The ‘precap’ was cut because they were pressed for time on the last two episodes. They asked for special dispensation from the network to do away with that and the main title.
The opera house was an edition by Ron who took a pass on the script late in the process. He referred to the shots as being reminiscent of shots inDon’t Look Now. (I haven’t seen the film.)
Originally, Baltar’s trial was to take place around episode 12 or 13 after the escape from the algae planet. The network was not convinced a trial was the best way to end the season.
Ron talked about the longer arc that had been developed (and largely cut). The defense was kicking the legs out from under the prosecution’s case, but during the trial Lee comes into possession of a videotape, sold to him from someone in the black market. The tape shows footage of Baltar shooting Sagittarons on New Caprica. Part two would have involved Lee trying to figure out what to do with the tape. They went deeper into the backstory. There was a famine on New Caprica. People were in desperate straights and the Sagittarons were not willing to share their food. Baltar sent in troops and ended up getting involved himself. The tape was to be deceiving. Baltar had to do what he did to save the larger situation. Michael Rymer told Ron the idea wasn’t working. They were making up a storyline that happened in past that the audience didn’t have an investment in. His actions we were familiar with weren’t being addressed.
The idea of Baltar and his cult followers was in Michael Taylor’s script. Women were sending him letters, going to visit him. It was very Mansonesque – people attracted to dark figures.
They wanted to bring the Cylon threat back into the show, but had stayed away deliberately to bring them back in a big way at the end.
The episode had originally opened with the opening arguments. Cassidy (the prosecutor) talked at length about loss and numbers. Initially, she wrote the number of the population of the entire 12 colonies – something like 51 billion – on the board. Then she went through a series of subtractions. It was effective, but took too long. They had to digitally remove numbers form the board.
In early drafts of the script, Cassidy was an older man, a bit of a professor, but they wanted another strong, female character.
There is a cut scene during the opening arguments. Laura has to get up and leave the courtroom. She isn’t feeling well and goes into the officer’s head to splash water on her face. It’s a clue in her storyline. Sharon comes out of a stall and they have a moment. In a draft, Sharon says something about ‘A Cylon let you walk out of here alive’. It was too much, too overt. But they did shoot a look between them.
Mark Sheppard kept turning and addressing Mary/Laura before she could sit down in her seat and Mary wanted to be seated before he addressed her. It pissed her off, but it helped her irritation on screen.
Those that had to sit in the audience were bored to death. It was a struggle to just sit and they had to try and keep themselves awake.
The return of Laura’s cancer was added by Ron as he took a pass at the script. (Nope, it wasn’t planned way in advance.) It was another color to play in the courtroom. They kind of lost track of Laura in the second half of the season. (Really?) Mary was concerned about it. They had spent so much time trying to find out what to do with Lee, Baltar’s trial, etc that she got lost in the shuffle. She shouldn’t be a direct participant in the trial though. In the CIC scene she wasn’t feeling well, walks out, and Lee watches her and Adama interact. Adama puts his hand on her arm and Lee knows something is wrong. As Ron wrote that he realized she’s got cancer again. It was a big move, but it felt right. When the cancer was cured, he was never really happy with notion that that was it. A defining characteristic of Laura was of a dying leader leading humanity. This time she’ll approach the cancer differently. She’s been waiting for other shoe to drop and she’s thought about how she would deal with her treatment, life and the ramifications and reality of it in a very different way.
There was more to Laura on the witness stand. She talked about her life on New Caprica – the first time she was picked up, being in jail, talking with Baltar – but it was stuff we already knew.
Part 1 was to end with Laura saying ‘I have cancer’, but they ended up using scenes from Part 2 that they didn’t want to lose.
The Adama/Tigh scene Ron added.
Originally there was a scene in between the Adama/Tigh and Adama/Lee scene, but they needed to be together to understand where Adama is coming from. To have to deal with Tigh like that and then have to come and deal with his son – he’s pissed that they did that to his friend. On some level, he understands why it was done, why it had to be done. (Really?) Father and son easily fall into a pattern of anger and animosity. They want to break the relationship, want to go too far. Neither one can stop themselves. They will push it and hope that the other one pushes it further until they reach the breaking point.
The Lee/Laura scene is one of the great scenes of the series. (That’s Ron’s opinion, not mine, though I completely agree. :) Jamie/Lee’s entire being changes when he puts on the suit. In that moment he is a lawyer and you accept him as one. You see his hesitancy at the beginning, he’s not sure of himself, not quick on his feet, but he grows in strength and assurance. Laura can see it coming. Realizes early on this is dangerous and he’s going somewhere she doesn’t want him too. The glasses come up in a defense mode. “Please don’t do this” was Mary’s line. Adama starts swinging wildly and Ron likes that the other judges don’t defer to him. Finally, Laura refuses to take the escape route Lee gives to her.
Dee leaving Lee, Ron added. (Wow. He’s two for two with me. ;) He wanted to move the characters forward and complicate their lives. At this point, after what he did to Laura, he’s pretty much ostracized himself from everyone.
The press conference and much of what comes after was to be the teaser of Part 2.