B+

Caprica: "False Labor"

B+

Caprica

"False Labor"

Season 1, Episode 13
B+

Caprica

"False Labor"

Season 1, Episode 13

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After four episodes, the overall shape of season 1.5 has yet to reveal itself, even as "False Labor" offers more food for thought than the last couple of weeks worth of wheel-spinning. Once again, the focus has shifted completely from the previous episode, as none of the various Zoe permutations that dominated "Things We Lock Away" are anywhere to be seen.  (And, thank Syfy for small favors, neither is Lacy Rand.) Instead it's time to catch up with the neglected brothers Adama, who, it turns out, actually do have more on their plates than serving as Daniel Graystone's hired muscle.

Sam Adama is preoccupied with upheaval on Tauron, where "playboy dictator" Andreas Phaulkon is dropping the hammer on a rebellious uprising, in a continuation of the same troubles that forced the Adamas to flee to Caprica in the first place. (Any resemblance to any geopolitical turmoil on our own planet is, no doubt, purely coincidental.) Sam has been funneling money to the rebels (much to the chagrin of his husband Larry, who wasn't born on Tauron and doesn't share his mate's passion for the cause), but the escalation in tension prompts him to begin shipping weapons back home in strict defiance of the Guatrau.  This doesn't sit well with local gunrunner Atreus, who intercepts the weapon shipment, killing Sam's redshirt henchman in the process.  A displeased Guatrau orders Sam to show the upstart Atreus what he's made of, at which point we learn that Cylons, in addition to their many other useful applications, make for great mob enforcers.

Amanda has settled in with Clarice's family, a development that doesn't sit well with every member of the group marriage, most notably the pregnant Mar-Beth. The only one in the household willing to call Clarice on her increasingly self-serving zealotry ("Funny how God's will always seems to suit your needs" is one of those lines you want to tuck away in your back pocket for future use), Mar-Beth is on the verge of evicting Amanda when the latter does what Graystones do best: she constructs an elaborate lie as a form of emotional blackmail (in this case, preying on Mar-Beth's impending motherhood with a weepy tale of postpartum depression following Zoe's birth).

Meanwhile, Daniel Graystone is up to some false labor of his own. In the absence of his real wife, he's spending more and more time with an Amanda avatar in an attempt at smoothing over the glitches in Zoe's resurrection program. While he's been preoccupied, Graystone Industries has already whipped up an all-too-believable infomercial for "Grace," in which a tearful funeral for a dead soldier becomes a joyous reunion between the grieving family and an incredible simulation of the departed. "Imagine a future without any loss," indeed. Daniel isn't happy with the ad, mainly because its spokesman is digital replica of himself. In his diatribe against the appropriation of his image, he unwittingly reveals the main obstacle to making Grace a reality: In the words of the Guatrau, "There's no substitute for the real thing."

Of course, any virtual reunion with a loved one could never be the real thing, as Daniel's increasingly frustrating interactions with the Amanda avatar reveal. Daniel wants to have it both ways: Every avatar, he notes, comes with an active sex drive and a desire to please as standard features.  After all, don't we all secretly want to be with an idealized version of our mate?  One that's even better than the real thing? Well, maybe not, as Daniel learns when trying to provoke a legitimately angry reaction from the Amanda avatar. This is but one of the limitations of the resurrection program: it can't call you on your bullshit even when that's what you really need from it.

Stray observations:

• Does it bode well for the future of Caprica that Syfy has given the greenlight to a pilot for another projected prequel series?  Blood and Chrome will chronicle young Bill Adama's adventures during the first Cylon war...and could spell doom for the current prequel series, which has yet to be picked up for a second season.

• At least Caprica has been attracting some noteworthy talent behind the camera of late.  Last week's episode was helmed by River's Edge director Tim Hunter (who also has several Twin Peaks and Mad Men episodes to his credit), while "False Labor" was directed by John Dahl (Red Rock West, The Last Seduction).

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