Asta 2

Recap of the Writer's Meeting Podcasts for 'Razor'

It’s been awhile, I may be a little rusty, but it’s time once again for...I Listen to the Podcasts so You Don’t Have to. In this particular case I listened for nearly four hours! Though I must admit it wasn’t that bad. Actually, in spots, hearing the writers brainstorm ideas for Razor was rather interesting. And, prepare to be amazed, Ron Moore had some good ideas! It was pretty impressive how key plot points just suddenly came to him and what we saw on screen closely matched what was discussed. What I took away from this listening experience is how much a collaborative effort creating BSG is. Michael Taylor may have been credited for writing Razor, but many more had a hand in creating the story. The podcast(s) also proved (as if we needed it) that they would be much more entertaining if more people had a chance to share their thoughts.

A short disclaimer: NO SPOILERS! Accept for ‘Razor’ and including some references to scenes not in the broadcast version, but on the DVD. I listened to majority of the podcast at work which meant I couldn’t have the sound turned up and if one of the writers was not sitting close to the microphone I had trouble picking up some of what they said. I also didn’t take notes if what was discussed turned out to be little more than a description of what we saw on screen or failed to provide any insights. And if some things don’t quit make sense, well, they didn’t to me either. From time to time they would jump around a bit in the story or just start throwing out ideas.

My two cents on one issue – ‘Razor’ was originally conceived as unfolding in chronological order. For conceptualizing the story and pondering continuity issues, I do believe it was a good idea to brainstorm the story this way. However, I think it would have made for a less engaging final product. I would have felt as if I was viewing Colonial history rather than a dramatic film.

The film opens with a reveal of Galactica on a mission. There are shots of a guy putting on his uniform and we see a nametag that says ‘Adama’. The audience is supposed to think it’s Lee Adama until we see Bill Adama climb into the Mark II with ‘Husker’ on the side.

At the same time, on a planet, a young Helena Cain is seen during a Cylon attack. She’s trying to reach a shelter with her sister in tow. Cornered in a shelter by a Cylon Centurion she picks up the only weapon she can find, an old knife. Suddenly, the Cylon stops and then retreats. (This scene is in the DVD version of the film and I’ll go into greater detail in a later post.)

The same thing happens to Bill as he is combating Cylons. Turns out the armistice has just been signed and the Cylons receive a command to shut down and/or retreat. Soldiers let loose and begin blowing away the Cylons.

The writers talk about Adama becoming Ahab and whatever it is that escapes him (this would presumably be the ship with the hybrid) becoming his white whale. (Interesting, I hadn’t thought about it in those terms.)

Jump ahead to Cain just being assigned to the Pegasus. No, instead they opt to establish she’s been on the ship a year and has had a successful run on the ship.

There is a discussion as to how to introduce Gina. One of the writers asks, “Who’s Gina?” O_o

Prior to the Cylon attack - there is talk about how soon before the attack with someone suggesting that the teacher’s strike is just developing - Laura is visiting either a parochial school or pilot school that she has helped to develop. Kids are playing a game of ‘Cylons and Indians’ or are seen painting pictures of the first Cylon war. It’s all part of a culture that is ingrained to believe in the military. (This made me contemplate that Lee’s decision to join the military was not all about seeking his father’s approval, but something he believed was the right thing to do – to serve and protect the Colonies.) Laura has a cough, one that has been lingering. Someone mentions to her she should get in checked out and she says she’s going to. She’s then approached by another person who asks her to act as a substitute for the president who is unable to attend the decommissioning ceremony for Galactica. He feels it’s important to have a representative there.

Cut to a sports bar. Anders is seen on a big screen TV being interviewed after a pyramid game. Lee is in the bar with a friend and talks about how it might be fun to have a place like this (they really do go back to the show bible!). He’s bitching about his dad and being sent to Galactica. A cute girl walks in, she’s there for her boyfriend’s birthday party, and she and Lee exchange looks. It’s Kendra. The boyfriend is put out because she’s late and has to leave early to prepare to report to Pegasus. Kendra is envisioned as being like Clarice Starling. (Movies are used as points of reference throughout the meeting.)

Ron mentions that their imaginations may be bigger than the budget. He was already envisioning much of this having to be cut. (A scaled down version of the bar scene – it became a café at the airfield – was filmed with Lee and Kendra. It’s one of the deleted scenes on the ‘Razor’ DVD.)

Rank structure is discussed. They see Kendra as being part of the Admiral’s staff which Cain would have in addition to the line officers who run the ship. Kendra is not a warrior at this point and views the new position as a career move.

Someone also suggested having a shot on the TV of Baltar and Six at the pyramid game. At this point it seems as if they are going overboard with trying to include a series of coincidences.

There was a lot of talk of trying to parallel Cain and Kendra with Adama and Lee, to show how people are trained in different ways by parents/surrogate parents. Some of the writers were hell bent on including a scene in which Adama made Lee the CAG, presumably to contrast with Kendra’s own unexpected advancement through the ranks. They wanted to show Lee’s shock at being promoted, given the strained nature of the relationship with Adama and that he was on his way to leaving the military. Up until then Lee had been serving Laura and her interests. Adama tells Lee that he took orders from a school teacher and that he was right, “but if you’re ever wrong. I’ll kick your ass.”

Ron felt this was all unnecessary, we had seen so much of it already, and he didn’t want the movie to become a clip show. The only way it would work is if something unexpected was at the root of the scene since we saw the Galactica’s CAG get killed. And it would be hard to believe that Lee would give a thought to quitting the military given the circumstances. The other writers still wouldn’t let it go. They talked about Lee seeing his father being tended to before his speech to the crew and shocked to see him in such bad shape, perhaps talking to him in the med bay. Someone wisely pointed out that Adama wasn’t that badly hurt during the mini and was patched up while talking with Tigh. Ron didn’t feel a need to retell the mini/Galactica story. The fans would have enough knowledge and he wasn’t concerned about new fans.

Discussion of the Cain/Gina relationship. Apparently, there was a line cut from ‘Pegasus’ in which Cain said of Gina, “She made herself a friend to the crew, a friend to me.” Gina had failed in her mission to get everything destroyed at the shipyard so she then had to go to Plan B. There was also talk of Gina and Cain becoming lovers and the only thing I’m really willing to repeat about that is that one writer excitedly announced that that was the first card on the wall. The writer’s room very much can be a (juvenile) boys club.

Laura’s visions were to play a role in the story.

Ron wanted to play the joy and exaltation of finding the fleet, everyone is happy, and Cain is essentially asking them, ‘Don’t you want payback?’

When Fisk doesn’t see eye to eye with Cain on the mission to raid the ships, Kendra steps forward to take command, says she’ll do it. Cain tells her to keep an eye out for Fisk, that he is a weak link. Someone mentions that since Cain orders Fisk to kill Adama in RS Pt2 this wouldn’t make sense.

Cut to Galactica, it has just completed a jump along with a burning ship. Even though a lot of men have been lost, Adama won’t lose the ship. This is to provide a contrast with Cain killing people and abandoning the fleet. Adama is putting out fires - a parallel deemed too simple and too direct. But there needs to be a scene to show the fundamentally different reactions of the crews - the savagery of Cain’s people vs. the humanity of Adama’s. Ron suggests exploring the aftermath of Lee’s shooting down of the Olympic Carrier.

Lee and Kara are reviewing footage of the shooting down of the Olympic Carrier. Lee is convinced he can see people on the ship. One writer asks if they are establishing that there were people on the ship?. Ron states that as far as Lee knows and has ever acted that the ship was full of people and anything that can be done to underline that would be greatly appreciated. Lee believes he allowed his fear of what the ship could do make his choice for him. Watching the film footage, Lee is convinced he can see a shadow in the window. He makes Kara run the film back. Kara argues it could be anything. There is talk of intercutting the scene with Kendra’s reaction to having just shot the people. And, also in contrast, we see Cain’s reaction to the shooting of civilians, it’s over, don’t think about it. (The scene between Lee and Kara was filmed and is included as a deleted scenes on the DVD.)

Ron suggests another scene with Lee, Kara, Adama, and Roslin onboard Colonial One. There would be a discussion of the value of civilian lives. They have sacrificed people and have to deal with the reality of that. They need to set the tone for them moving forward. For the fleet, for Lee, the circumstances came out of nowhere. They didn’t have a lot of time to think. But Laura debates the implications for the future. What do they do the next time? Laura’s way of doing things also informs Lee. The time might come when they have to leave people behind. (I can understand why this scene wasn’t shot, besides time constraints I don’t see that it has much to do with the story they wanted to tell. However, the description immediately made my mind jump to the New Caprica arc and Lee arguing that they should save the people they had and leave those on NC behind. The Olympic Carrier incident may have scarred him, but it also showed him that sometimes you do have to sacrifice some to save others. It also plays into his call to nuke the ship and order Kara to stay behind.)

There was talk of the network objecting to showing the shooting of the family. How much could they show? Ron felt that in order for the shooting to be more acceptable they couldn’t pitch Kendra as being sweet or the hero.

Someone remarked that they were telling the story of Deliverance (I haven’t seen the film so I’m not sure what the similarities might be). Kendra’s journey would be to go through Cain-like darkness and then be redeemed at the end

The snapping of the baby’s neck in the mini was brought up as a dark moment and that it, surprisingly, encountered no network objections. Interesting bit of trivia, the baby in the mini was the second assistant director’s.

Gina was to be shown sabotaging the ship so the Centurions could board. Belzen is suspicious of Gina and blames her for the sabotage. Cain doesn’t believe him, she won’t believe she’s been taken in, and she shoots him. Later, she sees evidence and realizes Gina has played them for suckers.

Ron talked about needing a beat that tells them that Gina is a Cylon which lead to a discussion of a Six model coming onboard. Gina and Kendra perhaps round a corner and run into three Sixes. Gina then grabs the gun from Kendra and goes after Kendra. During the chase, Kendra would lead them to CIC and Cain. Ron questions what kind of soldier Gina is? Could she put a gun to Kendra’s head? Would she do that? She can’t shoot when the time comes. Instead, they opt to go for Kendra bursting into CIC to tell Cain that Cylons are human and Gina is there.

Cut to Lee being whistled aboard the Pegasus. His speech will tell us some of what happened, ‘But today is a new day and everyone starts over…’ Kendra is in the crowd. They need something to show she’s not embracing the commander, but not openly hostile either. The feeling is the story must shift strongly to Lee’s POV.

There is a mention of Lee redecorating Cain’s quarters. Someone says that that sounds a little gay so they talk about him moving in instead. Another writer says that’s really good because it’s not like they ever battled that issue with the character.

There is opposition between Lee and Kendra as they begin the mission (a scouting mission that turns into an ambush). Her tactics reflect Cain’s teachings - you do anything to get the job done, you are ruthless. Lee refuses to go the distance that Kendra is willing to go. (Their plotting gets a little jumbled here.) There’s talk of Kendra’s “final turn”. Lee goes back for her, all seems lost, Lee helps finish the mission, he doesn’t want to leave her behind, but ends up doing so. Kendra tells Lee the crew needs him, needs someone like him, someone who will keep the people alive and together. There is an echo of ’33’ and the Olympic Carrie incident. Adama told Lee he gave the order, but Lee states, ‘I did the shooting.’ It’s all coming back around; Lee has to give the order for people to die this time. He’s tough enough now to leave her behind; she’s willing to sacrifice for him. They learn from each other.

There is a discussion of where Kendra is at now – she’s either a laundry or kitchen officer – and has been demoted through regimes. Lee is going through Cain’s logs and keeps seeing her name pop up. She was highly regarded by Cain and he’s trying to put the ship back together. Lee needs a Tigh and tells Kendra this. People love his dad, but hate Tigh’s guts. When Adama visits for an inspection tour, comments he wouldn’t want to get on her bad side.

Lee is to take Pegasus and scout ahead of the fleet. He ends up jumping into a hornet’s nest of retro raiders. Lee’s instinct is to recall planes and get the fuck out of there. Kendra’s extinct is to fight. When Kara is chased by fighters, Kendra orders the Pegasus to open fire.

(At this point in the meeting I realized they were nearly at the end of the story and they didn’t know how to end it. Also, there had been very little mention of Kara throughout the meeting.)

They bring a raider back to Galactica. Sharon tells them about the Cylon legends; Laura talks about the prophecies she’s heard. There’s talk of the some thing being a threat. (They haven’t really decided that the McGuffin, as Ron calls it, is going to be the hybrid yet, but from here on out I’m going to call “It” the hybrid.) The hybrid is the first attempt to bridge the gap between machine and human. The first thing the Cylons created and it went out and touched things and came back with the word of god. It’s a recluse, heavily guarded. A chapter of Genesis told by machine. Ron worries that going into too religious/mystical a direction may overburden the story.

On the Cylon ship, Kendra reaches out and touches the hybrid and is confronted with everything he/she does/knows. Someone through out a rather wacky idea that, later, after Kendra is dead, a baby is born on Galactica and the parents decide to name her Kendra without knowing who Kendra was. Kendra is resurrected, reborn.

They talked about attempting to make the hybrid the fifth Cylon, but were not sure how that would work. The hybrid knows things, sees things, sees between life and death and exists between the two worlds. Other hybrids have seen things and gone insane, but this one can see things and is sane. The things it has said has caused the Cylons to create skin jobs, procreate. It sees god/channels god. It wants to die, but the Centurions won’t let it.

Kendra was going to kill it and couldn’t. She discovers her humanity and won’t kill this creature. The creature then becomes a threat to us later.

Someone brought up Lee getting killed and then being brought back to life. (No one mentioned it, but this was done in original series with Apollo.)

At the very end of the meeting, Ron just throws out a scenario. The hybrid can see across time and space and Lee’s going to blow the place up any minute. He/She (they kept going back and forth on gender) says something like, ‘Kara Thrace will lead the human race to it’s apocalypse…’ The hybrid has some power of knowledge that makes it venerated and protected. It talks about Kara being the harbinger of death. Kendra tries to get to the phone, contacts Lee and says, ‘I got to tell you something…’, but there is an explosion. Ron felt the tag would then have to be something with Kara and Lee on Pegasus. The two of them discussing that it’s too bad about Kendra, Kara commenting how she made it out of another near scrape, and that she’s ‘destined to help you guys…you’re stuck with me to the end.’ Another writer comments that that ending is, “pretty damn good”. I have to agree. ;)
  • Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
sweet! i wanted to listen to it, but i never found the time. 4 hours is pretty darn long! :) so thank you!

i can't wait to see the extended version. can't believe my dvd is stuck in south dakota until after christmas. :(
North Dakota? After Christmas??? :( But nice to 'see' you! :)

Yeah, sitting through a four hour podcast is daunting, but once I decided to listen at work it made it much easier. And they talked at length about Lee! Which they so seldom do.
indeed! :( it's with my step-father. shipping it to romania would have been kind of stupid, since i also ordered a few other things and it would have cost a fortune. he's coming over after christmas, so, erm... yeah... :)

ha! your idea is awesome! i take my ipod to work anyways. :)
And again I praise your fortitude in listening for us.

he didn’t want the movie to become a clip show

That's weird, cause I liked Razor, but there wasn't exactly a lot of new revelations in it. It was mostly stuff we knew with a few small things thrown in and a compelling story of one person's fall and redemption.

The feeling is the story must shift strongly to Lee’s POV.

My problem with that is that I think it didn't play as well in the finished product. It just felt like the Cain/Kendra/Fisk/Gina stuff was pushed off to the side in the latter part of the movie without really making a case for how it tells you something about Pegasus/humanity/being a razor.