I don't know about you guys, but there's no more torturous time of year than the months between Battlestar Galactica seasons. This latest break has been particularly agonizing, due in large part to the sheer length of it. When Season 3 launches in October, we will have endured a six-month Cylon drought. Talk about cruel and frakkin' unusual punishment. Luckily, I've discovered the perfect cure for our separation anxiety: a major dose of scoop courtesy of David Eick! Here's my long-promised Q&A with the Battlestar exec, featuring exclusive prattle on this season's big death, the new mystery man from Adama's past and Apollo's new (and not-so-improved) physique.

Ausiello: We need some scoop to tide us over until October.
David Eick:
It's always a tightrope walk, isn't it? I'm trying to think in terms of what is adequately titillating without blowing our wad or giving away too much. I can tell you that the character of Lee is going to be battling an emotional crisis that's manifesting itself in a change in his physique, which is something I think many Americans, unfortunately, can relate to. I'm certainly one of them.

Ausiello: You mean he's going to gain more weight?
Eick:
He had put on some weight at the end of last season, and I think we're going to see that idea maintained, and we're going to see what the character does about it.

Ausiello: Is he going to get bigger?
Eick:
( Laughs) No.

Ausiello: OK, 'cause that might cause some fans to riot.
Eick:
I know. Also, the big surprise is the fact that a very central character will no longer be with us by the end of the third episode.

Ausiello: Was this a creative decision or did this actor or actress ask to leave?
Eick:
It's always motivated [by story] - so far anyway. We've been very blessed on this show. We have an incredibly professional and exceedingly well-behaved cast, and we haven't had any situations emerge where we needed to think about making changes in the cast because of the cast. It always emerges from stories. At the end of the day, this is a war show and there are casualties. And I think in order to continue to be honest about that and how we pursue the storytelling, sometimes that's going to mean the people we have come to know and love are no longer going to be with us. We can't just see Vancouver day players and extras get killed in the background. Sometimes it's got to hit us where we live.

Ausiello: Are you taking any precautions to ensure that the victim's identity doesn't leak out?
Eick:
Always. There will be severe ramifications if the secret is leaked.

Ausiello: OK, give me another big scoop, please.
Eick:
I think it's going to be very interesting for the audience to finally get a sense of how the Cylon culture operates from within their base ship, their answer to the Galactica. We've seen the base ships from the outside going back to the miniseries and we've seen how formidable they are, but we've never been inside one. And I think the biggest surprise for the audience is going to be how very different and completely unhumanlike the method of operating a base ship is. The very idea that Cylon technology is all about organic life and mechanistic life cohabitating is taken to the next step in the Cylon base ships. They really are, in a variety of ways, living beings themselves.

Ausiello: Will this be in a particular episode or spread throughout the season?
Eick:
We'll begin to introduce that concept in Episode 4 and it will remain a constant from that point on.

Ausiello: Fans are buzzing that the one-year jump may have all been in Baltar's head. Care to comment?
Eick:
False.

Ausiello: Will flashbacks show us what transpired during that year?
Eick:
There will be opportunities in future episodes to review and, in some cases, actually to see events that took place on New Caprica during the intervening year.

Ausiello: Will the new season pick up exactly where last season left off?
Eick:
It will not. There's a bit of a lapse between the final moments of Episode 20 and the beginning of Season 3, but only to advance certain story lines to a breaking point, not to deprive the audience of any more of the storytelling history that I know they will be clamoring for.

Ausiello: Are we talking hours, days, weeks?
Eick:
A couple months.

Ausiello: The thing I wanted to know more than anything at the end of last season was why the Cylons went back on their word. Will that be revealed early on?
Eick:
It's discussed that they saw that there was a light from the nuclear blast that functioned as something of a signal to them. But what we're going to find is that they're not really going back on their word to the extent that their intent is - technically, anyway - peaceful coexistence with the human populace. There's a natural and inherent enmity between these two cultures, and we're going to see how that snowballs once again. It's not really about them violating any kind of truce, because they're presence on the planet is merely a defensive position as far as they're concerned at the beginning. It's to ensure that they aren't attacked again.

Ausiello: Who came looking for Starbuck in her tent? Or was that something we were supposed to know? I certainly didn't recognize him.
Eick:
I think some people in the audience who are savvy about the show going back to its first season [knew] that that was Leoben, with whom Kara Thrace had something of a deep connection.

Ausiello: In the opening title sequence, it says the Cylons "have a plan." Are they still pursuing this original plan, or has it been revised?
Eick:
I don't think the plan has been revised. I think because the human beings have proven themselves to be more unpredictable and more tenacious than the Cylons anticipated, there are changes in their plan to deal with those unanticipated situations. But there is not a fundamental shift in their plan.

Ausiello: Any romantic developments coming for Apollo and Starbuck?
Eick:
Apollo and Starbuck are always going to have a very unusual relationship. It's never going to be as simple as an unrequited love. It's never going to be as platonic as brother and sister. It's never going to be [just] professional. It's never going to be two people who like to screw and then go back to work. It's all of the above and none of the above. It's just not a simple relationship, and I think in that way it's much closer to a lot of male-female relationships that remain mysterious for years and are never entirely resolved to be one thing or the other. I think there's always a bit of murkiness about that. And we intend to continue to investigate that timeless male-female dynamic.

Ausiello: How does her new hubby Sam fit into all this?
Eick:
They will experience some of the difficulties that newlyweds will recognize as being pretty consistent with the kinds of problems that people who are struggling with a young marriage are dealing with.

Ausiello: A lot of fans like the Apollo-Roslin dynamic. Will that be explored more?
Eick:
Yes. You're going to see a newfound trust between them. And you're also going to see that there are many ways in which Laura continues to turn to Lee when she's unable to get answers from Adama.

Ausiello: Will we get a specific answer regarding what exactly Caprica Six in Baltar's head is?
Eick:
No. ( Laughs) Because I think there's not a definitive answer to it.

Ausiello: Just curious: What did Baltar call her on Caprica? She must've had a real name.
Eick:
We always liked the idea that Baltar was a man of many tastes and that there's every likelihood that he never knew her name.

Ausiello: Will Sharon's baby have a rapid-aging gene?
Eick:
There may be physiological differences that make this child different than a human child, but we have not defined any of those yet and it will not include a rapid-growth hormone.

Ausiello: Any new characters this season?
Eick:
There's a new character that we'll introduce in Episode 7, which I am in the middle of writing now. It will be a character that Adama knew from before the attacks. He's a contemporary of Adama's and Tigh's who arrives on the Galactica with a very dark secret about something Adama did in the past. It's a really juicy role for a new actor.

Ausiello: What's the latest on the Caprica spin-off?
Eick:
It's in the very earliest embryonic stages. We're now working on the outline with Remi Aubuchon, who's the writer. We're going to be submitting the document to the network in the next week or so.

Ausiello: Fans are worried that your attention will be pulled away from the original and it'll suffer.
Eick:
I think the difference this time is that we have a partner in Remi, who's going to be taking the lead with the new project. And the new project, at this point, is in the very earliest stages. Ron [Moore] and I [aren't] approaching Caprica like we approached Galactica, which is to say it was just the two of us. We're deeply involved with Caprica, and we're very enthusiastic and thrilled with the opportunity, but when it comes to the detail work of pounding out the script, there's a third partner involved who's at the helm. And that, I think, is the job that tends to be the one that creates the distractions and dilutes a person's attention and focus. So in this particular case we don't have that problem.

Ausiello: Has Sci Fi ordered a pilot, or is it just a script?
Eick:
Right now it's a script. We'll probably know if it's a pilot around July.

Ausiello: Do you have any specific Emmy strategy in place this year for Battlestar?
Eick:
We've been pretty fortunate in that the network has been incredibly aggressive and deeply committed to getting the word out about the show to the Academy. They've put together a set of DVDs with packaging that emphasizes the critical response to the show and it de-emphasizes the science fiction nature of the show, which is an honest presentation because the show really is a drama first before it's a sci-fi drama. I think we're always going to be an underdog because of the title and because of the genre. If we can get past that and the people who vote on these things actually watch the show, I think we have a shot. But it's a tall hurdle to try to clear. I think we'd certainly be thrilled with any recognition from that world, because it would represent a first in many respects for a show like this.

Ausiello: We included Battlestar in our Dream Emmy Ballot for best drama. Hopefully, it'll have some influence.
Eick:
Wow, that's great. We'll know who to send the Candy Gram to if we get a nomination.