Robert Comsol wrote:
Here is where it gets interesting, IMHO. The floor plan sketch was apparently created after an early draft of the script. It still features the fountain-planter but this looks odd in an area - according to the script - that's devoted to research and not to recreation.
More likely, since the round rec room set was already designed and built as such for an earlier episode, as per the "-057" designation at the bottom of the rec room sketch discussed earlier, (as opposed to the "062" notation on the "ITITNB" Herbarium sketches), then I think this supports my interpretation that the original Herbarium set was originally intended to be a new "separate but connected" set. But one which ultimately never got built, due to time and/or budgetary limitations, and they decided to make do with just a redress of the already existing round rec room set instead, at which time the fountain/planter was removed and the table/planters (which were the only thing from the proposed Herbarium set they did
build) were brought in.
The disappearance of the fountain-planter in the final episode may have been to tell us this is not the recreation room and/or that this is a restricted research and not R&R area.
Well, more or less, essentially it reinforces that we, the audience, are supposed to accept that this is the Herbarium (that never got built) and not the rec room proper we see in other episodes, but of course it really is the same redressed set;
this is probably another reason, if not the primary reason, for the tight camera angles and close ups used in "ITITNB", to keep the focus (pun intended) on the characters, where it really should be anyway in a dramatic series, and not on noticing that the backdrop is the same room we’ve seen in a different context in other episodes?
PS, One further thing, I suspect that it was always MJ’s intent to add on to the round rec room set when time, money, and future script needs allowed, probably it was in the back of his mind to eventually create something like what was described in TMoST (i.e. a series of connected facilities)? Then when “ITITNB” came along he thought this was the perfect opportunity to add another section that might be versatile enough to serve as a basis for many possible future redresses, but the idea was nixed in favor of just using the round rec room set? Just sheer speculation on my part so take or leave for what it is worth.