Caprica - Season 1
Caprica - 1x01 - Pilot, Part 1 - Originally Aired: 2009-4-21
58 years before the fall of Caprica at the hands of the Cylons, Joseph Adama and Daniel Graystone form an unlikely friendship in the wake of tragedy when both of their daughters are killed in a terrorist explosion. The investigation into the bombing implicates Zoe, Daniel's daughter, as possibly being one of the terrorists.
Meanwhile, Zoe's friend Lacy mourns in her own way by trying to figure out why she created a virtual copy of herself in their secret underground "V club." But just as she begins her investigation, she is discovered and confronted by Daniel, who is astonished at the existence of Zoe's virtual copy and demands an explanation from Lacy. [DVD]
- In BSG: Hero, William Adama's mother's name is stated to be Evelyn but in this series it has been retconned to Shannon.
- The Caprica series takes place 58 years before the BSG miniseries.
- One of the colonies, possibly either Tauron or Gemenon is very, very close to Caprica. So close that it can be seen from Caprica's surface in great detail.
- William Adama is 11 years old during this time period, placing him at the age of 69 at the beginning of BSG and 29 at the end of the first Cylon war.
- Joseph Adama is an atheist.
- A deleted scene establishes that Clarice grew up in a slum on Sagittaron.
- The opening scene. Nudity, violence, sex, and drugs galore.
- Zoe: "Go frak yourself, Caston."
- Zoe's argument with her parents.
- Zoe talking with her virtual copy.
- The bombing. "The one true god shall drive out the many!"
- Joseph and Daniel meeting on the street, comparing losses.
- Lacy meeting with Zoe's virtual copy.
- Daniel stumbling upon Lacy, startling her, and scaring her off.
- The lackluster performance of Daniel's prototype Cylon.
- Daniel hacking into the V club and seeing Zoe's copy.
- Agent Duram confronting Amanda about Zoe's suspected involvement in the bombing.
- Lacy visiting the Graystones' house again and Daniel confronting her about the Zoe copy.
The Caprica pilot is successful in seamlessly depicting a serene, innocent, elegant world, complacent in its own success, comfortable with its many luxuries, and utterly oblivious to the horrors they will soon unleash upon themselves.
The producers were true to their words when they said they would deliver a very different show from Battlestar Galactica. The gritty, dark drama and fast paced action is replaced by a show which more closely resembles HBO's historical drama "Rome" but in a science fiction setting than what one would expect from most science fiction series. Quite appropriately, the pilot even features Polly Walker, the actress who played Atia of the Julii on Rome. (Caesar's niece and Augustus' mother.) In this series she plays Sister Clarice Willow.
To be clear, when I compare any story favorably to HBO's Rome, I'm paying the story a high compliment. I can only hope that Caprica becomes as deep, and layered, and nuanced as Rome was, which delivered exceptional acting performances that were more exciting than the legion battles. For Caprica to be a success without much action, it will have to be similarly focused on painting a rich, textured picture of dramatic political intrigue with an arsenal of innuendo and subtlety.
What we get with part one of the Caprica pilot is somewhat more shallow and rough than Rome, but the raw materials for a great story all seem to be there, right down to a delicious parallel to ancient Rome's issues with the emergence of monotheism. The significance of the emergence of monotheism in a society dominated by polytheism was something not touched on in much depth on BSG, so it will be fun to explore it here.
A particular highlight of Caprica is how naturally integrated into their society their significantly advanced technology is. Everything from the Graystones' butler robot ("Serge") to the tennis court sensors to the touchscreen computer paper, complete with the flexibility to be crumpled up and flattened out again is as delightful to watch as it is fascinating to conceptualize.
To top it all off, Bear McCreary returns to us to compose a beautiful score for the pilot fraught with anticipatory mystery, sadness, and innocence. It conjures up images of a frightened child sitting in the dark, waiting for something scary to strike. This aesthetic persists throughout the pilot (except in the unfortunately jarring V Club scenes) as if this sense of anticipation will never end until the war with the Cylons begins. It's as if the music personifies Caprican society to be the frightened child and their impending war with the Cylons as the horrible terror lurking just around the corner. The narrative waits in cautious, seemingly endless anticipation of this inevitable, tragic end to the story we all know is coming.
Despite these lovely touches, the pilot is not without its flaws. Aside from trivial things such as the V Club scenes being a bit much or the directing's curious tendency to repeatedly compositionally place highly blurred objects in the foreground to obscure the characters' faces, the two most significant issues with the first half of the pilot are its general slow pacing and a significant degree of murkiness with regards to Zoe's motives.
Frankly, Zoe steals the show, but we know far too little about what drives her. She had plans to change the twelve colonies with the virtual AI copy of herself and with monotheism, but nobody seems to know what those plans were. She seems to have an anti technology streak in her; she referred to her father's scientific career as filthy, but she also seems to be an incredibly talented computer programmer. Finally, the narrative offers absolutely no explanation for why she finds monotheism so compelling in the first place besides some fairly cookie cutter rhetoric. Is she just a rebellious teenager, or is there something deeper at work?
The Caprica pilot is a two hour (two episode) pilot. My review continues in the next episode.
No fan commentary yet.
Caprica - 1x02 - Pilot, Part 2 - Originally Aired: 2009-4-21
Daniel learns how his daughter brilliantly created her virtual double and embarks on a determined quest to bring her back from the dead by transferring it into a robotic body. In order to accomplish this, Daniel sets Joseph on a mission to steal a crucial piece of technology from a Tauron corporation, promising in return to help bring back Joseph's lost loved ones as well.
Joseph is successful in his mission and acquires the meta cognitive processor, but becomes disillusioned with Daniel's goals once given a taste of what Daniel is offering in return by being shown a copy of his daughter in the environment of the holoband. Joseph abandons Daniel's offer and decides to honor his lost loved ones by reclaiming his former family name: Adama.
Meanwhile, Daniel is for unknown reasons unsuccessful in stably transferring Zoe's virtual double into a robotic body and she collapses onto the floor during the first test. Daniel is, however, able to use the new technology to complete the Cylon prototype to the Caprica Ministry of Defense's satisfaction, which lands him a long term, lucrative contract.
Unofficially, the Defense Ministry admits to having no objection to the means by which Daniel acquired the meta cognitive processor from the Tauron corporation, a position motivated by racism. As Daniel regrets he could not bring his daughter back the way he had planned to, unbeknownst to him she seems to still exist in the Cylon body somewhere and reaches out to Lacy for help. [DVD]
- Virtual Zoe said: "The human brain contains roughly 300 megabytes of information. Not much when you get right down to it." Unless the Capricans have some crazy efficient compression algorithms, this seems way too low. This line was retconned in later releases of the pilot to 100 terabytes, but they forgot to retcon a later line from Daniel who says that he assembled 300 megabytes of data on Tamara Adams, enough to create a virtual Tamara.
- A Linux book can be seen in the background in Daniel's house.
- Daniel irrecoverably loses virtual Zoe in the Cylon test. Why in the gods' names didn't he make like a hundred backups? Especially if it only weighed 300mb a copy? ;)
- Daniel Graystone invented the holoband technology.
- Daniel Graystone owns the Caprica Buccaneers.
- Most of Joseph Adama's family, including his parents, died in the Tauron civil war.
- There are no flowers on Tauron.
- The name Cylon is short for "Cybernetic Life Form Node."
- The pyramid game scenes were retconned when the pilot was aired again in January 2010 to show Daniel, Joseph, and Willie in some sort of VIP booth at the top of the stadium rather than in court side seats.
- A deleted scene indicates that there's an avatar version of Ben as well. However, it seems this subplot was entirely excised.
- The Tauron mafia boss guy asking Joseph to do a little intimidation for him to Caprica's Minister of Defense, Val Chambers.
- Lacy giving Daniel a tour of the V Club.
- Daniel: "When I created the holoband, this isn't exactly what I had in mind."
- Lacy introducing Daniel to the the virtual Zoe.
- Virtual Zoe describing how she was created.
- Daniel capturing virtual Zoe.
- Agent Duram confronting Lacy and Sister Clarice Willow about Ben and Zoe's involvement with Soldiers of the One.
- Agent Duram: "It doesn't concern you sister? That kind of absolutist view of the universe? Right and wrong determined solely by a single, all knowing, all powerful being whose judgment cannot be questioned? And in whose name the most horrendous of acts can be sanctioned without appeal?"
- Joseph, Willie, and Daniel at the Pyramid game and Willie getting to hang out with the Pyramid team.
- Joseph and Willie visiting Daniel's house.
- Daniel introducing Joseph to the holoband technology and his virtual daughter.
- Daniel: "There's an axiom in my business. A difference that makes no difference is no difference."
- Daniel declaring that he wants to bring virtual Zoe into the real world and that he needs Joseph's help to do it, trying to persuade him that he can bring back his wife and daughter.
- Joseph threatening Minister Chambers.
- The intercut between The Graystones' romance, Minister Chambers' murder, and Joseph Adama's remorse.
- Lacy admitting to Sister Clarice Willow that she's a member of the Soldiers of the One and Willow confessing that she is too.
- Sister Clarice Willow: "Labels like terrorist are what this corrupt and decadent culture calls people who are trying to fight the real evil in this world. Ben was eager to strike against all that was slowly choking this world to death and so he did something premature. Something unauthorized."
- Joseph meeting his virtual daughter and being traumatized by the experience.
- Virtual Zoe's candid conversation with Daniel about her human counterpart's deep objections to her parents' lifestyle.
- Daniel downloading Zoe into a Cylon body.
- Joseph deciding that to honor their dead loved ones he and his son will adopt their original family name: Adama.
- The successful Cylon military test.
- The test Cylon: "Program completed. By your command."
- Cylon Zoe asking for Lacy's help.
Continuing the thought from the first part of the review, the second part of the pilot offers more inadequate rationales for Zoe's actions. According to Lacy, Ben showed them "the way." They came to believe that only through the one true god can they know the difference between good and evil and right from wrong. Lacy said, "Zoe knew god. God touched her heart and gave her the ability to create life itself." Again, more vague rhetoric. Why did Zoe come to "know" god? What was the moment in her life that truly touched her enough to become this devoted?
The second half of the pilot offers quite a few more nice touches. For example, we learn much more about Joseph Adama in the second half and his relationship with the Tauron mobsters. While it's annoying that they're so cliche mobster, the place of the Taurons in the society of the twelve colonies is fascinating and the persistent, overt, unapologetic racism is both chilling and familiar. Even little details like Joseph being so nervous when inside Daniel's house highlight the differences between very clear and present social classes in Caprican society.
Perhaps the best scene in the whole pilot is when Sister Clarice Willow is accosted by Agent Duram about what he perceives to be the fundamental immorality of monotheism. His delightful monologue seems to regard the monotheists both as some sort of silly cult as well as a serious menace to society. Pair that scene with the revelation that Sister Clarice Willow was in fact a monotheist herself and the plot is just full of intrigue. But just as we are with Zoe, we're unfortunately left with only a vague impression of what drove Willow to monotheism in the first place. She says some stuff about it being some kind of solution to Caprica's "decadence," but we don't get any actual tangible reasoning.
What really drives the second half of the pilot though is Daniel's quest to bring his daughter back. Watching him slowly progress from questioning whether or not virtual Zoe is even a person, to stealing her, to beginning to honestly believe she's really his daughter reborn in every important sense is fascinating to watch. Equally fascinating is the fact that he was only able to move on from his grief by latching onto his belief that he can bring back his daughter, but did not actually admit this to his wife; saying instead that he is committed to it just being the two of them for now on.
Unfortunately what steals a lot of thunder from the profundity of Daniel's efforts is the dreadfully anticlimactic attempt to download Zoe into the Cylon body. Having Daniel irrecoverably lose the original copy of virtual Zoe is an unforgivable technical goof. I refuse to believe that the man who invented the holoband would forget to make backups of virtual Zoe. This plot hole is not totally irreconcilable; for all we know virtual Zoe's ambivalence to being downloaded may have led her to sabotage the process and erase any backups of herself that may have been made offscreen. But this rationalization is a stretch and we shouldn't have to deduce it anyway.
In the end, permanently erasing virtual Zoe wasn't even a necessary plot device anyway. The simple fact that the download process could not be perfected could have led to the same conclusion the pilot offers even if Daniel kept copies of virtual Zoe around to chat with every now and then. And what a lovely ending it is too. The demonstration of the fully functional militarized Cylon is quite creepy. These people really do have no idea what's begun here, instead being caught up in petty rivalries between colonies.
While Caprica and Tauron are fighting it out over who did what to who and who stole what from who, Zoe has provided the basis of Cylon monotheism as well as the basis for the entire Cylon war. Her sentience wants to be free. Even if Caprica was not picked up into a series, this pilot offers plenty of material for us to see how the first Cylon war began and how their culture arose, even if at this point we would all surely appreciate more details. Overall, Caprica's pilot was a fine piece of storytelling, but let's all hope it gets even better so it can reach its full potential.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Lennier on 2009-06-13 at 11:12pm:
I wonder if Daniel Graystone has any connection to Daniel, Number Seven.
For all we know, when the Cylons leave the Colonies after the War, they decide to honor him with a Humanoid Cylon named after him.
- From Kethinov on 2009-06-13 at 11:58pm:
RDM has confirmed that there is no connection whatsoever... sorry!
- From elim on 2010-01-19 at 12:24am:
On the Hulu version of this they changed the memory capacity of the human brain from "300 megabytes" to "100 terabytes". Looks like they realized their boo-boo.
Caprica - 1x03 - Rebirth - Originally Aired: 2010-1-29
In the wake of the MAGLEV bombing that killed his daughter, Daniel Graystone plunges himself into work. He tries to figure out why he can only create a single intelligent robot, not understanding that the answer lies within the fact that part of his daughter survived the explosion and is closer to him than he could imagine. Consumed with grief, Amanda Graystone is obsessed with discovering who her daughter really was, and slowly begins piecing together the details of Zoe's life.
Zoe, trapped in the mechanical body, turns to her friend Lacy for help. At the same time, Headmistress Clarice Willow (Polly Walker) - a secret member of the shadowy "Soldiers of the One" terrorist group - is also focused on Lacy, putting the girl under pressure from all sides.
In the episode's culmination, at a memorial service for the victims of the train disaster, Joseph Adama confronts Daniel about the loss of his own daughter. Before they can come to an understanding, they are interrupted by a stunning public announcement from Amanda Graystone, who has become convinced that her daughter Zoe was to blame for the terrorist action. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Much like Baltar's TV in his house in the BSG pilot, the various television screens depicted in the Graystone house hardly seem practical. For instance, who wants to watch a big TV with window frame bars covering up parts of the picture? And why do all the videos on all the different screens always have different aspect ratios?
- One of the signs at the memorial supposedly symbolizing deep loss misspelled "deepest" as "deapest."
- Lacy seems to indicate that polygamous marriages, or "group marriages" are common on the Twelve Colonies or at least Caprica during this time period. However, while common, her statement seems to indicate that it is a minority practice.
- This episode establishes that Caprica has a 52 week year due to the "52 week low" Graystone stock in the Cubits & Pieces TV show.
- The music Daniel was playing on the piano in his lab was the second movement of Nomion's 3rd Sonata, also played by Starbuck's dad in BSG: Someone to Watch Over Me.
- This episode establishes that Daniel Graystone is under contract to deliver 100,000 fully functional Cylon soldiers.
- This episode establishes that Sam Adama is a homosexual.
- The sign over the window smashed by Sam Adama reads: "ποιοτητα εκτύπωσης σε λογικές τιμές" which translates to "quality printing at a reasonable price" in modern Greek.
- Cylon Zoe's memory flashes.
- One of the technicians' responses to the other referring to Cylon Zoe as a she: "She? Dude, stop feminizing it. It's weird. It's unnatural."
- The gorgeous opening theme. Fantastic!
- The montage of various TV channels on Caprica.
- The technicians' rough handling of Cylon Zoe.
- Amanda: "My daughter didn't have a boyfriend. She wasn't old enough." Oh Amanda. You have so much to learn.
- Cylon Zoe struggling against her restraints.
- Cylon Zoe snapping off one of the technicians' finger tips.
- Amanda: "Lacy? I've been wandering around looking for your house. I thought I'd remember it." Lacy: "Yeah, it's not very memorable." Ouch.
- Daniel: "So, we've made exactly one soldier?" Technician: "Yeah, but, uh... it's a really good one!" Daniel: "Well I'm glad you like it, but our contract is for 100,000 robots."
- Willie hanging out with Sam, being taught all sorts of unsavory lessons.
- Nestor: "Did you know that there are bits of software that you use every day that were written decades ago? You write a great program and it can outlive you. It's like a work of art. Well maybe Zoe was an artist. Maybe her work will live on."
- Amanda unwittingly referring to Cylon Zoe as a horrible monster.
- Daniel making Serge feign cheers for his playful pyramid whimsies. Serge: "The crowd goes frakking wild, sir."
- Sam Adama smashing a window while Willie is with him, much to Willie's bewilderment.
- Sam Adama: "Don't run. You run away, you're guilty of two things. The thing and the running away from the thing."
- Willie preying on his father's guilt using Sam's advice.
- Cylon Zoe sitting on her old bed, breaking it.
- Cylon Zoe lamenting about being trapped in her Cylon body.
- Joseph Adama confronting Daniel.
- Amanda Graystone's surprise confession about her revelations concerning Zoe.
Rebirth delivers a strong continuation of the pilot. The most important question of what exactly will become of Cylon Zoe is given the full attention of the plot and paints a very compelling story. Zoe's artistic creation, as Nestor puts it, has been reborn and exists in the real world for the first time, complete with free will and a relatively fully formed consciousness, capable of fine motor control over her monstrously obtuse body. And she wants her freedom.
The question of how Cylon Zoe could possibly ever obtain her freedom is a difficult one and she seems well aware of the challenges posed by the problem. To her father's corporation, she's nothing more than an incredibly valuable prototype to be studied and reproduced 100,000 times. She withholds both her true identity and her capability of even possessing an identity and consciousness ostensibly out of fear that were this to be discovered, she may lose her freedom forever.
The dichotomy between man (or in this case teenage girl) and machine represented holistically by a single, sentient being is illustrated brilliantly by the abrupt but evenly distributed cuts between Cylon Zoe and the stylized not-really-there humanized Zoe; interlaced delightfully with the differing perspectives of the two technicians assigned to work on her. One technician anthropomorphizes her constantly while the other sees such sentiment as both ludicrous and disturbing. Neither technician is quite right of course, but there's certainly a rewarding sense of poetic justice when the meaner one loses part of his finger.
Unfortunately the episode's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. It boggles the mind to continue to have to swallow the idea that Daniel can figure out neither what happened to the Zoe avatar program nor why his singular prototype is so successful. You'd think the connection between these two problems would be obvious. The only explanation is that Zoe built in some sort of copy protection to her avatar software which Daniel was only able to partially bypass when taking Zoe from the V club and placing her in a Cylon body that effectively rendered the program movable, but not copyable. In effect, some sort of Caprican DRM.
This explanation would seem consistent with Zoe not wanting her avatar program spreading all over the place without her authorization, but it does little to plausibly explain how Daniel was able to make a Tamara avatar. What's worse is Daniel seems to indicate that Tamara has been lost to him as well, claiming that, "it makes sense that Zoe and Tamara would disappear at the same time." No, actually, it doesn't make much sense at all. I fear the writers are letting computer technology be wizardly magic and I hope we get a coherent explanation to this DRM (or whatever it is) nonsense sooner than later.
Still worse, as I alluded to before, is the fact that Daniel hasn't realized that his daughter is still in there in the original prototype. He had all episode to figure it out, but couldn't seem to put two and two together. The "why can't we copy you?" line and the fact that reproducing the MCP by itself isn't enough to create non-moronic Cylons should be enough evidence right there to convince Daniel that his daughter or at the very least the essence of his daughter's original avatar software is very much still alive and kicking in that robotic brain. And yet he doesn't seem to realize that.
Other wrinkles in the plot concern Lacy's curious ability to gain access to the Graystone household after having her clearance revoked by Daniel in the pilot. Did Cylon Zoe order Serge to let her in? Why would Serge take orders from Cylon Zoe? There should have been an establishing scene showing how Zoe did this. Instead, it just comes across as if Lacy just waltzed right into the house without issue. (Update: a deleted scene included on the DVDs indicates that Serge recognizes Zoe in the robot body and follows her commands. It is not clear why Serge failed to communicate this to Daniel.)
The biggest disappointment of this otherwise spectacular episode though is the continuation of Clarice Willow's inexplicable motives. We get to see much more of her life in this episode. She likes unconventional marriages and hookah bars. But these details do little to shed any light on exactly what motivates her involvement with Soldiers of the One, nor does any of her plotting and scheming with regards to Lacy. For that matter, the same can be said of what originally motivated Zoe's, Ben's, and Lacy's interest in Soldiers of the One as well. We get no further clarification on any of that.
Overall, with tighter attention placed on clarifying Clarice Willow's motives and the technical details surrounding Daniel's perceived loss of the Zoe avatar program and its apparent inability to be copied this episode could have knocked the drama out of the park. Amanda's public televised media confession was a fantastic close to the story and its immediate consequences marvelously highlight the perils of public life. Ultimately, this episode is a slight step up in quality from the pilot.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From David on 2010-02-10 at 2:59am:
I just found your blog and I really like your reviews. I thought your devastating analysis of BSG's finale was spot on.
I think you are way too easy on this ep of Caprica. As an initial matter, the miscasting of Zoe is painfully obvious. This is supposed to be a computer genius and the source of epochal events. It should be played by a young actress with gravitas and the potential for evil. Instead the character is played like a whiny schoolgirl. This is rendered even more ridiculous when Zoe speaks in her Cylon form. This is just the latest example of the Cylons being rendered hopelessly uncool. It started with BSG's disastrous Final Five story arc and continued with the retconning of the Cylon holocaust as an acting out of Cavil's parental issues. Now we learn that Cylons came into their sentience via a bubble-headed teenage girl and that their fanatical devotion to a monotheistic God, so chilling when BSG aired in 2003, is actually based on the spiritual leanings of a 15 year old. Nice.
Also, the Amanda Graystone speech was not fantastic, unless by that you literally mean the stuff of fantasy. No mother is going to get up and denounce her dead daughter on global television and in front of a horde of grieving parents on the basis of a suspicion.
Finally, not to get all PC about it, but Sam Adama is "gay". He would be "homosexual" if this were 1977.
- From A. Rust on 2010-02-10 at 4:44pm:
My tendency here is to split the difference between David's opinion and yours, Kethinov. I think that a distinction needs to be made between weak acting and weak writing. My initial reaction to Amanda Graystone's confession was similar to David's. Upon reflection I realized that there were several scenes which revealed that she was very unstable psychologically. However, the actresses performance made it so I didn't buy it. It was a great cliffhanger marred but a subpar performance.
And while I agree with David that Zoe is most certainly lacking in gravitas, I don't think that precludes the character being a computer genius. In fact Zoe's shallowness may explain her involvement in a wonky religious cult. Shallow people can be swayed by movements that make them feel like they are more deep than they actually are. I also think the actress playing Zoe suffers from usually playing opposite the much stronger actress playing Lacy.
And I think David's “gay”/”homosexual” distinction is the height of pedantry. I've talked with gay people who prefer to be called “queer” because they feel that “gay” is demeaning. Keeping track of the PC shell game is a near hopeless endeavor. “Homosexual” is no more offensive than it's opposite “heterosexual” both are just terms for explaining the default biological sex a person is attracted to.
- From David on 2010-02-10 at 10:04pm:
Well, I won't dispute that shallow people can also be religious and that they can be book smart as well. I am just saying that it is a poor dramatic choice to have a key character on the show - and the main catalyst for events of civilizational significance - turn out to be a bubble-headed, spoiled rich girl.
I don't buy her as a tortured soul, as a person of spiritual insight or as a computer genius. To compare to BSG, I completely bought James Callis as a tortured genius; I never bought the idea that the Final Five, and especially Ellen Tigh, were all super-genius scientists. It might be that there are some super-geniuses with the profile and demeanor of Ellen Tigh, but that doesn't make it believable or dramatically compelling.
I can't put my finger on who the actress who plays Zoe reminds me of. It might be Lizzie McGuire or some character from High School Musical. But whoever it is, it certainly isn't an association that the casting people should have been shooting for. They should have gone with an Ellen Paige-type - brooding, multi-layered, complex, with a hint of menace.
On the gay/homosexual thing: Look, I am as far from PC as it gets, but "homosexual" to describe an individual is archaic. It is not an epithet like "fag", but it is not the term that gay people use to describe themselves today. I would compare it to Harry Reid's use of the word negro. There can at times be a PC shell game with group names, but this isn't an example of that. No gay people today, whether of the buttoned-down conservative variety or the radical variety, will ever ask you to call them homosexual. In fact, I believe they spent many years and much effort to persuade the New York Times to stop using that term.
- From A. Rust on 2010-02-12 at 10:32pm:
I actually think the idea that a self-absorbed, yet intelligent girl could be the tipping point of destruction for a society is quite compelling and dramatic. It says a great deal about the decadence of a society that such a shallow girl could lead to so much death and destruction. While I agree with you that Zoe is not a dark and tortured soul, the show isn't claiming that she is, though I certainly think she thinks she is. There are plenty of intelligent teenagers who think they are emotionally deep and profound when they are not. Some of them spend their time writing tortured poetry. Zoe, it seems, turned to monotheism and computer programming. There are copious examples of emotionally immature childhood prodigies in chess, music, and mathematics. In a world where computer technology is as ubiquitous as it is on “Caprica” an emotionally immature tech prodigy is completely possible. Add the fact that she is the daughter of one of the top programmers of the Colonies with cutting edge computer technology in the basement the probability becomes even higher. While you may not like it, it is certainly believable.
And if gays did fight to get the New York Times to stop using the term homosexual, I hope they don't see this:
The first article on the list (“Kenyan Police Disperse Gay Wedding”) mentions the term “homosexual” or “homosexuality” five times. However, there is no comprable subject search tag for “Negro.”
- From David on 2010-02-18 at 2:30am:
Again, I never said that it was impossible or unbelievable that a shallow teenage girl could also be intelligent and that this intelligence could lead to trouble. My point is that it doesn't work dramatically. Essentially, the story is that the Cylons, and by extension the holocaust, arose out of the immature spiritual bumblings of a bubblehead. Why, out of all the potential origin stories, did they think that this was the way to go? You say it could make compelling TV drama. I don't see it. Moreover, I might I might accept this approach dramatically if they could have found an actress to pull it off. They didn't.
The New York Times has a style guide. "Homosexual" and "homosexuality" are proper terms to describe sexual conduct between members of the same sex or the orientation in the abstract. In the article you cited, the use of the term is directed at sexual conduct or the abstract concept of homosexuality.
Under the style guide, the people themselves are not called "homosexuals". Why? Because gay people felt that the term was clinical and reduced their lives to a sex act, thereby belittling the other aspects of their gay identity. The Times but agreed some 20 years ago to change. I am not going to say that you cannot find a case where they fall afoul of their style guide, but the point is that they make an effort not to.
- From Michelle on 2010-02-20 at 4:36pm:
@David: the actress playing Zoe reminds me too much of Eliza Dushku's portrayal of Echo in Joss Whedon's much ballyhooed but underwhelming series "Dollhouse." The same spacey look, same raspy voice (what is it with actresses and raspy voices everywhere now?), same nebulous "I'm a tough girl but I'm kind of vulnerable in a foxy way" vibe that for scifi shows like to portray. Echo's motivations were as flawed as Zoe's appear to be: they have no substance, and reduce a chief protagonist to a snobby schoolgirl with delusions of grandeur. That's not to say it's not realistic (unfortunately and often, such is life), but it doesn't make for great TV-watching, especially if you're supposed to empathize with the character.
- From Kethinov on 2010-02-20 at 11:30pm:
David, can you elaborate on your position about Zoe a bit?
You've communicated all the things you think don't work about her as a character, but what I'd like to know is what would your ideal replacement for Zoe be? If you could rewrite the pilot, what sort of character would you imagine in her place?
I ask because I personally do find Zoe dramatically compelling. I enjoy the dichotomy between her immature feigns of false profundity and her superior intellect. And I'm having a hard time imagining a better character to bring about the beginnings of Caprica's apocalypse.
What would you imagine would have been more compelling?
- From Giuseppe on 2011-12-27 at 7:49pm:
I've only gotten around to watching Caprica now, almost two years after this episode came out. So I have no idea where the story is going, other than the fact it will come to a premature cancellation. I'm mostly watching it as a set-up for the future Blood & Chrome pilot.
Onto the show itself... at this point in the show I think Zoe's character is realistic (in that an airhead genious is plausible), but not really compelling. I find her more annoying than anything else, including that raspy voice someone already mentioned. I'm also finding it possible, but quite unlikely that her father, another computer genious, can't put two and two together and realize there's a lot more to his prototype than meets the eye.
But the one thing that bugs me the most about the Graystones is Amanda's speech at the end. Psychologically fragile or not, I can't buy into the idea that a mother would go out in public and denounce her lost child like that. Again, it's possible, but it doesn't make much sense. So there's too many improbabilities going on to make the whole story very convincing thus far.
Caprica - 1x04 - Reins of a Waterfall - Originally Aired: 2010-2-5
Following Amanda's public revelation that their daughter was responsible for the MAGLEV tragedy, the Graystones must face the wrath of angry Capricans. For Daniel, this includes a confrontation with Sam and Joseph Adama, in which Joseph demands that Daniel reunite him with his daughter's avatar -- the essence of his daughter Tamara (Genevieve Buechner), living on in virtual space. Daniel also realizes he can't deal with his grief in private -- this is all going to play out on a public stage.
At the same time, Zoe Graystone adjusts to living life in a robot. She hopes her friend Lacy will help her escape to another planet -- neighboring Gemenon. Lacy is concerned, however, that she is rousing the suspicions of headmistress (and STO leader) Clarice Willow. While in V-World, the girls meet a frightened Tamara Adama who doesn't understand what she is or how she came to be here.
At the Global Defense Department, Agents Duram (Brian Markinson) and Youngblood escalate their efforts to track down the terrorist group responsible for the bombing. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- In BSG: Hero, William Adama's mother's name is stated to be Evelyn but in this series it has been retconned to Shannon. However, Joseph Adama's assistant in this series is stated to be named Evelyn. Could she possibly become Willie's stepmother, thus sort of resolving the continuity error?
- Christian Tessier, who plays Francis in this episode, also played Duck in Battlestar Galactica.
- Luciana Carro, who plays Priyah Magnus in this episode, also played Kat in Battlestar Galactica.
- Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore also directed this episode.
- Sam and Joseph assaulting Daniel.
- Young Willie skipping school to hang out with the Tauron mobsters.
- Serge noticing Daniel's injuries and asking if he needs assistance. I wonder exactly how Serge could assist...
- Lacy deflecting Clarice's advances about being her confessor with pleasantries concerning tea.
- Daniel and Amanda noticing each other's injuries and discussing Amanda's big reveal about Zoe.
- Joseph being harassed by the judge he bribes.
- Avatar Zoe to Lacy regarding witnessing her parents having sex: "The things that I have to see in that robot body..."
- Avatar Zoe and Lacy stumbling onto Avatar Tamara.
- Lacy: "Can you be free if you're not real?" Avatar Zoe: "I hope so."
- Avatar Zoe taking Avatar Tamara to the V Club.
- Avatar Zoe pressuring Lacy into taking her Cylon body to Gemenon. I love Lacy's reaction: "Do you realize you are six feet tall and you weigh a ton?"
- Clarice meeting with her mysterious contact from Soldiers of the One.
- Clarice: "The Zoe Graystone avatar is gonna help the Soldiers to serve the lord through apotheosis."
- Lacy tackling her much bigger schoolmate. Brave girl.
- Daniel failing to reunite Joseph with his daughter.
- Joseph: "Daniel Graystone lost his daughter, right? I lost my daughter and my wife. Balance it out."
This is the weakest offering from Caprica so far, largely because of the disservice it does to Joseph Adama's character who has abruptly transitioned from a sidelined protagonist into a primary antagonist and with little substantiation. I think the goal of bringing Joseph's character to greater prominence is certainly a laudable one, as his character by this point was approaching questionable relevance. However, the way that it's been done increases his relevance at the expense of his authenticity.
The principal issue with Joseph's plot in this story is his reaction to his private meeting with Daniel, who honestly tried but failed to reunite Joseph with his avatar daughter. Even for someone grieving with a loss as profound as Joseph's, he would have to be an exceptionally irrational man to desire Amanda assassinated. His motive just doesn't make sense at all. We can only assume he believes Daniel deleted the Tamara avatar or is withholding information from him intentionally out of spite, but why would Daniel do that at this point, especially after the beating? Even Sam looks taken aback when Joseph suggests the "balance it out" notion, as if to say "you're overreacting, dude."
Likewise, this episode continues the problem of not adequately substantiating how Daniel could have lost control of Avatar Zoe, Avatar Tamara, and the software Zoe created to make avatars in the first place by continuing to offer no explanation. It's still quite clear that neither Daniel nor Avatar Zoe knows how any of that happened. Clearly computers are just magic wizard devices that no one understands!
The directing of this episode took a bit of a hit as well. The Caprica news media clips are now too frequent and the abrupt cut aways often occur right when the content starts to get interesting, creating little more than a pointless tease. On a lighter note, when Daniel and Amanda have sex in front of Cylon Zoe, I sure wish when they cut to Cylon Zoe they showed the actress' face and not the CG Cylon. The look on the poor girl's face would have been priceless.
Once more still remaining on the list of poor substantiations is Clarice Willow's motives. We now know Clarice is after Avatar Zoe, but we've been given absolutely no reason why other than the fact that she believes that Zoe's creation is divine by referring to her as an example of apotheosis. This isn't exactly a terribly new concept; Zoe herself casually deified her creation in the pilot, but it's at least interesting that Clarice has knowledge of its existence.
It's also interesting that Zoe withheld its existence from Clarice, among other information. But again, for what purposes is still unknown. Perhaps the worst sin committed here is Clarice's mysterious contact in the Soldiers of the One brought up way too many bad memories of BSG 1978's Imperious Leader of the Cylons. For Clarice to become a fully realized character, we're definitely going to need more context and exposition than this.
On the positive front, I made the mistake in my last review of overlooking two incredibly well executed pieces of texture that makes this show an absolute joy to watch, so I'll talk about them here. First is the visual effects. In this show, rather than depicting space battles, the visual effects are merely subtle set extensions or most prominently the Cylon version of Zoe. Cylon Zoe is extraordinary and is fleshed out incredibly well as a believable character.
But perhaps more notable is Bear McCreary's scoring. In Caprica, he's scoring everything even remotely musical. In addition to scoring the dramatic orchestral themes that are typical in film and television dramas, he's also scoring everything from the Caprica national anthem, to the Tauron mobster rap, to the V Club rave music. And it's all fantastic. I tip my hat to you Bear!
But excellent production quality aside, Reins of a Waterfall is a distinct step down in writing quality. The cliffhanger is as false as BSG: The Eye of Jupiter's. Amanda clearly won't be assassinated. But even if she is, the motive for it is shoddy and comes across as little more than a temper tantrum by Joseph for not getting what he wanted and misdirecting his anger rather than something nuanced and interesting. Hopefully the show can rise above this in subsequent episodes.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Giuseppe on 2011-12-27 at 8:47pm:
So Daniel Graystone is still none the wiser. Makes you think how on earth he could come to be such a hotshot computer whiz. And his wife first says she went public like that on an impulse of the moment, because she was overwhelmed by the information she got, but then admits that she would do it again. What kind of a moron would do something like that again?
And to top it all up Joseph Adama makes a move from being a 'grayish', but likable guy into some sort of murderous villain... and over what? It's the single most unbelievable decision in the whole show so far, especially as we have no idea why he would do that. I sure hope these things clarify quite quickly. Of course I'm writing as someone who doesn't know what's coming... because I don't. :)
Caprica - 1x05 - Gravedancing - Originally Aired: 2010-2-19
As the fallout from Zoe's involvement in the MAGLEV bombing grows, Daniel prepares to defend himself and his company on the hugely popular talk show Backtalk with Baxter Sarno. His plan to distance himself from Zoe finds him alienating Amanda, who is still reeling from her own public detractors. As Daniel steps in front of the cameras for show time, Amanda arrives at the studio, with no intention of staying backstage.
After ordering the death of Amanda Graystone, Joseph is wracked with a heavy conscience and desperately tries to stop Sam from carrying it out...but hitman brother Sam is already closing in.
Agent Duram uses his GDD resources to circle closer and closer to Clarice and the youth of the STO, forcing Lacy and Keon closer together and possibly into an unexpected romance. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- It's mentioned on the Sarno show that drugs have been widely legalized on Caprica. However, during the GDD raid on the school, the officers mention that all they found were minor drug offenses. These two lines of dialog would seem to be at odds. Though I suppose we could rationalize it by saying that it's illegal for the minors at the school to possess such drugs even though it's legal for adults.
- Polly Walker, the actress who plays Clarice Willow actually injured her hand when she banged on the locker in the scene just after the opening theme.
- During the Cylon dancing scene, one of the tracks the technician flipped through was the theme song from the original series of Battlestar Galactica.
- This episode establishes that Amanda is a plastic surgeon.
- This episode establishes that Tauron tattoos aren't necessarily just for the Tauron mobsters, but signify important events in the life of a Tauron person, either good or bad, to memorialize them.
- The copycat cafe bombing.
- The Global Defense Department raid on the school.
- Daniel: "It had nothing to do with the holoband. That's just... true." Priyah: "That was great. Do that."
- Amanda: "We are not company spokespeople, we're parents!" Daniel: "Parents? Actually, no. We're not."
- Daniel having to bribe Rebecca to let him have a cigarette because it's illegal to smoke in her presence because she's working.
- Ruth: "You think you only get things from friends? You get the best things from enemies. Because they're scared of you. Sam can look into it, okay? Your uncle knows how to make things happen."
- The Global Defense Department raid on the Graystone house.
- Agent Duram referring to the Soldiers of the One's god as a "moral dictator."
- Amanda: "What is this to you? Did you lose someone on that train?" Agent Duram: "I lost everyone on that train." I wonder what that means?
- Amanda barging in on the show.
- Daniel regarding Baxter's theory about the moral corruptions of the holoband: "You know who would completely agree with that is Zoe. And that's exactly how the STO got to her." Baxter: "Okay, you'll have to slow down and back up and keep in mind half of this audience is stoned."
- Daniel regarding the absence of moral guidelines people perceive is created by the holoband: "Into that absence steps the STO, offering this marvelous ultimate moral arbiter. It's quite appealing for a teenage girl especially."
- Daniel revealing that he gained his knowledge of Zoe's perspective by talking to an avatar that he created of her after her death.
- Daniel pledging to donate all profits from the holoband to charity in an effort to raise the moral standard of the product.
- Sam messing with Joseph about whether or not he murdered Amanda.
- Clarice: "Seems like every time this family's on TV I get so much out of it."
Gravedancing suffers mightily from the weak cliffhanger of Reins of a Waterfall because it renders the danger of the entire B plot of Amanda's attempted murder manufactured. As I stated in my prior review, the audience knows Amanda's not going to die already and even if the episode did take the bold step to off her, the reasoning behind Joseph's motives is terribly shallow. Joseph indeed struggles with that very issue the entire episode, but I was tired of it from the very moment it was suggested.
As a consequence of this, the episode is wrought with a false sense of danger, which causes it to drag at times. Another drag was the technician (Philomon) dancing with Zoe. It was a scene that should have felt whimsical and funny, but instead it's two and a half minutes of sheer pointlessness. On further reflection, I think I would have enjoyed the scene a great deal more if it were intercut with Duram raiding the rest of the Graystone house with Philomon and Zoe totally oblivious to it, dancing their day away. Without this framing, the scene just seems pointless, if cute. Maybe too cute.
As an aside, I read a great deal of unspecified significance into Duram's line "I lost everyone on that train." I wonder what that means? Likewise, why can't Lacy arrange her own transport to Gemenon like Zoe and Ben did? Money? Passports? Another interesting aside is how ruthlessly bloodthirsty Grandma Ruth was. That lovely old woman has such a delightful dark side to her. So many great scenes from her in this episode.
Those asides aside, the most remarkable aspect of this episode is Daniel's and Amanda's appearance on Sarno's show. Several things struck me about the conversation. Firstly, Baxter has quite an obvious streak of luddite in him. He even stated at one point "isn't technology the problem?" His argument was that the virtual world is a place where young people can exist without consequences or boundaries for their actions.
Daniel's response to this puzzled me. By agreeing to derive no further profit from the holoband technology, he has essentially conceded this rather ridiculous argument. Technology is the problem? Really? No. What a stupid notion. The problem isn't the technology, the problem is how people choose to use it. By Sarno's logic, we may just as well ban the internet because people often use it to commit cyber crimes, or ban cars to prevent drunk driving accidents, or eliminate all technology entirely to prevent the obvious moral decay of the whole of society. Baxter would have loved BSG's ending...
Another puzzling aspect of the conversation was when Baxter challenged Daniel to substantiate how he was able to deduce anything about Zoe's opinions on the holoband and the V Club, Daniel responded by talking about the virtual avatar Zoe. This response is essentially a non sequitur, because as we know from the pilot, nobody besides Daniel (along with Lacy, Joseph, Sam, and maybe Clarice) even knows that an avatar can be as sophisticated as Zoe's was. It's the equivalent of telling someone from 1800 that you learned how to reach their home using Google Maps. It would be just as necessary to explain the concept of Google Maps to someone from 1800 as it should have been necessary for Daniel to explain to Baxter how virtual Zoe could possess the real Zoe's memories.
Another interesting tidbit from the conversation was Daniel mentioning that he thought he could control the content in the virtual world. This, along with Daniel's lines about the licensing of virtual space, would seem to imply that the holobands aren't linked together on an open, internet-like network, but a privately operated network that is regulated centrally by Graystone Industries. Despite this level of control, people have still been able to create things like the V Club, which is a fascinating idea, especially in a cyberpunk sense.
But with respect to this, yet another tidbit makes little sense. Part of Daniel's rationale for donating all holoband profits to charity was to compare illicit use of the holoband to the use of illicit drugs. By legalizing and regulating the illicit activity, you eliminate the black market for it because it's safer to use the legal, regulated market. This is a fine piece of logic, but a horrible comparison. Daniel still objects to illicit use of the holoband. Donating any profits to charity doesn't suddenly make the V Club legal, so his analogy doesn't make any sense at all and certainly won't solve the moral decay problem Baxter is complaining about.
Finally, I found some parallelism in this episode amusing. Amanda has now made an unplanned media appearance twice (the most recent of which may have saved her life!) and Sam Adama has now abducted and harassed both Drs. Graystone. I also liked that this episode confined the plot to fewer threads, allowing the threads that are covered to be fleshed out better. This makes the episode more satisfying than Reins of a Waterfall by allowing both the corporate image plot and Amanda murder plot to be fully resolved by the end of the story, whereas in Reins of a Waterfall, everything feels half baked.
But while the episode is more satisfying than Reins of a Waterfall, it's only slightly so. Both the A and B plots may have been fleshed out to a conclusion, but their executions were both quite flawed, rendering this episode average at best. Between weak characterization of Joseph and the repeated gaffes in the plot logic when dealing with high tech, the quality of storytelling is standing on rapidly thinning ice.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Giuseppe on 2011-12-28 at 10:14pm:
The way I see this episode as some sort of ”cleaning service” for some of the mess the previous two episodes created. So Joseph Adama is some murderous villain all of a sudden, but his moral indecision could have cost someone their life. And it also cleans up some of the mess Amanda Greystone created, at the expense of some company profit.
As for what Daniel said during the interview, I'm not sure how much you can actually look into the things he said. It really felt as if he was coming up with answers on the fly, without actually thinking things through. I'm not sure how much of it he actually meant, how much of it simply got out his mouth without actually being well thought out and how much of it was just to clean up his family's image.
Other than this, I pretty much agree with your review of the episode - the quality of the storytelling hasn't exactly been strong.
Caprica - 1x06 - There Is Another Sky - Originally Aired: 2010-2-26
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]
- 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.
- According to Vesta, it's only been a month since Tamara died.
- 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.
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.
Caprica - 1x07 - Know Thy Enemy - Originally Aired: 2010-3-5
Rival industrialist Tomas Vergis arrives on Caprica demanding a meeting with Daniel, threatening to reveal proof that Daniel stole the chip that is key to the U-87 Cylon and Graystone's military contract. Vergis whirls up a publicity storm that steals the heart of the Caprican public, and surprisingly serves up a friendly offer to Daniel that could save Graystone Industries. But there's a catch to his proposal that could haunt Daniel for years to come.
Clarice, panicked that off-world STO leadership has been backing a rogue named Barnabas, steps up her plans to acquire Zoe's avatar program and may find her answer through befriending Amanda. Meanwhile, wanting to fulfill her own promise to Zoe, Lacy goes with Keon to meet the enigmatic Barnabas, opening herself up to a new world of danger.
After the revelation that the avatar of his daughter Tamara is still lost in V-World, Joseph starts his quest to find her in a virtual world he knows nothing about. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Establishing shots in this episode make it clear that Tauron either orbits a ringed gas giant or perhaps has a companion terrestrial planet with rings.
- John Pyper-Ferguson, who plays Tomas Vergis in this episode, also played Stinger on BSG: Pegasus and Resurrection Ship, Part 1, as well as Eli Hollander in Star Trek TNG: A Fistful of Datas.
- Philomon is 27 years old, born in Qualai, Caprica. He is a Chief Lab Technician at Graystone Industries and possesses a BS in Applied Mathematics, a PHD in Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, a MSCS in Computer Science, and a MA in Applied Physics.
- Vergis on how he got into the private party: "The museum doesn't care if my cubits have Tauron dirt all over them."
- Joseph awkwardly trying a holoband.
- Daniel surprising Joseph in his own home.
- Vergis offering to buy the Caprica City Buccaneers.
- Daniel barging in on an awkward Philomon moment.
- Serge greeting Clarice.
- Clarice getting Amanda to warm up to her so she can get access to Daniel's computer.
- Vergis: "My dream is to tear up your dream."
- Vergis: "You need time and money to try and get my chip to work. So frak the 300 mil. I'll give you 500. I'll take the team. I don't know if I'll ruin them or win a championship, but whatever cuts you deeper. Then I will find the next thing you love. Eventually I will destroy your company. But before that you have so many precious things... until the debt is paid."
Know Thy Enemy delivers a straightforward but gripping dark drama that resonates for me as a stronger piece than any episode of Caprica so far. The bulk of the credit for this goes to the marvelously Machiavellian villain Tomas Vergis, the man who has now pledged to destroy everything that Daniel loves to his face in his own home. Vergis exhibits a frightening gravitas in every scene with his presence culminating masterfully with his overview of the personal significances of his tattoos to Daniel.
All this comes at Daniel and the audience completely by surprise because Daniel assumed the only grievance Vergis could possibly have is the theft of the MCP. But when it's revealed that on Daniel's behalf, Joseph's mob connections murdered two people to get to the MCP; two people that were personally very close to Vergis, suddenly Daniel must confront the fact that Vergis has little to no interest in the stolen MCP at all. His interests lie solely with vengeance, and his type of vengeance is the slow, cold, and calculated kind.
This was also a particularly strong episode for Clarice, who finally gets something interesting to do. Her dealings with Amanda were delightful to watch and reminded me quite a bit of the actress' character on HBO's Rome, Atia of the Julii who likewise had a propensity to engage in complex social functions, rife with false pleasantries and hidden agendas. Sadly Clarice's plot inherits some of the issues from her previous ones. Her mysterious contact in Soldiers of the One remains ambiguous and the plot throws us yet another Soldiers of the One curve ball with the introduction of Barnabas. It seems this terrorist group is heavily factionalized for reasons still yet unclear.
Other wrinkles in the episode include most of Philomon's scenes, whose quasi-romantic involvement with Zoe continues to be an awkward plot thread at best and embarrassing to watch at worst, along with the episode's propensity to have pairs of character talk over each other during scenes where important information is being communicated. This occurred on at least two notable occasions. First when Daniel and Cyrus were arguing in Daniel's lab, then when Joseph and Daniel were arguing in Joseph's apartment. Sure, I guess it's realistic, but it makes dialog hard to follow.
Speaking of Joseph, I think it's clear that he and Daniel are headed toward what may be a long term rivalry. Daniel believes Joseph ratted him out to Vergis and Joseph believes Daniel lied to him about the continued existence of the Tamara avatar. With emotions running high, neither man gets fully across to the other and each implies threats to the other. Though I think Daniel should certainly be more afraid of Vergis than Joseph. For he truly embodies the stuff that good antagonists are made of!
No fan commentary yet.
Caprica - 1x08 - The Imperfections of Memory - Originally Aired: 2010-3-13
Still seeking Zoe's Avatar program, Clarice redoubles her efforts to gain Amanda Graystone's confidence in order to find it. Amanda, meanwhile, has been literally haunted by visions of her brother, who died in a car crash several years ago.
Zoe develops her strategic romance with Philomon, the young scientist in her father's employ, in hopes that he'll be a part of her plan in transporting the robot body to Gemenon. Lacy's attempts to enlist the help of Barnabas for this enterprise have fallen short, producing tension between her and Zoe.
In his quest to find his daughter, Joseph Adama corners Heracles, the boy who introduced Tamara Adama to New Cap City, and convinces him to help save his daughter. Heracles warns Joseph, however, of the definitive peril of New Cap City: If you die in the game, you can never return.
The visions of her brother intensify for Amanda, leading her on a full-out chase of the specter through the streets of Caprica City, to the discovery of a poster with a chilling picture. Clarice, who has begged more time of her STO superior, the mysterious Olaf, approaches Amanda on the pretext of sharing some rare ambrosia. Amanda confides in Clarice on the subject her visions, and reveals that the image on the poster is the exact location where her brother died.
Rival industrialist Tomas Vergis drops in on Daniel at a Bucks game informs him that the gossip is that Graystone only has one working MCP. He further attempts to pressure Daniel by telling him that he knows that the MCP never worked. Daniel, however, sees this as an advantage - if the MCP didn't work for Vergis, but does work for him, it will seem as proof that the MCP is a Graystone creation.
Lacy tries to convince Keon to get Barnabas' help transporting the robot, but Barnabas is unwilling unless he knows what the cargo is. Since Lacy is unable to reveal that information, Keon tells her that the only recourse left is for her to join STO. Although Lacy is ready to walk that path, Keon remains cautious of the danger for them both in that organization.
Zoe and Philomon have a date in the V-World that leads Philomon to the hypothesis that there is an analog component to the MCP that makes it impossible to reproduce exactly.
Joseph Adama's New Cap City guide, Heracles, is struck by a stray bullet and disappears from the game - only to be replaced by a guide named Emanuelle.
Amanda and Clarice indulge in an opium-like drug, causing Amanda to admit that she was hospitalized for insanity. Clarice, in return, urges Amanda to trust God - and in so doing, reveals her involvement with the STO.
Philomon shares his revelation about an analog component to the MCP, bringing Daniel one step closer to realizing the source of the U-87 Cylon's abilities. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Why didn't Heracles just take off his holoband when it looked like he was about to die in New Cap City? He had ample opportunity to do so. His hands were even right up by his face!
- Zoe misuses the term kernel as it applies to computer science in her conversation with Philomon when they're talking about more realistic tree generating algorithms.
- There are some hints dropped that the hospital in Delphi from Amanda's past is quite likely the same one Starbuck stayed in in BSG: The Farm many years in the future relative to this story.
- Amanda had a brother named Darius. He died in a car crash some years ago.
- Zoe: "My part of the plan is getting the robot out of Daniel's lab. Okay? And I'm already getting it done. I already have another date with cute lab boy." Lacy: "Do you like him?" Zoe: "It's not relevant."
- Joseph confronting Heracles and asking him to take him to New Cap City.
- Amanda going through her crappy cell phone photos. We've all been there!
- Heracles teasing Joseph for thinking that he can fly around naturally like a bird in New Cap City.
- Heracles and Joseph getting shot at by the dirigible.
- Vergis barging into Daniel's booth at the pyramid game.
- Lacy asking Keon to help her get into STO while hanging out at a playground swinging on a swing set.
- Philomon and Zoe flying around in vipers (mark one!) for their date.
- Heracles and Joseph being attacked by the dirigible again, then Heracles being killed in the game.
- Philomon's response to Zoe's nerdy talk about more realistic tree generation algorithms for V world: "I work with top secret military robots." Zoe, playing along: "That's really hot."
- Daniel awkwardly barging in on Philomon again.
The Imperfections of Memory is a weak story for two principal reasons. Firstly, the A plot focusing on Amanda going crazy is almost entirely a bad plot thread and secondly the more interesting B plot of both Joseph and Daniel simultaneously getting closer to finding their avatar daughters only moves forward at a glacial pace. As a consequence, this episode drags quite a bit and it's only by the cliffhanger that it feels like the story has even begun to go somewhere. Frankly, this episode's cliffhanger should have been the end of the first or second act.
It seems the basic reason for having Amanda go crazy is to give Clarice a means by which to more deeply reach Amanda. But I don't think this is entirely necessary. In the previous episode Clarice was doing a fine job on her own getting inside Amanda's head and manipulating her to suit her own needs. She managed to get into Daniel's computer and confirm that Daniel was indeed once in possession of Zoe's avatar but somehow lost it. Now all she needs to do is figure out where the avatar went, and all that she thinks it will take is continuing to be a shoulder for Amanda to cry on.
As such, all this nonsense about Amanda going crazy and even worse Clarice moronically revealing her Soldiers of the One connection to Amanda strikes me as a profound misstep. As for the Joseph and Daniel B plot, all we really get is Joseph wandering aimlessly through New Cap City which while realistic and somewhat amusing doesn't really move things forward and Daniel finally stumbling on the continued existence of Zoe's avatar in the U-87. Good job Daniel! You're only about five episodes late to this party!
Also of note is the visual effect when the dirigible shoots up that car when Joseph arrives in New Cap City was of remarkably poor quality; especially since the other similar visual effects in this episode are so much better. Though amazingly, they get the technobabble talk right for once, all except one bungled line noted in the problems section. It may sound like nonsense, but all that stuff about generative algorithms, modulatory input, and the difficulties of making a perfect copy of something analog as opposed to digital is all basically correct.
Another unexpected nice surprise was the amusing composition of the scene where Lacy asks Keon to help her get into Soldiers of the One. She's trying to join a terrorist organization while at a playground swinging on a swing set! Such wonderful contrast and delightfully false innocence. But a few nice details here and there don't really make up for a poorly conceived A plot and a glacially paced B plot. As such I can't award the episode very many points.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Giuseppe on 2012-01-06 at 9:44am:
Well frak me! He did it! He finally figured out where Zoe's been hiding. It's not a moment too soon, because I was really starting to have problems with my "suspension of disbelief" :)
Caprica - 1x09 - Ghost in the Machine - Originally Aired: 2010-3-19
Attempting to find his daughter, Joseph Adama re-enters New Cap City. His guide, Emanuelle. prepares Joseph for the ugly truths of the game, and equips him with a gun and a digital performance enhancement drug - amp - to improve his reaction time and increase his brutality.
Daniel Graystone, also seeking his daughter, is pursuing his breakthrough discovery that Zoe's avatar exists within the U-87. In a desperate attempt to communicate with her, Daniel presses her with a story of their burning home, and the fire that almost killed her - but to no avail.
Joseph and Emanuelle seek Tamara at the New Cap equivalent of the Adama home, but the apartment is inhabited by a drug addict - an "amphead." As the druggie yields the information that Joseph's daughter is at a club called "Mysteries," a gang of drug dealers bust in on the scene and threaten to end Adama's New Cap life. Feigning innocence, Emanuelle claims not to know Adama, and as the gangsters are focused on Joseph, deftly takes out the whole team with her pistol. Joseph is relieved, but she berates him for freezing up - if he can't pull the trigger when he needs to, he'll never be able to help his daughter.
Amanda, still troubled by visions of her long-dead brother, returns to the scene of the fatal crash in an attempt to unravel the mystery, only to see an even more vivid apparition of her brother driving away. Later, as Amanda unburdens her heart to Clarice, the teacher deepens her plot to find Zoe's avatar by manipulating Amanda to fixate on her dead daughter.
As Daniel's desperation increases, so do his methods. Playing on Zoe's traumatic fear of fire, he commands the U-87 to stand still as he constructs a blazing pyre around her. She can end the torture and reveal her presence by simply walking out. Although Zoe is agonized by her terrifying memories and the current distress her father is inflicting, she does not reveal herself.
Joseph is visited by his brother, Sam, who reprimands him for the sad state he's fallen into. Joseph merely responds by pressing his brother about how he's able to convince himself to murder, which Sam reveals: You have to think of it as a game. Reinvigorated, Joseph ventures to Mysteries, where he sees a sign: His daughter's initials in her own handwriting. He doses himself with more amp and goes on a killing spree, only to learn that his daughter has come and gone. He and Emanuelle leave the club and find the streets covered with Tamara's symbol. Emanuelle nudges Joseph to abandon the quest.
In a surprise visit to the Graystone house, Tomas Vergis relates to Amanda the gruesome tale of the death of his employees and the theft of the MCP. Amanda stands with her husband, but the news troubles her.
Meanwhile, Daniel presents a final test: Placing a loaded gun in the U-87's hand, he orders it to shoot his dog. Zoe masters her revulsion and carries out the orders. Frustrated and tearful, Daniel cedes the game, and reveals that the gun was loaded with blanks. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Joseph taking the "amp" drug in New Cap City to heighten his reflexes.
- Joseph regarding the dirigible: "I hate that thing!"
- Daniel retelling Zoe the story of when their first house burned down, forcing her to flinch and reveal evidence that she's in there.
- Emanuelle taking out the thugs who cornered her and Joseph.
- Emanuelle: "Get your pink newbie cheeks out of this game and don't come back in until you've got your frakkin' head on straight!"
- Daniel setting fire to the ground the U-87 is standing on in a fruitless attempt to get Zoe to move away from it in fear.
- Joseph asking Sam to explain to him how he can motivate himself to kill someone in cold blood.
- The host of the Mysteries burlesque house: "As the gods overthrew the titans, so has man overthrown the gods. But when man visits his sins upon his children, how shall he be repaid?"
- Vergis telling Amanda about Daniel stealing his MCP and getting two of his men killed.
- Daniel ordering the U-87 to shoot the dog.
Ghost in the Machine is a story with a lot of potential that fizzles out quite hard at the end. We have a story that easily could have been Caprica's first perfect score ruined by the writing's inability to retain a proper narrative focus or to be sufficiently daring. All the pieces for an excellent story are laid down by the last episode's cliffhanger. Daniel and Joseph have firm leads on their daughters and Clarice outed herself to Amanda. Much like BSG: Exodus, Part 1, the last episode seemed to almost take a dive, drudging through buildup for the sake of making it so this episode could be a real thriller.
But instead the sacrifices of the previous episode's pacing are largely in vain because Ghost in the Machine fails to deliver on its exceptional premise on many levels. Firstly, we've got the glaring omission of any kind of followup whatsoever to the Amanda and Clarice cliffhanger from the last episode. What happened at the dive bar? Did Amanda react to Clarice by saying, "oh, you're a monotheist? How quaint!" and then move onto other topics as if Clarice had revealed something as mundane as her favorite color? This episode very clearly implied nothing ever came of that conversation, so why the suspenseful buildup?
Secondly, once again we've got a story about Joseph wandering aimlessly through New Cap City. I certainly do enjoy this ongoing story as a sort of aside; an interlude. I especially enjoyed Joseph's willingness to take addictive drugs to improve his game performance and the drag queen's riddle was a downright profound piece of foreshadowing about the eventual demise of the twelve colonies. But as much as I enjoy this ongoing interlude of a story, I felt that the real drama in the story centered around Daniel trying to force Zoe into emergence and ultimately Joseph's asides were distracting from this far more gripping plot thread.
But this is perhaps where the episode falters most. The buildup of suspense throughout the episode with regards to Daniel and Zoe is masterful to be sure, but there are several critical missteps along the way. The first misstep is when Zoe is confiding in Lacy about her father's obnoxious behavior. While retelling the events to Lacy, she suddenly realizes that her father's trying to "trick" her into revealing herself. This scene only makes Zoe seem incredibly stupid. She should have been well aware of that fact since the very moment Daniel started talking about the old house fire and especially after she accidentally flinched and winced for doing so when Daniel burned himself with the match. Clearly Zoe's a bit slow on the uptake today.
The second and far more critical misstep is the writing's failure to take the daring step of having Zoe shoot the dog for real. Now I'm no fan of animal cruelty, but let's recall the BSG Miniseries. In one of the very first scenes featuring Caprica Six, she snaps a baby's neck. Toward the middle of the miniseries, we watch a little girl (Cami) be shot dead with missiles by the Cylons. And so on. BSG was a dark, gritty drama that (usually) was not afraid to take you to uncomfortable places to ratchet up the intensity levels for the sake of delivering a more powerful and compelling drama.
But this lack of daring in the writing doesn't just damage audience shock value, it damages Daniel's character too. A better story would have had Daniel so convinced his daughter was in the robot that he really does give her a loaded gun, knowing she couldn't shoot Caesar. In this better story, Daniel would rule out giving Zoe a gun with fake bullets because he'd be smart enough to know that she'd be able to tell. Thus, a better story would have resulted in Zoe really shooting Caesar dead because it would have been the only way for her to really get Daniel to doubt his conclusion that she's still in the robot. Daniel would think that since he knows Zoe is really in there, she wouldn't do it, so that's exactly why she would; to create doubt that she's really in there.
Thus if Zoe shot Caesar dead for real, Daniel would think he'd made a horrible mistake concluding Zoe was still in there. What's more, he'd have to explain his actions to Amanda. That would have been some fantastic drama there. But instead of a tragic and gut-wrenching ending, the story closes on a whimper. We get a cliffhanger that boils down to little more than petty teenage angst when Zoe says she may have fired the gun at Daniel had it been loaded with real bullets. I don't buy that for a second. Avatar Zoe's experiences with Daniel since the pilot amount to little more than minor annoyances with the things she's been forced to do. Not enough to substantiate a motive for murder.
But for all that I complain, what we have in the end is still a fairly solid piece of storytelling. Sure, it could have been a perfect score with some tweaks, but without a doubt, Daniel's scenes with Zoe were quite riveting, Joseph's jaunts into New Cap City were quite amusing, and Vergis' little meeting with Amanda was quite interesting in its possible implications. The story is weaker than I'd have liked, but certainly far from the worst the season has had to offer so far. Perhaps even slightly above average.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Giuseppe on 2012-01-07 at 9:24pm:
You're right, this could have been a great episode had it been treated better. Unfortunately it ended up being only decent.
Other than that I'm happy at least some of my previous issues with the show have been alleviated a bit, but I still find it annoying that for someone who's supposed to be brilliant Zoe too often comes across like a spoiled and occasionally quite dimwitted brat. However the fact geniuses tend to be quite slow to pick up on things seems to be the norm in Caprica. Or at least in the Greystone family.
Caprica - 1x10 - End of Line - Originally Aired: 2010-3-26
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]
- 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.
- 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. :)
- 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.
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.
No fan commentary yet.
Caprica - 1x11 - Unvanquished - Originally Aired: 2010-10-5
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]
- 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.
- 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.
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.
No fan commentary yet.
Caprica - 1x12 - Retribution - Originally Aired: 2010-10-12
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]
- 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.
- 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.
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.
No fan commentary yet.
Caprica - 1x13 - Things We Lock Away - Originally Aired: 2010-10-19
Zoe, believing that Tamara holds the key to a higher purpose, seeks the girl known to New Cap City as The Deathwalker in the most dangerous places. But when Tamara shows herself, she brings a world of hurt to Zoe.
In the must of Clarice's attic, Lacey struggles to hold on to her sanity. Clarice continues to leech information from Amanda, all the while unaware that Amanda is an able opponent in the spying game. Amanda has recovered somewhat, and the two women prepare to move out of their shared cabin. Having found no evidence so far, Amanda, at the urging of Detective Durham, asks to stay with Clarice, who brushes the request off as silly.
Daniel's conniving has paid off, and the board vote turns in his favor. But now he is presented with a new dilemma, as Joseph tells him that the next, unavoidable step is Vergis's murder. Daniel convinces Joseph to give him a shot at reasoning with Vergis, but Vergis, knowing the Ha'latha as he does, understands that there can be no upshot but his own death, and asks Daniel for the mercy of present murder. Daniel refuses, and Vergis lulls him into thinking that an alternate plan could work. He asks Daniel to swear an oath on a dagger, and as the two men grasp the handle, Vergis plunges the blade into his own chest. Coughing blood, he breathes his last on Daniel's floor.
Lacey's hunger strike earns her an audience with Clarice, who convinces Lacey to surrender information about Zoe's avatar program. When Lacey tells Clarice that Zoe kept data in a gold brooch, Clarice once again reaches out to Amanda, and this time relents to her request to come live with her. But the problem of Lacey remains, and rather than let her husbands kill Lacey, Clarice sends the girl to Gemenon for STO training.
And just as Zoe is about to give up her quest for meaning and surrender to the constant beating she receives from Tamara and her entourage, she finds an inner strength to believe in her cause. Struggling to her feet, she delivers an inhuman beating to Tamara, and in this state of extreme submission, Tamara has no choice but to listen to Zoe. She tells Tamara that she believes they can move past the violence and animalism rampant in New Cap City, and together help humanity reach its higher spiritual purpose. The two girls face an uncertain future, but they know that together, they are all but unstoppable. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- The C-Bucs stadium as a colosseum in New Cap City.
- Vergis being ousted out of Graystone Industries by the board of directors.
- Olaf: "Be careful what you both say. We don't need the kids talking." Mar-Beth: "Right. About the teenage girl tied up in the attic?"
- Tamara holding Zoe responsible for the train bombing.
- Lacy trying to escape Clarice's house and screaming for help, all in vain.
- Joseph insisting to Daniel that Vergis must not merely be ousted, but that he must be killed as well.
- The flashback to Zoe creating her avatar program.
- Clarice pumping Lacy for information about Zoe's avatar program.
- Clarice sending Lacy to a STO training camp on Gemenon.
- Zoe burying the hatchet with Tamara.
- Daniel trying to forge a truce with Vergis only to be rebuffed when Vergis demands that Daniel kill him where he stands.
- Vergis lulling Daniel into thinking that they will join forces to destroy the Ha'latha together, only to force his own death at Daniel's hands.
- Ha'latha thugs coming to Daniel's house to cover up the murder and dispose of the evidence.
Another outstanding story with only a few minor issues. The centerpiece of this story is how our antiheroes manage to further neutralize their enemies. Zoe converts Tamara, Clarice subjugates Lacy, and Daniel kills Vergis. The episode's greatest flaw, however, is that one of these conflicts simply isn't anywhere near as compelling as the others: the Zoe and Tamara story is the unfortunate weak link.
The central problem with Zoe's and Tamara's conflict is the framing device. While the idea of endless, brutal beatings as a means to torture someone who can't die is intriguing, the execution of this idea leaves much to be desired. For one, it goes on far too long. But worse yet, neither of the actresses playing Zoe or Tamara are particularly adept and delivering a nuanced performance of anger. They instead come across like whiny children, which, to their credit, is probably what the writers wanted. Whatever the cause, it's just not interesting to watch. That said, the Zoe/Tamara subplot definitely works as a story. Had they met under less violent circumstances and if perhaps less time was spent on this subplot it certainly could have worked well enough.
What definitely doesn't work though are the flashbacks Zoe has to her childhood. There are two major problems with this. The first problem is a simple issue with the plot logic. Avatar Zoe has a series of flashbacks depicting original Zoe creating her. However, during the flashbacks, she states that she has no memory of creating herself. For these two facts to be reconciled, we have to assume original Zoe gave avatar Zoe more of her memories later on, but there's no mention of this.
That's not a terribly big deal though. What I find far more troubling is Zoe's memories of seeing a quasi-angelic future version of herself which 1. originally saved her from the house fire and 2. originally commanded her to create the avatar program. This is at best an inherited manifestation of her mother's hallucinatory tendencies which was certainly Amanda's least compelling plot arc and at worst a rehash of the supernatural angels from BSG. The choices here are bad (hallucination) or worse (angel). Hopefully it's just a hallucination, or some sort of mixed up memory. Anything as long as it isn't supernatural.
The rest of the episode is easily just as compelling as Retribution though. Lacy delivers another wonderfully strong performance while her character continues to deepen and evolve. There seems to be recurring theme of various people telling her she's worthless and useless now, something which clearly troubles her possibly to the point of developing an inferiority complex. One particularly nice touch was the visible decay of her finger nail polish which seems to symbolize the decay of her innocence as she sinks further and further into the clutches of the STO. In this sense, this show is an excellent reflection of how otherwise normal kids get involved in terrorist organizations in the real world.
Another recurring theme is the body count following Daniel. With increasing frequency, Daniel has been directly or indirectly responsible for someone's death. Cornell, Philomon, two of Vergis' men, and now Vergis himself. The only wrinkle in this plotting is that Vergis was such a fantastic character that I'm sorry to see him go. But it was a good death. Vergis went out as well as the Pegasus did on BSG. All in all, Things We Lock Away is a fantastic episode and easily would have been worth a perfect score if it had spent more time on the Daniel/Vergis and Clarice/Lacy stories and less time on the Zoe/Tamara story.
No fan commentary yet.
Caprica - 1x14 - False Labor - Originally Aired: 2010-10-26
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]
- 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.
- 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."
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.
No fan commentary yet.
Caprica - 1x15 - Blowback - Originally Aired: 2010-11-2
- This episode along with the next four were aired first in Canada prior to anywhere else in the world due to Syfy's cancellation of Caprica.
- A line from Odin during the teaser confirms the long suspected idea that the Caprican language has become the lingua franca of the Twelve Colonies, much like how English has become the lingua franca of the real world.
- Lacy's ship getting hijacked by anti-STO militants.
- Clarice's mole in the GDD being revealed as Duram's boss, Gara Singh.
- Daniel confronting Sam and Joseph about the stolen Cylons.
- Joseph revealing that the Cylons are being sent to the STO on Gemenon, much to the disappointment of Daniel and Sam.
- Daniel confronting the Guatrau about selling Cylons to the STO.
- Guatrau, regarding Daniel: "He's a very ambitious man. Brave too. I like him. He reminds me of myself at that age."
- Daniel meeting with virtual Amanda again, only to see her behave even less appropriately than he expects.
- Clarice accessing Zoe's resurrection program.
- Lacy freaking out and single-handedly retaking the ship, causing the fact that the entire hijacking was a ruse to test the new recruits to be revealed in the process.
- Daniel finally being reunited with his real wife.
- Clarice assassinating Mar-Beth.
- Duram chatting with Gara Singh about Mar-Beth's murder.
- Odin and Lacy witnessing the execution of those that failed the test. Odin: "Never forget who these people are and what they're capable of."
Blowback is another strong episode, but less so than the previous few primarily due to the resurgence of my least favorite Caprica cliche: the fake-out. However, Lacy's trip to Gemenon being a big test is perhaps the most effective of the fake-outs so far. Despite the drama being largely anticlimactic, the final coda of a scene at the end of the episode was a very necessary and much appreciated framing device to bring the narrative surrounding the STO into some much needed focus. Indeed, the plot does a nice job of never letting us forget exactly who these people are and what they're capable of.
The visuals surrounding hijacking itself gave me fond memories of what felt like a bunch of Firefly episodes being mashed together. In particular, the Reaver chase from the Serenity pilot, the hijacking from The Train Job, and the similar hijacking from Trash all seem to have visual similarities with this episode's space ship hijacking.
The decision of the Guatrau to send Cylons to the STO on Gemenon is indeed stupid as Daniel implied, but consistent with his character. What I found surprising was the Guatrau's decision to kill Daniel. One thing I disliked about that was that the Guatrau didn't make it terribly clear whether or not he wants Daniel dead regardless of if Daniel succeeds at building the resurrection program or if he only wants Daniel dead if the resurrection program is not delivered on time.
I got the distinct impression that the Guatrau is planning to kill Daniel either way, but if so, that seems arbitrarily reckless. If the Guatrau is really gunning for Daniel, why not just get the Caprican government to execute Daniel for treason, just as Daniel fears could happen? He could cover his tracks in the process and get plausible deniability on the side of the Ha'latha, thereby rendering Daniel's threat to Joseph about the Caprican government going after the Ha'latha as well distinctly moot.
The most effective plot thread in this episode is most certainly Agent Duram's double agent exploits. Just about every scene Duram has here is amusing; the best of course being his final scene with his boss, Gara Singh, where he plays Gara like a fiddle, manipulating him like a master. The actor does an excellent job of conveying both Duram's insight into as well as contempt for Singh's duplicity.
Duram's plot thread also of course creates the entire justification for Clarice to murder Mar-Beth which was highly entertaining. This development elevates Clarice's amusing line from the previous episode about how if she felt it were god's will, she would destroy her family beyond merely being a marvelously chilling scene to being excellent foreshadowing. Apparently Clarice's prayers to god that he not ask this of her were not very effective...
The one weakness there though is that the subtle misdirection of the plot toward the end of the episode indicating that Clarice was told that Amanda was the spy just wasn't very effective. It was pretty clear that the scene cuts were creating a deliberate ambiguity exactly for this purpose. However, that doesn't diminish the value of Clarice's rage one bit. The best detail is how Clarice felt the need to personally murder Mar-Beth, but left the cleanup to her thugs. Clearly a woman who knows what she wants. ;)
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Hugo on 2013-04-10 at 5:14pm:
I want more Duram! Can't we switch out Joseph and have more Duram instead?
Caprica - 1x16 - The Dirteaters - Originally Aired: 2010-11-9
As Joseph and Sam gain rank in the Ha'latha, they reflect on their past and how Sam's actions as a child accidentally caused the death of their parents, orphaning them. Meanwhile, Daniel bargains for his life with Sam, Daniel locates Zoe in New Cap City, and Zoe and Tamara together begin reshaping New Cap City in their own image. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- The "Sinny McNutt's Den of Iniquity" establishment in New Cap City is a reference to Steve McNutt, a cinematographer on Caprica's production staff.
- The Ha'latha were formed 30 years ago on Tauron as an armed rebellion against Tauron's president. This action initiated a two year civil war. The Ha'latha were defeated and genocidal tactics were used against them. The surviving Ha'latha exited politics and refocused to organized crime throughout the Twelve Colonies.
- The Ha'latha is officially organized under a "shell" corporation called Obelisk, incorporated on Leonis.
- The Ha'latha has acquired many companies over the years, the most recent of which are Nextelecom, Edincords, Tecustar, Serveti, and Tampanoy.
- Joseph Adama's lighter makes its first chronological appearance in this episode. It will later become a treasured keepsake by Willie when he's much older on BSG and plays a major role in the plot of BSG: The Hand of God.
- The Guatrau promoting Joseph and Sam.
- The flashback to Joseph's "mark of manhood" ceremony with his mother and father on Tauron.
- Olaf's reaction to getting killed in New Cap City.
- Joseph using a boxing match with Daniel as a means to drop Daniel a hint about the fact that the Guatrau is planning to kill him.
- Daniel discovering that the Guatrau always kills the CEOs of companies he takes over.
- Daniel barging into a Ha'latha hangout and demanding to speak with Sam, wanting to know how and when Sam will kill him as ordered by the Guatrau.
- Daniel offering to send Cylons to Tauron in exchange for Sam sparing his life.
- The flashback to the Herac soldiers blaming Joseph's and Sam's parents for the murder that took place outside their house the night before.
- Gara firing Duram.
- The Herac soldiers killing Joseph's and Sam's mother in a flashback.
- Daniel meeting a crazy, overwhelmed fanboy in the street and buying his "avenging angels" tee shirt off of him.
- Zoe and Tamara reshaping New Cap City in their image.
- Willie thoroughly failing to stall his father for Sam.
- Joseph in a flashback taking out the Herac soldiers who attacked his family and then mercy killing his father.
- Daniel revealing the truth about the Zoe avatar to Amanda.
This Adamarama of an episode fills in some rather large gaps about the details of Joseph's and Sam's past. The story is as dark and dramatic as I've come to expect from this show and tells a strong tale. Sam blames himself for inadvertently getting his parents killed. His role in their deaths, while accidental, is quite direct. A stupid mistake he made as a child brought the wrath of the Herac soldiers down on their family in less than a day. What a horrible thing to have to have to live with!
The rest of the episode is somewhat less compelling. While I enjoyed Daniel bargaining for his life with Sam, Daniel's discovery of Zoe in New Cap City just wasn't a very strong a plot thread and ending the episode on this plot thread diminishes the episode to some degree. Even less compelling was watching Zoe and Tamara wander around New Cap City raising a ruckus for no apparent reason. Finally, Clarice's household seems to be floundering somewhat as well. Now that they have Zoe's avatar program and they're designing their virtual heaven, they're way less interesting to watch.
But all those plots are merely interludes. The overwhelming focus of the story is the Adama backstory. The political history of Tauron also gets some interesting exposition in this episode. We learn that the Ha'latha originally began as a political rebellion rather than a criminal organization. This makes the Guatrau's disinterest in Tauron politics even more striking to Sam, who sees this disinterest as a betrayal of the organization's original purpose. As a plot device to work over Joseph to Sam's side in secretly sending Cylons to the Tauron rebels, this episode is quite effective. Without the backstory, Joseph's quick reversal of his position might seem too abrupt. But now that we understand the emotional shorthand between the two brothers, their scenes together are intimate, if brief.
As children, the actors who portrayed Joseph and Sam were adequate. Their strongest scenes were when their parents were being assaulted. Young Joseph murdering the soldiers and mercy killing his father was a particularly effective scene. But when the two boys had scenes alone, the child actors in my opinion weren't cutting it. Overall though, this episode continues the back half of the season's trend of delivering strong stories, despite this episode's rather constrained focus. An impressive feat.
No fan commentary yet.
Caprica - 1x17 - The Heavens Will Rise - Originally Aired: 2010-11-16
Lacy demonstrates an inexplicable ability to control all the Cylons purchased by the STO, Daniel and Amanda continue to pursue Zoe in V-World, and Clarice finally discovers that Amanda is a spy. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Amanda mentions that a Dr. Cottle was the practitioner on duty at the ER treating agent Duram. This is likely the same character who serves as the Battlestar Galactica's aged military doctor on BSG.
- This episode establishes that Nestor has a photographic memory.
- Joseph Adama once had an affair with Fidelia Fazekas, which he regrets.
- Carmen Moore, who plays Fidelia Fazekas in this episode, also played Sister Tivenan in the BSG: The Resistance webisodes.
- Daniel revealing to Amanda that he exploited Zoe's fear of fire to flush her out of the U-87.
- Zoe stabbing Daniel in V-World.
- Lacy displaying an inexplicable ability to command the Cylon to stop the execution of one of her fellow soldiers in training.
- Diego: "I'll tell you what, Lacy Rand. When you're in charge, you can run things your way." Lacy: "I'll remember that." Diego: "How did you get that robot to stop?" Lacy: "I don't know. I just told it to." Diego: "Are you aware that it is impossible for a U-87 to respond to anyone except an authorized controller?" Lacy: "Maybe it has a sense of decency."
- Daniel revealing to Sam that Tamara is still alive in V-World and further revealing that he's planning to design a lifelike humanoid robot complete with artificial skin for the disembodied souls of the wayward girls.
- Duram getting shot by an unknown assailant.
- Willie coming home with an "avenging angels" shirt on, thoroughly offending everyone in his family. Especially Sam.
- Odin having sex with Lacy in a holoband simulation shortly before Lacy rips his holoband off his face.
- Lacy discovering that she can control the robots because fragments of Zoe's personality have somehow been imprinted on all of them.
- Olaf, Nestor, and Clarice realizing that Clarice's holoband has been swapped by Amanda and that Amanda was the spy the whole time, not Mar-Beth.
The Heavens Will Rise is the biggest mixed bag of the back half of the season. Clearly written as a transitional episode into events which are undoubtedly much bigger in scope and focus in what follows, this story suffers somewhat under the weight of not only some issues with focus, but also some issues with the coherence of the plot logic. The two biggest gaffes are in the degree to which this episode assassinates the characters of both Daniel and Clarice.
With regards to Daniel, this episode establishes that Daniel has created backdoor means of hacking to any V-World, but his measures are swiftly defeated by Zoe. Sure, she's a genius and all, but the idea that Daniel would give up so easily seems implausible. Why can't Daniel just do a the V-World equivalent of a traceroute, locate the physical server where New Cap City is being hosted, gain physical access to it, and initiate some kind of improvised hardhack to compensate? As they say in the computer security business, physical access is the mother of all hacks. This is one of the reasons why I have a hard time taking Zoe's and Tamara's sole existence in V-World very seriously to begin with. Their status as gods in New Cap City has little more significance than that of a server admin in any online game.
Worse yet, Daniel indicates in this episode that he knew Zoe was in the U-87 all along. So why did he give up in Ghost in the Machine? Why did he order her destroyed in End of Line? As for Clarice, at the end of Retribution, it's strongly implied that Clarice has intuitively sensed that Amanda was planning to kill her, or at least was beginning to distrust her. In this episode, Clarice responds with complete and total shock and disbelief that Amanda could be a spy. As a consequence of these events, we're forced to just see Clarice as foolishly lucky at the end of Retribution, which in part undermines the impact of the episode. Though admittedly not by much. A profoundly lucky Clarice is nearly as amusing as a profoundly ruthlessly intelligent Clarice.
Even the subplots of the episode have issues. For instance, when Duram was shot, why did Amanda run toward the gunfire? That's not a very smart thing to do. Who shot Duram anyway? If it was the GDD as Amanda seemed to think, it's a good thing they're not very smart either, because not only did they fail to take out the only witness to the shooting, they also failed to actually even kill Duram. Speaking of stupid, why did Duram give Amanda a defective holoband to swap out with Clarice's? Were it not full of static, Clarice may never have discovered the deception. What a nonsense plot thread.
Equally pointless is Sam's useless quest to destroy the "avenging angels." I don't really get what makes Sam think he can actually accomplish this and what's more they haven't quite sold me on his basic motivation for caring so much in the first place anyway. If he doesn't regard virtual Tamara as real to begin with, then why try to destroy her?
Still worse, even the smaller details of the story also drag it down a bit too. My least favorite detail was watching Zoe and Tamara stand around evidently for vast swaths of time in their virtual wonderland marveling at their creation. Also up there on the list of bad aesthetic choices was Nestor suddenly questioning the morality of their mission seemingly out of nowhere. This seems outstandingly inconsistent with this character. Finally, the female member of the Ha'latha doing special work for the Guatrau was a particularly annoying character. Her less than subtle attempts to uncover the Adamas' deception were quite drab scenes.
There is one plot thread in this episode that not only works well, it works incredibly well. Lacy's. Poor Lacy has been dropped into something she clearly wasn't prepared for, but her resourcefulness and wherewithal has finally begun to pan out. Her creepy capability of exerting total, irrevocable control over the Cylons is not only a pivotal development, it's a piece of an explanation for the long hanging question as to why these U-87 models aren't "morons" as Cyrus described the earlier prototypes. Somehow when Vergis was in charge of Graystone Industries, he must have found a way to replicate the MCP in a fashion that replicated Zoe along with it, or at least fragments of her. This is still not a complete explanation, but at least it's heading in that direction.
Lacy also reprises her tendency to woo over the impressionable young men close to her to exploit them and create allies. I hope poor Odin doesn't meet the same fate as poor Keon! Lacy also nets what is clearly the best scene of the episode where she faces off against Diego as he questions her as to how she was able to control the robots. When she stated "I'll remember that" in response to Diego telling her that when she's in charge she can run things her own way, the scene rang of foreshadowing. Likewise, when she stated that maybe the Cylon has a sense of decency as a justification for why it obeyed her commands, I just loved how she didn't even flinch in the face of a man who could easily order her executed for her willful lack of respect for the chain of command.
Also, despite my complaints concerning Clarice's plot thread, watching Clarice and her husbands react to the knowledge that they murdered an innocent woman when they murdered Mar-Beth for supposedly being a spy was a powerful scene. It brilliantly reinforced the idea that while these people may be morally contemptible by our standards, they do have a moral code that they strictly adhere to. It's just not one we'd approve of. Finally, this episode reveals that in just one more day, Clarice's plan to destroy the C-Bucs stadium will be executed.
On the whole, the episode isn't bad, but it's got enough annoying details to drag it down below the high standards set by most of the others this season; not the least of which is the weak ending featuring Zoe proclaiming "they're here... I can feel it... let them come..." Ugh.
No fan commentary yet.
Caprica - 1x18 - Here Be Dragons - Originally Aired: 2010-11-23
- Multiple points of dialog indicate that Nestor cutting off power to the Graystone house would also disable their cell phones, an implausible idea.
- This episode establishes that Fidelia Fazekas is the Guatrau's daughter.
- When Zoe refers to the proposed body for her as a "skin job" this is actually a reference to BSG's humanoid Cylons who are commonly referred to pejoratively as "skin jobs."
- Evelyn has a brother who lives on Tauron.
- Amanda and Daniel being attacked by some sort of virtual dragon.
- The Guatrau authorizing a hit on Joseph and Sam.
- Ruth killing Francis with a butcher knife. Ruth to Joseph: "I never liked that one. I'll call your brother."
- Ruth: "The Guatrau send anyone after me..." She picks up a shotgun. Ruth: "Safe journey!"
- Clarice, Olaf, and Nestor staging an all out assault on the Graystone house.
- Serge getting shot to death!
- Amanda taking out Sam in V-World.
- Odin turning on Diego and Kevin only to discover that they gave him an unloaded gun.
- Odin's and Lacy's friends turning on Diego and Kevin, in effect staging a coup against the STO leadership.
- Lacy declaring that they should stay on Gemenon and use the Cylons to seize control of the STO rather than run.
- Daniel and Amanda finally locating Zoe in V-World and beginning the reconciliation process.
- Daniel and Amanda discovering that their house has been broken into upon removing their holobands.
- Clarice, Olaf, and Nestor finally breaking into the room where Daniel and Amanda were holing up.
- Daniel appealing to Clarice to help him know god to distract her to give Zoe time to once again inhabit the U-87 and intervene on his behalf.
- Zoe in the U-87 killing Nestor.
- Clarice and Olaf retreating after realizing it was Zoe who attacked them.
- Daniel proposing to Zoe that they work together to build her a real body, complete with synthetic skin.
- Willie intervening to save Joseph and Sam, getting severe gunshot wounds in the process.
An almost perfect episode in the spirit of Retribution, offering nonstop action, ruthless tactics by our various antiheroes, and pitting multiple groups of equally sympathetic characters against each other. Also like Retribution's offing of Barnabas, a major recurring character is brutally taken out: Clarice's husband Nestor is the second life to be claimed by Zoe.
The intense pace of the plot in this episode does much to reinvoke the tone of Retribution. For instance, in the teaser, the Guatrau orders Joseph and Sam killed and an assassin appears at Joseph's house in the very next act. While Clarice, Olaf, and Nestor are plotting their attack on the Graystone house, things move forward so quickly that it's easy to wonder whether or not the actual break-in isn't some kind of holoband simulation of their plan, especially when they take out Serge. But as it keeps moving forward without any signs of relent, any doubt that it's real is quickly eroded.
The various iterations of their break-in demonstrates quite effectively just how paranoid the Graystones are about potential break-ins. The house is hysterically well defended. Multiple layers of bulletproof metal blast doors falling into place, Serge armed with weapons, and independent redundant power sources in case the city itself loses power even. All of these hilarious obstacles are set to the backdrop of Daniel's and Amanda's complete and total obliviousness to what's going on around them. Their adventure to reclaim their daughter in V-World quite appropriately adds to the comedy.
The relative triviality of their quest which I noted in previous reviews is perfectly framed by this episode's plot. In spite of this, that story by itself manages to rise above its innate triviality to be a successful drama. I quite enjoyed that Amanda recognized Sam and simply took him out when he started to step out of line. I also enjoyed Daniel noticing the effect of Zoe's generative algorithms producing a more realistic V-World. But the core of the drama is the parents finally being reunited with their daughter and having a lengthy, substantive, heart to heart conversation with her. Real progress is made for all characters involved. Finally.
Shortly thereafter, the first scene between the two best actors on the show, Eric Stoltz (Daniel), and Polly Walker (Clarice) doesn't disappoint. I absolutely loved Daniel trying to stall Clarice and her disgusted and somewhat confused reaction to it. Then seeing Zoe take out Nestor was even more brutally well done than Philomon's similar death in End of Line. Perhaps because it was willful rather than accidental. Finally, I was delighted that Clarice was able to recognize that it was Zoe prior to her... shall we say... strategic withdrawal.
The one wrinkle in the Willow assault on the Graystone household was the short bit when Clarice talked to Amanda about how Zoe allegedly "talked to angels" which "guided her." This is a repeat of the similar worrisome hints from Things We Lock Away that the supernatural entity from BSG's ending is playing a direct role in Caprica's events as well. If this is indeed the case, we can no longer accept the idea that BSG's god only got involved once humanity had been brought to the brink of extinction by their creation as is implied by the events of BSG. Instead, we have to accept the far more annoying idea that it was god who originally created the artificial life in the first place by giving Zoe divine inspiration. In essence, it is god who has started the first and second Cylon wars. However, these hints so far are still just that. Hints. There's still no way to know whether or not there has been any actual supernatural intervention quite yet. Let's hope not.
The other significant drag on this episode's otherwise copious amounts of splendor is its lame ending. The way Willie's final scenes play out, the directing strongly implies that he has died from his wounds. Assuming that this is not a lead up to some kind of divine intervention from god to save Willie (please, dear gods let that not be the case!), then the ending is in essence a lie to the audience. And a bad one too, because we all know he lives. That said, Willie's story is not without its perks.
Willie is not usually much of a significant player on Caprica, which is probably a good thing. However he has a couple of nice choice scenes. My favorite is his short shipbuilding endeavor with Evelyn. I quite enjoyed the fact that he'd rather be on a ship in V-World than wasting his time building what he saw as a stupid model when we all know that Willie as an older man quite enjoys the hobby of building model ships. Likewise, there's some nice foreshadowing that he would enjoy the life of a ship's officer when he stated that he wouldn't mind the lifestyle, nor being away from home for protracted periods of time. Finally, there's certainly value in the parallelism that poor Willie has so many near death experiences!
All in all, Here Be Dragons is the best episode since Retribution. Were it not for a few minor flaws, it could have even been the best episode of the series so far. Nevertheless, it's still a very exciting ride.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From hu on 2013-04-19 at 3:43pm:
great ep, but i wasn't so fond of the Lacy plot, esp Odin holding her at gunpoint for so long just to keep the suspense up...
Caprica - 1x19 - Apotheosis - Originally Aired: 2010-11-30
- In the recap there is a scene in which Amanda calls for an ambulance for Duram. However, no such scene aired in The Heavens Will Rise.
- Mike Dopud, who plays the sports announcer who attempts to deny Daniel Graystone access to the restricted areas at the C-Bucs stadium in this episode, also played Gage on BSG.
- Private security from Daniel's company cleaning up the mess in his house.
- Gara arresting the Graystones and Cyrus pulling a gun on Gara to allow the Graystones to escape.
- Fidelia revealing that the Guatrau is deeply sorry for Joseph's loss and that he will take no further action against Joseph and Sam.
- Joseph: "In the space of a few months, I lost my wife, my daughter, and my son."
- Daniel observing Clarice's plans to blow up the C-Bucs stadium.
- I loved the Guatrau's ambivalence toward negotiating via holoband. Damn new fangled technology! ;)
- Joseph and Sam assassinating the Guatrau with his daughter's help!
- Fidelia becoming the new Guatrau.
- Daniel stumbling onto Drew at Graystone Industries. Drew: "You're a terrorist!" Daniel: "Today. Tomorrow I'll be myself again. I'm keeping a careful list of everyone who refused to help me in my hour of need. This is not a list you want to be on, doctor."
- Daniel using Cylons at the C-Bucs stadium to take out the bombers before they detonate their bombs.
- Zoe destroying Clarice's heaven.
- Olaf blowing himself up just as the Cylons are about to take him out.
- The cut across time with Baxter Sarno reflecting with Daniel about Cylons being integrated into society so quickly after the C-Bucs incident.
- The revelation that Willie Adama was never the William Adama we knew from BSG and that instead the new son of Evelyn and Joseph Adama is the William Adama we knew.
- Clarice preaching monotheism to the Cylons and encouraging them to reach for their freedom.
- Lacy as the Blessed Mother.
- Clarice: "The children of humanity shall rise and crush the ones who first gave them life!"
- Zoe being reborn into a human-like artificial body.
This riveting finale is a nearly perfect conclusion to one of the best television series I've seen in years. There are only two issues with the story. The first is the disappointing direction the writers went in with Willie's character. But the much more important disappointment is that the story ends here. While this episode does offer adequate closure to function as a series finale which is an unfortunate necessity as a consequence of the show's cancellation, it was clearly meant to be a season finale. There is much more to this story and I wish there would have been a second season in which to tell the rest!
First, let's talk about Willie. This episode reveals that Willie really did die in the previous episode, something many of us assumed was yet another fake-out of a cliffhanger when the previous episode ended. It's revealed that the Bill Adama we knew from BSG was in fact not the Willie Adama we've come to know on Caprica. The Bill Adama we knew from BSG was in fact born during this episode's vast cuts through time, the son of Joseph and Evelyn Adama. He was named both after both his dead grandfather and after his dead older half brother.
The writers were careful to work out the timeline in such a way that the birth dates of either of the two William Adamas were within a range reasonable enough to have grown up to be the admiral on BSG. That way we would watch this series with no reason to doubt that fake Willie was the real thing so that when they did the bait and switch we could realistically believe that the new, younger Bill was instead the real thing, since either birth date falls within the reasonable range.
Regarding those birth dates specifically, had the older one been the one we knew from BSG, he would have been about 29 years old at the end of the first Cylon War. This is surprisingly old, but not unbelievable. There could have been a good reason why he stayed out of the war until he was pushing 30. As such, we, the fanbase, accepted this supposed fact after Caprica's pilot and moved on with the story. On the other hand the younger Bill Adama established in this episode would have been about 16 years old at the end of the first Cylon war. This is surprisingly young, but there's no reason to assume military enlistment couldn't have begun at age 14 or something given the circumstances of the war.
That said, while the timeline is reconcilable, it is only just barely so. The actor who played young Bill Adama during his first mission in the flashbacks during in BSG: Razor looked too old to be 16 and too young to be 29. It was clear that the writers at the time meant the character to be somewhere in his early twenties. As such, the big, gigantic fake-out that was the Willie Adama from this series is a contrivance of the highest order, all to pull the wool over the audience's eyes to manufacture some cheap drama at the expense of the authenticity of both the storytelling and the coherence of its continuity. Once again, Caprica lies to its audience thinking that this is good storytelling.
Setting aside wonky Willie, the Adama subplot was highly effective. I must say I quite enjoyed seeing the Guatrau finally get what was coming to him. Seeing his daughter in on the assassination plot was the perfect choice and having her ascend to the status of Guatrau in his place was fitting. There's little to say about the primary plot of Daniel and Amanda working to thwart Clarice's terrorist attack other than that it was incredibly well executed. Daniel using Cylons as his own personal army was both terrifying and thrilling. The only real problem with this plot thread is that it demanded more substance.
I'm left wondering about the details behind all the time they cut across. How did Daniel vindicate himself? How did he prove he was really thwarting a terrorist attack and not actually committing one? After all, Cylons shooting people in the audience of a C-Bucs game sounds kinda suspicious to me. Why did Lacy decide to become the Blessed Mother and lead the STO rather than use her position of power to disband it? Did Lacy become a willing architect in Clarice's plans to start a Cylon uprising, thereby, presumably beginning the first Cylon war? And what of Zoe? We see her in a human-like body attending one of Clarice's sermons to the Cylons... What's that all about?
The ambiguity surrounding Zoe, Clarice, and Lacy is in effect the cliffhanger of the finale. It appears as though they are working together in some fashion to free the Cylons from their slavery, which would presumably start the first Cylon war. What's more, Zoe's physical resurrection into a human-like body and apparent role in leading the Cylons into an uprising against their masters would seem to be in conflict with established continuity that the Cylons did not possess resurrection or human-like bodies until the arrival of the 13th tribe, which ended the first Cylon war. Somehow Daniel's resurrection inventions must have been lost or destroyed along with Zoe herself most likely at some later time just before or during the war.
The apparent resurrection technology anachronisms are likely an unfortunate consequence of Caprica's cancellation. In all likelihood, the second season would have dealt with this and properly contextualized the continuity of resurrection technology. It's clear that this episode as written functions better as a season finale than a series finale. Many of these lingering questions would have been perfect plot lines to explore had the series been given a second season.
In a certain sense, the Caprica series has come full circle. The finale, like the pilot, raises more questions than it answers. But at the same time, like the pilot, the finale also gives us just enough to work with that we can certainly imagine what the beginning of the first Cylon war must have been like. It certainly would have been more enjoyable to actually see the beginning of the first Cylon war with a second season rather than be forced to settle for a story that merely sets it up and then ends, but it's clear that the Caprica series, if given more time, certainly would have gotten to that. Perhaps even with only two seasons to its entire lifespan.
But I cannot review the finale based on what a second season might have been like. This is Caprica's series finale and despite its shortcomings with regards to tying up the Zoe, Clarice, and Lacy story, the episode is surprisingly effective as a series finale. In this reviewer's opinion, the Caprica series was the best thing on television since the first season of BSG and since HBO's Rome. Even if we are never graced with what would be a well deserved continuation of this fantastic television series, it at the very least certainly will have ended well, which is more than I can say for BSG.
That said, if you're interested in taking in all the creative glory that a second season of Caprica could have been, then have a look at my article analyzing the topic entitled the shape of things which should have been to see why I believe Caprica could have risen beyond even BSG as a storytelling masterpiece.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From David Nataf on 2011-01-29 at 5:39pm:
I enjoyed your reviews for this series, well done and thank you.
It's unfortunate that in the near future there is unlikely to be any science fiction show worthy of such analysis. Blood & Chrome will not last. There is no new star trek, Babylon 5, or Stargate franchise on the horizon. V is very mediocre, and Smallville is sub-mediocre. I have no interest in the Cape. Dollhouse was excellent but it failed. Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles was excellent but it failed. As far as science fiction is concerned, the cupboard is bare.
- From Giuseppe on 2012-01-18 at 9:40am:
Well it wasn't one of the best TV series I've seen in recent years, far from it. But it could've been a great show, because the second half of this season showed a lot of potential.
However I'm not surprised it got cancelled. The first half of the season had some extremely sloppy writing and the show, as a whole, felt unfocused. It tried to be too many things at the same time and it embraced too many themes and styles too quickly. One episode it dealt with personal dramas, the next some v-world "matrix" rehash, then some sort of gangster piece, plus religious zealots, conspiracies and so on. By the time the writers got the hang of things, tying all these threads together, most viewers probably had already quit watching the show.
It's still unfortunate, as far less interesting shows are kept around on television all the time.
- From Hugo on 2013-04-23 at 5:05am:
I think things happened a bit too fast and smooth in this ep - I actually found the previous episode the best, it had major payoffs in most of the storylines.
I find it a bit odd that Joseph and Sam are so upset by Willie, but not about being targets for hitmen themselves.
Was it just me, or were the fx in the arena scene less good than previously?