"Once you start in a direction, it’s best to keep going." So sayeth Sam Adama early in the latest installment of “Caprica.” After the explosiveness of the two-hour pilot and the histrionics of last week’s final moments, this week featured something of a breather. By pausing the action, it allowed the heads of the show’s three main families to take stock of a world now on uneasy ground, a world ripe for change. Let’s scope out the affects on the three families, starting with the most unconventional one first.
[Click through for the full recap of Friday (Feb. 5) night's "Caprica"...]
Sister Clarice Willow (or, The Soldiers of the One and the Marriage of the Many)
Let’s face it: “Soldiers of The One” sounds way, way cooler than “Soldiers of the Apotheosis.” That might be the name Sister Clarice would have named the group if she had the position within the group that she has in her homestead. Instead, she’s something akin to middle management, forcing unwilling superiors to meet her in hidden holoband rooms to discuss her strategy to lift both the group and humanity to greater heights.
Her plan consists of locating Zoe’s virtual self and using it as an example of God’s divinity. In short: Zoe’s technological afterlife will prove the existence of God’s will to the masses. In other words, she perceives Zoe’s avatar to be the Caprican version of the iPad, I suppose. Her unseen contact, “Alvo,” isn’t buying her thesis, and is angry that the bombing caused unnecessary attention to their cause. However, he allows her a little more time for now to pursue her theory.
She’s still working Lacy over in the creepiest manner possible, insisting that Lacy unburden her thoughts to her not unlike Zoe during the world’s most awkward cup of coffee ever. (Lacy repeatedly asks for another item to add to her drink. Were this “Glee,” this would have been the scene in which Lacy sang “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.”) However, back in the virtual world, we learn that Zoe not only didn’t unburden herself to Sister Willow: she hid almost entirely from her.
The Graystones (or, The Virtual World and the Media Onslaught)
Scandal tends to bring down a person’s stock. Sometimes, that stock is metaphorical, existing only in the social or moral spectrum. Sometimes, it’s literal stock, such as the ones in which the Graystones’ fortunes are invested. With the family now the face of the previously vague terrorist threat, Daniel’s company gets boycotted, Amanda loses her job at the hospital, and their overall fortunes plummet.
The solution, according to Daniel’s assistant, is to hire the best PR money can buy to strike at the heart of the media’s attack: a late-night talk show hosted by Baxter Sarno. Played by Patton Oswalt, he’s apparently the Jon Stewart of the 12 Colonies, if Jon Stewart got the kind of ratings Jay Leno would kill a homeless person to achieve. Sarno’s milking Amanda’s revelation for all its worth, and his rating have never been higher.
Graystone’s biggest problem, from a financial perspective: the constant barrage of bad press has people thinking that the holoband technology is responsible for Zoe’s role in the terrorist attack. In other words, “The holoband makes you a terrorist!” Since Amanda’s announcement, it’s already a given, indisputable fact that Zoe was as least partly responsible for the attack. Neither Amanda nor Daniel deny it, a fact they conveniently share in front of the Zylon. Just before having sex in front of it. Rough day for the Zylon, shocked by the falsehoods surrounding her besmirched name and even more shocked by her parents doing it like they do on the Discovery Channel.
It’s an equally rough week for Daniel, who eventually agrees to appear on Sarno’s show to stop the bleeding. The main impetus: Agent Durham’s partner unwittingly released Ben Stark a year earlier after arresting him with wires and detonators in his backpack. Moreover, she misspelled his name, meaning that incorrect records let him slip through the cracks in the interim. Anxious to both nail the Graystones and save his partner’s job, Durham takes a cue from the media frenzy. He leaks a story to the local newspaper about the “diplomatic immunity” that prevented the search of the Graystones’ property in last week’s episode. The outrage that ensues ensures them a warrant. Javert he’s not, but Durham’s a pretty tough cookie all the same.
Scarred both by her parents’ attitude towards her role in the bombing and by their subsequent nudity, the Zylon rewires the holoband for remote access back to Lacy. In the virtual, blank world created by Daniel, the two reconnect and look for a way out. When Lacy finds a virtual door, the crack of light that floods the room reveals Tamara. “If this is a dream, this is too long,” Joseph’s daughter says, still unaware of her death. Zoe and Lacy lead her through to the V Club, and part ways with her.
Back inside the V Club’s chapel room, Zoe reveals that her real self never downloaded any information about Sister Willow, nor let her former teacher know anything specific about what she was working on. Zoe asks Lacy to use Ben Stark’s best friend Keon to help get the Zylon to Gemonon and fulfill the original Zoe’s plans for her. “You’re six feet tall and weigh a ton,” replies Lacy. Psst, Lacy, this is no time to call Avatar Zoe a fattie.
Tamara’s part in this plot might seem paper thin at this moment, but as far as Joseph Adama is concerned, her absence from Daniel’s virtual space means everything.
The Adamas (or, A Rolling Stone Gathers no Tauron Moss)
In an early scene that to “Battlestar: Galactica” fans no doubt rang familiar, Daniel Graystone worked out his aggression over his newfound scandal in the boxing ring. Turns out The Adama brothers had some “Unfinished Business” of their own, and jumped Daniel outside the “rathole” of a gym. Joseph, now going under his Tauron name, uses Sam as a heavy to gain access to Tamara’s avatar. (If you closed your eyes when Joseph said, “It’s Adama now,” you could easily hear the voice of Admiral Adama some decades later.)
It’s not only Joseph that leaned on Sam this week: William seems to have found something of a family life with the Ha'La'Tha', bringing them burritos and bragging to them about his time in the pen. Sam’s only reason for unhappiness upon seeing William in their hangout? That he didn’t cut school AFTER attendance was taken. Thrown in Sam’s relationship with another man (referenced so quickly last week most viewers, including myself, missed first time around), and you have much more than your typical television gangster. He’s always worth watching onscreen: a mixture of love and violence that springs from the protection of that which he loves.
Joseph’s grief over the bombing isn’t only causing him to rely more heavily on his brothers’ less-than-moral beatdowns: it’s causing him to slip in his professional life as well. He gets called into the courthouse unexpectedly, where a judge on the take chastises Joseph. Why? Because the judge resents payola sent without a previous face-to-face. (It’s always nice when corrupt judges want that personal touch.) That mistake brings out the judge’s disgust for the Tauron race and doubles the bribe money required: money that he expects to come out of Adama’s own pocket.
All this is on Joseph’s mind when he finally re-enters the virtual world to find his daughter gone. The one thing upon which he rested any hope of happiness? Gone. Daniel insists that both of their daughters, along with the technology to make avatars like them, are lost. So when he picks up William from Sam’s apartment that night, Joseph suggests an “eye for an eye” approach. In other words: he asks Sam to “balance” things by killing Amanda. Ice. Cold.
A few more thoughts about tonight’s episode…
** Somewhere along the line, Patton Oswalt became the go-to guy for cult sci-fi. First “Dollhouse,” and now “Caprica.” Personally, I’m delighted, and can’t wait to see what kind of man lurks under the skin of the publicly loved talk-show host.
** Right before the Graystones got busy in front of the Zylon, I thought of a new title for the show: “The Lovely Robot Bones.” Just seems appropriate.
** I’d like to think the Sama Adama beatdown immediately following Daniel’s in-ring sparring was a subtle jab at the re-use of a boxing metaphor in this show’s universe, but I’m pretty sure Ron Moore (who created “BSG” and wrote/directed tonight’s ep) just really, really likes boxing.
** I’m guessing that the Gemenon trip had something to do with a purer, less fanatical form of monotheism. In Zoe’s eyes, Sister Willow’s version corrupts God’s intentions, and only on Gemenon could a truer dissemination occur. Maybe one of the Final Five are on Gemenon as we speak to help Zoe spread the Word?
Overall, a quieter episode, both in tone and action. Still, the mood is right, the performances are by and large solid, and as long as the show pays more attention to the personal politics of the real world and less to the teenaged angst inside the virtual one, the show’s got a good thing going here. It’s not “Battlestar,” but it’s not trying to be, either. And for now, I’m in.
How about you: in or out? Leave your thoughts below!