Battlestar Galactica Interview: Mark Verheiden on Deleted Scenes and Cylon Love
Welcome to the latest installment of Battlestar Galactica Weekly, our recurring Q&A with Mark Verheiden, co-executive producer of the hit Sci-Fi Channel series Battlestar Galactica. Each week, we’ll interview Verheiden about the events of the week’s episode, what those events might mean for both the season and the series, and hopefully unearth some clues about what to expect as the final season of Battlestar Galactica nears its conclusion.
Along with posing our own questions to Verheiden, we’re also taking questions from fans — so be sure to send your questions to me, your official BSG Weekly interviewer, after each episode airs at chris [at] comicmix [dot] com. New episodes of Battlestar Galactica can be seen every Friday at 10 PM EST on Sci-Fi Channel. You can view previous interviews via the links at the end of this article.
This week, Verheiden answers questions about the fifth episode of Season Four, "The Road Less Traveled," which aired May 2, 2008. Note: These answers may contain spoilers, so read at your own risk.
COMICMIX (from reader Cal): Was this an episode written before or after the writer’s strike? If after, what was changed in it, if anything, after you guys came back?
MARK VERHEIDEN: That’s a little later. The first 13 episodes of Season Four (counting Razor as two episodes) were all written and produced before the strike.
CMix (from reader Anthony): It seems Tyrol realizes Cally was murdered. Does he suspect Tory? It looks as if he might.
MV: Tyrol’s still trying to work through Cally’s death, which just doesn’t make sense to him. Suicide can be extremely problematic for the loved ones left behind, and the ex-Chief is no exception. That said, I’m not sure Tyrol intuits suspicion specifically toward Tory, but something sure doesn’t add up…
CMix (from reader Lisa): Tyrol seems to really reverse himself after Baltar comes to see him. He even offers his hand. What made him change his mind about Baltar?
MV: Clearly there can be many interpretations of this (and a lot of what happens on Battlestar), but if you’re asking what I was thinking when I wrote the scene, it was that Tyrol sensed a more genuine sincerity in Baltar’s second appeal that wasn’t there in the more public shout-out.
But more than that, Tyrol is lost, struggling to care for Nicky and to find some reason to go on after all that’s happened to him. In Tyrol’s darkest moment, Baltar offers a slender reed of hope. You’ll notice you didn’t see Adama, Tigh, or anyone else reaching out to Tyrol in his misery… though Tyrol’s not exactly been easy to get along with lately.
CMix (from reader Steve): When Starbuck is staring at the Heavy Raider when they discover it,
what does she see? Are we supposed to see something there or is she just concentrating?
MV: As Helo points out early in the episode, Kara hasn’t been out on a CAP since the Demetrius left the fleet. So something, call it intuition or whatever, told her she needed to be out on this mission. Her concentration, at least for me, was both her struggling to work through that and trying to come to terms with this discovery.
CMix: It seemed impossible that Helo would ever go against Starbuck. But in the end, he did. What made him finally decide to do it?
MV: It is a big turn, but in the end the objections raised by the others, that the Leoben could be laying a trap, that Kara’s been acting “erratically” for months, that they’re going to miss the go-back deadline, all culminating when Kara refuses to even consider Helo’s eminently sensible suggestion of going back to the fleet and sending armed reinforcements for the scout (per Admiral Adama’s standing order)… that’s when Helo’s forced to take action.
Not out of anger or hatred, but sadness, really, over whatever’s been tearing at Kara since she came back to the fleet.
CMix: Some Cylons speak of love often. It’s interesting that all of the more "enlightened" ones are in love with someone: Six with Baltar, Anders with Starbuck, Leoben with Starbuck, D’Anna with the hybrid baby, Tyrol with Cally, etc.. On the other hand, Cavil and his supporters seem to try to stay as emotionless machines. Is it love that’s driving a wedge between the Cylons and what separates the "good" ones from the bad ones?
MV: Some of the Cylons clearly believe that “love”, whatever that mysterious word means, is lacking in their lives. More specifically, the lack of true love is why they haven’t been able to procreate naturally (until Athena fell in love with Helo).
Cavil has made it fairly clear that he finds this obsession with humans and human emotion almost ridiculous with his “we’re machines!” mantra. So I would say it’s certainly a sticking point between the two sides.
CMix: Considering you wrote this episode, what was your favorite part of it?
MV: I’ll go a little further this time, and start with what I missed. Even though we try to write these episodes to come out just slightly longer than time, it seems the (finished episodes) inevitably come in longer, and this one was no different. So I miss a few things that were shot but eventually cut.
There were, for instance, a couple Helo/Athena scenes that dealt with Athena’s feelings about the mission, and the fact that she feels truly accepted by the others on the crew. This is followed by her and Helo’s wariness/sadness when Pike starts making anti-Cylon comments and all the old suspicions come back. I think those moments would have softened what now feel like some pretty cranky interludes between her and Helo.
The Mathias death scene was originally a bit more involved. And finally, the ending is somewhat truncated. This is obviously spoiler territory, but the first couple minutes in the next episode? Those were written and shot for THIS episode, and shuffled into the next one during the editorial process for a variety of timing reasons.
Suffice to say this sort of thing occurs with virtually every episode and I only mention it here as a point of interest, not as a criticism of anyone. Besides, maybe some of the missing material will end up on the next DVD…
As far as my favorite scene, I’m partial to the moment when Kara confronts Leoben after Mathias’ death and he tells her what he believes she’s become since New Caprica. But then I always enjoy Leoben… and I have to say, I love his shirt in this episode. Now I want one!