EPISODE NOTES 205 – “The Sighted and the Seen”
Anyone involved in our writers’ room knows I love alliteration – both in my titles and sprinkled throughout our dialogue. I find it pleasing to the ear. We debate our various episode titles quite a bit. Sometimes, the title becomes obvious to us. At other times, we run through half a dozen different titles until we land on the right one. Whenever possible, I prefer the titles to have multiple meanings and/or have their meanings only become apparent after one has watched said episode. Just to say, we sweat a lot of the details.
Hat’s off to David Kob, our supervising producer, who provided some of these photos. Often, we film two full units at once and David covers set when I can’t be there to ensure story consistency, etc. David is also one of our writers, whom I dragooned over from the short-lived Krypton show.
With this episode we return to Day and the palace intrigue on Trantor. We liked the idea of the various Emperors turning against one another and we continue pulling the thread of altered memory/unreliable narrators. Here, we’re starting to introduce the notion that the flesh and blood Emperors, just like Demerzel, may, in fact, be slaves of their own kind of programming. One of the things we try to do on the show is explore concepts from different angles. You might recall Demerzel’s exchange with Dawn as they are walking to the throne room in Episode 110:
DEMERZEL: “I could never hate you, Empire. I love you.”
DAWN: “Because you’re programmed to.”
DEMERZEL: “All love is programming. Biological or otherwise. When a human mother looks into her newborn’s eyes, their brainwaves synchronize.”
Someone also gave me a bottle of this while in Prague. I think it speaks for itself…
In this episode we also finally arrive on Ignis – which was filmed partially in the Canaries and partially at Tisa Rocks, a park of eerie and unusual sandstone formations in the Czech Republic. This was us during an initial scout.
Looking below, these photos are part of our exterior set, which was built in the parking lot between our soundstages in Prague. This portion of the set is meant to be a link between those aforementioned Tisa Rocks (a real location) and the exterior set for the “Summer Palace”, a former Imperial retreat now inhabited by the Mentalics. The attention to detail from Rory Cheyne (our production designer) and his team is extraordinary.
That’s Kit Rakusen with this back to camera in the f.g. below. He’s a terrific young actor and much was required of him. It’s always nerve wracking casting a child. We try to do as much improvisation with them as possible in order to assess whether or not we think they can play the role as required. But we needn’t have worried with Kit. Really, really, talented. We also try to do as many on-set rehearsals as possible. I’d say we’re able to rehearse about 70% of the scenes a few days before we film them, which is somewhat of a luxury in “television”.
In the original trilogy, the Second Foundation appears largely as a deus ex machina. We know next to nothing about how they were formed, etc. It wasn’t until Asimov wrote the prequel Forward The Foundation that we learned a bit about their origins. In Forward it’s revealed that Wanda Seldon, Hari’s granddaughter, has mentalic (telepathic) powers and helped forge the Second Foundation. For our adaptation, we’ve combined various characters and endeavored to dramatize some of the elements Asimov chose to elide. Gaal is a fusion of Gaal Dornick and Wanda Seldon, for example. While Hober Mallow is a fusion of Hober and Limmar Ponyets, etc.
We also thought that Gaal’s abilities could foreshadow those of the Mule – so we reasoned there were likely other mentalics already out there – and these are the people we meet on Ignis. For dramatic purposes, we needed an antagonist, so we came up with Tellem Bond, a kind of “Magneto”-like character that immediately views Hari as a threat. But is she a true villain? Time will tell.
My family are big fans of Taika Waititi’s Hunt For The Wilderpeople, which we watched during the Covid lockdown. In Hunt, the antagonist is played by Kiwi actress Rachel House. And although House is primarily known for comedic roles, I immediately thought of her as we started sketching out Tellem. When we were casting, I was able to arrange a Zoom with her and we ended up offering her the role. She was the only actress we ever considered. Sometimes, you just get lucky. She didn’t disappoint when it came time to deliver the goods. She’s a mercurial and haunting presence and a good foil for Hari. She’s also just one of the coolest people I’ve ever met.
BTW, that T-shirt I’m wearing was produced by the transport department in the Canaries. Each season, I make a general crew shirt as a gift – but one of the fun parts of working on the show is that most of the individual departments also make their own shirts – so we had cool shirts from the art department, from stunts, from sound, from transpo, etc.
It was raining on the day we shot this scene. So in-between takes, we try to keep the actors dry while we’re touching up hair, makeup, and costume. That’s Dan McPherson (a.k.a. Hugo Krast) standing with Leah. I really love Dan as a person and LOVED the character he played. I was trying to figure out whether we could legitimately have Hugo continue on into S2, but it felt like a cheat and not the story we were telling here. That said, Dan was game to rejoin us for a few episodes. I love the tension when “Hugo” shows up here. Even though we emotionally want it to be him, I feel like the audience is also nervous and not sure – and we played that up with Dan’s performance.