Podcast:The Ties That Bind

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"The Ties That Bind" Podcast
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Posted on: 2008-04-28
Transcribed by: DarthRazorback
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Length of Podcast: 43:36
Speaker(s)
Ronald D. Moore
Ronald D. Moore


Comedy Elements
Scotch: Woodford Reserve bourbon
Smokes:
Word of the Week:
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Teaser

Hello, and welcome to the podcast for episode 405, this is [the] fifth episode, it is, what is the name of this episode? [laughs] This is Ronald D. Moore, I am executive producer and developer of the new Battlestar Galactica, and I'm here to welcome you to the podcast for... "[The] Ties That Bind"! [laughs] Ties That Bind. I'm sorry. I just did the podcast for episode four just a moment ago and I lost track. Anyway, this episode, like other episodes in the series that have proven problematic, ultimately I think has worked out pretty well, but I still have some issues with this particular episode, how we— what we're able to finally deliver to the screen. I think you'll find that it's an interesting episode, there's a lot of great moments within it, which I think really, really save it, but I think ultimately the mistake that I— that I probably made in structuring out the story to this episode, is that I didn't quite— I leaned a little bit too much on the Cally story, on the story of, Cally and Tyrol's marital problems and her ultimate attempt at suicide and tried to make that the A-line story going through. I don't think I quite gave it enough. It's got some interest beats going on, there's a lot of interesting questions of trust and identity and certainly the conflict in Tyrol realizing his true nature, trying to discover what's he all about, you know with the other final four, talking to Tory and how that impacts his marriage and ultimately driving Cally around the bend, was an interesting idea but I think in retrospect I probably should have structured it from the outset as more of a subplot instead of really, truly the A-plot because I don't know that it quite sustains itself.

You can see even as we're— right here from the beginning, this is not the way it was scripted. In the script and all the structures, we opened here in the scene in the quarters on Cally and Tyrol asleep. Early versions of the drafts had Tyrol in bed with her looking down at her while she was sleeping, contemplating his life, flashing back to beats of their married life together, trying to understand where it all fits in and I think there were even flashes, and we shot them, of him momentarily contemplating killing her, in the same way Tigh had had a moment where he flashed on the notion that he could suddenly shoot Adama in CIC, Tyrol had a moment where he thought about what if he killed Cally and potentially his own son and that freaked him out and drove him out of the room. We dropped that as it went on and I think as I was going through the cut, I decided that it wasn't really working for me and I couldn't— There were too many things going on and they weren't quite working, so I opted for— to make it more Cally's story and to really emphasize elements that were already there but to try to make them really carry the weight. Namely that she is under a tremendous amount of stress, she is like any young mother with a young baby, she's up, she's losing lots of sleep, she has a job to maintain, it is a stressful job. Her husband is, to say the least, (laughs) conflicted and having problems of his own, and she's becoming dependent on medication and it is a volatile mix. She's going around the bend a little bit from the very beginning, because in order to get to the place where Cally wants to throw herself and her child out that airlock, I started to feel like we hadn't done enough to really justify how crazy a moment that was. So as I went back through the cuts several times, I kept underlining and playing with ways of emphasizing the jagged nature of her existence as the way she was looking through the world as opposed to how everyone else is looking through the world.

In the early drafts, Tyrol gets out of bed and goes and finds Tory to go talk and then she wakes up and goes, finds him, and in this version he is just there from the very get-go. This fuzzy camera lens was something that Michael Nankin, the director, brought to the table. I think it was the right instinct on his part to try to give some sort of POV to Cally so we could get inside of her head and that it's literally a drug induced fog, that she's really not in her right mind already and it doesn't take much to get her to a place where she's having weird experiences, and Tyrol is giving her lots of reason to suspect him. This little moment with Tory touching his elbow is the piece that really sends her over the edge in this scene. I think, in retrospect, we should have made more of it and understood a little bit what Tory was after with Tyrol specifically. I think what comes through in the scene right now is Tory is interested in her own experience, the way her own senses have changed and her own perceptions of reality have changed since she's realized that she is a Cylon and she is looking at life with new eyes and trying to get Tyrol to come there with her. But this sexual undertone to it is unexplained and it isn't quite developed enough. I mean, is she really coming onto him? It is a pretty overt gesture to put her hand on his elbow and stroke it. And she seems to be deliberately seducing, or at least luring him, in a flirtatious direction, and what's that all about, and we dropped that, unfortunately. We don't really keep playing it and I think that's one of the problems of the episode is that I think there's a lot of good ideas that just aren't quite developed far enough to maintain it through. So as a result, I think the cut now is a little jagged in that you start, there's a little bit of stutter steps where you start in that direction and then you start in another direction and you get hints of something else along the way. Like I said, I don't think this is a terrible episode by any means. I don't mean to overly apologize for it, it is just an episode I struggled with and never felt that it quite came together in the way that I wanted to at the very beginning.

Act 1

And again, the scotch is bourbon, and is Woodford Reserve left over from the last session.

This scene, with Laura and Adama, I absolutely love. This is just a lovely, lovely scene. The Laura and Adama story this season, to me, is just one of the best things of the year and it's just going to bear watching; just keep your eyes on these two characters. This scene was originally how the episode ended. In early drafts it was a scene where Adama came in with the book and said "hey, I brought this book, I thought you might be interested", and she said "just read me the first paragraph because I usually can tell whether or not it is a good book or not". They had some more dialogue and then he sat down and started. And in subsequent versions, I think we pared it back and pared it back where he then just came in at the end and they'd had this sort of ongoing conflict through the show— Y'know, they'd been at each other about this Demetrius mission and this was the way that the episode ended— was this lovely gesture [by] Adama, coming in, despite it all, and sitting and just reading her a mystery. You know, while she went through Doloxan, which is our chemotherapy, and it was a beautiful ending to the show, but as I started watching it, I had this sort of impulse to move it way up, to move it to the top of act one, because I wanted to hit you with the emotion of it very early. And I wanted to counterpoint it. I wanted to go from this, to see how close they were and how far they had progressed and what a lovely gesture that this was: that this man was doing this for her without even being asked to and that she was appreciating it as such. And I really let it play. I let this play as much as we had. They kept trying to cut it back and I wouldn't and I just let it play for as much footage as we possibly had [chuckles], I just let Eddie go with it. And then I wanted to cut from here to the press conference because then it was saying a more complex thing. Instead of "Oh, I know we fight but then he loves her in the end" on some level, I wanted to start with the fact that they loved each other, or he loved her on some level, again, that he can't say. But then, when she gets back on her feet and then they go back to their jobs, and they can still fight and that seemed like a more complex idea, a more interesting idea, that it wasn't saving it all for the sweet sentimental ending, it was saying that they have lives and they are continuing to go on with their lives. I really like the way it cuts now and to get right back into the business after that lovely little scene.

There were more machinations of Zarek in early drafts. Instead of Lee going to the Quorum, as he will later, this scene was followed by Lee going to his father and wanting to know about the Demetrius mission and saying that people should really understand what you're up to and Adama telling, kind of gruffly, "Hey, I thought you were a politician now and that's a military need-to-know". That's because at that point we were still playing that Adama hadn't quite embraced him as warmly as he would in later drafts of the early episodes. Remember that at the beginning of the season, especially mini-drafts are started simultaneously. So the initial thought on the early episodes was that Adama was not going to welcome Lee's leaving to go join the government so warmly, and he was actually going to be a little pissed about it still. So, the other writers were still proceeding on that assumption. And as we got into production drafts on the first episode, episode three, which I call episode three forever, and we made those changes to make him give him the warm send-off, or at least to embrace him and give him the warm send-off in the next episode, then all subsequent episodes had to be frantically rewritten to follow that line. This is what happens when you are doing a very serialized show such as this.

See, this is the scene that makes it work for me. Actually, at the beginning of the scene— I cut it out— Lee was in the scene at the beginning, and so was Zarek, and Laura summarily dismissed both of them to talk to Adama. This scene— I think it is interesting that we just saw him doing this lovely gesture and sitting and reading to her, and now she has no qualms about telling him where to get off and how wrong he is when she is back in her role as President. There is a delineation between the professional and personal with these characters. I just skipped over the establishing shot of the Demetrius, which I tortured Gary Hutzel in the visual effects department about a few times. I made them put the Vip— there was like one Viper, two Vipers on the flight deck to begin with and I kept insisting on more and they had already done the models and they had to keep going back in and redoing them.

There's a little bit of business that's coming up here in the Demetrius with Kara, where you'll see the little figure-head that was from Adama's ship. There was a whole little subplot in the previous episode of Adama looking at the figure-head on his ship. It was something that Kara had given to him and he then plucked off the ship and gave it back to her—in the prior episode, in "Six of One"—and she took it with [her]. It's there on the desk. You can see her playing with it just briefly, because I couldn't get it out of the cut. But when I was tightening up the previous episode and getting it down to time, that little subplot of Adama and the Goddess Aurora and giving it back to Kara and making a whole deal out of that, was something I cut for time. So, I couldn't really play it in this episode anymore. And it used to have a whole little bit, there was a whole exchange between Gaeta and her about the Goddess Aurora and this and that and she said something else and it played a more significant role in the story, but I had to cut that out of here as well. That little piece of her playing with it on the desk is the only holdover.

The first scene in was really going to be more of Kara just addressing them, telling them what they're looking for and it was more of a sense of them starting out at the mission. And it was really just a big long speech of Kara being the tough captain and telling them where they were going to go and I'm not going to brook any nonsense, and I changed it. Let's pick it up further in [where] they're already questioning her; they're already unhappy. There is an ugly undertone to all this. Also, it was several drafts before Helo appeared over here. Like I said in the previous podcast, the network had given this note that we weren't really doing much with Helo this season. I hate to say it, but the network was very right. I am kind of embarrassed that I wasn't taking care of Helo and Tahmoh on my own and they had to draw it to my attention. I went "Oh yeah, shit, that's right." I went back and decided that the Demetrius line needed a little bit more teeth to it anyway and I needed more players over there, the story wasn't quite jelling. I thought let's put Helo over there as Kara's number two because they had a good relationship, they were friends from way back, he trusted her, she trusted him, and he would be a loyal first officer on this mission, and then watch the crew underneath them start to crumble and start to question. And then I really started to like it. Then it started to feel like, okay now we got something going over on Demetrius where Helo has to defend the actions of his friend and he doesn't really believe in her anymore, but he's duty-bound to do it and he's a good man caught in a tough position.

Now you can see that the Cally line, at this point, is actually pushed fairly far down into the act. We don't really get back to Cally until several episodes— the Cally-Tyrol story. But this wasn't the way it was structured. It was really much more of a Cally and Tyrol episode and there wasn't quite enough going on in there, when I really watched the cut, to sustain it. A nice little bit the editor put in, when Tyrol bangs his fist, there is a big "boom" sound that goes out through the ship. It is kind of a music hit, actually. I wanted to maintain that as we went through it. It is a subtle thing but it conveys the notion that there's a slightly greater power in strength than what we usually play for humans and it sort of reminds you that he's Cylon. This gag is a gag. [laughs] The Centurions having to clean up the blood, it's like the funniest idea. It is a very strange idea and it was even stranger when you saw the raw footage of the dailies coming in because of course there is no Centurion in the scene. There is just like a big green pole with a red wet rag on the end of it and somebody is manipulating the pole and it's moving up and down next to the wall. And even then we kept looking at each other going "Is this going to work? This is such a wacky, strange idea." In the initial pre-vis of this scene— pre-vis is pre-visualization which is the rough animatics that the visual effects department delivers when you are looking at the cuts— we had Centurions all the way around this room— there were lots of Centurions in this room, and we were playing beats in there where the Centurions were looking at one another and then they were looking down at their hands. And when Cavil would make a hand gesture, one of the Centurions behind him would repeat the hand gesture and there was a sense that they were emulating the skinjobs. They were starting to pick up quirks and ticks. Now, that wasn't something that the visual effects guys did on their own, it was an intention. It was a direction that we, at this point when we were developing this episode, thought we were all going to be going and that we were going to play much more with the Centurions and much more of their growing self-awareness and what it would mean within the Cylon world. Ultimately, we decided not to go in that direction. It became cumbersome, it became one too many plot elements when you looked back and really looked at what we were doing. We had so many balls in the air that then to play out the story of the slowly dawning self-awareness of the CGI characters became just like crazy. We can barely get all of our established characters in the show, much less to play their stories as well, so we cut way back on it. There was a point in the editing of this episode where I slashed virtually all the other Cylons out of the scene. I cut all the looks and gestures completely out of the process and got rid of it.

Act 2

I really should have gotten more ice for my bourbon.

The Lee storyline changed substantially. I really put Michael Taylor through the ringer on this episode, I have to say. I just tortured him with notes, endlessly, about this show. The storyline originally was much more about Lee and Laura. Lee going to Laura and there were more debates and arguments between he and her about her telling the truth to the Fleet. About trust and politics and it was much more of a philosophical idea. Ultimately, as I kept reading and I kept feeling like there wasn’t much to it. We had moved Lee over to this position as a delegate from Caprica but then he wasn’t acting as a delegate, it was just him in scenes with Laura and they were just arguing. So I made a change at one point, I said okay I want to see some Quorum scenes and let’s play the Quorum. We hadn’t really played a Quorum scene as such, I don’t think, since "Colonial Day" was the last time I believe we saw them really all gathered together and actually doing their thing.[1] I might be wrong about that because my memory is a bit faulty. I think that was the last time we really saw them all together and voting and being called by names. Since then we have seen them in various gatherings informally. I wanted to really do the Quorum as the Quorum. So, we decided that the template was going to be the House of Commons. There was going to be a certain formality to it. It wasn’t going to be like committees. It wasn’t going to be like the US system where people sit in committees and big dais and take their turn and talk. Committee meetings, by their nature, are incredibly boring. I thought it would be more like the House of Commons where there was a sense of people having to stand to speak. There was question time—in fact, I think we referred to the president’s question time with the Quorum—and that the president had to go before the Quorum periodically and be questioned. The representatives of the people would come and question, in public, the president in a public forum and he or she would be expected to have damn good answers, or at least palatable answers and that, depending on the answers, sway the vote of these twelve. I am a bit of an admirer of the British system and certainly see some of the advantages in it. It is interesting, I've had long talks with Jamie [Bamber] and James [Callis], who are British, debating the merits of the parliamentary system versus the American system and, of course, each of us sees great advantages in the other’s system [laughs]. They understand the weakness and flaws of the parliamentarian system of government and I am all too aware of the shortcomings of our own constitutional form of government. We’re also vaguely defensive about our systems too. It was a fun idea when we got into these episodes to keep playing around with the way the governments themselves would function.

It was hard to let Nicki go from the show; Nicki Clyne, who plays Cally. I remember the phone call, calling up Nicki and saying—I think there is certainly a universal dread of getting a call from both Ron and David [Eick]; if Ron and David are both calling for you, the actor kind of knows, uh oh, the angel of death is nigh. We called up Nicki and she was like “uh-oh, what’s this.” She was very cool and funny about it and we told her and she was like “ok, well… I'm sorry to hear that", but she took it really well. We were surprised—it was lovely for her to do it that way because she essentially took us off the hook. We dread those conversations as much as they do, on some level. Maybe not. Maybe they dread— I am sorry—they do dread it more than we do. They have much more at stake than we do. Their characters are livelihoods to them. Certainly they are in a worse position than we are. On the phone we sit there and are like oh my god, how are they going to react? It is very narcissistic of us, like producers are, we get very self involved about our feelings. We are trying to be nice to them but there is certainly a part of us that is dying inside like "oh god, are they going to cry?". And Nicki really let us off the hook. Nicki was so beautiful and professional. It was lovely of her to do that for us. I feel very small and bad that I actually cared about how bad it made me feel when I was calling up an actor and telling them that they were not going to have work on my show anymore. Sometimes when you are in this position you have to wake up for once in a while remind yourself that you are not omnipotent, and you are not godlike, you are just a fuckin’ executive producer and you have to keep it all in perspective. Her life changed more than mine did. It was very hard letting Nicki go for the show, because she was a big part of the show. She was in the family from the very very beginning and she’s been missed. The show hasn’t been the same without her.

This scene with Anders and Kara, I like particularly in terms of the way Michael Trucco plays this beat. I really think he pushed a bit here. I think this is a rougher side of Anders than we have seen, a more impatient part of Anders. I like the way he gets in her face more. Kara is pretty vicious to him here. This is one of the uglier scenes of Kara, really exposing her teeth and biting into him pretty hard. Telling him that he was a safe bet and that is why she married him and that was the only reason they were together, is a pretty ugly thing to say. I like the way he handles her. There is a lot going on in there. The guy just realized he is a frakkinCylon for God sakes. The physicality of this really plays for me and I like that they didn’t just start kissing right there, when she shoved him and started hitting him against the wall. The sexuality is in the air, it is clearly gonna happen, but I like the fact that there is a little bit of a pause and then it lets it build a little bit. It has to build again in a different way. It is like the heat of the physical confrontation— I don’t know that it is true that is flashed directly into carnal lust, but I think he can get there, but what I like about this is that there was a moment where the aggression spent itself and then it shifted, and then he shoves her back to the bed again and then throws her down and holds her down. There is a real strong animal lust going on in this beat, which I really like.

Act 3

Act three. All that thumping and banging in the background is of course my children on the floor directly above my head. I think this was structured differently in the script. I think the previous act out was not an act out and I think we sort of cut back into the scene in the same act and kept going. I think I restructured this in the editing room, I could be wrong –someone I’m sure will correct me from the production team. But I think I restructured this in the editing room, to make that the act out and come back here, at the top. Again, going to Anders, because it’s like well what’s going on in his brain as he hears all this stuff. Again this was another scene that was chock full of Centurions initially. That’s why you had that big wide shot there at the end, because we had spotted Centurions all the way around the room and I don’t know if they were doing quite as much acting and reacting in this scene as in the prior one but they were more characters within the scene in the original cut –which explains the odd grouping here at the table where you have these four at the very big table at the center of the room and so much wide space around them. You'll notice that I am cutting to angles that are so tight that… they would avoid places where- they were avoiding camera compositions where Michael had left room for the centurions to play in the background, is the most elegant way of stating it. So, essentially, by cutting the Centurions out I screwed up Michael Nankin’s blocking [laughs] and they way he designed to shoot this. One of the evil things that producers do to directors that inspires mutual hatred by all parties. And I felt bad, because Michael Nankin is one of our best directors and the problems in the episode, as usual, were all traceable back to the story and script level and they were mostly things that I was struggling with and having problems with. They weren’t really the fault of the director.

Here’s the scene. This is the first Quorum scene. I really tortured Michael Taylor about this scene. Over and over again, kept taking different takes at it. Jane Espenson, who wrote a subsequent episode, had cracked the back of a Quorum scene and doing Question Time and I kept referring Michael to her draft. Saying, look at how Jane did it! Which was just driving him insane, of course, because no writer wants to hear that, go look at somebody else’s draft. Again, we are going to a House of Commons feel here, there’s even two sides to the room; in the House of Commons it’s the two parties, here it’s arbitrary, it’s just two sides of the Colonies –it's a nice way to delineate the two sides of the room. But I liked the sense that a delegate has to stand, there’s a formality to how they address one another --my friend, the delegate from so-and-so does not the president feel that—I like all that quite a bit in the way this all flows into one another. And just that shot there of Laura putting her head on her hand and what a pain in the ass this must be because presumably, all the way through the series, ever since the Quorum was re-established in "Colonial Day" these scenes have been going on off-camera. Laura, on Colonial One, has had to deal with this civilian government that she brought into being --the representatives of the people out there.

The storyline became that Lee, in his first session at the Quorum, tries to go to Laura’s defense. Tries to step in and lend her a hand and lend his political support to her and that Laura, though, really isn’t going to have any of that. Because I think, on some level, she really is still pissed at what he did at Baltar’s trial, despite her denials to the contrary. That she just gets up and just swats him back down in a very public way. And that was always a key to me, that Laura just reached up and smacked him and kind of got an enemy out of it. Not an enemy like someone like Zarek or something , but certainly Lee then gets up and proves his mettle and shows that he has teeth too. And this notion that Laura was considering going into these tribunals that were appointed by her and they were controlled by her, was obviously a nod towards current events and tendencies of the executive branch to want to control things. I don’t think that it’s something unique to the Bush administration, to put a name to it, I think the executive branch tends to reach for more and more power. Certainly, in emergency situations, it grabs all the power it possibly can, mostly out of good intentions and mostly out of a need to try to control events, to try to do good, to try to have more efficient government, to try to protect the people, to try to preserve security, etc etc. I wanted to play some of that. That Laura is not above doing certain things. Laura is not above arrogating more and more power to herself. Laura is not above trying to then control the judiciary, especially given the fact that the judiciary, such as it was, was the very thing that allowed Gaius Baltar of all people to be exonerated at the end of last season. So, it made perfect sense to me that Laura would be looking for a way to correct that particular flaw in their system and would then try to do it without bringing it to a public vote. And then Laura is smart enough and quick enough and nimble enough on her feet to realize that this isn’t going to go down well and that she deftly turns the tables and says I’ll bring it to a meeting and of course I was going to bring it to you all along, I just didn’t have a chance to do so.

And here we have the beginning of the Cylon Civil War. This was a long time coming. We played a lot of different elements of this in building to this point and alluding to divisions but now here we go. When it is Cylon against Cylon it reminds me of [shouts] “Ape has killed ape! Ape has killed ape!” For those of you who are truly sci-fi geeks of course will recognize that reference. For the rest of you, I will leave it to you and to the glories of the Internet to search out that particular quotation. In any case, another little sequence I tortured Gary Hutzel about, it wasn’t clear to me which was which, which side was which in this scenario. Who had really fired on who and which were the Cavil’s guys and which were the good guys and I kept making them rearrange the geometry of it, ad infinitum.

This little beat here, the Cavil-Boomer scene is a little bit of a mustache twirler in all honesty. It’s probably one step too far. It’s not a huge thing but it’s one of the minor flaws that sticks out to me as I wish I had taken a different tack on that particular moment.

Again, back to Cally, the trouble with the episode as aired now is that… because Cally has been so moved into the background, and other pieces of moved forward, I think the episode kind of lurches from one storyline to another because the Cally story was an A-story –that the Cally-Tyrol was really an A-plot and you were following them strongly through the show so that provided the spine for the episode and everything else swirled around it. OK, so once I decided that wasn’t working and I was unsatisfied with it and I decided to cut back on it and shift it around and move other things to the forefront, that left… there was no real sense of rhythm and flow to the scene order anymore. It's almost like random cuts now. So, to me, as I watch it, I keep feeling the lack of a cohesive narrative. In the earlier episodes, even though like in the first episode, you can say that Kara was sort of the A-story but the show’s about many many things, to me that episode flowed really well and moved along. I didn’t mind the fact that it was moving from scene to scene. OK, there is the giant in-joke of all time. The 1701-D, which I was not aware of; [laughs] I didn’t know they were doing that. I saw it in dailies and I was just like oh my god. The inmates are running the asylum. So, what can you do? But anyway. In the early episodes I thought it worked, that there wasn’t a strong A-line - somehow the montage of it all was really playing for me - but in this episode I feel the lack of cohesion. I feel what I’ve done, which is to take out an A-story and move other elements around. So as a consequence, I never quite feel comfortable with the structure of the show. I never quite feel like I’m sinking into the story. I just always feel like I’m kind of pulled from one place to another. I mean, it's a very subjective thing, maybe I’m the only one that feels that way.

This little beat here with going between the walls was something I actually fought for a while. Now I feel it’s one of the better little bits in the episode to kind of give this a nice little feeling of scope. In the initial draft, they were in the tool room or some place and Cally got a piece of equipment from the hanger deck and essentially did a wiretap. Not a wiretap but she had some sound sensitive equipment and pressed it against the bulkhead and had an earpiece and could listen in through the bulkhead to the conversation. I think it was Michael Nankin who just didn’t believe it, he thought it was hokey and thought it was very MacGyver and just didn’t buy it. He and Richard Hudolin, the production designer, had come up with this notion of going in between the walls and that there would be this giant drop in-between them. I liked it but then I was like "really?". Is this ship really designed like that? Are there really gaps between the walls and you can really fall down all this distance and stuff? And then of course they had a whole rational explanation for it; yes, actually, that is how the way the Galactica is designed and there are these places where compartments are segmented like that and there are modules, et cetera, et cetera - some whole complicated tech explanation that they probably just made up - but it sounded good and finally I just went OK let’s go for it. Now I’m glad they did because it does give a sense of danger to where she is and the position she is in as she is going through this.

That little shot there of Tyrol cutting himself and the blood and then the shot of them in bed and him looking at his hand and all those little pieces, were originally at the beginning of the piece- of the show when he was fantasizing about killing her. And now we use them later as her freak-out in a general sense of oh my god what am I married to; what’s he capable of doing. But it’s a little unclear what’s a flashback, what’s a dream, what’s an imagination, and it’s a little tenuous as you get through the section. I will admit that it’s a little rickety that she finds the note in the door jam and that leads her to this hidden conversation. What can I tell you? It is one of those things that I always felt was a problem and I always felt well we’ll solve that later… and later never came. I never quite addressed the problem; never quite solved it [laughs]. The note. It’s a bit of a cheat. It’s a little convenient. I like this beat where she, the way this is staged, that she comes out last, turns and notices the panel is off. Unfortunately we only had that one take of the camera swinging down and seeing it, so it’s a little hard to see it, but it was the panel that was ajar that drew her attention –she realized that somebody had been listening in.

Act 4

Act four. Now in here you can see I’m getting very jump-cutty. I’m really trying to play her freak-out, so you are trying to be really inside of her head during this really pivotal key moment here, where it all comes unhinged for Cally. I'm not sure if Michael Nankin shot this with Tyrol so radically out of focus in the background, or if this is something that they did in the Avid. It was in the director’s cut when I saw it, so I can’t tell you exactly how this effect is achieved, and with a little backlighting there I think that’s something that Steve McNutt did on the set and then I think they shot it with him deliberately out of focus. But I could be wrong. They might have actually defocused that area of the screen and Avid the highlight and post, but I am not positive. But I liked it and I think in the early cut of this there was a beat where we racked focus and then finally brought Tyrol in-focus and I said no… I like keeping him out of focus in the whole scene and then like she can barely hear him and we the audience can never connect with him. The way it’s cut now, you can never really connect with what Tyrol is saying. He really is this monstrous figure hovering over her shoulder, in a literal way. I thought it was crucial that at this point in the story that you had to be completely with Cally. You had to really, really understand where she was coming from and what was going on in her head in order to justify what was about to happen.

You see that shot of Tyrol reaching down into the crib that was also from the beginning of the show where he was imagining going over and killing Nicky and now it plays more like she’s imagining him going over and killing Nicky. In that shot there of him stroking her when she’s asleep – again, these are all shots that were initially from the beginning of the episode when we were in his POV and now they play more as things she is remembering or things she’s imagining. I love the way that plays - the whack that just comes out of nowhere. The look on his face as he tries to get to his feet. It's so brutal, it’s so great. Now, the question that immediately rises of course is why doesn’t she call Adama, why doesn’t she call CIC and say [shouts] “He’s a Cylon!” Well, the only rationale here is that she’s out of her mind. It’s between the completely crazed- just crazy mindset that she’s in, combining with the drugs – I started to feel really strongly, when I saw the cut, like we’ve got really lean on those drugs. You’ve got to really believe that she’s taken drugs and she’s not in her right head in order to justify this. And that’s a problem because ultimately we should have solved that at the script level. We should have found a more elegant way to get there than to really then force it in post-production and just make her completely deranged as a way of getting in there. So, it’s really a story issue that I should have realized and resolved well before this point. But, you know, it is what it is and this is where we are.

I love the way the launch tube turns on and the doors open and the lights the way they flicker momentarily. And this walk now is pretty effective. I like the way she looks as she walks in here carrying little Nicky and the look on her face. This scene with Tory was there and we always wanted this to be the gag that she was going to kill herself and Tory intercedes and seems to talk her down, only to then pull the rug out from under her and launch her out the tube while saving the baby at the same time. That was always the gag. What I had to keep hammering on was that I really wanted… to be the sucker punch. I really wanted Tory to come in there and convince us that she was successfully talking her down, because that is usually how this moment works in television –the character comes in [and] talks you down off the ledge and all is going to be OK. So, I wanted more music; I wanted Tory to play it honestly. I didn’t want to give it away. In early cuts there were more ominous music. You knew there was something wrong with Tory. I didn’t want to play it at all so I had to fight to [say] no… don’t play it that way. I said, you have to feel that she’s going to succeed. You have to really warm it up here a little bit. You have to believe that Tory is going to succeed and that all is going to be OK, because isn’t that what you really want? Isn’t that what everyone really wants out of the scene? You really want it to be alright.

I love that when she just closes the door behind her and it’s in that moment, I think, where Tory makes her decision. Tory decides [that] she’s going to come in there and –I’m not sure Tory knew what she was going to do exactly before she walked in that launch tube—when those doors closed behind her I think Tory’s decision was made. She was going to talk this woman down to the point where she was going to be able to get that kid out of her arms. [long pause, then laughs] Just watching the scene. [long pause again] Look at Nicki, I mean, she’s really- it's great. This is a great final scene for the character. She’s so distraught. She’s so out on a limb here. She’s so torn apart, doesn’t know what to do with herself. And yeah, on some level she wants to be talked off that ledge, otherwise she would have pushed the button long before now. That was the thing that justified it to me too, that… Cally doesn’t want to die. She doesn’t want to go out that tube with her son. She wants to be talked down off the ledge, you know. At some level she wanted someone to stop her in the corridor. She doesn’t want to do this on some level. It is the classic suicide thing. She wants someone to stop her from doing it. Here’s the key moment. Tory is down on her knees and it’s right here where the music warms up and you feel like it’s all going to be OK. Because you want it to be OK. Everyone wants it to be OK. Cally is coming around; Tory has said all the right things; we’re rooting for Tory; we’re rooting for Cally; the kid’s on the line; it’s all going to be OK, isn’t it? Look at her. Let me take her. It’s OK. You’re alright. It’s all OK. Yeah, it’s fine. No it’s not. [laughing] And then just the whack across the room! [still laughing] It’s just so wrong. [in an evil, mischievous voice] That’s what makes it so right!

See, once we’re here, I start feeling good about the episode again because I think this is such a strong ending. It’s so shocking; it’s so disturbing; it’s just so oh my god I can’t believe what’s going on here; I can’t believe what’s really going to happen; I can’t believe she is really going to flush her out that airlock. The cavalry is not going to come to the rescue. The evil Cylon is gonna win. The kid’s in her arms; poor Cally is gonna get flushed out the launch tube. No, no, no, someone stop this nightmare from happening, and of course nobody stops this nightmare from happening and that’s when I really think it works. It’s like if you have a strong ending a lot of the things in the episode before can be forgiven. So, I am hoping that’s where we are in this episode. Of course, a lot of discussion on these visual effects here at the end. We didn’t have a launch tube to blow her down. It was on the set, we sort of pulled her off on a wire harness. Then we have this frozen shot of Cally rotating in space –lot of CG involved in all these shots. And then this –there was dialogue here that I think, I know was written and I think maybe they just did a take where Adama didn’t say it, where he was saying he was sorry and they were still investigating or trying to figure out what had happened, and I just thought it was more powerful not to play in the dialogue. I think there was a take where he did say the dialogue but I might be mistaken. In any case, I loved just pulling out with just him sitting there talking to Tyrol and it’s so clear that Tyrol knows what the hell has happened and you kind of dread where you go from here. So, there you have it. Episode 405, "[The] Ties That Bind". I’m Ronald D. Moore signing off. I hope you enjoyed it and I will catch up with you next week on episode 406. Until then, goodnight and good luck.


References

  1. The Quorum meets again in the episode "Fragged" when they visit Laura Roslin in Galactica's brig.