I'd also like to add, while my attention was focused primarily on the commentary, I was looking at the TV frequently, enough that I remembered what I liked about 'Daybreak' and reinforcing my opinion of the finale. I'd even say, given time and contemplation and, believe it or not, listening to Ron, I may appreciate some aspects of it even more. That's not to say I don't think 'Daybreak' could have been better, opportunities were missed, and there were moments during the commentary that I went, "Seriously, Ron? SERIOUSLY???" Even Terry Moore told Ron Kara's end warranted answers. But, overall, the finale sits fine with me. And I'll be on my deathbed still arguing Lee Adama was happy at the end, dammit. ;)
The version of 'Daybreak' that aired was restructured a couple times from the scripted version. Originally, the flashbacks were intermingled throughout the episode(s). For instance, the shot of Laura with the IV drip cut to Laura in the fountain. Kara and Lee together drinking - the pieces of backstory were dropped in along the way. There was a non-linear nature to the flashbacks. On paper, it was like trying to figure out puzzle. What was going on? But as filmed and put together, it was too confusing. As a viewer you couldn't hold all the images in your head. Rymer took the scenes and made them chronological. They are still scattered, but they are in order. Mark Stern (their liaison at the network) and an editor had the idea to group them - to place a block of flashbacks at the start of the show to understand what they are doing – to tell a story of who they were and what they would become.
Of the individual backstories, some, such as Laura's sisters and father being killed in a drunk driving accident, are in the show bible, and act as a connecting piece of how Laura came to be on Galactica.
Battlestar has not been so much about the plot, but the people. Ron pitched it as a drama about the characters, first and foremost - their likes, dislikes, loves, heartbreaks – and it's how they had to end the show. It's a scifi show secondarily. The characters have always been his focus. Character work is more difficult and nuanced (I agree with that, but I'd add it's not necessarily his strength ;). “It's the characters, stupid.” What do they (we) want to learn about them?
Lee vs. The Pigeon: The image of a man in a house with a broom trying to chase a bird out of the rafters was an image that just came to Ron and he loved it. But he didn't know what it meant. :/
Another image that Ron had had for a long time was Laura in a fountain. Originally, he wanted to have the image in 'Epiphanies'. She would leave the doctor's office, after receiving her cancer diagnosis, and go and sit in the fountain as a result of a sense of loss and hopelessness and trying to feel something. It didn't get used then, but when the discussion of the car crash and Laura's sisters came up, he found a way to work it in.
The flashbacks of Baltar were to show he was more complicated then what we saw in the mini series. No one really lives the 'devil may care' life. We all have families. Baltar had a father, a reminder of where he came form and all the emotional baggage that came with that. It was a deep insecurity that never left him. And we see that he allows Caprica Six access to the main frame to say thank you, in a way. It's an emotional tie. A seemingly generous act because he could get in trouble for it.
Now, this gets long and perhaps somewhat confusing. As many know, after the writer's strike, the writers got together to discuss the back half of the season. After having months to think about what had originally been planned, Ron decided to scrap the outline and start over. Ron began reading from his original notes to give us a sense of what almost was and what ended up on screen. Reading through his notes rather quickly, plus seemingly jumping over things, left me rewinding several times to try to make sense of what he was saying. Even Terry voiced her confusion at one point. So here is what I could gather was the original game plan for the back half of Season 4.....
We know it's not a good idea to piss off Ellen Tigh, but Ron was going to take that to the extreme. Once Ellen woke up on the Cylon colony and found out that out there somewhere Tigh involved with a Cylon, she become enraged, bitter and angry and turned against them (the fleet). She *and* Cavil were to become the Big Bads of show and plot to kidnap Hera.
The mutiny was more of a revolution. Zarek and Gaeta seize control of Galactica and attack the Cylon baseship. As the attack is underway, Cavil arrives and attacks, laying waste to half the fleet (!!!). At this point, I got *really* confused and could make little sense of what Ron was trying to convey. The story apparently involved Tyrol talking to Boomer, getting her on the human/rebel side as Adama and the rebel Cylons launch a successful counter attack against Cavil's forces, retake Galactica, and capture Cavil and Boomer. Meanwhile, Baltar saves Hera (from who or what Ron didn't say).
Instead of executions, Adama banishes the mutineers, including Gaeta and Zarek. Adama then gathers the fleet captains and gives them the option to stay or leave. The fleet scatters, with ships going off in different directions. Zarek takes a group and goes off into the cosmos.
Episode 17: Tory meets with Cavil and discovers Ellen is alive. Tory uses Baltar's followers and becomes 'Helter Skelter' like. Baltar's cult becomes dangerous and murderous below decks. It's a 'blood in the halls' story. Balter realizes what he has unleashed and was going to turn himself over along with his followers.
Episode 18: Tyrol finds out Nicky is Narcho's son. Yep, it seems Narcho was getting A LOT of action before rewrites. And was bi. ;p
Episode 19: Cavil talks Ellen into being a loyalist – an El Sid character. Meanwhile, we find out Cavil is the Lucifer of the the skin jobs. Baltar and Cavil calculate that the human race will die off in three generations and the only viable future is togetherness through Hera. Caprica Six loses her child around this time because Tigh never truly loved her. (Here was my first, “Seriously?” Yeah, that piece of WTF was always in the script.) Baltar and Caprica start to reconcile. Hera would become her replacement child.
Episode 20: The rebel Cylons were going to unite behind the Fab Four (Ellen not being part of the group). Boomer was going to reveal Cavil's ethnic cleansing back on Cylonia (Ron even laughed at the name they had given the Cylon home world), killing and boxing other models that didn't agree with him. And we find out there is a build up of baseships for battle.
Episode 21: Armageddon. A massive attack is launched on Cylonia and the baseships Galactica. Cavil escapes with Ellen on the last baseship with Hera. (I have a real hard time that imagining Galactica, even if it wasn't falling apart, successfully attacking a fleet of baseships as well as a planet.)
Episode 22: The finale was more vague (!!!). Kara was going to find earth. The battle and escape took them to another section of the galaxy and, behind a yellow sun, is earth. The Final Five is a mechanism (he didn't elaborate). Helo and Athena were going to sacrifice themselves for the survival of Hera and the human race. There was a showdown between Ellen and Tigh. Tigh tries to convince her to call of the battle/war and come back to the side of the angels. Galactica crashes on earth or jumps onto earth, like Cortez. Adama orders the ship burned. Kara disappears. Adama and Laura go off in a raptor into the stars. Lee tells them, 'Let's not to this again'. The love of a human and Cylon together save the future. Had they not brought Hera to earth, the human race as we know it would not exist.
It was a different arc with a split between the Final Five, Ellen and Tigh. Ron didn't feel they could hang the end of the series on those two characters. The writers strike gave him time to think. The writers started over and asked what did they like?
The studio came up with extra money to film the finale as written. The script originally came in at just over two hours and instead of having to eliminate parts of it, the studio pitched the idea to expand the finale to three hours.
The scene between Baltar and Lee: Ron wanted to put certain characters together for the last time. Plus, since Jamie and James are such good friends, he wanted to give them one last scene together.
Lee vs The Pigeon Part 2: It's tied to the end of the Kara/Lee arc. What is the metaphor? Ron doesn't know! It's just art. He doesn't know what it means. Something about birds and flight and Lee struggling to get it out of his house just fit and it belonged on the show. O....K.....
The tape on the deck came from The Alamo. Colonel Travis had drawn a line in the sand with his sword. It's the moment when you have to decide. Will you cross the line or not? It's about courage, sacrifice and risk and what you value as a human being and how you want to end your life. Adama would draw and line and want to see each person who would decide to go or stay behind. He wouldn't judge them (HA!), but would want to see them make the choice. Most of the crew stays behind because that's what they would do.
It was Mary's choice to have Laura eat sushi while she's setting up the date with Shawn. It's also a sign that the culture we feel is from us is actually from them.
The scene on the hanger deck is edited a bit. There's a cut where Baltar is tempted to cross line, but Paula stops him. You can see he's torn.
Ron wanted the strip club to be co-ed. The society is very gender neutral and there are not a lot of stereotypical roles for women and men. He felt there should be male strippers as well. He doesn't know if they were there or Rymer just chose not to shoot them. Ron envisioned a more free for all sexual place.
Kara, Lee and Zak: From the very first meeting there was some dangerous chemistry between Kara and Lee. Zak is sort of oblivious to it, but sort of not. There is the implication that Lee stole another girlfriend in the past from Zak and it is still an issue and not fully resolved; Lee is a bit sensitive on the point as to whether he did or didn't. As Lee gets more drunk he starts acting out on it, to an extent, but is hesitant in the beginning before the wine starts flowing. Kara is into it, but it's sort of play time for her.
That Shawn is one of Laura's students brings home her age and mortality. It's a theme for her throughout the series – the ephemeral nature of life and her impending death.
Adama is troubled by the implication he needed to pass a lie detector test - that Adama's word would be questioned. This would not sit well with him. (REALLY???)
They tried to bring back as many characters as possible for the finale and were glad they were able to get the actor who played Zak to come back.
During Baltar and Head Six's conversation, you can see a Gull emblem above the entrance to Baltar's quarters little part of the ship. The Gull represents “Grace, Unity, Life and Love”. The symbol is a part of Baltar's cult, but they never addressed it during the series.
Cottle and Laura: They realized Laura had never thanked Cottle. They wanted her to acknowledge she hadn't been the easiest patient, but she understood what he had done for her. No one else had said this to this man, but Laura would.
Ron wanted that last beat with Hoshi and Romo. He came up with it spur of the moment. He always wanted Romo back.
Ron wrote the finale by instinct - feeling one scene leading to the next, leading to the next – as he did with '33'.
We see the plan to go after Hera/Cavil unfold instead of being told everything. Like the red stripes painted on the centurions. We get it as it all comes together.
Jamie did his won stunt work – repelling the twenty or thirty feet from the Galactica to the floor of the Colony ship.
Losing Racetrack and Skulls is an unexpected moment because they are suddenly taken out. Interesting tidbit, behind them is actual astronaut who was visiting set and had watched the show in orbit on his laptop. Ron loved the thought of someone in space watching their show about space while space was right outside his window.
Ron wanted to redeem Boomer one last time as she saves Hera. He really likes the flashback of her standing before Adama when he gave her another chance. Adama was willing to give people second chances. He had a compassionate heart (HA!) and wanted his pilots to do well. He could be a task master, but was willing to extend himself and his ship to this young kid and he didn't have to.
The Opera House: Ron wanted to find a way to incorporate it into the finale. When he originally came up with the idea in 'Kobol's Last Gleaming', it was just a notion and it didn't have a lot of meaning. He didn't know what it meant or what the symbology of it was. But, eventually, we would figure it out because part of the joy of the show was in figuring these things out - setting up puzzles for ourselves and deciding what the answers were. (Cue another “Seriously???” from me.) Yet, they wanted to get to the opera house, explain it and give it meaning because it was something they knew they had to do.
A “brilliant symmetry” happens as they go into CIC. As Sam is on the second level with the Final Five, Baltar and Caprica walk in the door and it evokes the opera house. To Ron's mind, regardless of how you got to that point, he never felt it was important whether you planned it out in advance and knew what the final beats were or if you made it up as you went along. The only thing that mattered was the end result, what was on the screen and what the audience was able to take away. (But what if they took away nothing?)
He talked a bit about not planning everything out, surprising yourself, discovering something in the moment and how it just has to be true.
Caprica Six talked about God from the beginning. Balter, in the finale, truly realizes there is another hand at work, something else going on, a greater truth, something tied to destiny and that he a player in a grander play and has a role to fill. He is seeing the circle complete from what Caprica said to him in the mini about God.
Baltar and Cavil: Baltar is the man who started it all and he is the guy who is going to get them out of this. By realizing the larger story, the supernatural, the divinity, that there is some greater force rooting for them, wanted them to make it and was guiding them here, he saves the day and makes the peace happen. He is able to see the greater truth and that God is not on any one side.
Ron didn't want the series to end on something horrible with the idea of life being meaningless and without purpose. There is something greater and beautiful and it can only be acknowledged by acknowledging the ugliness. There is good and evil and one cannot exist without the other.
Ron wanted to pay off Tory killing Cally. Tyrol had to find out. And in their moment of triumph, when peace is at hand, it's a very human emotion, a sense of rage and betrayal, which destroys the peace and almost causes Armageddon. Yet, if not for Tyrol's action, they would not have found earth and it would not be OK. It's the eternal cycle of good and evil and one feeding off the other that they really wanted to have.
Originally, Tigh was going to pick Cavil up and throw him off the second level, but Dean called Ron up and said Cavil should look around, see it's over and kill himself.
If there was any question as to whether Racetrack was dead when she launches the last nukes in the galaxy to destroy the Colony, she's dead.
As Kara types in the coordinates and the Galactica jumps, the montage of footage from prior episodes was an idea Rymer came up with in the editing room and was not scripted.
What's Kara afraid of? Not death. It's of being forgotten, which, according to Ron, is him on some basic level.
The Galactica did what Adama said she would do, she got them all home.
As scripted, after the jump, Laura asks, “Where have you taken us, Kara”? And Kara replies, “Somewhere along the watchtower.” Rymer cut it during filming because it was one step too far. (Agree.)
The shot of the Galactica flying over the moon was taken from a photo from the Apollo 8 mission and the shot of earth from the Apollo 17 mission.
When to arrive on earth? Ron never considered having them arrive in our future. He briefly thought of them arriving on earth in the classic Greek era and be part of the inspiration for Greek mythology, but Ron decided that was “too Star Trek”. He also decided it wasn't deep and true enough nor important enough and it tied them to western civilization. Where could they land to influence evolution? He considered the period when mankind was just starting to learn language, agriculture and different things, but when he read about humanity having a single ancestor genetically, he thought that was Hera – she, or some other child, could be the root of all of us.
If they came to earth, why don't we remember them? Why didn't they give us their technology? Why no Galactica to be found? They are part of our collective unconscious, while some things were handed down. O...K.....
They only were able to get Callum back for a day and because of that he's not filling a role particular to his character for the finale.
Adama taking the last viper off ship was not in the initial draft.
Ron had no particular island in mind for Tyrol, but Aaron was taken with idea of Tyrol going to the Highlands and that all the Scots are Tyrol's.
Originally, Laura was not going to make it earth. She, like Moses, was going to lead her people and die just before they arrived at their final destination. But Ron didn't want to take that from her (I think he meant Mary as much as Laura), he wanted her to at least have that.
Who and what is Kara? Kara is a question on some level that could not be answered. She is connected to some greater truth. To put a definitive answer on that would take everything away from that. It is much more powerful to leave the question unanswered. None of the options were as intriguing as what she is/was. She is connected to something greater they cannot understand.
Ron – and Terry – mentioned that Lee and Kara thought about everybody all the way through the series. In the flashbacks, we see they had consciences and pulled back before things went too far. But it was a moment that defined their relationship and they kept coming back to. It was a place they have been in forever. They never left that moment on the table. (While I have some issues with the idea they couldn't get past that one moment in time, I can - and do - believe Zak was always an issue between them, one they quite possibly could never get past. I'm also intrigued by the idea of bad timing and that there was always someone coming between them, if not Zak, then Sam and Dee.)
As written, Laura slept with Shawn and it was Ron's intention that the audience see it that way. However, Rymer chose to shoot the scene showing Laura getting out of bed and getting dressed, but having her in the bathroom. The implication now is she's bailing out before she gets into bed with him.
Being a secret smoker was Mary's idea and Ron like that it ties into the cancer – she was constantly quitting and going back and had the occasional cigarette
Eddie improved putting the ring on Laura's finger. GRRRRRRR....
As we see everyone splitting into groups and walking away on earth, we were going to see raptors exploding in the background. They took the images out in post production because it distracted you from the moment.
Tahmoh was convinced Helo was dead when he read the script and was thrilled to see Helo made it to the end. Ron said they couldn't find a moment to reestablish him after he got shot.
Ron always envisioned the final shot of the series to be Six, in her red dress, walking through Times Square. It connected them to us in some way. He included Head Baltar because it made more sense and helped tie the mythology together.
After I finished listening to the commentary I watched this week's Caprica. Perhaps it was watching it and BSG back-to-back, but I had an epiphany in regards to Caprica. I've criticized the pacing on Caprica before. On Battlestar, I felt most episodes progressed the plot and characters forward (for better and worse); on Caprica, I feel there is either too much spinning of wheels or reveals that come out of nowhere. The most I got out of last night's episode was confirmation that Daniel will never win Father of the Year and Joseph's little girl has become quite the teenage bad ass in the virtual world.
But what I hadn't considered previously was that part of my disconnect with Caprica is actually it's connection to Battlestar - Joseph Adama. Moore and Eick may state Caprica can be viewed, and should be viewed, without comparison to BSG, and I would agree with that, yet the inclusion of the Adama family makes it hard for the BSG fans not to draw comparisons. I know Lee's memories of his grandfather are of the man he knew years from now. And Bill's opinions are colored by a strained relationship. But I'm having trouble reconciling the Joseph Adama we knew of on BSG with the guy currently running around in a noir virtual reality chasing down the avatar of his dead daughter - a character we never even heard of on BSG. All of which makes me wonder, why include the Adamas? I actually can concentrate better on the story when the family is no where to be seen. Maybe there is a reason they are around. But, right now, I'm feeling as if Ron thought it would be cool to have the Adama connection without considering the long term implications, much as he did with Kara's death and resurrection.