Written on 2010-12-01.
A creative, genre-blending serial drama
Caprica frequently gets compared to Firefly, not merely because of its similar premature cancellation, but also because Firefly was a series which blended a literal wild west aesthetic with a futuristic dystopian science fiction universe. In the Firefly universe, the wild west aesthetic was the result of a technological regression, which was a consequence of a profoundly dysfunctional society. Like Firefly, Caprica was a genre blender as well by telling what amounts to a familiar family soap opera, but set in a futuristic civilization very unlike our own.
What Caprica and Firefly accomplished during their short runs that no other science fiction series has quite managed to do is to tell the surprisingly captivating stories of mostly ordinary people living in highly exotic settings. Rather than creating archetypical heroes, we've got realistic characters that are almost always portrayed as a shade of gray; sometimes even as antiheroes. By doing this, these shows felt more realistic than any other science fiction shows have so far.
The deceptively clever closure of Caprica's series finale
Unlike Firefly which abruptly ended without closure only to be followed by a movie which equally abruptly tied up all the story lines in a haphazard (though exciting) fashion, Caprica has ended in a riveting, well paced fashion with plenty of closure. At the end of the story, Zoe was born into a human-like body, Lacy took over the STO, and Clarice preached monotheism to the Cylons and encouraged them to rise up and take their freedom by force. To the casual viewer, this might seem like some fairly comprehensive closure. We've got all the ingredients for the start of the first Cylon war laid out quite clearly. But that's just it. The ingredients for the start of the war are all laid out quite effectively, but we don't actually get to see the war!
The war story would only enhance the family drama
The best creative choice for the beginning of the second season would have been to start by exploring Zoe's motives for aligning once again with Clarice as she appeared to be doing in the first season's finale. With a bit of character work, it would be pretty easy to see why Zoe might turn against her parents again to fight for the freedom of her peers: sentient robots. Together, Zoe, Clarice, and Lacy could in effect start and lead the first Cylon war.
In the ensuing conflict, much like the finale, we could cut across large chunks of time. With the plot blazing through Bill Adama's childhood, we could observe the effects growing up in the crucible of war would have on him. Meanwhile, we could observe the devastating effects a brutal war which lasts for over a decade would have on Joseph's and Sam's Ha'latha endeavors, despite their ever-deepening influence within the powerful criminal organization.
As for the Graystones, as the Twelve Colonies slowly begin to unite in the face of their common enemy, Daniel would be vilified for creating the Cylons which would eventually be his undoing. This vilification would extend beyond merely Daniel, encompassing the entire field of computer technology. We know from the BSG series that the Galactica was constructed in a deliberately retro fashion out of outright fear of technology. All forms of advanced computer technology and any further research efforts into the subject were summarily banned, much to Dr. Baltar's disdain 40 years later.
Imagine the effect it would have on the Graystones to see all their accomplishments hunted down and destroyed by the collective will of the entire Twelve Colonies. The V-Worlds destroyed, the holoband destroyed, all forms of robots eradicated, even harmless ones like Serge. But worst of all, Daniel would not only lose his daughter to a tragic death in the midst of the fighting, he would also lose the resurrection technology and the means to ever bring her back. The Twelve Colonies would see to it that that technology was destroyed too.
A dark end to a dark story
Indeed, the beginning of the first Cylon war would wreak havoc with nearly every character on the cast. A veritable Cylon bloodbath would rampage through the cast without mercy. Like Zoe's fate, Clarice and Lacy could easily become casualties of the war early on. Perhaps even members of the Adama family such as Sam, Evelyn, or Ruth would be claimed by the war. From what we saw of the first war during BSG: Razor, the Cylons have no qualms with killing civilians.
But to me, Caprica has always been Daniel's story. Zoe's permanent and irrevocable death would forever change him, even more so than seeing all of his accomplishments and inventions destroyed. The most moving series finale for Caprica would depict a profoundly beaten and demoralized Daniel (and perhaps even his wife) ultimately struck down by his own creation while Bill Adama enlists for the war, hoping to help deliver the Twelve Colonies from the horror they've unleashed upon themselves.
The story that never was and may never be
It's foolish to assume that the rest of this story will ever be told, but the potential I see in it is so rich with dramatic substance that I can't help but hold out hope for it. To me, this quick, rough outline for a second season of Caprica would be all the series would need to tell a story more magnificent than not only the rest of the BSG franchise, but possibly even more magnificent than anything seen in science fiction so far. It's a real shame that the best television series since BSG's first season and HBO's Rome had to be cut short before its time. Even with just one more season, I believe Caprica would have risen above its already exceptional quality and would have become nothing short of a masterpiece.
So say we all.