Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Caprica - "Unvanquished"

Zoe Greystone (Alessandra Torresani) takes on some A Clockwork Orange rejects in the VR world.
Photo Credit: Syfy
Review by Paul Steven Brown

Season 1 - Episode 10

The programmers at Syfy found it in their hearts to air the last half of the first season of 'Caprica' in the fall rather than having us wait until January. I've never understood Syfy's programming strategy. They've always broken up their shows' seasons in halves with a very long hiatus that can last up to half a year (see the final season of 'Battlestar Galactica'). It just seems like a momentum killer and a perfect accuse for view attrition.

Some weeks have passed since the mid-season break. Amanda is missing after her suicide attempt at the bridge. The U-87 model that contained Zoe's avatar is unresponsive and in pieces. Vergis has control of Greystone Industries. Joseph seems to continue to believe that the virtual version of his daughter, Tamera is still dead. As a result, Daniel has gone to the Joseph's mob boss, the Guatrau, for resources. Clarice has gone to Gemenon in an attempt to gain control of all STO operations on Caprica.

What's interesting is both Daniel and Clarice offer their potential benefactors essentially the same thing: a virtual reality afterlife. Daniel sees it as a means to attract customers. Clarice calls it "Apotheosis" and sees it as an excellent recruitment tool. Understandably, both the Guatrau and the Reverend Mother have their initial misgivings, but eventually decide to aid Daniel and Clarice respectively. It would seem that Daniel's deal with the devil could eventually cost him more than what he lost from Vergis. He's a smart man, but he's also a broken man, and emotions can sometimes severely cloud one's judgement.

Clarice's power play works extremely well to her benefit. She is able to eliminate a threat to her plans and her life, while also scaring the hell out of the Reverend Mother. After Obal's fail assassination attempt and death, the Reverend Mother has no real choice but to give Clarice what she wants in the hope that the sister will remain loyal to her. She thinks that this Apotheosis is heresy, but they need converts. This should make the situation between Clarice and Barnabas a bit more complicated, too.

The terrorist bombing of the Pyramid arena was intense and shocking, but ultimately it was only a simulation. I don't know whether or not to be relieved or disappointed. It is a horrible scene of violence, but felt like a cheap cop out. However, Clarice's simulation of the terrorist arriving at the virtual heaven was fairly amusing. It felt suitably like a promotional video for religious recruitment.

I also found it amusing that Clarice was trying to sell the heads of the church on her virtual afterlife while actress Polly Walker was walking and talking in front of a green screen. It looked like the entire temple was computer generated. It was solid work, but still obviously CGI.

Finally, we find out what became of Zoe and Amada after cliffhanger ending of "End of the Line". Zoe somehow downloaded into New Cap City and is hunting for the other "Deadwalker", Tamera Adama. Along the way she gets to fight some wannabe Droogs that look like a bunch of guys heading to a midnight screening of A Clockwork Orange. The scene was a little too on the nose and the homage was distracting to the point of ridiculous.

Amanda is actually hiding away from Daniel in a cabin out in the woods. He apparently knows she's alive and has been sending her messages. She's about to respond, when Clarice returns home from Gemenon. Clarice seemed too far away from the bridge to have pulled Amanda away before she jumped. Clarice's car exploding may have distracted her long enough for the sister to get to her and talk her down. Hopefully, Amanda will be able to reign in the crazy a bit, since that was one of my least favorite parts of the first half of the season.

So, 'Caprica' is back, but it's still a mixed bag. New Cap City is barely touched upon, but I have a feeling that it's going to become more and more important as the series progresses. I just hope it doesn't become a sort of bad Matrix clone.

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