"What the hell is this?" Gwen threw the script for episode thirty-three down on Donald Morris' desk.
He looked up at her. Gwen couldn't stand his long, dark hippie hair or his thin, little beard. He was such a - such a writer.
"It's an alternate universe, where things happened differently--" he started as if she was actually Tawny and had bigger boobs than brains.
"I know what that is, Don," she narrowed her eyes at him. "And I'd love the chance to play Tawny doing something other than acting surprised and getting kidnapped. But in thigh-high go-go boots and a bikini? Is she a captain or a dominatrix?"
He shifted in his chair, looking a little shifty, like the weasel she thought he was. A weasel dressed up in man suit, who only wanted her to prance around showing her boobs and repeating the computer. "Look, Gwen, it's a chance for Tawny to show her stuff. To do something a little bit gray and morally complicated."
Gwen threw her hands up in total frustration. "Oh, you -- you don't even know what that means! This is Galaxy Quest, not Macbeth. I know that, Don. I don't need 'morally complicated'. I just need to not wear a costume that makes me look like a ten-dollar whore. Who the hell would take her seriously dressed like this?" she demanded. "I know I sure wouldn't take you seriously if you came in here dressed in a speedo."
He chuckled, sounding uncomfortable. "You don't want to see me in a speedo, trust me."
"No, I don't," she agreed, and then had to bite back her urge to smile when he looked insulted by the idea that she didn't want to see him in his swimsuit. "But the point is, if Tawny is supposed to be this fearsome pirate queen, I don't want her to look cheap. She should look strong--"
"Sexy," Don interrupted. "She has to look sexy. That's why Tawny is on the show, Gwen. I'm sorry to have to put it like that, and I know you deserve better - I do," he insisted, even though she hadn't protested, "but I have to listen to the studio and the network, and Tawny is there to attract the boys, and that means costuming."
She let out a disgruntled groan. "All right, I understand that. But this is too much, Don. It's ridiculous. It won't look sexy or strong or powerful; it'll look stupid. Do you really want this Evil Tawny to look like she came out of some B-movie in the Sixties? Like Evil Barbarella?
He smirked. "I'm sure I'm not the only one that sees nothing bad about that."
She sighed. He was a man, he was never going to get it. She decided to try compromise. 'Remember, Gwenny,' she told herself, 'Baby steps. Negotiate. You managed to get yourself a regular uniform, even if it had to have cleavage. You can do this.'
Putting both hands flat on the desk, she leaned forward, noting the way his eyes flicked down before pulling upward again to her face. She smiled, trying to be conciliatory. "Don. I'm not saying Evil Tawny needs to dress like a nun, okay? You want a little T and A, I'm okay with that. I don't eat lettuce and oranges because I like them, after all; I have to avoid the craft table so I don't look like a hippo on camera. But I'm just saying - wouldn't it be nice if you could illustrate those morally gray themes you were talking about with something that won't be so distracting? No one's going to be listening to Evil Tawny dressed like a hooker. She needs to be strong."
She leaned a little closer to him, and looked him straight in the eye, not missing that he leaned back in response. "She needs to be fierce. So, high boots are good. But realize if I have too much heel I'll be much taller than Jason since he and I are the same height." He nodded thoughtfully and she knew at least the spike-heels were now off the table. Nobody wanted the leading man to look like a shrimp. But that was only step one. "And how about, instead of black short-shorts or a bikini, we give her a long skirt but slit up this way," she ran a hand up the outside of her thigh watching as his eyes followed the movement. "To show some leg, but as a titillation. This is a woman who doesn't reveal her secrets or give away her power to just anyone, after all. Maybe she could keep the knife from the second act in a sheath on her thigh?"
The suggestion paired with a lift of her eyebrows and a little smile, made him swallow. He started to play with a pen on his desk, spinning it in his fingers, while his leg nervously twitched. She hid a smile. 'And you think Evil Tawny needs a corset and thigh-highs to get men to do what she wants? Please.'
"I think that's a good idea," he agreed, nodding, trying to keep his voice level and calm, but she heard a little huskiness in it and she decided she'd better close the deal while she could.
She hitched a hip on the edge of his desk and turned toward Don earnestly. "I really want to do this. I love the script. I think it's the best one yet, especially for Tawny. It'll be so much fun to do. But I think it would work better to have the costume support the lines, not undercut them."
All of that was true; it was the best script for Tawny in a season and a half, although that wasn't saying much since most of what she did was parrot the computer's dialogue, but still, she couldn't wait to do it. Just not in a swimsuit.
Donald nodded, agreeing with her, with some reluctance for having to let go of his fantasy. "All right, I'll write a memo to Cristina about a costuming change. And I'll sell it to the network that it'll be that much more exciting when we imply that she takes it off for Taggart. The audience loves the idea that there's something between them."
She smirked back. "I get that fanmail all the time."
And if she wished sometimes that it was actually true, and not only for Taggart and Tawny but for Gwen and Jason, too, well, she was going to keep that to herself.
"I should go. Thank you, Don. I really look forward to the part." She tapped the desk with her hand and headed out.
Eight days later, she left her trailer in Evil Tawny's costume. She'd spent an hour extra in hair and makeup, and now she was wearing the black leather bustier, long satin skirt slit up to there, boots, opera gloves, and a large faux-silver choker necklace. The boots made her walk like she was runway modeling, but the costume helped her feel wicked.
At the stage door, Fred was coming out, and he glanced up and down and whistled. "You look amazing, Gwen."
"Thank you, Minion Fred." She stalked past, hips swaying.
Inside, when she reached the command deck set, Jason stared at her. He was in a torn version of his uniform, with his hair artfully disheveled for the scene.
They'd redressed the command deck into Commandant Tawny's and the chair was now a throne with cushions and a higher back.
It was her first time to sit down in the command chair, and she wriggled into it delightedly, to rehearse while the grips and director tested the lights.
She leaned back and crossed her legs. Regarding Jason with a haughty expression, she pointed down to floor. "Kneel before your commandant. And maybe I'll let you live."
"Never give up, never surrender!" Jason declared boldly in that way of his and pretended to struggle against the minions, though there was no one there yet.
She laughed with genuine pleasure and purred, "I admire such boldness, 'Captain' Taggart. You'll be a worthy addition to my crew."
It was such a rush to speak the words: 'my crew.' It might be only one episode that she got to say those words, but it felt good.
This was going to be the best episode of Galaxy Quest and she intended to savor every minute of it.