This week’s episode centers on Helo’s suspicions that a civilian doctor is killing refugees staying aboard the Galactica.
Helo has more screen-time this time around
It was obvious from the beginning that the score would be built from variations of Helo’s theme:
Helo has always been a principal character, but this is the first time that he has carried an entire episode. As such, I had to develop this theme much farther than ever before. In most cases, stating these six chords with a slow ominous synth and vocal tone would suffice for an entire cue, covering a dramatic moment for Helo. Suddenly, I was faced with making this relatively simple musical idea last for 44 minutes!
On a strictly compositional level, I knew that I needed some more thematic building blocks to stretch Helo’s theme into an entire score. A secondary theme had to be written specifically for this episode.
The story centers around Dr. Robert (Bruce Davison), a physician put in charge of the civilian refugees. Helo begins to suspect that he is euthanizing Sagittarons, because of their strong anti-medicine religious beliefs.
Bruce Davison plays Dr. Robert
Is Robert a homicidal racist? Or is Helo just “crying wolf” again? I decided not to comment on Dr. Robert with any music at all. An ominous score set against his character would reveal his evil intentions, give him the proverbial “twirling-moustache.” I realized that not acknowledging him with a theme, either for good or evil, actually created more ambiguity and tension.
Instead, I crafted a theme for the Sagittarons:
I modeled this melody after the various religious themes I’ve created in the past. I wanted to help give the Sagittaron rituals a sense of history and purpose. To help sell the idea that they are not crazy lunatics, but they believe very strongly that they are following holy doctrine.
Mrs. King represents the Sagittarons
By emphasizing their spirituality, instead of any menace in Dr. Robert, I could maintain the mystery and suspense without giving anything away.
This melody was performed by Paul Cartwright, on a solo electric fiddle. We’ve used his sound to great effect in the past, most notably Season One’s Destiny and Season Two’s Baltar’s Dream. However, we really dialed back the sound this time to create a richer, warmer tone.
Violinist Paul Cartwright
Virtually every cue in The Woman King is a combination of Helo’s theme and the Sagittarons theme. Individually, both themes are very consonant and simple. But, put together, they formed wonderfully dissonant textures… nasty, crunchy sonorities that I’ve had rare opportunity to use on Galactica.
While I always prefer the more epic story arcs, the stand-alone episodes can be fun to score. They give me an excuse to develop themes that would otherwise go nowhere. As an audience, we now know a little more about Helo’s character… and as a composer, I have a wealth of variations of his theme to draw from next time.
So Say We All,