EPISODE REVIEW: Caprica: “End of Line” (Episode 9, but really Episode 10)

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I should probably explain why I’m giving two numbers for the last several episodes. The initial deal for this series was a season of 20 episodes, of which the pilot counted for two. For whatever reason, the official count for these things has somehow decided the pilot movie was only one ep, however they’re still only doing 20 hours of TV this year, and billing it as 19 episodes. There’s no real change here, but it stymies me with my OCD way.

I should also mention that I’ve given up on trying to keep track of the weird patterns involved in the ratings for this series. Two weeks ago they seemed to have burned away their slight rebound they’ve had since the Olympics ended, but last week’s ep showed an increase of 158,000 viewers, which continues their slightly increasing trend of late.

Weird.

Anyway, on with the show. We've got a much better outing this week than in the previous two.

PLAY BY PLAY

- Daniel is facing hard times. In order to meet his government contract he needs to have 100,000 working Cylons a month from now, but he still has only one working model. He’s visited by a general or something who tells him they knew all along he stole the chip, and there’s a potential scandal a-brewin’. She moves up the due date: 100,000 killbots in one week, or the deal’s off. Meanwhile, his company’s stock continues to plummet. Now convinced Zoe isn’t in the Zoebot, he orders the Robot Fetishist Guy to completely wipe it’s memory, and start mass production. Later, his wife confronts him about murdering those people on Tauron, and he more-or-less admits to it. When the Zoebot escapes from the lab, he’s told that the military believes he’s out of control and are likely taking the project from him anyway. Later that night, the phone rings telling him his wife is dead.

- Amanda Greystone continues her sad decline, with flashbacks of her dead brother and her own apparent suicide. She hasn’t left her room in days, and tries to call Creepy Sister Clarice for support, but the swinger-terrorist-nun can’t be bothered, so things get worse for Amanda. Later she confronts Daniel about the murder/theft, and he more-or-less admits to it. The one rock in her life - Daniel - has crumbled, so she goes to the Pantheon bridge - the very same one she was watching a documentary about earlier in the episode - and kills herself.

- Zoe virtually makes out with the Robot Fetishist Guy. I don’t mean “Virtually” as in it almost happened, but didn’t, I mean it in the sense of the ol’ Cyber-slap-and-tickle, and some E-tongue on the side. Later on, facing getting wiped by her daddy, she tries to get Lacey to help her, but freaks and says really bad things to her. She admits to the Robot Fetishist Guy that she’s in the Cylon, and scares the heck out of him. She begs him for help, and he agrees, but then attempts to wipe her in a panic. She kills him, steals a van, and escapes, only to be chased down by the military, who’ve set up roadblocks and have jet-powered Ospreys flitting around. After a annoyingly edited “Life flashes before your eyes” montage, she rams the roadblock, and sails through the air so far that she won’t land until Episode 11, six months from now.

- Clarice blows off Amanda, and confronts Barnabus about an add he evidently took out in a previous episode. This is a major plot point, but we never heard about it until the “Previously on Caprica” montage in the beginning of this ep. She’s evidently upset that such an important bit of the story was chopped, and he’s none to happy about it either, so they pull guns on each other, but she backs down. She decides to head off to Gemenon so she can get a mandate from her bishop or whatever to “Kill the bastard.” (Nice church. Very 13th century) but in a traffic jam en rout to the spaceport, she sees Amanda on the bridge, preparing to jump. After she gets out to gawk uselessly at this, her car explodes.

- Barnabus agrees to take Lacey and her package to Geminon, if she’ll prove herself a worthy part of his cell. He gives her a mission, and later on tells her to push the button that’ll kill Clarice.

- Lacey attempts to make her increasingly abusive friend Zoe happy by joining a terrorist cell in order to get her Zobot body shipped to Geminon as they apparently don’t have Fed Ex or Planetary Express in the Colonies. She’s given a mission to swap out Creepy Sister Clarice’s watch fob, which she does. Later on, she discovers that she’s not only been used by the whackjob, but by her boyfriend as well. Barnabus makes her push the button that’ll make the fob explode, killing Clarice. Or so they think, but actually they only wrecked her car and killed one of her creepy polyandrous bisexual husbands.

- Joe Adama is addicted to cyber-stims tooling around the V-world looking for Tamara, and completely neglecting his real life. He’s deteriorating rapidly. He even missed Lil’ Admiral Bill’s “Ink Day.” He finds Tamara, who tells him that he needs to live his real life, and not watch her. She then shoots herself, and as she’s dying she shoots him. He de-rezes and wakes up in the real world, shocked and appalled, but comforted by his secretary who’s been making goo-goo eyes at him all along.

- Tamara is approached by Emmanuelle, who tells her of her fathers sad decline, and helps her hatch a plan to fix the situation.

- Emmanuelle turns out to be Joes’ goo-goo eyed secretary, which I totally called last week!

OBSERVATIONS

Joe doesn’t know Tamara is immortal, so long as there’s not a server crash, so he thinks she’s really dead. And of course he can’t get back into New Cap City (Oh, look! It’s Millhouse!) again, since he died there too. It’s very tidy in its obvious contrivance.

This is the third episode in a row without Lil’ Admiral Bill or Grandma Vicious. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Bill has been recast the next time we see him. The kid wasn’t really a very good actor, and his subplots were plodding and awful, and basically impossible to reconcile with the man we know he becomes fifty or so years in the future. Even so, I have to wonder where Joe’s family is while he’s sprawled out on the couch for three weeks straight.

High death count tonight: Robot Fetishist Guy, Amanda, and a creepy swinger/terrorist/bisexual. Since she’s in the opening credits, there’s a small chance Amanda will have survived, but as of now, I think she’s really dead.

There’s an interesting theme of betrayal by loved ones in this episode: Amanda feels betrayed by Daniel, Zoe is betrayed by the Robot Fetishist Guy, Lacey was betrayed by her terrorist boyfriend, and though it’s not (Apparently) romantic, Amanda was all-but-abandoned by Sister Clarice, who’s been betraying her trust all along anyway. Arguably, Joe betrayed the happily-absent Lil’ Admiral Bill by missing his “Ink Day,” and his secretary betrayed him by deliberately misleading him in V-world. Also, of course, Tamara flat-out totally betrayed her dad - she shot him in the frackin’ head! - though that was for his own good. Betrayal: It’s what’s for dinner!

We’re told it’s “Eros Day” in the Colonies. Obviously we’re supposed to believe this is their analogue of Valentines Day, but really it’s more like “Everyone’s a rat bastard who’ll stab you in the back day” in actual practice.

Vergis’s plan to destroy everything Daniel loves has born significant fruit. He’s forced Daniel to sell the team he swore not to sell, he’s threatening the military contract, and now he’s killed Daniel’s wife. It occurs to me that he must have known of Amanda’s mental health problems in the past, and was trying to drive her over the edge. I’ve no real doubt that he was the one staging the ‘hallucinations’ of her brother, and while it didn’t make sense the way he simply tattled on Daniel’s murders last week, if we view it in the context of him trying to push her over the edge, it kind of makes sense.

How weird is it that the whole "Bike ad" subplot only turned up in the "Last week on Caprica" montage? That seems like a fairly massive thing to chop, and I really didn't get the sense of what they were talking about in the brief recap. I mean, I get that it's a hidden symbol and all, but so what?

I’m fairly religious myself. I started out a Christian Fundamentalist, and then when that didn’t work for me, I was an atheist, and when that didn’t work for me, I got involved in various other religions and sects and esoteric philosophies. When that didn’t work for me, I eventually came back to Christianity, though I’m not a fundamentalist anymore. This is my way of saying that I’ve been around the block a few times, I’ve experienced a lot of different things, lived a lot of different perspectives, looked at things from different angles, believed in a lot of different ways, and at one point I was kind of a fanatic as well.

That said, based on my two decades of experience wandering and trying out stuff, and eventually coming back home again, I can not for the life of me make any sense of this whacky form of Monotheism they’re yammering about in this show. On the one hand, it seems like very straightforward Christianity minus dogma and Christ. On the other hand, there’s elements of the “Secret Christians” from the Roman era. On the other hand, there’s a very strong - and negative - subversive character to it, with everyone lying, cheating, stealing, betraying, and pulling guns to get what they need. Then you’ve got the terrorist angle and the self-mortification angle and the disturbing sex angle, and the total lack of fundamentalism and extreme Puritanism that generally accompanies these kinds of movements. Honestly, none of it makes much sense. It’s like a grab-bag of random religious tropes mixed in randomly with a grab bag of trendy vices, with no thought given to what harmonizes and what doesn’t. And no apparent afterlife, since Clarice is trying to create a virtual one.

It. Makes. No. Sense.

I’ve never been Catholic. It never appealed to me. Not my bag by a long shot, but there’s a definite Catholic vibe to the way monotheism is being portrayed here. Specifically, a very pre-Reformation vicious, violent, and corrupt medieval feeling western European sort of Catholicism. It just feels like the producers were working out some of their issues here, which, frankly, based on the comments of a number of my ex-catholic friends, I can totally understand. There’s a lot of vitriol there, probably at least occasionally deserved, and Ronald D. Moore has on occasion described himself as “A recovering Catholic.”

I’m interested to know (A) how many of our readers are Catholic, (B) if they’ve picked up on this as well, and (C ) whether they’re taking umbrage at this depiction or not. It almost feels like they should, you know? But never having been one myself, I can’t say.

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