Podcast:Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I

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"Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I" Podcast
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Ronald D. Moore
Ronald D. Moore


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Teaser

Hello, and welcome to the podcast of the final two episodes of the first season here on Battlestar Galactica. I'm Ronald D. Moore, executive producer and creator of this version. And since this is the finale I'm going to be recording this podcast- I'm going to do both parts together, and for both episodes I'm going to assume you have seen the episode before you listen to the podcast, so if you don't want the episode spoiled I suggest you watch the episode first.

First of all I should say they were both designed to be shown together, it is really a two-hour movie split into two parts, and probably the most satisfying way to watch them is to record them and watch them back-to-back. However they are perfectly acceptable episodes in their own right, and each one has its own coherent narrative that you can follow, but it's a richer meal if you chose to watch them together.

We started talking about the finale I'd say mid-way through the first season, and there were certain things that we knew we wanted to accomplish at the end of season one that I had set out, actually back in the story bible stage, and presenting it to the network and saying that these were the directions that the characters- this is where Laura and Adama were going to end up by the end of season one, and we accomplished that. This Kobol's Last Gleaming in its finale in the second part definitely ends up where I thought season one should end.

Now talking in more specific terms here about the episode. This tease, it's one of my favorite teasers, not only in the series; it's one of my favourite teasers that I've ever done. I guess I like it primarily because most of it is non-verbal, it's very visual teaser, it's just sort of cutting back and forth between these disparate story lines. It's also an example of how things translate from page onto screen. If you read the draft of this it's described a little differently, it started in close up, it was starting on fingers, cut to a woman's mouth, cut to a gun, cut to a woman's hands, and there was this sort of rhythm of extreme close-up cuts that I was establishing the script- in discussions with Michael Rymer, the director- you can only direct the show so much on page, you have to allow the director to do his job, which is to actually direct the show. So I mean, as a writer I tend to find that I direct the movie in my head as I'm writing it, and I kind of have an idea in my head where I think the camera is, the close-ups, the rhythm of certain scenes in the editing back and forth and so on, and you have to kind of let that go, to an extent, you have to let the director and the actors and the rest of the team come in and bring their voices and their visions to the material, and this is a good example of that. This is all stuff that I wrote, eventually, the boxing match, Sharon putting the gun in her mouth, and Helo confronting Caprica Sharon on the planet and going back and forth- the style of it, and the rhythm of it, and exactly what the shots are and how it's conveyed is really something that the director and then the editor, between them put together. And it's great 'cos you watch your material get lifted and again, your hope is that you deliver a script to a production team that takes the material and improves on it, and makes it better, and make it sing, and makes it really alive, because it's really not alive on the page, it's really just words on a page and it requires people to say the lines, and it requires other people to shoot them, and somebody else to put it all together. And on this show I had a tremendous team, and they were able to create what I think is a lovely, interesting, compelling teaser to the show.

A side note about the boxing, that we've gone through now a couple of times. The boxing I think was something that was suggested I believe by Eddy and Jamie, something that they thought of that Adama and son could be doing in the tease of this show. All the boxing I believe was choreographed by them, and how they did it and all that was something they worked on for quite a while.

This reveal of her sleeping with Baltar was always in the original draft. I think in the earlier versions you didn't have the sort of fake-out where you think it's Lee, and I think that that also was a suggestion of Michael Rymer to for a moment think that it really is Lee, and then you see that it's actually Baltar.

I love the way these intercuts play, that you're going directly from the gun in Sharon's mouth, to Sharon being shot on Caprica and feeling all these characters are in conflict, and all these characters are at wrenching points in their lives, and it's setting the table for larger, and more sort of cataclysmic events as you go on. I think it's also in general- it's not just the culmination of what I wanted the season one arc to be, I think it's also the culmination of a lot of plot thread that we set up, and character lines. I mean this whole line between Kara sleeping with Baltar is set up way back when she first meets him back in, I believe, Water. That's the first time she lays eyes on him and doesn't really care for him, but you could see there was a little bit of a spark, and Baltar being Baltar he was eager for his next conquest, and never quite let go of the fact that Kara Thrace wouldn't give him the time of day, and that of course made her all the more desirable to him, and the more she blew him off the more interested he became.

I also think that this is a great moment, and this is a really, really good scene because of the actors involved. There's really nothing going on here, I mean there's not a lot of dialogue, there's really not a scene per se. What there is is the look on her face, on Six's face, and the look on Baltar as her looks at her. You start to realize for the first time that it's actually a relationship, it's not just a hallucination in his head, it's not just a case of Baltar's imagination, and she's always playing the same note, and she's always cute and funny and making quips and seducing him. She says he can sleep with other people, she says that love is not sex, she says all those things, and then he does it and he sleeps with Kara, somebody he might actually have feelings for, and it bothers her. That look on her face and his sort of side-long glance over at her, the look of guilt on James's face when he plays that, I think speaks volumes. It's just a tremendous little piece of acting.

And again, the tease is just this sort of lyrical intercut between different stories, it's not really just sort of handing you the plot. And I think that's why it's one on my favorite teasers, I think this teaser and the teaser for 33, which we began the season with are my favorites of the series, certainly. 33, I liked it because it was challenging, it was provocative, it sort of grabbed the audience and said "OK, catch up, 'cos we're in the middle of a crisis, and we're not gonna explain anything to you, we're not going to spoon feed you all the plot and this and that. You're just gonna have to figure it out, and we respect that you're intelligent, and that you can figure it out." And this tease is again just sort of "OK, there'll be a plot, relax. Here are the characters, watch, take it in, see where they've been, remember what's happened to them and sort of be prepared for the things that are to come in tonight's episode."

Act 1

There are changes all over the place, and cert- in terms of structure, and how we laid out the story. One of the changes is right here, this whole sequence of Laura in whatever sort of imaging system that they have aboard Galactica, and the continuation of her cancer treatment; it was originally scripted, all of these little cuts - and there were more cuts - were supposed to be in the teaser, along with all the other little stories that you were intercutting. But Michael Rymer and the editor felt that it interrupted the flow, that they had established a nice rhythm of going back and forth between the Sharons especially, and then Lee and Kara, and there was sort of- there was a duality in how they were structuring the editing of the tease, and you were sliding between- There were relationships in other words, between Lee and his father to Kara, and there was a relationship there, and then the two Sharons obviously had a relationship, and then Laura sort of in that mix, didn't quite fit the puzzle that they were working out. So ultimately we just moved it into the top of the next act, which is, I think, a valid choice.

This whole storyline that it's dealing with here, and the prophecies and the religious aspects of the show, are obviously something that have developed over the course of time and throughout the series, and I love the fact that it's tied in to her taking a specific drug. I like the fact that there's question about what's causing her to see these things; is it a drug, is it actually a prophecy, I like all the questioning of it.

This scene, this is a little bit here with Baltar and the glass, and topping it off and then drinking it. Again, that's James, there's a lot of that, one of the real joys of the show is watching the cast members embroid around their characters, find little details of characterization that make the characters more alive. It really works because it really breathes life into the show in a different way. You can kind of tell that these people inhabit their roles in a different way, than say 80 to 90 percent of standard television is done, these are real people and they're in a real scene together.

A note on the game, the game that they're playing, the card game: in the original series it was called Pyramid, for those of you who are studying such things, and somewhere along the line I transposed the names. I misremembered what they called it and I- the sort of racquetball slash basketball game that they played in the original and that we referred to in this series, I now call Pyramid, and the name of that game in the original which was Triad is now what we sort of call our poker game. So it's one of those "Oh, it's one of the charming differences between the old and the new." It's either that or it's just a stupid error that the writer made.

Speaking of writing, these two episodes, the story is credited to my producing partner David Eick. This was his first crack at writing and stroking out story for television, and so while I was concentrating on re-writes and production details of earlier episodes, David was ahead working out- doing the heavy lifting which was to really figure out how some of these puzzle pieces work. This is a very large story with a lot of complicated moving parts and David was the one who took the first crack at sitting down and trying to line them all up, and that's a big load and I- he did a great job. Because if somebody doesn't come in and do that at the beginning then you have to do that all when you get to the teleplay, so a lot of the credit for how well these two episodes work goes to my partner David Eick.

This is a good example I think of one of the textures that James does exceptionally well in this series. The notion of the man who has the invisible- fill in the blank: the invisible rabbit, the invisible person, the demon on his shoulder, the ghost, the whatever- it's a riff that's done many times in many ways. And oft-times that actor who's given that part doesn't pull it off believably, a lot of times you watch and you go "Well if I was there I would know that he's crazy, or he's talking to himself, or he's talking to somebody else obviously, I mean he's not even making any effort to cover it for god's-sakes.", and so you just don't really believe it. But I think that James carries it off quite well, he plays all the double entendres, he is careful to anyways have a recovery point where he seems to be just ranting off by himself, and then he kind of redirects the line back to the people in the room like that. It's a delicate, delicate act because you have to believe that he can get away with the things he gets away with. And even that look between Billy and Laura is an acknowledgment of the fact that not everybody can see Six and "Who is he talking to right there?" He's staring around, he's a quirky, odd scientist. And I think that given the fact he's the only genius, he's the only scientist, he's the only man of his caliber in the entire fleet, plus he's been elected Vice President, they're sort of forced to have give him a freer reign that they probably would with somebody else.

I'm glad that we kept this little tiny bathroom on Colonial One, which is so much like an airplane, 'cos it really conveys that sense of being in a ship going someplace. And this whole bit, the fact that she hurts him, the fact that Six can actually slam his head into that mirror and hurt him, it underlines the fact that she's always a dangerous character, and that she's not somebody to be trifled with. And it also really raises to specter of what is going on in this guys head, I mean if she's a chip in his head she's exerting a tremendous amount of control over his body to make it fling itself against the door. But on the other hand, if she's just a hallucination, if he's just losing his mind, then his mind is taking steps to injure himself, to cause great harm and damage to himself, which I also think is fascinating.

A principle difference between a script and a filmed episode is that there was a device I was going to use, that we may still use at some point, which was to intersperse on camera interviews with the cast talking directly to the camera, as if speaking to an off screen interviewer. And they were being interviewed in the aftermath of these events and looking back on them and we were- I was intercutting those moments with the contemporary action, which I thought was a really interesting device. But ultimately we just never had time to film it, and the episode was just too vast and big as it was, so we decided not to go there.

I'd say one of the principle differences beyond the lack of interviews between script and film too is just there were structural changes. The end of night one now is Kara stealing the Raider, and jumping back towards Caprica. In the script, that didn't happen until the end of night two, and the original ending for the end of night one was the upcoming crash of the Raptor, with Crashdown and his team going down in the atmosphere, and we were cutting out on the action of that. The script was filmed and it wasn't really until Michael and Dany Cooper, who was the editor on this, were in the editing room together- Michael had always voiced a concern that he thought night one was a little too soft, and that there was just too much story in night two, and they were able to juggle the elements and play it so we could end- he moved up the whole Kara story so we could go out night one with the great ending of Kara jumping away and Adama saying "She's gone home." And the Raptor crash does actually play out in night one and it opened up more room in night two to give all the moments in night two enough room to breathe, so ultimately that was a smart and important decision.

Act 2

Back on Cylon occupied Caprica. You'll notice that it rains a lot, I don't know if I've spoken about this at all in previous podcasts, because I don't remember such things, but you'll notice it rains a lot in Cylon-occupied Caprica. Part of this is our acknowledgment towards the ecological disaster that must have befallen the planet following the nuclear attack, some sort of nuclear winter must have set in, or certainly climate changes are underway, given all that's happened. So part of it is that acknowledgment of the reality of the situation, and part of it is also to give it, in an episode like this, a distinct look that’s different, say, than Kobol which we're going to be going to shortly. So as a producer have this challenge where you have two planets in this episode, you're cutting between Kobol and Caprica, you need them to quickly orientate the audience and be visually distinct from one another, so that you're not confused on which planet you're on. These are the things that keep producers and executives up, awake all night long.

This scene I am quite fond of: Lee coming down and confronting Kara. In the scripted version this confrontation came later, there was a different moment after the Triad game, where Lee started to realize that Kara had slept with Baltar and he starts to understand that. He basically publicly outed Kara in front of the squadron, in the ready room, in the same way that Kara pulls crap on the pilots all the time, and gives people shit, and just generally is not above practical jokes and public humiliation. And Lee turned a back on her and basically had a practical joke ready in the ready room, and made it clear to everybody that she was sleeping with the vice president and they all hoot and laugh and really took it to her. And it was an interesting scene, but it also seemed a bit out of character for Lee, we didn't really believe Lee would do that. This seemed more true: that he would just go down and get in her face, and that Kara would have a lot of guilt and not want it to go there. And then we've got boom, boom. I like the fact that it doesn't devolve into some kind of scrum, it's not a fight. She hit him 'cos that's what Kara is, Kara will throw a punch every once in a while. I think that's part of her character is that every once in a while she gets pushed too far and she snaps and she'll hit you. And the thing with Lee was he hit her right back and then kept going on. So to me that spoke volumes about their relationship, and about who Lee is and who Kara is as well.

Kobol I was talking about earlier. The Original Series did an episode where they did go find Kobol and I haven't seen that show in a while but as I- my recollection of it- and I- was that they find Kobol, and there's a lot of pyramids on it. And there was stock footage of Egypt that they blue-screened Lorne Greene in front of, and he went into the pyramids, he's about to find the secret of where Earth is and then it all goes to hell. Going to find Kobol, the roots of humanity, the sort of birthplace of everyone in the Galactica universe, I was very attracted to from an early point. It seemed like a natural thing to do with the characters, it feeds directly into the myth- the larger mythos of the show. I mean it's- at some point you have to answer these questions, or you should answer these questions. They're called the twelve colonies; they call themselves colonists and Colonials. Well, the colonies of what? Colonies of somebody, colony- a colony implies a mother planet. So to find that mother planet at some point seemed a natural place, in both the Original Series and for us. And it became a "What is Kobol?", "What is this place?” Is it Eden? Is it a paradise? Why did we leave? What's there still? What do we hope to find there? These are a lot of the discussions that we had going around and round.

This was a complex scene that we had to handle very deftly, which is she looks at the photograph and sees something that the others do not, and then relates that to an illustration here in the book. And that's always tough, as a writer and producer you're always finding yourself in situations where you do have to rely on inserts, and you do have to rely on cut-aways, and things that aren't present that you can't see immediately on the set, and you're hoping like hell that later, when they finish the book, that you'll be able to see what you need to see when the book is actually done. 'Cos nine times out of ten, they can't get the book with that kind of specific illustration done in time to have it there on the day when you need it, so you really- you're hanging yourself out there over the edge a little bit, because you know it's a key plot point, that she has to look at the photograph, the photograph has to read correctly, and then the book has to relate to the photograph, and you have to understand all this.

This section here is a key moment in the development of Laura's character in that it's really not until that point that she starts to really accept and believe that the scriptures and the prophecies have some validity to them. Not only have some validity to them but may be literally true, and maybe that the way to Earth is through Kobol, that we can find our home. And I think it's interesting to note that she comes to that idea, not as a woman of faith, not as a woman who has a "quote end-quote" personal relationship with her Gods, but she comes to it logically. She looks at the puzzle around her; she looks at the pieces, and the clues, and what's been laid out for her, and how they add up. And she says "Well, this is what makes sense.", I mean, whether it's prophecy or scripture or whatever you want to call it, what was written over there is happening over here and there has to be a connection, so this must be the way to Earth. And so she comes to it from a very secular viewpoint on a very religious topic, and I think that set sets her up into an interesting place as we move forward in the series.

This scene between Baltar and Sharon: I liked this because it starts to move Baltar in a much darker direction. This is Baltar the manipulator, Baltar- not Baltar the imp, or Baltar the seducer, or Baltar the clown, or Baltar even trying to save his own ass, really. This is Baltar going "OK, this is a Cylon; she's kind of dangerous, she's dangerous probably to everybody and especially me." 'cos that's what matters most. She doesn't get that she's a Cylon. Here she is, sitting in this room, obviously contemplating suicide. And Baltar shifts the situation, and actually advocates her death, and gets her to put that gun back in her mouth and try to kill herself. And it's a very dark idea, it's a very almost nihilistic notion that Baltar is starting to, bit by bit, take a more active role in manipulating events themselves. He’s not completely content to watch the way things work out and play it by ear, as it were.

I think all this editing and direction in this sequence, and throughout the show, but especially here, is quite well done. It's quite interesting; it's not really how television is traditionally filmed and edited. Usually, much more traditional masters, much looser, you're not going for the over-the-shoulder where you can barely see the actor's face. But it has the effect- when you use it correctly it has the effect of making you feel like a voyeur in the scene, that you're looking over Baltar's shoulder trying to see- can't quite see the expression on his face, worried about what he might be saying or not saying. And then you come- and then you kinda break it and you come out here to a little bit more traditional frame, and now your involved in the scene. But you're feeling a bit like an interloper, feels like you’re sitting there, watching it happen, and then he kisses her and goes away.

I think that one of the things that appeals to me about the show is the complexity of these characters. That they're not easy to categorize, it's not easy to predict their actions or what they may or may not do. I don't think Six even knew he was going to do that. And then there's just that guy running towards the door at the end.

Act 3

Now we're back, now we're dealing with more of these insert shots, and photographs that we may or may not have had on the day. Yeah, the notion of permanent settlement was something that came up all the time, and shouldn't we be look- and Adama's mind's certainly- they're looking for a place just to camp and hang out, and be safe, and stop running through the galaxy trying to cobble supplies everywhere. But this notion that here's an unknown planet, you can't just go down and set up camp, you should set up a ground team.

Now in the script, in early version- in early drafts of the script, there were two teams that went to Kobol. There was the initial survey mission, which had Tyrol and Cally and Socinus aboard, and that mission stayed on Kobol throughout. It just went down, they landed safely, and they were surveying the ground, the planet, and then they saw some- a flash of metal off in the distance, and they said "What's that?", and they took a look at it. And they found that there was a temple there, that there was a temple which was almost an identical te- to the one that one built on Caprica. There was a temple on Caprica that was very key as well, and there was these two temples, this was sort of the large scale idea. There was a temple on Caprica and a temple on Kobol, that they were linked, not literally linked, but they were linked in that the colo- the original colonists had built the temple on Caprica in- to sort of emulate the one that they remembered or were told about that was originally back on Kobol, and a lot of the action took place in and around those two temples, and you would have the ground team of Tyrol and his guys there. They discover it first, and then later a second reconnaissance team was sent, and the second was the one that crashed in the original script and that had Lee on board actually, Lee and some- a bunch of marines. And at the end of night two you had Lee and his marines and Tyrol and his ground crew all holed up inside the temple, and the Cyl- there were like Cylons everywhere outside the temple. And that was the cliff-hanger; they're trapped inside and what the hell are they going to do.

Now this scene between Tyrol and Sharon. There was another scene that I believe we did film that had Lee coming to see Sharon and just reading her the riot act about how stupid she was, and you always check for a round in the chamber and "God you're-", and her just going "God, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry.", and it's like oh-OK. And it's kind of one of those "I'm yelling at you, but really glad you're alive," kind of moments. But ultimately this is the one with the heart, this one's more effective, and I don't think we were able to keep the other one for time, but I think this is a better scene in any case. And we mention that "Gee, I can't believe you didn't check for a round." is- or "a round in the chamber." is much more offhand, much easier to get the idea across than a bigger, more elaborate scene with Lee.

Now this, of course, is the crux of the matter, it's- this conflict between Laura and Adama traces back to the Miniseries. From the moment in the miniseries, at the end, when they strike their deal that Adama will be in charge of the military, and Laura will run the fleet- while a valid and needed compromise at the time, it's also clear that it's not going to work in every situation. There will come the day, when Laura wants to go left and Adama wants to go right, and what are they going to do? And this is a- I mean it was such an obvious thing to do that I wanted to make a big deal out of it, I wanted to see them try to work it out all season long, I wanted to play the tensions between the civil and military authorities, and their personal relationship. And by this point in the season they have developed some trust and faith in one other, they know that the other one is a good and decent person, but they do have differing points of view, they do have their own perspectives on things, they do have different priorities. Her primary focus is the civilians under her care; his is the protection of the civilians under her care, and the survival of his own ship. And those ideas are sometimes in conflict in one another. This whole beat of Laura trying to talk him into this I think is interesting, because it also shows that Adama is a very secular man. He's not dismissive of her faith and her religion, but he's not- he's a bit uncomfortable with it, he doesn't quite know what to do with it. He's not real happy that she's suddenly gone into this territory, but he's not gonna be offensive to her. And Laura I think is- you can tell in her performance is having to make an argument based on something she's not entirely comfortable with either. It's not entirely comfortable for her to make such an outwardly religious argument.

And like I said, this was originally- this sequence here of jumping to Kobol with the Raptor ground team was originally going to be the end of night one. And in subsequent versions of the script we have eliminated there being two trips to Kobol, we decided that this would be the one ground survey mission that went to Kobol, at all. And that's like a great moment, that was David Eick's idea, that he just looks up and a Cylon Raider slams into the Raptor. And we've just like jumped into the middle of a nightmare here, and there's Cylons everywhere, the Raptors are trying to escape. This was all very complicated business, a lot of visual effects work, a lot of mapping out how things happen, and in what order and what sequence. That I like a lot, this- the Baltar- "Get Baltar out of there, get Crashdown and somebody in the cockpit, move him outta the way." This is very cramped on the inside of that Raptor, it's a very small space with a lot of people trying to move around, and it was a real challenge to film in there. They hate filming scenes like this with so many people inside that little Raptor. But it conveys what it needs to convey: it's a claustrophobic space, it- military aircraft and transports are not built for comfort, and we cram a lot of people into them, and when things go bad they go really bad and they're scary, bad places to be. This... coming up on the- OK, there goes the other Raptor, jumps back to warn Galactica. And then this- and now she's going down.

I love the fact that we cut away from it. I like cutting sequence out like that and going to really placid scenes with somebody else, and the audience just going "Oh, but wait! What's happening, what's happening, oh my God!", and then going back and picking up the action later. It's just- it's a nice editorial device I like to use in the show a lot.

Those little transponders you might recognize. One of those was established in the miniseries; they found one of those in CIC in the miniseries and didn't know what it was; now they know it's a transponder. The other transponder was actually filmed in a scene that was not included in the show "Flesh and Blood" where Leoben had one of those as well, I think we included that previously on-

This spider-webbing of the canopy, going in, the glass, the air, the wind, going down in the atmosphere, it's great, it's great stuff, you don't get to do this kinda stuff typically on a television budget. And like I said this was the ending of night one, was them looking and going "Oh my God, what's-where are we going?" and I think you were just spiralling down- yeah it was right there, that was going to be the act break of the cliff-hanger.

Act 4

So now we're in a crisis. Now we know that there's at least one basestar out there, their baseship out there. The Cylons are around Kobol. We've gotta get our people out of there, what do we do? And again, this- the conflict between Laura and Adama is not over, Laura wants to use the Raider to get back to Caprica, Adama sees it as simply a military asset. But she knows- what I thinks is interesting is that she knows better than to suggest that- she doesn't bring the argument up again, she knows it's hopeless, she's not changing Adama's mind. But she's already on to her next theory, which involves this young lady here.

One of the things that I always liked was the notion that as soon as Starbuck became a woman it changed the dynamic here. That there was always going to be some kind of tension between him and her, because he's a man and she's a woman. And that that was the fundamental reason why to change her to a woman, it made this relationship more interesting. They're comrades-in-arms, they're friends. Are they ever going to be anything more than that? Maybe, maybe not. But it's complicated by the fact of where they are, and that first and foremost they're pilots fighting in a war, and they have to try and keep the personal and professional in separate categories in their minds. And that to me makes it more complicated, and I think it's always going to be complicated. When you put men and women into these situations, when you ask them to serve side by side, in a police station, a fire house, an aircraft carrier, lives are at stake, there are professional duties that must be carried out, there's hierarchies, there's chains of command. It becomes complicated, and none of the answers are so easy, and I think that's an interesting place to set drama. Because when the answers aren't easy, that's great, that's what you want, you want to play all those beats.

This is key because it's important to understand the stakes of what's going on. That Laura is not taking this decision lightly, what she's about to do. I think in the script these were longer, this was a longer scene. I think a lot of times you'll find as a writer that you tend to over-explain things, or you tend to try to over-write things, 'cos you're trying to make sure that the people who read it understand all the intentions. And sometimes I do that intentionally, sometimes I will intentionally over-write a scene and over-explain something to get the idea in the reader's mind. When I say the reader, I mean everybody: the director, the actors, the studio, the network, etc. Over-write the scene, explain too many things, so that everybody gets the intention, everybody’s clear, so that you don't get the "I'm confused" note, which is one of the most deadly notes you get. "It's confusing, I didn't get it." - let them get it, then you can pare back from there, and you can whittle down to the more core components. And less is more; you can get away with saying far less than you think you can, nine times out of ten. Usually you'll find that there's a lot of excess stuff in scenes, a lot of ideas tend to- sometimes are repeated within the scenes, and sometimes just a look from a character will say it all. But it's important, at least in my experience, that the read, the initial read of somebody when they first get the draft, that they understand the intention of all these things. And then later you can cut it out and say it with looks and do it with less dialogue, and pare the scene back, either on the stage or in the editing room, and get it down to its true fighting weight for the audience. 'Cos the audience has the benefit of watching it happen, and seeing it visually, and the reader just has the words on the page. And a lot of the time the readers get caught up in- if you have too much prose, too much description describing "and Laura's thinking that, and she looks off to the left, and Starbuck takes a sigh and rolls her eyes, and fiddles with the thing" they can't- the reader gets kinda bored, and jumps on to the next paragraph. And it's not uncommon for people who read your scripts to really skim the description, and really skim a lot of things, and just read the dialogue and keep going. Which is fine, but it means that sometimes you have to put more into dialogue than is truly necessary, because you'll have said something in a paragraph of description that they didn't even read, and they just read the dialogue, and then they were confused because they didn't understand it. So you write it all in the dialogue so that they go "Oh", and then you usually get the note "Well, you know, I think this scene's a little too talky, and this scene could be shorter, and you could probably cut a half page outta this," and you go "Yeah, I think I can do that," because that was your intention from the get-go.

Again, as I said earlier, this episode- these episodes are the culmination of a lot of things. I mean this whole- this basic notion of "Does Adama know where Earth is?" is something that was established in the Miniseries, and it's something we never forgot about. But it wasn't going to be something they talked about every week, it’s not going to be a constant thing about "Hey, do you think the old man knows where Earth really is or not?” I wanted to just seed it in, it's there, it's mentioned a couple of times in the latter part of the season. But this is where it really comes front and center, where you realize that when Adama said that to all those people in the great "So say we all" scene of the miniseries, that those people in that room and beyond took him at his word and invested a tremendous amount of hope in that idea, and a tremendous amount of belief. And no one more so than his surrogate daughter Starbuck, the woman who we've seen him risk, literally, the entire fleet to save. There’s this- He loves her like a daughter, she loves him; this is a very, very strong relationship, that is very close and important to him. And he lied even to her, and I think it's her anger at that, her betrayal at that, her discovery of that, is really all that- the only way that I could see that Kara was going to steal that- not steal, was really going to hijack the Raider and fly it back to Caprica. Because there was just no way, there was just no way, no matter what argument Laura gave, no matter how convincing she was, no matter how intelligent, rational, passionate, whatever, no matter what she said, there was no way Kara was going against Adama, unless she realized that Adama had betrayed her first.

This whole little sequence actually took place much earlier. This is a combination of two scenes, and we shot them both. It was going to be a jump test early in the episode to just re-establish the Raider, show that they were working on the FTL drive, and getting ready to figure out how to jump it around, and it did take a couple of preliminary jumps and those were successful. And then there was a second test which now we're into that part of the footage, where Kara actually uses the test as an excuse to jump back to Caprica. And we essentially combined, or Dany and Michael rather, combined those two sequences into one, so we just have the one moment out here.

And again, this is now the end of night one. I think it's really- It was a very smart decision that Michael and Dany made to change the end of night one from the crash of the Raptor to this, and I'll tell you why: because I think that the original ending that I had of the Raptor going down is a plot element. It's standard jeopardy and it's plot, it's a bunch of people in danger - "Aaaaah!" and you're yelling as you go down through the cloud and you end. It's nice, it would have worked, but it's nothing you haven't seen before. I think that ending it on this note - this is an emotional beat, this is about the characters, forget the plot thing about her flying back to Caprica and the Arrow of Apollo and all that, it's really about these people. It's about Kara's feeling of betrayal, it's about what she's willing to do now, because her father figure has betrayed her, and her take- her being Starbuck and going off on some crazy-ass thing that nobody else wants her to do. And Adama knowing it, and realizing what has happened, and that he's in some way responsible for it too. That's Battlestar Galactica. That's what the show is about. It's about these characters, it's a drama first, and I think it was very wise to go out on this beat. And I'll come back and talk to you about night two very shortly.


Battlestar Galactica (Re-Imagined) Season 1 (2004-2005) Podcast List


33 | Water | Bastille Day | Act of Contrition | You Can't Go Home Again | Six Degrees of Separation | Flesh and Bone | Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down | The Hand of God | Colonial Day | Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I | Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part II | Next Season >