Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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Caprica - Season 1 - Episode 14

Caprica - 1x14 - False Labor - Originally Aired: 2010-10-26

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 4.44

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Synopsis
Daniel creates an avatar of his wife, Sam murders rival gangsters with a Cylon, and Amanda continues to entrench herself within Clarice's private life in order to destroy her. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that Andreas Phaulkon is currently Tauron's leader. He is widely viewed as a dictator and there is currently a civil war being fought against rebels who wish to depose him.
- A line from Amanda describing moonlight indicates that Caprica has a moon.
- This episode establishes that Ha'latha means "always faithful to the soil."
- Caprica was canceled due to low television ratings a day after this episode aired. Have a look at this article to read my thoughts on Caprica's cancellation.

Remarkable Scenes
- Ruth setting up Evelyn for a night alone with Joseph in a less than subtle fashion.
- Daniel living with a facsimile of his wife in the virtual world.
- The terrifyingly creepy work in progress advertisement for "Grace, by Graystone. Because some memories should live forever."
- Daniel objecting to the commercial being made using his virtual image without his authorization. Daniel: "You didn't think I'd have a problem with the appropriation of my image for a marketing campaign that I never even signed off on?"
- Daniel, regarding the commercial: "I want it scrubbed." Guatrau: "No. It's sweet. Children will find it comforting." Daniel: "I'm not necessarily objecting to the concept, it's the execution. I think people, even kids, will know it's a digital image and that can be off-putting." Guatrau: "Then may I suggest that you re-shoot it. And this time, use the actual Dr. Graystone. After all, there's no substitute for the real thing."
- Sam getting ambushed by a competing Tauron mob for infringing on their arms dealing territory.
- Sam taking out the competing Tauron mob using a Cylon.
- Daniel: "How can you forgive me after everything I've told you? It's obvious that it was just half truths. My motives aren't that pure. Nobody's are. No matter what they claim. And you should know that by now! You should know that." Amanda: "But Daniel, I don't understand. I don't understand any of this. And what's more, it doesn't matter. I love you!" Daniel: "Stop saying that. Stop saying that, please?" Amanda: "But it's true!" Daniel: "No, it's not! You can't love me. You can't love anyone because you're not human. You're a thing." Amanda: "Daniel, I'm very confused. I don't know what you want from me." Daniel: "I want you to be real! I want you to be her! And my real wife would never forgive me like that. She would call me on my crap and walk straight out that door and probably never come back. And you know what? I would deserve it. I would deserve it."

My Review
False Labor is another almost perfect episode. Had they not ended the episode on the weakest plot thread, it may have been worth another perfect score, but unfortunately the birth of Mar-Beth's baby and Amanda's quest to take down Clarice just wasn't anywhere near as compelling as Daniel interacting with a holographic, imperfect version of his wife and Sam Adama massacring competing mobsters with a Cylon.

Sam's Cylon escapades are a pleasant surprise and the fact that this episode establishes that William Adama's uncle is in fact the first human in the Twelve Colonies to ever murder someone using a Cylon, thereby significantly helping to set into motion the events which ultimately lead the Cylons to destroy the Twelve Colonies creates a delightful irony. What's more, I'm not convinced, despite whatever the Guatrau may have to say about it, that Sam is done killing people with Cylons. I wouldn't be surprised to see Sam send a Cylon to Tauron. Maybe more than one.

But the centerpiece of this episode is Daniel's facsimile of Amanda. It's amazing how much value they managed to extract out of a plot point that essentially stops the overarching plot dead in its tracks whenever they did such a scene. The essential function of Daniel creating virtual Amanda is to perfect Zoe's avatar program so that he can sell it as "Grace, by Graystone." A wonderfully creepily advertised product, by the way. ;) But they could have used a simple throw away line to substantiate that Daniel is busy perfecting this. Instead, they chose to make his work on this project a full blown subplot.

The choice to make Daniel perfecting Zoe's avatar program its own subplot has two distinct benefits to the story. The first is that it plugs the plot hole from Unvanquished of just how Daniel expected to be able to deliver this product to the Guatrau. But the far more significant benefit to the story is as a character building piece for Daniel. The whole plot is sort of like an excuse to get inside Daniel's head and hear what he thinks about himself. We see a vulnerable Daniel; a side he would never show to anyone else. Perhaps not even to his wife.

The third and final scene where Daniel blows up at his holographic pet project of a wife for not being a close enough approximation of the real Amanda is among the finest scenes of the entire series so far. Amusingly, it's also a convenient byproduct of the means by which they plugged that plot hole from Unvanquished. Daniel does not, in fact, have the original copy of Zoe's avatar program anymore, as was previously implied. So he has to rewrite Zoe's avatar program from scratch. As such, he's getting some beta bugs. :)

Another observation worth noting is that structurally, Daniel's personal struggle to get avatar Amanda to conform to his wishes is identical to his personal struggle to get avatar Zoe to conform to his wishes while she was in the U-87 except for one important difference. In Ghost in the Machine, Daniel's third and most dramatic attempt to win out over Zoe resulted in a profoundly anticlimactic let down of a fake-out when Daniel stupidly tried to convince Zoe that there were real bullets in the gun he gave her. But in this episode's version of that third scene, while it may seem as though Daniel is talking to the real Amanda at first, which would have been lame, it is slowly revealed that it's still avatar Amanda, a subtle bait and switch which, unlike Ghost in the Machine's dog fake-out, vastly deepens the drama of Daniel's deeds.

As such, False Labor does precisely what Ghost in the Machine should have done. It kept the drama authentic and didn't see fit to lie to the audience nor make Daniel into a colossal moron in the process like Ghost in the Machine did. In short, the Daniel plot in this episode is everything the Daniel plot in Ghost in the Machine should have been which is a nice treat to see and the contrast is striking. That said, while Daniel's and Sam's stories are certainly the real meat of the episode, many of the little details of the episode stood out nicely as well.

For instance, Ruth setting up Evelyn and Joseph for romance was highly amusing, the exposition about the political situation on Tauron is greatly appreciated, and getting to see Sam's husband again was a nice touch; especially getting to see them have marital problems. What's more, Cyrus creating an unauthorized holographic commercial using Daniel's avatar image is a fantastic exploration of the implications of the holoband technology to impersonate people, and Clarice's short aside where she indicated that if she felt it were god's will, she would destroy her family was a marvelously chilling scene. I'm sure Clarice reassuring Mar-Beth that she prays to god that he not ask this of her was very reassuring...

But, sadly, it was Clarice's and the real Amanda's side of this story that drags this episode down from getting a perfect score. As I mentioned before, it was clearly the weakest thread in this episode. That's not to say the material was bad, but it certainly felt incomplete and half baked. Deciding to end the episode on the least dramatically compelling plot thread was a clear mistake. But it's a minor blemish on what is otherwise yet another outstanding episode.

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