It’s been almost a year since I saw the Caprica pilot for the first time, so to say I’ve been anxious to see what happens next would be an understatement. And speaking as someone who liked the pilot, I was pretty pleased with “Rebirth” too, which continues the mapping out of this world and the people in it, before ending on a note of impending crisis.
The key line of the episode comes from Nestor (played by Friday Night Lights’ Scott Porter), playing one of the many spouses of monotheistic cult leader/school headmistress Sister Clarice. Talking to Zoe’s best friend Lacy about her dead friend’s computer skills, Nestor mentions that there are pieces of computer programs that survive for decades in newer technologies. “Write a great program,” he says, “And it can outlive you, like a work of art.”
In “Rebirth” that line is meant to refer to Zoe, whose avatar-self has become fully conscious inside one of her father’s Cylons. (But only in one; whenever Daniel’s assistants put her chip into the other robots, nothing happens.) Zoe 2 still feels like Zoe 2, holding memories of her late creator as well as of her time in the virtual world. But when she catches a glimpse of herself in a mirror, she sees her mechanical form, and can't quite comprehend it.
I thought it was very effective the way Caprica shows Zoe 2 both as a young woman and as a robot, driving home how it feels for her to be locked in a box or have her limbs yanked around by her dad’s helpers. I also thought it was telling that when one of the helpers complains about his colleague “feminizing” the ZoeBot, he refers to her as “just a tool,” which—judging by the flashback we see of Zoe, Zoe 2 and Zoe’s Exploding Boyfriend in the virtual world—is what Zoe 2 was always meant to be. There are plenty of mysteries left to be explored here: What exactly were Zoe and Ben planning to do with Zoe 2? And will the ZoeBot version of Zoe 2 come up with an entirely new plan of her own?
Meanwhile, the idea of programs outliving their creators takes on a more metaphorical meaning for Joe Adama, who finds himself enacting his “father to Tamara” program long after Tamara’s been blown up. He drives to her school to pick her up, and sets a place for her at dinner. He also begins to worry about what’s become of the Virtual Tamara that Daniel created, and isn’t comforted in the slightest when Daniel suggests that she’s probably lost forever in virtual reality.
As for Joe’s plan to revive his family’s Tauron programming for the sake of his son Bill, it’s not going so well. Bill hates the meals his grandmother cooks, and he blows off Tauron School to hang around Little Tauron with his Uncle Sam, who shows him how to spot the best cars and how to beat the rap for smashing storefront windows. And when Joe tries to make Bill feel guilty for playing hooky, Bill turns that guilt around, just like Sam taught. Not the kind of lessons about How To Be A Tauron that Bill had in mind.
And in the Graystone household, Daniel’s playing a makeshift game of Pyramid with wadded-up paper, while his wife Amanda watches home movies of Zoe and fields questions from a law officer about The Maglev Bombing, which he claims to be the work of the monotheistic cult Soldiers Of The One (or “STO”), and specifically one Ben Stark… Zoe’s boyfriend. Amanda’s never heard of Ben Stark, and had no idea her daughter was involved with the STO. She’s also rattled to hear from Lacy that Zoe was planning to unite with “a new family” on Gemenon. With all this rattling around in her head, Amanda attends the memorial service for the MagLev victims and steps to the podium to confess that she didn’t really know her own little girl. “My daughter was a terrorist,” she sobs, adding limply, “I’m sorry.”
What ramifications will this confession have on Daniel’s government contracts—not to mention his already shaky tenure as the owner of the hapless Caprica Buccaneers? More to the point: In an episode all about legacies, Daniel can’t be happy at the thought that his daughter will live on in the world, but as one of the most reviled Capricans in history. These things we create… so difficult to control once they’re let loose into the world, yes?
-If you run, you’re guilty of two things. The thing, and running away from the thing.
-On Caprica, everyone has an iPad.
-During the Caprica anthem, don’t forget to stand with your hands folded over your belly, as is traditional.
-On Caprica, snapshots are octagonal.
-Don’t smoke, kids. Because the cops can get genetic data off a cigarette butt.
-“The crowd goes frakking wild, sir. It’s bedlam.”
-Religion-watch: With Lacy’s help, ZoeBot realizes that she’s a “trinity,” part Zoe, part Avatar Zoe, and part Cylon.
-Anti-religion watch: Sister Clarice’s group marriage seems kind of skeevy, and unstable to boot. Her mates’ questioning of her courting Lacy ultimately drives Clarice to a drug den, in what’s apparently a relapse moment.
-After watching a screener of “Rebirth,” I watched this week’s episode of The Good Wife, and it took me about 10 minutes to realize that it was taking place in Chicago, not Caprica. Not sure what that says about either show.
-What kind of Hobo Stew would you like?