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Caprica - Season 1 - Episode 12

Caprica - 1x12 - Retribution - Originally Aired: 2010-10-12

My Rating - 10

Fan Rating Average - 6.08

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Synopsis
In his new partnership with Tauron mobsters, Daniel learns the dirty business of blackmail: In order to tip a vote in his favor, he digs dirt on board members of his former company. Although he finds it unsavory, he plays the game and plays it well - so well that the terror he sows ends in the suicide of one of his former colleagues. Cyrus is ever faithful to Daniel, and brings the remnants of the U-87 to him. Though grieving his estrangement from his wife, Daniel regains some hope at the thought of the promise of the avatar program.

Lacey, trying to make up for past mistakes, has burrowed in deep with Barnabas's branch of the STO and finds herself at the center of a plot to kill Clarice upon her return from Gemenon. But the plan is botched and Lacey and the team must flee, and it's not long before Clarice learns of the plot and seeks revenge, killing two of the accomplices and sending Lacey and Keon into hiding with Barnabas.

Amanda, badly wounded but still alive after her jump from the bridge, has rejected Daniel in favor of the company of Clarice. But the investigator on the students' murders suspects Clarice, and when she repudiates him, he confronts Amanda with the brutal theory that Clarice is part of the STO, and responsible for the students' deaths, as well as Zoe's, and he tries to persuade her to spy on Clarice. Amanda hates the possibility that Clarice could be a terrorist, but she's soon unable to deny the truth of it. Wounded past care, she returns to her former home with Daniel to retrieve her gun, and secrets it back to her bungalow.

Clarice, meanwhile, finds Barnabas's safe zone and arrives just as a clash between Barnabas and Keon ends with a bullet in Keon's head. Clarice handcuffs Barnabas to the building, has her associate abduct Lacey, and the three exit to safety as Clarice detonates a bomb in Barnabas's lair.

Clarice retreats to her cozy home with Amanda, who returns shortly thereafter with a plan to kill Clarice, but in seeing Clarice's grief over the death of her students, chooses another tack: She will use Clarice's vulnerability to learn as much as she can about the STO and Clarice's inner life. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the STO has "highly placed" moles in the GDD.
- Footage from the weather forecast indicates that Caprica has a seven day week. Prior episodes have established a 52 week year. This means that, notably, Caprica has an identical day, night, and year cycle to that of Earth, assuming that the length of a day, an hour, a minute, etc are also the same.

Remarkable Scenes
- Lacy and her STO companions preparing to bomb the Caprica City Interplanetary Space Port.
- Pann shooting the security officer attempting to inspect Lacy's bag.
- Daniel, Joseph, and Sam blackmailing Cornell, a member of the board of directors of Graystone Industries, for his vote to reinstate Daniel as CEO.
- Daniel, Joseph, and Sam scheming as to how they can blackmail more members of the board of directors.
- Cornell killing himself rather than give into Daniel's demands.
- Clarice sneaking up on Pann and Hippolyta and assassinating them.
- Cornell's wife hysterically harassing Daniel for answers as to why her husband killed himself.
- The flashback to Daniel putting his foot in his mouth by implying to Amanda that she is as responsible for Zoe's death as Daniel is for the deaths of Vergis' men killed during the MCP theft.
- Duram's remark that he likes the smell of dead monotheists.
- Duram confronting Clarice.
- Duram confronting Amanda about his suspicions about Clarice.
- Amanda retrieving a gun from her house after being convinced of Clarice being responsible for Zoe's death.
- Barnabas killing Keon.
- Clarice taking down Barnabas and kidnapping Lacy.
- Lacy: "Are you gonna kill me?" Clarice: "I hope not!"
- Amanda meeting with Clarice, contemplating killing her.

My Review
When it rains, it pours. Retribution is Caprica's most riveting episode yet, dutifully correcting the sins of previous episodes and driving home a story densely packed with dark drama and gritty action. Unlike episodes like Unvanquished or Ghost in the Machine, all the bold, daring steps taken by the plot are real. The storytelling isn't trying to fake the suspense this time. The intensity is real.

With the notable exception of Zoe, every major character steps into a dark place in this piece, but their resolve shines brighter than ever in the face of desperation. Daniel begins blackmailing board members, Lacy becomes a full fledged terrorist and an accessory to murder, and Clarice wreaks copious amounts of malicious havoc on all who have opposed her.

Indeed, this is Clarice's episode and I think that at long last it's safe to say that her character's underutilized potential is finally being used correctly. This ruthless side of Clarice channels all of the greatness of Polly Walker's previous similar character of Atia of the Julii from Rome which is exactly what was needed.

Likewise, Daniel's collaboration with Joseph and Sam exhibited an equal amount of terrifying ruthlessness while also adding a delightful counterpoint to Clarice's actions in that while Daniel will pull no punches in his attempts to retake his company, he is clearly disturbed by the immorality of his actions while Clarice on the other hand is reveling in her wanton murders of her rivals. One can only imagine what's in store for poor Lacy.

But what makes all this already excellent material soar to a perfect score is the combination of all of this outstanding plot raging forward at such a terrific pace with unforgiving intensity on the backdrop of a terrible storm brilliantly stylizing the story. The use of unceasing stormy weather throughout this unceasingly intense narrative is a fantastic tone-setting device, not unlike what can be found in an Akira Kurosawa film. The story even seems self-aware of this during the interlude early in the episode when the weather man states that the storms (a metaphor for the broodingly dark actions of our characters) will just keep on pounding.

There were other nice touches as well. When Amanda dreams of a hostile dinner with Zoe, the great distance between them at opposite ends of a long table symbolizes their emotional distance from one another caused by their dysfunctional relationship. This is a dead ringer for a similar scene in Citizen Kane. And when Clarice kills Pann, the pose of his dead body along with the composition of the scene is strikingly similar to the famous "Death of Marat" painting from the French Revolution.

Last, but not least, the final fantastic detail of the episode which seals it perfectly as an excellent piece of storytelling is the final scene where Amanda contemplates killing Clarice. The way the scene plays, there are hints that Clarice has figured out that Amanda has begun to uncover the truth about her and she uses Amanda's morbid curiosity about Clarice's background and secret life as a means to not only control her to prevent an assassination attempt but also perhaps as a means to possibly convert her in the process.

Thus, in a scene that on the surface plays as Clarice once again facing death after doing all that murderous work to ensure her safety, on a deeper level the scene plays as the beginnings of yet another tactical victory for Clarice in an episode chock full of her plotting and scheming leading her to victories. Simply put, Retribution's complex array of action and darkness textured with so much delightful depth and nuance makes it quite easily the best episode of Caprica so far. More episodes should be modeled on the mastery of this one.

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