Caprica: “End Of Line”
B+

Caprica: “End Of Line”

…well, maybe not end of line. More like halfway down line—with the possibility of a line extension, if ratings keep ticking up the way they have lately. But tonight’s Caprica did bring several of the show’s storylines to a head, leaving us with multiple cliffhangers, most of which keep the lives of major characters hanging in the balance. In brief:

-Sister Clarice confronts Barnabas over the direction of the STO, and the latter responds by recruiting Lacy to attach a device to Clarice’s keyring that will relay a bomb-detonating signal and explode her car.

-Amanda confronts Daniel over the reports she’s been reading about the Vergis break-in/theft/murder, and when Daniel doesn’t deny his involvement, she flees their house and heads to the highest bridge to kill herself. 

-Joseph finally finds Tamara in New Cap City, but his virtual daughter—persuaded by Joe’s V-world guide Emmanuelle—takes drastic measures and shoots Joe’s avatar, so that he’ll be gone from the game forever. And back in the real world, we learn that Emmanuelle is actually Evelyn, Joe’s assistant, who’s not-so-secretly in love with him.

-Daniel hears from a representative of the government’s procurement department that they don’t believe he’ll ever be able to reverse-engineer his ill-gotten tech, and so they’re demanding that he stop stalling and deliver his 100,000 cylons in one week, not one month. Desperate, Daniel orders Philomon to wipe the stolen MCP of its quirky, stubborn current sentience so that they can start fresh.

-Robot Zoe reveals herself to Philomon, and begs for him to free her from the lab before she gets eradicated. He pledges his devotion, but only in order to wrest himself free of her grasp, so he can sound an alarm. Enraged, Robot Zoe flings cute lab boy aside, cracking his skull.

Frankly, for most of its running time, “End Of Line” felt rushed to me. What I’ve liked about Caprica to this point is that the writers have been willing to slow the pace and explore the parameters of this world—and the world-within-this-world. Now, in the interest of expediting the plot, they revealed some holes that have been present all along, but never seemed so glaring before. For example, the Vergis theft apparently was colonywide news, with Graystone’s possible role in the crime something of an open secret. How has Daniel gotten away with this for so long? And if Barnabas and Evelyn are going to be such significant catalysts in the main storyline, their presence and motivations really should’ve been more established than they have been over these first nine episodes. The impetus behind the action in “End Of Line” felt contrived to me, and lacked the moments of humor and wonder that I enjoy so much about this show.

But the action itself was often quite thrilling, and the underlying themes that first hooked me on Caprica were still very much in play. For example I loved the confession/pleading/killing scene between Robot Zoe and Philomon (though part of me wished we’d only seen her in cylon form, to emphasize Philomon’s perspective on the sheer horror of what was happening) and I loved the artfully assembled montage of Zoe’s life flashing before her eyes after she fled the lab and drove a Graystone Industries van into a security barricade. If any one minute of screentime could encompass what fascinates me about Zoe’s character, that “multitude of Zoes” would be it. She’s a tough one to pin down.

When Caprica began, it was as much about two desperate, grieving men clinging to memories as it was about our evolving relationship to technology. “End Of Line” featured a matched pair of scenes that illustrated where those two men are now, with Daniel mulling “what this chip cost me” after his wife storms out (and, not incidentally, after he’s been forced to sell the C-Bucs), while Joe lies inert on his sofa, so lost in V-world that he’s missed his own son’s Ink Day. Both Daniel and Joseph have reached too far and risked too much, and are in danger of losing what they already have while trying to reclaim what they’re missing.

Yet if that’s all there was to Caprica, I’m not sure I’d be that big a fan of the show. I’ve seen that kind of story before, and though Caprica handles it well, the whole "arrogance of the despairing" angle isn't really enough of a hook in and of itself—even with the sci-fi overlay. No, what I like is how Caprica has also become about the capriciousness of adolescence, and the way parents try to control it. I thought Todd wrote some interesting stuff last week about Caprica as feminist fantasy fiction, but it’s even more interesting to me that it’s so engaged with teenagers, who naturally swing between conviction and confusion. Zoe’s an idealist, but take one look at Zoe-2 curled up on a virtual bed with Philomon and it’s clear that her heart still goes pitter-pat when she sees a potential mate. As for Lacy, she’s less committed to the STO cause than she is bound to her best friend, who uses her strongest peer pressure techniques to get Lacy to go along.

As a result, Lacy learns from Barnabus that the deep end is “deeper than you think,” which is something adults everywhere know, and what makes raising kids so excruciating at times. That’s what made it so haunting last week when Daniel was trying to force Zoe to reveal herself, while also ordering her to “only respond as a robot” (a power parents everywhere wish they had, to force our children to follow our programming). And that’s what made it so haunting this week when Tamara told her father that he can’t hang around New Cap City and watch her, because if he could, that’s all he’d ever do. 

I have no idea what’s going to happen when Caprica returns—whether it’ll be more of action-adventure show about terrorists and government intrigue, or whether it’ll slow back down again and deal with the smaller conflicts between characters who remain fluid in their reasoning. I hope it’s the latter, though with Joseph exiled from New Cap City and the Graystone family maybe about to be reduced to one, I wonder if that early getting-to-know-you phase of the show has passed. Somehow I doubt it, given the talent behind the scenes. Like Daniel with his knives, Caprica keeps chopping closer and closer to the skin, but it hasn’t made me draw away in pain yet. 

Grade: B+

Stray Observations:

-Quite a slogan for the STO: “In the name of the one, we cast out the many.” Yikes!

-So what exactly did Barnabas mean when he talked to Clarice about being “a bouncer in some homemade heaven.” We haven’t seen her in V-world yet, have we? Was that some kind of a hint, or was he just referring in general to Clarice’s plan to revive the virtual Zoe?

-“Frakkin’ technology!”

-I liked Daniel playing the Caprica theme on the piano.

-I’ve been meaning to mention this for a while, but I dig how the credit font on Caprica is so huge. It looks like something from the ‘70s (though not, oddly, like the original Battlestar credits).

-One other thing I’ve been meaning to mention that I better get in now lest I forget it by fall. It’s one of my persistent sci-fi pet peeves when a planet meant to be Earthlike is shown to have, essentially, one city. I know from perusing BSG databases (and my own memories of the series) that there are more cities on Caprica. But by and large on the show, people talk about dealing with other planets, not about dealing with other cities on their own planet. It makes a grand setting feel unnecessarily small.

-So what did you get your sweetie for Eros Day?

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