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There was a point last night when I assumed the most annoying part of this trip would be the gentleman across the aisle from me who removed his shoes AND socks five minutes into our flight.  The two and half hours in the air were otherwise uneventful and I was pleased to note that we were making good time.  We landed a good twenty minutes prior to our scheduled arrival time.  The only problem was we hadn’t landed at L.A.X.  We were at Ontario airport, about an hour’s drive from Los Angeles.

Our pilot informed us that a security breech at L.A.X. had required us to make a little detour, but once we received the all clear, we would be on our way.

Security breech?  I got online and learned that a mass panic had been set off by an active shooter.

And then, not an active shooter but some LOUD NOISES.

And then a guy in a Zorro outfit.

The pilot eventually came back with another update.  We would need to refuel and then be on our way.  Refuel?  We were less than twenty minutes out?  How close do these flights cut it?  Anyway, he estimated we’d be back in the air in an hour.

Three hours later we were on our way.  And it took us a mere twenty minutes to get to L.A.X.

Double that for the time we spent on the tarmac, waiting for an available gate.

And then add another 40 minutes if you’re stupid enough to attempt to catch a cab.  I mean, seriously.  For an international airport, L.A.X. is shockingly disorganized in its taxi service.  You can line up and wait at the taxi stand.  Or, like most people, you can not bother to line up and stand in front of the people waiting in front of the taxi stand.  OR, you can just walk down and flag a cab before it gets anywhere near the taxi stand.  It’s as if the taxi companies in L.A. want you to use Uber.

Which I eventually did and finally arrived at my hotel – four hours late.  Thankfully, I was in bed by 3:30 a.m.

After a refreshing three and a half hours sleep, I was ready to start the day!

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Lunch with the AfterBuzz crew: Tauri Jay Miller, Andrew Mena, and Yael Tygiel.

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Followed by a mini Stargate reunion for dinner with Carl Binder and Martin Gero.

Tomorrow = I get down to business!

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Yesterday, we were introduced to a potential house-sitter via our friend Nicole.  She was lovely – a pleasant, intelligent, young professional who is looking for a place in Vancouver come October.  The timing should be perfect – provided we get that third season pick-up.  Akemi and I will have someone to watch the house and send us weekly mail updates, while our guest will have a nice comfortable home for eight months.  As an added bonus, she offers dog-sitting services as well.

After she left, I asked Akemi what she thought.  Her response: “I like her.  I think she will be great for the house.  The dogs…we’ll see.”

In other words: Sure, she seems honest and sensible enough to entrust with all of or worldly possessions.  But a little more due diligence before we trust her with the dogs.

My thoughts exactly.

Hey, here are two more entries to add to our every-growing glossary of Akemi-isms:

crank up: grow cranky, usually as a result of hunger.  See: hangry

be regret: to regret something (ie. “If you eat that cookie, you will be regret.”).

These words join our expanding lexicon of such notable terms as: brinkle, mushy-mushy, inch, and “Tastes like Santa’s socks”.

Speaking of Akemi – she felt an allergic reaction coming on and took some Benadryl (because we were out of Claratin).  As a result, she’s been a little dopey all morning…

Akemi: I feel so out of it.

Me: You’re high on Benadryl.

Akemi: Actually, I’m low.

A few more recaps, reactions, and reviews to the last episode of Dark Matter, “Going Out Fighting”:

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“After the excellent, parallel-universe hopping episode last week, this week’s turn was a more grounded affair, with a heavy focus on answering the question of what is wrong with Two and her nanites, and more importantly: how to solve this…” by Christopher Hart at The Nerd Recites

DARK MATTER -- "Going Out Fighting" Episode 209 -- Pictured: (l-r) Roger Cross as Six, Anthony Lemke as Three -- (Photo by: Russ Martin/Prodigy Pictures/Syfy)

“Pivoting to the Raza for a moment, Five and Android have a heart-to-heart over a cup of hot chocolate, which Android adroitly steals from Five, basically inviting herself to have a sip, with her “20 million taste receptors” and then never returning the mug…” by Veronica Scott at Happy Ever After

DARK MATTER -- "Going Out Fighting" Episode 209 -- Pictured: (l-r) Roger Cross as Six, Anthony Lemke as Three -- (Photo by: Russ Martin/Prodigy Pictures/Syfy)

“Dark Matter continues to flow smoothly into new territory, with the odd jolt of characters dying or changing dramatically. While Six seems more like his “old self,” The Android is entering a new phase. This evolution of the quirky character should be more than a little interesting…” by Michael Knox-Smith at Mike’s Film Talk

Alright.  Scripts downloaded?  Check.  iBooks library updated?  Check.  Pocket handkerchiefs and quirky socks packed?  Check!  I’m off to L.A.!  While Akemi (and Bubba and Lulu) hold the fort, I’ll be in Los Angeles doing meetings, making new connections, and dining out with some old (and somewhat recent) friends.  Full reports to follow in the coming days!

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Oopsy.  Many of you got a sneak peek at today’s blog entry last night when I accidentally posted its unfinished contents.  It was the second time it’s ever happened to me – in almost ten years of daily blogging.  Not bad.  Anyway…

Tune in tonight for an all-new episode of Dark Matter: “Going Out Fighting” at 7 pm PDT/10 pm EDT on Syfy and Space Channel!

Here’s a little appetizer in the way of some BTS production pics!

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And some sneak peek clips from tonight’s episode!

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TWO finds out about her origins (video) at TV Insider

TWO and the Android (video) at Blastr

And, finally, a preview of tonight’s episode from Aimee Hicks at SpoilerTV.com:

 Fighting Until The End

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My cousin Paul and niece Erica were in town for a week, visiting Vancouver.

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Their stay involved a lot of eating, mainly dessert, but also included plenty of sightseeing, shopping, and spending quality time with my dogs.
1Did I mention we ate a lot of desserts?  yes?  One of the highlights was the carrot cake at Cadeaux Bakery, pictured above with extra end-piece frosting!

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We did a fair amount of walking Vancouver’s various neighborhoods – after which we stopped for a snack.  Yes, dessert in the form of ice cream.

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Erica and Paul trekked across Van, tracking down about a dozen “pianos” interspersed throughout the city.  Akemi and I (and the dogs) joined them for their Olympic Village hunt, finally locating one of the pianos.  Pictured above: Bubba shows off with a little Chopin.

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We did Vancouver-style dim sum at Sun Sui Wah where our meal was accompanied by Jerry Springer on the big screen.  Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Jer-ry! Ha-gow! Ha-gow! Ha-gow!

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Our restaurant itinerary included Taqueria, Meat & Bread, Fable Diner, Bob Likes Thai Food, Rangoli, and, of course, Minami for their salmon oshi sushi.

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Among my cousin Paul’s Vancouver commemorative purchases was the beginnings of his Halloween ensemble.

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Before leaving, Paul and Erica presented us with going away gifts: wacky themed socks for me, and a Pokeman cap for Pokeman-obsessed Akemi.  Bubba immediately took ownership of the cap.

Paul and Erica couldn’t get enough of the dogs, especially Lulu who, despite her snoring, outrageous belching, and terrible gas, seemed to make a great impression.

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Erica bids the dogs a fond farewell.

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Brought Bubba in to get his stitches out today.  The results came in on the two masses removed from his head and, while one was benign, the other one was inconclusive.  We have an appointment in late September with an oncologist for further tests (x-rays and ultrasound) as well an anti-cancer vaccine.

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Lulu, meanwhile, continues to slow down.  At 9, she is officially a senior!

Well, our guests have left and Akemi (and I, but especially Akemi) are already missing them.  Akemi LOVES to entertain, so much so that she suggested we could home-stay visiting international students.  I, on the other hand, prefer responsible adult guests, so I’m looking to adopt.  Any of you interested in a move to Vancouver?

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As I mentioned in a previous post, two my favorite sub-genres of SF television are AU (alternate universe) and time travel.  They both allow us to shed light on our characters, and the show’s world, in ways we wouldn’t normally be permitted within the established narrative.  “Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”, for instance, answers a few outstanding questions, some going as far back as our very first episode, while also teeing up a bunch of future storylines as well.  There was A LOT going on in this episode and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if you may have missed a few crucial tidbits even on second and third viewing (which is de rigueur for every episode of Dark Matter).

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First off, can I just say what a fantastic job VFX Supervisor (and Dark Matter Supervising Producer) Lawren Bancroft-Wilson is doing this year.  That shot of The Raza moving through the debris from the destroyed space station?  Wow. Kudos to Lawren and his VFX team, with FUSEFX at the forefront, delivering some truly spectacular visuals this season, from The Raza’s atmospheric entry and landing to…well, the finale.  Great, great stuff!

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Earlier this season, someone was asking about ship to ship battles.  Specifically, why hadn’t we seen any yet?  Well, we’ve seen some pretty good ones so far this season, once again thanks to LBW and co.  Always fun to see The Raza in action but, in particular, to check out how far the ship has come in its level of detailing.

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Android: “A slight variance in the temperature of the cosmic microwave background suggests an extremely unusual possibility.”

I received a fair amount of love for this theoretical conjecture on the part of the Android, but must give credit where credit is due.  When crafting a hypothetical explanation for the inter-universe jump, I consulting with the experts – in this case, former Stargate science tech advisor Mika McKinnon who stepped up with the assist (GeoMika).

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One of my very favorite guest stars, Torri Higginson, reprises her role as the opportunistic Commander Delaney Truffault.  The character was originally supposed to meet her end in Episode 11 of the show’s first season, but a scheduling conflict and some serious reconsideration of her role in the grand scheme of things saved her.  When it came time to casting the role I knew Torri would be great – but her performance surpassed my lofty expectations.  She played Truffault with such sass and bemused confidence that I instantly fell in love.  And, boy oh boy, that shot of her swaggering down the corridor of The Raza after she takes out FOUR and SIX? Perfection.

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The crew’s research uncovers intriguing tidbits of information, hints of what could have been and clues to what may come…

There’s a corporate war in full swing, something that has only been hinted at back in our reality.

The war finds its roots in long-standing corporate conflicts, but was seemingly sparked by the destruction of a space station, EOS-7, during a summit attended by representatives from the various corporations as well as the League of Autonomous Worlds.

Ferrous Corp is suspected as being the culprit behind the station’s destruction, although they have steadfastly denied the charge.  Oh, hey, Commander Nieman!

Kal Varrick (SIX’s alter-ego) uploaded a virus to the ship’s computer before going into stasis, one that would disable The Raza, thus rendering it “dead in space” (see Episode 1).

He has arranged for the ship to emit a subspace distress call to make it easier to track (see Episode 1).

The Raza’s security system is an Android who can be take offline with a verbal shutdown command.

If the Android perceives an insurmountable threat, she is programmed to wipe the ship’s data stores (see Episode 1).

We learn that The Raza paid a recent visit to the headquarters of Dwarf Star Technologies, killing over two hundred company personnel including company CEO Alexander Rook (see Episode…oh, it won’t be long).

The script’s first draft included another scene, a file SIX accesses prior to the video of his death…

He double-clicks, bringing up various sub-files (SERVICE, MISSIONS, RECORD, COMMENDATIONS) including the one he clicks on: DEATH. We switch to a deposition video – Commander Tarvis of the Galactic Authority (last seen in Episode 106)is being questioned.

COMMANDER TARVIS: He was our best agent up until the incident on Hydaum-12. That mission – it changed him. Though, in all fairness, over ten thousand lives lost – it would’ve changed anyone.

She fields an unintelligible O.S. question –

COMMANDER TARVIS: He requested a leave of absence and we gave it to him. I honestly wasn’t sure he’d ever come back – but he did, six months later. And requested the toughest assignment on book. In retrospect, I should’ve turned him down. He wasn’t ready.

Unintelligible O.S. question –

COMMANDER TARVIS: He went undercover to bring in the crew of the outlaw ship, The Raza.

Unintelligible O.S. question –

COMMANDER TARVIS: He was murdered while sending a data burst back to G.A. Central Command. He died on camera. The visual evidence was logged as part of the inquest into –

SIX freezes the video, enters another sequence, bringing up another video.

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This reality’s Ishida Ryo has retaken the throne of Zairon with the help of his step-brother, Hiro, and other loyal agents within the court.

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To quote actress Melissa O’Neil on the Portia-Boone “sexy time” scene: “My butt clenched reading it.”

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Some awesome twinning sequences in this episode.  Kudos again to VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson and director Andy Mikita.  Find out how they pulled it off here: The Fine Art of Twinning

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Bring on the bad guys!  One of my biggest regrets of season 1 was the loss of Wexler and Tash, two psychotic but colorful mercs who met their spectacular ends back in Episode 10.  Well, here was an opportunity to bring them back – along with the duplicitous Jace Corso.  Scheduling was a huge challenge here as all three actors – Ennis Esmer, Jessica Sipos, and Marc Bendavid – had other commitments we needed to work around.  But, thankfully, we were able to make it work in the end and all three delivered delightfully diabolical performances.

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Since the episode was running long, we had to cut some dialogue for time.  FOUR’s conversation with the captive Portia and Boone offered a little more insight into Blink Drive’s workings in the script…

Portia and Boone are on their feet when he enters.

PORTIA: You didn’t account for temporal displacement. That’s why you and the rest of your crew are here. You tested the drive without making the proper adjustments.

Off FOUR –

PORTIA: So instead of going from point A to point B in your universe, you punched a hole in the fabric of space-time and ended up here in ours.

FOUR: We didn’t know we had to make those changes to the drive.

PORTIA: Didn’t the scientist you tortured tell you?

FOUR: We didn’t torture a scientist.

BOONE: Rookie mistake. You ARE different from the Ishida we know.

And, oh yeah, we also find out a little more about this reality’s ongoing conflict between Zairon and the Republic of Pyr…

PORTIA: After EOS-7, the corporations backing Pyr had bigger things to worry about than some regional conflict. They pulled their support and we took advantage, targeting your homeworld’s enemy and destroying their fleet.

BOONE: And Zairon welcomed you back with open arms.

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Jace Corso’s launching of the nuclear missile, with TWO still on the planet, is a tip of the hat to the AU machinations in Star Trek: The Original Series’ classic “Mirror, Mirror”.

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It’s TWO and Tash Round #2 in one of the greatest fights the show has done to date.  Let’s give it up for stunt coordinator John Stead, director Andy Mikita, editor Teresa Hannigan, actresses Melissa O’Neil and Jessica Sipos, and their stunt doubles.

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Commander Truffault’s double-cross and taking of The Raza results in an exchange between her and TWO that was a little meatier in the director’s cut…

TWO: I thought we had a deal.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: We did – a deal you never had any intention of following through on. We both know that. So here’s the new deal: the lives of your crew in exchange for the drive.

TWO hesitates. Beat.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: Look at the big picture. You just need it to get home. We need it to save millions of lives by putting an end to a war that has ravaged this reality for years.

TWO: By winning it? How long is that going to take? Ferrous Corp had the drive on their side in this conflict, and you’re still fighting.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: I’d argue our enemy didn’t make the most efficient use of a very valuable asset. They also made a mistake by letting your counterparts keep it.

TWO: I’m guessing they didn’t have a choice.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: Probably not. Still, it’s hard to win a war when you’re relying on an ally who thrives on chaos. (beat) Look – this universe or your own, what difference does it make? What the hell’s really waiting for you back there?

TWO: Our own mess.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: (sighs) Your people in exchange for the drive. So, what’s it going to be?

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The final goodbye twinning sequence was, in a word, a nightmare.  Director Andy Mikita had planned to shoot the entire thing as a oner, one continuous shot that followed TWO over to a waiting Alt Android and Portia, captured their exchange, then ended on our originals as the doubles left the shot.  And it almost all went according to plan.  Andy carefully planned the shot.  He informed the cast and crew.  We ordered the special equipment required which arrived..MINUS a crucial piece that made shooting the sequence all but impossible.  They persevered but, when it came time to assemble the cut, it was clear the eyelines were not matching up.  Most baffling was the fact that the Androids were surprisingly way off in their exchange.  We couldn’t figure it out until VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson realized our new Android outfit includes boots with heels that add another three inches or so.  As a result, the entire sequence had to be reshot in the Episode 210 schedule.

A couple of notes on this scene…

Melissa O’Neil loved Portia Lin’s coat so much (she was almost reduced to tears during her fitting) that I rewrote this scene so that her character could actually keep it.

When we originally broke this story, we’d planned for our crew to take the AU Alt Raza back to they reality with them, but ultimately decided against it because it complicated some of the developments we had planned later on down the line.

There’s this exchange between the androids that many of you picked up on:

ALT ANDROID: My presence on the other Raza would be redundant. Besides, my loyalty is to my original crew – and Portia in particular. I owe her a debt of gratitude.

Our Android finds this curious –

ANDROID: For what?

ALT ANDROID: For making me more.

The episode that offers the backstory on this one is going to blow your minds!

With the change in Raza’s, I ended up losing a scene from the original draft that opened with this preamble:

FOUR steps onto the bridge to find the Android standing there, listening to a discordant new age MUSIC that plays over the speakers. She notices him and the music automatically LOWERS.

FOUR: What are you doing?

ANDROID: While going through the new Raza’s database, I discovered a music library. I thought it might be interesting to play a piece and learn what kind of emotions it engenders in me.

FOUR: And?

ANDROID: Initial confusion followed by slight irritation, then discomfort, frustration and, ultimately, disappointment. I don’t like this at all.

FOUR: Well, there you go – an interesting emotional response.

The music turns OFF. The Android, clearly pleased –

ANDROID: Yes. I look forward to experiencing an equally visceral reaction to more selections.

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Finally, the crew returns home…with some unexpected guests in the form of an FTL-capable Marauder that jumps before they have a chance to deal with it, opening the door to all sorts of new potential storylines.  Aint scifi grand?

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The bad boys of Dark Matter.

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Director Jason Priestley on set.

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Alex Mallari Jr.’s Spiderman audition.

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Fun on set.

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The Android picks up some churros.

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Nighty-night, FOUR.

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Who’s up for a little trip?

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Shaun Sipos preparing for his next scene.

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The Android overseeing the action.

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Tabor Calchek getting comfortable on the bridge.

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The New Odd Couple: Tabor and the Android.

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Reynaud’s new and improved transfer transit room.  Now with cookies!

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All he needs is a mask and the web shooters.

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Hey, Reynaud!  Looking for THIS?!

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This episode ran long so we ended up trimming some scenes, and dialogue, at both the script and post-production stage. In yesterday’s blog entry, I offered up some of the stuff we had to lose for time.  Here’s more of – what might have been…

While everyone else heads off onto the station, FOUR stays behind to check on the latest developments regarding Zairon and its ongoing war with Pyr.  A little reminder that our resident swordsman has bigger fish to gut, skewer, and fry:

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INT. RAZA – FOUR’S QUARTERS

FOUR sits at his desk, watching a news report. ONSCREEN, NEWS ANCHOR #2 speaks. In the BG, the insignia’s of the warring parties (Zairon and the Principality of Pyr) accompanied by a map of the interstellar conflict.

ANCHOR #2: At the heart of the conflict is a territorial dispute between the two independent colonies. A long-standing source of contention, the region, known as Enriss Sector became the flashpoint for open warfare following its annexation by Zairon on the heels of a coup that deposed Pyr’s ruling theocracy earlier this year.  (beat)  The hostilities have, so far, been limited to the two planets directly involved as the two dozen strong League of Autonomous Worlds has remained neutral, officially calling on both parties to suspend their military campaigns pending the resumption of peace talks.  (beat) Several corporations who have had their travel and trade routes disrupted lobbied the Galactic Authority to take action –

He turns off the computer, gets up and leaves the room.

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This next one was more of a trim.  In the script, the second scene at the transfer transit office starts off with an amusing  little back and forth between Nyx and TWO before the receptionist’s return…

INT. SPACE STATION – TRANSFER TRANSIT RECEPTION AREA

TWO and Nyx talk while they wait for the receptionist.

NYX: The kid?

TWO: Couldn’t ask for a better shipmate. Smart, savvy, incredibly capable. Looks can be deceiving. Underestimate her at your own risk.

NYX: Ryo?

TWO: He takes a while to warm up to you but despite the strong silent persona, he’s a passionate guy. Hard to figure at times but there’s no doubting his loyalty.

Nyx considers that response in particular – then notices TWO waiting for her to continue. Hurriedly –

NYX: Boone?

TWO: He’ll grow on you.

The Receptionist comes out of the back.

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Some dialogue cuts here and there over the course of the ensuing scenes and then on to this FOUR/Android scene that had to be excised for time.  This moment, coupled with the earlier scene of FOUR getting the update on Zairon’s ongoing war with Pyr, help paint a picture of a man growing increasingly frustrated with his inability to help his home world.  This notion – and just the shot of the Android walking onto the bridge, arms laden with shopping bags – made this scene a hard one to lose:

INT. RAZA – BRIDGE

The Android, clutching her shopping purchases, walks onto the bridge and notices FOUR standing there, wholly absorbed on the onscreen image of his memory template (last scene in Episode 203). The Android sets aside her purchases.

ANDROID: Your old neural imprint.

FOUR: Yes.

The Android considers FOUR studying the template.

ANDROID (O.S.): How long did it take you to start dreaming?

FOUR turns and throws her a look.

ANDROID: Thoughts and images from human memory form the basis of REM and NREM dreams. Without memories to process, brain mechanisms are incapable of producing cognitive contents.

FOUR: On the second day, I dreamt I was back in stasis, awake but unable to free myself. It’s a dream I’ve had many times since.

ANDROID: Would you care to hear my psychological analysis?

FOUR: Not especially, no.

ANDROID: You’re troubled.

He throws her a look.

ANDROID: That wasn’t a dream interpretation; simply an assessment of your current frame of mind based on your present actions and roughly a dozen physiological indicators. (beat) You want to remember, but fear the costs.

FOUR stares at the onscreen data.

FOUR: Perhaps a small price to pay for a far greater reward.

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Finally, because the episode was timing long,, I elected not to lose a concluding montage sequence, choosing instead to simply use the last shot of said montage: the Android, on the bridge, considering the upgrade she received from Victor.  One could argue the other beats are neither here nor there but I, personally, miss the scripted moment of FIVE discovering a gift-wrapped toothbrush on her pillow…and knowing exactly who it’s from:

MONTAGE OF –

A) INT. RAZA – INFIRMARY

SIX, seated on his bed, lies back down and stares up at the ceiling, deep in thought.

B) INT. RAZA – TWO’S QUARTERS

TWO studies FIVE’s sketch.

C) INT. RAZA – DEVON’S QUARTERS

Devon takes a hit – and gets high.

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D) INT. RAZA – TRAINING ROOM

FOUR is training alone with his bo staff. He stops, looks over as Nyx strolls in and helps herself to another staff. They exchange smiles – and fight.

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E) INT. RAZA – FIVE’S QUARTERS FIVE walks into her room and notices a little gift-wrapped present sitting on her pillow. Curious, she picks it up, unfurls the bow, unwraps it – and reveals the toothbrush inside. She smiles.

F) INT. RAZA – BRIDGE The Android, alone on the bridge, holds up and considers the software upgrade she was given.

I’m going to talk to Syfy and our post-production team about releasing these deleted scenes as online extras.  Stay tuned!

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