Podcast:He That Believeth In Me

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"He That Believeth In Me" Podcast
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Posted on: 2008-05-06
Transcribed by: Catrope
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Length of Podcast: 43:43
Speaker(s)
Ronald D. Moore
Ronald D. Moore


Comedy Elements
Scotch: Macallan Fine Oak 17
Smokes:
Word of the Week:
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Teaser

Hello, and welcome to the podcast, I'm Ronald D. Moore, the executive producer and developer of the new Battlestar Galactica, and I'm here to welcome you to the first podcast of season four. We're here to talk about episode 403, "He That Believeth In Me". You'll find that I will be continually referring to numbers that make no sense to all of you, (laughs) as I discuss the season in this and subsequent podcasts, because essentially— it's not as complicated as it sounds, it's actually— "Razor" were filmed as the first— were filmed at the beginning of the fourth season and we count "Razor" as episodes one and two, "He That Believeth In Me" is essentially number three to us. And so, internally there's a— I'm used to referring to these episodes by that nomenclature, so I'm— I always call this episode three. So. I think, therefore, what you want is another bit of Galactica arcane of— for all of you.

Anyway, at the end of "Crossroads" number two, we found ourselves in an interesting position here with Baltar and the rest of the Fleet. And, of course, being Battlestar Galactica, we didn't really have a solid idea of exactly how we were gonna pick up season four. This storyline, as you're seeing, is reviewed there with Baltar, we did have some conversations about where that was going, we had some general ideas of how we were gonna play the Final Four into the fourth season, and we knew Kara was coming back, obviously. And it felt like the puzzle pieces were in place, we felt like we were at a good place in terms of the narrative and where we were all going, and it didn't feel like we really had to continue to break out exactly what the season opener was as we continued to work on the finale of season three. (coughs) Excuse me. In retrospect, I think that that was wise, to provide a freshness to when we got down to actually breaking these episode— this episode and subsequent stories in the fourth season. We did talk, pretty early on, about the fact that season four would open with a direct pickup from last year, that we would essentially come straight back into the moment that we left, that Lee is still out there with Kara, and the audience has been given a taste that there really is an Earth out there someplace.

I think there was a moment, actually, where Michael Rymer started to call. I think I was standing outside the sound stage in Vancouver with Michael Rymer at some point in the filming of "Crossroads" two, and I think we were discussing— I think we might've been shooting some of the Starbuck scenes. Maybe— it might've been one of the alternates where Kara was— I think I mentioned this on that podcast for "Crossroads" two, but essentially there was a sequence where Lee came back to his quarters to get his flight suit, as he was answering the call to action stations, and Kara was in his quarters. And we were gonna— we had a way of going out on the third season where Kara was actually in his quarters, as opposed to outer space. And what Rymer pointed out, which I though was interesting, was that if we went out on the idea that she was in his quarters, we can also play it— maybe she's a ghost, or maybe she's one of the head people like Head-Six and Head-Bal— y'know, and what you will see is Head-Baltar into the next episode. And I was intrigued by that, and Lee, maybe, would see Kara and no one else would, and that she sort of appeared to him, and she would be one of those beings into the fourth season. And it was intriguing, but ultimately it felt like it— y'know, we would lose too much from the show, that you really wanted Starbuck back, and we needed Starbuck back, and she was part of the fabric of the show. And— y'know, the fact that she— we had killed her and that she had died was itself shocking enough. And it— there was something more to be played by the fact that she was literally resurrected, I mean resurrection is a recurring theme in the show, obviously with the Cylons, and life, and the quest for mortality, and the notions of God and all that are sprinkled throughout the series. So to have a character who had been literally resurrected and was actually walking among us clearly would have a great deal of symbolism, a great deal of meaning, it would at least resonate in the show in terms of what we'd established.

This moment is really quite good. The amazing thing to me is that this is one of the scenes that I nearly cut over and over again, I kept thinking that we've played this before, I'm referring to Saul's shooting Adama right in the eye, it's a quick pop and he really does shoot him right in the eye, which I love. We talked about this in the room, it was structured, it was in the story and it was in the— it was in all drafts of the script, and yet some part of me always kept wanting to cut it and feeling like "No, they're gonna see this coming, they're never gonna buy it, and it— y'know, we've played it before". I was really wrong, because when he shot it, when he got in and actually shot this piece of Tigh shooting him, and then that camera pan and then the look on Saul's face, and slowing the action down a little bit and coming back around, and Adama is still there, and it feels like it's in one take. It's not, it's— there's actually a cut in there, if you look at it closely, but it's really done well, it's very seamless, it's really nicely done, it's nicely paced, it's a really— a nice touch that Michael has there. He's very good at those little cinematic moments and really— it's quite a daft gag he did.

This beat with Anders and Tyrol, there was a little moment where we were gonna have Anders demanding that they cut his cast off. If you recall, Anders fell off a Viper in a previous episode in— late in the third season, and there was a beat here where he still had the cast on, and he whipped out a knife or something, and had somebody cut it off, or he was gonna cut it off, and myself, I can't really recall which it was. But we kind of dropped that for the— as the scene went on, and it just— it didn't feel necessary, and it was like something else that was gonna slow down the action, so we just went "Ah, fuck it, the audience will— the audience will swing with us on this".

Oh, I didn't— by the way, the scotch tonight is Macallan Fine Oak 17, the kids and Mrs Ron are downstairs, so the smoking lamp is, unfortunately, out.

This battle sequence is remarkable (laughs). It's especially remarkable to me, 'cause of— y'know, at this point in the run of the show, the battle sequences— I keep getting to a point where I feel like "Well, OK, we've really shot a lot of battle sequences, we're not really gonna be able to top ourselves, so this won't be that great. But let's give it a shot and try and come up with some interesting pieces." And I tell David or Bradley, and David or Bradley go off and they think about it and they come up with these little great set pieces, and ideas that are happening in the battle, and they go through all the pilot talk and making it work. And I always approached it a bit sceptically, that— y'know, this time it's not gonna be that exciting and this time it's— you're not— it feels like "Oh, it's the fourth year, we've seen the Cylons and the Vipers quite— fight quite a few times, what's new under the sun to any of this?" And then the pre-vis starts coming in, and Gary Hutzel— his team pre-visualize all these sequences, and I start seeing it, and I start "What's going on? This is kind of cool." And then su— there comes a point in the process you see it shot by shot by shot, and you keep seeing all this stuff and it keeps getting refined, and then at some point it just takes off and it becomes really elegant and quite— (laughs) and quite lovely to watch, and that's where we are. This is one of the best battle sequences we've ever done, which is really great.

There was a moment that was cut here, the teaser for this episode used to end on Anders getting Seelix in his sights, in his gun sights, and the ques— it went out on him frozen with his finger over the trigger, and the question was "Oh, has his Cylon nature kicked in and he's now going to blow Seelix out of the sky?" But with that— the teaser was trunc— was simplified and condensed in Michael's cut, and all that went away, which I think was very very smart.

We worked over this sequence in visual effects quite a bit in post, exactly what they're doing and where I don't— at points in the early pre-vis of it I felt that you couldn't understand who was chasing who, and I kept setting it back, and I kept simplifying out some of the more complex moves so that you could follow the basic story of Seelix and Anders. You see, that shot right there where the Viper's trailing the Raider that's tra— going after Anders, we worked on a lot.

Now this scene— this is great. I love this scene. This was also one of the scenes that— I was in the editing bay and beating up my visual effects guys over and over again. They delivered a different sequence, they surprised me, they delivered a sequence here where instead of this one Raider that sees Anders and pulls around and goes, they delivered a sequence where there was this Raider came— that Raider came right up on Anders's Viper, flipped over, and was hovering right over his cockpit, the Cylon eye was just a couple of feet from Anders's literal eye outside the canopy. And then, while that was happening four other Raiders came up, two on each side of Anders's nose, and came up— if you can imagine lifting their arms, almost like little angels, I mean four of them, two on each side coming up. And then, when the red eye stopped, the first one peeled off and the others all went down together, and it was very much like a ballet, it was a really interesting idea, the choreography— it was literally choreography— of it was quite beautiful, it was a sequence that I hadn't really seen anybody do, and I hated it. (laughs) I just hated it, and I told Gary that there was no way— I thought he'd lost his mind. I called him from the car, and went "What are you going?!" And he said "No, we're just— we're trying something." And I said "I know, you guys are trying something, I like it, I like it, but it's not the show, it's not the show, it's not show." So then they did— they took a second crack at it and they still kept trying to talk me into it periodically. And I know that there's— the sequence is out there and I think it should definitely be included on the DVD. So if you're listening to this on the DVD, I hope you can go and find it in the deleted scenes section. Because it just wasn't the show, I mean the show lives in this docu style, a naturalistic idea, and that was so stylized, that it was just— it went over the top for me. And where— but what we have, I think, is still pretty stylized, that moment of him— of slowing down time, of their— of the Raider seeing Anders, and Anders's frozen face, and the tiny little red pop on the eye, all of that, I think it— you're still— you've left the documentary template, and you're outside of that now, you're not playing in a naturalistic key, you're intentionally hyping some— making something a little more hyper-real.

Act 1

And act one. I was happy that they didn't destroy completely the ring ship, I've gotten quite fond of it, although it's a— in some ways it's the great— the one that got away from me. 'Cause when Gary first proposed the big ring ship, we talked about the interior of it and the interior of it is literally— y'know ring existence, they're all living on the outside hull of that ship in a big, spinning gravity sensor, very 2001. And I always wanted to go in there, I always thought "Oh, we gotta find a way to play sequences where you go in that ring ship and you can see the horizon curving away from you and you're in this big middle." And of course we never came close to having anything but a (unintelligible) that might do it, so whenever I see it, I wanna blow it up. But this time I actually said "Let's not blow the whole thing up, let's just take out part of the ring."

Now, this section here— the stuff with Baltar— we tend to call this Baltar's lair, and I think it is actually scripted that way, it's "Interior Baltar's lair". We talked about the idea that he would have acolytes and followers during the trial of— during the "Crossroads" trial. I mean, we played a lot of that earl— we didn't play a lot of that, we tried to lay a lot of groundwork for that towards the end of the third season, where he was getting letters in jail, his manifesto was getting out there in the Fleet. This is a guy who has an idea of monotheism, it's all these notions that were— that he was floating out to the civilians. And it felt like "Well, these are desperate people, and how do you slice it? Four years have gone by, they're back out in space after the New Caprica disaster, like is bleak for a lot of people in this Fleet. And no matter what people said about Gaius Baltar, once he was acquitted, it was almost like that alone was the hand of God reaching down and saving this man, and mayb— and that there would definitely be the people in a population like this that would flock to him." I mean, I absolutely believe that, and given this number of people in the Fleet, there's gonna be somebody who's gonna be listening to Gaius Baltar, and so it's— it doesn't take too much more to say that there is acolytes, and there's people— we talked a lot about the Manson trial, the fa— the people that— the women that would go to the Manson trial whether it's night strangler or— no, the hillside strangler, rather, and there were always these women that seemed to show up and were drawn in by strange, psychotic, charismatic figures, so— Baltar's not even one of them, sorry, James, if you're listening, I'm not really comparing you to Charles Manson, but there's a bit of it there.

This notion we talked about quite a bit, but— y'know, that Starbuck— to her no time has passed. I think in the first draft, I think we actually didn't talk ab— we didn't play this scene in the first draft. She came aboard and there was reaction, and then we cut ahead into Adama's quarters, the scene— y'know, after they've gone through it a few times and talked about things. But I really felt that one of the first things you had to understand was the she— from her perspective, basically no time has passed. A few hours have gone by since the time that we saw her die, and you had to understand that to be inside her head when she first showed up aboard Galactica.

There was this scene that was cut, I'm trying to remember if it was shot, I don't believe it was shot. There was a scene where Kara goes back to her quarters, to her junior officer's quarters, she had one of the bunks. And she goes in there, and that's where Sam is staying, and she like ripped his name off a locker and said "it didn't take you guys long", they'd already (unintelligible) up her things. And somebody else made some comment about the fact that Anders and Tory were getting it on, and it was in Starbuck's bunk, I think, and she wasn't too pleased about that, she was kinda pissed, but— I remember feeling like it— I wasn't quite sure if she'd really be that pissed if Anders were sleeping with Tory given her whole history of sleeping with other people, but I think more than that, it didn't feel like a necessary scene, and there's always— we're fighting huge time issues as we do on every single one of these ships. Ah, am I saying "one of these ships"? Every single one of these shows.

I can tell you that— at the beginning, I pulled off a document here that was like a listing of the first four episodes and beyond for season four. This document was written in March, this is dated March 5th, 2007. So episode one, in a nutshell, it says: "Kara faces doubts about who she is, the Final Four worry about their loyalties, Lee leaves the military for good, Baltar begins his role as a religious leader." In depth, it says: "Cylon baseships battle Galactica and the Fleet, unable to jump away, facing annihilation, Galactica prevails while the Cylons' Heavy Raiders mysteriously retreat. Kara's miraculous return with knowledge about how to reach Earth sparks Trojan suspicion. Unable to reconcile her gut feelings of who she thinks she is with mounting evidence to contrary, Kara grabs her weapon, bolts from confinement, ominously seeks out the most powerful man alive: Adama!" Whoo. "Tigh, Anders, Tyrol and Tory secretly meet. Inner conflict: one of them, should they reveal who they are, are they capable of doing harm, uneasy agreement is reached. One: keep their identity secret. Two: keep watching each other. Three: discover who is the fifth of the Final Five, Kara being the obvious candidate. Four: use Tory to get close to Baltar, who has Cylon Final Five knowledge having been with D'Anna at the Temple. Baltar, who's not guilty, is a walking pariah. Reluctantly seeks refuge among monotheistic (unintelligible) cult. Head-Six convinces Baltar to embrace the cult, become their leader. Baltar's religious stock rises radically when he performs a miracle of the comatose boy. Baltar on the road to believing in himself as the vessel of the one true God. Lee's fundamental joy and belief in Kara galvanizes belief in himself, second chance as a life out of uniform. He tells Adama he's through with flying." That is, like I said, dated in March, that's where we— structurally, what we wanted the first episode to be about. We approached it as— this season was very different because it's the last season, and we knew, going into it, that we were gonna structure it as long, long story. I just said that from the beginning, it was— y'know, I gave up any pretense of trying to say that this season was gonna be about anything other than one long story, with all these characters, and where they had been, and getting to Earth. As a result, we never really talked about "we need to do a Baltar episode" or "we need to do a Lee episode" or "we need to do an action episode", we just told the story. So we— when we stepped back from it, started to say "OK, structure the overall story", then all the pieces started to line up for us. And as a result you could spin out a fairly brief— that's like a one-page— not even a one-page description of episode one, by its constituent parts, we were really just describing what the structure of that episode is without really even giving you an APNC— a narrative, there's no really— there's several narratives within the description, there's no real overarching that carries you through. But it's surprising— y'know, when you watch the episode, I think you do feel a sense of narrative, I think you feel that— y'know, I think that Kara, if you had to pick one, Kara's probably the A-story in this episode, her coming back and the repercussions of her coming back and how it affects all the people around her and what they do about her, and ultimately where the episode ends, with her and Laura, it is her A-story.

You got— I love— you gotta love Baltar, I mean, how can you not love Baltar? It certainly, a lot of people go out of their way to find ways of loving Baltar.

The viper, a couple of scenes ago Kara's viper came back and it was pristine and that was a plot point we discussed at a great detail. We kept going back and forth about how, y'know, what the secrets the viper had or did not have. What they could find and what they could not find in it. It comes up, you'll see that we will return to said pristine viper again later in the season where it'll play an interesting and pivotal role in where we're going and you have your first real spoiler.

I'm trying to recall— there was a different version of this scene, I believe, when we were breaking it— when we were writing this story. But I think that the idea was always that Laura was really going to put her feet to the fire on this and everyone else was kind of hunting for reasons to believe her, but that Laura really wasn't going to give her the time of day, and Laura just was not going to believe this, going out the door. She's come back, the only way she can come back is that she's a Cylon. And it's hard to come up with another rational explanation for what she is. And the great thing was to sort of put Laura and Adama going at this from opposite place— opposite— looking at this from opposite directions. That you know, Adama, the pronounced atheist and pragmatic man who's been busting Laura Roslin's chops for quite a while about the Pythian prophecies, about visions and all that. He gets to a place where he wants to believe Kara, he wants to believe this dead woman, this seemingly dead woman is the real deal. And that Laura was the one who was pragmatically pushing and trying not to believe any of this hocus pocus kind of stuff, which hearkens back of course to You Can't Go Home Again in the first season where we saw Adama's, how far he was willing to—

Oh, I'm sorry, I jumped ahead when I was talking about the pristine Viper. It's right here actually.

Act 2

Act 3

Act 4