In addition to Ron, Thompson, Weddle, and the editor, Julius Ramsey, sat in on the podcast. I can’t say who said what since the only voice I can recognize is Ron’s.
After reading the first draft, Michael Rymer pointed out this was another standoff episode, like ‘Eye of Jupiter’ and ‘Rapture’. They decided that was the theme of the show, it’s all happened before…and Lee decides to break the pattern. It was also a chance to give Lee, as president, the shot at stepping up to the plate and doing something. Up until then, they didn’t have an idea of what he would do once he was president.
The scene between Lee and Kara was created after Ron’s first round of notes. He wanted to show them having to handle the fleet on their own, to have all the responsibility on their shoulders. Lee has to act because there is nobody else to do it.
In the draft stage, a battle on the baseship between the viper pilots and centurions was cut as was Helo being one of the threatened hostages with the Sharons fighting against the decision to airlock him. This was all paired back to focus more on Tigh, Adama, and Lee. The standoff would have been resolved without the Lee POV. He wouldn’t have made the speech and we wouldn’t have seen how he handled things differently than Roslin or Adama.
The episode originally started with the final four all hearing music, meeting, and talking about how they all have key positions within fleet. Ron jokingly said, “Again?” Tory even had a (bad) line, “We have the power to bring the fleet to it’s knees.”
There was to be a scene of Tigh and D’Anna talking over comms as her viper approaches Galactica and Tigh acting nervous. There were also shots of Tory and Tigh walking through corridors, both very worried. They scaled all that back to just a few looks between them and you get it.
The director’s cut was about five minutes over. The initial cut was an hour long. They joked that wasn’t bad for a Rymer cut.
Ron talked once again about the ‘phantom limb’ (not Gaeta’s). There is material the actors read that isn’t filmed or beats played that are cut, yet it all informs other scenes. This cut material is also useful to the writers - they only get to the third scene because they wrote the two before it.
Athena being out of jail – that slipped by us without a thought. (Um, not really Ron.)
There were more reactions to Tory by the other Cylons. They discussed earth, the blue skies, etc. They quoted the hybrid back to Tory and expected her to know what she was saying and give them answers. Again, this was paired back because of realization that Tigh/Adama was the heart of the show.
I was a little unclear of the details, but James and Mary suggested the scene between Baltar and Laura. Apparently, what was written they felt didn’t fit with what they had filmed between the two previously.
We saw a shortened version of the scene between Tory and Laura and the confrontation was much bigger. After Tory reveals herself, Laura starts laughing causing Tory to lay into her. It made Laura seem a little cruel and too dismissive of Tory. It also helped to justify how Tory was acting towards Laura. Laura even had a line, “If you are one of the final five they are in a lot more trouble than I thought.” Choosing to have Tory not react to what Laura is doing makes her actions more genuine and disquieting.
The body going out airlock doesn’t play well to Ron. It doesn’t have the impact conceptually he hoped it would. Originally, they didn’t start chucking people out so quickly. D’Anna was threatening Lee, telling him they’d begin killing people in thirty minutes. Rymer wanted to raise the stakes sooner. And he pointed out they’d seen her make threats before. He wanted to kill somebody and get the ball rolling so we knew she was serious. It also posed the question, would Lee still make the deal?
The Tigh/Adama scene was written by the entire staff. Weddle and Thompson were struggling with the scene and asked numerous people for advice. Mark Verheiden talked about Adama’s denial. Michael Taylor came up with Tigh telling Adama ‘he’s been fooling him for months’. Rymer contributed the line, “When I first knew you, you had hair.” It all clicked for them when they realized it was about Adama not wanting to see the truth about his friend. Michael Hogan told them he saw it as a relief for Tigh. He can be heroic and end all of this. Send him out of the airlock because he’s wanted to die many times before this.
Ron talked about how, after all the things he has gone through, Adama is finally broken by Tigh’s admission. And he does not get back on the horse. He’s out of the rest of the show and hands off his responsibilities to Lee. The commander abdicates completely. He’s emotionally destroyed and cannot rise to the occasion. Adama is effectively dead, echoing Kara’s words to Lee earlier.
Adama's breakdown probably ran another two minutes. We see Adama puking in the toilet (glad I missed that!), Lee wiping his mouth, dragging him across the room, and Adama saying he knew for months and couldn’t face it.
The consensus was that this was one of Jamie and Lee’s best episodes. It took four years, but they finally figured out Lee Adama. The character’s journey reflects that - Lee searching, hunting, unable to figure out who he is or what it is he wants to do. Lee went down blind allies because they did as writers. But it all came together. Lee comes of age in the episode. They referenced ‘The Captain’s Hand’ and the look on his face when he’s handed command. We saw Lee make a few steps forward and grow and then fall back again. He has had some epiphanies, but it doesn’t solve all his problems. Like life, he makes progress and then backslides.
In the reveal of Sam and Tyrol as Cylons, they all commented on how much they loved Aaron’s smile. Rymer wanted to draw the reveal out as much as possible. And originally, as written, Kara kissed Sam. Ron thought it would be interesting if Kara embraced the moment in an unexpected way. She doesn’t put a bullet in his head, instead, Sam comes into focus for her for the first time when she realizes he’s a Cylon. But it didn’t feel right to the actors on set. It’s a parallel to what Adama just went through.
Again, they talk about Aaron/Tyrol smiling. It’s another color to everyone’s reaction. ‘Yep, we’re all screwed. It’s all a cosmic joke.’
They all talked for a bit about painting themselves into corners on the show and getting out of them. They feel there is surprisingly little that they haven’t gotten around to tying up. If they had had it all mapped out they would have missed things that had been given to them along the way.
Kara running through the corridors was Rymer’s idea. They think it works really well. Ron likes that she didn’t try to get Lee on the phone. She just runs and you’re just in the scene and accept it. You don’t want to hear why she didn’t get him on the phone. (I do!)
Rymer is an actor’s director and tends to make cuts based on performances.
The Lee/Laura scene – a lot of Mary’s ideas informed the scene. (This is why I adore the woman.) Originally, it was very brief. Lee just turned the presidency back over to her. But Mary felt Laura should say something about how Lee handled himself and acknowledge what he did. It’s a turn in their arc.
For the record, they did refer to the planet as earth. However, the way they talked about it was more from a character POV so….. no, I won’t let my theory go. ;)
The colonial signal is actually the rhythm of ‘All Along the Watchtower’.
They had to play the discovery of earth like it’s the end of the series and it’s the happiest moment of their lives. Ron told them to build it up and then yank the rug as hard as they possibly could. They love Lee jumping up on the table. Helo and Athena are happy, yet Hera is elsewhere. It’s the only discordant moment. (Hmmm…..)
This and the next episode were the last to be filmed before the strike. Eddie kept telling everyone they weren’t coming back. It played into the emotionality.
In the final image, in the first cut, there were skyscrapers still standing. It “felt much more like Manhattan”. (I got the impression that while informed by the New York skyline, it's not suppose to be a specific place.) Ron wanted a much older sense of ruin. There was also more of the bridge to be seen and there was even a cute little house with a sailboat off to the side. Yeah, they completely lost that.