BG4: “Someone to Watch Over Me,” Pt 3

(Continued from Chapter 1 & 2)

CHAPTER 3: POST-PRODUCTION

*** Post-Production: Dealing with the Piano ***

After I spent months helping David Weddle and Bradley Thompson write their script, and weeks helping Michael Nankin shoot it, my work on Someone to Watch Over Me was temporarily finished.  I spent the following summer scoring the most recent episodes while post-production work began on Someone to Watch Over Me. 

Director Michael Nankin worked with editor Stewart Schill and supervising editor Andy Seklir to cut the episode and used the tracks I’d recorded at the piano in Joe’s Bar as a temp score.

The temp tracks were very useful,” editor and associate producer Andy Seklir recalled.  “In addition to the specific pieces that Slick played in his scenes, we had also come up with idea of recording some of the other ‘character themes’ on the bar piano and this was helpful in editorial and ultimately influenced the final score.”

Someone to Watch Over Me was the first time editor Andy Seklir was on set for the production of an episode.  Being on set and having a chance to collaborate with the director and composer from early on in the process was fantastic,” he told me.  “I definitely wish that we could to do it more often. It gives the editor a deep understanding of the material that he is going to work with and an amazing insight into the mind of the director.  So much can be learned during prep and shooting.”

By October, a relatively locked cut was ready for me to begin composing to.  I sat down with my usual cohorts, co-producer Paul Leonard, sound designer Daniel Colman and music editor Michael Baber, and watched the cut (or “spotted” the episode, in industry-bizz-speak).  Obviously, our biggest concern was the piano.  In some takes, the actors were playing the piano while speaking, and in others they weren’t. 

I insisted that all the scenes involving the playing of piano be done live — with the actors playing the piano as they spoke — the way it would really happen,” Nankin said.  “This created a reality that couldn’t be faked and allowed me complete freedom with the camera. The actors loved it. Bear loved it. The director of photography loved it. The sound department hated it.

‘The sound department wants clean tracks. They want talking without music and music without talking. This give them control in the final mix. They freaked out. Then they calmed down and set up some mikes in the piano and put radio mikes on the actors and did their best to keep things where they belonged. But anytime I isolated an actor’s face — or his hands — they asked for a clean take. It slowed things down a bit, but the final mix sounds pretty damn good.”

Andy Seklir added “as an editor, I’m accustomed to adding music after the fact, either temp score or source music as the scene demands.  The sound editors demand clean dialogue to work with, not dialogue tied to a live piano track: 1) it affords them maximum flexibility during the mix, it allows them to find just the right balance between dialogue and music and 2) it allows them to make a mix that can be used for delivery in foreign markets where the dialogue will be dubbed into different languages.

‘The way Michael [Nankin] directs is to let the actors explore the scene and bring a lot to it in terms of their own spontaneity. This results in very fresh, truthful performances from the actors as well as some variation in how the scene is played from take to take. Because of the music we had to be careful about noting when Slick started playing and on which lines and made an extra effort to get clean dialogue when needed, this meant recording the dialogue as ‘clean’ wild tracks after the scene was done shooting, just to protect ourselves.”

As I discussed earlier, I had sampled the piano while I was up in Vancouver, which means I made multiple recordings of each note in order to re-create it digitally in my studio in Los Angeles.  So, we thankfully had the option of replacing the piano performance in the scenes where the dialog or editing had, by necessity, screwed up the music. 

Daniel Colman pointed out that the piano recorded during production was in mono,  and any pieces re-created with the sampled piano would be in stereo, or even surround if we wanted.  Clearly, the sound of the piano had to be consistent throughout the episode.  I was presented with a choice.  We could take my piano music recorded with samples and fold it down to mono to match the music recorded on set, or I could re-perform every single piece played on the piano with the samples, so they would all be in stereo.

I’m an audiophile, so I easily made the choice to re-record all the piano music.  This would also allow me to correct any mistakes made by the actors in the musical performances and for me to completely control the harmonic and melodic content of their playing.  In essence, it gave me total control over every single note you hear in Someone to Watch Over Me. 

The actual process of replacing the piano performances was more difficult than I had anticipated.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Many of these shots are extreme close-ups of virtuosic playing by Roark Crichtlow.  In the final mix, none of the notes you hear were recorded on set.  I recreated it all in my studio, note by note, finger by finger.  I analyzed each shot down to the frame, in a mind-numbing process that reminded me of what it must be like for a computer effects artists to hand paint something out a scene, frame by frame. 

This also presented an incredible challenge when I mapped out my tempos for a given sequence.  Certain scenes contained close-ups of fingers playing.  Therefore, regardless of how fast or slow I wanted the piece to be, at those precise frames, the piano had to match Roark’s exact movements and contour (meaning if Roark was playing up the keyboard, the pitches got higher and vice versa).  I also went out of my way to avoid obviously incorrect leaps.  For example, if Roark played an ascending interval of a second, or minor third, you will not hear a huge octave leap in the music.

One of the most challenging shots was the opening of the second act. Slick plays the end of his current sketch in a blazing set of arpeggios that he improvised on the set.  This single thirty-second shot took me about three hours to re-perform, for every note is clearly visible.  But, frame by frame, I recreated the performance, and recomposed it as well, replacing the simple arpeggios with more interesting harmonic patterns.  But, visually the result is flawless.  At the final mix for this episode, I’ll never forget editor Andy Seklir turning to me in utter disbelief when he saw that I’d replaced that performance.

Going through this process for the entire episode took me days on end, and nearly drove me crazy. But, look at the results yielded.  Typically, to capture a musical performance on camera, the actors lip-sync or pretend to play along with a pre-recorded track.  In this case, Roark and Katee learned the music, actually played it on camera, and then I re-performed it in post-production, perfectly lining up their fingers with the notes you’re hearing.  Their visual performance is natural, relaxed and authentic and the music I added is flawlessly performed and integrates seamlessly into both the characters’ world and the episode’s score.

Having spotted the episode, and figured out my approach to the piano performances, I was finally ready to compose the score to Someone to Watch Over Me.

*** Post-Production: Writing the Score ***

Someone to Watch Over Me begins with a close-up on hands playing a beat-up, dusty old upright piano.  From this opening shot, we can tell that music will play an important role in the episode. 

(Notice the brand of the last tube of toothpaste in the universe: “Felgercarb”)

Once those hands begin playing, we cut to an extended montage of Kara’s daily routine, designed to capture the repetitive and dreary routine her life has become.  Personally, I think this one of the most daring teasers since Kobol’s Last Gleaming, Part II, one that allows music and editing to do the heavy-lifting.  This opening scene immediately tells the audience that this episode is unique.

Inspired by an idea Nankin had on the set, I wanted this opening montage to sound not like a finished composition, but like a composer struggling with a musical idea that simply refuses to be written.  However, I also had to meet the narrative needs of the scene, which required a piece of music that was elegantly dark and moody but not dreary or glum. 

The main melodic idea Slick plays in this “Elegy” is this simple ascending phrase:

This idea, harmonized in D minor, is one of several musical building blocks that eventually form his Sonata, revealed at the episode’s conclusion. 

Before the teaser ends, we begin the episode’s other plot line.  Chief Tyrol learns that the cylons wish to execute Boomer for her role in the cylon uprising.  At the moment he realizes this awful truth, listen for a subtle statement of the Boomer Theme in the gamelan:

theme-boomer.jpg

This theme is one of the oldest in my toolbox and, in combination with the Tyrol Theme, will play an important role in their arc this episode.

The next scene introduces Kara to Slick.  She sits at the bar and snaps at him for continuing to play “the same Lame-Ass Song.”  The idea he’s working through is, in fact, the main melody of “Elegy,” from the teaser.  However, this time it has evolved and is now re-harmonized over a much more exotic augmented Eb tonic:

He looks up from the piano and begins a conversation with Kara, while continuing to noodle around with his idea on the piano.

This scene presented a classic pitfall for portraying music on film.  Very little in this world irritates me more than when an actor casually speaks dialog while pretending to play an instrument.  It screams “We Faked This!!!!” (For a perfect example, look no further than Jeff Bridges in Iron Man.  They can make a dude in an iron suit fly, but Obadiah Stain playing the piano flawlessly, his hands conveniently off camera, while simultaneously having a conversation with Tony Stark was simply ridiculous). 

Speaking and playing even relatively simple music simultaneously is actually very difficult, not that you’d ever know that by watching movies or TV.  I wanted Someone to Watch Over Me to move past these clichés, so I studied the scene carefully and found the moments where Roark’s piano performance would naturally ebb and flow.  I took my cues from his mood, his tone of voice and most importantly from his body language.  Shifting his weight, turning his head, his every gesture was interpreted as musical signal.  If he briefly looks up to say a line, my piano performance hesitates slightly.  If he looks down at his hands, the tempo pick ups and become more confident, just as would happen in real life. 

This may sound like I’m over-analyzing (I probably am), but the resultant music blends in flawlessly.  Even when I watch it now, it’s hard to believe that I manipulated the music within the scene at all.  The illusion that Slick is playing while he speaks to Kara is complete.

Their conversation ends when she taunts him, “you want to be an immortal composer, you better learn how to play that thing first.”  And play it, he does.  Originally, the script called for a virtuosic burst of showmanship.  But, that would merely prove he can play.  Instead, David and Bradley wrote he would perform a piece of music that, yes, required a proficient pianist, but one that resonated so deeply with Kara that it would break through her defenses and move her deeply. 

The piece Slick plays is the next building block of his Sonata:

This piece will not only serve as the climactic cadenza of her father’s Sonata, but the top melody line of this passage will eventually reveal itself as Slick’s Theme.  The theme serves as the A Theme for the Sonata, and as Kara listens, he also plays the B Theme:

At the end of the B Theme, we cut to the Chief’s storyline.  He’s welding in a hallway, but thinking about his past relationship with Boomer.   Here, the score takes an interesting turn.  We are no longer in Joe’s Bar, and yet we continue to hear Slick play the piano.  But, it moves from the physical space of Joe’s Bar to sounding like it’s in a concert hall.  It has, in essence, transitioned from being a real instrument in the ship, to a part of the score itself. 

While the Tyrol Theme would have been an obvious choice for this montage, I felt it was more important to establish the piano music as a thread tying this episode together.  So, Slick’s piano plays the Sonata A Theme throughout the entire montage, although joined by percussion, yialli tanbur, duduk and the other BG score instruments.

At the end of the montage, we again witness Boomer dying in Chief’s arms and the piano slowly echoes away, playing an ascending figure that we will hear again when the Chief / Boomer storyline reaches its climax at the episode’s conclusion.

An episode about Starbuck is bound to have the Starbuck Theme in there somewhere:

theme-starbuck.jpg

The first place it can be heard is a solo duduk statement when she picks up her belongings from Helo.  This scene is important because she gets the DAT tape of her father’s performance, and also Hera’s drawing that ultimately reveals to be my Final Four Theme, standing in for “All Along the Watchtower.”

Over the years, the Starbuck Theme has represented many different aspects of her personality (and I’ve still needed three other themes to accurately capture her complex character in music).  But, generally speaking, the Starbuck Theme represents the more heroic, balanced, sweet-natured side of her personality.  In Someone to Watch Over Me, it signifies her happiest memories of her father.  You will never hear it in a dark, or tonally ambiguous setting.  When she sees her father’s DAT tape, she realizes that there is really nothing else in the physical world that she cares about, and that seems to bring her a certain amount of peace.

From there, we cut to the first big step in the Chief / Boomer storyline.  He goes to the brig to visit her and has an unintended projection, taking them to the dream house they never had the chance to build together.  In this scene, Chris Bleth plays the Tyrol Theme on the alto flute:

theme-tyrol.jpg

This theme has an interesting and convoluted history.  I originally composed it for Season One’s Litmus, intending to write the definitive Tyrol / Boomer Love Theme.  However, unbeknownst to me, they had no more love scenes in the season, and she was killed early in Season Two.  At the end of Season Two, I re-tooled the theme to serve as a Tyrol / Cally Love Theme, underscoring his heartfelt apology to her for breaking her jaw.  After occasional uses in Season Three, the theme was basically put to rest when Cally died in Season Four. 

However, in Someone to Watch Over Me, the Tyrol Theme comes full circle and again functions as the Tyrol / Boomer Love Theme, just like I’d originally intended. 

After his initial bad projection experience, Chief comes back and tries it out again.  This scene represents the most complete, lyrical and romantic version of the Tyrol Theme since their relationship together at the end of Litmus.  The simple arpeggiated accompaniment in the gamelan, piano and harp is also a reference to that Season One cue.

Chief walks through their dream house, basking in every last detail.  However, he’s surprised to see a growth chart on the wall for what must be their child together.  At this touching, suspenseful moment, the Tyrol Theme is played by an ethereal piano… Slick’s piano!  I did this to further blend these two storylines together, as if Slick were in the score as well, commenting on the Chief’s discovery of his daughter.

And what a discovery it is.  As he moves up the stairs, the score modulates upward and swells to a big statement of the Tyrol Theme in electric violin, erhu, duduk and bansuri accompanied by gamelan, piano and harps.  This kind of romantic musical gesture is rare on Battlestar Galactica, but the incredibly moving performances from Aaron Douglas and Grace Park allowed for me to write bigger musical gestures.

The story then takes us back to Kara, who now sits besides Slick while he struggles to compose the second movement of his Sonata.  He noodles around with a bit of “Nomion’s Third” and she calls him on it.  Fans of the classic Battlestar Galactica should recognize it as well, since its actually Stu Phillips’ score, “Exploration.” 

Slick is surprised to learn Kara has such a wealth of musical knowledge and begins a conversation about her musical upbringing.  We cut to flashbacks of young Kara taking piano lessons from her dad.  Again, a solo duduk states a warm and lyrical version of the Starbuck Theme, representing her happiest memories of her father.  As the small fingers play the piano, we hear distant and reverberant chords from Slick’s piano (produced with the samples recorded on set).  I certainly didn’t intend for this to give away that Slick is Kara’s father, but the clue is there, if you can recognize the specific timbre of that instrument.  I made the deliberate choice not to use a generic piano sound for the flashbacks.

This scene is also important because she mentions the piece her father used to play, one that made her “happy and sad, all at the same time.”  This piece is, of course, revealed before the episode ends.

The piano takes another unexpected step in Kara’s dream (or nightmare) sequence.  She’s walking across the completely empty hangar deck towards a young girl playing the piano.  As I mentioned earlier, actress Erika-Shaye Gair who plays young Kara, actually played the piano on the set.  She played a piece she’d learned in her own private lessons. 

Ever since I first heard of this sequence, I planned on scoring it with a horrific blend of digitally altered piano sounds, something like “Chopin-Meets-John-Zorn-Meets-Trent-Reznor.”  In the temp score, Stewart and Andy simply played the live production track of Erika-Shaye playing the song she knew.  And oddly enough, there was something even creepier in her performance that anything I could’ve done with crazy sounds.  The cliché of a kid singing or playing a creepy song has been done to death in horror films.  But, there was an authentic, child-like simplicity to her performance that was genuinely spooky and unnerving.

 

So, I revised my approach and decided to write a piece of music in the style of the one the little girl played on the set.  I stripped out all the insane horror-inspired sound design elements and allowed the musical performance to feel more “real,” despite the fact that the sequence is clearly a dream.  However, I did preserve one part of my original concept for this scene.  I always wanted the tune young Kara plays in the dream to be a disguised version of “Watchtower,” and so it is.  Here is my Final Four theme in its recognizable state (for the sake of demonstration, in the key of G):

Now, invert it.  That means, take every step upward and go down instead and vice versa.  If the melody leaps up a fourth, now it leaps down a fourth.  You end up with this melody:

This upside-down melody is what young Kara plays in her dream, set to a child-like simple piano arrangement.  Its an extremely subtle clue, but it’s there nonetheless, like a code, hidden with the music.

We return briefly to Chief’s storyline.  Roslin informs him that she’s releasing Boomer to the cylons, and he doesn’t take the news well.  He decides that he must rescue her.  The cue underscoring this decision begins with low strings, synths and frame drums, a very typical Battlestar Galactica texture.  However, as he puts his plan into action, Slick’s piano sneaks into the score, playing arpeggiated phrases against the ever-intensifying percussion backdrop. 

Chief turns out the lights in a hallway where cylons are working and clubs a Sharon over the head with a wrench.  At this point, the piano accelerates out of control.  It breaks free from the percussion groove and takes on a life of its own.

We cut to Joe’s Bar to reveal that the piano we’ve been hearing in the previous scene’s score was, in fact, Slick composing.  The arpeggios stumble and eventually dissolve into frustration as Slick slams the keys.  This was a fun, and very therapeutic, cue to write.

Kara initially tries to comfort the frustrated composer, suggested he “get laid or something.”  (I can attest that when creative frustrations get this bad, nothing helps.)  However, their conversation turns sour quickly when he reveals that he left his wife and child to pursue his music career. 

In their next scene, Slick argues that, although she had a right to be angry, her father still left her with a gift, he taught her to play piano.  Underscoring this moment, Chris Bleth performs a lyrical statement of the A Theme of Slick’s Sonata.  This is the only time that Slick’s Theme (also Kara’s Father’s Theme, clearly) is played on an instrument other than the piano.

He asks her to play the song and, in an intimate and heartfelt scene, coaxes her to play a few notes.  I obviously took many liberties with the piano music throughout this episode, adapting the music however I felt necessary.  But this scene between Roark and Katee was so magical, so personal and genuine, I wanted to preserve every aspect of it. The pitches you hear Kara play are the exact same pitches Katee played during production.  I composed an ambient cue to underscore them, and framed them in such a way that they are suspenseful and dream-like.  But, I perfectly preserved her notes.

Back in the Boomer storyline, we watch as a half-conscious Athena must witness Helo having sex with Boomer impersonating her.  The score is comprised of ambient beds and pads, with sporadic tabla phrases.  But, the most important “musical” sound actually came from Daniel Colman, who provided the groaning, creaking ship tones, which provided a horrific, nightmare-like quality.

*** The “Watchtower” Reveal ***

The sequence where the song is revealed was by far the most difficult scene in the episode, for everyone involved.  The scene would live or die depending on when we gave away the reveal of the song.  I didn’t want to tip it too early, nor did I want to risk a portion of the audience not getting it at all. 

At the beginning of the scene, Kara has an epiphany and realizes that Hera’s drawing is music.  She puts it on the piano before them, and Slick helps her perform it.  The instant he starts playing the left hand accompaniment could have easily given the whole thing away. 

During production, Roark had been teaching Katee to play my duet so effectively that they had basically mastered it.  As a result, they started playing the recognizable riff far too early in the scene.  I was left with the challenging task of still matching their every movement, note by note, but also diluting the thematic quality and allow it to build.

With Slick coaxing her along, Kara begins to noodle around on the keys, struggling to bring the melody up from her oldest memories.  These shots are inter-cut with Boomer retrieving Hera from the nursery and sneaking her aboard a raptor, unbeknownst to the Chief who is helping her escape. Throughout the whole montage, the mysterious piano strains slowly become more and more familiar, underscored with a haunting bed of strings and synths.

Finally, Kara remembers.  The music gains momentum, and now BG score instruments begin to rise up from the shadows of the music.  We zoom in on Col. Tigh as he slowly recognizes the melody that switched him on.

And with that, the score bursts alive.  The entire arsenal of percussion blasts in, accompanied by Paul Cartwright on electric violin, John Avila on electric bass and Steve Bartek on electric guitars and electric sitar.  Kara’s right hand melody is doubled with Chris Bleth’s wailing duduk, zurna and Martin St. Pierre’s erhu.  The arrangement is the most aggressive and rockin’ version of the Final Four theme since Season Three’s “Heeding the Call.”

“That’s the song,” Tory says, in shock.  But, the remarkable thing is that’s not.  As I mentioned earlier, there was no instrumental melody in Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” that would work for this episode’s needs.  As a result, the music they’re hearing is in fact, my music: The Final Four Theme.

The scene culminates in Kara finally recognizing her father.  The writers, Nankin and I had tried to come with up a unique performance technique that could be used to trigger the realization.  David Weddle recalled We looked at Chico Marx for his style of piano playing.  And one trick of his that we kept in the script and that made it to the final cut was Chico’s trademark of ‘shooting a key’ by miming that his hand was a six gun.  Nankin came up with the brilliant topper of having young Kara pretend to blow the smoke from Slick’s fingertip/gun barrel.  This is the moment that she realizes Slick is actually her father. 

‘Very early on, I had wanted this moment to be a visceral and silent one – like the devastating moment at the end of Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Lights,’ when the blind girl realizes the tramp is her secret benefactor by recognizing the touch of his hand.  This is why we wrote the moment where Slick squeezes the rim of Kara’s ear.  In the script, that gesture was the instant. Kara realizes it is her father and hopefully the audience does too because they’ve seen the same gesture in a flashback.  Nankin added Kara blowing on Slick’s gun barrel/finger and it was brilliant because she does it before she even realizes what she’s doing, a subconscious act that awakens a realization.”

In the score, Chris Bleth’s solo duduk returns again, stating the Starbuck Theme, in a warm and romantic statement, tying this moment together with all her fondest memories of her father.  However, Tigh snaps her out of her trance and we realize that Slick was never really there at all.  Kara had played that song all by herself.

This reveal is the most important in the episode.  Nankin confessed that, from reading the first draft his “only worry about the script was the possibility of the audience guessing too early about Kara’s dad. This concerned me during production, and now that I’ve seen the final cut, I’m still worried.”

I must add, I’ve been shocked at how much Sci Fi Channel has publicized the musical aspects of this episode.  I am disappointed to see so many forums (including my own blog here) where fans have speculated that the mystery pianist in the photo is Kara’ dad.  And why wouldn’t you?  You’ve had weeks (or has it been months?) with these photos to think it over.  Nevertheless, I am curious to hear from all of you.  Did this reveal work?  Did it surprise you?  Did you guess the “Watchtower” reveal, and if so, at what point in the scene did you suspect?

From the climactic moment of Kara’s storyline, we cut back to the Chief and Boomer one last time.  He helps her aboard the raptor and kisses her.  Even though the audience knows that Boomer is kidnapping Hera, the Chief is totally ignorant of this, so the score comments only on his emotions.  We hear one last warm statement of the Tyrol Theme as they kiss, before the score takes a detour into more tense and dissonant territory.

From here, the episode takes a suspenseful turn as Boomer escapes in a raptor with Hera on board.  This entire sequence is underscored by an energetic percussion groove, a mysterious ethnic guitar riff played by Steve Bartek and held down by an intense electric bass line by John Avila.  The sequence and score build intensity as Adama squares off against Boomer.  The guitars, bass and percussion become gradually more and more aggressive with each line of dialog.

The only melodic or thematic content of this cue are statements of the Final Four Theme played by duduk, bansuri, erhu and zhong hu: 

theme-watchtower.jpg

Of course, this theme is also connected to “All Along the Watchtower,” Kara, Kara’s Father and now we realize that it is also connected to Hera, because she drew it!  It no longer seems appropriate to refer to this theme as the Final Four Theme, because it has grown to mean so much more.  This theme has seeped out of the score and into the very fabric of our characters’ universe.  At this point, I have no idea what to even call it any more and I’m open to suggestions.

The cue reaches its peak when Boomer decides to go for it and escape through the closing bay doors.  The entire ensemble blazes along and builds to a ferocious climax at the instant before Boomer jumps.  The music is then totally gone, leaving room for Daniel Colman’s chaotic and explosive sound effects.

As the pandemonium dies down, we see a close up of Roslin, shot in high speed.  Martin St. Pierre’s lonely yialli tanbur sings a solitary statement of the Final Four theme against a dark, ambient, dissonant bed of synths and strings.

After the pandemonium, Chief Tyrol discovers that he inadvertently helped Boomer kidnap Hera.  Here, Chris Bleth’s also flute states a creepy version of the Tyrol Theme against shifting, minor chords.  This is his darkest moment, and thusly the most dissonant arrangement of his theme yet.

*** Slick’s Sonata ***

As Someone to Watch Over Me concludes, Kara puts on the DAT tape of her father’s concert and listens to it beside the comatose Anders.  This is a way of returning to her roots.  She had been able to connect with her long lost father and put to rest her many conflicting emotions about him.  She can listen again to this music with a new appreciation for it.

This cue represents Slick’s completed composition, the one we’ve witnessed him struggle to compose the entire episode.  The man we saw was a relatively young and energetic composer, and the man on the cassette tape liner notes is clearly older and even wiser.  The composition we’re hearing now has been polished and refined over the years.  His performance is confident, virtuosic and powerful.  The older man in that photo chose his life in music over a life with his family, and all those years of regret and experience were channeled through his hands and across the keys.

For me, this piece also represents coming full circle.  Slick’s completed Sonata was the first piece of music I wrote for Someone to Watch Over Me, so it’s fitting it would be the last we hear before the credits.  After writing the thematic ideas in this piece, I worked backwards and arrived at all the different stages of composition we heard throughout the episode. 

And Nankin very brilliantly allowed me to continue the composition from Kara’s storyline to the closing scene of the episode.  The Chief, stunned and heartbroken, stumbles into their projected dream house.  He finds his way into his daughter’s room, but she’s no longer there.  The house is an empty shell, the façade it had always been. 

The Sonata, lush and romantic on its own, provides painful, bittersweet counterpoint to the visuals.  Kara’s father had given up everything he ever had so he could write this piece of music.  And now it underscores the pain Tyrol experiences at losing the family he might have had if life had turned out differently.  He falls to his knees, a broken man.  But, the piano performance, fluttering through half-diminished chords like a butterfly, descends gently to its graceful concluding chord as we fade to black.

I only had the chance to write the last few minutes of Dreilide Thrace’s Sonata, but I hope that one day I have the opportunity to go back and write the complete work.

*** Conclusion ***

“I am extremely proud of the final product,” David Weddle told me recently.  “I don’t know of any television episode that utilizes music in such a sophisticated manner.  I think you could find some feature film musicals that do this – Bob Fosse’s ‘Cabaret,’ perhaps.  You have greater expertise in this area than I do.  But I doubt there’s another episode of television that approaches what we have done.  This is not because we are geniuses – okay, Bear, I think maybe you are – this is simply because after four years of intense collaboration we trusted each other enough to allow it to happen. 

‘Brad and I knew we could bring you in at the earliest stages of story development and bring in Michael Nankin.  We had no fear that you would take over the project or force the story in a direction we didn’t like.  By bringing in people who had different skill sets and strengths, we could only enrich the piece.  And this could only happen because, above all, Ron Moore let it happen.  He trusted all of us and stepped back and let us contribute everything we could to this episode.”   

“At the end, when we were seeking the moment of recognition, there was considerable concern about the line between going too far, drenching the audience, and not going far enough, having them leaving the show going, ‘Huh?’” Bradley Thompson recalled.  In the end, we simply told Bear to run with his instinct. And it turned out frakking brilliant. As always. After seeing the mix, all I can say is the results are awesome.  The performances are seamless, the music motivated and tremendously effective.”

“David and Bradley wrote the first series I ever did when I was eighteen,” Katee Sackhoff told me recently.  “It’s only fitting that they be the ones to write the most challenging, fulfilling storylines for Kara. I can only hope to work with them again. I would love to steel them from their new job and bring them to mine. I need those guys on every project I ever do. And I miss Kara. : (  But I’m happy with Tessa.”

Someone to Watch Over Me was not only David and Bradley’s last script for the series, but Michael Nankin’s last turn behind the camera on Battlestar.  I know I’m going to spend a lot of frustrating time trying to re-live our experience in other venues,” he wrote in an email to all the cast and crew after shooting wrapped. “But there is no recreating the best writing staff I’ve ever seen; there’s no reassembling a cast of equal generosity, talent, soul, and graciousness. There’s never going to be a crew of such gentle souls and real artists — or producers who know the meaning of loyalty and quality and artistic freedom – or executives who allowed it all to happen. I’ll always be grateful to everyone for the chance I’ve had to thrive, for the openness to all my crazy ideas, and all the love and support I’ve felt from every department.


(Nankin directs in the CIC)

‘Battlestar has been the happiest time in my career and the people involved my second family. We’ve all told ourselves and each other that we will work together again soon, but we say this to save our hearts and not to break down in each other’s arms. We all know the business has a will of its own and who we want to work with isn’t always who we actually work with. This show has been the rare exception and I can only hope that since it has all happened before… well, you know the rest.”

So Say We All,

-Bear