“Unvanquished” — Caprica Season 1, Episode 10

In essence, the newest Caprica episode, “Unvanquished,” was about selling apotheosis, whether as a power tool for a religion (Clarice) or as a way to profit off of others’ grief (Daniel). The same concept, both religious and commercial. It wasn’t as fast-paced as some, no crazy killer robots. But there was so much plot going on that I didn’t care. I liked it even better the second time around as I picked up on nuances and not just straight plot points.

ProfX loved it too and called it “an extended meditation on the Euthyphro problem, and the mind/body problem.” Of course, if you’re not a philosophy professor that probably means less to you, but he was very excited. :)

Clarice standing in a sunshiney and yellow-tinted virtual world with ahpyp people behind her

While I initially tried to write without spoiling, I realized I couldn’t do that and comment on the things which I found the most interesting. So there are spoilers below.

Things I Liked The Best

I wrote last spring about what I wanted to see on this demi-season of Caprica and I guess the Lords of Kobol heard my prayer because the primary foci of the episode were two of the things I wanted to see more of.

We learn more about Ha’la’tha & the Adama brothers

Joseph Adama lounging on a couch as he negotiates

This episode was a definite plus for learning about Tauron culture, specifically Ha’la’tha. We see Sam in his natural habitat (and looking damn good in a suit) and learn more about Joseph’s relationship, or lack thereof, with the Tauron mob. While we know Joseph has been representing Ha’la’tha clients and bribing judges on their behalf, we also know there are some lines he hasn’t crossed. Now the Guatrau is hinting that he has the chance to become the Tauron equivalent of a “made man.” I assume if he chooses that path it’ll be damn hard to get out of.

And speaking of Ha’la’tha at work, I enjoyed the scene where Sam & Joseph visit Daniel at home, apparently in an attempt to convince him that all this is serious business. Sam’s casual browsing of the living room as Joseph talked had a slight Jayne-like quality…funny for us while scary for the characters. He was a great choice for Joseph’s backup.

When Daniel and Joseph have interacted before, they’re on an even footing (one on one)—and Daniel knows he’s smarter and richer. But whether it was Sam looming (at 6’4″) in the background, or his position as an official representative of Ha’la’tha which gave him stones, this Joseph was in control of the situation and knew it. This was Joseph the lawyer and the man who makes threats against the Defense Minister (pilot), not Joseph the grief-stricken father/widower. I was glad to see that Joseph again.

We learn what religion is like on Gemenon

Sister Clarice's profile is stark against the cold Gemenese climate

There’s a big difference between a religion and its fundamentalist/terrorist fringe group. Even Buddhists have terrorists, for crying out loud (not that many and one could ask whether they’re really Buddhist, but one could ask that of any religious terrorist group). So I was curious about how fundamentalist the Gemenese are and how accepted STO is there.

I found the character “Mother” intriguing. When watching it for the first time, I wasn’t sure what role she played in the assassination of a member of the church council, but now I think she was definitely behind it. I’m just not sure of her motives. While religion on Gemenon is much more formal than what we see in STO, it’s still very fundamentalist and even the halls of power get bloody.

We get a sinister surprise twist for Amanda

Over the summer, I became convinced that Amanda would only come back as an avatar. We saw an avatar of Amanda in the Season 1.5 teasers. Daniel hits her and tells her that he wants her to be real. She de-rezes.

But if Amanda is alive and off in a cabin with Clarice, then the avatar is no longer a natural way Daniel is trying to process his grief at losing his wife. The show has already asked whether we’d bring back dead loved ones. Now we see even darker and more twisted potential in apotheosis…you can recreate a still-living spouse who’s left you. Recreate to punish; recreate to pretend. That’s even sicker than recreating someone who wanted to be with you and is only dead.

Also, I felt vindicated for my suspicions about where Amanda and Clarice were headed. The deleted scenes from the DVDs show a great deal more from the Willow household and it’s not really surprising that Clarice has broken away like this. She doesn’t fit in with the family, perhaps because she believes that she’s meant for greater things.

Things I Found a Little Disappointing

Let me be clear. I’m not really disappointed because I think the various things I want to see will be coming in another ep or two. And since there’s only 45 min, they couldn’t get in everything I want to see. I want to see the entire season and marathon it like I did with BSG DVDs this summer.

Everyone’s already mentioned the lack of Cylon action. It would be unrealistic given that Cylons as a whole just went into production in this episode. The project probably would’ve been closed down if they’d gone rogue this early. One always hopes for killer robots, but I’ll live.

Honestly, I missed the Zoe robot a lot more than I wanted a Cylon bloodbath. I love the way they intercut Alessandra Toressani with the U-87 and miss her silent perspective on things. Hoping maybe we’ll get that back later on.

Zoe's avatar battling hoodlums in a very washed-out scene

I really wanted to know more of what Zoe & Tamara are up to in the V-world. We’d seen the one establishing scene of Zoe in the V-world in all the teasers for this demi-season and this episode. But I’d like to move it up to something I loved because the way Bear McCreary wrote the music for the fight scene completely transformed it from what we’d seen in the trailers to something that felt much sadder and more…lost. He explains his thought process on his blog and it’s well-worth the read. So while I thought I was going to find her one appearance disappointing, I ended up moved instead.

3 Comments

  1. You liked a lot of the same things about the episode that I did! :) And thanks for posting Bear’s blog! I hadn’t read that yet. While I get the choice for the music in the Zoe fight scene, I guess I just don’t agree with it. Stoltz wanted her to be a little girl lost, which I think she would have and could have been even with more uptempo “fight music.” V-World is the Wild West, and I thought that music choice prettied-up a fight that should’ve been brutal.

    But yay for Joseph With A Spine! I hope he sticks around! :)

  2. Eleni says:

    I love the philosophical issues of apotheosis. One of my favorite topics in my metaphysics classes was questions of identity–whether your brain, your body, or both together are required to define a person, and in which circumstances. If a person dies, and their avatar pops up in the virtual world, then maybe that avatar is really the person, since it is the “best continuer” of the person–nowhere else does their consciousness, memories, and opinions exist. But if the exact same avatar is made while the person is still alive, then it’s definitely not the same person–it’s just an avatar. My boyfriend is less impressed by these arguments, since he believes in a soul that I guess exists separately from one’s body and mind, so even if someone’s mind is transferred to the virtual realm (or a robot body), he doesn’t think there’s any way to transfer the soul as well. But since I see any sort of soul as more of a part of one’s consciousness (thoughts, feelings, opinions, experiences, and potential for such…obviously it’s a difficult thing to define), I don’t see such a problem. If you knew that your body was about to die, but that your consciousness was going to be transferred to a virtual avatar, and then suddenly you find yourself in the virtual world as an avatar, you would see that as making sense, and you would be convinced that you were still you (even if you couldn’t feel your heart beat). OK that took longer to say than I thought it would. I’ll leave that be for now. But it’s interesting.

    I definitely liked seeing the non-STO part of the monotheistic religion. It made it seem more legitimate, since I don’t think much of a religion that is all terrorism. And the Mother was very intriguing. An interesting choice to make her a small and unimpressive figure. The fact that she wields so much power…I wonder how she came to that position. And she is willing to make sacrifices. It’s very interesting.

    I hadn’t seen any of the promos for Caprica (I guess since I don’t watch TV, only the internet). I was totally surprised when Amanda popped up at the end. That was nice. And Zoe was pretty cool. I’m definitely excited to see her find Tamara, and see what they do. It’s going to be a good season.

  3. Ruth says:

    @Teresa I watched the scene a few times on Hulu & still find myself liking it. I think the bare minimalism of the piano (vs. making it pretty and orchestral) really make it work. But to each her own. I think we get more Joseph with a spine this week! :)

    @Eleni Yes, ProfX and I have had discussions on the subject. Philosophers are always debating the mind-body problem and how much/whether your mind can be separated from your body. Does it exist on its own? Is it generated physically? Is it entirely the sum of your experiences–but what about brain chemistry? All very fun. :)

    I found myself wondering whether Mother came from a line of Mothers (I assume she does) and when/how she got to that position. It’d be cool to see something answering that, even though I don’t think it’d be a good topic for a whole episode.

    More Caprica tonight! :)

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