Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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Caprica - Season 1 - Episode 06

Caprica - 1x06 - There Is Another Sky - Originally Aired: 2010-2-26

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 3.87

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Synopsis
The avatar of Tamara Adama wanders V-World, scared, lost, and unaware that she died nearly a month ago in the MAGLEV bombing. Falling in with a group of gamers, Tamara discovers a new side to V-World - New Cap City, a place where people live random lives of violence and crime in search of the game's elusive meaning. Forced into aiding a digital crime spree, Tamara befriends a young gamer, until she discovers a devastating secret that threatens everything she knows.

Joseph, realizing he hasn't been emotionally present for Willie's grief, tries an impromptu fishing trip to bond with his son. The trip reveals new layers of torment for Willie and leads Joseph to the conclusion that, for both their sakes, he may need his Tauron roots more than he realized.

Daniel, after his public promise to forgo future holoband profits, finds himself fighting for his professional life. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- Heracles was a little slow on the uptake that Tamara really was dead as he seemed surprised by the notion when he revealed Tamara's whereabouts to Joseph.

Factoids
- According to Vesta, it's only been a month since Tamara died.

Remarkable Scenes
- Vesta shooting Tamara to force her to de-res only to then see her lying in pain from the gunshot.
- Heracles taking Tamara to New Cap City.
- The dirigible battle.
- Tamara distracting the fat cat guy and his guards by taking a gunshot wound.
- Willie assaulting the guy making racial slurs against him.
- Daniel barging in on the board meeting with the U-87 declaring the holoband business dead and the Cylons the future; a tireless worker who won't need to be paid, won't retire, won't get sick, won't have rights, objections, or complaints and will do everything asked of it without question.
- Tamara and Heracles breaking into the fat cat guy's bank account.
- Tamara somehow taking out the guards when they attacked her.
- Vesta telling Tamara that she died in the real world.
- Tamara killing everyone in Vesta's posse.
- The Tauron funeral ceremony for Tamara and Shannon Adama.
- Heracles telling Joseph that Tamara is still alive in the V world.

My Review
There Is Another Sky does not repair the storytelling and plot logic gaffes of previous episodes but does much to move beyond them, delivering a fantastic story full of drama and intrigue as well as some great science fiction too, with a touch of cyberpunk style. The centerpiece of the episode is Tamara, who steals the show. She starts out a confused girl who thinks she can't wake up from a dream and grows in the space of a single episode into the V world's equivalent to Neo from The Matrix.

Central to that theme is the introduction of the previously alluded to but never before seen New Cap City, a game in the V world that strongly resembles a contemporary MMORPG, but with a great deal more realism because everything a person experiences in the V world is a complete and total sensory experience. Everything in the V world can be seen, heard, touched, tasted, and smelled. Thus Tamara feels her gunshot wounds vividly and the illicit pleasures offered by the V world are as well equally real.

New Cap City like the rest of the V world is delightfully stylized. Everything from the delightfully irrelevant dirigible battle to simple fashion choices is like a crazy mashup between cyberpunk, steampunk, and film noir. This mashup of styles, complete with anachronistic technology is not unlike Caprica itself, but is a more extreme form of the same trend. This connotes an idea that the more depraved a society becomes, the more likely it is to experience technological regressions and strong inequalities between the technologies at the disposal of the haves and have nots.

Central to the depravity theme was the delightful character of Vesta. Her sinister and impulsive behavior is representative of the moral decay that Baxter Sarno alluded to in the previous episode and even her name, Vesta, is a nice reference to the practice of sacrificing "Vestal Virgins" to the goddess Vesta, as the character of Vesta in this episode was more than willing to sacrifice and exploit young Tamra to serve her own interests until Tamara took her out to ensure her freedom.

The only thing that wasn't quite compelling about this episode's foray into the V world and New Cap City was the supposed mystery surrounding the "object" of the game. I don't really care what the object of the game is. In fact, there probably isn't one except the accrual of more and more wealth and some cheap thrills like any MMORPG. The conversations between Tamara and Heracles about trying to deduce the object of the game seemed largely unnecessary to me.

What was interesting to me was why Heracles feels like he's incapable of being someone outside of the V world. More time spent on this would have been appreciated. Another slight annoyance was all that gratuitous flashing during the Russian Roulette game Vesta played in the teaser. But these wrinkles are minor nitpicks at best.

The other prominent theme of the episode was Joseph's quest to regain control of his son from Sam. I liked that Sam was more than willing to help Joseph do that, but at the same time wouldn't settle for anything less than total competence. Spending some time with Joseph and Willie finally grieving properly goes a long way to redeem them as characters and make up for the gradual loss of authenticity in the previous two episodes. Unfortunately, despite it all being a net gain, these scenes are a bit out of focus.

The biggest misstep is that there is too much time spent on the reconciling Adamas, but at the same time, there's also not enough time spent on certain key Adama scenes. For example, we should have seen the end of Willie's fight with the racist kids, and it would have been nice to have seen more of the aftermath of Joseph finding out Tamra's avatar is still out there in the V world.

Likewise, perhaps the biggest gaffe of the episode is there isn't a single scene with Clarice Willow or Lacy. And we have yet another episode where Zoe has no lines. This left me wondering why exactly did she help her father in the board meeting? Sure, the obvious assumption is that she's trying to not blow her cover, but without any scenes substantiating what exactly Zoe and Lacy are planning, it's hard to connect with Zoe's irritation about following her father's orders.

Speaking of Daniel, while this certainly wasn't his episode in terms of focus, what few scenes he had he made the most of. Facing ousting by his board of directors, Amanda gives him his confidence back by reminding him how he got started and Daniel takes that confidence and kicks ass with it. His speech to the board about how it's impossible to exert total control over the V world strikes chords with attempts to exert control over the internet today. When Daniel pointed out that kids turn to illegal content because it's free, it's hard not to see the parallel with illegal file sharing in the real world.

Quite poignantly, Daniel also points out that while this activity is illegal, it exists anyway and is totally unstoppable. Again, when he equates trying to save his V world licensing business with trying to save a sinking ship, it's hard not to see the parallel with attempts to stop illegal file sharing today. Perhaps the most profound line of the episode is when Daniel said that the next generation of kids will expect all content in the V world to be free. Since this is how younger generations view the internet and file sharing today, Daniel's speech speaks volumes about the future of media and the challenges it will face both in the fictional world of Caprica and the real world.

Finally, Daniel's speech about how the Cylons can be used as slaves who will obey all commands without question is as chilling as Vesta's willingness to exploit Avatar Tamara. The common Caprican doesn't view these artificial intelligences, or artificial sentiences as Daniel calls them as real people. This is the sentiment that will of course be their undoing. Overall There Is Another Sky is an outstanding offering. I have to subtract a point for the lack of polish and the glaring omissions in a few places, but aside from that this story really brings Caprica into focus and sets up the rest of the season to be downright stellar.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Giuseppe on 2011-12-29 at 10:39pm:
    While it's my favourite episode since the pilot, I didn't really care for the overtly Matrix theme. I was half expecting Morpheus to show up with the famous blue and red pills.

    The rest of the episode, as you've said - it focuses quite a bit on the Adama family, but it misses some key elements.

    The one gem here is the Daniel's speech in front of the board of directors. Watching it a number of articles came to mind regarding the inevitable death of certain economic models with the advent of almost unstoppable free file-sharing (including some of your thoughts on the subject as well). It was a nice touch that at least some people in the industry can see a change is coming. We're not quite there, but it's coming.

    I also got the feeling not only that Daniel Graystone hasn't figured out where his cylon's genious comes from, but he doesn't really care at this point. Anyway... the longer the revelation that U-87 is Zoe is delayed, the less believable the whole story will be.

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