Holy Frak — Watching the First Seven Eight Episodes of Caprica pt.2: Episodes

As I said in my Caprica characters post, I haven’t actually watched BSG, so starting Caprica was essentially starting with a blank slate. All I knew about the ‘verse was that “cylons = bad.” At first, I wasn’t really sure whether or not I’d like the series. The pilot episode, in particular, underwhelmed me. There was too much angst and not enough drawing me in.

But then one day I got bored & the next three episodes were on Hulu. I’d heard good things about “Gravedancing” and pretty good things about “Reins of a Waterfall,” so I decided to give it a shot. By the end of “Reins” I was drawn into the story and by the end of “Gravedancing” I was excited about it and wanted more.

***SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE FIRST 8 EPISODES***

Here are my takes on the first eight episodes:

Episode 1 – “Pilot”

Tamara Adama & Joseph Adama in Pilot

It really wasn’t bad. But the initial Zoe/Ben/Lacy angst and family drama was not what I was looking for. I was in a “bring on the evil robot” mindset. I confess that I actually didn’t finish the second part on the first go-round. I stopped after Joseph met Zoe. So.Much.Angst.

When I went back & watched the last bit, I realized that I probably would have been more pleased with the episode, though I’m not sure I’d have been gripped. Seeing Sam at work, Joseph’s encounter with the government official and his horrifying meeting with virtual Tamara and his declaration that they were Adamas, and then the Cylon in action… that was where the good stuff was. You’ll notice that all three of those were Adama plotlines, that’s a foreshadowing of my interest to come.

Episode 2 – “Rebirth”

I wasn’t interested by much in this episode. I decided that Philomon is the only young, sane person in this whole show. He’s geeky, but also wants to have a social life, and he’s not grieving anyone or drawn into an extremist religion. I liked his normalcy, though I didn’t find him too interesting in this episode.

The best part was Amanda Graystone’s outburst at the memorial. Paula Malcomson does a great job of portraying a distraught, confused mother who’s just discovered something horrifying about her daughter. The character doesn’t excite me or draw an emotional connection, but when she’s good she’s great.

There was one intriguing introduction here: Sister Clarice & her group marriage—we first meet them in this episode, but only in the briefest way and only really the hot young husband. But the others reference previous troubles with Clarice and wonder if she’s trying to get him to seduce Lacy.

I find these people intriguing because we only get a taste of them…and only tastes continue even though they appear in subsequent episodes. I wasn’t sure if they were STO or something else…or if they were opposed to her actions. My initial thought was group marriage != religious conservative and then I remembered Mormons. In that case, it’s only the super-conservative ones who are in the group marriages (not making a social commentary, just noting).

Episode 3 – “Reins of a Waterfall”

Sister Clarice & Lacy

My mind blends this in with “Gravedancing.” Really, it’s like the lead-up. The fallout over Amanda’s confession was done really well. I wasn’t as interested by Lacy & Zoe’s meeting in the V Club—though seeing Tamara walk off and encounter the V Club as a newcomer was a good bit.

I like the snippets of Tauron/Ha’la’tha culture we got from William and Sam.

I still wasn’t sure what to do with Sister Clarice before this episode, but I found her kinda freaky in “Reins.” I’d heard hints that she was coming on to Lacy in the last one, a friend called her the “creepy maybe-lesbian teacher” but this was when I realized her attention was driven by religious zealotry, not something sexual.

Episode 4 – “Gravedancing”

Amanda in the Wings of Sarno on Gravedancing

The interplay in this episode between Daniel & Amanda, the Sarno show, especially the Sam/Amanda Sam/Joseph dynamic—fantastic stuff. There are some things you’re pretty sure won’t happen—I expected Amanda to live. But I wasn’t sure who would blink or even how Sam felt about all this. I loved watching Joseph’s reaction when Sam was describing how he had killed her.

I was looking forward to Sarno, but found the Sam/Amanda/Joseph plotline taking over the episode for me. I want to write even more about it, but I don’t know if I have anything valuable to say. Very good television.

However, speaking of the Sarno show…this was probably my favorite episode for Amanda (only other one I liked her in being “Rebirth” #2), a character I normally don’t sympathize as much with. I was right there with her when she marched onto Sarno and demanded that her daughter be remembered as a normal girl. And it was nice for once to see her interested in another person when she and Sam were talking for a minute about Tauron culture.

Episode 5 – “There Is Another Sky”

New Cap City in There Is Another Sky

Another very Adama episode, this is our first real introduction to Tamara and to the expanded V-world. We’ve seen the club before, of course, but not much of it. The virtual roulette, the virtual Caprica, it’s all stuff that I could see happening once virtual reality programming gets that advanced. The girl who plays Tamara did an excellent job of unfolding the character, who moves from confusion to realization to adaptation. I would love to see how she ends up making a place for herself in New Cap City.

And, as I’ve said before, I’m interested in Tauron culture. The funeral/memorial rites had echos of Greek & Irish & maybe Jewish traditions. I’m not as up on my funerary rites as I’d like to be. I’d love to see Joseph’s tattoo.

The bit near the end when Daniel brings the Zoe-Cylon to the board of directors was a good ending (or near-ending). Just like I knew Amanda would live, I knew he’d have the resources to build more Cylons. He has to. But his presentation and Zoe’s participation—down to tearing off her arm&mash;was more chilling than I’d expected. I’m very disturbed by the thought of creating a race of even nearly-sentient beings to be slaves. I don’t know as much as most people about how this will turn out, but it makes me think of the Golems’ rights movement in Discworld.

Possibly my favorite episode of the first 8. Tied with “Gravedancing.”

Episode 6 – “Know Thy Enemy”

This episode introduced another foil for Daniel (so far we’ve got the technological roadblock and the board of directors)—Tomas Vergis, the man who developed the U-87 chip (key to making the Cylon work) and from whom Sam Adama stole it. Tomas, as we find out at the end of the episode, has sworn revenge on Daniel and plans to destroy everything he loves—ball team, company, personal life, etc.

Joseph also starts exploring the V-world looking for Tamara, though he gets nowhere.

All in all a decent setup for the next episodes.

Episode 7 – “The Imperfections of Memory”

Joseph gets nowhere in finding out where Tamara is. Clarice stalks/cozies up to Amanda and learns a number of secrets about her. Also, she steals data from Daniel’s lab computer, including part of the avatar program. Zoe, the avatar, tries to convince Philomon to take the robot out of the lab. Tomas continues to pressure Daniel, but he opens up the door for Daniel to claim the MCP as his own invention by saying that the stolen chip didn’t work. Daniel realizes that Zoe might be in the Cylon after all.

Sister Clarice freaks me out. Recurring theme in this post. And watching her prey on Amanda to get personal information and data was scary. I’m also not 100% sure what her angle is, so I’m not sure how scared to be of her.

I’m glad the Zoe-in-the-Cylon door has been opened up. Otherwise this episode just felt like another bridge episode. I know the meeting with Tamara will be a final-episode thing, and it’s probably hard to find people in a virtual world where you don’t know the rules, but this felt like plain old wandering.

Episode 8 – “Ghosts in the Machine” (not Ghost, Ghosts…for obvious reasons)

Ghosts in the Machine

Daniel’s “game” with Zoe, the focal point of this episode, was alternately touching and terrifying. It was something between a father trying to save his daughter & a father trying to shape his daughter into exactly what he wants. It made me think of a normal teenage experience of father/daughter fighting over how her life will go, but with a dark turn. If she hadn’t been in the Cylon, this would have certainly been abuse.

I’m enjoying seeing New Cap City through Joseph’s eyes. But I also find this plotline a bit frustrating because we’re not actually getting to see Tamara. Joseph I could take or leave, though I feel his frustration at not being able to find her. I assume that we’ll see her in the finale and I’d like to see what she’s done with her powers. There was short, sweet bit when Joseph asked Sam about how he could kill. Sam’s answer was a little convenient, but his reaction was great. He’s a killer but not cold-blooded.

Didn’t like the Amanda storyline in this. I think I’ve figured out why. It’s nearly impossible to start a friendship with someone who’s already depressed. If someone you know and like becomes depressed, then it’s easier to draw on all the affection and friendship you’ve built up with them to care about and for them. But Amanda has nothing to her character except her sadness over Zoe’s death and the death of her brother and her history of mental illness.

I can respond by thinking “that’s so sad,” but my emotions don’t engage. I have a history of depression myself and often find myself empathetic in books/films. There’s just not enough of her that isn’t a black hole…we know almost nothing about her works, interests, etc. I kind of find myself agreeing with the person who wrote that Amanda Graystone needed to die in “Gravedancing.”

Some great recaps of “Ghosts” can be found at Tor.com and at i09, though both make a mistake in using the singular “Ghost” in the title. i09 makes the good point that this gives us more insight into why Zoe doesn’t want her dad to know she’s in there. We already know that he’s amoral enough not to even question the idea of sentient slaves…we also know that he’ll torture the thing he loves to get it back. And that’s a bit scary.

Despite saying that some of the episodes were just bridges, rather than having their own excellent merits, it doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I love Russian novels and other long stories with dozens of subplots, characters, etc.

Can’t wait to see the demi-season finale! If that copy of Battlestar I reserved comes in, I can use the break to catch up with the ‘verse!

3 Comments

  1. Revanche says:

    Cause I didn’t already have enough series lined up to watch! I guess I have to wait some more on Serenity as *someone* should be watching it with me… I’ve got White Collar, Dr. Who-athon (but maybe that’ll have to wait for the annual viewing ‘thon on the East Coast?), BSG (both versions, of course), NCIS, Bones, Castle and now Caprica??

    *shakes head* Why did I ever take a full time job again?? 😉
    .-= Revanche´s last blog ..Adding a line item to the budget: Dental care =-.

  2. Revanche says:

    And your note about Amanda + depression = lack of empathability? Exactly why I never tell people about my episodes until long after they get to know me. Cause I’m a liar like that. :)
    .-= Revanche´s last blog ..Adding a line item to the budget: Dental care =-.

  3. Ruth says:

    Well, Serenity is only the 2 hours, so I suggest doing that the next time you get your watching partner around.

    I wish we could do BSG together (I’m just doing the new one for now, like Doctor Who–I’ll catch up!). That would make it even more fun. But if you start soon, we can compare notes! :)

    On depression…probably a good idea. When I was so depressed that I did need to rely on my friends all the time, I didn’t make any new ones. Now the episodes are rare enough that I don’t feel I have to offer it up front. Sometimes I mention my history just to see how they react, and explain that I’m better from that but not immune to relapsing.

    I’m wondering if Amanda might join STO. Her life has been emptied & Clarice is the only person she thinks she can trust…bad.

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