Difference between revisions of "Podcast:Deadlock"
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Hello, and welcome to the podcast, and this is Ronald D. Moore, executive producer and developer of the new Battlestar Galactica. I am here to welcome you to the podcast for episode 418, "Deadlocked". I'm doing this on the fly, sorta in between meetings, I'm running out of my house to get back to the office and the podcast is late anyway, so unfortunately, not only is the smoking lamp out, but the bar is closed as well.
OK. I will try to do the best I can in terms of giving you some inside information on this particular episode, but as I look through my notes and I went back and looked at the original story document and subsequent drafts, this is one of those episodes that didn't change a hell of a lot as it went from start to finish. Originally this was called "Drowning Woman", which was referring to Galactica herself and her difficulties and drowning and metaphorically probably also into Caprica-Six, as well. Somewhere along the line, I think Jane, decided to change the title to "Deadlocked" which is a perfectly good title.
Getting back to this particular set, I think I think I talked about in the previous podcast, this set is actually sandwiched in between our normal CI- I think this is C- no, no. It's not the CIC. It's- no, I'm sorry. It is the CIC. The CIC set and the back of the stage wall. This set of the superstructure- or the interior structure of Galactica is sorta sandwiched in between there, and we're actually using the actual fire escape as sort of a bit of set decoration.
It was interesting to get back into Dogville. We hadn't been in Dogville for a while in the show, with the people, the civilians, down on the lower decks, which we had taken aboard quite some time ago. And I think that's why this scene is placed here as opposed to where it was in the original draft, which was Caprica-Six walking down just the hallways of Galactica and set upon by thugs from the Sons of Ares in that context, and I think we moved it back over here during the production process to sort of- it's a more visually interesting scene. It's also sort of reminding you of the- that we do have all these civilians on board and sort of setting up this two-tier situation aboard Galactica. We have the military operations and the military personnel and we've also got the refugees and survivors of all the various holocausts down below.
This is, obviously, a very heavy Caprica-Six/Tigh/Ellen episode. We talked early on in the season about bringing this to- this culmination eventually. I think after Caprica-Six was impregnated by Tigh, we weren't quite sure where we wanted to go with that. I think we sort of- I kinda remember the discussion in the room when the writers first pitched it to me and they said, "And Tigh- or Cottle tells Adama that Tigh's pregnant," and the writers all looked at me and I just kinda laughed and said, "God, I fuckin' love that." And they laughed too. And we- and I said, "Where does that go?" And they kinda shrugged and said, "Well we don't know." And I said, "Well, I love it. Let's do it." So we just decided let's do it and it was gonna be an exploration of love and love from- hot Cylon on Cylon sex, and all that kind of stuff. And it was also just an opportunity to add a different layer of complexity into the series because obviously the series is not complex enough.
This sequence up here is interesting in that it shows the Galactica Vipers are actually joined in the CAP, the combat air patrol, by the Cylon Raiders and that they're now flying joint CAP missions, which I thought was really interesting. A lot of the story here in the second half of the last season has been about the gr- they way the Cylons and the humans- in the Colonial Fleet are inevitably moving closer and closer toward one another and being forced by circumstances to have to share certain duties and responsibilities and one of them, being the CAP, felt like it was one of the most visually interesting ways to do that and it would go a long ways for telling you that the cooperation had gone to a new level.
This arrival of Ellen Tigh back on Galactica is obviously very reminicent, and deliberately so, of the- of when- of the episode when Ellen came back aboard- came aboard Galactica for the first time way back in season one. The shot of the Raptor door opening on to Ellen's leg. I really like this little beat, that Tyrol can tell that it's Boomer, just like sight uns- just like at first sight. He can look at her and he can tell her- he can tell that.
We- Boomer was a character that for a while in the series we had almost lost track of. We knew that she had resurrected back with the Cylons and we kept like dropping her into little things here and there over the course of time during the New Caprica arc, and so on, but she didn't have a strong role to play for a while. We married her up, so to speak, not literally married her up, with the character of Cavil to play their relationship and play someone for Cavil to deal with. But it took a while to come up with something for Boomer and we never quite gave up on it. There were times, certainly, when it seemed like it was never gonna happen, but I think the writers in particular were determined that Boomer was a large thread that deserved to be tied up by the end of the series and I tended to agree in that she was one of the original characters in the miniseries, and I mean the miniseries itself actually ends on a shot of Boomer, of her saying, "By your command." And it felt right that in the final episodes we come back and we revisit her storyline and we give her an ending to her tale as well. So, Boomer's story does continue here. And that's the end of the tease.
Beginning of the act.
Just to continue that thought. We did start talking seriously about a Boomer thread about midpoint in the season and how was Boomer going to tie in with the rest of the show. It changed. I can't really talk about the way it changed yet, on this podcast, because clearly we have episodes yet to go and the alternate route that we went down and then subsequently discarded after the writers' strike did involve Boomer as well, and Ellen, and Tigh, and that was all discarded and I can't really talk about that until you've seen the end, so I don't know when I'll get around to that. I'll do that in some interview or maybe in the podcast for the final episode, or something.
Originally, in the original draft, Tigh did not greet her in the Raptor scene, yeah, in the scene where the Raptor comes aboard Galactica. They- the Raptor was met by Laura and Ro- and Adama and then Tigh didn't see her until the end of this scene, actually. You came back in Act One and this all played itself out where she was debriefed and talking about what had happened, and then there was a beat and I think they let Tigh in, or Tigh came, or something. Their reunion was actually at the end of this scene, but it seemed to play much stronger to have the actual reuniting of the two characters in the tease so you could get there and go, "Whoah. Doesn't he have a girlfriend who's pregnant?" and kinda get those elements going forward. I really like the fact that Ellen is still drinking. I like that she's still Ellen Tigh. She's very much the Ellen that we've always known in the show, but she's something more. We're seeing that the aspects of Ellen as- in terms of her being a handful, her being a difficult character, her being- her own- that she's very much a character who owns her own shit. I don't think she blames the world for a lot of her own problems. But she's kinda defiant in terms of her likes, dislikes, and her appetites. And I thought that it was good to say that that really is Ellen. That when their memories- when the Final Five, their memories were wiped, and they were reinserted into human society, that what really came to the fore was the fac- were their personalities as it were, their- the default aspects of their personalities came forward and so the people that we've known over the course of the series are really who they are. We just didn- we, and they just didn't really know that they were Cylons at the time.
The sensuality here of Ellen and Tigh was something I always liked. I mean, it was right in the miniseries. That Ellen slept with half the Fleet and Tigh was sensitive about it. I like that they just go at here in the ward room, and even Tigh's like, "Errr! Just go for it, lassie." And then there's this moment of looking up and being confused and Caprica-Six. I mean, it's really psychologically complex stuff for Tigh, his feelings and what his feelings really are and how they affect things. Now, you'll notice that we we're drawing a connection, dramatically, between Tigh's feelings for Ellen and then later for Adama, and the child that Caprica-Six is carrying and her success, or lack of success, in being able to carry that child. Well, I'll come back to that a little bit later.
The situation down here in Dogville. One of the things that we talked about doing- I think when this story was originally structured and broken, Baltar didn't return to the Galactica quite as quickly as he does here, but as we were making changes in the earlier episodes, in particular Michael Angeli's episode, where Baltar was over on the baseship and has second thoughts about what he was doing and why he fled, I think that then dominoed out and we redid this part of Baltar's story as well, to bring him back to his people a little faster. Really like the character of Paula. She's turned into a really interesting one, over the course of the past couple seasons, in terms of how she interacts with Baltar, what that's all about. I like this- we talked extensively in the room about Baltar's role with these people upon his return. Who would want to follow him, who wouldn't? And what Baltar's all about. His sense of responsibility for leaving, or his sense of irresponsibility for leaving is probably closer to the mark. And what he's after when he comes back. What's his real relationship with "God" at this point? What is he trying to do? And it seemed to me that Baltar is driven primarily, as a character, he's been driven by guilt and self-loathing, and remorse, ever since the beginning of the series. And that those qualities would- I not sure they're qualities, but those aspects of his character would come to the fore here as well. Here's another apocalyptic moment, although in a smaller scale, obviously, that the miniseries, an apocalyptic event in their lives. He flees Galactica. He leaves these people behind to meet their fate. And now he's returning. Something he didn't do in the miniseries. He goes back to try to take responsibility for his people. To try to actually lead them. To try to actually help them. And his rivalry with Paula for leadership of the group, and whether he would be welcomed back or not, was also an ex- a source of extensive conversation.
I love this. That Ellen knows, like, right away, that Saul slept with somebody. Husbands, don't think that your wives don't know. Don't say it. Don't tell her. I thought of you. I love that. I thought of you. I actually saw her. [Laughs]. It's a really interesting little moment in these two people and the knowledge of Ellen and the larger view of who they are, and Saul reacting just like a man and trying to deal with the situation. I think in the script, in early drafts of the script, she had- she actually had some candidates who she said, "Oh, I bet it was so and so. Was it the president? Was it this woman? Was it- Don't tell me it was that woman with the one tooth, or something." It was some bizarre reference that was pretty funny but got excised somewhere along the way.
I was saying earlier- We're drawing this direct- oh, this is different.
This thing of the gathering of the Final Five. We knew that, as writers we knew, that the audience was going to expect something to happen when the Final Five were all in the same room together, so we decided to try to get that outta the way as soon as possible and that everyone would kinda have an expectation that if the final five all got in the same room that there would be some revelation, there would be some moment. There would be something. And we liked the idea of nothing happening, and just not say that there was some mystical thing that was gonna occur. But to really play, instead, just the fact that Ellen knows all of them and remembers all has this larger awareness, which Anders did have briefly and incompletely as he was going in and out of consciousness before. And to just play this as a reunion and play this more on the personal level than on the metaphysical.
[Coughs.] Excuse me.
And it felt right. I mean, a lot of this just- a lot of the plot at this point in the show and in the series came out of what we just felt were the logical next moves. And I find that a lot of my own writing on the page and in the room as a storyteller comes from saying, "Well, what would they really do? What would be the logical next move for them to make?" And people are always saying that the characters tell you what they're gonna say next and that is true, in a sense. The characters have predispositions to do things. They have characteristics. They have back stories. They have points of view. They have psychological complexities, and on a certain level, the characters will drive you in a certain direction. In this instance it felt like, to us, that once the Final Five were reunited the other Cylons, the other skinjobs, would logically say, "Well, let's get the hell outta Dodge. Let's- you're the Final Five. We are your people on a s- in a very real sense. Let's just go. Let's just get the frak outta here." End of the act.
And we're back. I love the pregnancy thing. And Ellen's reveal- Ellen's realization of it. Yeah, and Galen trying to bring 'em back to the point here. That was actually something we had to- we had to very carefully- there was a significant discussion in the writers' room of how this vote was gonna go, who was gonna be on what side, and how they were gonna decide one way or the other. Did it have to be unanimous? Was it democratic? It felt like we had established, pretty firmly, in the Cylon mythology that they had always gone with majority rules, and so it felt like that was something that they probably got from the Final Five, or their sense of democracy, or their sense of fair play. And we wanted to create that in microcosm here among the Final Five and we- I think there was a point where- Oh, wait. Sorry. Got distracted. Yeah. The- I was gonna say the Anders thing. We- there was a point where we were- it felt like everything was gonna be split down the middle because Anders had no vote, and then we decided, no, no, no. If Anders says something in the previous episode, back in seventeen, if Anders in- clearly says "Stay with the Fleet," if that's one of the last things he says and that people remember that, his vote can go counted into this.
And then the trick was to- we wanted the swing vote to be Ellen. We wanted to get to a place where some where saying, "Stay," some where saying, "Go," and that it all came down to Ellen Tigh, which made her the fulcrum of the episode and her complicated feelings about the pregnancy, and about Tigh, and about the right and the wrong of it, and then everything would get clouded by her own personal point of view, was something that we decided that we wanted to play.
I like the way James plays all this, at this point in Baltar's story. The way Baltar- when he returns to the ship and his reactions to these people as he walks through Dogville. This is- you sense him genuinely trying. At least I do. I think it's a really interesting shading of the character that James gave to his performance in all these. You can really feel him trying to step up a bit. He's trying to reach out on genuine human levels and he's trying to do things without manipulation, and he's trying to do what he thinks, in his head, is the moral and right thing to do, even though it's kind of undercut by the fact that he's also in this power struggle with Paulla, and I think he's clearly trying to reestablish his sense of authority and power here, but he's trying to do it from what he thinks is the right point of view. And I sense it all in his- in James' performance, throughout, which I just think is really intriguing. I like the choice of giving him the shawl here that gives him a somewhat biblical flavor to it all. His eagerness to be believed. His eagerness for the people to want to believe him. And the look to Paulla.
I think- I can't be certain, 'cause I don't remember if I saw it in the script or not, but I think that little bit of Laura saying, "I don't think I've ever called you a name before," that might have been Mary- either Mary's idea or Mary's improv. I wouldn't swear to it. I should probably ask Jane, 'cause she would know, but I do these podcasts on my own, so what can I tell ya?
A lot of this is now trying to sew pieces together. As you can see, the visions, the opera house, Caprica-Six, the baby, the one God that Baltar's constantly referring to. There's a lot of really trying in these last few episodes of weaving together the cloth that is ultimately going to be this large tapestry by the time the finale is over. And some of it's just hard to talk about because I can't really tell you about where these storylines are going and how they all come together, and so that why I'm kinda groping a bit. I'm also groping a bit because this was about the time in the season when my attention really started being drawn towards the finale. Right about the time that the second draft of this script was written, which was toward the- which was mid to- that's an important little beat there about the piano. You'll learn more about that in the next episode. Oh, I'm sorry. I was going to say is right about the time that this episode was complet- was in the final writing stages and as it was being shot was when I was really starting to focus on the finale. This was- the second draft on this was written like mid to late April of 2008, and my notes show that we started breaking the finale almost at that exact same time. So, this and the next two episodes were really done mostly by the writers in the room. I mean, Jane obviously wrote- I hadn't actually taken a whack at polishing scripts in the fourth season for quite some time. The closest I did was to do those writes- those pages on the Cavil-Ellen story, if that was originally from my episode but then ultimately went to Ryan's episode in seventeen. But from this point until the end, a lot of my time was spent break- in the break of the final episode and then trying to crank out the draft of the final episode. And essentially I was reading these drafts of this, nineteen, and twenty, giving notes, but trying to get back to my teleplay. And it was getting frustrating, actually. It was getting very frustrating because it was a two hour finale, so that's like the length of a feature film, and that takes more time obviously, and it was also, it's the finale of not just the season, it's the finale of the entire series and I wanted it be good and I wanted it to live up to my expectations of what I wanted it to be, and the more I got pulled to some of these other duties that I had of- the Caprica pilot was in pre-production, Virtuality pilot was in pre-production, these shows were in production. There was just a lot of crap in my email, a lot of call backs, and I was getting more and more annoyed every time I got fuckin' pulled away. And as a result, my memory of decisions and storylines are limited to the original break sessions on these and going back and combing through notes on the scripts themselves, and a lot of this just plays pretty much as I remembered this playing. I remember that the important thing to me was these- were these moments of Caprica-Six with Ellen Tigh and the triangle that was involved here of Ellen, Saul, and Caprica, and wanting to bring that to a conclusion.
The- I was- earlier I alluded to the fact that we were tying things together. That- as Saul's feelings for Ellen come rise up and later as they - as his feelings for Bill Adama are made clear, the child that Caprica-Six is carrying starts to go into distress. We wanted to play this where you could kinda read it either way, which was always an important thing in the series, in that we wanted to be able to read this either as a metaphysical connection on a level of, "Did God's true love allow the child to be conceived? Would God's true love allow the baby to be born? And if Saul's feelings were not true, if he was not really in love with Caprica-Six, or couldn't love her in the way that she wanted to, would she lose the child?" That's one way to look at it. The other way was to look at it that is was more practical. It was more prosaic, really. It was that no Cylon-Cylon pairing had ever produced a child. Presumably, there had been pregnancies and conceptions, but none had ever taken it to term, and that no true Cylon child have ever really been born, and that this was just the natural progression of yet another failed Cylon-Cylon pairing. And that essentially the pregnancy was doomed from the beginning, like all Cylon pregnancies were. And we wanted the episode to be read either way. Many times in the course of the series we've tried to present the sh- the story in a way that you could wri- read things either way, where you could read certain events as being coincidence and certain events- or certain events as being divinely inspired or divinely motivated. We wanted to keep walking that line, moving back and forth across it, keeping the audience off-balance and also allowing the audience to read into what they chose to read into, in the same way that some of the characters would. That some of the characters would choose to put a metaphysical or supernatural explanation on events and other characters would not. That said, there were definitely moments in the show when I felt that I wanted something that could not be explained by rational means. The fact that- or it's just wildly coincidental. Like in- in the episode "33", when Baltar prays and at the moment he prays and says he trusts in God, Laura gives the order and the Olympic Carrier is destroyed. There's no rational connection between those two. End of the act.
And just continuing the thought. There's no rational connection between those two events, and yet Baltar saw a supernatural connection between the events. It's an extraordinary coincidence that those things would happen in the order that they did. So if you- so the rational- the mind would have to deny that there's- any connection and that, well, the universe is a crazy place and weird shit happens all the time, but that doesn't mean there's a divine- hand behind it all, but that Baltar, especially given his circumstance as somebody is actually talking to him, would actually take a different point of view. And in this episode I wanted to have- I wanted to be able to look at it both ways, as opposed to having a clear definitive "hand of God" moment.
I like this thing where Tigh and Adama are drinking again. Tigh had been holding off for a little bit, had been laying off the juice and Adama was getting deeper into it, and now Adama pulls Tigh into his drinking circle, which I thought was an interesting reversal of their two roles. This is an interesting thought as well. I like the idea that Adama- he's held onto this idea- he wouldn't network the computers in the miniseries. Each step towards making the- connecting the Cylons to the Galactica, to his ship, to his woman, were like taking pieces out of his hide all the way through the show. And at this point where she's literally starting to fall apart and the only way to save her is through Cylon technology and Cylon help, that this would really start to eat away at the marrow of Adama, the same way that Laura's cancer is eating away at her from the inside.
It's nice to bring Capr- not Cap- Head-Six back. We'd been away from her for a little while, but we wanted to- it was important that we start to reposit her here so that subsequent events can play and we can feel the fact that she's back in the show. I think we're ver- we actually had written scenes in earlier episodes and then took them out where she appeared and Baltar kinda went, "Oh! Geez! Where have you been?" And there was a bigger sense of her coming back. We played a little bit of that now, but I think we were trying to make a bigger- deal of it in stories, but I think I kinda excised those because I didn't wanna draw attention to the fact that she had been gone so long and make a bigger deal out of it than it was. We just didn't want her to show up just to have her keep showing up. We wanted to use her effectively and that meant she couldn't keep showing up to say nothing, really. She should only show up when she had something to say. But, I liked the idea that off-camera, in the life the all the characters are living beyond the frame, that she probably did still continue to visit Baltar and that- so he wouldn't be completely shocked and like have a whole reaction when she showed up on-camera, to the audience.
<chuckles.> Three minutes.
I liked the idea, as we got into the final few episodes, of playing the many changes that had come to Galactica. And that one of the big changes was this idea that there were places on the ship that people could not really go down safely anymore. That once- the mutiny went down, and they had to essentially ship off a whole boat load of mutineers, you know, like Racetrack, and Skulls, and other people who had sided with Gaeta, were shipped off of Galactica, off to the prison ship, and that now what was a fairly small crew to begin with relative to Galaticas size was even smaller. And that as a result of that and the story that had taken place down through the years, the interior of this vast ship itself had become somewhat honeycombed with different pockets of authority. That the marines- the marine detachment onboard, which would provide security to Galactica, was really- had its hands full just trying to provide security for the really vital areas of the ship. The engine room, the life support, the nuclear warheads, the command and control functions, the main gun batteries, the launch bays. The places to keep Galactica running and safe and to keep the ship safe from Cylon attack were probably over-taxing her resources. That essentially there just weren't enough marines to go around and there weren't enough regular officers to go around and they had kind of made an accommodation with that where essentially Dogville and other areas of the ship were given over to civilians and that they more or less ran their own affairs in those areas. Now, in the wake of the mutiny, when Galacticas complement was even lower, a different situation has arisen where they can't even begin to pretend like they're in control of the whole ship, and there are areas where Adama can't even walk down a corridor without it being a dangerous thing. Where essentially the civilians are starting to have to fend for themselves and Galactica herself is becoming hollow, in a real sense. She could probably still fight off a Cylon attack, more or less, but all of her defenses are outward and few defenses are now inward, and people like the followers of Gaius Baltar and the Sons of Ares are fighting their own private gang wars down in her corridors and that's- it's not so much being allowed to happen as it is it happens. They don't have the resources to deal with their internal problems anymore. Which tells you that life on this ship is starting to have a significant half-life associated to it. That there's- they've taken so many blows and there's been so many wounds to the people onboard and the ship herself that you can kinda see that the end is inevitable. The end is coming. This is not a sustainable way of life aboard this ship.
The nature of the relationship between Ellen and Tigh just- I think it's really interesting. It's- it was born in a very "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" kind of feeling between these two that clawed at one another and loved to claw at one another and hate to claw at one another, who hurt, and are hurt over and over again and yet can never quite be torn apart from one another.
End of the act.
And just to finish that thought, and now- as we get into where they are at this point, even knowing who they are, even knowing their true natures and realizing that they're thousands of years old, that they're com- incredibly sophisticated, complex machines, that they're even more sophisticated than the skinjob Cylons, and have this- these enormous word views and understanding of the cosmological nature of the universe, they're still people on some level. They're- machines but the Final Five are people and they're still crippled and they're still damaged by their own flaws and their own failing and their- and they still reach for their own sense of nobility and they still strive towards the light a bit but they're unable to grasp it. I don't know. I just find the Tighs- the battling Tighs to be endlessly fascinating and I've always loved the fact that we decided to bring Ellen aboard Galactica way back in the first season. Even though that wasn't something I ever anticipated doing in the miniseries. I assumed she was dead. Had no real plans to bring her back. And was kind of hesitant when we decided to bring her back, 'cause I thought it would be seen as just a trick and that- I didn't want- I was kinda adamant that I didn't want to keep having family members and old friends popping up in this little civilian fleet when billions of people had died and you turn around and, "Oh, hey! There's my wife." So we did it, and I tried to keep it to essentially that, and not have it keep happening. And then it became more important that Ellen- had came back for a reason. That she had a larger purpose in the drama and that we played that. And that's- the way I do the show overall. A lot of times you take a- or- I take a jump, or a leap, and say, "OK, let's go there, even though I don't know quite know where that's going to go, but let's go there because I think it's interesting and my instinct tells me that there's something there to play." But then you need to honor that and you need to try to stick with it and say, "OK. Well, if we're going in this odd direction, if we're bringing Ellen Tigh back, in violation of the rule that I set out at the beginning, well then it has to be meaningful. Then I want a reason why we're going there. I want a reason why she's back with Saul, ultimately. I want to know what that's all about." And she becomes more important in the story. At first she's serving as a dramatic foil for him and she's giving us a different voice in the show beyond just the military, which I like, and then ultimately she was the element that knitted the Final Five together, really, for me and for the audience.
See? I like this intercut between Adama looking at the dying ship and Saul with his dying child, and just- it's beautifully done.