Podcast:The Captain's Hand
|"The Captain's Hand" Podcast|
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|Ronald D. Moore
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Hello, and welcome to the podcast for episode 17 of season 2. I'm Ronald D. Moore, executive producer and developer of the new Battlestar Galactica, and this is for "Captain's Hand," the podcast that was delayed from last week, so I'll be giving it to you this week. In fact I'll be doing two of them back to back tonight. I'll do "Captain's Hand" and then we'll go right into "Downloaded", on a separate track, of course. (Ron lights a cigarette)
Before we get going we should probably mention, right off the top, that let's have a little less of the whining, out there on the bulletin boards, shall we, about the noises in the background here at the pod― at the podcast around the old Moore manse. You know folks, you just gotta be tough enough to listen to the podcast. These are imperfect conditions. We do this at my home, not in a nice, tidy, little studio. We do ever our best effort to keep it quite for y'all, but c'mon, enough with the whining, with the pewing― with the mewling and puking out there. Be tough enough for the podcast. We drink, we smoke, we curse, we have a good time. Get with it― get with the program.
Ok. So here we are. Pegasus. Teaser. There go the Raptors off on a training mission. In early drafts of "Captain's Hand" this particular crisis happened much later in the show. It was one of the problems that we struggled with in the early drafts of the story was, what was the nature of the crisis, and when should it begin.
The whole notion of this episode revolved around the coninu― acknowledging and dealing with the continuing command problems aboard Pegasus, which felt like a natural outgrowth of the idea that the ship, the Battlestar Pegasus, that showed up was a― a deeply flawed, almost piratical ship, under the command of Admiral Cain. Well, if Admiral Cain had run that ship the way that we saw her run that ship, one would assume that there would be a variety of problems that would definitely outlive her. And so we wanted to continue to play that as the season went on, and the first CO after Cain was obviously Commander Fisk, who promptly got into the black mark― black market and got himself killed for the trouble. And then we moved on to Commander Garner, who in early drafts was always named Trammel. But legal, as legal often does, came back to us with some― some whining about the name Trammel, about it being too close to somebody else's real name, and of course, we had to change it over to Garner at the last second. So there are many references that we all kept catching ourselves calling him Trammel. In fact, we named him Trammel in an earlier episode, in an offhand way. A line from Adama. We had to go back and reloop that in ADR at the last second.
I like this notion of― the beat that open this little section here with Lee and Dualla, that the pilots and the crew had private signals among themselves to "Stay clear of the quarters when I got a girl, or a man, or both inside." And that they had a private signal. You couldn't quite see it 'cause we had to cut the― clip off the head of that shot but when Duck and the other pilot came up there was a pair of boots were hanging from the hatch, and they knew, as soon as they saw the pair of boots that that meant that somebody was in there and getting a little something. And that was what prompted them to bang on the door, and the gag was, "Oh. It's the CAG." And they kinda looked at each other and went away.
This sequence― this little scene here with Dualla and Lee, we played around with in editing quite a bit. There were some lines that were dropped that indicated that a longer passage of time between end of the last episode and this one, to give Dualla a little time to mourn, to give Lee a little time to recover, and move everything along the timeline.
This storyline, the "B story" here, of Rya Kibby and her unwanted pregnancy, and then the abortion decision that Laura eventually comes to was actually a storyline that we had developed very early. We had started talking about this idea early in the first season as a― as a potentially interesting storyline for us 'cause it dealt with a practical issue of, "What are their policies, in the Fleet, going to be in terms of birth control, in terms of abortion?" The population of the species was going to be― hang in the balance, and what would these people really do in these circumstances? And it was definitely an issue we wanted to deal with, and wanted to play, and wanted to see how the characters would react in this circumstance. I thought there was something interesting about Laura Roslin, whose politics on the surface seem probably moderate-to-liberal, Secretary of Education, and one of the ongoing threads of the entire series was watching as Laura is slowly changed by the responsibilities of being President. And this storyline was one of those key ideas that, like I said, we talked about early in the first season. And I was fascinated with the idea of this soft-ish appearing woman who's probably, presumably, has all the politically correct positions on these sorts of matters being forced to grapple with the real responsibilities of her― of her role. And I was always interested by playing against the expectations that, I've said this many times though, Laura would be the "dove", and Adama would be the "hawk", and that would always provide very predictable expected conflict between the two. And I always thought it was interesting to subvert that at every― at every turn and always put the characters in situations where they would have to grapple with them as human beings rather than as― as― as just as stalking horses for expected political positions.
- [Commander Garner arrives at Pegasus CIC.]
Here comes John Heard, who I think is a great actor, in many, many things. I knew him, as soon as his name came up, I was "Oh, yeah! From 'Big'!" Which I think was a tremendous movie and a wonderful, wonderful, film and John had the quasi-villainous role in that episode― in that movie. And more recently I had known him from his work on "Sopranos" as the corrupt police lieutenant. I think John's a great actor and we were really, really happy to have him on the show. He fit in really well. He provided a different color, different flavor to the part and so― it's always nice to get "name" guest cast to come in and juice up the production a little bit here and there.
"Captain's Hand" is also a mix between a standalone episode and a more traditional continuing episode of ours. I think it successfully straddles the line in terms of continuing the ongoing storylines of Lee, and Dualla, and Baltar, and Laura, and Kara, and at the same time dealing with issues that are self-contained within one episode.
Oh, here comes the beep! Oh no! Cover your ears.
Ooh. That scary beep. Beep.
- [Apollo arrives on the Pegasus, joining Starbuck who is already aboard, and the two head to CIC.]
Initially, in the early drafts of this in the story and in the first draft of the script Lee came over by himself. It was more of a self-contained "Lee" show that really didn't involve Kara until a little bit later in the drama when she was pulled over to Pegasus. The idea wa― ,in the initial drafts, was that Lee came aboard, and that the problem on board Pegasus was not― was not that discipline was too tough, it was that it was quite the opposite. It was that it was too lax. The idea was that Trammel was just a nice guy. Trammel was just everything that Lee thought his father should be. The idea was Lee comes on board this ship and Trammel's this perfectly nice guy who wants to be liked by his crew and wants to get along with everybody and just commanded with a very soft glove. And Lee found himself fulfilling the hard-ass role. He came over and yelled at guys and saw that fights were breaking out on the hangar day, nobody― hangar bay, nobody gave a shit about it. People talked back. People didn't carry out orders. There was a certain sense of "School's out on Peggy" since Cain and Fisk had both been killed, and then they get this― this new commander in who hasn't had any experience commanding a ship and he just, more than anything else, wanted to be liked by the crew, because the crew had hated the previous two commanders. And then that was supposed to bring along its own problems. That grew less satisfying. As we played it out it was an odd fit because it never quite felt right that Lee was such a complete hard-ass with these guys and it cut against the grain, just, we were having trouble making that story work. So we kept working on, "What is the nature of Garner's problem? Is he too lax? Is he too friendly? Is he too much of a hard-ass? Is he crazy?" The version that we shot, the f― the draft, the filming draft is slightly different than the edited version, too. These early scenes were colored by the fact that― that CIC scene that we left a moment ago where Lee first came into Garner and found out that the Raptors were missing, we played it where Garner immediately was on Hoshi's ass about something. Hoshi was on the phone with somebody at Galactica and was not informing Garner in the way that Garner wanted to be informed. And he was riding his ass and sent him to his quarters and had him arrested and there was a sense of fear everywhere. That Garner was this crazed, despot. And we were taking direction from "Caine Mutiny", was sort of an archetype for the character at that point, and the idea that we were going to play, and you can still see parts of it are still here, was that Lee appreciated Garner. That Lee liked Garner. Respected him. Thought he was trying to make the best of a bad situation. He was― he was the third guy who had to command this ship, and he was trying to bring discipline back to a vessel that had had questionable discipline. It was a somewhat Kurtz-like regime under Cain and it then it was a more overtly piratical regime under Fisk and then Garner was trying to just straighten it all out. And the idea we were going to play was Lee was slow to see that― that Garner was deeply flawed as well. And that was an archetype that was borne out of "Caine Mutiny" which follows a very similar structure in that― that the Queeg-
(phone rings) Now see there? Look! Oh my god! Run for the hills, my phone is ringing. The idea― (phone rings) I could unplug it. I could actually walk ov― hey! I'm going to walk right over there right now (phone rings) and I'm going to unplug it for― for all of you 'cause I don't want any of your precious little feelings to be hurt. (phone rings) Here I go. (Ron's voice gets fainter as he walks away) I'm walking over. I'm unplugging. I'm unplugging as we speak. And, it's now unplugged. You happy? Everybody happy now?
What we opted to do instead was― instead of going down the "Caine Mutiny" route so strongly was to dial-back Garner's early scenes. The Queeg character in "Caine Mutiny" was somebody that the Ensign Keith character, who's central to the book and the movie, comes aboard and likes Queeg at first 'cause Queeg seems like he's just trying to straighten out a very difficult ship and Keith, Ensign Keith, doesn't realize until fairly late in the drama that Queeg is crazy... that Queeg is paranoid and damaged and had been scarred by his― his experiences in the war. And we tried a similar archetype in this episode, but when it was all cut together the problem was that you saw the problem with Quee― with our Queeg, with Garner, just immediately. As soon as he started bitch-slapping Yoshi― Hoshi in that first scene, and you saw that he was a little bit nuts, you knew exactly everything that was gonna to happen in the show. You knew he'd be relieved. You just saw it. It's like, "Oh. It's so clearly the "Caine Mutiny," that it didn't work. So we cut back on all of the initial craziness, and now it's not quite as clear what's going up― going on with Garner.
- [Zarek suggests to Baltar that he should run for president.]
This scene that's on camera right now, with Gar― with Baltar and Zarek was originally much later in this script. As shot, this scene didn't happen until act four, actually, I believe, or act three possibly. And it happened only after Laura had made her religious proclaimatio― er, not her religious, her political proclamation to ban abortion, and that prompted Zarek to go to Baltar. And when I was watching it cut, it seemed like it happened way too late, and I thought it would be much more interesting if early in the show we got Baltar thinking about the presidency. I think it's much more effective, 'cause now, when Laura goes to ask him later about the demographics of the Fleet and is wrestling with the decision, the idea that Baltar might possibly run for the presidency is already in the character's mind and it's already in― in the audience's mind.
- [Apollo arrives in the pilot ready room and berates Starbuck in front of the other pilots.]
The idea here of the Kara/Lee struggle/conflict, since she shot him, by accident, but she shot him in the last episode, felt like definitely something we wanted to follow up on, as part of the growing chasm between these two characters. You saw in "Scar" that they came close to actually sleeping together, in a moment, and that Kara reached out to him in desperation to try to forget about Anders and then― and then it all fell apart. And... there was something interesting about continuing to play these two becoming more and more estranged, especially since your expectation is that these two are going to end up together or there's some kind of romantic tension going on. Finding― I found it was much more interesting the further apart these two got. The more that their― their relationship became dysfunctional. (Ron lights a cigarette)
I love this Cottle/Adama scene in sickbay. Cottle is, I've said this before, has developed into one of my favorite characters in the show. And I like this little scene, 'cause it says so much about the relationship between Adama and Cottle. This notion that Cottle was performing abortions throughout the Fleet, very quietly and with no questions asked, I thought was interesting. It again provided this backstage look at what was happening off-camera during all these episodes. That there was a life to the fleet. There were, like, people's lives were continuing on. Things were happening. And just because we didn't show them to you up in CIC didn't mean that things weren't happening below decks. Adama's― this little beat. This look on Adama's face. "She could apply for asawman― apply for asylum." And Adama just looks at Cottle. And then this look on Cottle face. "Up oh. I'll just walk over here. Excuse me," is just great. And then Eddie... Eddie just looks at her, and he's hoping she's not gonna pick up on it, hoping she's not gonna say anything, she's... she said it. She said the magic words. Oh, great. No my day just got much, much longer.
Act― act of the second. I like all this political stuff. I― I think it's interesting to see the factionalization and almost tribalization within the Fleet. That there are different cultures represented within the rag-tag fleet. That they have different points of view. And this idea, that P― Sarah Porter and the Gemonese were gonna come a-callin' because of their support to Laura, when she needed it, when Laura rose up against Adama way back when and declared herself a prophet earlier in the season. There was the implication then, Zarek saw it coming, ironically enough. Zarek was the guy who looked down the road and said, "This is a mistake. This is going to come back to― to bite you in the ass." And that Zarek was right. That Zarek is a smart political animal. He knows how these things work. And Ba― and Zarek as the― as the secularist saw the dangers of this, saw that the religious people, the fundamentalist crowd, as it were, within the Fleet, were going to want something for their support and there was a political reality to that. And I thought there was something very interesting about seeing Laura caught in that vice, where she needed their― their support. She wanted their support. And then their support came at― at a price. And how does she reconcile those two ideas? And her first instinct is, "No, I'm not banning abortion. Fuck that. I'm― I'm― that's not who I'm about. That's not what I'm about." And then sh― there's this little scene. Adama sits down, and Laura knows, "Ok. What's up? What's on the Admiral's mind?" It's interesting just to see their body language and the nature of their relationship at this point, the way these two characters have changed over the course of― of almost two seasons now. They are more intimate with each other. They're easier with each other. Adama knows this is a political issue. It's kinda the first time Adama's stepping out of his role as military commander and actually injecting himself into a political idea, and bringing something to― to― to Laura's attention.
I like this line and I don't like this line that's coming up. "I have― I have fought for a woman's right to control her own body her whole political life." It's true. It's a needed line. I was never happy with it in terms of the elegance of it. It's an inelegant line, 'cause the line that― the line that you wanna here is, "I fought for a woman's right to choose my whole political life." That's the more natural line. That's the line that you're ready to hear. And that's just one of those subjective calls where, in that particular case, the "right to choose" is such a specific contemporary reference to a contemporary political argument that I― I just pulled back from it and didn't feel like I really wanted to go there and wanted to change it slightly. And it's inconsistent. I play― sometimes I― I let them say things that are very contemporary and very familiar and other times they strike my ear oddly and I shift away from it. And there's really not any rhyme or reason for that except for my own sense of what sounds correct in the show and what does not. And ultimately that's my role. I have to― I have to play the show in the key I think it plays the best. It's― it's― it's music. And sometimes the music sounds right to me and sometimes the music doesn't sound right to me. And you need somebody― the showrunner's job is to essentially do that. It's to maintain the voice of the show, as it were. The show has a voice. And it's my voice. And I have to play questions like that as I hear them best.
This whole bit about the distress call fragment, and her [Starbuck] sussing it out and figuring out what it means was part of a larger ongoing plotline that we ultimately cut down for time. It was a lot more of Lee trying different methods of tracking them down, different ide― "tech" ideas about where they could have been lost, looking through logs. It was just a lot more technobabble-type stuff. And it all just lays there and isn't that interesting, as usual.
- [Apollo informs Garner of Starbuck's theory.]
I like the fact that Garner doesn't really like Kara. And it's not in a Tigh way. Tigh's conflict with Kara feels personal. Garner's conflict with her feels more professional. He just cannot believe this chick. He just cannot believe Kara's impudence, Kara's arrogance, Kara's insubordination. He doesn't like it. He― he won't put up with it. And he's just not going to listen to her. And, of course, it blinds him to what she has to say. "You're Adama's pet. Let him deal with you." That's one of my favorite lines in the show.
- [Brief establishing shot of Pegasus.]
I like all these shots of the Pegasus.
This scene of Kara doing push-ups is kind of a callback to the miniseries when Lee came in and she was in hack and she was in there doing push-ups, and then he came in. And this is kind of an echo of that scene, except in dif― in very different circumstances. And this time he comes in to find her and it's not such a happy reunion. He's got a chip on hi― as big a chip on his shoulder as she does on hers. I love the way Jamie is in this episode. Jamie― this is one of, I think, Jamie's best episodes. He just has this real interesting angst underneath all of his lines. You get the feeling the character's really in turmoil. He's really struggling with a lot of different things. He comes right back at her. Here it comes. Or, here we go. In some ways these two are happiest when they're scrapping at each other. I think in some ways whatever love they have, whatever relationship they have, is really born much more in these scenes of conflict than it ever is in any ex― outward acknowledgment or expression of affection for one another.
There's a lot of internal debate and external debate about this little sequence here. About Lee calling her on the fact that she shot him. The question was, "Does it make him look petulant?" My answer was, "No." It's honest. He's angry. He's struggling with something. I mean, she shot him. It's a pretty heavy thing, to be shot by your friend. Unless your friend's the Vice President or something, and then you get over it. But, if it's not the Vice President, and you're shot by your friend, then it's probably a pretty heavy thing that you have to carry the rest of your life.
- [The search for the missing Raptor.]
This is all classic-type stuff. The Raptor out looking for the other Raptor. You'll notice that the helmets have changed, subtly, over the course of the year. We've added some lights. They fit the― the actors' heads a little more snugly. There's some― there's internal debate whether that was good and bad. The old helmets didn't fit quite well. They were always giving us sound trouble. They were hard to― to shoot in a lot of ways. They had different lighting problems. So we revamped the helmets and spent quite a bit. And it's interesting the way the helmets actually change the― the face of the characters. I'm always struck by when you put a character in one of those helmets in a cockpit, their face looks so different than it does when you take them out of the helmet. It really focuses the way your eye looks at them and sometimes you don't even recognize them. Like, in some ways, that character we just saw, the pilot of the Raptor, Red Devil, is almost unrecognizable from the same character that was in the ready room and in the head earlier in the show. It is exact same actor, it's just, it shapes his face differently and you look at him differently. I've noticed that, particularly with Kara. Kara almost looks like a completely different person when― when she's in the cockpit than she does out of it.
That little bit there, I like. It's just a callback when Garner says, "I'm gonna get my men." That's a direct callback to Adama, said the exact same thing in "Resurrection Ship" and "Pegasus". "I'm gonna get my men."
This is definitely an irrational impulse on the part of Garner. The― the idea that he wants to jump his whole ship to get his men is― is― it's a little bit crazy. It's― It's not the smartest move. Send the Raptors out ahead of you. Go― that's what they're for. They're scouts. They go― they go find people. But Garner, on some level, is― is overcompensating for the fact that he's not a command officer. He's an engineer and he's trying to, on some level, demonstrate that he is up to the task by proving that he'll do anything to go get his men. This little conversation actually had more lines in it, which were kinda nice and I kinda regret dropping, where he kinda called Adama on his shit too. He said, "You know, when Kara Thrace was missing you put the entire Fleet at risk to go find her. Isn't that true?" And Adama said, "Your understanding of that situation is correct, but my orders stand."
I'm really impressed with how big the Pegasus seems, even though we have very little, in terms of sets, for Pegasus. There's― there's just the CIC, a stretch of corridor, and a couple of multi-purpose roo― one multi-purpose room, and the― and the quarters. But we really do kinda convey that there's a whole ship involved there.
- [Roslin comes to Baltar for help.]
Like I said earlier, this was going to be Baltar's first scene in the movie and this was his introduction and the whole idea of him running for President didn't come until after this. But now, just by shifting that scene earlier, you read all these expressions of Baltar and this whole attitude that he's copping with Laura. You read it as he's thinking about what Zarek said, that maybe he should run for the Presidency. And it just informs this whole scene in a different way, 'cause you get the feeling that he's― he's looking at Laura going, "I could― I could probably beat you. Couldn't I? Why― Why can't I be President?" It's sitting at the back of his mind, and it's sitting in the audience's mind too.
- [The fleet listen to Roslin's radio address.]
And this was the key point. This was the key moment, the moment that we talked about quite a bit. That Laura would take this step. Laura would ban abortion in the Fleet. Laura would― would ultimately decide that the survival of the race, that their security, would outweigh their need for freedom. That it would curtail― she would curtail a freedom. She would start cutting back on th― the ways that they had lived their lives before the attack and deal with the realities of the situation that they're in now. And she would do it because she thought it was the thing she had to do, not because she thought it was a good thing to do. She just thought it was necessary. I like the way that Mary struggles with this. I think Mary had trouble grappling with this notion as well. This is a big thing, and she was like― we ta― I had a lot of conversations with Mary about this storyline, and about why she was doing what she was doing and her motivations for banning abortion and the reasons why she would be forced to this― to this position.
- [The Pegasus corridor is abuzz with crew running to their stations.]
Again, I mean― we're conveying― there's not much Pegasus corridor but we're using every scrap of it in this sequence. And we're doubling it up. We're just shooting both ways and making it feel like it's a much longer corridor than it actually is. In the initial drafts Lee was not in CIC. Lee did not take command of the Pegasus in this― in this way. He was actually going to go out with the fighter pilots. He was gonna be their CAG in― in an emergency situation 'cause I think Stinger had ended up in the brig, or something, and he was gonna― his key moment was going to be, during the battle, he was going to have to leave a bunch of his pilots behind. We opted not to do that because it felt to redolent of the same situation that Tigh dealt with in the miniseries, to leave men behind.
This little sequence right here, of each of them [Apollo and Garner] trying to relieve the other one, and turning to the Sergeant of the Guard, it's a straight homage, or ripoff, depending on how you want to look at it, I think it's an homage to "Crimson Tide", which is something― a very effective sequence between Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington. It was fun to write this scene. But it's― it's also different in that Lee is the one taken away. Denzel Washington wins that argument on Crim― in "Crimson Tide", and Gene Hackman is― is taken below. In this situation, the marine, the Sergeant of the Guard, follows Garner's orders. And then we get to jump with the Pegasus.
There's this huge, beautiful battle coming up here, which I don't have a lot to say about. This is the kind of thing that, I must say, a lot of other people in the show work very hard at. Gary Hutzel, our visual effects supervisor who I've talked about many times on the show. Also the writers David Weddle and Bradley Thompson did a lot of work on this sequence. Mark Verheiden worked on this sequence. A lot of people work and spend a lot of time stroking out all the different pieces of the battle sequence. Right from the moment that the basestars jump in to the final denouement in how they ge― get away. I love that shot, 'cause I love that you're on the Raptor cockpit and then it drops down and you see the baseship behind it. A lot of these beats are things that are invented by the director, and by the visual effects team, and David and Bradley, who I― I bring in periodically to help with these kind of sequences.
I bring them in to help on these sequences a lot because this kind of stuff, I don't know, I don't get as much enjoyment out of writing it as I do the― the― the character stuff. I can do it and I― I did it in the miniseries. I've done it many times. I've written a lot of battle sequences of Trek and― and so on. But they just don't in― interest me as much anymore. And I find that I'd rather hand them off to people who do still have the passion for it, and enjoy writing it, and enjoy working out all the different tactical maneuvers, and who's doing what, where. I did write that. (Laughs.) "On the left. On the right. And follow me. We're going straight up the gut." (Laughs.) It's a little p― it's pushing it a little bit. But it's― there's a rhythm to battle sequences where there's a certain familiarity. It's like playing the chorus in a song. There's a― there's a part of the audience that wants to enjoy the battle, and there's certain beats that you want to play, and there's certain expected rhythms of the battle, and every once and a while you want an identifiable, easy to hang on to idea that's not tech-talk that's, "You go left, and I― you go right, and we're going right up the gut." And it just co― it crystallizes what's going on in an interesting way. This beat here with Garner deciding to go below and giving the command over to Lee, there was a line there that we cut, that I'm glad we cut, where Garner said, "I belong down there and you belong up here." We cut it because I felt that he hadn't really earned that. This beat with Jamie, with Lee taking command, is one of my favorite moments in the development of the― of the Lee Adama character. That look― the look on his face when Garner gives him command and leaves, and he's standing there with his hands on the table and he looks around and he says, "I― I― I have the con. Okay." And he has to get his head in the game. He's been thinking that he's smarter than Garner. He's been working Garner and thinking that this guy doesn't know what the hell he's doing and then suddenly it's all on his shoulders, and this is his first time to― to con a ship in a― in a battle. And Jamie just completely sells you that idea with the look on his face. He's not like "Johnny to the rescue." It's almost like, "Oh, shit. I'm in command?" (Lights a cigarette.)
This sequence of Garner going down to the en― engineering spaces raises the question, "Why is Garner in command to begin with? He's the engineer." It seemed like, given the status of the Pegasus after the death of Fisk they really― Adama needed a senior officer. He― he― he didn't want to turn the ship over to a young officer, someone with not a lot of experience. Garner was definitely a leader of men and women. He's someone who risen to a senior level. He was someone who was of a seniority in the ship, who had experience, had done his job very well, and it seemed like you could trust him to take over command of the ship. And in fact in― in― in naval vessels today being the engineering officer is often simply one aspect of an officer's career. He'll often come on board, be assigned as the engineering officer, on board― on board a combatant, as part of his experience of takin― of being a department head and running different departments on his way up the― the ladder to command a vessel. So it didn't seem unreasonable that Garner could be an engineer and then take over the command of the ship. The term "snipe" he uses, he ta― refers to himself as a "snipe" and the "snipes" in the engine room is something that I got from the Navy when I was on the― the USS W. S. Simms, the Knox class frigate that I spent a summer cruise on when I was in ROTC, all the engineers were called "snipes." It was just an― an in-house reference to people that were in engineering. They were all "snipes."
Which also raises― there was a reference earlier in the show about "The Bucket" and "The Beast". I thought it was― there was something interesting about giving the― the Pegasus a nickname. Naval ships generally have a nicknames that their crew bestow upon them. When I was on the Constellation, the carrier Constellation, everyone called her the "Connie". The Enterprise is known as "The Big E". The easy one for was would have been calling the Pegasus the "Peggy", but somehow that seemed just too cute and I didn't want her being called the "Peggy", then well what do you call Galactica? And it just seemed like the crews would start to give themselves nicknames and that "The Bucket" and "The Beast" would be the t― natural nicknames. We never use it again, interestingly enough. We just did it in this episode. You'll see we didn't really follow it up again. It was an idea that came and went, and it was chiefly because I was on the set watching some of the filming, on this episode, and Steve McNutt, our director of photography, was sitting there next to me. And Steve's a great guy, and I― I have very little to say to Steve usually because he does such a fine job. What the hell do I know about being a cinematographer? Steve has that wh― has that wired beyond belief. And speaks a technical lanuage far greater than mine. But there was a point, and Steve doesn't usually comment on the scripts, other than say he liked it, or this was cool, or this or that, and he gives little insights. He hated "Bucket and the Beast". He said, "What's this Bucket and the Beast crap?" And I looked at him like, "Huh?" He said, "Bucket and the Beast? I don't like that. Galactica's the Galactica. We don't call it the― the― 'the Bucket'. I hate that." (Laughs.) I was so― I was so surprised. I was so just like, "Oh my god! Stev― Steve hates that." But, we'd already shot it and it was already in the script and it was too late to really go in and excise all those little references, but it sort of scalded me. I was sort of scalded by the fact that Steve hated it and I― I just rethought it and I never used it again, consciously or unconsciously. I just never used that again.
This thing with Garner and the sledge and the spanner, fixing the problem. Y'know what? It was like, I didn't want it to be one of these "Scotty moments," I'm sorry. I just didn't want him pushing a lot of buttons and talking a lot of tech-talk, or Geordi, or name your favorite engineer from sci-fi who, from science fiction, who goes down and "Cross connect the dual plasma inter-relays. The duotronic processor is backed up. But wait! If only I can tech the tech, maybe the tech will rise quickly." And I didn't want any of those sequences something― I wanted something more visceral, more physical, and I wanted him with a sledge hammer and just trying to turn a valve. There was something more interesting about that than rewiring things and doing all kinds of other― of other crap with him.
Oh, and see and now my wife is walking in handing me― handing me notes. (To Terry:) Yes dear?
Terry: Honey are you done with the podcast yet? The maid, the gardener, the dogs, and the kids are all waiting and I need to unmuzzle and untie the children.
RDM: No. The children can remain restrained until further notice.
RDM: And send the gardeners and the― and the maid upon their way. And release the hounds and chase them off the property as soon as possible.
Terry: Alright. Well let us know when you're done with your podcast.
RDM: I know.
Terry: I know it's the most important thing of all.
RDM: Yes it is. We don't want to disappoint the fans.
Okay, there they go. Upside-down into the lower bay of Pegasus, which is something that I had been pressing to do for a long time. I― from the get-go when Gary was first designing the Pegasus with flight decks I said, "Let's do one of the flight decks upside-down." He said, "Why?" I said, "'Cause it'll be cool!" And it's still one of the cool things I like. I just― I don't know. It's just one of those― it's the geek in me still loves the notion that there's these upside-down flight decks and so when we were editing it I wanted Kara's fighter to come in upside-down and I flipped the shot of Kara in the cockpit to be upside-down for no reason at all except that I thought it was cool and hey― if you can't do things that you think are cool in a television show, why be a showrunner?
Lee― and so Lee Adama gets the Pegasu― that little beat there with the― the watch came out of a discussion with Sergio, the director. He wanted something that was a signature of Garner's that Lee could pick up later and I said, "What if it's a watch? And it's a watch what's missing a strap? And he puts it in his pocket. And there was something about the guy who never replaced the strap." And it just became a signature in Garner's. We will continue this storyline. Lee will be the commander of the Pegasus for the rest of the season and into next year. And I think it's interesting because I think it's going to raise certain questions next year in terms of his relationship with his father, his relationship with the fleet, who he wants to be, what kind of a man he's going to be, his relationship with Dualla. It's an interesting way to shake up the expected architecture of the show, and I think that's one of the things that you have to be willing to do in a― in an ongoing series like this is to be willing to change, is be willing to evolve these characters and move them into other positions and play around with what their lives would really be. Because I think that's reality. I think given the situation that these people are in, and the things that they're struggling with, I think they would shift, they would change, they would then be forced into different positions and serve different roles at different times because that's what the situation required. And I think it's interesting because it― it breaks the format of television and the episodic television format re― it's like this dictum that "Everybody must be doing the same roles week in, week out. Everybody has to do the same thing. 'Cause that's what the audience wants to come back and see." And yeah, you want to, on one hand, you want to satisfy that longing of the audience, and on the other hand you want to break that. You want to, like, challenge the audience. You want to keep them guessing. You want to keep them interested. You want to keep the wondering what's going to happen next.
I like the fact that― that Rya had the abortion. She didn't have a last minute change of heart and say, "Oh I'm going to have the child after all." Which I think is the TV's typical way with copping-out with women that face these issues. Maude is, like, probably the last major character on television who actually had an abortion on― on― on TV and didn't by the end decide, "Well, I know that I believe in a woman's right to choose but I've decided not to." Which I just think is a total cop-out. I think that's a complete― it's― that's trying to have it both ways. That's trying to have your liberal point of view, and not actually bite the bullet and have the character actually go through with the procedure. Which is a difficult procedure, and carries a lot of heavy weight, and I think you have to give it it's weight and you have to play the reality of that. There was another little reference in there, a little line in there you― one could argue doesn't belong in Galactica, which is a "pound of flesh" which, of course, as most people know, comes from "Merchant of Venice" is something Shakespeare wrote and has become part of our lexicon. There's not another good phrase. That's one of those things that when Laura says, "You've had― you've gotten your pound of flesh, now― now I suggest you take it and get out― get the hell out of here." I played around with variations on the idea of, "What's a better way to say that?" and I― for lack of an imagination or whatever, there isn't a better phrase that I could think of. "A pound of flesh" says it all so I opted to keep it in.
And so Kara becomes the Galactica CAG. Again changing― changing up, moving people around, evolving them, moving them into different positions, and playing the reality of what would really happen to these people. I mean, do we really expect, could― could we really expect that these people would be happy doing the same roles for years, and years, and years? Wouldn't they need to assume greater responsibility? Wouldn't they be forced to assume greater responsibility? Wouldn't they― they― this fleet― the remnants of the human race require that if you could do s― more than you're doing now that you'd have to do more than you're doing now?
This is actually, this coming up was an ad lib that Jamie came up with in the table read. And the table read, of course, is when the entire cast gets together before the― the show and they read the script out loud and you hear it and tweak dialogue and hear what the actors play. Right here. "You have a brain?" is something he's just said at a table read and it cracked up the whole room and it was also just, it was inspire because it broke the ice and broke the tension, and yet it was still honest and true. And so we put it in the script. I think that's a valuable thing. You try to listen to your actors when they're playing the role. You try to, during the table read, you're listening to see, it's your one and only shot before you start shooting to see if the words you've written really do fit in their mouths. You've been trying, you try very hard to listen to the actors, at least I do, as you're writing the characters once the series is up on its feet 'cause the actors start knowing the characters better than you do. And the actors have their own diction, and own rhythm, and their own sense of what the character should and should not do. And if you're smart you― you pay attention to that, and in the table read the way they say the lines and the little things they add or subtract, or the lines they won't say, you generally try to listen to and try to accommodate them as best you can 'cause it just makes the show better. It doesn't always happen. There's sometimes they, they're human, sometimes they come up with lines that don't work or sometimes they don't want to say something and you fight with them about it. You― you have arguments, and you say, "Look. We feel very strongly that you gotta say this." or "You can't say that." And it's― and it's a discussion. But... I guess the point I'm trying to make is― is you gotta have that discussion. You've got to be willing to let them be participants in the process because it's― it's an extraordinarily collaborative medium. I mean I'm― I'm the showrunner and yet, like I said earlier, it's my voice and I'm trying to give it, the show, a consistent voice. But we're all pulling together and we're all creating this drama. They're creating it in front of the cameras and I'm creating it behind the cameras. And there has to be a fluid dialogue back and forth in order to realize the― the vision of what you want the show to be.
Baltar's now officially running for President. This will continue throughout the rest of the season. This will come into play big time in the two-part finale. And this is going to lead us into some very, very interesting places. So that is the wrap-up for "Captain's Hand." Thank you for joining us. And now, on to "Downloaded." Goodnight. And I'll talk to you soon.