(And, yes, I am just that pretentious.)"

"Aside from the obvious thematic overlap, there are myriad superficial similarities," he continued. "I'm just glad to have garnered an entry under the 'No Exit' Wikipedia page."

While the Cylon troika in BSG's "No Exit" also clearly wants to torment each other for eternity, there is one major difference between Mottesheard's script and Sartre's play.

At the end of Sartre's "No Exit," the door opens up but none of the prisoners have the strength to leave and end their punishment; however, in Mottesheard's "No Exit," it's the brooding Boomer who actually proves her free will by rescuing Ellen and taking her off of the base ship, toward the light.

Whether Boomer's decision points to a humanist belief that people--including Cylons--will choose the rational over the divine and do the right thing or whether the series is subtly rejecting the existential notion of the universe's underlying meaninglessness remains to be seen. In rejecting the Pythian prophecies, can the humans and Cylons find their own shared path based on reason and morality rather than pre-destiny?

We'll find out as the road to the series finale of Battlestar Galatica continues...

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