Simply AWESOME. We're given enough in the episode to satisfy us with some answers, but then entirely new twists and another mystery are thrown right back.
First off, a 'what the hell'. Starbuck's obviously got to be a Cylon now, but if Tigh's memory is right then Ellen was the Fifth. What the hell? I'm guessing Starbuck ended up being a special "only one" build that no one Cylon was informed about.
I liked Dee dying. Never liked her and it served to underscore a plot development: the morale of everyone in the fleet, including Adama. Though really she was just a little too disaffected; most everyone had lost something, somehow, during the long trip to a dead planet but what did she ever lose this entire time? All she ever did was kill Billy and keep Starbuck away from Apollo. Gaeta lost his friggin' leg and wasn't as emo.
Still, good moment, both for my Dee dislike and the plot. We see just how badly everyone's affected through Roslin's burning of the scripture, through the side bits with the crew as Adama made his walk to Tigh's quarters, in D'anna turning from righteously confident to defeated.
Tigh's my favorite character so this was a good episode. It was nice seeing Adama drunk and Tigh the one offering advice for once. Plus Adama drunk is just funny; it's only happened about twice and both times ends up revolving around Tigh. :p
Also funny? Leoben's "Hey, there, Kara...we, uh, found your destiny...hey, I just remembered I left a toaster pluggedinokgottarunBYE!" when they found dead Starbuck.
So on the horizon looks like we still have the Starbuck and Last Cylon bits going, the other Cylons are still out there and PISSED, and we have a tenuous Cylon-Human alliance that'll probably end up splintering soon enough. Looking forward to the last 9 episodes!
(edited by BoromirMark on 17.1.09 1210)
Michigan against the SEC: 20-5-1 (7-3 in bowl games)
I liked Dualla. In fact, after she spoke with Lee in the Ready Room I said to myself "The show needs more Dee." I always thought the romance between her and Lee was rushed by the writers, but I still liked her character. And seeing her die was one of the saddest moments on the show, both because I liked her and the circumstances surrounding it.
As much as the previous episodes were a mindbender, this one was killer. I don't buy Ellen as the final Cylon. Nor do I subscribe to the theory that they (the humans) are all the final "Cylons". I don't like the "Starbuck is Tigh's daughter, that's why she's special" theory either. There's a hazy theory banging around the corners of my mind, but I haven't gotten it together yet. Something about the timing isn't right. Earth got nuked 2000 years ago, and the four all had memories of being there. The prophecies of Pithia are 3500 years old. Something isn't right.
And for the record, Gaeta's response to losing his leg was to sing songs and establish Draedis contact with another dude. Pretty emo, if you ask me.
I thought it was very good and I was suprised when Dee killd herself. Starbuck is a rebuild but I am not sure she is a Cylon. Or if she is then everyone is a Cylon or at least a reincarnated human from Earth (wether it's our Earth or not). Leobon being scared of her now after their F'd up relationship is kind of funny. My favorite part of everyone giving up hope was "FRAK EARTH". Boy that sucks that after everything that happened to them they find a nuked out hell hole.
Marge I am just trying to get into heaven not run for Jesus.
Originally posted: January 17, 2009 'Battlestar Galactica's' Ron Moore addresses the shocking developments of 'Sometimes a Great Notion'
This post contains extensive interviews and information about “Sometimes a Great Notion,” the Jan. 16 episode of Sci Fi's "Battlestar Galactica."
Below, “Battlestar Galactica” executive producer Ronald D. Moore talks in detail about several big developments in the episode. I'd recommend watching the episode before reading the full text of the post.
Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, who wrote the episode, penned essays about how they arrived at “Notion’s” title, the influence of a Ken Kesey novel on the episode, how they came up with its story lines -- including the "swimming fox" story -- and also about the episode’s challenging production process. Just as they were in the middle of preparation for the episode, a storm nearly destroyed all the outdoor sets and the Writers Guild of America strike began.
The episode's director, Michael Nankin, weighed in as well on the filming of this episode. Among other things, he relates a very interesting story about how a particular character's sad story was creatively echoed in the episode's score.
After Nankin's comments, there are a few thoughts from me about this shocking and impressive episode.
An interview with “Battlestar” creator Ronald D. Moore on the choice of the final Cylon, Dualla’s death, what’s up with Starbuck and more. Questions are in bold type, answers are in regular type.
There’s a certain logic to it. I sort of figured out early on that I liked the pairing of her and Tigh. [I liked] that there was something deeper to their marriage and deeper to their relationship, that it was literally a relationship that had transcended time and space, that it was very ancient that had gone on for a very long time. It was something that was [mentioned] in the pilot for “Galactica.”
In the miniseries, Tigh is burning her photo, right?
Yeah, and the very first scene that he’s in, he gets upset because Starbuck is pushing his buttons about her, “What about your wife?” And he kicks over the table and then she slugs him.
There was something really appealing about the idea that of the final five, the two of them were a pair, and they were THIS pair -- you know, as drama-ridden as their relationship had been, the idea that there had always been something deeper and more profound at its center, I always really, really liked.
Ellen Tigh When did you make that selection?
It was somewhere in the course of the third season [that the possibility was first raised.] We killed Ellen early that season and we didn’t have an inkling of that at that point. But at the point that we killed Ellen, around the same time frame, I was starting to come up with the idea that there were five Cylons that had yet to be revealed.
At the beginning of the third season, Baltar had gone to live on the Cylon base ship for a string of episodes. And it was really that plot move that threw into relief -- well, once Baltar’s over in the Cylon world, why wouldn’t he see all 12 of them? How could we get around that and parcel that out? Then I had this idea, well, what if it’s not random? What if there’s a meaning to the fact that we haven’t seen the five of them? And that’s how the Final Five became part of the mythos.
Over the course of the third season, Ellen came and went in my thinking in terms of who the final five were. It probably wasn’t until we settled on the final four that I knew it was Ellen. When we got to the final four -- Tigh, Anders, Tory and Tyrol -- then it felt like, “and Ellen has to be the fifth.” Because Tigh being revealed as a Cylon was such a profound shift in that character, such a big leap for the show, that it felt really natural that she was also a Cylon.
And he had killed her for collaborating with the Cylons! There were layers and depths to that I felt were really fascinating, about guilt and blame and memory and responsibility, and I just really liked the way that all tied together.
Yeah, when it was revealed to be her, I thought, “Yeah, this is how Ron Moore’s mind works. It makes a lot of stuff way more complex now.”
[laughs] Did it work for you?
It worked for me. But it felt like something slotting into place. You guys have unleashed game changers where I’ve been like, “Are you kidding me?” You know, finding a nuked Earth, the one-year time jump, Boomer shooting Adama. Those were like, “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.” With this, I wasn’t falling off my couch, I was thinking, “Oh, interesting. That makes sense.” Did it feel like a slotting-into-place for you as well? Was it a feeling of, “This just fits our world?”
It was. It really did just fit into the larger story. And that’s sort of how the show has always been, it’s been about taking leaps and seeing how things fit in together. That just felt really natural. It just felt like it would line up correctly. It felt like all the pieces would make sense and that it would be a satisfying thing.
Of the first set of seven, how many of them knew? There’s part of me that wonders if Cavil knew and was just messing with Ellen on New Caprica because he could. Obviously you didn’t know then that she would be a Cylon, but the possibility of Cavil or others knowing and then playing that complication out in future episodes, did that help you make your decision?
Yeah, the Cavil thing plays in quite strongly. That will be revealed as we get deeper into the season. But that did all flow together really well.
So we will come to know, in this next set of episodes, who knew that Ellen was a Cylon, and that will play out in what’s coming?
So we’ll see her again. Does she figure prominently in the season?
I don’t want to give too much away, but it won’t be the last time that you see Ellen.
One place my mind instantly went, on a fan-trivia level, was to that opera house vision that D’Anna has. She says to one of the Final Five, something like, “I’m sorry, I had no idea.” Did she say that to Ellen?
I think the intention of that -- we had a conversation about that in the writers room -- [once it had been decided that Ellen was a Cylon] the intention was that [the one D’Anna spoke to] was Ellen. When we wrote the line, we didn’t have a clear intention, but later, when we’d decided [on all the Cylons], I think the feeling was, that was Ellen.
It seems as though a lot of the final Cylons were leading people or important people on New Caprica. Is there something to that?
That was more just watching how their characters behaved in those circumstances. They had no knowledge of their true nature. What were the actions they would take as human beings in those situations, given who their characters were? That’s how they developed. It was the irony of the fact that they were all fundamentally involved in the resistance against the Cylons was interesting to us.
Just to backtrack a bit, you knew midway through or at the end of writing Season 3 that Ellen would be the final Cylon?
We had a writers’ retreat between Seasons 3 and 4, we talked about it explicitly then. I think at that point, we revisited [the Ellen idea]. We said, “OK, we assume it’s Ellen, but let’s not be married to that. Let’s be open to any other possibilities.” We talked about other possibilities, but none of them had the same resonance that Ellen had, so we came back to it.
I think in the conversations where we decided the final four, the notion [of Ellen as the fifth] was at least posited then, and if not, it was talked relatively soon thereafter.
So in writing Season 4, you had a semi-solid idea that it would be Ellen?
Yeah. As we went into Season 4, we had the writers retreat over the hiatus, we talked about what the general storyline was of the last season, we talked specifically about the first half of Season 4 and we talked about it being Ellen and getting to the place where we would reveal it to be Ellen.
So you gave us a clue, then, when Tigh is visiting Caprica Six in the brig in the first half of Season 4 -- he keeps seeing Ellen’s face instead of Six’s. Was that an acknowledgment of that connection or was that just Tigh being in some kind of fog?
It was about both. It was about his innate sense of longing for the woman he truly loved, and it was also sort of hinting that there was a deeper connection between the two.
Why reveal this in the first episode back? Did you want to kind of get this out of the way, because you knew the fan interest was building?
I think it was -- we wanted to shock and we wanted to change the game plan. I knew that I didn’t want to reveal the final Cylon at the end. I just felt like that was too much [pressure] on the end of the show and I didn’t want to have to answer this question [then].
And I didn’t want the show to devolve into, “Who’s the fifth Cylon?” That would be the over-arching question and nothing else matters. So I wanted to get that settled kind of early. Then it felt like, let’s settle it early, then let’s play [out those] stories. Let’s bring Ellen back, let’s do some stuff with her, let’s figure out where we can go from here.
I’m trying to remember why we decided to do [the Ellen reveal] in that episode. There was something perfect about getting to Earth, getting to the place where theoretically the whole show was going, and all the four Cylons having flashbacks to their life there.
And there was something just poetic and nice about Tigh as he walks out in the ocean, and you wonder if he’s going to kill himself like the fox in the story that Adama tells. And then in that moment, he realizes that it’s Ellen and that’s the button to the whole episode then you cut to black. I thought, that’s just a great ending. There was something great dramatically about doing it that way. And then not dealing with it for a while.
Just to shift gears, there’s the whole Dee thing. You really played out very strongly the emotional and personal fallout of this discovery of Earth. You didn’t back away from it.
That felt really important. If they’re going to get to Earth and Earth is ashes, that felt like it has to have a huge impact on all these characters. There had to be a cost. There had to be a price somebody paid for that discovery. Not everybody could take that. Not everyone could just say, “OK, that didn’t work out, let’s go on to next week’s episode.”
It felt like somebody would just say, “No, I’m done. I just want to find a little moment of time where I can feel good about myself one last time, then I’m finished with this long nightmare.” And that seemed like that would be Dualla.
Was there a discussion of who that would be, the person who would pay that cost? How did you settle on her?
We did talk about it, and it felt like in some ways, I mean, unfortunately, it was [a case of,] she was kind of the sweetest character. It would be the one that you would expect the least. It also felt right. Her journey had [been] -- she was in love with Billy and then she was in love with this other man and neither one worked out. And all she really had in her life was this hope of getting to Earth some day. Some day it would all be OK.
Her whole family, her whole world, everything had been shattered. After Billy died and after she splits with Lee, probably all Dualla has is [the goal of Earth]. The job doesn’t mean anything -- what does the job mean at that point? There’s no career, it’s just getting through the next day. So what she had is to get to Earth. And she got to Earth and it turned out to be nothing. So it felt like, she’s done. It’s overwith.
That’s the impact of her death, though -- she’s the professional. It’s not like she’s unfeeling, but she’s going to compartmentalize and get the job done and be an officer and do what she needs to do. And then when she couldn’t do that at all... I mean, she could, to have that date with Lee, but then she was done. For someone like that to just end it, that’s very unsettling.
She just said, “My story ends here. I end here.” It gave her a measure of control, it gave her a measure of decision, she was able to say, “My life is going to end at this point.”
I’m sure the actors take it hard, but is it hard for the writers too, is it like, “But this is Dee!” Is it hard to kill off a character you’ve lived with like that?
Yeah, it is hard. In the final season, it was a little different. Cally died and Dee and other people along the way -- we had other sorts of discussions [of these Season 4 deaths]. Because it was all in the context of the show is ending. Everything is ending. This whole narrative is ending so it’s all about what is the resolution to all these stories.
Well, it was beautifully done in the execution. It was really powerful.
Yeah, I think it’s a really good episode.
But it was shot during the strike, right?
Right, the strike was called, that episode was the only script we had written so that script would be shot.
I flew up to Vancouver, gathered the whole cast and crew together in the CIC [set] and said, “OK, this is where we are. There’s a strike. I’m on strike. The other writers are on a picket line right now, I’m flying back to join them. There’s not going to be any more script pages. The show is entrusted to you. Just make the very best one that you can. I hope you get as much overtime as you can.” My producer almost had a heart attack.
I said, “I wish you all the best,” and they all kind of laughed. I said, “This is like when when Admiral Cain took that blind jump in ‘Pegasus,’ she didn’t know where she was going or what was going to be on the other side. She just knew she had to go. And that’s where we are. None of us know what’s going to happen at the end of the strike, I think we’re going to be back, just make a good show, make the best ‘Battlestar Galactica’ any of you have ever seen.” I walked out of CIC, got on a plane and flew back to L.A.
Obviously I wasn’t there, but what I heard was there was a tremendous amount of emotion from the cast and the crew as they were shooting it, because they all did wonder if this was going to be the last episode ever done, would the series be canceled if the strike went on too long. I think that informed a lot of their performances and a lot of the mood.
I don’t know how many artistically good outcomes the strike brought about, probably not many, but I think those circumstances actually helped this episode. There’s a really raw mood to it, you know, nobody’s trying to put a good front up. Especially that scene with Tigh and Adama.
Wasn’t that amazing?
Definitely. When you got back from the strike and were working on that episode, what were you thinking?
I was just -- I just kept getting moved and blown away as I worked though [the entire editing process]. The scene where Laura comes off the Raptor, and they’re all looking at her and she literally can’t say anything, and she just tries to fight her way through the crowd -- it’s just an unbelievable [moment]. This is Laura! Laura can’t say anything and Laura can’t rise to the occasion. None of them do, really.
That’s what makes the episode so painful, in a way. Nobody can step up. Nobody can get back up off the floor. We’ve seen them pull themselves off the floor so many times, but they can’t do it this time. Adama’s walking into Tigh’s quarters drunk, with a loaded gun. Roslin’s just checked out. Dee kills herself.
It felt like, if we were going to get to a place where we’re going to find Earth mid-season and it’s not going to be what they’d hoped, it’s all going to be ashes, you had to play it truthfully. You had to say it’s really going to devastate them. It’s going to hit them in a way we’ve never seen before. Our heroes are not going to be heroic. They’re not going to be able to come back from this easily. It’s going to take their fondest hope away from them.
The crazy thing about this is, even without Ellen, even without Dee, we also got a ton of information or clues about what happened on Earth and what happened with the Colonies in the past. I could spend an hour asking you questions about that. Tigh and Baltar are offering this theory that the Cylons are the 13th tribe and they found this planet and they called it Earth. Are we to read that as a theory or as fact?
I think you can read that as fact.
The part of the timeline I’m having trouble with is this: We know that the Colonies had a cataclysm 2,000 years ago, then we find out Earth had a cataclysm 2,000 years ago. Am I getting something wrong in how I’m looking at the history?
No, you are getting it correctly. I can say that later, as we get through subsequent episodes, there will be more explanations, and actually all this timeline stuff does lock into place. You have to read the subsequent chapters, but it will actually make sense.
We see the flashback of Tyrol in that marketplace, and it seemed like a planet full of lots of different kinds of people, not just 12 different models. Is that right?
That planet is Earth? We’re not going to find out, “Oh, there’s this other Earth over here...” This is the only Earth we’ll see?
They have found Earth. This is the Earth that the 13th Colony discovered, they christened it Earth. They found Earth.
Then there’s the whole Starbuck thing. We don’t know what she is now, right? All 12 Cylons have been accounted for, but she doesn’t know that. Is she suspecting she’s a Cylon?
Yeah, I think all questions are open for her at this point.
What I really found surprising about that scene where she appears to find her own body is -- Leoben seems taken aback. Normally he’s the guy who’s spewing this mixture of [not-truth] and truth and getting in her head. But he seems severely freaked out.
Oh yeah. I love the fact that Leoben gets to a place where he says, “I was wrong. I don’t know what to do. I thought I saw streams and rivers and I thought I saw stuff [this refers to Leoben’s dialogue in “Flesh and Bone”], but I don’t know.” That makes him mortal, in a certain sense.
In general with this episode, did anyone at the network or studio say, you know, this is too dark?
I think they had qualms. There were questions about, “Wow, this is really dark. Is anyone ever going to come back and watch the rest of the episodes?” I said, “Well, it is the end of the show.”
My attitude was pretty much, “Look, we’re in the last chapter here. Anyone who’s come this far and doesn’t want to watch the rest -- they’re a minority at best.” People are going to want to see how this turns out. And yeah, this is a very dark chapter. This may not even be the darkest chapter.
Stanley Kubrick, on his death bed, called R Lee Ermey and claimed that Tom Cruise made EYES WIDE SHUT into an unwatchable peice of shit. No, really, Ermey makes the claim right here (film.guardian.co.uk), and I'm inclined to believe it.