EPISODE REVIEW: Caprica: “Unvanquished” (Episode 10)

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For those of you new to the site, I’m somewhat counter-intuitively a big fan of Caprica. I hated the last couple seasons of BSG, and felt utterly betrayed by the finale and the rapidly-deteriorating storytelling on that series, I wasn’t enamored of the prospect of a prequel, particularly one with as circuitous a development path as Caprica had, I hated the pilot movie, but I totally dig the series. I’ve had practically nothing but good things to say about it.

That said, I feel like tonight’s episode was a bit of a let down after the wonderfully orchestrated climax that ended the last batch of episodes. It’s not bad, mind you, just not up to their best, and unfortunately coming off the death of Riley in SGU just moments before, well, such emotional rawness perhaps made me a bit jaded towards the posturing here tonight.

But it was probably just me. I’ll try to be fair.

PLAY BY PLAY

Three weeks have passed since Daniel’s wife’s suicide. He’s a sloppy drunk. He’s made an appointment with the Tauron don to get him to help him retake his company so he can work on a synthetic heaven to overcome human grief. The don surprisingly goes for it (Or maybe not surprisingly. We’ve got eleven episodes left to fill up, after all.) They agree to support Daniel if he proves his loyalty by killing his own mother. He refuses. Later on, he makes some kind of secret deal with the don which gains the mob’s support. Details are not revealed yet.

MEANWHILE, Joe Adama actually seems kinda’ cool and badass for once, and doesn’t seem like a bit player in his own series. I feel so bad for the actor. He’s frankly outclassed my several others on the cast, he can’t really hold his own against Stoltz, for instance, but he has these moments where he really shines, and I can suddenly totally see why they cast him. Few and far between, but they’re there. Poor guy.

MEANWHILE, Lacey is hanging out with the terrorists, just kind of to let us know she’s still on the show.

MEANWHILE, Creepy Clarice goes to Geminon to meet with the reverend mother of her religion - a kind of pope-ette I guess, and manages to win over most of the cardinals. The one holdout - and the most reasonable one of the bunch - tries to have Clarice killed, and the She-Pope agrees. Clarice manages to turn this to her advantage mainly by sleeping with her would-be assassin, and she ends up staging a palace coup. Quite literally, it takes place in a coup. The Pontiff-lady acquiesces to all of Clarice’s demands.

MEANWHILE, in New Cap City, Zoe wanders around killing people, trying to find Tamara.

MEANWHILE, mama Greystone has inexplicably survived her suicide, and is shacked up in a log cabin with creepy Clarice.

The End

OBSERVATIONS

Lots of parallelism tonight. Both Daniel and Clarice want to build a fake heaven, but for very different reasons: one wants to remove faith from religion - which is definitely missing the point of the enterprise - and the other simply wants his daughter back. Both, however, are very much motivated by power, Clarice wants power for herself and her increasingly non-faith-based faith, Daniel for his company and over death itself. The mob, meanwhile, wants power and tell him that in no uncertain terms. Power over death is a logical avenue of expansion for the mob, given their activities in recruiting for death, I guess.

There’s also a sense of profiting from loss: Clarice is willing to kill 30,000 people as a recruiting tool to save a dozen or so. Daniel uses the death of the don’s son - correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Daniel himself somewhat responsible for that? - to profit his own ends.

Zoe is developing more and more control over the virtual world.

The cardinal who opposes Clarice is the first person to openly state what I've been saying all along: That the virtual heaven *isn't* heaven, just an extension of normal life. A soulcatcher, not an afterlife. And "It's tacky," too.

Monotheism has always been portrayed very negatively in the RDM Galacticaverse. Ultimately it all came around to God manipulating the affairs of man and machine in the end, but the monotheists themselves were portrayed in the Islamic Terrorist sense, and here they’re portrayed in a skeevy Islamo-Catholic mode. I suppose the IRA is the touchstone for this. I’m not surprised by any of this, I don’t expect or want equal time making terrorists look good, but it does make me wonder what kinds of issues the writers and producers have.

The Reverend Mother seemed unusually simple to me, almost dull-witted, certainly lacking the stature one would expect of one in her position, don’t you think? I liked that detail, oddly. It was unpredictable, and hence more likely than having Dame Judy Dench in the role, you know? Mention is made of the church reaching an easy truce with the polytheists. I’d like to know more about that, particularly since it seems to piss Clarice off.

Seriously, how the heck did Amanda Greystone survive that? We saw her fall off the bridge. And what happened in the three weeks we didn’t see? How does Daniel know she’s alive? Why is she living with Clarice? Are they, you know, a couple?

Caprica probably isn’t going to survive for a second season. Ratings have been generally rather poor. The initial plan was to run these episodes next year, but the actors contracts would all have expired by then, so they’re burning ‘em off now to see if it generates any numbers. I’ll keep you posted on that as the they come in.

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