Category: Battlestar Galactica Episodes

BG4: “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner”


BEWARE THE SINGING SPOILERS: Throughout Guess What’s Coming To Dinner, Gaeta sings to distract himself from the pain after his leg is amputated.  The song, Gaeta’s Lament, serves as a narrative thread connecting the entire episode, not only communicating his character’s misery, but weaving together the multiple story arcs. 

This episode is a special one for me, because it represents the first time I’d been brought onboard at the script level.  The scoring process is generally the last step in the journey of completing an episode.  I’m accustomed to writing music for a finished story.  Here, I had the unique opportunity to help shape the musical identity before production even began.  Writer Michael Angeli, director Wayne Rose and actor Alessandro Juliani and I all worked closely together to bring this song to the screen.

Alessandro Juliani (AJ) said that the idea “began around a dinner table when we were shooting Kevin Fahey’s script ‘Faith.’ We were out one night after work, and somehow it came up in conversation that I had studied opera (in what seemed like another lifetime at Mcgill University in Montreal). 

Writer Michael Angeli described the evolution of the song: “After we hammered out the bare bones story arc, Ron came to me with this idea of having Gaeta sing ‘an opera’ whenever his leg’s bothering him.  And he wanted an original song.  Since it was my episode, later I asked him if this opera was something I should write and he was, like, ‘Yeah, why not?’  I’m pretty sure we had that conversation after we were drinking all night  (we would work for 12 hours a day, then kick it, big time in the evenings).


BG4: “Faith”

     BEWARE THE USUAL SPOILERS:  Many of the themes developed in The Road Less Traveled return in Faith.  But this episode is an even bigger melting pot of musical ideas from throughout the series.  And it introduces the first brand-new theme since Cally’s theme in The Ties That Bind.  

     The episode picks up right where we left off last week: a tense scene underscored with a signature percussion groove I called the Mutiny Riff.  While this swinging 3/4 pattern rolls beneath the entire scene, the most interesting musical moment in the teaser happens while Kara and the crew are frantically treating Gaeta.  Here, the ethnic soloists state a new idea which I will call Gaeta’s Theme for now.


      This theme will be featured (very prominently) in next week’s episode, so I will save the juicy details and analysis until then.  But, it makes several appearances in this episode, foreshadowing the unusual role it plays next week.  


BG4: “The Road Less Traveled”


     SPOILERS AHEAD: The Road Less Traveled is an important episode because it simultaneously brings together several significant story points from the past and sets in motion events that will prove pivotal in the future. The episode focuses on Kara and her crew aboard the Demetrius, so the Starbuck Theme…


… and the Starbuck Destiny Theme… 


… are both featured frequently in the score. 


BG4: “Escape Velocity”

     SPOILER ALERT, AS USUAL: While each episode is exciting on its own, the first quarter of Season 4 is essentially laying the groundwork for bigger events down the line.  As a result, Escape Velocity is a bit of an odd episode.  So much of it is setting up future storylines that the episode itself is paced slower and more deliberately than most.  It’s a relatively calm and introspective story, and I loved the opportunity to write a more spiritual, dark score without the added pressure of frantic action cues (although I still got a few good ones in there).  


     The episode begins with Cally’s funeral.  It would have made sense to bring back the Cally Theme from last week’s episode but… I hadn’t written it yet!  The editing schedule forced us to complete Escape Velocity before Ties That Bind, so I actually had to score her funeral before her death scene in the previous episode.


BG4: “The Ties That Bind”


    Episodes where a major character is killed off generally require a complex and almost Operatic approach to scoring.  Not only are these death scenes important in the larger story arcs, but I also feel compelled to provide an appropriate send-off for the actor or actress who is leaving the series.  I want to make sure that their (presumably) last moments on the series are good ones.  The Ties That Bind was the first such episode in Season Four, though I have since discovered that it is certainly not the last.


     Cally’s storyline filled 20 minutes of the episode, and literally every second of it was plastered with layered, evolving music.  I knew immediately that I’d need a new theme for her.  Though she and Tyrol have had a love theme since Season 1 (musical details here), it didn’t have the emotional range to capture her frustration, anger, disorientation, confusion and ultimate madness.  Their original theme does make several appearances in the episode, but the majority of Cally’s scenes are underscored with this new melodic idea: