Podcast:Blood on the Scales
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[voiceover from teaser, "Previously..." can be heard]
Hello, and wel- ooh, that was a little too loud. Hello, and welcome to the podcast. This is Ronald D. Moore, executive producer and developer of the new Battlestar Galactica here to welcome you to the podcast for episode sixteen in our- numbering scheme, "Blood on the Scales". This is part two of the mutiny arc and- I- Let's see. First things first. The Scotch is actually bourbon. Woodford Reserve, once again. The smoking lamp is out as I am ensconced up in Lake Tahoe at a rented cabin on the Caprica writers' retreat. So this is actually cross-pollination of Galactica and Caprica for probably not the last time. But that's where- I is. And that's where I will be for the remainder of the podcast.
So, here we go. The mutiny arc was one of the more fun arcs that we had to plot out for the course of the final season, 'cause it was really supposed to take everything down to the absolute rock bottom that the characters could possibly endure. And, yeah, after not having found Earth and having that taken away from them, the idea was then to go even further. And now take the loyal the loyal to the crew, shatter the family, threaten the ship. Take all the fundamentals as far down as you possibly could. And the mutiny arc was designed to do just that. To really like shatter us from within. You'll notice that once again we're putting the chirons up on the episode which- to really emphasize the speed of which all these incidents are taking place and to show that it's really, like, bookin' along. Which is- to maintain the relentless pace that we had established in the first part. [coughs]
We did reshoot chunks of this- moment and the act out of the previous scene. Not a lot, but we needed to go back and- In the original cut of "The Oath" it took way too long for the Raptor to get the hell out of Dodge, so we wanted to emphasize why Adama was staying behind to guard the airlock and giving Laura a chance to get away. And also we just wanted to rejigger some of the choreography on that standoff so it played a little bit more smoothly with the flash grenade and all that coming in.
I think in early drafts of this sequence, of the Raptor sequence, I don't think Laura made the phone call and tried to warn off Hotdog. It happened a little bit more- a little faster, but I wanted to slow it down and I think I wanted to milk the tension out of this a little bit, and I also wanted Laura to make a plea to Hotdog so you could kinda declare who was on whose side. There was also some debate back in forth about whether the- this missile fire that's coming up should hit the baseship or not. And I kind of went back and forth, I think, in all honesty. I couldn't- at first I was kind of adamant that the missile should not hit the baseship. That it seemed too provocative and it would have initiated more and more hostilities, but I think- Angeli talked me into going with it because it seemed like it gave a little bit extra juice, a little bit extra fire here in the opening seconds of the tease, and it also rammed home the seriousness with which the situation needed to be taken by the Cylons on board the baseship.
Nice to see Captain Kelly back. You all remember that he was the LSO that was ult- that was convicted a while back of planting bombs around Galactica. These episodes, the mutiny arc, was really a chance to bring back a lot of players. We saw Gage and Nireem from Pegasus, Narcho, Private Jaffee. We really kinda wanted pull out all the stops 'cause we needed people to line up on either side. And of course, right up front here was the question of who was gonna be who in the Vipers, and it was nice to say that Hotdog was gonna be one of the good guys. And so that allowed us to firmly put Hotdog on the side of the angels and Narcho on the side of the villains.
We're definitely cheating, right here, in terms of how did the Raptor get aboard the baseship, despite that near miss. And we deci- I just opted to jump ahead. I mean, we had various little scenarios of how it slipped into an airlock and got on board, and I think there was even a shot that was planned at some point of watching the Raptors zoom through the inside of the ship. But those were all dropped for time and budget and they didn't seem necessary and it seemed pointless once you- once the- Raptor escaped from the Viper's clutches, as it were, it seemed kinda obvious it was gonna get aboard the baseship, so you really didn't need to tap into any of that.
There- in early drafts there was a stronger Laura-Tory confrontation here. There was even a point where Laura slapped Tory. Which, as much as we- much as we love to slap Tory, of course, it didn't seem in unnecessary, and it seemed out of character for Laura in that moment. I like the fact that, really, Laura's one moment of- I like all that. Sorry, I just stop and listen. I like that Laura's one time where she actually physically hit somebody was Tigh, during the New Caprica arc when he was accus- when they were having their argument about suicide bombing, and that was the one time that she just crossed that line and actually hit somebody, and I always thought that was really great.
I'm trying to think if- there weren't a lot of changes through all this. I mean, there were- I looked back through my notes on the drafts. There were dialogue changes in this kinda scene. It was a much- I think I felt a little uncomfortable with the insignia as we went through development, of Adama turning over his pins, his pips, to- Gaeta, and there was much- there was much- there was a bigger deal made out of it and I think I wanted to downplay. I almost fought to lose it at one point, but it was a nice symbolic gesture.
That's one of the few times I let battle stations slip through instead of action stations. I'm usually pretty- it's one of those nitpicky things that I obsess on in my obsessive ways was the term "action stations" versus "battle stations".
The- whole notion of Laura moving the baseship deeper into the Fleet was predicated on the idea that Gaeta's not trying to just slaughter civilians. He's- his whole purpose of the coup is to take over in some kind of legitimate way and therefore when the shooting stops, he's gotta govern this Fleet. He's got- he and Zarek together have to somehow, some way find a method or find a legitimacy so that people actually listen to them, the Quorum actually listens to them, the Fleet captains actually listen to them, and they are in essence, the new leaders of the rag tag Fleet. If they didn't plan on doing that, they wouldn't go through any of this stuff. If they were just trying to take over just Galactica, they've done that. But it's not just about Galactica. It's about the future of humanity, and I think that both the characters of Zarek and Gaeta took that charge very seriously. They wanted to be the next leaders of the human race.
End of the tease.
So, back to what I was saying. The idea of taking over the leaders of the human race means that you couldn't just start blowing civilian ships out of the sky.
I love this little beat with Zarek and Racetrack. That there- in the midst of this whole thing, that there's still a time for a little human interaction like that. That he's telling her a joke, and he's probably flirting with her. I love that little beat.
Anyway. That they- If Zarek and Gaeta wanna take over in any kind of legitimate way, they can't just start blowing civilian ships out of the sky. So Laura is using their own motives and psychology against them by trying to hide within the Fleet, knowing that he can't- he would lose all legitimacy by shooting at other civilians, make his own task that much more difficult. It's certainly a calculated gamble by Laur- on Laura's part. But it also seems like a gamble she would take, as the stakes are enormous. I mean, in her mind, losing the Fleet to Tom Zarek is equivalent to losing humanity. Essentially, the human race will not survive, as far as she's concerned, if Tom Zarek takes over. Or if it does survive, it won't be anything worth saving. So she's quite willing to gamble with hundreds of lives, if not thousands of lives, in these moments, as the case may be.
Now, the trial also to me came out of the same logic. I think the inspiration to me for the trial of Adama was actually thinking about what happened to Nicolae Ceauşescu, who was the former leader of- oh, dear. Now I'm failing. Is it Romania? Czechoslovakia? Oh, shoot. I'm so embarrassed that I can't, at this very moment, remember. I think it was in eastern Europe. Oh, shoot. I think it was Romania. In any case, Ceauşescu, when he fell, there was actually a drumhead trial for the man, and I believe his wife. And there was video of it surfaced after they had executed him and they put- they were in some room and they had a table for him and tale- a table for the judges, and they basically ramrodded through a verdict, but they gave him a moment to talk and to defend himself and to answer the charges and then they put through the guilty plea and then they took him out in the yard and they shot him. And I was always fascinated by that, 'cause I thought, "Well, it's a coup, after all. It's a revolution. Why do you take the time to even have the pretense of a trial? Why do you go through the forms on any level?" And I re- and as I was thinking about that in this episode, it was all about the legitimacy of the government afterward. You still want to govern afterward. If you're just going around chopping people's heads and throwing them on pikes, that's one thing. But if you're actually going to have to govern these civilians and these people, you have to be able to have some fig leaf that says, "Look, the man was guilty. The man had crimes. We gave him a chance to answer his crimes and you may quibble about our procedures and all that but he- this is all about justice. This is all about doing the right thing. We're not barbarians. We had to take tough action. And the tough action we took meant relieving this man of command, trying him by his own crimes, and then we had to execute him for the sake of the state, but justice was served." And that Gaeta believed very strongly in that idea, that this was about justice. And ultimately, Gaeta's really interested in himself- or not himself, in a narcissistic way, but he's- doing this for his own political and ideological belief system about why he thinks this has to be done. And I think he needs to justify his actions to the world, and to himself. And he's going to go through this exercise. He's going to face Adama. He's going to face the man. He's gonna tell the man why this is happening to him. He's gonna let Adama try to answer the charges back. And he's still gonna execute him. But he is gonna go through this. 'Cause it's important to Gaeta. Whereas Tom Zarek, which I always thought was really interesting, is that Zarek is just more pragmatic.
I love the way Eddie plays all this, by the way. The way he says, "I love the enemy." I love it. It just totally fucks with Gaeta so beautifully.
Anyway. That Tom Zarek, you'll notice, we keep cutting to him looking impatient and annoyed. He can't believe we're having to go through this shit. Because he's smart enough and he's been in enough revolutions or enough moments like this to realize that you just have to- wipe these guys out. You can't get caught up onto little niggling points like this like Gaeta is. Zarek would rather just have shot him, made up a story, and said he got shot escaping or something and be done with it. Which, in a certain sense, is the smarter plan.
In early drafts there was a different baseship story. There was more jockeying back and forth between the baseship and Galactica. There was actually a plan on Galactica's part to attack the baseship. And I think I finally excised that because I felt like in the middle of all this crap, are they really gonna take on the baseship? They're gonna try to have a battle under these circumstances? It just didn't seem wise and it didn't feel like the episode needed it. It didn't feel like it needed the ticking clock of combat and loading up missile tubes and all that to carry it through. So I just opted for a simpler line with the baseship. [Coughs.]
This scene with the Quorum and their rejection of Tom Zarek and his execution of them is one of the best scenes in the show, and probably of the season. It's really surprising and brutal and harsh, and I think very true. It's also an instance where the actor, Richard Hatch, really, I think, had good- note, and I'm glad he did. In the original draft of this the Quorum actually voted to support Tom Zarek. They were actually gonna let him be president and Zarek kinda- the idea was Zarek kinda looks at them and, surprise- and it wasn't even a vote. Tom just came in and said, "Look, this is what has to be done. I'm taking over. Adama's been dethroned, and that's the way it is, and I'm sorry, but I just had to tell you that." And then they- applauded him and supported him, to his shock, and then kinda looked at them sadly and realized what he had to do anyway, and he walked out the hatch and sent the marines- or sent the thugs in and they shot 'em all. And Richard- it was one of the few times that Richard ever said, "You know what? I gotta problem with this scene," or "I don't think this works," or "I don't understand my character." And he talked to me, I think while we were shooting my episode, "Disquiet". He said, "You know, I just have a problem with this. I just don't know why he would do that if they're supporting him. I mean, it would be so much simpler and stronger if they just vote against him and then he does it, 'cause I understand the need to do this, and I understand the character- arc he's on. I just don't know why he would, if they supported him, he would be smart enough to like play that into solidifying his political position." And, you know what? I said he was right. I realized he was right. I was trying to be too cute by half trying to make it- him- get the win and still do the bad thing anyway.
End of the act.
And the end of the Quorum. Really just- I mean, now we're really moving into the endgames of the- endgame of the entire series. I mean- we began the series without a Quorum and we're ending the series without a Quorum. And- There was something about- there was something so right about killing all of them and destroying the civilian government as it was, and really throwing everything into question just as the fabric of everything we've known in the series and on the show starts to just come completely unwound and you just feel everything flying apart at the seams. And how do they recover from this? Even after the coup is put down, the civilian government and its legitimate representatives have been killed. How do they pick up the pieces after that? Who do they turn to? What happens to Laura? Where does Lee go? How do they- govern this Fleet after this?
I think this is a very strong episode for Richard Hatch. I mean, I think he's- always been just a delight in the series and he's always come and just really delivered the goods, but this is- the end of Tom Zarek I just think is a very strong arc for him. That he's really smart and that he really- he's trying to do what he thinks is the right thing to do and he's having trouble doing it because of Gaeta, and he can just see that his own doom coming.
This is a upcoming one of several great Laura speeches in this episode, but this- point. I think this- grew out of some notes that I gave as we were- rejiggering the Cylon baseship story about what it should be about and I- like this idea that Laura puts it to the Cylons. Who do you wanna be? Who's side are you on? Who do you wanna be? And the way she plays it is really strong. This is a very- I love the fact that she has very little power here. I mean, she has really now power- no authority. She has no army. She has nothing to back her up. This is all just persuasion and argument. And she just- nails it home here. I like the way her voice kinda cracks that he's alive. "Who stuck with him and who ran." I love that. "Who do you wanna be? Who do you wanna be?" It's just great. I just love that moment. It's really- turning to the Cylons and asking them who they wanna be. Which I- think it's just an ironic and wonderful place to put Laura at this point.
This is a great scene. This bit with Kelly and Tyrol. And the way they play it. And Tyrol just comes out of there. And they look at each other. These two old guys that been on the ship forever. I like that- they can see the humor in the darkness of the situation. That they bust on each other's balls about things that we know are true. The craziness of it all. And how this used to be a good ship once. And I think there's something- poetic in that and something noble and something true in that as they look around and they think back. "This was a hell of a ship once." You know, it really was. And now look where it is. Cylon runnin' the halls. Coups and mutinies. "Coulda told you she was trouble." I love that. I love this. This is just such a wonderful beat. I mean, it's just- such a great tribute to the actors and the director and the writer. It's just- this is when the show just comes to life for me. It's these human moments where you see the humanity of these characters. As they're in the middle of a plot and they have this reaction to one another. And he sends him on his way. Kelly- I put- I asked for Kelly to witness the execution of the Quorum, indirectly. I mean, he's standing in the corridor outside of it. Just to give a little bit of context for this turn. Because it is such a big turn for the man.
Originally the trial, as such, actually- Lampkin was supposed to- was originally gonna be the judge. And he was gonna preside over the trial. And it was gonna be- oh, I can't remember if it was Zarek or Gaeta or both of them were the prosecution, and then Adama refusing to defend himself but it was supposed to be that Lampkin was the tribunal and at some point, I think it was in the second draft, I suggested we move Lampkin over to defense because that's really what he does anyway. It would make him more involved and make him smarter. It would make him trying to play for time. Trying to work what little bits of the legal system there are here in an effort to get- to just stall, to give people on the outside enough time to try to make something happen.
And then Kara- the guy at the urinal. [Laughs.] Really- I hope all the men at home think about that every time they go into a men's room from now on.
Yet another Six. And mister Gaius Baltar. Doctor Gaius Baltar. It's so funny. You can change Trish's hair and makeup slightly and she really does take on a whole countenance of a completely different character.
This is a clever little gag too. I think it was originally Kara's and I suggested to make it Lee just to give- just 'cause I thought it'd be a little bit more fun. And play the gag that he didn't tell her. And it's not funny when she doesn't do it, but it's somehow it's funny when she does. And it's just- a continuation of whole thought of, "Let's put Lee- and Kara together one more time and have 'em going out with guns blazing and going through the corridor and how much fun that really is in the show, even in these circumstances."
Back to our brig set. And nothing good will come of this. I'm trying to think of what I can add to this. I mean, it just works so beautifully. I- like in the first part. I just find myself continually getting caught up and just watching the show. It's all very well choreographed and staged. This is an important moment. Anders getting shot. This is an episode- and actually, the last few episodes have been filled with little beats that take us to the end. OK, Anders getting shot is a beat that's gonna take us to the end of the series. So you can put this into your book of landmark moments that take us to the ending. This is a moment that takes us to the end.
The shooting of Anders was- is a very important moment in the show, for the end of the show, for the mythology of the show, for a lot of different reasons that are hard to describe right now. But as you see it play out, you'll realize that this was a pivotal event, in a lot of ways. I guess I'll just have to leave it with that. You'll just have to see how this arc plays itself out from this point forward.
It was good to bring back the whole relationship between Kara and Sam and to say that it wasn't just forgotten and it wasn't meaningless. I mean, she did love him. She did marry him. And that- there fee- honest feelings there all the way to the end of the show.
I love that Adama just won't give him anything. And that Adama's just refuses to play Gaeta's game on any level. Even though Lampkin would like him to play it a little bit more, Adama's just- his loathing for what this man has done, for his betrayal of his friendship. I mean, Adama's just not a guy that you like to lie to, and these are lies. And that once he thinks that Tigh is dead- even the- bickering- the tearing at one another, even that ends now. Now it's just- now he just backs off completely and now he's just not gonna give him anything.
I think there was a little bit more here for Lampkin and Zarek, and it kinda- I kinda chopped it back a little bit just to maintain the tension. I didn't wanna release that tension with- a bigger moment.
I'm sorry. Distracted. Mrs. Ron walked into the room for a moment. Mrs. Ron always distracts me when she walks in the room.
This was a- bit of slight of hand. How did you fix it? I fixed it with a blinking box [Laughs.] that we threw in just 'cause we didn't- want a whole long tech explanation. It was beside the point, but we had to cover it with something, and it's like, you know what? He pulled in a blinking tech box. I think we even talked about it. And it just became a blinking tech box that fixed it all. My feeling- it was one of those moments where I felt like, you know, if you really care what the fuck is in the blinking tech box, then we've lost you anyway and you're not in the show.
This was kinda cool to give Mark, who's a friend of mine, and actually a really good guy. It was nice to give him a little bit of action here. Make him be a little heroic and do something with his bare hands and a pen. And I like that his first reaction is, "No." It's like, "No, no, no. This is not why I'm here." Lampkin's one of those guys who can't help himself and he's gonna get out of here, but then he does have a conscience or a heart or something and just like, "Oh, shit. I guess I gotta do this, 'cause I have to look at myself in a mirror again someday too." "Frak!" This is- a great episode for Mark. I mean, he really, really sold Romo Lampkin and his whole perspective in this episode just really well. Made him really smart and just- it was an excellent performance on his- part.
Can't say enough about A.J., obviously. A.J. is just tremendous in these- three episodes, really. Since mine, he's been on- clearly on his own Gaeta arc ever since "Disquiet", building and building and building. Going to- these places and trying to make these decisions and letting you feel- it's like you start to hate him because of what he's doing, but you really have a tremendous amount of sympathy for him along the way and I just think it's a remarkable achievement. And the duo of him and Zarek. This coulda been the face of the Fleet. This coulda been- they could have started their own series. It coulda been how these two then tried to work things out and to lead the human race. Would Tom Zarek have turned against Gaeta? Maybe at some point. I don't think that he intended that from the get-go. I think Zarek probably know in the back of of his mind that there was a point where may have to take out Gaeta too, but Zarek's not a military man. He needs the military behind him. He absolutely had to have someone like Gaeta in the chain of command who was respected and could command loyalty from officers and men in order to make this thing work at all. And I don't know what would have happened if they had succeeded in this coup attempt, in terms of the relationship between the two of them. I'm sure it would have been rocky. Especially after the murder of the Quorum and how they were gonna deal with the Fleet captains and the civilians after that, and what they were gonna try to do. It wouldn't have been easy, but I don't know. They might have- made a go for it and they might have survived for a time. And who knows what kind of storyline that would have been?
I love that we never really explain what Tyrol's doing in these conduits for long perio- until he actually gets there and sabotages the FTL. It's just nice bit of business that you just keep cutting back to him and you keep wondering where he is and what he's doing and where he's going and- I- That was pretty effective. It's just one of those nice, completely cinematic moments in that it's just visual. You just keep watching this man traveling somewhere and you never quite know where he's going, and then that's the whole gag.
This one is kind of a guilty pleasure. The shooting of Adama as a dream. It's a cheat. I won't- shy away from that description. It's a bit of a dirty trick. But- it kinda works. Especially when you tie it to the dream and you're quickly out of it. I don't know. I can't even defend it. It's just a dirty trick we play on the audience and it kinda works despite itself. But I do like this beat with Baltar that- he starts to feel, "Oh my God, I left those people behind. Who am I? What am I? Here I am again. I'm again- I'm having sex with a Six," which is really how everything started. I mean, you'll notice that as we get to the end of the series there's a lot of hearkening back to the beginning. That there's a sense of symmetry to certain things and there is that sense of, "All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again." And once again, here's Baltar running away, and finding- trying to lose himself in the arms of one of these women, one of these same women, while other people are suffering and other people are paying the consequences for his actions. And I like the fact that Baltar's able to see that. He's gotten to a point where he can actually see that in himself and actually pull himself up short here. Then you kinda get to the heart of his relationship with the cult. What does Baltar really think? He do- for all of his true believer status and all of his moments that he starts to really believe in his bullshit, he has a certain attitude towards these people that listen to him and follow him. And I wanted to bring that out.
Now we get down to the real- deal here. I didn't wanna show- I didn't wanna show how he was rescued in this moment. It seemed much more effective to play it out like this. To- you set all the pieces in motion and then you wonder how exactly- how it came off. It did go through several revisions in terms of how we stroked out the final moments here of Gaeta, when Gaeta gives the order. At what point do you cut to Laura? At what point do you cut to Zarek? There's a lot of choreography here of- and timing. When do you go to Gaeta in his quarters? What was Gaeta doing? When does he give the order? Does Gaeta s- think twice about the order? We played different scenarios about when Gaeta might have a second thought. When he might decide to spare Adama. Maybe he takes his ti- There was a lot of just- playing around with different versions of how to get to the place where we wanted to go, which is Adama saved at the last minute, Gaeta starting to realize that the jig is up, and that it's all hopeless, and it felt right that here he does give the order to do it. He really didn't have a road back. He didn't see a road back. There wasn't a road back for him. And I like that this is how we reveal. That you just come right off of Narcho and boom, he's- they've already been- they've already taken down the marines and they've already taken down the execution squad and we're past that point. I just thought this was more effective than watching them run in and yell, or run in and point guns, or anything.
There was additional moment here where Adama was willing to let all the marines join up on his side if he wanted them to- if they wanted to, he gave them a choice, and if you would decide to stand by me, stand by me, and then the marines looked at each other one by one, they got up and they stood with Adama. And I thought- I just didn't buy it when I saw it. I liked it in the script but I kinda felt like it didn't play truthfully here, at this moment. And I like that it was more about this one guy who couldn't go back than it was about how these other guys would go back, and that Narcho couldn't go.
The- just to jump ahead to the end here, for a second. The whole notion that Adama didn't execute everybody. That he executed Felix and Tom Zarek, but there were significant numbers of other people who were not executed actually kinda comes out of- necessity. Didn't feel like that was the smart thing for him to do, which is start having mass executions on board, that that wouldn't help. Try to put things back together. And it also came out of history. There was an incident- I believed in the American, well it would have to be, during the American revolution where Washington's men mutinied. Some divisions or regiments of them mutinied against their officer- or mutinied with connivance of some of their officers and the mutiny was put down. I wanna say they were from Pennsylvania but I wouldn't swear to that. Washington's solution was to hang the ring leaders, but allow the rest of them to go back, the rest of the regular soldiers, to go back into the Continental Army and to serve again. 'Cause he was trying to hold the army together. It was about holding the army together and punishing the ring leaders who had lead the men astray, but trying to tell them, "We're gonna hang you. We still have a long, hard campaign ahead of us. We still have a long war ahead of us. We can't afford to just start shooting half the army." And that was sort of some of the philosophy that tracked into this idea as well.
I love Laura's reaction here. That once she hears that Adama's been killed, she's really just gonna go at Galactica. She's just- she's not gonna quit here. Now it's- she's just gonna fuckin' destroy that ship. She's gonna destroy Galactica if she possibly can. She's gonna destroy Tom Garek. Nothing's gonna stop her.