Play it again, Starbuck: Talking to Weddle and Thompson about ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’
By: Maureen Ryan (and Alan Sepinwall: TV critic at The Star-Ledger)
Date: February 28, 2009
Source: The Watcher
Note: This is a snippet of an interview with BRADLEY THOMPSON and DAVID WEDDLE where they mention TYROL. To read the full interview, click HERE.
Alan Sepinwall: When Tyrol returns to the dream house on Picon, is it empty because he’s not doing the projection with Boomer? Or is it empty because she was scamming him the whole time?
Weddle: Cylon projections are fantasy expressions of their subconscious desires or emotional life. Tyrol’s return to the empty fantasy house at the end of the show to find Boomer and his imaginary daughter gone was an expression his devastation and despair.
Thompson: It’s empty because that’s what he experienced. Like Tyrol, you’ll have to draw your own conclusions. But it was definitely not a random dramatic decision. We weren’t being all mysterioso. There’s logic to it.
While working in Japan a long time ago, a Japanese businessman I was interviewing explained that when Americans come to his country, they’re always asking what they should see, and his countrymen advise them to go see this or that famous shrine. The Americans take the trip and arrive at this shabby little shrine. And they’re disappointed. An interview subject told me it was because of a different cultural orientation. “For you Americans, it’s all about reaching the goal. For us, it is the journey.”
“Battlestar Galactica” is a wonderful journey – which, because we all took it together, will make Ron’s fantastic three-hour finish all the more compelling.
Mo Ryan: Did Boomer really love the Chief? Or was that final speech to him just another part of her con job?
Weddle: Did Boomer really love the Chief? That’s an interesting question and one I don’t have a neat answer to. Boomer is deeply conflicted. I think the process of having false memories planted in her, getting switched “on” as a Cylon, shooting Adama, getting shot by Cally, and her experiences on New Caprica have left her severely disturbed. She was determined to go through with her mission, but in the process of seducing Tyrol she reawakened feelings of love that she thought were dead. I think she experienced real misgivings just before she got on that Raptor, but felt she had gone too far to back down. Wrapped up in that is her perverse envy of Athena, who obtained everything Boomer once wanted, and this festered into a sick desire to strike out at Athena. It’s difficult to say someone who did that loves the Chief, and yet in her damaged way, I think she did and still does love him.
Thompson: Good question. She may not even know the answer. Boomer’s a complicated, damaged individual. Might both be true?
Mo Ryan: Is Tyrol in love with the real Boomer or the one he remembers?
Weddle: This is exactly the question he is struggling with. His visits to the fantasy house illustrate that he’s in love with the dreams he’s attached to Boomer about a life he would like to have. Don’t we all do this to some extent to the people we fall in love with? And when they fail to live up to our fantasies or expectations, it can be excruciating for them and for us.
Thompson: Black-and-white answers would be nice. But that’s not generally true of the human – or Cylon – heart. Brings up an interesting question: Does commitment to your mission, your country, your people, outweigh the dictates of your heart?
Mo Ryan: What did the Chief think was in that box he toted around for Boomer? Change of clothes?
Weddle: In the beginning of the episode, Starbuck instructs Raptor pilots going out on long duration planet-hunting missions to pack food and water for those long flights. And we see them pack cases just like the one Boomer puts Hera in. Tyrol thought he was giving Boomer a chance to get away and find a life somewhere. Naturally, she would need to take food and water to give her as much time to do that as possible.
Thompson: “PROVISION PACKAGE – LONG DURATION” – We establish those big boxes of gear as planet-hunting mission requirements early in the show, and since that was Athena’s task, it would draw attention if she didn’t load out one of those crates. So Chief Tyrol probably assumed she was carrying the box she was issued for the flight.
Mo Ryan: Would we be correct in assuming that everything Boomer did from the moment she left Cavil’s base ship was part of his plan to get Hera?
Thompson: How do you escape from a fully armed base ship?
Alan Sepinwall: Ron said in the podcast for “Deadlock” that there was originally a different plan for how Boomer’s story would end, but he couldn’t get into it yet without spoiling what was to come on the actual show. Are we yet at a point where you can explain how the original plan diverged, or do we need to wait a while?
Thompson: You’ll have to wait.
Mo Ryan: To me, so much of this episode (quite heartbreakingly) dwelled on what these people have lost or given up or had to suppress in order to survive. Was revisiting that an important part of starting to close the chapter on the story of these characters, in particular Tyrol and Starbuck?
Weddle: It was thrilling and fulfilling for Brad and me to write this episode because we got to revisit the pivotal characters of Boomer, Tyrol and Starbuck. We were deeply involved in plotting their character arcs throughout the four seasons of the show and it was exciting and rewarding to craft some of the final movements of their journeys. The entire staff believed it was very important to revisit the Boomer/Tyrol relationship, especially since the Chief has discovered he is a Cylon. And exploring Kara’s relationship with her father in a way completes her biography and rounds out her character. This episode puts events in motion that will propel our characters to the climax of our story. So it is not a tone poem in any sense of the word.
Thompson: We always felt that a love such as shared by Chief Tyrol and Lt. Valerii wouldn’t simply go quietly away – especially given the changes that both have gone through in the last four years. And the reasons they parted – do they make sense after all this? Is there still something left? We wanted to see where that led. And since we’re in the last headlong dive for the final logo, if not now, when?
Mo Ryan: For me, the moment when Tyrol spots the daughter he could have had is one of the most bittersweet and emotional ones of the season. Aaron Douglas’ performance was spot on throughout, but I am betting director Michael Nankin had something to do with the performances we saw. Am I right in recalling that you had asked that he be hired to direct this episode? Why?
Thompson: Every one of the cast was blow-you-away spectacular. One of Nankin’s many gifts is the ability to run the throttle on these powerful engines so that the moment has maximum impact when it finally plays. I have to say that Aaron and Grace outdid themselves for this episode, fearlessly reaching into painful personal places for some of their best work. And Katee reached the same place with Slick.
Another part of Mr. Nankin’s talent is that he creates an atmosphere where actors feel safe taking chances, can risk falling on their asses, knowing that he’ll put them back on the path if they go astray. It’s a trust built over a lot of working together. And it’s especially tough on these actors because with them, we expect brilliance.
Michael Nankin is one of the most talented directors I’ve had the good fortune to work with, and he was slotted into Episode 19 long before we knew what it was – or that we’d be writing it. After “Someone…” Mark Verheiden was sorting out the writing assignments for the last shows of the series and asked us if we wanted to do one more. We, of course, grabbed for it with both hands and our prehensile feet. He then asked which slot we’d prefer and it was a no brainer: Mr. Nankin’s.
Mo Ryan: Speaking of composition, what had to be cut from “STWOM”? What happened on set that you weren’t expecting or that presented difficulties?
Thompson: It’s been a while since I watched all this go down, but I think most of the cuts were in the music because it was long and that was the place where we could best afford the loss. The show was restructured in editing, because Andy and Paul found a way that the climax with Kara and the climax with Boomer could happen simultaneously, which made the end much more satisfying.
And I should note that we’d been admonished (by high level players who will remain nameless) not to have Helo make the mistake he makes. We backed off in subsequent drafts (feeling like we were somehow cheating the fans) until Michael Nankin’s first round of script notes hit Ron, saying, “I can’t believe you have this opportunity and you’re not going all the way with it.” And Ron turned to us and said: “He’s right. It’s so wrong we have to do it!” And we got to put that moment back in the show.
An addendum on Boomer-Tyrol story from Thompson: I recall correctly, the Boomer-Tyrol aspect of this story was something we’d floated in the room in Season 3 but didn’t know where it fit or what it would be. Like so many “Battlestar” ideas, it simply hung in limbo until the time was right for maximum impact.
That’s one of the genius parts of Ron — patience. Like with the nuke Six asked Baltar to get. And how it eventually played out. When the time came, we were very happy we’d had that one in our back pocket. But Ron didn’t force playing that card until it made sense to do so. Likewise with Boomer-Tyrol.
Mo Ryan here: Here are a few of my thoughts on “Someone to Watch Over Me”
Anyway. I give high marks to this graceful and emotionally rich episode. And if the personal excavations it presented, the forward movement regarding Tyrol, Boomer and Hera, the terrific performances and the amazing music by Bear McCreary weren’t enough for you, then I respect your point of view. But I couldn’t disagree more strongly.
This is the duo who also wrote “Maelstrom,” and who gave “Scar” — one of the show’s best action hours — a deeply resonant emotional story. They also penned “Sometimes a Great Notion,” and like that episode, “STWOM” contained a lot of carefully placed emotional ordnance. If Boomer’s betrayal of Tyrol wasn’t as devastating as Dee’s suicide, it was close.
And we got time to experience Tyrol’s joy and pain as well. What was so affecting about Tyrol’s journey was that this is a guy who holds everything in. He’s the man who keeps things together, whether it’s an aging ship or the workers on New Caprica or the flight deck crew. He fixes things, he makes them work, and his feelings don’t get in the way, not if he can help it.
For the entire episode, he’s fighting the strongest emotions he’s ever felt — love, fear, grief for what he’s lost, the hope that he might get a shard of it back, and then the deepest betrayal he’s ever known. To see this dutiful, matter-of-fact guy wrestle with all those things, and practically drop to his knees as he begged Roslin to spare Boomer’s life was nothing less than engrossing.
The hardest moment of the hour was watching him discover the daughter he never had with Boomer. How many times have we seen this show take great joy and combine it with such heartbreak? The ecstatic look on Tyrol’s face, as he saw her and as he stood outside Boomer’s cell, brought a tear to my eye.
Kudos to Katee Sackhoff and Aaron Douglas for bringing it in this episode. Roark Critchlow struck just the right note as the piano player. And a special mention should be made of Grace Park, who has effortlessly made the Eights all seem quite different over the years. And that animal scream Athena emitted when she told Helo their child was missing brought home the character’s turmoil.