I’d like to thank Todd for filling in so well for me last week. I’d also like to curse him a little bit, because he lucked into covering what I think was the best episode of the season. I was only mildly interested in The Willie ‘n’ Joe Show in "There Is Another Sky," but I was invigorated by the connections between the plight of the ZoeBot—ordered by her “father” to rip her own arm off—and the rise of Tamara in the virtual world. Both characters represent something unique in their respective universes, and it’s exciting to see Caprica’s creative team explore the meaning of that uniqueness, with a real sense of wonder in what they’ve created. For all the knocks the Battlestar Galactica folks took for their “make it up as we go along” approach, the lack of a rigid plan allowed that show to develop organically, and I can see that happening again with Caprica.
That said, tonight’s episode “Know Thy Enemy” was more of a lurcher for me, because it wasn’t that organic. This episode had easily the most filling-in-gaps script yet, with the plot carried more by the dialogue than the action. “Know Thy Enemy” introduced some major new characters and some major new story developments, but perhaps because it had so much work to do, there wasn’t as much room for nuance. And that's a pity, because it’s the nuance that I’ve been enjoying the most on this show.
Still, there was a lot to like here as usual, starting with the long-awaited arrival of James Marsters as Barnabus, the rogue STO smuggler and bomber whom Lacey is hoping will help her deliver Zoe’s “package” to Gemenon. We first see Barnabus hanging out in some kind of dank warehouse (and who looks better in a dank warehouse than Marsters?), with some sort of cilice-like skin-penetrating strap wrapped around his arm. Keon brings Lacey to the self-punishing badass Barnabus, but since she won’t explain exactly what she wants him to smuggle, he blows up at her, kicks her out, and takes his anger out on Keon. So… not a nice guy. (But oh so fun to watch. Welcome to this universe, James Marsters!)
Meanwhile, back at Sister Clarice’s STO compound, Clarice is worried about whether Barnabus’ bombing campain—if indeed Barnabus is responsible—is working against the monotheist cause by drawing heat from the GDD. Her husbands try to calm her fears by showing off their latest piece of cool anarchist tech: a “swipe-drive,” which enables wireless theft of programs. Clarice carries the drive into the Graystone home, where she and Amanda bond over Scorpion Ambrosia and their mutual hatred of Agent Durham. And when Amanda shows Clarice the Cylon in the basement, Clarice takes her chance to do some swiping. But clearly, the deception rattles her, since she goes straight from The Graystones to The Dive, to get her Mrs. Miller on.
I found the concept of the swipe-drive and the application of it a little ungainly, but I really liked the scene between Clarice and Amanda, and the way Clarice looked so out of place in the Graystones’ lap of luxury—even though the GDD had stripped away a lot of that luxury.
And speaking of out-of-place, in this episode Joe finally buys his own holoband, and suffers through the introductory menus and tutorial, delivered by Virtual Daniel. (Daniel’s like Tom… your first friend on MySpace.) And then the real Daniel shows up and rips the holoband off Joe’s head—a cool effect, by the way—and demands more information about the job the Ha’la’tha did for Graystone Industries back in the first episode, and also demands to know whether the Taurons have switched their loyalties back to a native son: Daniel’s Tauron business rival, Tomas Vergis.
Twice in this “Know They Enemy,” Daniel walked in and surprised people: once with Joe and the holoband, and once with Philomon while the lab assistant was pouring his heart out to the ZoeBot. But the the tables were turned on Daniel with the arrival of this episode’s second major new character: Vergis, played by John Pyper-Ferguson. Vergis shows up at a party right when the Graystones are starting to rebound. (“C-Bucs won today,” Daniel boasts to Amanda, to which she adds, “And no one called me Terror Mom.”) Vergis makes it known immediately that he’s sure Daniel is responsible for the theft of his top-secret meta-cognitive processor—and, more importantly, the death of the two Taurons who were guarding it.
So what does Vergis want? Oddly, he claims he wants to help Daniel: by buying the Caprica City Buccaneers so that Graystone Industries can get the money they need to perfect the MCP. Daniel’s understandably suspicious, and figures that Vergis is only trying to ingratiate himself into Caprican society so that he can win some of those juicy military contracts that always go to GI. Vergis confesses that this is true. But he also says that he wants to own the C-Bucs because Daniel loves the team so much. “My dream is to tear up your dream,” he says with a smile, before pointing out, “You have so many precious things.”
I said that “Know They Enemy” was too much of a cargo-shifting episode—with more than a little of the strain showing—and that’s true. But like the complex interaction between Clarice and Amanda, the scenes between Daniel and Vergis worked on a broader level than just delivering info and advancing the pieces on the board. Because, can I tell you a secret? I kind of root against Daniel a little. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing either, to find one of the heroes of a TV show hard to support. If anything, it’s exciting to see one ruthless bastard set against another ruthless bastard, and know that neither of them are necessarily worth our pity. It’s even more exciting to know that even though this particular Caprica was in a hurry to get somewhere, we’re likely have a lot of time to explore this particular rivalry, and all its potential.
-I was a pretty fervent Battlestar Galactica fan, but I confess to being a little perplexed by attempts to draw a line from what’s happening on Caprica to its implications for BSG. I mean, knock yourself out if that aids in your enjoyment of the show, but I tend to think of BSG a closed loop. It already has a beginning, middle and end. I don’t think of Caprica as the “real” beginning—designed to set up what happens in Battlestar—so it doesn’t really matter to me if the facts don’t synch up between the two series, and it certainly doesn’t diminish my opinion of Caprica if they don’t. The two may have some themes and characters in common, but to me Caprica is its own thing, with its own goals, and I fervently believe that the writers should do what they need to do to meet those goals, whether or not that knocks continuity askew. Just my opinion.
-As many of you may know—and POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT if you don’t—Tomas Vergis was a major character in the original cut of the Caprica pilot movie. He was going to be revealed as Amanda Graystone’s lover. Will that be the direction the show goes in?
-Loved the impressionistic sequence of Daniel chopping vegetables while imagining the Ha’la’tha stabbings at Vergis Corporation.
-Two tidbits that may be relevant later on: Keon built the bomb that Ben Stark detonated on the MagLev; and the Graystones' house burnt down when Zoe was 5 years old.
-Romance was in the air in this episode too: Joe’s law partner was making goo-goo eyes at him; and Zoe arranged to meet Philomon in the V-world, under the name of “Rachel.”
-I love that Joe had to use a clawhammer to get into his holoband. Even in the furthest reaches of interstellar space, corporations use too much packaging.
-I’ve become entranced by the recurring Caprica melody… “doo-doo-doo… doo-dooooooo…”
-Like many of you, I enjoyed Todd’s review last week too. If he’s interested, I think we can get him to make another appearance before the half-season break.