Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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Caprica - Season 1 - Episode 05

Caprica - 1x05 - Gravedancing - Originally Aired: 2010-2-19

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 3.45

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Synopsis
As the fallout from Zoe's involvement in the MAGLEV bombing grows, Daniel prepares to defend himself and his company on the hugely popular talk show Backtalk with Baxter Sarno. His plan to distance himself from Zoe finds him alienating Amanda, who is still reeling from her own public detractors. As Daniel steps in front of the cameras for show time, Amanda arrives at the studio, with no intention of staying backstage.

After ordering the death of Amanda Graystone, Joseph is wracked with a heavy conscience and desperately tries to stop Sam from carrying it out...but hitman brother Sam is already closing in.

Agent Duram uses his GDD resources to circle closer and closer to Clarice and the youth of the STO, forcing Lacy and Keon closer together and possibly into an unexpected romance. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- It's mentioned on the Sarno show that drugs have been widely legalized on Caprica. However, during the GDD raid on the school, the officers mention that all they found were minor drug offenses. These two lines of dialog would seem to be at odds. Though I suppose we could rationalize it by saying that it's illegal for the minors at the school to possess such drugs even though it's legal for adults.

Factoids
- Polly Walker, the actress who plays Clarice Willow actually injured her hand when she banged on the locker in the scene just after the opening theme.
- During the Cylon dancing scene, one of the tracks the technician flipped through was the theme song from the original series of Battlestar Galactica.
- This episode establishes that Amanda is a plastic surgeon.
- This episode establishes that Tauron tattoos aren't necessarily just for the Tauron mobsters, but signify important events in the life of a Tauron person, either good or bad, to memorialize them.

Remarkable Scenes
- The copycat cafe bombing.
- The Global Defense Department raid on the school.
- Daniel: "It had nothing to do with the holoband. That's just... true." Priyah: "That was great. Do that."
- Amanda: "We are not company spokespeople, we're parents!" Daniel: "Parents? Actually, no. We're not."
- Daniel having to bribe Rebecca to let him have a cigarette because it's illegal to smoke in her presence because she's working.
- Ruth: "You think you only get things from friends? You get the best things from enemies. Because they're scared of you. Sam can look into it, okay? Your uncle knows how to make things happen."
- The Global Defense Department raid on the Graystone house.
- Agent Duram referring to the Soldiers of the One's god as a "moral dictator."
- Amanda: "What is this to you? Did you lose someone on that train?" Agent Duram: "I lost everyone on that train." I wonder what that means?
- Amanda barging in on the show.
- Daniel regarding Baxter's theory about the moral corruptions of the holoband: "You know who would completely agree with that is Zoe. And that's exactly how the STO got to her." Baxter: "Okay, you'll have to slow down and back up and keep in mind half of this audience is stoned."
- Daniel regarding the absence of moral guidelines people perceive is created by the holoband: "Into that absence steps the STO, offering this marvelous ultimate moral arbiter. It's quite appealing for a teenage girl especially."
- Daniel revealing that he gained his knowledge of Zoe's perspective by talking to an avatar that he created of her after her death.
- Daniel pledging to donate all profits from the holoband to charity in an effort to raise the moral standard of the product.
- Sam messing with Joseph about whether or not he murdered Amanda.
- Clarice: "Seems like every time this family's on TV I get so much out of it."

My Review
Gravedancing suffers mightily from the weak cliffhanger of Reins of a Waterfall because it renders the danger of the entire B plot of Amanda's attempted murder manufactured. As I stated in my prior review, the audience knows Amanda's not going to die already and even if the episode did take the bold step to off her, the reasoning behind Joseph's motives is terribly shallow. Joseph indeed struggles with that very issue the entire episode, but I was tired of it from the very moment it was suggested.

As a consequence of this, the episode is wrought with a false sense of danger, which causes it to drag at times. Another drag was the technician (Philomon) dancing with Zoe. It was a scene that should have felt whimsical and funny, but instead it's two and a half minutes of sheer pointlessness. On further reflection, I think I would have enjoyed the scene a great deal more if it were intercut with Duram raiding the rest of the Graystone house with Philomon and Zoe totally oblivious to it, dancing their day away. Without this framing, the scene just seems pointless, if cute. Maybe too cute.

As an aside, I read a great deal of unspecified significance into Duram's line "I lost everyone on that train." I wonder what that means? Likewise, why can't Lacy arrange her own transport to Gemenon like Zoe and Ben did? Money? Passports? Another interesting aside is how ruthlessly bloodthirsty Grandma Ruth was. That lovely old woman has such a delightful dark side to her. So many great scenes from her in this episode.

Those asides aside, the most remarkable aspect of this episode is Daniel's and Amanda's appearance on Sarno's show. Several things struck me about the conversation. Firstly, Baxter has quite an obvious streak of luddite in him. He even stated at one point "isn't technology the problem?" His argument was that the virtual world is a place where young people can exist without consequences or boundaries for their actions.

Daniel's response to this puzzled me. By agreeing to derive no further profit from the holoband technology, he has essentially conceded this rather ridiculous argument. Technology is the problem? Really? No. What a stupid notion. The problem isn't the technology, the problem is how people choose to use it. By Sarno's logic, we may just as well ban the internet because people often use it to commit cyber crimes, or ban cars to prevent drunk driving accidents, or eliminate all technology entirely to prevent the obvious moral decay of the whole of society. Baxter would have loved BSG's ending...

Another puzzling aspect of the conversation was when Baxter challenged Daniel to substantiate how he was able to deduce anything about Zoe's opinions on the holoband and the V Club, Daniel responded by talking about the virtual avatar Zoe. This response is essentially a non sequitur, because as we know from the pilot, nobody besides Daniel (along with Lacy, Joseph, Sam, and maybe Clarice) even knows that an avatar can be as sophisticated as Zoe's was. It's the equivalent of telling someone from 1800 that you learned how to reach their home using Google Maps. It would be just as necessary to explain the concept of Google Maps to someone from 1800 as it should have been necessary for Daniel to explain to Baxter how virtual Zoe could possess the real Zoe's memories.

Another interesting tidbit from the conversation was Daniel mentioning that he thought he could control the content in the virtual world. This, along with Daniel's lines about the licensing of virtual space, would seem to imply that the holobands aren't linked together on an open, internet-like network, but a privately operated network that is regulated centrally by Graystone Industries. Despite this level of control, people have still been able to create things like the V Club, which is a fascinating idea, especially in a cyberpunk sense.

But with respect to this, yet another tidbit makes little sense. Part of Daniel's rationale for donating all holoband profits to charity was to compare illicit use of the holoband to the use of illicit drugs. By legalizing and regulating the illicit activity, you eliminate the black market for it because it's safer to use the legal, regulated market. This is a fine piece of logic, but a horrible comparison. Daniel still objects to illicit use of the holoband. Donating any profits to charity doesn't suddenly make the V Club legal, so his analogy doesn't make any sense at all and certainly won't solve the moral decay problem Baxter is complaining about.

Finally, I found some parallelism in this episode amusing. Amanda has now made an unplanned media appearance twice (the most recent of which may have saved her life!) and Sam Adama has now abducted and harassed both Drs. Graystone. I also liked that this episode confined the plot to fewer threads, allowing the threads that are covered to be fleshed out better. This makes the episode more satisfying than Reins of a Waterfall by allowing both the corporate image plot and Amanda murder plot to be fully resolved by the end of the story, whereas in Reins of a Waterfall, everything feels half baked.

But while the episode is more satisfying than Reins of a Waterfall, it's only slightly so. Both the A and B plots may have been fleshed out to a conclusion, but their executions were both quite flawed, rendering this episode average at best. Between weak characterization of Joseph and the repeated gaffes in the plot logic when dealing with high tech, the quality of storytelling is standing on rapidly thinning ice.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Giuseppe on 2011-12-28 at 10:14pm:
    The way I see this episode as some sort of ”cleaning service” for some of the mess the previous two episodes created. So Joseph Adama is some murderous villain all of a sudden, but his moral indecision could have cost someone their life. And it also cleans up some of the mess Amanda Greystone created, at the expense of some company profit.

    As for what Daniel said during the interview, I'm not sure how much you can actually look into the things he said. It really felt as if he was coming up with answers on the fly, without actually thinking things through. I'm not sure how much of it he actually meant, how much of it simply got out his mouth without actually being well thought out and how much of it was just to clean up his family's image.

    Other than this, I pretty much agree with your review of the episode - the quality of the storytelling hasn't exactly been strong.

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