Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Battlestar: Anatomy of the Fakeout SPOILERS

Chas (and anyone else who doesn't want to be spoiled on the surprise cliffhanger ending of Battlestar's third season)--Don't read this post.

From the LA Times:
"David and Ron said, 'We want to start this phone call out by saying that we love you,' " Sackhoff recalled last week.

Sackhoff knew she might not like what came next. And she didn't. "They said, 'You're not really gonna die — but we're gonna blow you up.' "

At the end of the March 4 episode of "Battlestar Galactica," Starbuck, the swaggering, troubled pilot who has been one of the show's leads during its three seasons, did indeed blow up. The series' voracious fans' reactions ranged from mourning to disbelief that the producers would kill off such a popular character.

Those in the latter category turned out to be right: Three episodes later, in the season finale's last moments, Starbuck reappeared, flying alongside her friend Apollo (Jamie Bamber). She said she had been to Earth — the search for Earth is the show's overarching story — and would lead everyone there.

In a spoiler-centric world, where the plots of television series leak throughout the Internet, the so-called death of Starbuck was a big secret to keep in the months-long lag time between shooting "Battlestar Galactica" and its broadcast. Adding on that she wasn't actually dead, along with the surprising circumstances of her return, made it even more difficult. After all, the Sci Fi Channel show isn't so much watched by its moderately sized but fervent audience as it is dissected.

So the other part of that summer phone call was the hatching of an ornate scheme that would keep even the most curious and snooping viewers surprised, even if they did guess that Sackhoff was not actually gone from the show. Eick said: "This was by far the most difficult and complex secret to keep. It was no small feat."

At first, the producers wanted to deceive the whole "Battlestar Galactica" production, including the cast, into thinking that Sackhoff was really leaving. "They said, 'We're not telling anyone,' " she recounted. " 'We're not telling the entire crew. The entire cast. Some of the writers aren't even going to know.' I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me!' "

The cast found out Starbuck was "dying" while production was underway last year when they received the outline of the episode in which she blew up. "Everyone flipped out," Sackhoff said.
A little more detail emerges in Ron Moore's podcast for Part 1 of the season finale:

"Flipped out" may be an understatement, particularly with regard to Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell. Moore describes it as a "near mutiny." Apparently, they did an end-run around Moore & Eick--They went straight to the studio. (There's no detail on what they said to the studio, but I have to wonder if threats were involved.)

To calm the show's male and female leads down, Moore brought them into the loop, at which point Olmos threw himself into the part -- even shedding tears at the farewell dinner party organized by the rest of the cast (who were still under the impression that this was it for Sackhoff).

A fake ending was written for the season to continue the ruse. This also let them kept secret which 4 castmembers were to be revealed as Cylons. (Aaron Douglas had let it slip in an interview that 4 of the Final 5 would be revealed in the finale.)

Finally, Starbuck's surprise return in the final seconds of the finale was shot after the season wrap party.

Anyway, Katee Sackhoff returns as a regular next season--presumably without the demons that plagued her (and the audience) this season. Moore (who, obviously, gets off on lying to the fans -- and who can blame him) says that she's not a Cylon, and she's not dead -- i.e., she hasn't returned as Apollo's new Inner Starbuck (a la Baltar's Inner Six, and Six's Inner Baltar). It's really her, and she's really there.

I guess we'll have to wait til the next (and almost certainly final) season to find out whether he's lying to us about that. (And, again, I say -- good for him. Spoilerholics like me can't help ourselves -- so he's doing us a favor by attempting to restore the element of surprise. For the record, though, almost no one I know bought that Sackhoff was off the show.)

So, here's my question (well--one of many): where the hell did that Viper come from? They built it for her on Earth? (She may not have blown up at the end of "Maelstrom" -- she had her hand on the eject lever -- but her ship most certainly did.)

BTW, thanks to Cylkoth for the title of this post, "Anatomy of a Fakeout" -- I liked it so much, I swiped it.


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