Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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Caprica - Season 1 - Episode 10

Caprica - 1x10 - End of Line - Originally Aired: 2010-3-26

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 5.91

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Synopsis
In a tense foreshadowing, we see the U-87 driving a stolen van, armed police in pursuit. But what brought Zoe Graystone to such a desperate action?

Rewinding the clock, we learn that Daniel's financial troubles are worsening, and he must sell the Buccaneers to his rival, Tomas Vergis. The army knows the chip was stolen, and have given him a week to finish the project. Unbeknownst to Daniel, they're discussing a contract with Vergis.

Barnabas is surprised by a visit from Clarice, who leaves him with the threat that she'll go to STO leadership on Gemenon and shut him down, but Barnabas has his own plans to end Clarice's life.

Lacy, determined to get the U-87 to Gemenon, insinuates herself in Barnabas's STO cell. He promises to get her cargo off-world as soon as the recent shipping embargo is lifted, but demands a favor in return. He gives Lacy a small device and orders her to switch it with Clarice's key chain. Fearfully, Lacy complies.

Amanda Graystone, whose sanity continues to slip, indulges her fascination with bridges, and reaches out to Clarice as a confidant. Clarice suggests Amanda open up to Daniel, but Amanda hints that Daniel has his own secrets, even darker and more destructive than her own.

Philomon suggests building a psych profile for the U-87 to replicate the abilities of the chip, but Daniel insists that Philo find and burn away any generative anomalies, making the chip neutral - and eradicating Zoe's presence. In a panic, Zoe visits Lacy in V-world and demands that they move the robot immediately, but Lacy tells her that it's impossible because of the embargo.

Over dinner, Amanda confronts Daniel about her fears: That he stole the chip and killed two men. Daniel tries to explain, but Amanda reaches her threshold - she leaves the house. She wanders around the city, winding up at Pantheon Bridge, and finds herself poised at its edge, ready to jump.

Joseph Adama finally finds his daughter, but she surprises him by ordering that he stop following her. To drive home her point, she kills his avatar, thus preventing him from ever coming back to New Cap City.

Philo reluctantly undertakes his orders, but just as he does, Zoe reveals her identity. Terrified, he triggers the security alarm. Zoe rushes to stop him, her inhuman strength accidentally killing him. Distraught, she steals a van and speeds away from the lab.

Lacy, meanwhile, flees to Barnabas to push the shipment forward, and discovers that he is about to detonate the bomb - that Lacy unwittingly planted - in Clarice's car. Lacy tries to stop the assassination, but Barnabas threatens her and Keon's lives if she doesn't remotely detonate the bomb. Clarice and her husband, on their way to the spaceport, are ensnarled in traffic at the Pantheon Bridge. Clarice spots Amanda preparing to kill herself, and leaves the car to see what's going on. Just as she does, Lacy tearfully detonates the bomb, but Barnabas's plot has failed.

The stolen van approaches a heavily armed roadblock. Frightened and alone, Zoe comes briefly to a halt, then slams through the barricade, destroying the van - and, possibly, herself. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- In the news article Amanda was reading entitled "Did Graystone Steal His Chip? Say It Ain't So, Danny!" there is a typo in the first sentence: "Sources at Vergis Corp., as well as at an private [...]" The "an" should be an "a" for the sentence to be correct.
- The need to wipe Zoe from the MCP in order to make copies of the MCP is complete and total technical nonsense. See comments section for more detail on this.
- In Zoe's final conversation with Lacy she is "pulled away" from V-world by someone in the lab. How? This is completely inconsistent with how her ability to access V-world has been depicted before. Prior to this episode, she's been able to access it wirelessly while standing pretty much anywhere.

Factoids
- The title of this episode, "End of Line" is a simultaneous reference to several things. Chiefly, it's a reference to a phrase used often by the Master Control Program in the film Tron. The film's usage of the phrase is itself a reference to the same often used phrase in computer science to indicate the end of a line of programming code. Also, the acronym MCP used in this show for Metacognitive Processor is also used to describe Tron's Master Control Program. Finally, the Cylon Hybrid in BSG often uttered the phrase "end of line" as well.
- This episode was directed by Roxann Dawson, who played Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres on Star Trek Voyager. She has since directed a number of Star Trek Enterprise episodes as well.
- According to the commentary, Polly Walker (Sister Clarice Willow) threw her back out in the scene where she pistol whipped Barnabas.
- According to a news article Amanda was reading, Joan Leyte replaced Val Chambers as Caprica's defense minister after Val was murdered by Sam.
- According to the television program Amanda was watching early in the episode, few people have survived the jump off the bridge she underwent at the end of the episode in her suicide attempt.
- Colonel Sasha Patel from Caprica Military Procurement is played by Jill Teed who also played Sergeant Hadrian, the Master-at-Arms on BSG.
- The male voice in the opera performance in this episode's score is Alessandro Juliani, who played Felix Gaeta on BSG. He is no stranger to operatic performances on the franchise. He also performed a tune called Gaeta's Lament during BSG: Guess What's Coming to Dinner?
- The laptop Keon and Barnabas were tracking Clarice with is quite clearly a slightly modified MacBook Pro. They covered up the branding with a sticker, but the signature Mac industrial design, glowing keyboard, and cmd keys next to the spacebar are easily visible. :)

Remarkable Scenes
- Daniel caving and giving up his pyramid team to Vergis to get the much needed money.
- Clarice pistol whipping Barnabas.
- Sam and Evelyn exchanging mutual concerns over Joseph's holoband addiction.
- Zoe and Philomon's romantic V-world make out. Gorgeous!
- Colonel Patel moving Daniel's deadline up so that he only has a week left to deliver the 100,000 Cylons.
- Emanuelle finding Tamara and telling her what's happened to her father, asking for her assistance in helping him recover.
- Tamara: "Willie's real. I'm a ghost."
- Amanda confronting Daniel about what Vergis told her.
- Joseph finally finding Tamara only to see her feign her own death and then kill him, forever banning him from New Cap City.
- Emanuelle being revealed (to the audience only) as actually being Evelyn.
- Zoe revealing herself to Philomon and asking for his help.
- Zoe accidentally(?) killing Philomon when he betrayed her by triggering the security alarm.
- Military aircraft chasing Zoe.
- Amanda stepping off the bridge.
- Barnabas forcing Lacy to detonate the bomb planted in Clarice's car.
- Zoe barging through the roadblock.

My Review
End of Line succeeds in delivering a strong action piece and at times a strong drama but is weighed down in places by now common weaknesses in the show's storytelling that have at this point recurred repeatedly. Once again Amanda's story is weak and unsatisfying. Once again the plot expects us to believe she's going to die. And once again the computer science in the storytelling is sloppy at times. But on top of that, there are some new issues in the storytelling as well.

Some of these issues are minor, such as the use of deleted Clarice scenes in the recap as if they were prior aired material (they weren't) or the flash forward to the car chase as a framing device. I am particularly annoyed by this disjointed framing device as a means to produce an artificially inflated pacing for the story. I hated it in every BSG episode where it was used, such as Scar. Sadly, it has returned. However, these little nitpicks are the least of my gripes. There are more important problems.

First is Amanda. I've felt for several episodes now that her character has lost focus. Her actions are certainly plausible and believable, but I don't find them the least bit compelling. Watching her gradually slip into deepening depression and insanity just isn't interesting to me, mostly because at this point she's being used as a plot device to make characters like Clarice, Daniel, and even Vergis more interesting at her own expense.

The climax of absurdity is here in this episode where her suicide attempt, which will obviously fail for the sake of future plot, is the second time Amanda's life has been falsely threatened to create manufactured danger for the story. This was a bad idea the first time and we certainly didn't need a rehash of it. Then scoring the whole charade to an admittedly beautiful piece of original opera by Bear McCreary was simply a painfully overwrought choice and certainly not earned.

Frankly, even if Amanda does die here, it won't do much good for the story anyway simply because of how weak the lead up to it was. In fact, it would damage the story in a significant way. It's clear that Clarice needs Amanda to further her goals, so Amanda dying here would make all of that material so far pretty pointless. That alone makes the idea of Amanda dying here not worth it at all, despite how dark and gripping it might be to see Daniel lose so much of what's important to him all at once. His wife, his daughter, his company, his pyramid team, etc.

But maybe he deserves to lose some things he values, because aside from responding to Amanda's confrontation about what Vergis told her with nothing aside from "it's complicated" and letting her walk out of the room, Daniel once again makes the mistake of spouting a bunch of computer science nonsense on screen. All this talk about "irradiating" the MCP to "burn off" the anomalies so that they can then finally start making copies of it is a piece of technobabble garbage in just about every way, invented by the writers of course to put Zoe in immediate danger to make her do something rash.

We can certainly rationalize it by saying Daniel's under a lot of stress and he made an irrationally bad choice, but the plot should have made it clear to the audience that Daniel's solution would not work. Philomon could have said that without a doubt that course of action wouldn't work because had they succeeded in doing so, they'd still be left with their original problem. They'd have 100,000 nonfunctional "moron" MCPs as was indicated by attempts to copy it in prior episodes. They couldn't copy the MCP because they couldn't copy Zoe along with it. Her avatar program is central to Cylon sentience.

Finally, the last real wrinkle of the plot is poor Joseph. His journey through New Cap City ends in a puzzling way with his daughter feigning suicide and then shooting her father, permanently banning Joseph from New Cap City forever. The principal problem with this is doesn't Joseph already know that Tamara is essentially immortal in New Cap City? He should know that she's still romping around in there and start looking for a way to hack himself back in. Sure, Heracles said it's impossible, but a grieving father wanting to reunite with his daughter would easily try to accomplish the impossible.

The revelation that Emanuelle is Evelyn is certainly interesting, especially for those of us fans wondering if Joseph will eventually marry her, thus reconciling the technical issue that William Adama's mother's first name was stated to be Evelyn, not Shannon, in BSG: Hero, but I'm having a hard time getting behind her rationale for ripping Joseph out of V-world and ripping his daughter away from him. First she was all for the quest and even supplied him with the amp drugs. Then suddenly one episode later she's staging an intervention and is opposed to the whole idea?

I heard her rationalize it to Tamara, but this seems way too flip floppy to me. I really believe Joseph would have gotten his life back together once he found his daughter and I'm at a real loss as to why Evelyn didn't believe that. Though maybe it's some Tauron ritual mourning thing. Sam chided Joseph for even holding onto keepsakes from his daughter because he had participated in the coin ritual, signifying that he had let his daughter go. Maybe Evelyn is equally into that Tauron stuff in a hardcore way. Again though, these rationales should have made it on screen. Don't leave your audience speculating.

Despite paragraphs and paragraphs of griping though, there's a lot to love in this story. Lacy's character crosses into a dark place by being forced to attempt to assassinate Clarice, Colonel Patel's vicious behavior brings back fond memories of Admiral Cain (the actress even looks similar), and best of all Zoe, feeling alienated by everyone around her goes on a veritable rampage. Philomon has the distinction of being the first human to be killed by a Cylon (in the twelve colonies anyway) and Zoe charging the blockade is a delightful piece of action; a great way to demonstrate the very real threat an army of Cylons pose to any who oppose them.

Like Amanda, it's quite clear Zoe's not going to die here either, which is another annoying piece of false danger presented by the cliffhanger, but there are at least some fun implications to ponder. Was Nestor killed in the assassination attempt on Clarice? Will someone targeting Clarice with a bomb cause her connections to the STO to be investigated more closely? Will Lacy and Keon reject Barnabas' leadership now that he's shown his willingness to kill both of them? Will we finally get to see Gemenon? Hopefully we'll see all this and more very soon along with better pacing and better polish in the second half of the season.

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