Recap: 'Caprica' - 'Ghosts in the Machine'
Fans of “Caprica” are almost universally also fans of “Battlestar: Galactica.” Not all, but most. So when I tell you that everything has happened before, and will happen again, you have more context for the speech than simply Amanda’s utterance of it last week. What tonight’s episode, “Ghosts in the Machine,” sought to demonstrate was just how one iteration of one stage of the neverending cycle started to pick up speed. Both Daniel and Joseph spent this episode looking for their daughters, fully unaware of how much they are fueling the fire of the younger generation’s imminent revenge.
As yes, I use the phrase “fueling the fire” intentionally. Between Zoe’s pathological fear of it to the invocation of Prometheus in New Cap City, the episode foreshadowed the fire the will engulf the Twelve Colonies in the near future. But that’s a tale for another time. Let’s focus our recap on the here and now, shall we?
[Full recap of Friday's (March 19) "Caprica" after the break...]
Daniel’s search for Zoe
In his lab, Daniel Graystone reboots the Zylon. After some poking and prodding during her shutdown phase, he’s now full convinced that Zoe’s avatar is in there. He apologizes for her life over the past few weeks, and asks for a sign that she’s indeed inside. Zoe, for her part, avoids both speech and eye contact with her father, only answering to her model number “U-87.” Intent on flushing her out, Daniel says, “This might be hard on you, but it’s going to be all for the best.” Somehow I doubt that.
Daniel’s plan? Psychological torture. Father of the Year, this guy. Previous doubt justified! As he makes the Zylon mindlessly assemble and disassemble a firearm, he talks of Zoe’s worst fear: fire. He retells, in excruciating detail, the story of a fire that nearly killed her as a five year old. All the while, he punctuates his tale with the endless, dispassionate order, “Do it again.” Finally, Zoe snaps a bit, putting her finger around the trigger. In the aftermath, Zoe visits Lacy in the V World, with the latter suggesting that the former simply come out to her father. But Zoe worries that her already cruel treatment will only get worse if her father knew for sure she was inside.
Turns out, Zoe might be onto something: Daniel takes her out for a nice view of the lake. As he circles around the Zylon, he’s more frustrated than ever about her silence. “I kept my side of the bargain!” he says. Then, things get more personal as he directly attacks her role in the train bombing. “However brilliant you may be, maybe inside you’re just the same scared little girl that you always were.” Ouch. We haven’t seen this righteous anger since before Daniel’s appearance on Baxter Sarno’s show, anger that is directed at Zoe partially do to her moral failing but equally as much due to that failing now reflecting badly upon himself. Like I said: get him that “Daddy Loves Me” mug pronto.
Just as soon, however, his tone gets quiet. More pleading. More paternal. “I still love you, no matter what you did…no matter what you are…as crazy as this is,” he whispers, and both Zoe and the audience wonder if this is Daniel coming to his senses or just another ploy to make Zoe talk. When he goes for the gasoline can, we safely go with Door #2. He knows that the fire won’t harm the exoskeleton of the U-87, but figures Zoe won’t be able to stand the heat, literally or psychologically. As the flames burn around her, Zoe’s eyes burn with hatred at her father. Only a slight clench of her hand betrays any inner thought at all. Frustrated, Daniel walks past her and stares again at the lake.
That night, in his lab, a tired, dispirited Daniel rocks back and forth in his chair, pistol in hand, staring at the Zylon. “We’ll do one more test and we’ll call it a day,” he says. “I love my dog, but I love my daughter even more.” He gives the gun to Zoe, and tells the U-87 to shoot the dog. Oh, Sarah McLachlan is soooo not gonna like this. He counts to five, with each number uttered more slowly than the last. Don’t you dare send Caesar into the arms of the angels, Zoe! At five, Zoe pulls the trigger repeatedly, which deafened the sound of dog-loving geeks typing furious emails to SyFy. Luckily for Caesar, and for the general SyFy inbox, Daniel had merely loaded blanks into the gun. For now, it looks like Zoe’s safely hidden. Big emphasis on “for now.”
A bit later, Daniel grabs the bottle of are scorpion ambrosia and sips it while looking at photos of Zoe on their floor-to-ceiling windows. Outside the house, Amanda sees the pictures as well. Between seeing her brother upon the very bridge on which he died and an upsetting visit from Tomas Vergis, she’s had a bad day herself. In the virtual world, Zoe confesses to Lacy that the U-87 knew immediately that the gun had blanks. Had they been real bullets inside? She would have plugged her father. Zoe begs Lacy for the 400th time this season to get her the frak to Gemenon before she does something she regrets.
Joseph’s search for Tamara
In New Cap City, Isabella gives Joseph an aerosol enhancement called AMP. It looks like an asthma inhaler, but it’s sprayed into one’s virtual eyes in order to heighten reflexes and senses. Think of it like a “power up” to beat the violent level that is NCC, only incredibly addictive to boot. They arrive at the virtual representation of Joseph’s apartment, where they find a junkie squatter residing inside.
When presented a photo of Tamara, he calls her “The Dead Girl,” apparently her moniker amongst the players in the game. The junkie reveals that she’s been seen inside a virtual club, but before Joseph can learn its location, a second man steps out of the shadows. And then a third. And a forth. Turns out they were there looking for Tamara as well, after she took out two of their fellow players. Isabella makes to leave as they keep their guns trained on Joseph, but she manages to shoot two of them before suffering a hit of her own. The leader, while wounded, points his shotgun at Joseph, who is unable to pull the virtual trigger. Isabella keeps him in-game by taking out the leader, and then scolds Joseph for his unwillingness to kill. “I thought that Taurons had bigger stones,” she sneers.
In the real world, Sam Adama visits his groggy, disheveled brother after the latter didn’t answer his phone. As Sam sips a beer, Joseph asks him what goes through Sam’s mind when he kills someone. As first, Sam is incensed by the question, but eventually answers: “You tell yourself it’s not real. Then they’re not people shooting at you, they’re targets. And the whole thing becomes just a game.” Well, that’s a mightily convenient answer, no?
Armed with this info, Joseph re-enters New Cap City and meets Isabella at the burlesque club Mysteries. Think “Cabaret” by way of “Strange Days” and you get the gist. The cross-dressing M.C. spies Joseph as he looks for volunteers for the night’s act. Joseph asks about Tamara’s whereabouts, but the M.C. wants him to answer the following riddle: “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?” I’m pretty sure that’s the question “Caprica” has been asking since the two-hour premiere, with the series “Battlestar: Galactica” as its final answer.
Joseph’s unwilling to answer, and returns to pleading into the unseen crowd for his daughter. Upset by “the scent of a coward” (which is, I’m pretty sure, different than the scent of a woman), the M.C. orders the club’s guards to haul him offstage and out the door. As the two collect their weapons at the club’s entrance, Joseph spies Tamara’s signature…well, signature. It’s emblazoned on the wall of the club’s entrance. Inspired, Joseph AMPs up, takes out the doorman, and lays waste to the security detail inside. Finally only, the M.C. reveals that not too long ago, Tamara also appeared onstage. She answered the riddle incorrectly, at which point her title of “The Dead Girl” may have been solidified. “Maybe she IS the answer,” offers the M.C. as Joseph walks out the back door to see a long series of Tamara’s symbol strewn across the concrete walls of New Cap City. “Looks like she’s found a home,” remarks Isabella. “Maybe it’s time you went back to yours.”
A few more thoughts about tonight’s episode:
*** Has the show forgotten that William Adama is in this show? I don’t think we’ve seen him since the funeral for his mother and sister. Ditto for Barnabus, hyped with great fanfare before his initial appearance and yet barely seen to date.
*** I’m praying to all the gods that the show doesn’t give Joseph an AMP addiction. You hear me, “Caprica” writers’ room? Don’t do it! There’s enough juice in “The Dead Girl” storyline that you don’t need to add scenes of Joseph aimin’ for a fix in New Cap City.
*** Loved Zoe’s subtle and surprising (even to her) intertwining with the U-87’s database of information when it came to the subtle change of weight of the gun. Until now, she’s largely been presented as inside but also insulated from the U-87. See her merge, as it were, with the machine’s abilities and infrastructure over the course of the show will be interesting.
*** Also interesting? Daniel’s throwaway line about building what sounds like the prototype for one of the human-looking Cylon models, to give Zoe something more “human” to inhabit. For Daniel, the point is always about subjugation and control: whether it be as an inventor or as a parent. So he’s not offering her a present so much as placating her so she’s more easily controlled. Given Cavil’s ultimate motives in “Battlestar” for annihilating the 12 Colonies sound a lot like a scorned child, it’s easy to see how Daniel’s manipulations of his daughter will only aid in his ultimate undoing.
With one episode to go, how are you feeling about the first season of “Caprica”? Upset it will be months until it returns, or has this season already been too long for you? Leave your thoughts below!