Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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Caprica - Season 1 - Episode 11

Caprica - 1x11 - Unvanquished - Originally Aired: 2010-10-5

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 4.74

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Synopsis
Having lost his daughter, his wife, his company, even his pyramid team, Daniel Graystone is desperate enough to seek a meeting with Joseph Adama and his Guatrau, the head of the "family," offering him partnership in the business of eternal life - the avatar program he had tried so mightily to create with Zoe's chip. The Guatrau offers Joseph the duty of representing him in the deal, and though Joseph despises Daniel, he must accept this powerful gift. After Joseph makes the Taurons' bloody philosophy clear, however, Daniel decides he's not cut out for business with gangsters and slinks away.

Clarice has the same idea as Daniel, but calls it "Apotheosis" and pushes it forward in a meeting with religious leaders on Gemenon, claiming that a tangible representation of eternal life would unite the twelve worlds and bring the One True God to dominance. The head of the Conclave, Obal, decries her plan as heresy and asks permission of the highest leader, the Mother, to assassinate Clarice.

And hope is revived for Daniel when Cyrus visits him with an update on the Cylon development: although Vergis's robots fight and shoot well enough for the army, they don't have the artificial intelligence that the prototype had. Cyrus is infected by Daniel's vision, and decides to store the mangled prototype, instead of melting it down as commanded by Vergis. Daniel's newly lit fire prompts him to revisit the Guatrau, and enter into the shadowy project with him.

Clarice, having gotten wind of the plot on her life, uses her charisma to turn the tables, and surprises Obal with a Caesarian assassination: all members of the Conclave stab him in turn, while the Mother watches. And the Mother, though she despises the heresy of Clarice's manifestation of Heaven, recognizes its strategic power, and grants Clarice control of all STO cells on Caprica. Her mission accomplished, Clarice returns to a secret hideaway, which she shares with none other than Amanda Graystone, clandestinely convalescing from her near-death experience.

And while the chassis that housed Zoe's chip is buried for the time being, Zoe's avatar is developing a brave new life in New Cap City as one of the "Deadwalkers" - characters who can't be killed. After a stunning display of strength and agility in a melee with some aggressive but unwitting mortal players, Zoe asks the lone survivor of the gang where she can find the other Deadwalker - Joseph's daughter, Tamara - whose mark the thug bears. When he pleads ignorance, Zoe ends his life, and walks away, intent on her quest. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- Footage from the recap strongly implies that Caprica's companion planet visible from the surface during the daytime is Gemenon.
- Eric Stoltz, the actor who plays Daniel Graystone, also directed this episode.
- Ryan Robbins plays Diego in this episode. He also played the Armistice Officer (Boxey's father) in the BSG's pilot and Charlie Connor in BSG season 3 and season 4.
- Meg Tilly played "The Mother" in this episode. Meg's role as a character in Caprica is remarkable because up until this episode of Caprica, she hadn't been in a film production in fifteen years. She came out of retirement for the role.

Remarkable Scenes
- Vergis leading Graystone Industries.
- Clarice's holoband demonstration of a terrorist bombing at the C-Bucs stadium.
- Clarice: "I offer you a religion that removes the need for faith. A religion of certainty."
- Daniel meeting with the Guatrau.
- The Guatrau asking Joseph to represent him in the matter concerning Daniel's proposal.
- Joseph threatening Daniel's mother.
- Vergis referring to the busted Cylon prototype as a "toaster."
- Obal accusing Clarice of wanting to be god.
- Clarice having Obal assassinated just when Obal thought he was hatching an assassination plan on Clarice.
- Obal's last words, spoken to Clarice just before being stabbed to death: "Well played."
- Zoe exhibiting creepy levels of control over the code in New Cap City.
- Amanda living with Clarice on Gemenon.

My Review
Like Gravedancing, Unvanquished suffers mightily from the weak cliffhanger of its predecessor. As I wrote in my review of End of Line, it was obvious that neither Amanda nor Zoe would die and even if they had, their deaths would not have been well substantiated by the plotting leading up to it and thus not earned. However, unlike Gravedancing, Unvanquished does a bit more to move beyond the weak cliffhanger. The uncertain statuses of Amanda and Zoe are used as plot devices to drive Daniel to desperation rather than as an end unto themselves.

This episode is Daniel's episode. He's lost his company and his pyramid team to Vergis, he lost Zoe when she escaped from the lab, and he lost his wife when she attempted suicide and ran off with Clarice. In a panicked attempt to regain at least some of what he's lost, Daniel is seeking to forge what is sure to be a very dangerous alliance with the Guatrau, offering, quite literally, life after death. Likewise, Clarice is offering the very same thing to her monotheist conclave with, of course, a different planned purpose.

What isn't clear is whether or not either Daniel or Clarice is actually capable of delivering on this promise. There's no evidence that either Daniel or Clarice actually has Zoe's original software that creates avatar clones of real people, so are they both just blowing smoke? Regardless, a much more pressing problem with the plot is its totally omitting an explanation for how Zoe got to New Cap City and how Amanda was rescued from her suicide attempt and taken to Gemenon. We can certainly imagine some plausible scenarios to make sense of this, but these are definitely plot holes that should have gotten some screen time in order for them to be resolved.

A still worse wrinkle in the plot is Vergis' seemingly magical ability to deliver functional, battle-ready robots after taking over Graystone Industries. While I certainly enjoyed watching Vergis so casually turn the company around so quickly while taking obvious amusement in continuing to refer to it as Graystone Industries, there is absolutely no explanation as to how Vergis could suddenly make the MCP work in multiple robot bodies when he has admitted previously that his MCP had never worked; neither for him nor Daniel. As such, Cyrus' bewilderment at how this time copying the MCP inexplicably worked is a sort of unintentional comedy.

The most annoying aspect of the plot in this episode is, however, the sheer multitude of fake-outs. The fake bombing of the C-Bucs stadium, the fake threatening of Daniel's mother, and then Amanda's fake death. Nice sleight of hand there with Daniel saying to the Guatrau that he "lost" both his daughter and his wife. This sort of nonsense is nothing short of lying to the audience which neither builds suspense nor enhances drama. Simply put it annoys audiences. It's bad storytelling and the writers should stop doing this immediately.

Overall while the episode is weaker than it ought to have been on the whole, there are a lot of worthwhile highlights. We get to see Gemenon for the first time, Clarice finally gets a whole boatload of interesting things to do, crazy Amanda leaving Daniel to spend some time with megalomaniacal Clarice has some seriously cool potential, pairing Daniel with the Guatrau was fantastic, and of course the parallel stories of Clarice and Daniel both seeking to develop a viable resurrection technology from Zoe's avatar program in order to profit from it were both delightful. Hopefully the next installment polishes up these developments so they can shine a bit brighter.

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