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"Maelstrom" Podcast
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Ronald D. Moore
Ronald D. Moore
Terry Dresbach
Comedy Elements
Scotch: Unnamed brand from the Isle of Jura
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RDM: Hello, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Ronald D. Moore, developer and executive producer of the new Battlestar Galactica. And we're here to discuss what we call episode sixteen, "Maelstrom". I'm joined in this podcast by my lovely wife, the talented Mrs. Ron.

Terry: Hi, guys.

RDM: And there are various and sundry cats roaring about the house.

Terry: If you hear bells, it's cats.

RDM: If you hear bells, it's cats.

"Maelstrom". Well...

Terry: So I just found out that Ron basically, like, tells everybody what's gonna happen before it happens and forgets that there are people who watch this for the first time with the podcast, and maybe don't want wanna hear about the end of the episode.

RDM: Well, you know what? If you're listening to the podcast before you watch the episode, you get what- you deserve.

Terry: So those of you who are watching it for the first time, if you wanna be spoiler-free on this particular episode-

RDM: -You don't wanna listen to this.

Terry: Wait and listen after you've seen it.

RDM: Oh, and the Scotch tonight, which is very good, I've never had this before-

Terry: This-

RDM: This is from the Isle of Jura. J - u - r - a. I think I'm pronounc-

Terry: Is that the one I got you?

RDM: No.

Terry: Hmph.

RDM: This is from, I think it's pronounced Jura, or Jura, or something, and this is- was a gift that I was given this week by professor Diane Winston, at the University of Southern California, who invited me to come and talk with her class on media- religion in television. Which was a interesting topic as it relates to Battlestar Galactica. There are no smokes tonight. The smoking lamp is out, but Mrs. Ron is enjoying a le lait.

Terry: A glass of le lait, with a twist of orange.

RDM: For all those of you following along and keeping track of our alcoholic consumption.

Terry: So it's double ice tonight.

RDM: OK. "Maelstrom." This is a- certainly a landmark episode in the life of the show. The death of Kara Thrace. This episode-

Terry: I can't hear it.

RDM: Well of course you can- well I'll turn it up.

This episode is very, very close to the original story that David and Bradley wrote for the episode. We knew that we wanted to do another of our Starbuck episodes, 'cause we usually do one very tense Starbuck episode a season, that puts her through the ringer, and it usually involves some kind of combat, battle against the Cylons, and deeper psychological underpinnings. And so we said, "OK, guys. Come up with-" Another one they did last year, "Scar", and they of course did "Act of Contrition" in year one, so we wanted another in our Starbuck episodes and David and Bradley to write it. And the guys had gone into the room, the writers' room, and they were breaking the story, and they-

Terry: Women don't do that when they have erotic dreams.

RDM: What? Paint and writhe about in paint?

Terry: No, no. Writhe.

RDM: Women writhe. OK? Women writhe.

Terry: Men think women writhe while they're sleeping.

RDM: Women writhe. Playboy tells me so.

Terry: That's a very male-

RDM: Women at home do various things with hairbrushes, too. And I know this to be true.

Terry: Yeah, they sing to them.

RDM: They sing, and they look at themselves in mirrors and they roll around in paint, like this.

Anyway, when I'm in the room, David and Bradley and the writing staff were struggling with the story a little bit, and we knew that- we wanted Kara- we wanted to pay off what we had setup in "Rapture" and "Eye of Jupiter", more specifically in "Rapture", where at the end of that show there was the mandala, the big circular symbol in the temple that matched the nebula- the supernova in the sky, that also matched into what Kara had painted on her apartment wall. And we wanted to pay that off, and say what that was about, and deal also with her destiny, that we had alluded to several times in the series, and her relationship with Lee, and then where this was all going. So they had come up with this story about going to a place and Kara having nightmares, and being drawn towards the mandala that she sees in the clouds, and seeing the phantom Raider, and being pulled there over and over again, and it being the siren, literally, a siren that was calling her to her death. And that she was having trouble resisting it, and that she was having trouble getting back in the cockpit, but ultimately the story kept having to end the same way. Which was that Kara resists the call to fall, to throw herself upon the rocks, and goes back to Galactica and I'm probably fumbling because it was a story break. It wasn't a story document. So there's really no record of it. David and Bradley probably remember better than I do what the original pitch was. But I don't believe that, I think that the best that we could do at the original pitch was that she would discover something that helped them on the way to Earth. So that ultimately she had resisted the call to kill herself and had found something on the road to Earth as a result.

Terry: Did the makeup guys design those tattoos?

RDM: I believe some of the tattoos- and-

Terry: They're really excellent.

RDM: Katee'll slap me around, 'cause I think some of the tattoos are real, and some are not. The big-

Terry: The wings. I'm talking about the wings.

RDM: Oh, the wings? Yes. The makeup artists did that.

Terry: Really excellent.

RDM: Our hair and makeup people are really good and they designed those wings, and the wing actually matches the wing that Anders has a matching tattoo-

Terry: (whispers) Everybody knows that.

RDM: -and they can put their arms together.

[5:18]This originally was going to be a repri- we are in the scene now with the oracle, and this was originally going to be reprise of Amanda Plummer, which we had done in the-

Terry: Who was fantastic.

RDM: Who was fantastic in "Occupation"/"Precipice", and "Exodus", I don't even remember how many of those episodes she was- finally ended up in. But we were gonna revisit her, but we couldn't for budgetary and scheduling reasons. So we opted for a different oracle and a different actress. Which I think is legitimate. I think it would've been, on some level, a little bit of- a little cute if the only oracle in the Fleet was going to be Amanda Plummer.

So anyway the guys had pitched- were struggling with the story about, where we do with Kara, and as we were going through it, I liked the story. I liked a lot of things that they were doing with it, but ultimately it didn't quite- it just didn't take you anywhere really important. You were paying of Kara's- trying to pay off Kara's destiny in a way, and saying, "Yeah, the destiny is gonna help get them to Earth," but it didn't quite hit you. It didn't slap you in the face. Which is what we wanted it to do. What I wanted it to do, to be more in keeping with our traditional Starbuck episode of each year. And I remember this moment of being in the writers' room and saying, "Well, I mean. The truth is, we should just kill her. She should die. She should go into that. She should hear it. She should not just hear the siren call, and be tempted to throw herself upon the rocks. She should do it, and we should fuckin' kill her." And everyone looked around and we all said, "Yeah, that would be nice, but we can't do that." And I s- and eventually I s- David Eick, I believe was there as well, and we looked at each other, and I said to David, "Well why can't we? Why don't we just kill her. Let's kill Starbuck." And we fell in love with the audacity of it. Because Starbuck is, of course, one of the primary players in the show, and always has been, and it was dangerous, and we all went, "Oh, Jesus. Do we really wanna do that? I mean, wouldn't that screw up the show?" and, "Oh my God, really?" And as soon as that tremor went through the room I sensed- it was like the shark smelling blood in the water. I was really attracted to doing it, because of the shock value of it, and because it was risky and it was upsetting, and it jangled your conception of what the show was, and then I just decided, "Let's go for it," and built the story that way and I pitched it to the network and the studio, and explained the reasons why, and how we were gonna do it. And how ultimately, we also realize, in one of those great moments, was how this was going to pay off into the overall arc of the series. How the death of Starbuck in "Maelstrom" actually propels us in a certain way towards where the show is ultimately going. And that became more attractive. And then the deeper we got into the story breaking process, and the more we talked about subsequent episodes and how this would affect character and storyline and get us to the third act of the show, as it were, the more I started to realize this was really the right decision. And to their credit, the studio and the network never blinked. They asked a lot of questions when we pitched it to them on the phone, but they dug it and they were into it, and they were supportive of it, and they were more than willing to do it. And then the next step was to pitch it to Katee Sackhoff, which as you might imagine, was-

Terry: Well received?

RDM: It was a difficult conversation. But I- we called up Katee and said, "Katee, we wanna talk," and I'm sure that Katee will someday give her version of this phone call but- I don't think it's ever a good sign when Ron Moore and David Eick both call an actress on our show. It's not (laughs) usually a good thing. And we told her what we had in mind. And I think she was taken aback and she was shocked and she was surprised. And we explained all the reasons why we were doing what we were doing, and she ultimately bought it, and bought into it, and was very excited to do it.

OK. We're at the end of the teaser.

Act 1

RDM: Act one.

Obviously we had to do something with Anders. And we wanted to feel the- confluence of all these storylines crashing in upon one another. Where was her relationship with Anders? The guy that had tried so hard to stay in the picture, was willing to come and sleep with her, even though she wasn't holding out anything more than that, and still her husband, and still around. But obviously frustrated, obviously at a crossroads in his own life and not quite knowing what the hell to do.

Terry: You know, there are so many women who do that with men, who are willing to just continue on whatever they can get in hopes they'll change their mind. A lot of- there's a lot of response that by doing- by switching it, that you've made Anders just a complete wuss...

RDM: Well, you know, it is an in- that is an interesting observation on the show-

Terry: So what do you think of that?

RDM: -because I do hear comment on the internet and life, of which the internet is not part, I hear comment that the show, on some level, has switched the gender roles and that all the women on the show are strong and all the men on the show are weak. And people get annoyed that the men are such pusses, and the men are always-

Terry: -Right.-

RDM: -the last ones to figure things out, and the women make all the strong decisions, and the women are-

Terry: Most of the people listening to you have-

RDM: -have commented-

Terry: -have seen those discussions.

RDM: I don't know. I think that's fair. I guess it's all fair. I think that's a fair criticism.

Terry: Well-

RDM: I don't know that that's- I don't know that there's anything wrong with that.

Terry: I don't either.

RDM: So what? I feel like, well that's how this world operates.

Terry: Well that's what I was gonna ask you is-

RDM: So what?

Terry: You know, this is a fictional world, and how do we know what their-

RDM: Yeah. I mean-

Terry: -their heritage is, in terms of sex role? Sexual and gender roles.

RDM: The sexual politics, as it were, of the show, have always been such-

Terry: -has always been.

RDM: -that I don't know why I got on this thing, but from a very early stage in the development process, it was important to me that the female roles be very, very strong.

Terry: Well, and you would have to accept the premise that this is an absolute, complete exact mirror of our world, and thus, women are always in the subservient position and men are always in the alpha position, and that's not what this show's ever been based on.

RDM: That's not really what the show is. Or- and it's not really trying to make it a matriarchal society. I mean, I don't think that was ever the intention either.

Terry: No.

RDM: Women are still women. Men are still men.

Terry: Yeah.

RDM: But it's how you play them dramatically, I think, is what the observation is about. But as we play these characters and the drama, the women tend to have stronger moments and the men tend to have more introspective ones, and the women are- tend to be more decision makers and the men tend to be- to suffer more. And I don't know that that's a comment on the state of this society. It's just a choice that we made as we tell the story.

Terry: There are those who think that's a comment on our marriage.

RDM: On our marriage?

Terry: (Laughs.)

RDM: Yes. This is my outlet.

Terry: (Laughs harder.)

RDM: I've been so brainwashed that this is how I think the world should be.

Terry: I'm a tyrant.

RDM: Yes.

I love this- that little beat there we just passed where Hotdog and Starbuck are flying along and Hotdog just flips his Viper over to look at the clouds and the sky, and then Starbuck does too, because there was something interesting about the idea that they're out in space. They'd been gone from New Caprica for so long, but for one moment, for one solid year, these people stood on a planet and looked up at a sky again, and that- I th- I always try to underline in the series whenever possible this longing to be on a terrestrial plan- sphere.

Terry: Sorry to interrupt, but I was in New York on a film for about, I don't know, six months, and when I got back to California I was shocked at how much I had missed seeing sky. And that those- something that you see everyday that seems so ordinary when it's removed from you is suddenly so huge.

RDM: Yeah, and imagine now being locked up in a metal tube for-

Terry: Claustrophobe, yeah.

RDM: -and that when you look- when you can see a window, you see black.

Terry: -You see black.

RDM: You see stars every fucking day. And then you come into some situation where you see clouds and sky again.

Terry: Wow, that looks great.

RDM: Isn't this great? This seas- These-

Terry: Whoah!

RDM: These, even aren't the completed visual effects.

Terry: That's great.

RDM: We're still seeing some that needs a little bit of trimming.

Terry: Last time I saw she was looking at drawings.

RDM: Yep. Gary Hutzel and the boys, and the girls, just really outdid themselves in this episode.

Terry: That's really extraordinary.

RDM: If they don't win the Emmy this year we may have to burn down the academy. I'm not making a threat, I'm just sayin'.

Terry: (Chuckles.) Careful.

Look at that.

RDM: Isn't that great? Look at all that. It's beautiful stuff. Beautiful stuff. It's just- it's-

Terry: Wow! Did they conceptualize it?

RDM: Who "they"?

Terry: Gary and everybody?

RDM: Gary, yeah. I mean, a lot of the combat action in this script-

Terry: No, not the combat action. That-

RDM: The visuals.

Terry: That- yeah.

RDM: The visuals. No, a lot of it was scripted, and a lot of it was scripted with- the big sinkhole?

Terry: Yeah. The big sinkhole

RDM: A lot of it was described as such-

Terry: It's beautiful.

RDM: -in the script, and then was crafted by Michael Nankin who, must be mentioned in this podcast, as director of this episode, really, really brought his "A" game on this. I mean, this- Michael's done some great episodes, but this one is somethin' else.

Thunder and lightning, I mean all this stuff. I'm trying to remember any differences from earlier drafts. A lot of this is pretty much the same as in the original story I- went back and looked at the story outline and this is all in the original story. This whole thing. I love that little subliminal flash there, and then the longer flash of Leoben in the room, while she's still in the cockpit, which is a very subjective thing that we don't usually do, and Nankin did this in his last epis- not his last episode, but in "Scar", Nankin had started to make Kara's cockpit moments a little bit more subjective, a little bit more surreal than the cinéma vérité style that the show typically does. But it's very effective in this show.

David and Bradley really know how to write this kind of material. Brad is, in particular, an aviator and a fan of aviation, knows a lot of pilots. David and Bradley both are his- are amateur historians, like I am, of pilots and fighter combat, and soldiers, and war. And they bring a lot of verisimilitude to these sorts of sequences. What pilots say and how they react, and what they would see. That's the end of the act.

Act 2

RDM: And we're back. Really like this idea of Kara returning from the combat mission and then them finding no damage on the Viper. It's a really nice effective- there's this creep factor that moves into the show. Right here. Even more strongly, I think, than in the early- in the teaser one.

Terry: How many are we away from the finale? Two?

RDM: Three.

Terry: Three.

RDM: Three episodes to the finale.

Gun camera footage.

Now the way this particular show is struct-

Terry: -What is this?

RDM: This is them looking in the gun camera footage, trying to find the-

Terry: And why is she- 'cause she says it's not hers.

RDM: -the Raider.

Terry: 'Cause it's different from watch she saw?

RDM: Well, 'cause she's saying it's not what she saw. So she's saying it must not be hers.

Terry: Oh.

RDM: A big difference between early drafts and the final show is that Starbuck made three trips into the nebula. There are really now only two trips left. There's the initial non-sighting of the Raider, as it were, then she spends the show dealing with that, and then she goes back at the end for the final. There was a third. There was a middle passage where she went into- went on a CAP patrol once more and was going by the nebula- or the clouds at the gas giant, and she saw the Raider, but instead of saying that she saw the Raider, in that version, she pretended like she had a hydraulic failure in her cockpit and ran away, and went back home, and faked having a problem. And this scene actually followed that. That she had- she was faking having a problem, and that's when Adama and Lee really started to say, "OK. What the hell are we gonna do about this?" Now in- during the pre-production process, I remember Nankin coming to me and saying, "I wanna cut- ," 'cause the scripts are always fuckin' long. And Nankin was saying, "I wanna cut the middle trip. I don't think you need it." And I was insistent. No, you have to have the middle trip. It's crucial. These things- I mean, there's this old saying in T- drama that things go in threes. You always try to make threesomes whenever possible, triangles. You're always having three beats to a story, etc., etc., etc. And so there's this thing about being three and I thought structurally you needed the third, the middle, beat to justify where we were going. And when all was said and done and he turned in his cut I had heard, through the grapevine, from editorial, that he had cut the middle- trip, and I told him, "Well, don't get fuckin' used to it, 'cause I'm gonna be puttin' that middle one back, because it works, and you need it." And then I saw the cut. And I was so blown away by the show-

Terry: We dedicate this-

RDM: -that I essentially said, "You don't need it." I sent Nankin an email and said, "You know what? You were right, and I was wrong, and you don't need the middle passage," and the show works just fine without it. And you're so emotionally invested in what we're doing and in the characters that there's plenty of action in the piece so you don't need to go into the center again.

Terry: I'm sorry. It just seemed appropriate at this moment to dedicate this show to Sarah.

RDM: Yes.

Terry: Sarah's a young woman who was- who posted regularly on the Scifi.com message board and she and her fiancé were recently on vacation in Mexico and they were getting ready to be married, and they were in a car accident and were both killed. And a lot of people on the board are very saddened by that and- as are we. And we promised that we would put Sarah's picture up in this hall next season, in season four. So anyway, and we'd like to dedicate this to her.

RDM: This is for Sarah. We're very- we're very, very saddened to hear of that. Such a trag-

Terry: One of our own.

RDM: Yes, one of our own. It was a tragic loss, for everyone. And Sarah will be on that board next season.

I think this is a particularly effective that I'm really surprised we were able to pull off. This is one of those things that you talk about or write and you say that the wax drips and it forms the mandala on the floor, and then you're never able to pull it off. And this time, actually, they were able to pull it off, and it looks kinda cool.

Terry: Wow.

RDM: Another key difference in this version of the show, and the scripted version, that I also fought for a while and then relented, said, "No, you're right, and I'm wrong," was that Starbuck's last meeting with Adama was gonna be a very difficult one. There was originally a meeting with Laura, Adama, Starbuck, and I think Lee was there as well. And they were talking and there was some bit of interaction or body language between Adama and Laura that Starbuck was picking up on, and we were still talking at that point about playing out this, "Are they? Aren't they?" relationship between Laura and Adama. And maybe there was something going on. And what was happening? And Starbuck was-

Terry: Incoming. (?)

RDM: -figuring that out. And she said something in public, much to the shock of Adama. It was like, "Why don't you-" Oh yeah. The line was- she saw something between the two of them, and one of them had said something to the other, and Starbuck said, "Why don't you two get a room?" And Adama didn't say anything at the moment, and after the meeting was over he asked Starbuck to stay behind, and then he just laid into her. He just- I think he physically pushed her against the wall, and said, "What the fuck are doing? What, do you think this is? And you saying something like that-" And he was so angry at her. And he just went off on her and the idea was, that was the last thing that he had said to her. That it was gonna be after she was dead that the last words Adama had said to his surrogate daughter were these really awful angry things. And I think it was Nankin's note, I'm pretty sure it was Nankin who said, "You don't need that. It's ugly, and he doesn- I don't wanna play it." And they were all having troub- And eventually I relented and said, "OK. Fine. It doesn't have to be." And I realize that they were right. That you didn't- it wasn't- we didn't have to pile on. It was enough that Kara was gonna die. You didn't have to take the extra step and say, "Not only is she gonna die, and Adama's gonna feel that, but he's also gonna say something ugly to her as his last moment." That's a writer's device, in a way. It's not necessary that the last thing be truly ugly, as well.

Terry: And the actress playing Kara's mother, here's your trivia question. What-?

RDM: K. Wait. Oh, sorry, I thought we were at an act break.

Terry: -prime time television show was she a regular on?

RDM: What prime time television show was Kara's mother show once on?

Terry: Like in the seventies.

RDM: In the nineteen seventies.

Terry: Some of you weren't alive, so you're excused.

Act 3

RDM: And we're back. I didn't get the reference for a while either. It took me a while bef- I think- I don't think I ever did. I think you had to tell me who she- who she was.

Terry: I know who everybody is. And you never do.

RDM: So this- sequence here, again, of Lee going and talking to her, of her not being able to get back in the cockpit and finding excuses not to, this was all also colored by the fact that they had- she had gone into the nebula for a second time already. Or- I keep calling it the nebula. It's not a nebula. It's a gas giant. I'm sorry. It's a gas giant. It's really- I'm really fond of the fact that we've taken the Lee-Kara relationship to this point. That we had moved them through a relationship, with- they had been friends. They had been more than friends. Then they had been a lot less than friends. Now they're friends again, but is still freighted with a lot of meaning and a lot of subtext about what might have been and their- each of them having to deal with where they are, as opposed to where they wanted to be, but they're still-

Terry: You mean like real life?

RDM: Yeah! They're still friends. And it's still, like real life, you have complicated relationships with people that defy rational thought, and you would-

Terry: I've had a couple of those. Haven't you?

RDM: I know. All of my relationships have been very, very smart. I invent these kind of things. I imagine what it is to be in a fucked up relationship.

I like the fact, a lot, that Lee volunteers to be her wingman. Which is, if you know anything about fighters and fighter combat and- being the wingman is definitely the number two position, and for Lee to volunteer to Kara's wingman is- it's a fairly significant thing, and it's a nice- subtle point in the relationship and what she means to him. And, yeah. They're right back to where they started. He's the CAG and she's hotshot pilot, which is the definition of the show. In the original series, that was what the series was built around, and that's why I wanted to touch on this again, that in the original show-

Terry: And these are the what?

RDM: -In the original show, was about Lee- or it was about Apollo, the straight arrow-

Terry: Yeah.

RDM: And Starbuck, his hotshot, crazy friend. And I wanted, on some level, bring us back to touch on that, here at the end, just before Kara goes out.

And then they go back on this- pat- this last great patrol.

Terry: Copasetic?

RDM: Copasetic.

And then here we go. From here to the end, this is all just- This is virtuoso performance here, from- this is Nankin and the editors building this sequence. This is all about rhythm and pace, and when you cut to certain things. And this is where the director has to give you the pieces and the director knowing what he's shooting, which pieces is he gonna need to construct this kind of sequence. And you'll notice, just watch the rhythm of all of this, of how we're going in and out of the Vipers, when you're exterior, when you're interior. Look at the angles here. No we're on a- we're in a front view looking into the cockpit, now you're on the side, then you're close to the side. You're in this intense section. You're with Lee. He's lost in the clouds. He's trying to find her. You can't see anything out the- outside the cockpit. Then you're safe and you're in a place where you can see Kara clearly, see her point of view. I mean, it's just- even the kind of stuff you can't intellectually really map out, it's really something that you do instinctually, by feel, and how you- sense it, that- a sequence should go. Sound has a lot do with this as well. When you're hearing what. When you're outside it's quiet, when you're inside you're hearing the alarm.

Now we're back to the apartment. Love Kara's apartment. It's always been one of my favorite sets that we ever did. It was great to go here. Actually, this was not where were originally gonna go. We originally said that she was gonna wake up inside of a Cylon Raider, Heavy Raider, the bigger Raider. And then Leoben was gonna be there and then it was gonna be her- that's where her journey with Leoben started, was in the Cylon ship, so that when she woke up, initially, she believed that it was possible that she had ejected, and that she had been picked up from the Cylons and captured, and their conversation took place in that context, and that maybe it was all a big mindfuck. And that the audience would go there with you, too. The audience would wonder what was really happening. Was she really on the Cylon ship? Is she really back on the cockpit? Ultimately, for production reasons, building the Cylon- heavy Cylon Raider, just proves prohibitive. (Chuckles) It was an expensive episode and we couldn't afford it, and I didn't know that we could really go back to this location and make this work, but it turned out we could, and this was actually cheaper. And I'm glad. This is one of those cases where the production limitation forces you to think of something better. And this is a better choice. I'm much happier to go back to Kara's apartment than to- sit in the grey metal walls of the Heavy Raider, in retrospect.

The relationship between Leoben and Kara has become a fascinating one.

Terry: It really is.

RDM: I was watch- I watched "Flesh and Bone" again just a- two- day before yesterday when I was over at USC, and watched it with a class of students, and it was really interesting to watch where that story began and how they interacted, and then to think ahead of how they were in subsequent episodes, especially in the New Caprica se- arc.

Terry: Let's see more of him.

RDM: He's great.

Terry: He really is.

RDM: Callum Rennie. I think he's a really, really interesting player for us.

Terry: Yeah.

RDM: And he's- so oddly-

Terry: -Yeah.-

RDM: -inhuman, and yet very human.

There was a bit of resistance from the network, if there was any resistance, was to dealing with the mother's backstory, and the mother as abusive mother, and her breaking the fingers, and all that. There's just- I'm not sure exactly why, but there's always been a reluctance on the part of the network to portray or deal with the abusive mom and the child situation.

Terry: In order to explain her behavior-

RDM: I mean, you gotta go back and-

Terry: You don't just- you don't behave like that just-

RDM: Just 'cause.

Terry: -just 'cause.

RDM: Yeah, I was always interested in this backstory, right from the initial indications of it back in, I think in "the Farm", was when we first really started talkin' about Kara's mom.

Terry: Mmmhmm.

RDM: I kinda wanted to see her. See what it was all about. But it was in that- it was in the stor- in the show bible, not the abuse of it, but the fact that her mother was a Sergeant Major in the Marines, and had tramped her daughter around to various bases all through the childhood, and that dad was a pianist and was someone who dealt with the arts and eventually left, and Kara and mom were stuck together. Again, another case of me inverting gender roles for my own political gain.

This was always in the story. I'm trying to r- think of changes that we went through. This did not change a lot, this notion of Kara coming back and having the fight with her mother and learning that mom has terminal cancer, is gonna die, and Kara really going off on mom, and leaving and never coming back, and hoping that her mother died alone. And her mother did die alone. And that that was- the child's burden was knowing that she really did do it, that she really left her mother to die alone, even as- even though she hated her and had all this anger towards her, that Kara's guilt was that she'd actually done that. But that now, in this episode, you could see that there was really something behind it. That Kara really does have a destiny. That Kara really was fated for a particular end. And that mom was trying to prepare her for that. And prepare her for those roles, on some level, even if she couldn't quite articulate why and what she was doing to her daughter, that her mother believed and had seen oracles and had felt that Kara was special, and that out of her desire to toughen her daughter and make her daughter strong enough to take on the challenges that she was gonna face one day, she had really stepped over the line and had abused the daughter and had created this really toxic relationship between mother and child.

Terry: She played the sex kitten on the said show, that we're having the trivia question. I guess you'd call her a sex kitten.

RDM: The sex kitten?

Terry: Well in that particular series, if anybody was.

RDM: I guess- within the context of th- and she thought of herself as the sex kitten. That's true.

Terry: That's my point exactly. It's all in what you believe about yourself.

RDM: Of course you know that everyone can cheat- now 'cause they just go and they look up the actor's- actresses' credits.

Terry: (Laughs.) Oh, yeah. That's true. Oh... that's no fun.

RDM: See, that's- it's like. There's no fun. You can't do trivial pursuit on the internet, 'cause everyone cheats. They just go, "Oh, I'll look it up," and-

Terry: Yeah.

RDM: "Ha, ha, ha. I found out." Everyone lies and says, "I knew it anyway."

Terry: (Laughs.)

RDM: No you didn't.

I'm not sure what to say here. I'm just enjoying the show and this was all- I mean, this is just the show. The show is doing its own thing at this point. I mean, this is really- the production team put this all together. The writers polished the script themselves. The director knew what he wanted to do. I mean, this is what you hope that a series does when it matures, when you're in the third season, that you as the showrunner can step back a little bit and let these p- very talented, creative people really take the ball and run with it.

Terry: Well-

RDM: I think this was also the episode that- Sorry. What were you gonna say?

Terry: Well, I was just gonna say that just looking at the actors, if you go back to the miniseries and you watch it again, and then, like, immediately cut to an episode now.

RDM: Mmhmm.

Terry: And how much more mature they all seem.

Act 4

RDM: Act four. This was also the episode that really, in a profound sense, told me that we're moving the series into the third act. That we're moving the series strongly into the third act of its existence. In a larger sense. However long that passage may be, and I'm not trying to give a definitive answer for how many years or how many episodes we've got left, but I have a creative sense that the show is moving into its third act. That we are now approaching finales, resolutions, where things are going, and this is the marker that defines that. I think this is the page one of the third chapter, let's put it that way, is "Maelstrom".

I think it's really interesting and somewhat bold, I'll just use the word, and provocative idea that one of your leads in a series gets to a place, through a story, that decides to die, decides to kill herself, decides to embrace death. That she has gotten to a place emotionally and intellectually where she is- accepted the idea that what she is destined for, and that's of course really Katee Sackhoff in the photo, that what she is destined for is to die in a certain manner, and in a certain way, and at a certain time. And instead of rising above all that and embracing life, she opts to do the opposite and she opts to embrace the night, and she opts to go down. It's just something that you never do. You never play that. You never- it's always seen as weak, and it's always seen as cowardly, and it's always seen as something bad. And I don't know. There's- I think it's arguable. And I think that there's something interesting about telling this story honestly. And I felt that, honestly, this is what Kara would do, and this is- Kara had always had a certain death wish quality to her. And yet Kara had never really embraced that. She had always had a death wish about her, but they'd always found a way to skate out. She had always tempted death, cheated death, gotten right up to the edge. Somebody who said she didn't care or was fearless, in a very real sense, and brave and willing to look into the abyss, but always stepped back and always found a way back onto the- back into safety before death would overtake her. And that on a very real level, Kara Thrace's greatest fear, the thing that she had to one day face, was her mortality, was her death, was the end. And that she had avoided seeing her mother actually die. This is the scene that never happened. Sh- Kara wasn't there when her mother died. She'd had trouble all through the series dealing with peoples' deaths. She wasn't there when Kat died. She- Zack died in an airplane crash that she wasn't there for. There's- over and over again, Kara finds a way of avoiding her own and others- deaths, and so there was something true about the idea that this would be her greatest fear and that Kara, to really be a hero in her own mind, in her own heart, had to really conquer that fear as well, had to really decide to embrace her end.

And is he Leoben, or who is he? Who is this- man that has come to her? If he's not Leoben, who is he?

Terry: He's so kind. He's just so-

RDM: He's so kind. And there's something-

Terry: And you feel such menace in it, but at the same time you have to question that. Am I just interpreting that? Is- maybe he really is. It's... it's very powerful.

RDM: And then she comes back. And see, she has a choice here. She's back in the cockpit.

There's something really, I mean, there's just something very emotional about the way Nankin and the editors structured this end piece here. And watch Lee. Lee has to really carry a lot of this emotionally, too. 'Cause Kara's in this other place, and she's- leaving us. But Lee is the one who is the audience. Lee's the one roo- trying to pull her out of there.

I remember when this script- when this script got to the set, it was as if we had really killed somebody. People were really upset. The crew was upset. The production team was upset. The cast was upset.

Terry: Well, trust me. You have a lot of fans who are very upset.

RDM: There's a lot of upset. And there should be.

Terry: Yeah. That's true.

RDM: That's the point.

Terry: You lose-

RDM: They should be upset. We're somebody here. And... drama is about feeling. It's about-

Terry: Except DarthMarley.

RDM: Except DarthMarley, who will be very happy, or probably have a party on this night. (Chuckles.)

I lo- I think this is so- this stuff that Jamie-

Terry: They're so desperate.

RDM: Jamie is so good in this whole sequence. He's just so, so good. The look on his face. The heartbreak of it. He can just feel it's happe- He's just watching it happen.

Terry: And he can't stop it.

RDM: And he can't stop it. And then there she goes.

Terry: Is that her ship?

RDM: That's her ship.

Yeah. She's gone. We lost her. And it's shocking. I remember Eddie, when they shot this scene in CIC, Eddie put down the script, and he was looking at the sides, and he put it down, and he said, "The show will never be the same again."

Terry: Oh my God.

RDM: And the crew was just falling apart.

Terry: Did- what was the cast read through like?

RDM: I don't remember. I don't think I- I mi- I think I missed that ca-

Terry: Oh, you weren't there for that one.

RDM: I missed that cast read through. That's what it was. I missed it. And it was this scene.

Terry: Well they have-

RDM: And he stood here and he said, "The show will never be the same again."

Terry: What people should know is that these actors have formed a family.

RDM: Oh, they are a family.

Terry: I mean, they are- they- and Eddie is dad, and Mary is mom, and they-

RDM: He lost one of his daughters.

Terry: Yeah. And that's how he's-

RDM: Now this, I have to say... (Chuckles.) This is a lo- this is an amazing moment in the series. And this is... Eddie, or Adama smashing his model ship that he- we've seen for all this time. And the way he just, like, completely explodes upon this moment.

Terry: I couldn't remember if this was the episode or not.

RDM: This is both one of the most powerful moments in the show, and also one of the most surprising-

Terry: Expensive!

RDM: -because this was not planned. I have to tell you. This was not planned or scripted.

Terry: And one of the most expensive.

RDM: I'm getting there.

Terry: Oh.

RDM: This was not a planned moment. This is- Eddie being in the moment. Eddie BEING IN THE MOMENT. This is all genuine emotion.

Terry: Beautiful.

RDM: He is so upset, and he reacts, and lashes out, and destroys this ship. And you know what? This is a genuine museum-quality ship that we were renting! This isn't a prop! This was hundreds of dollars!

Terry: Man...

RDM: Oh, but thank God it was insured. But this was like a museum-quality...

Terry: What did he say?

RDM: I don't know. He was surprised when they told him, because he just did it. He was like, he just felt it, in the moment, on camera, and he just lashed out.

Terry: And it's fantastic- it's-

RDM: It's perfect.

Terry: Especially since you've seen him working on this ship for so long.

RDM: For forever. And he- and then he just destroys it, and it's shocking. It's the perfect ending to the show. A perfect dramatic end-

Terry: You know the set- dresser was over on the side-

RDM: Oh my God. They were sh-

Terry: -of the set, having heart attacks.

RDM: They di- the blood drained from their faces. They were like, "Oh my fucking God. If we had known we would've give- made one for-"

Terry: -they made it, make it.

RDM: They would have made one.

Terry: Yeah.

RDM: But they didn't. So anyway. So that is "Maelstrom", which I- is.

Terry: OK. Get up off the floor.

RDM: Yeah.

Terry: Kara fans, don't abandon ship.

RDM: This is a- Stick with us, boys and girls. We've got quite a tale to tell, still. Well, so that is the end of episode sixteen,-

Terry: Have faith.

RDM: -"Maelstrom". Thank you for joining us. The next episode will be seventeen. And seventeen is only a short step from eighteen and nineteen, and then that's the end of season three. So thank you for listening once more. Say good night, Mrs. Ron.

Terry: Good night Mrs. Ron.

RDM: And good night, and good luck to all of you.