Podcast:The Road Less Traveled
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Hello, and welcome to the podcast for episode 407, "The Road Less Traveled." I'm Ronald D. Moore, executive producer and developer of the new Battlestar Galactica, and I'm here to welcome you to the podcast, as always. Let's see... the Scotch for this evening is Macallen Cask Strength. In other words, the strength of a cask, however strong that is. And the smokes are Marlboro lights. The smoking lamp is lit. I'm also doing this podcast outside this time. For no apparent reason, other than it allows me to keep the smoking lamp lit without any problem with leaving residue inside. And also just because I feel like it and what the fuck. It's my podcast, I can do whatever I want.
Ok. This was- 407 is the episode that began- it's clearly a two-parter episode. It wasn't always designed that way. When we started working on this episode we had broken all the other episodes earlier and the famous story document that I've been quoting in these podcasts doesn't have very much in the way of this particular po- this particular episode. I'll pull it up here real quick. To do a quick- do a quick recap of where it- what it said. "Episode five. Kara's Earth exploration mission goes badly." Yeah, you think? "Tensions mount between Kara and her volunteers. Kara's reliance on instinct, rather than a carefully planned course to Earth makes many uneasy, and they begin to wonder if she may be a Cylon agent. Anders, who volunteered despite objections from the other Final Four reveals he's here to protect Kara, not to become the husband again, but Kara, being Kara, objects, exacerbating the tension. Anders' sense of invincibility takes a hit when the mission encounters Heavy Raiders, which do not retreat this time. The rations- nearly destroy the battle and the ship in disrepair. Kara's dogged refusal to return to the fleet sparks a violent mutiny." And then it goes on. It talks a little bit about the [clears throat] Cylon story, and I can't really get into that, 'cause actually some of the Cylon story is used in a later episode, so I'll kinda skip over that. But that's really all that we had for this episode going in- the door. Then we sat down and actually broke it. I'd say that the biggest significant changes had to do with the fact that in the first draft we didn't have Helo over on the Demetrius. I've talked about this before. It was kind of a network note, which I thought ultimately was to the good, which was to give Helo a little something more to do. That we hadn't been using him that effectively, and it was their suggestion to bring him over to this episode- or- I'm sorry. It was their- suggestion to do something more with the character and so I decided, "Well, let's bring him over to the episode." His role in this show, as XO, is actually going to be- [coughs] Oh. I see how strong a cask is. Wow. That's quite a kick. I'd forgotten that. That's why I like it. His role as XO was gonna be taken up by Gaeta, which as events will eventually unfold, will be ironic indeed. Gaeta was gonna be the XO of this mission, and actually the confrontation was going to be between Kara and Athena. We had decided that Gaeta was probably not gonna back her play too much. He was gonna struggle to be Kara's XO aboard Demetrius but clearly there was already tensions built-in between him and Kara, dating back to "Collaborators" from last season. But we thought that it would it was gonna be more interesting, actually, if Athena was really the one who was leading the mutiny and leading the discontent against Kara. We thought there was something kinda cool to play with. The idea that the crew [exhales smoke] would accept Athena- or had accepted Athena, and would actually be willing to follow Athena and- had more faith in her, the Cylon, than they did in Kara, who they really didn't know who or what she was. In reality- there was something interesting playing of the idea that [clears throat] literally better the devil you know. They had lived and worked next to Athena for quite a while. They- she had been accepted as the crew. She'd had Adama's faith, and she'd never betrayed that faith. And that the crew at that point would be more than willing to accept her, and then not knowing what Kara was- where Kara could be a Cylon. Kara could be some- could be something else. Kara could be any number of things. But they had no idea what she really was. And that she was acting weird and crazy and taking them off into directions that they didn't really wanna go, and that eventually the crew would actually back Athena's play against Kara over anyone el- [clears throat] over Kara herself. Which I thought was kinda cool. And the en- the episode actually was going to end with I think Athena and Kara pointing guns at each other. I think Athena was going to attempt to relieve her of command. Kara was going to- was gonna fight against that and I think the cliffhanger act out was actually the two of them pointing guns at one another. [exhales smoke]
Here back on Galactica in Baltar's lair there's all these little trappings that we've come to now associate with Baltar's lair. I should make one comment about this set. This is kind of a cool set. This is supposed to be down in the bowels of Galactica someplace and we built this on the stage. This is actually on stage, just right around the corner from the CIC. If you go out that door where the stairways are leading up to, there's a hatch there and that co- that hatch connects to the corridor that then wraps around CIC. Even though we play them as very, very different areas of the ship. One of the things I learned when I directed my episode this season was just how much everyone hates this set. [laughs] Not the design of the set, or the way it looks, but it's not a great place to shoot, unfortunately, because of the way it's designed and set up. It's just difficult to get lighting in and out and when you're changing lighting in between setups when you're moving a camera you oftentimes have to redo the lighting and there really aren't many points of access into the set, and as a result it slows everything down. Not to mention the fact that it's always crowded with people and that people are- the more people we have, the more complicated the coverage is, the more difficult the camera angles become, and as a result this set is one of the least popular sets among- it used to be Colonial One. They used to all hate Colonial One, because you would go into Colonial One and bang your head, and everybody was banging their head and people were like bitching and moaning about it all the time and it was just a nightm- it was also a difficult place to light and shoot in, but eventually they got over that. And now it's like, "Oh, yeah. Nobody minds shooting in Colonial One. They all hate Baltar's lair more than anything else on this ship."
Anyway. Once we brought Helo over to Demetrius the question became, "What is Helo's role?" If he's gonna be the XO, 'cause he's senior, what do we play him as? And I really took inspiration here from The Caine Mutiny. The Caine Mutiny I really like as a movie. It's been one of those films that's talked about quite a lot in writers' rooms over the years. Especially on all the ship shows that I've done and various mutinies and various ideas of what sparks mutinies and- we even discussed Caine Mutiny during the- during the "Captain's Hand" episode when Lee was the XO to the commander of the Pegasus. Whether- how far we were gonna go along the lines of a mutiny there. The role of Helo- Helo's role is modeled very much on the role of the XO on the Caine, and for those of you who haven't seen the film- oh, I'm blanking on his name. He's one of the great old actors who plays the XO to Humphrey Bogart's captain. I should, like, look it up on imdb or something. But I'll let you do that. That'll be some of your fun homework is to figure out by yourself who played that role. In any case, his role was about a good officer who sees the problems of his commanding officer and is trying to keep his- he acknowledges and knows that his commander is screwed up but he's trying to be the loyal officer, even though bit by bit he's drawn into the circle of mutiny, and ultimately it's the XO who has to make the final play against Humphrey Bogart in the middle of the typhoon, and we sorta liked- I sorta liked that arc. I thought that arc works really well, and so Helo's arc is modeled very much on that idea. He's watching the crew of the Demetrius bit by bit come up against the commander, questioning her more and more. The commander's doing more and more questionable things. Helo's trying to back her as long as he possibly can, and eventually he just can't back her any more.
Originally in this little tease open here with the Heavy Raider, Helo actually fired on the Heavy Raider, and Kara told him to stop firing. [clears throat] Chewed him out and I think she actually confronted him pretty severely. Got in his face when they came back aboard Demetrius. I kinda pulled back on that 'cause I kept feeling like, "Well, but-" It's one of those things that's kinda always tricky. There's a certain convention that when you shoot at ships and hit them, they blow up, unless for reasons of the plot you don't want them to blow up, in which case you fire at them and they're only wounded, or they're only damaged rather, and then you get away with it. And it's always kind of a- it's a bit of a device as far as I'm concerned. And so I'm certainly not above using it, and I have definitely used it in the show before, but this time out it just felt wrong. It felt that the rhythm and pace of what we were doing here that you wanted Kara and Hotdog to come right up on the Heavy Raider but not fire on it. Play the mystery of it. Play the damage of it. And have them get in close, ready to fire at a moment's notice, but never quite firing on it. Right here where Leoben is talking to Kara over the wireless. We actually shot footage of Leoben saying the lines, but I opted to cut them out because they were- we don't have an interior to the Cylon Heavy Raider. That's one of the things that's plagued us over the years is everyone once and a while we'll write a scene where we have an interior set for the Cylon Heavy Raider where somebody's being transported here or there or everywhere, and you wanna cut to the inside and see them in there, but we don't have a set like that. And every time it comes up we're talk about building the interior of it and then the cost estimates come in and I always blanch and I always say, "Ok. Fuck it. We're not gonna build the Heavy Raider interior." So, as a result, we never have it, and part of me wishes that we had built the fucking thing back in, what, season two, when it first- when we first wanted to and then we would have had it sittin' around, but- you just never quite- I never quite found the episode that I felt justified taking that kind of budget hit on.
That's the end of the tease.
Act one. Wish I had my Zippo with me. I didn't bring my Zippo. Just- I should stop for a moment here and talk about this Demetrius set. I have to say, I've been involved with a lot of shows where new spacecraft interiors have been built. Certainly Star Trek we built new spacecraft interiors all the time. Klingons, Romulans, you name it, we built a lot of bridges, a lot of crew quarters, a lot of corridors, a lot of transporter rooms, and engine rooms, etc., etc. over the years. and we built other interiors on- this show. But this Demetrius set- when I walked onto the stage and saw the set that the art department had put together for this episode, I was really- I was genuinely blown away. This is an tremendous set. It's really practical. It's multi-dimensional in that it has many layers that you can shoot through. It's- has a practical second story. It has ladders. It has hatches and gangways. It fee- you feel like you see a lot more of the ship than there actually exists on the set. It's just- it's moody. It's dirty. It feels exactly like it's supposed to be, which is a recycling ship, where they presumably recycle all the waste and various trash from like all the other ships in the civilian fleet. I assume Gala- we've established that Galactica pretty much has her own recycling station, but- this ship recycles waste and produ- byproducts for the entire civilian fleet. So it's really a stinky, horrible, nasty place to live. Which is part of the conception. We said we're gonna stick these people out on this boat- out on this tub for a couple of months, and we wanted the tensions to build believably to the point where they would mutiny against Kara where essentially people are going crazy in there. And we really wanted an unpleasant place to live. And when I saw this set I was just blown away. I just was like, "Oh my God." So I went in to the- I walked, literally, from the soundstages back to our production office and I put the word out to- I said, "Gather the entire art department. I wanna talk to 'em." Which, of course, terrified everybody. The word quickly went out that I wanted to see the art department in- together. Which never happens. And before I- they could all gather them somebody came up to me and said, "OK, they're all worried they're getting fired or something. Is something wrong?" I said, "No, no. Jesus Christ. That- it's nothing like that. And so- just bri- just tell 'em it's ok." And they all came in and sat down and I just told 'em, "That is one of the best sets I have ever, ever seen, and I just salute you guys. It's a tremendous amount of work. It's a- just wonderful and you guys are really taking what we wrote on the page and just delivered an extraordinary piece of material out there that we can use over and over again." I was very impressed. It's just- it's a singular achievement and our production designer, Richard Hudolin, deserves a tremendous amount of credit for that set.
This storyline with Tyrol and Tory actually was a little bit bigger at the story level. I think we had much more of a Tyrol doing- getting obsessed by Cally's death, investigating, and trying to figure out how it could have happened, and he was putting together all the little clues and trying to puzzle out, "Well what did she do? I mean, the log says that she opened the door twice and how could that have happened? And the keys were over here and the keys were over there and-" There are aspects of the suicide that didn't quite add up to him, but there was nothing he could put his finger on. It seemed suspicious and he was going slowly nuts, and Tory was gonna divert him into the world of Gaius Baltar and the cult that he was forming. But ultimately I kinda felt like there wasn't that much to really obsess around. I mean, it was really just like a log and some clues, and I didn't really want it to become an episode of CSI where he was trying to look for DNA samples or he was doing a lot of tech stuff. It felt like it was gonna devolve into a lot of tech talk rather quickly. And so I opted to pull back on the Tyrol obsessively studying Cally's death scenario. I sent it in a slightly different direction.
It's probably worth mentioning Tyrol's shaved head, which you might have noticed in this. Actually this came from the actor. This came from Aaron Douglas. Aaron called and basically said, "Hey, I wanna shave my head," and, "You guys OK with that?" And I kinda went, "Hmm. Really?" And then we talked about it. I talked about it with Mark Verheiden, the co-exec who was also writing this episode, and we kinda went, "Yeah, cool. Alright." And I think the concern was- I remember Mark saying, "Well, you know, I am a little concerned in that the Mr. Clean look may not go over too well. I've tried- I've worked with actors who've done the Mr. Clean thing before and I think it might look silly." I said, "Well, let's not go Mr. Clean." Which, to me, implies a bald, completely bald, shiny pate, as it were, and I said, "Let's have it so it's- he's shaved it but it has that little, little, tiny bit of stubble," which is what Aaron was going for anyway. And I thought it actually would serve- us well to push the character into a place where he is losing it a bit and going completely inward and being completely detached from Nicky and being detached from the world and being completely caught up in his own reality in the aftermath of his wife's suicide, and I thought it worked pretty well for the character. It's certainly a startling sight.
Anders and Leoben. I like the suggestion that there's more than a little jealousy involved when he sees Leoben next to him and that he just kinda goes at him first thing up and pulls him outta here and that they pull Leoben out of Kara's quarters and take him down to the brig again. I think the original idea was more about Anders coming on this mission to be Kara's protector and to be there to look out for her in defiance of the wishes of the other final four Cylons. I think we shifted off of that because that seemed one-note for him. It seemed like it didn't quite track into caring about his own discovery in terms of being a final four Cylon and what it meant for him, and what's he supposed to be going through. We never really address why Anders came on this mission. I think it is- I think on some level that is still the basic character motivation. He goes in order to protect his former wife, but I think there's also a part of him that feels, intuitively, that Kara holds some key to divining what they're all about, where they've come from, what the final four are all about, and that he kinda knows that the fact Kara has evidently come back from the dead at the same time that they all realize that they were Cylons cannot be a coincidence and so he opted to go on the mission. We don't really play the conflict anymore with other final four Cylons. I think it's- easy to make the leap that the final four might have objected. It's also easy to say that they might have supported the decision, and I think in the current configuration of the show it's not quite as important to know either way. [clears throat]
I like this little beat, 'cause we- I kept wanting to have little moments within the episode where we were emphasizing his nature as one o- as a true Cylon and wondering whether Leoben knows anything about him. Is Leoben toying with him? But I never wanted to come right up to [unintelligible]- to really put it into stark relief. I never really wanted Leoben to say something overtly that said that he knew that something was up with Anders, or that maybe Anders had a secret. I was pretty clear in saying that, "OK, Leoben does not know. And neither do any of the Cylons- other humanoid Cylons." 'Cause we had pretty much played that the other humanoid Cylons had seen Anders over a span of time, as they had seen all the other four final four Cylons over a span of time, and none of them had ever acted in any possible way like they knew something special about them. That felt like it would incredibly complicated trying to justify or rationalize why they would've been pretending all this time not to say anything about Anders. So this scene with just the two of them alone was kinda the first time to give us a chance to really nail that home. Say, OK, no Leoben is not hiding something here. He's really- not pretending to protect Anders for some deep purpose, but that there were things that Leoben, who's the more mystical, the more in tune with the sphere- the music of the spheres, as it were, he's- he can say things to Anders that do strike chords, that do actually land with Anders and give him moments of questioning who he and what he is and what it all means.
Do do do. [absently, killing time]
And that's the end of act one.
Act two. [Lights cigarette.] I like the fact that what we said on Demetrius was that it was always kinda hot on board Demetrius. That it was always steamy and kind of hot, and so as a result everyone's always stripped down to their t-shirts, which has the effect of making them all look really cool.
Seelix has been a great little character for us- little, sorry. But I like the way we've developed Seelix over the span of time and I think it's always been one of the hallmarks of the show that we give- opportunities to characters that show up supposedly just for one line or one scene, and then we return that character again and again and develop that character over the course of time, and then they become essentially part of the family, which at this point I feel like is part of the family.
This scene is definitely influenced by my memory of- and I didn't watch it when we were doing the episode, but it's influenced by my memory of the scene in Caine Mutiny where the XO, sorry, I still can't remember his name, great actor- ooh, I almost had it there. What was his name? Shit. Where he- the crew of the Caine starts talking serious- Fred MacMurray starts talking to him about Humphrey Bogart being I think schizophrenic is the use- is the word they use. Or psychopathic. Or there some like medical term he uses and the XO goes across the room and grabs the bible and says, "I swear on this bible that if you use that term again I'll report you." And that was sort of the moment for Helo to stand up to them and say, "Hey! Knock it off! I'm serious. I'm not fuckin' around here."
Back to Tory and Gaius. I like that Tory's kinda playing both sides here. Sort of both sides against the middle. And that you're not quite sure where Tory's goin' with all this. And in all honesty, I don't think Tory knows where she's goin' with all this. And as this storyline develops I think you're gonna see that Tory's actually- she's out for Tory, in a similar way to- that Gaius is out for Gaius. Tory is playing with fire. Tory's screwing around with her loyalty. She's screwing around with what she says to different people at different times. She's enjoying her humanness on some level for the first time, in a way that she didn't enjoy the sensuality and didn't enjoy being a human being before she realized that she's a Cylon.
The notion of the cult itself probably deserves a couple of words. We talked a lot about this particular cult, or this particular following, that is following Baltar and there were obviously many markers that were used. We talked a lot about the Manson experience. We talked about David Koresh. We talked about "est" and we talked about the maharishi who had the Beatles come and talk to- come and spend time with him in the sixties. There's a lot of commonality to a lot of different scenarios that we played around with, as well as the Christian- traditions of Christ and his gathering of followers. It felt like given- where these people are, given that they've been in space for this long, on their own, by themselves, without any other kind of contact, that the isolation of that experience, that the unique set of circumstances that they all find themselves in would- really lend itself towards them- towards a big chunk of the population being willing to go with somebody who says, "I know the way. I know the truth. I understand what's really happening here, and me, Gaius Baltar, the man who was once vice president and then president of the Colonies, who's lived with the Cylons, who's come back, who's gone through an experience, who is talking about God and is writing a political tract," that that man actually would be able to bring followers to his side. Especially if he was charismatic. Especially if he was intelligent. Especially if he had an angel like Number Six actually guiding him along the way. And that all very plausible. I part of the- thing that's important to remember in the show overall is that we're always hyper-aware on the writing staff about the fact that these people are in a unique circumstance. They are in a pressure cooker. They are in these metal tubes, and they are trapped in these metal tubes for days and days on end. They don't have a larger world to go to. They don't have a larger reality to check in with to debate and analyze things. They have just themselves. They have only their experiences to draw from. It felt like somebody like Gaius Baltar could easily have a religious following by this point.
This sequence here where Gunny is killed [lights cigarette]- first of all, I'm sorry that they killed Gunny. I like the Gunny. Gunny Mathias. Gunny Mathias was named after Math- a man named Mathias who was actually a very important person in my hometown of Chowchilla, who the football stadium that I played at in high school is named after. That little sequence there where Gunny Mathias is killed, and the visual effect, I tortured our visual effects supervisor, as is my wont, a couple of times over it because I k- it was a much more elaborate sequence. Michael Rhymer had shot many more pieces of her crawling around and more blowing her back and she was on a wires, and she spent a lot of hours against green screen and the tumble and she was- she let go and I'll talk more after the break.
Now we're back. The sequence where Gunny Mathias is killed, just to follow up, it was much more elaborate. She start to- she tried to detach herself from the Heavy Raider. She was floating back and trying to get away from a leak that she knew was dangerous, and then the explosion overwhelmed her. There was many more cuts, more protracted sequences, they were telling her to, "Get away! Get away! Help! Help! Help!" And I kept feeling like, well, let's just cut it back. Let's make it shorter and more to the point. And then I felt like there was something more interesting in having it happen just shock- the shock of her death and the sudden immediacy of her death that I kept pushing for. And that's ultimately where we ended up.
I like the way James plays all this. This casual way he walks in and says, "Why are w- what are you all waiting for?"
Tyrol's being pulled in here was something we had a lot of conversations about. The fact that Tyrol and Baltar have a history between them that this is playing off of. Partially, certainly, dating all the way back to when Baltar killed Crashdown and saved Cally, and it's a fairly complicated history between these two men. And so it felt- and the fact that Tyrol was in the resistance and Baltar was the president. There's a lot of layers over what's happening to this and we talked at some length about how much we wanted to play into the story. And ultimately you get into these conversations in the writers' room and just internally, and when I say internally I mean in my own head, about how much of that backstory, how much of that history, we wanna play as text, and how much of it as subtext. There's fascinating layers to their relationship that we could've played on camera and could've played in the scenes, but at the same time it's a pretty far- callback and how much of the history of the two men do you bring into the here and now, and I think on some level I opted to leave a lot of that outside and leave it to the fans and to the viewers of the program who do watch this on DVD. I mean, in terms of how we were structuring the show these days here in the last season, there's a good chunk of- material that is not mentioned or alluded to anymore because we kind of feel like, well, you know what? Ultimately your star- you're in a place where you're making the final season and you're telling one long continuing tale, and you're depending on a lot of backstory to build these character relationships and how they all work and most people are going to watch this show later. Most people are gonna watch this show on DVD or whatever the format is beyond DVD, probably just internet download or watching it on whatever we're calling the internet in twenty, thirty, forty years. And that the need to explain everything is obviated in that you're dealing with an audience that is watching and continuing to watch the show in the privacy of their own home and they can catch up at their will.
This scene is almost entirely Aaron. This is Aar- where Aaron goes in the room and goes crazy. This is really Aaron. This is really him just going for it and playing around with it and it's something him and the director, Michael Rymer, came up with on the set. It actually wasn't in the director's cut, as I recall. I think I restored it later when I looking for different takes and looking for different things. And there's a rawness to the performance and something I really responded to when he was putting the gun on his head and holding his head and briefly putting the gun to his temple that I really liked. And- it also plays into the fact that I restructured this to a m- to an extent. The end of this episode with Helo saying, "I relieve you of command," actually was not the end of the episode. The end of the episode is actually something that I now pushed into the teaser of the next episode, into "Faith". Which is what- I doubt anyone's gonna hear this before they watch "Faith" at this point, so when Helo- when Anders shoots Gaeta in the leg, that was actually the end of this episode. Mike Rymer shot that, and as a result, one- some of the things that he dropped to try to get this episode to time was that little scene with Aaron putting the gun to his head and all that. Well, once I decided to move the ac- move the show break, to move it to say- to say, "You know what? Let's move that all into the teaser of the next episode and go out at an earlier point in this episode," it opened up some space here. It gave me a little bit more room to play things like Tyrol coming back to his quarters and putting the gun to his head and playing tha- this scene out a little bit more. It opened up a little bit more room. One of the advantages of having a serialized format like this is you have a little bit more free play in terms of editing. You can slide some events here and there. You can move some things into later episodes and you can shuffle some puzzle pieces around. This is all one story as opposed to individual, more episodic, stories.
You'll notice there's not that much blood on Leoben's face. That's kind of a concession to the fact that the network was starting to get really concerned about how much blood we had put on people's faces. [Laughs.] Dating all the way back to season one, actually, the beginning of season two, where Kara has that fight with Number Six and she just has blood all over her face. She has, like, a mask of blood on her face, and I think they were a bit miffed at that. And so I said, "Alright, alright, alright. I'll try t- we'll try to pull back on the blood." And the word went out to pull back on blood. As much as we like blood, there will be blood in this episode.
There was actually a bit of restructuring here. I think this scene actually was supposed to take place- let me try to reorder my thinking here. Yeah. This scene- that scene with Kara and Leoben was actually structured to take place after Kara comes and has her little moment here with the aborted- eulogy of Gunny- Mathias. She comes in, she has her weird moment here, and then she went from this scene to the scene with Leoben, and took out her frustrations on him at that point. It was a way of- it accomplished the same purpose. It was- the idea was to show that although Kara comes in here and doesn't seem to feel very much and is all self-involved about it, about what it means to her, that actually she does care and she goes into the next scene and beats the crap out of Leoben as a result. And I don't know. I think it does work that way. I think you can make a legitimate argument either way. For me, for the way I read the episode, I felt like placing that scene before this made you feel like she really was upset about it all going into this scene, and I kinda felt like when you watch this- when you watch the Leoben scene after this scene that you were so detached from her emotionally here. You hated her so much here, or at least I hated her so much here, that it was hard to understand what she was going through in the Leoben scene. Although in subsequent viewings, as I watch it now, and as I've watched it ever since, I've kind of gone back and forth on the point. I think it's one of those editorial decisions that is really subjective and you have to- you sit in the editing bay and you make these calls based on your gut and I've oftentimes found that there are things that I felt very strongly on first viewing of the episode that then on subsequent viewings I didn't feel as strongly, so it's been a learning process for me over the years of the show to try to remain open to second guessing yourself. To actually going back and saying, "You know what? That's how I felt about this scene the first time, and after watching it a couple of times I don't feel it that way." But it- it's still a tough call, because the audience ori- initially it gonna see the episode once. They're gonna watch it when it's on the air or the first time they watch it on DVD or whatever and they're still gonna have their first impression of the characters and first impression of the story and you're still always modeling the show towards that first look. Everything is structured towards the first time you watch the episode. You structure everything in terms of preserving surprises, in terms of hiding cards, in terms of trying to maintain an arc that works over the first viewing and then later you come back and you start tweaking it and thinking about it and realizing, well, people are gonna watch it two or three times, and on the third viewing they might have this impression of it. In any case- well, that's the end of the act, and I'll come back.
Top of the act. Just to finish that thought, I don't know that I would now switch the placement of that Leoben/Kara scene, but it certainly makes me more open to the question now, as I've watched it over many cuts and watching it this- now I wonder if maybe it would've been more effective to play it the other way.
This Gaius/Tyrol scene is kind of interesting in that it's- one of the few times that there was an actual loud difference of opinion on the scene, let's put it that way. The actors wanted to play the scene this way, which is Tyrol saying nothing and Baltar coming in and giving the whole speech. Now this wasn't the way the script was written. The script was written where Tyrol had dialogue and Gaius- it was more of a- two-hander. It was Tyrol saying things and Gaius saying things and kinda getting to the same point by the end. The actors wanted to play it this way, where Tyrol says nothing and Gaius comes in. I sort of pitched a fit and said, "Fuck you. No. You can't do this," and "You're gonna do it as written," because I was kinda fed up and just said, "No. We're not gonna do it that way," and "You can't do this on the day of the set- on the day of shooting," and sorta had a whole thing, by long distance on the phone. Well, they shot both versions, and I saw it in the editing bay, and as I watched both versions play, I decided that the version that the actors wanted was the correct one. And it's one of those times when you lay down the law, and you say, "No, this is the way it is scripted, and this is they way it has to be done, because I'm not gonna reinvent the show right here on the day, in the moment, and just throw the script out the window, and just do something completely different. No. This has to be- we have a script and you need to bring your concerns or your take on the scene to me earlier and too fuckin' bad." And- so they did it. And they did do it both ways. And weeks later when I watch it in the editing room, I watch their version, and it was better. And so that's the version that we used. It's one of those moments in a production where there's a genuine creative clash between the writer/producer and the people on the set and at that moment in time I felt like it was more important to say, "No. We can't just throw the script away, because you need to come to me ahead of time. You need to, like, give me a little time to think about it. You can't just do this in the spur of the moment." And I got pretty pissed about it, actually. But in retrospect, when I was watching the episode, and I watched the two versions, I really felt that this- was the more effective version, and ultimately that has to triumph everything else. That you have to be able to control the show and say, "No. This is the vision of the show and this is where we're going and this is what we're going to do." And be true to that. And you have to have the courage of your convictions in those moments. But you also have to be willing to admit when you're wrong and I was kinda wrong about this and I didn't see it at that- moment, but the actors had a better instinct on it and it's just one of those learning experiences. Sometimes you realize that you're wrong and they're right and what's the cost of admitting that you're wrong? Not much. You just decide to go with their take and you make that the show. And ultimately it's for the betterment of the show because ultimately it's for the betterment of the show because ultimately everyone- one of the great things about this series and one of the things that I will- excuse me- one of the things will be hard to replicate on any other project that I do is the commitment of all hands to doing the very best episode that they can possibly do. It's not often you find actors who are willing to- who are advocating giving themselves less material, less lines. That's essentially what Aaron was doing. He didn't have any lines in that scene. He cut all of his lines. Usually actors want more lines and Aaron wanted none. And at the time I was like, "What the fuck are you talking about? No. That's not what we're doing. We're gonna do this the way it's written and fuck you." And I was just fed up because it was a long week and a lot of shit had gone down and I just didn't wanna hear this and I just shut 'em down. And I said, "This has to be the way, 'cause you have to come to me with these ideas ahead of time. I have to- I can't be in a situation where you're calling me from the set and wanting to do something different." But they were right. And for me it's been- I've tried to take away from that the ability- or- I try to take away from that the lesson that sometimes you have to listen to your actors, even when they're pissing you off. Even when they're advocating something that you just feel like is crazy. If you have a cast and an ensemble like this one where you start to trust them implicitly, sometimes you just have to take the leap of faith and trust them implicitly.
Here we are at the end of the episode. Like I said, this was not intended to be the end of the episode. This was actually a little bit further back. And this was a decision I made in editing. I just felt like the show needed a little bit more air. I felt like the subsequent episode needed a little bit more action, so I slid the whole end of this episode into the top of the next episode. And I realized that there was a place I could go out here. That this was- you could build this dramatic moment just as strongly. You could make this work in terms of what was happening with Helo just saying the words that he relieves her of command. And it's nice because Rymer really built the scene correctly and really gave me the- all the pieces that I needed to actually- to go out. I had- he- Rymer, the director, gave me a lot of options here. "I relieve you of command." [dramatically] Duh duh duh... And again this was actually the middle of the scene and, to be continued.
So you there you have it. To be continued. Episode 407. "The Load Le-" "The Road Less Traveled". Thank you for listening, and I will talk to you next time. Good night, and good luck.