Podcast:Flight of the Phoenix
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Hello, and welcome to the podcast for episode nine of season two, "Flight of the Phoenix", I'm Ronald D. Moore, executive producer and developer of the new Battlestar Galactica and y'all are getting this podcast late because technology betrayed me at last. I did the podcast last week, turned it in and lo and behold; half the show was missing. So rather than try to salvage what I had, in interspersed comments, we're just going to start over.
"Flight of the Phoenix" began life very early in the season when we were talking about initial story ideas for this season, I had this sort of image of Tyrol going down into the hang- waking up in the middle of the night going down to the hangar deck, taking a big piece of tape laying out a pattern on the floor and deciding, 'I'm gonna build a Viper'. And it was just- it was something about it psychologically that I liked for the character. There was something about the series and the mythos of the show and how the fleet operates that I liked about dealing with y'know a bit of the reality of the situation that they are losing Vipers and losing pilots and none of these things are being replaced from home and they all have to make do with what they got. And so I really liked the notion of doing a show that was sort of centered around that concept, if not addressing all the needs of the fleet in all the many ways, let's just do a show that talks about the difficulty of doing one thing, of building one fighter.
And the idea kicked around for quite a while, I think the initial notion that I had was to do the entire show in the Hangar Deck- that you would never cut away. It was really a concept show where essentially you would do time laps- time dissolves or time cuts within the scene, you would stay in the Hangar Deck, never leave, and the idea was every single person on the show would come through the Hangar Deck at some point and we would intersect with their stories only through the prism of the building of the Viper. One thing that happens when you take that approach, rather quickly is that the concept swamps everything else and you find yourself constantly trying to cram another story, another characterization into what is, by its very nature, a fairly artificial construct. So eventually we just sort of shied away from that and realized that there were many stories that had to be told. There were a lot of other tales going on in this episode, a lot of other things that we wanted to touch on and it became way too cumbersome to try to do them all consistently within the 'building the Viper' scene. Much like we talked about last week in "Final Cut", the show about the documentary, initially the concept was to do an entire episode solely from the documentarian's point of view of a reporter stuck in the Ward Room in the first few episodes, and that became too cumbersome. You find that a lot, there's a lot of back-and-forth [between] TV writers that seem really provocative and interesting but on execution for one reason or another become awkward and difficult and you end up making choices and compromises to try and get the essence of the idea that you were going for and to present it in a format that works for the show. Which is essentially what happened to this episode in the end was I really liked doing the show, I just couldn't do it all in the Hangar Deck. I didn't want the concept to swamp what the show is.
This episode went through a lot of changes editorially, we had a lot of extra footage on this episode, some of which I'm sure you'll see in the deleted scenes. There were various ways of going about this episode, just this teaser alone with the intercuts that you've seen already between Helo at the card game and interspersed with Tyrol out on the Viper and Cally. There were various versions where we cut- we didn't show this party, the welcome back of Cally- in the episode it was something that was more implicit that she came back to work and there was a passing mention of the fact that she had finally served out her time in the brig. Then there was a version of this that played a lot more of that scene that you just saw where Tyrol comes in, there was a whole interplay between Cally and the other mech- the other knuckledraggers in there talking about the unfairness of what happened to her and they're toaster-bashing as it were.
This scene really was something that we had talked about in the writer's room for quite a while, even last season, it was just the notion of 'what's going to happen when these two guys meet?', what's going to finally take place when Helo and Tyrol get together?
I love the card game scene a lot, I really liked Racetrack, I'm really intrigued with the way Racetrack has become one of our members of our family. I've commented on this before, the way that many of the supporting players that came on just for a role here and a role there then expanded and have become part of the life-blood of the show. Racetrack was just going to be the temporary ECO in "Kobol's Last Gleaming" last year, Sharon needed to ride with somebody, let her ride with- well call her Racetrack, and now Racetrack is like a full blown character for us which I think is just great and it's a real salute to the quality of casting that we're able to do, the dynamics down on the show.
In any case back to Helo and Tyrol, we talked at length what they would do when these two finally got together, and you start with the most obvious idea is- the one that we ended up with which is that they fight. You started with that- you start saying 'okay let's not do that, let's try something else, what else would they do?' We talked about versions where they saw each other in the Rec Room or at some social situation, eyed each other, there was a hard look and not much more, there was a point where Tyrol came and sat down with Helo and said some things that were completely off-point, just man-talk about something else but there was a mutually understood feeling of what was really going on. We tried versions of that but none of them were really that satisfying because on some level you knew that the thing that was most in character for these two men based on the people that we had seen them be, him down on Caprica and Tyrol dealing with people on Galactica and Kobol, that there's a lot of rage and a lot of frustration and a lot of self-hatred and ambiguity in both these men over the choices that they've made, over the people that they've chosen to send- give their hearts to and the fact that they've now come face-to-face with the representational other of themselves. How could you not wanna beat the crap out of him?
The moment of him reaching for the wrench is really interesting and telling about just how far the rage has built in these men. Actually I got a note from one of the writers of this episode, Bradley Thompson and his partner David Weddle who wrote this episode, and they objected to that moment and I must say in their defense I completely understand why they object to that moment because it really says something pretty bad about Tyrol, which is why I like it of course. I like the fact that Tyrol for a moment lost himself in that- he's been drinking, he lost himself- he picked up that wrench and for a moment really thought about caving in Helo's skull with it. And there's a seduction to that and there's a pull to that and it's an emotion that I think that the character would genuinely feel in those circumstances. There's a truth to it, ultimately that's why we went with the fight, there's a truth to it, I just believe it, I believe that that's what those two men would do.
The virus story that runs throughout this show- well we're about to hit the teaser out- so the virus story that runs throughout this show is something that we laid in and started talking about back when we did "Scattered". When we did Scattered we were talking about the virus at the end of the show and as soon as we worked out that technically, we wanted there to be a threat to Galactica if these computers were networked. What would the threat be? Why are they so worried about it again? Oh yeah, it's that Cylons can get inside their computers and if they're in their networked they can get into all the computers simultaneously. So we wanted to get out of that situation in "Scattered" and then come back to this at about the point where the audience had stopped thinking about it, that there had been a Cylon access point into the Galactica's computers, so it seemed like a nice time to do the call-back all the way back to show one.
So by doing the virus program at this point in the show it was interesting because it felt like it was an opportunity to essentially really knit together some of the continuity, that we'd gotten comfortable to the point where we could make a call back all the way to nine episodes ago, back to "Scattered", to deal with this little tech gag which I think is kinda nice. The notion being that once they had accessed the computers the Cylons lay in dormant viruses in all the computers that then calculate and think and learn the systems and eventually make the move to take over the ship and to allow a Cylon attack.
This was a great little beat that was in all the drafts, Gaeta losing his cool in the CIC, which is so shocking that every head- I love the fact that every single head turns in CIC when Gaeta raises his voice, we've had people shot in here for Christ's sakes! But if Mr. Gaeta raises his voice everybody looks around like, 'Jesus! What the hell could have caused that? Not Gaeta! Not Felix?!' Felix... I wonder if Alessandro has any feelings about me naming him Felix in the last episode?
I like that little piece of computer gear there 'cos I think that's it's neat that it looks very military issue in a big padded container like that.
This is a truncated version of a much longer sequence, there was another beat of the computer virus going haywire here and at the beginning of this scene Chief Tyrol- one of Chief Tyrol's people Seelix, there she is, is working on- she was actually working on an engine and what happened was the engine started up by itself, in another manifestation of the virus and that occurred in that whole little sequence that we just jumped over. By the time Lee starts talking to Tyrol there at the end, this incident I'm talking about now had already occurred which was that Seelix was working on the engine, she stepped away and suddenly the engine had a cold start- just a self-initiated start-up protocol by itself triggered by the stand-alone computer or the stand-in computer and it almost killed some people, it was very dangerous and very scary and the whole nine yards.
Let me digress for a moment and get back to that shot, this shot of Cally and Jammer and the whole deck gang coming in in the morning was one of my favorites of the entire show, there was something great about that shot that conveys this idea of morning, of the team getting together just before they go into work and it's a really nice texture that the director really brought to the show. I think the director of this show really found the voice of what the series is about and really connected with it almost immediately in his footage and I think that this is one of our- really one of our better episodes in terms of how it looks and feels and it's- this show really gives you the texture and the feeling of being on Galactica for this episode and what it's really like to live in this world.
Now I know I lost track of what I was saying a moment ago but this is the cursed broadcast - cursed podcast - so just get used to it.
There was another version of this scene that I cut, where Tyrol just says we're going to build a Viper and you go out on the looks of all the guys faces and then the next cut in the story is they're building the Viper and I skipped over this whole intermediary section where Tyrol is doing his thing and then the guys one by one come over to work with him.
This scene with Laura and Cottle- there actually is quite a bit of dialogue in this scene but the director and the editor both decided to cut this scene silently and play all these emotional beats. Mary is phenomenal in this, I think this is one of her better performances, I love that move which is not scripted, the glasses, the look on his face. You know this entire story- you can tell this entire story visually here it's just- there's not much dialogue is necessary for you to understand completely what is going on here and it was just a very- it was a really good instinct on the part of Michael Nankin the director and Jacques Gravett who cut this show. You gotta love it when Cottle- Doc Cottle is feeling bad for ya. When Cottle isn't messing with you and smoking at you and being a prick it must be bad. That look on Mary's face just chills me, absolutely chills me.
You gotta like the fact that they put the faces of the Cylons on their targets, there's something so- just great about that. It was some touch that the guys put in the script that I loved as soon as I saw it, I kind of always thought that somebody was gonna make us take it out, I figured the network would make us take that part out.
This whole thing, her talking about why were you so hard on the Chief is kind of a widow, which means it's a holdover from an earlier draft. Not really a draft in this case but the full scene that I was referring to earlier where the engine started up by itself, the end of that scene- or not the end- after the engine started up Tyrol just went at Seelix, just totally just went at her and was really scary and was just like 'What the hell? How sloppy are you?' and was really pissed at her because she had allowed this engine start-up and then Lee started yelling at him and it got ugly before it finally settled down at the end. So that's what Kara's referring to, which is a bit of a widow and it doesn't quite sink into the sequence anymore but I kept it in, we all kept it in, because the rhythm of this particular scene depends on it. There's a slow, growing, strangeness happening in the room, I mean you've seen the dials so you know something's wrong but you keep getting lost into this conversation, watching the interaction and wondering what's up with them. There she could just be screwing with him and then you've got that shot, which I think is wonderful, just the look on Hotdog's face while this is all going on. And this is the effects of hypoxia, this really happens. There's a lot of footage in various documentaries of pilots or pilot candidates being put into pressurized chambers where they have oxygen masks and they slowly bleed the oxygen out of the room and they're given various tasks to do, to deal a deck of cards, to play patty-cake, to talk, to do various things. And you just watch the footage of these people slowly losing it, some of them started giggling, some of them completely checked out of it, others get all panicky, there's a lot of varying reactions to the onset of hypoxia. Which really gave us the chance to play the scene in a really disturbing key, this look on Kara's face just, man, that laugh and look at that- that profile shot of Kara at the end is just great
Now we're back in the firing range. A lot of this was scripted; getting the gun, getting the ammo, the bullet ricochets, all of it was choreographed in conjunction with the director and the actors on the set. But I think a lot of the credit to this sequence goes to Katee and Jamie who I think play this just beautifully, it's like I completely- I'm just there with them in the room. The way he moves toward this table I'm particularly fond of, his reaching up, this from the back, groping up there, getting the box, the box basically almost falls on his head there on the set, he just keeps going, it missed his nose by like a millimeter. And I believe, if I'm not mistaken, I think the notion that Starbuck and Apollo did this together is something the actors came up with, I think it was gonna be Katee and I think they talked or they were working on the scene and liked the idea of him steadying her hand to shoot out the window. I think that was something that they came up with which I think is a stroke of genius which I think is really nice.
And now we're in this. The technobabble on the show is a constant source of- I wanna say frustration- but it's more a sense of obligation really- which makes it frustrating. It is a science fiction series, there's a lot of space hardware involved, there are certain sci-fi concepts, if you're gonna deal with a computer virus you're obligated at some point to have to do this scene where they talk about what the problem is, it's identified and varying solutions are posited. Then usually the way you write the scene is there's no way to deal with this problem except the one possible outside crazy chance that they all inevitably take. That is the rhythm of writing one of these scenes. In this particular scene, it follows the usual pattern of things, the Commander asking his people for the varying options, what's the toughest option that you can usually ask for. The nice thing here is of course that the deal with- this moment- essentially the nice thing here is when he says 'I got a Cylon expert on board' and the scene is basically led to the point where we slap Baltar and that's the joke... and out. And actually that scene kept going where Baltar tried to revisit the issue with Adama saying 'Hey, wait a minute I really think I should go down there' and Adama says 'no, no, no, we got this all under control you just don't worry about it, you just don't worry about it' and Baltar goes and sits at the foot of the stairs and has a conversation with Six. It was all nice stuff, I particularly liked Baltar's conversation with Six 'cos the way Nankin shot it you looked up she was sitting up on the stairs in CIC and he shot her through some sort of translucent material and it was really interesting cinematically. But ultimately again this was one of those really long shows and a lot of choices had to be made.
Through the varying cuts the thing that we kept coming back to was this story, the story of the gathering of the family to accomplish one task that they he set out to- and the father figure coming down and seeing it. It all kept circling back to tell the story about the family... tell the story about the family. And you had to give a certain amount of screentime to the virus because you have to do that for plot reasons and so what ends up happening is you end up cutting things like the Baltar/Six conversation.
There were varying versions where this scene was cut, it's really interesting the editing process, I've spoken about it before on these podcasts but quite often the editing process is just more fascinating in some ways than the script process because it really is. You're dealing with a given amount of material, there's lots of different ways you can emphasize different elements of it. This scene for example, we actually discussed at one point taking this scene out and opening the next episode with it because we, as I'll talk about in episode ten, "Pegasus"- there was a point where we were going to make "Pegasus" a ninety minute episode and we were looking for ways to lengthen it to that length because it wasn't intended to be that long but we had a very long cut and we thought that we could expand it slightly to get up to a ninety minute running time and one of the ways we thought about doing that was to open "Pegasus" with this scene. That you would open cold with Lee and Dualla in this combat thing and establish that relationship a little bit more for the audience, to show that there was something going on, and then get into the "Pegasus" show. We did try a version of that, we watched a version and it was okay but it kinda stuck out as a- it had nothing to do with the show, it really does belong here, so the fact that we had to go for the hour version meant that this got to stay in "Flight of the Phoenix" which is really where it belongs.
And we had been talking about doing this triangle with Lee/Billy/Dualla, the triangle was something we talked about doing for most of the season. I mean we talked about- probably when we were working on one or two is when the notion of putting them together came up and it was "Resistance"- we were shooting "Resistance" I remember when we decided to definitively to do it. Because in "Resistance" there's that whole little subplot of Lee and Dualla, her coming and being the one who would walk with him down the corridor in the morning and give him a report- idle conversation back-and-forth between two somewhat intimates. And what I liked about extending that as a relationship was there's a certain logic to them, there's a certain emotional truth to the idea that Dualla is the voice that the pilots always hear, that was something that we said back in "Tigh me up, Tigh me down". She said there's a special relationship between her and the pilots, they look on her very fondly, I think they're a bit protective of her. She probably talks to Lee more than the other pilots, he's the CAG, there's probably a lot of wireless communication back-and-forth between Lee and Dualla just on a day-to-day basis and it sort of stood to reason that there could be a relationship between those two, because again within the reality of the show there's nobody else, their world is not getting any bigger. There are fifty thousand people, period, and the people on Galactica live in their own sort of hermetically sealed world to a large extent.
To continue the thought, because they live in their own somewhat hermetically sealed world and their primary contact are with people already on the ship it only stands to reason they're gonna start having relationships with one another, in varying ways and varying combinations. If Galactica was just a warship in a normal military these things would be completely off-base and oh my God there'd be huge scandals and indeed Tyrol and Sharon got a lot of flak for their assignations, as it were. Last season Tigh started to crack down on them at some point, everybody knew it wasn't cool. But at some point there's a reality to their lives and their particular situations, it's gonna drive them into these relationships and so it felt natural that she would have- that we could do a relationship between her and Lee. And we were frankly intrigued by the qualities of the triangle.
You can see that we've moved the construction of the fighter ahead in fairly big leaps, we could have chosen to parse out the building of the Viper over many episodes. This could have been like a running B story that took three or four episodes to ultimately pay off but there was something about doing it in one episode that seemed to really speak to the larger emotional arc of what's going on in the show. These people that are starting to get, at the top of the show, have gotten to a place where Adama says 'everyone is depressed because they've realized this is what it's gonna be for them', they've got the map to Earth, and they're heading off to Earth but hey that was a few days ago, it's like 'Hey, we got Home Part II, we got- we looked at the giant thing and stood on the giant field and stared at the blue screen and we got our map from on high, yahoo, and had the big applause and y'know time passes and you're still on this fucking ship. You're still looking for that fucking planet and it's like it's not getting any easier guys, knowing where you're going helps a little bit but it's not getting any easier for these people'. So it felt right to then do an episode that was centered around one man's effort to do something about that. They're trapped in what is by-and-large a helpless situation, where a victory for them is running away and Tyrol finds a way to do something positive and something that maybe is not help them in a vastly material sense; it's only one fighter and it's ultimately a stealth fighter more than anything else. But the symbolism of that, the effort of that, the fact that they all put their hearts into it, was a larger- spoke to a larger thematic issue by doing it in one episode rather than spreading it out over many episodes.
So when you decide to go there and you're seeking that kind of deeper truth within the episode and using the episode to convey that idea, the other things become less important. It's like the true timeline of how long it would really take to actually build one of these things from scratch would probably be much- it would be weeks realistically. But you'd rather tell the story in one package, you'd rather tell the story, hold the viewer in the moment of the scenes, make them invest themselves in the effort and pay it off and so you can fudge the timeline, you can kind of skate by, there's no definitive statement in the episode about how long this is all taking. It's kept purposely vague, there's no clock going on. Noone's mentioning the passage of time really since he started working on the Viper. You probably could find cryptic references here and there that might nail it down to a specific timeline maybe but pretty much we kept this as vague as we could. We didn't wanna put it in your face that we're compressing the timeline drastically but at the same time it's more important to tell the story than it is to get bogged down in the details of exactly how long it takes them to build the thing.
Again, this is one of those technobabble scenes that I've written many times and they do have a certain rhythm and purpose to them, the genesis of a scene like that- or not the genesis, the ancestry of that kind of scene goes all the way back to many other shows. If you look at the original Star Trek series, if you look at Space 1999, if you look at Fireball XL5, which is one of those Gerry Anderson puppet shows, or Stingray, or any of those, they all have variations on that technobabble scene. The superior officer says, 'What are we facing?' and the underlings say, 'This is the situation and it's really bad and the bad guys are gonna screw us here and the only way out is to do this really risky thing', and the superior officer always says, 'No, that's crazy, there's gotta be another way'. 'No there's no other way Captain, there is a theory', there's always a theory, 'there is a theory of a way to backslide the Hoozifrenzit and that'll make the bad guy thing go away'. And inevitably that's the one you choose and so that's the rhythm and flow of those scenes and what makes them interesting to write is when you're finding the character dynamic within it. Like in that scene the great thing was just seeing Baltar's umbrage, 'Do you wanna get out of this or not? Do you wanna live or not?' and the intra-dynamic of how Tigh was treating him, the still sort of interesting relationship between Baltar and Gaeta. Gaeta who still looks up to Baltar, who we know is a traitor, it's more about the- your investment in that scene as a writer and a viewer is more about watching the character dynamic than it really is about listening to the technobabble because the technobabble is stuff we make up. It has its roots in science, we try to be very faithful to what could really happen and to what most reasonably would happen but it's all- it's stuff we're making up as we go along. In these sort of text senses, how the virus works is something you work on fifty different times and you use various terminology and it's trying to serve a dramatic purpose within the show and if you're successful you deliver on that promise of having it make sense while at the same time not getting so bogged down in the explanations and trying to cover every base and trying to deal with every possible ramification of a given problem- the scene becomes mind-numbing at a point. And it's more important that you play scenes like that with Dualla and her father's pocket knife when Sharon returns to CIC and she knows all these people.
This sequence was born out of my frustration frankly, the original draft of the show and the story was that here at the end when they were getting ready to wipe the harddrives essentially they had to shut every computer system down on the ship, wipe all the harddrives and then do a restart on every system simultaneously. And in that moment the Galactica would be helpless that the Cylons could come and attack at will so the plan was gonna be to have the Vipers out there, the Vipers hold off the Raiders until Galactica had finished its hard-drive wipe and restart and at that point the Vipers come aboard and Galactica would jump away to the location where the fleet is blah, blah, blah. Essentially, though, the problem I felt was that it was the same story that we did in "Scattered", I mean "Scattered" ends that very way, it's all about doing a computer number crunch, the Galactica's vulnerable while they're doing it, the Viper's hold off the Raiders, the Raiders jump away to where the Fleet is. And I was also feeling a sort of generic quality to the space battle and feeling like we weren't doing anything new and different with it, it was just another space battle. The space battle aspect of the show is not one of the things that interests me as much as the- I shouldn't say that, it does interest me, I like the way that we continue to break the rules in the space battles, that's what I mean, but space battles per se don't interest me a whole hell of a lot. If they're just action for the sake of action, what's the point? You do action all the time and it doesn't make for a great show, it just shows that you have a visual effects budget. So from that frustration I wrote back this note saying, 'Let's try something- we gotta go out on a limb, we gotta do something different, I wanna have a different sequence here I don't wanna just deal with some stupid space battle again'. So they put their heads together and we started- I think I was in a room with David and Bradley and I think I said just off-handedly, 'I don't know if I want her standing in CIC shoving conduits in her arm as cool as that might be', and we just started joking about it and laughing and it just sort of happened. Let's do that- let's do something freakishly weird with her and remind the audience and ourselves that she is a machine, that she's not human, that she is something quite different in that she operates in ways we don't always understand.
Harddrive formatting in progress.
I like this shot a lot, the big pull back with us now facing down the bow, it's such a great feeling of scope and the specific formation that the Cylons are taking and the real strong sense that, hey, they might be screwed here.
Sharon's whole gag here of putting the conduit in her arm, as I said earlier, is something that I just came up with out of a frustration to not do another space battle. But what I also liked about it that I felt it was consistent with what we'd wanted to say about the Cylons right along, that there was this interesting contradiction in them, in that they were machines that had tried very, very hard to emulate the human form down to the microscopic level, that they were virtually indistinguishable from us. But logically as incredibly advanced sentient beings that have evolved on their own and have evolved themselves in certain directed ways, one would think and expect that they had other methods of data sharing, that they chose to speak and that they would choose to speak to us and one another out of something more philosophical and more theological than technical necessity. Of course they can exchange data at far greater rates, of course they can share information in more advanced ways than verbally or by writing it down, we've never seen them write anything down, but they have other options. They choose to be human, they choose that this is what they think their God wants their form to take, God created man in their view and man created them and this is the form that they have chosen to honor that original creation. But because there is the implication that these guys have other ways of sharing data and certainly they share information and share memories in different ways and are able to download consciousness and all kinds of different things implies that they have other abilities. So it didn't seem like too big of a stretch to say that if she interacted directly with an optical cable on Galactica that she would now have a method to do it. I mean, if she really wanted to, yeah, there was a way she could communicate directly with the hardware.
Hard not to comment on this scene, the destruction and the sort of Turkey Shoot of the Cylon Raiders is something that I thought was just really interesting. You don't really see that kind of situation very often where the good guys suddenly have the enemy at their mercy and just completely wipe them out because that's what they would do. They would just lay waste to those guys. There would be a sense of payback. And they would just go chew them up and we kept calling it the Turkey Shoot which is a reference to- there was an air battle in the Second World War in the Pacific, I believe it was the Marianas where essentially the Japanese sent up one of their last great throes of aircraft at the American fleet but the pilots were very green and the Americans were much more powerful and experienced than they were at the beginning of the war and the simply just slaughtered the Japanese. Just shot down hundreds of aircraft and it was called the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot and this was a similar idea.
This idea of it being a stealth ship instead of a fighter sort of grew out internal discussions about what they could realistically build. Having them build a Viper from scratch was a bit of a stretch but I didn't think that he could really build a combat fighter like a Viper, if he'd built an actual Viper it just seemed like we'd pushed it too far. So it seemed like they could build something that would have a different purpose and what would be a craft that would give them an advantage, that would be useful for them to have, that maybe they didn't have sitting around already? And the idea was, well if it was a stealth ship, that would be interesting and useful and it's another way of connecting to the audience because the audience is familiar with stealth technology at this point. It's one of the more familiar concepts out there, the stealth fighter and all that, and so there was an investment in what the ship was.
I like all these shots a lot that Gary Hutzel and our visual effects team did to convey the idea- that nose camera shot looking back along the barrel of the Viper back into the cockpit is one of my favorite shots of the year. They did a really nice job with the design of this- you see shots like that inside the cockpit where she's steadying up. This is one of those moments where you get completely lost in the sequence, you're no longer watching the CGI, you're no longer watching the visual effects, you really believe that she's in an actual fighter and that it's doing things. Y'know, that's great, that's true magic, when you've really crossed over that line with the show.
Mark Verheiden, who's our executive producer pointed out quite rightly that Starbuck's being a bit of a dick here. Starbuck is out there intentionally letting them think that maybe she's dead for maybe a little bit too long, and he's right but you kinda wanted to play this, you kinda wanted the drama of this last little beat, that maybe it was all for naught, and I couldn't resist playing all these beats- it was really that look on Aaron's face right there. When I saw that footage of Aaron listening and maybe the ship has been destroyed and maybe not, but he's holding it together, he's not looking nervous and there's such a dignity and yet worry underneath it all that I just decided that we gotta play the drama, we gotta play it out so you can kinda see that sitting on his face. Because ultimately that was more important to me, that was more important to see that he had not only a personal ego driven investment in the craft itself but he had a real care about the pilots that he was going to put into that Viper- into that stealth ship.
This scene used to take place before the test flight in the Viper and we swapped it in editing because this felt like the emotional climax of the show, whereas at story we thought the emotional climax of the show was the first test flight. And that's the way we wrote it but you watch the film and this is the emotional highpoint of the show.
I was there when they shot this scene and I haven't been on the set a lot this season, not as much as I was last season, so it was a rarity to be there to watch them shoot something, and shoot something with virtually the entire cast. And I was very touched by this, I sat there at video village which when we do reverse here I'll- back there to camera left underneath that fluorescent panel is video village. Buried back in that dark space we're all sitting there looking at the monitor, I've got my little headphones on and I'm watching them play this scene. And I just became very moved by it and I was very touched by it and I just was very much in love with these people and the show and I don't know, it was one of those moments that you really- as writer/producer, you spend a lot of time by yourself, you spend a lot of time on the phone and staring at computers and you have these moments where you suddenly connect with the people doing the show, with the actors, with the crew. Where you're just so proud of being associated with these people and what they're doing and it's such a privilege to be able to work on a show like this and I sat there and I just was really moved and I got up and was walking off the soundstage and Eddie and Mary and Michael Hogan saw me and said, 'Oh are you leaving?' and I said 'Yeah, I gotta go' and they started coming over and they were laughing about something and I looked at Mary and I was gonna lose it. I was just gonna break down in tears and I waved her off and just said, 'I gotta go' and Eddie was like, 'What?' and I just zoomed- almost ran out of the soundstage because I didn't know what I would say to them. All I could say to them was how much I loved them at that moment, how much I loved being in the presence of artists who really cared about the show, who really cared about the characters that they played, who cared about the craft, who cared about the things that I wrote, the things that I was working on. There was such a profound connection to them at that time and that place.
I liked the end of the show a lot, I liked the ending on this note between Laura and Adama and seeing how far they've travelled and what an interesting journey it's been for these two characters since the mini-series. And that he's there for her in a very silent, very solid way, he knows what she's going though but is not making her talk about it.
And then transitioning from that back to the Tyrol story where it all began, there's a very strong emotional component to this particular episode that I'm very proud of. I like this a lot, there was a bit of dialogue where Tyrol talks to Sharon for a moment and says essentially something like, 'I'm ashamed' and she goes, 'Why? Of what?' and he says, 'I'm ashamed of still loving you', was the idea. And then there was even another scene shot after that where it was like, okay next day, what happens the next day? Tyrol and Cally go back to work and there was something interesting to that too. But when I saw this in the cut I just loved it. This was Nankin and Jacques again who came up with cutting out before we hear anything and it doesn't really matter what they say to each other, you really don't wanna know what they say to each other in a real way. All you wanna know is that he went down there and faced his demon and decided to talk to her somehow, someway and that that was the journey for the character. The character started off the show by scrapping things, by being obsessed with this woman, by fighting with an officer about this woman, all the pent-up emotional frustration that he chooses then to build a Viper with, that he accomplishes that goal and does it successfully but what he really needs to do is walk down to that brig, and pick up that phone and say something to this woman.
So that, my friends, is the long-delayed "Flight of the Phoenix" podcast. I apologize again for the lateness of it, to all those of you who have been patient followers of my very empty blog I think you for your patience. I do skim the Sci-Fi.com message boards periodically to see what you all are saying and I see you're complaints and I'm sorry. And I always promise I will try and write the blog and I always seem to not do it, so I won't promise you that which probably means I'll do it. In any case I will now go and record the podcast for episode ten "Pegasus". Good night.