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RDM: Hello, and welcome to the podcast for episode five of season three. This is "Torn", and I'm Ronald D. Moore, the executive producer and developer of the new Battlestar Galactica and we're doing something a little bit different this week. I am at my alma mater, Cornell University, here in- I can't remember the name of the class, and I just asked this question just five minutes ago, what was the name of the class?
Student: "The History and Theory of Commercial Narrative film."
RDM: "The History of The-" "The History and Theory of Commercial Narrative film." And I'm here with the entire class. Say hello, class.
Class: (Various greetings.)
RDM: And they've just- yes. They've just watched this episode with me and now they're going to help me go through the podcast here on "Torn" and we'll- we will force them to say things. My wife, Mrs. Ron, as some of you know her, is here as well. Kibitzing from the sidelines. There are no cats and no children, no Scotch, and no cigarettes, much to my chagrin.
Terry: And no garbage collectors.
RDM: And no garbage collectors.
Ok. Let's talk a little bit about the setup for this episode. "Torn" is actually in an interesting experience for me, because when this episode came in on the director's cut in post-production, the word out of post was, "Oh my God." I got this word that this was a very troubled episode and that there certain people in post-production said that they hated it. And so I had to scramble and figure out what we were gonna do. There some- there some problems in the narrative and how the story layed out that were difficult to deal with and as we go through the show I'll point out the places where we had to put some bandaids on some problems.
This episode was structured into the third season to be another bridge episode. It sets up a lot of things that happen in the next episode. You see at the end of the story that there's a big fat "To Be Continued". Now, right here in the beginning. This scene with Baltar and Number Six out by the beach was actually not meant to open the show. The show was actually supposed to open much more linearly on the Galactica picking up the pilot exercise that now opens act one, watching their flight training. Seeing the fuel pro- the collision and the fuel problem with Kara and see how screwed up things were back on the ship. And then you were gonna get to Baltar wandering around the baseship and trying to figure out how things operated. And the truth was as you looked at the cut it just didn't work. It just- it was very plodding and the storyline didn't layout very well. And essentially it was a script problem. We find this often in the show where we're dealing with things in post where you can trace them all almost invariably back to the script. They're almost never something that your covering up that was a problem on the set or with performance. Because you can usually get or cut around that stuff in one way or another. But when story doesn't work it's always the fault of the script. So what I did, this scene, you'll note that we're doing a lot of trickiness here. In the cut that the students just saw there's a lot of bad ADR lines with the voices of the editors actually standing in for James Callis and Tricia Helfer. We'll have- right there you can see that we're fuzzing out his mouth. 'Cause he's actually saying very different words. This was a sequence from much later in the show, on a very different topic, and what I- as I was watching the cut I thought, "Well, let's start- let's start the episode off at least with the most provocative image. Let's start with Tricia Helfer in a red bikini out on the the beach."
RDM: At least that's gonna get- that's gonna get somebody's attention, right?
RDM: Ok. And from that point, I said, "Let's-" Now this is all stolen footage. All this stuff of Baltar waking up in bed and looking around is actually footage that was shot for the previous episode, for "Collaborators". So this is not even from, this is all a created montage of scenes that's supposed to give you the feeling that Baltar's having this conversation with Six, and that later he's gonna talk about projection and what projection means to the Cylon. But as scripted and shot that was also all much deeper into the episode. And I just thought, "Let's start this episode off with something more intriguing."
Now the sets here in the Cylon baseship are atypical for Galactica in that they are more overtly science fiction than our usual stuff. Galactica is much more realistic. It feels much more like an aircraft carrier or warship or a real spaceship. In the Cylon baseship we felt intuitively that it was important that, ok, whatever you're going to see over there, you're going to be disappointed with. Whatever your imagination has concocted for you for the interior of the baseship, whatever I show you, you're gonna go, "Oh, I thought it was gonna be cooler than that."
RDM: So we went for the stripped down, austere, scifi kind of look, with some surrealistic elements. Like the couch that you saw Baltar reclining on. And there's ornate chairs and upholstered- like the table and the chaise lounge there, feel more like 2001 something odd and offputing. Now, as I was dealing with the cutting of this episode, I started to feel like the sets weren't working. I was starting to lose faith in our ability to hold these sets on camera and really play the story. I thought, "Maybe the audience is getting a little bored here and a little disappointed and maybe the sets don't look that interesting." And it wasn't- I started to feel like maybe there's not that much going on over there. And I started to play with the idea of dissolves. There's a lot of dis- whenever we go to the Cylon baseship and Baltar's story there's a lot of dissolving images of him over him and playing with time slightly, multiple takes, and it conveys this feeling of being out of body and like something weird- You're in an alienated world. You're with him. It's his point of view, suddenly. It wasn't scripted, but it's his point of view and you're with Baltar, and what the hell's happening to Baltar?
And on top of that, I was looking for some- what's the sound? What's going on in the background. And I glommed onto this idea of piano, of classical piano. It was something that James Callis had actually suggested for an earlier episode of scoring a Cylon scene with classic piano and I had a bunch of Beethoven sonatas at home and I brought 'em into the editing bay and gave them to the editor and I said, "Let's score- just take from this and score all the scenes in the temp track to Beethoven." And so all the Cylon scenes were originally, I mean, Bear McCreary our composer has actually written specific pieces for these so they won't be Beethoven on air. But when you were watching the Cylon baseship scenes and they were dissolving and montage-y and out of body and you had this free-flowing, free-wheeling feeling and then it was underscored with this piano. And the piano didn't like become more dramatic as the scene got more dramatic, and it didn't become scary, and it didn't become comedic. It just played a piece all the way through. It gave this out of body quality to all those scenes and that's what I decided, "Well, that's gonna save the episode." (Chuckles.) That's the trick.
Now did that work? Does anybody... what's the consensus on the Cylon baseship scenes, anybody?
Student: It's very surreal.
RDM: Is it surreal?
Student: Yeah. It's very humanistic music, but with a very surreal setting and it's almost confusing.
Student: Is the light practical in that shot, or did you like have to bump them up some in post-production to get that glow that kinda-
RDM: They were practical. They were practical lights and our DP Steve McNutt played a lot with the look, 'cause you know because we shoot the show in HD, on High-definition digital videotape, he actually can play with the exposure live on the set as it's happening so he was- and we get, there are monitors on the set where we can see what the actual picture's gonna look like. In the old days you- there was a video relay to a bad black and white tv screen. You got a sense of what the composition of the shot was but you never really saw what the real shot was gonna be. And so Steve, on the set, live, we tweaked around with what the actual exposure was gonna be and how it worked.
This is actually all made up too. The original scripted and shot sequence explains why this whole thing with the fuel is going on here. What really happened, and what was shot, was that Kara was in the mock dogfight with Kat and there was just- a coupling blew on her wing and she started spewing fuel out the side of her Viper and Lee told her, "Go home! Go home! Break- head home Starbuck." And she refused to do it. And she kept pushing, and pushing, and pushing to the point where she finally tagged Kat with the laser and then her ship ran out of gas and she had to coast all the way home. So that's why there's these references to her coasting home and there's no fuel left. But when I watched it in a cut, and this is like the difference between reading something on the page and watching it onscreen. When I watched in the cut, it was just boring. It was like- so she ran out of gas.
RDM: That's the big scary thing that happens in act one was Starbuck ran out of gas? And yet Lee is yelling at her at the top of his lungs, and it's supposed to be a big thing, and it just didn't work. So we concocted this- a different visual effect in post-production and had a collision and they ran into each other and that's really what caused the Viper to spin out of control and seems much more dangerous than it was.
Student: Can you say something about the backstory of Ellen and her relationship to him?
RDM: Yeah and- in epis- in "Exodus" when they were on New Caprica during the occupation, Colonel Tigh was a member of the resistance, the insurgency against the Cylons. And he had a wife named Ellen. And Ellen was a blonde woman and he and Ellen had had this tempestuous, crazed relationship and she slept around and they were both drunks and there was shades of Virginia Wolfe, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. But, there was a storyline where essentially she was sleeping with a Cylon in order to get him out of detention, where he lost his eye, but then the Cylon- she used the Cylon to get her husband out of detention and the Cylon used her. Said, "I wanna know where the resistance is meeting and if you don't tell me I'm gonna kill your husband." And so she was trapped. She was in this no-win situation. And she gave up information and told the Cylons about a key resistance meeting and there was an ambush and several people were killed. And Colonel Tigh ultimately found out about it, and he had a rule in his resistance that if you collaborated or betrayed the group you had to die. And so in "Exodus" Colonel Tigh had to- Colonel Tigh poisoned his own wife and killed her and she died in his arms, and it was really a devastating thing for the character. Now he's back on Galactica and he's try- he's still not over it. He's trying to get on with his life but he can't and he keeps her clothes in the closet and so on.
Tell me what you think. Let's talk about it. Questions, feelings, stuff you like, didn't like, either in this scene or throughout, just-
Student: Yeah, I have a question. Do you think it's- Apollo's rapid weight loss is believable, I guess?
RDM: Do I believe (unintelligible).
RDM: Uh, no. It's pushing. Actually this is a pickup scene that we shot later to do something for the fact that we were gonna do this rapid weight loss. At the end of season two, Apollo had put on a lot of weight. He was "Fat Apollo", as we called him. And then he was fat in the beginning of the season, and this is one of those ideas that we came up with, I came up with, at the end of last season. And I just frankly didn't know what to do with. It was- I had a lot of things that we were trying to juggle and I co- there was a psychological underpinning for the fact that he had go- he has this elaborate backstory with Starbuck that drove him to gain weight, and he had settled down and gotten married, and then had gotten fat and lazy was essentially his storyline. And then we kept talking about ways this season that he was gonna lose the weight. And he was gonna go to the gym, and he was gonna join the Marines at one point, he was gonna stop being a fighter pilot, and become more of a pure warrior and that was gonna be the method towards getting him back in shape. And those storylines kept either not working on the page or we kept cutting them for time. And we kept getting to these places where, "What are we doing about 'Fat Apollo'?" And the question just- it just kept getting moved off the table and so we finally just said, "You know what? Let's just... Ok. He's not 'Fat Apollo' anymore." He's jumping rope and he's working out and seeing we can prove it, there he is on the scale.
Terry: In outer space he has the magic pills.
RDM: In outer space he has the diet magic pills that we all wish we had.
Student: What language were those scrolls written in?
RDM: That's a good question. It's something that the prop guys made up.
RDM: It's supposed to be some kind of ancient text. You'll note that in the series we use English in all the signage and English in- if we do inserts on pieces of paper it's always English and the audience can always read it. In this case, there was something cool about the fact that their scriptures were written in Ancient Hebrew or some variant. I mean, you can see all this is English. But it was just something that he prop guys came up with and I bet that they've worked out an entire grammar and syntax for everything.
RDM: You laugh, but when I was at Star Trek somebody actually created the Klingon language. I mean, there is an actual Klingon language you can learn, and there are certain colleges and universities in this country, which will remain nameless, where you can take a course in Klingon. And somebody once sent me a bound copy of Hamlet as rendered in Klingon. Which I have at home.
Student: Speaking of props, is there a reason why all the papers are octagons?
RDM: Oh, why do we cut the corners off all the pages? It was just a design idea that came up in the Miniseries. It's- because the- it's always this fine line about how close to our contemporary reality is it, and what are the slight differences that remind you that it's not Earth, and somebody came up with this idea of clipping the corners-
Student: Colonel Tigh had eight sided cards.
Student: And I think those were in the original series.
RDM: Those were probably in the original series. But the corners off of pictures and off of pieces of paper is just- I guess they just hate rectangles.
RDM: This was all- this was supposed to- this whole sequence of walking through the Cylon baseship was supposed to just give you a sense that life is different over there.
RDM: And there's another scene, they walk out of this scene, and there was a conversation that got cut where essentially Baltar was, "Well, there's no sense of privacy on this ship." 'Cause there are no doors. There's no doors in the ship at all. And Six said something to the effect that they don't have concerns like that, that that's not how they live, that they are different from human beings and they're- live much more communally and they don't care if- about nakedness. And that seemed in keeping with the sensuality and the sexuality that Number Six has displayed from the very beginning of the project. She was always a very intensely sexual character who used it for her own pleasure and for- as a weapon. And it seemed like that was something that in the cul- in their entire culture they were very free about their sexuality. They didn't have a lot of social conventions to keep it at bay.
This idea of the Cylon projections was- as we were talking about life on the baseship early on, I started thinking about, ok, what are we gonna do? We're gonna be on these sets. I don't know if these sets are gonna work, in terms of what the audience expectation is, and I needed something else. If they're just these walls and these boring lights, isn't the audience just going to be always disappointed about what the Cylon life is like. And thought, "Well maybe... they are machines after all. They can do pretty much whatever they want. And if they choose to envision their surroundings as a forest, maybe they have that ability." Now, see, this is where the original, the beach sequence used to live here in its entirety. He was in the middle of that scene with Number Six, on the baseship, and then in his mind he went to what we call "Head Six", the imaginary Six in his head, and the whole beach scene played out here. And what I did is I took the first half of that scene, cut it, moved it to the top of the teaser, and then looped in different dialogue to have a completely different conversation.
Student: Within the logic of the show, does the place that the character projects to ever affect their movement? Like, were they to walk into a rock or a tree or something? Is that really a problem?
RDM: It's a good question. I fudged it. I went around it completely. You'll see that there's- we- actually, I forgot we- I used to have an extension of that piece where as he walked- followed her down the corridor I dissolved over a piece of them walking in the forest and they turned left down the corridor but in the forest shot they actually kept going straight. And it was a discontinuity, but I- in my mind I justified it by saying that the Cylons are much smarter than we are and yes they choose to look at their environment as a forest, but they also know where they really are and they have a feeling of what the objects are in the room or in the hallway, and they're never going to run into- they're never gonna run into a real object and they know intuitively that all the objects in their projection aren't really there, so they would walk right through a rock.
Student: Is that supposed to be a projection, or is it closer to what he sees?
RDM: It's closer to what he sees, and we're gonna touch on that again this season with Caprica-Six and the Baltar in her head and there's a larger ideas of why those two characters keep seeing these imaginary people and there's a suggestion that perhaps those imaginary beings are linked on some level, that we might get to explore at some later date. It's all still up in the air for a lot of discussion of what that means and is there a real connection or is it a completely separate idea.
RDM: What the Cylons believe is that God creat- God, singular, there is a singular God that created mankind. Mankind is a flawed creation. Sinned. Has essentially thrown away the gift of the soul and of God's love. God then had man create the Cylons as a more perfect entity. And now the Cylons are supposed to take the place of the flawed humans in the cosmos and essentially are the next generation. When I was- in the miniseries, I talked a lot about how the Cylons saw themselves as mankind's children and that there was a line somewhere that, essentially, "Children can't become really, truly adults until their parents are dead." And so the Cylons had to kill their parents in order to evolve and mature. And that was their philosophical world view. But they felt that they were- God is love, and that they were in the service of a loving, compassionate God that offered redemption and so on.
Student: Is the hope to find Earth just, like, to continue the annihilation or is-
RDM: What the Cylons want to do there? At this point in the series we're leaving that a bit opaque. What they wanna do when they get to Earth. And we'll start playing as we go forward what their plans are for Earth, what they hope to achieve there. They shifted their- their goal at the beginning of the show was just to annihilate mankind. And then they- at a certain point they hijacked our objective as well and now they also see Earth as an objective for themselves and a way for their own redemption and a way for a second home in some sense. 'Cause they tried various things. This is a young soc- the other thing to keep in mind with Cylons is that they are a very young culture. They've only existed for about forty or fifty years. And so they're- they started in a- they were very much on the same page with one another, and as the series has developed we've seen more divisions start to grow and different points of view starting to develop. And their philosophical object- their philosophical underpinnings of the Cylon society are starting to shift and change as well. At first it was just as simple as, "Kill this humans," then it was, "Maybe we were wrong about that." And, "Ok, we're machines. We're smart machines. We can admit mistakes. Maybe we were wrong to kill them. Now we'll try to live with them in an occupation and we'll try to like get a handle on this." And, "Ok, that didn't work, either. Ok, now we're gonna go to Earth." And you can see these guys shifting and changing and trying to adapt as they learn and grow.
This is the control room in the Cylon world. You'll see that we're- there was a lot of discussion in terms of, "How do the Cylons control their ship?" I knew that one thing I didn't want to do was I didn't want the classic consoles and monitors and buttons, because that's what we do on our ships and how boring is it going to be if they do the same thing. After all, they are robots and you would think that they would have some heightened way of dealing with one another. I felt, on some level, the Cylons didn't just plug in. They didn't just stick fingers into sockets to interact with their environment. I mean, they have chosen to emulate the human form. They have- there's been a deliberate evolutionary choice that part of the Cylons to emulate mankind. And that means that they talk to one another. They don't wirelessly send messages to one another. So there's a value in their culture to the idea of speech. There's a value to how they communicate and interact with their environment. They wear clothes. They act- they ape the human form in many, many ways 'cause they decided it 'cause that's the way God wanted it. So even on their baseship they would not just be plugging in, but if felt like there had to be some more heightened way of them dealing with their environment and controlling their environment than just pushing buttons and reading things off of monitors. So we came up with this idea that there was- that water is a theme. You'll see that- the Hybrid is in a wa- is in a tank. There's little droplets of water falling down from the ceiling in these wires and there's a big "Y"-shaped table in the middle of the control room that has a thin pool of water on it and lights and controls- blinking things underneath it that make you feel like it's controlling stuff. And the Cylons put their hands into what they call the datastream. And that's essentially how they communicate and control and interact with their environment. But they still talk to one another.
Student: How would you compare, I mean like- The archetype of the robot trying to become human or trying to become something different than machine as, like, common in science fiction. How would you compare the Cylons to other examples of the robot wanting to become (unintelligble)-
RDM: It's a riff on a lot of those different ideas. I mean, you can go all the way b- even Frankenstein on some level is about this story and the idea of mankind's creation then turning back on itself is an old idea in science fiction. So what we tend to do is we embrace that as, "Ok. This is our history. This story has been told in many different forms and different ways." I'd say the closest analogies to the Cylons are the Replicants in Blade Runner. In Blade Runner, and we talked about that a lot at the time, the Replicants, the Rutger Hauer character and Daryl Hannah's character and Sean Young's character, there's something very human about them, and very touching, and very emotional. And Rutger Hauer is metaphysical and he looks and is trying to see things in a larger light, and he's poetic at certain points. And they're gripped by their own mortality and they're struggling to find their creator. And I was moved and touched by that and I thought that's an interesting place to start the conversation about who the Cylons are.
RDM: Say Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Data is Pinocchio. That was the the ar- yeah, and we talked about. This was overt. It was- he was overtly Pinocchio. He wanted to be human. He wanted to be like humans. He didn't under- but he didn't understand emotion. And he didn't understand what it is to laugh and to cry and that was what the character was all about. And we said, "Well the Cylons understand all that. They understand human emotions. They understand everything it is about to be human. They just don't like us. They think that we're really flawed. They think that we're screwed up people and that we don't deserve to live and that they're better." But they do have small crevices in that philosophy. They don't know what it is to truly love. They struggle towards wanting to love and be loved and they want to have children. One of the driving forces that we discovered about the Cylons in season one is that they cannot biologically reproduce. They can create copies of their bodies. Over, and over, and over again. They can create mult- hundreds and hundred of copies of each Cylon body and download from one to the other. But they could not biologically create a child. And that this created a problem for them because they believe that one of God's commandments was to go forth an multiply, to procreate. And they didn't believe they could be people, on some level, unless they had children. So there's a whole complicated plot involved with them trying to- they had tried and struggled to create children in labs and find ways to technically do it and it kept failing, and failing, and failing until they stumbled on a plot where this man, Helo, who is a human, they concocted a scenario where he fell in love with Sharon, one of the other models, and they fell in love and had a child and that was- and the Cylons drew from this, or they had the theory going into it that maybe the thing that was missing was God's love. And that if- two people needed to truly love each other in order to create a child in their mythology. And then it worked. And so that's one of the areas where the metaphysical, supernatural elements of the show intrude into the reality of it. Because we all know, biologically, that's not really how these things work. (Chuckles.) You don't truly have to love people to have children. This had been proven.
RDM: This has been proven many times. But not for the Cylons. The Cylons couldn't do it until there were two people who fell in love and they had a child and there's no other explanation on the show, except the fact that they loved each other. And that's like this place where it transcends reality.
Oh, the Hybrid. The Hybrid came out of a drawing by Richard Hudolin, the production designer. He was asked to give us drawings of what you think the inerior of the Cylon baseship could be. And he had drawings of the control room and hallways and different spaces, and then he just threw in something called "the Hybrid". And it was a side-angle view of a woman in a tank and the top part of her body was human and then beneath the water were tentacles and cords. And we were like, "Wow. What is that? And what's she do?" And he said, "I don't know."
RDM: He was like, "I don't know. I just thought it was kinda cool and it seemed like it's in keeping with this organic/mechanical feeling of things aboard the baseship." And we were all very taken by it. And we decided, "Well that's... we have to have a Hybrid and... what does she do?" So we sat in the writer's room and tried to make up what's the Hybrid about and who is she? And we decided that, "Well, the Hybrid is actually the conscious- is the being that controls the baseship. That while the Cylons walk around that control center and put their hands in water, they're not really operating the ship and controlling all the minute functions. There is one Cylon that does that on each b- on each baseship has a Hybrid, and the Hybrid controls the entire operation of the baseship. Sends the Raiders out to attack Galactica, Jumps the ship from place to place, controls the environment, etcetera, etcetera. And the complexity of that task was such that essentially her conscious mind had gone mad and she sits in her- lies in her pool and just spouts what seems to be gibberish on one level. And that among the Cylons themselves there were certain Cylons that felt that everything the Cylon- the Hybrid said was special and meaningful, as if she was- had a direct line to God. And other Cylons who felt it was all gibberish and didn't mean anything, she's just crazy and it's just- this is just the way this particular machine operates. And that there are people like Baltar and D'anna who believe that maybe there is something worthwhile in her- uh huh?
Student: Seems to be very much inspired by the Minority Report?
RDM: There are elements of Minority Report in there. We talked about Minority Report quite a bit in terms of the look of the Hybrid and the tank and how it was gonna work. This is actual- we actually- we shot the Hybrid. The first tank- the first time we shot the Hybrid it just didn't work for me. She was sitting up more out of the tank. She didn't have that pale look on her face. And as she said the lines she was moving and looking around and saying it and acting in the moment, and I recoiled from it and went, "No, no, no, no, no. That's not the concept." And we went back and we reshot the whole thing, the whole sequence, and we use the Hybrid in several episodes. And we stopped everything, regrouped with the production team, and said, "Ok, no. This isn't the idea." And in those moments it's like, as the showrunner, I had to say, and people were reacting saying, "Oh. I don't know about this scene. You should look. Ron, have you seen the dailies on the Hybrid?" I was like, "No." "K. You should look at them. I think we're in trouble." And I looked at 'em. I was like, "Oh, shit. We're in trouble. This doesn't work." But, it was a concept that I had signed off on and I told them what to do and they did what I told them. So you had to approach them and say, "Ok, look. This isn't your fault. You guys did- this is what we told you to shoot. This is what we all agreed. It was gonna be done. But it doesn't work and we're gonna do it again." And so you take it, the onus, off of them, like they screwed up your show. You essentially say, "Ok. This just- this idea just doesn't work so we're gonna get back into it."
This sequence was very complicated as well. This is the infected Hybrid chamber. All these Cylons are dying of this sickness and this disease and this went through a lot of trouble in editing 'cause it wasn't quite clear what was happening. Did everybody understand this scene? Did anybody not understand this scene? Yes?
Student: I'm still a little confused. Are these all Cylon in here?
RDM: These are all Cylons in here.
Student: And what is that tube machinery thing?
RDM: Yeah. See, the tube is supposed to be a beacon that they found. The plot is that these Cylons went to a place that Baltar told them to go. 'Cause he kinda knows the- had a theory of how to get to Earth. And the humans on Galactica are following the same path. So Baltar sends a baseship to these coordinates. The baseship gets there and it, lo and behold, it finds a device. A floating beacon left behind by the Thirteenth Tribe. Those Cylons pull that beacon onto their ship and an infection spreads through the Cylon baseship. Just something that was physically on the beacon, some bacteria or something that survived. And it proved deadly to everybody on the Cylon baseship. And then the Cylons ultimately blame him for that. It doesn't quite come through in the show. It's very confusing and part of the problem is that a lot of it has to be explained in this scene. And it's hard to understand. Ofttimes, particularly the cut you guys are watching, what each of them is saying, which will be cleaned up by the time it's on the air, you'll hear much more distinctly what their voices are saying, one would hope. And- but it's still a very confusing backstory. It's not our finest moment in terms of being able to lay out exposition and what's really going on in this scene.
Student: It's very Andromeda 13.
RDM: Very what?
Student: Andromeda 13.
RDM: What's that?
Student: A satellite crashes to Earth, kills an entire camp, except for two people-
Other Student: Andromeda Strain.
Student: -because there were particles on the satellite.
RDM: Oh Andro- yeah. No, you're right. It is a lot like that. And we- I think somebody- now that you say it like that, I think someone in the writers' room mentioned that, because we had talked about various ideas of the virus that is left on some kind of satellite or some kind of missile or something.
Student: Well, it seemed to me like it was coming out of especially Western settlers would colonize (unintelligble) and their diseases would spread-
RDM: Oh, yeah.
Student: -and kill the natives.
Student: And it seemed like the pure race was being infected by a more (unintelligble) one-
RDM: That's true.
Student: Or at least they think it's a disease.
RDM: That's a good point.
Student: I noticed the Cylons coming on the radio only after Gaius killed Number Six. Why did you do that?
RDM: That's just called a plot device.
RDM: This is- there's really no reason there. The idea is that he goes over there and he's talking to them initially, he's saying they're all dead or they're dying when he first walks in. And then he goes into this room and then we just wanted a whole conversation between him and then conveniently by the time he kills her then they say, "Hey, what's going on over there?" So it's- there's really no greater rationale for it than that.
Student: And he doesn't recognize who that is either, right? Or is he masking that?
RDM: He recogn- he knows that it's- See, this is the thing that's unclear, is that Baltar goes in there and sees that there's this device, and then he gets involved with the black-haired Six, the "Raven-haired Six" as we called her, that was sick and lying there dying. And the idea was that she starts blaming him. She's saying to him, "You sent us here. This is all your fault." And he's like panicked and, "No, no, no! I didn't have anything to do with this." But he's getting so worried that she's going to tell people that he's responsible that ultimately he kills her. It doesn't quite play that clearly. It happens a little too chaotically, a little to fast, and the moment when Baltar reaches down and chokes her to death, on the page, and what we had hoped would be a really dramatic moment of Baltar's finally actually killed someone with his bare hands, and this is a huge character moment. In scene, you kind of look at it and you're like, "Well why did you kill that woman again? What was that all about?"
RDM: So it doesn't- it's not quite clear.
Student: He just seems really guilty. So it just made me think that he knows something.
RDM: He knows that the- yeah, this is an imperfect bit of narrative. Baltar is now afraid that they are gonna blame him for what happened on that ship. He's now afraid that they're gonna tie him to that beacon if they found out about it. And they do. I mean, they get a picture of it 'cause he took a picture of the room and the pi- the beacon's in the back of the photo and Six zooms in on it and she discovers it and in the next episode they're gonna follow up on that. It'll be like- they will blame him for this whole thing. So everything he's afraid of really is gonna come to pass in the show.
Student: Now, why did he volunteer to go over to the ship in the first place?
RDM: The Six in his head told him to do it as a way of demonstrating that he could be trusted. Because going into this episode there was a lot of question about whether or not the Cylons could trust him, whether they would keep him around or not, had he proven his worth to them. He's helping them on the way to Earth and that's keeping him alive. And then the Six in his head is pushing him to go do it to demonstrate to them that he can be of help. He can go into a situation that they're afraid of going into and bring back information.
Student: And then that backfires.
RDM: And then that backfires on him.
All these little inserts are shot much later, in terms of time. Seeing a little bit of how the Hybrid interacts with her environment.
Student: I think the Hybrids are an interesting figure in the series. You were talking earlier about how the Cylons are trying to find love, and that's the problem- that's their central problem. And- but it seems that the Hybrids possess a kind of passion because they're always- they're talking in metaphor, they're talking in snippets of poetry. And they seem to like access a higher, I guess, passion through their madness that the other Cylons can't grasp.
RDM: Yeah. I think that's true.
Student: I think the Hybrid adds like a- like the central problem to your monotheistic Cylons because they act as a Christ-figure. I mean, you said earlier that they didn't have one, but I mean, she's immobile, she's in this little tank with this like arm thing. I mean, she looks very much like a Christ. And then some people believe what she says has great meaning, some people don't. And it just seems like it possibly break.
RDM: Well, that's interesting. I hadn't really though about that.
Student: But, yeah, I don't know if you were like (unintelligble)
RDM: I hadn't made that analogy, but it's an interesting one. You might be right. You might be right. That might be breaking a little bit.
Terry: But you think of her as more of a prophet.
RDM: I thought of her, yeah, a little bit more of a prophet. That she is seeing- she is- the idea, in my mind, was she was seeing a reality the rest of them couldn't. That she- I always made the analogy- she was like sticking her head slightly above the water and looking out and seeing the truth of the universe on some level, and unable to really communicate that to the people that were below the surface of the water. That was always the analogy.
Student: Yeah, she is similar to Laura Roslin as a prophet.
RDM: A little bit, yeah.
Student: Or like Cassandra, the- in mythology where she is cursed by the gods to be able to see the future and no one would believe her.
Student: So it's- it kinda has that feel to it, that she knows something or some of the things she says are significant, but they're expressed in such a way that they don't make sense to anybody.
RDM: That's true.
Student: Except for a person like her.
RDM: We- and we did talk about- we did talk about Cassandra as a figure in the show, an analogy to her.
This scene back on Galactica, where Adama kicks the chair out from underneath Kara is probably my favorite scene in this particular episode. It's a really strong performance on Eddie's part. He really enjoyed doing it.
RDM: He really liked going in there and kicking ass, 'cause Eddie really like that kind of thing every once and a while. It shows his chops like at their best. He's just- when Adama pulls out this card he's not somebody that you wanna deal with when he's really coming down on you.
Student: I really like the character development moment here that like Kara and Tigh were always fighting and stuff, but as a lot- it looks like it's kinda because they're the same type of person so they can't get along with each other. But they have this bond (unintelligble). And that now they have to deal with it in different ways so they have that moment, like at the very worst possible moment, where to get- they show solidarity. But that it comes out as something so horrible that they really can't ever be like friends.
Student: This episode is airing this week?
RDM: Yeah. On Friday.
Student: So you were mentioning some of the various tweaks and adjustments that still needed to happen. How and when do those happen? Do you get down to-
RDM: I had lea- I had to get this from the office last Friday and they didn't have a copy of the- they didn't have a "final mix" master ready to go for the air master, so all the levels in this particular cut are off. Dialogue sometimes buried in visual ef- in sound effects, and so on. And there's probably on Monday, or even maybe last Friday there's a big final sound mix that they go through that takes hours and they tweak every single bit so that you can hear the d-
Student: Do you have to give like a final approval of that final cut?
RDM: Yeah. Either myself or David Eick, more typically David Eick, my producing partner, will go to what they call playback. And there's final playback where you sit in a big mixing room, sound mixing room, and they playback the episode for the producer and it's the final time to tweak all the little things. And depending on the shape of the episode and how complex it is it can- that can take a couple hours to really go through the whole show.
Student: Thinking some of the things you were describing it's like, why aren't you there? Someone needs to finish the show. (unintelligble)
RDM: It's a very big operation and fortunately I have a lot of good people who work for me so I don't have to do all these things.
I would s- this is interesting just in that there was a big conversation with Katee about cutting her hair. She didn't want to cut her hair and so we had to- we had to like keep this storyline going for a while about her hair, and then we had a whole negotiation about when she was gonna cut her hair and how, and we wanted to cut it on camera. So this is really Katee sawing off her own hair with a real knife.
In terms of this storyline on Galactica, the problem I think in this story is that you don't see enough of the impact of what Kara and Tigh were doing. You're told that they're causing dissension in the ranks. You're told that it's becoming a real problem and that they're, excuse me, poisoning the atmoshphere on Galactica and that they're becoming this seditious group down there in the rec room. And you see them getting drunk and talking some smack every once and a while, but you don't really see that it's a wider problem. You never- we never did the scene down in the hangar deck where-
Terry: It's so toxic that you know how that spreads.
RDM: You think so?
RDM: Yeah, I feel like there's a scene missing.
Terry: They're poison and you can feel it.
RDM: Well, see, it's like I believe that intellectually but I just don't- I haven't seen like an atmosphere.
Student: Now I think I agree with that. They're just- I mean, he's always drinking and he looks just, like really terrible to be around and she is doing the same thing and just always beligerent and bickering with people and I think you can just tell being around them makes you not-
RDM: So you didn't feel like you were missing any scenes or anything?
Student: I don't think so. I think it really comes across well.
Student: I had a question with Athena now, I guess. I mean, she's been accepted by the community, even though she's an enemy? How do you think that's gonna play out?
RDM: I thi- what we're still playing is that Athena/Sharon is not accepted by everybody. Like, Tigh clearly does not accept her. Adama has made a decision and put her back in uniform and given her his trust and there's this grudging acceptance of, well the Old Man did it so we have to live with it. And she had also justified his faith in her by the events of the first couple episodes where she had helped save all their lives, so there is that. But I wanted- we continue to play throughout the season that that's not a uniform opinion. That there's still a good chunk of people that don't trust her, don't like her, question Adama's decision to do it and it- we- I felt like I had to bring her back into uniform and put her back into the mix because I didn't want her to just become Hannibal Lecter and be in the cell all the time. And I just felt like that was gonna run its course and be boring after a certain time and that the fun of having her was puttin' her in the uniform and see what problems it causes in the show.
Student: You might not be able to answer this question, but how do think she's going to react when she finds out that her child wasn't stillborn.
RDM: I know how she reacts, 'cause we've shot that.
RDM: I know exactly how that happens and it's- she doesn't react well. Let's put it that way. It's not a happy day in Sharon's life, or in Helo's life. Either one.
And this is the ending. This is the- it didn't quite- couldn't quite hear it in the sound mix but they found the Lion's Head Nebula and at they're at the exact same place where Baltar sent the baseship. So the baseship that you see here and the dead Raiders that you see flying around are the infected baseship. So now they've caught up. The two storylines have now crossed and this is now the jumping off point for the second episode.
This thing has a few more minutes. We can continue to talk if you'd like. Any other q-
Student: How did you get the baby to act so well?
RDM: The little girl?
Student: They're notoriously hard.
RDM: That is a real trick is- my opinion on very small children in TV shows is you have to treat 'em like props.
RDM: You have to think of them as a prop. You're gonna move them from here to there and get a shot of them looking happy or a shot of them looking sad, and you can't ask them to do very much. You can't- it's always a mistake to script them lines 'cause they never can deliver the line the way you're trying to get it and they can't carry story. And you have to just think of them as things. You have to move this thing from here to there. And this particular little girl had a really good relationship with Katee, and they had worked together in a previous couple episodes, and so they knew each other and Katee knew how to get this little girl to smile and laugh, and the little girl liked to be held by Katee. So Katee, when you're on the little girl, Katee's really working her through. Katee's really getting- eliciting the response from this child and getting her to do just the few little things that we're asking her to do.
Student: About the ending. We we s- it wasn't really clear from the sound but were we supposed to get that Sharon is being infected, or (unintelligible)?
RDM: No. The idea was that Sharon had some se- she saw the infected baseship and she knew where they were and she had this bad f- it's one of those, "I've got a bad feeling about this," kind of scenes. And she quotes some line of scripture in that last- the last line of dialogue is something about- oh, I can't remember what she really says, but it's something like, "God..." It's some vaguely religious scriptural quoatation that she makes and it's some doom of- prophecy of doom that she realizes that they're all getting into some very bad place or something. But it's not that she's physically sick in this scene.
Student: But how will you deal with her like getting physically sick as- if the humans were to come and like find these infected Cylons. I assume the Cylon virus won't disappear from the series.
RDM: Yeah, next week's episode deals a lot with that infected baseship, and the question of the Cylon disease, and can it affect humans, and what do they do with it. This is where we will now end the podcast.