Friday, January 14, 2011

Caprica - The Final Five Episodes

Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) searches for his daughter's avatar in New Cap City.
Photo Credit: Syfy
Review by Paul Steven Brown

Season 1 - Episodes 14 - 18
"The Heavens Will Rise"
"Here Be Dragons"

Wow. When Syfy is done with a program and decides to cancel it before the rest of the episodes have aired, they really wash their hands of it. After returning in the fall after a mid-season hiatus, 'Caprica' only aired four episodes before the network decided to pull the plug on the 'Battlestar Galactica' prequel. The ratings weren't great and 'Caprica' was certainly not the critics darling like its predecessor. However, as someone that did watch the series and was curious how the rest of the season would end, I really didn't appreciate that Syfy burned through the final five episodes in one day. I had no idea that January 4th was going to be the only chance to see them on television and I missed them. I had to settle for a less than stellar presentation on the Syfy website.

(I really hope Syfy doesn't treat the last half of the recently cancelled 'Stargate Universe' in a similar fashion.)

While I was growing increasingly apathetic towards 'Caprica' last fall, I did find these final five episodes to be the best of the series. It felt like the writers had finally figured out the directions to take these characters. Too little, too late, though.

The growing rift between the Adama boys and the Guattrau took some interesting turns. The flashback to their childhood went a long way to shining a light on what made these two the men they are today. Plus, we got to see a little more of the horror that was Tauron.

Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) confronts Amanda and Daniel.
Photo Credit: Syfy
One of the best parts came at the end, when Zoe confronted Clarice in the virtual heaven. Clarice was on Zoe's turf. In V-World, Zoe is in fact God, and she began to bring hell down on Clarice. While one could draw comparisions to The Matrix, this was a fun sequence to watch. I still think that it's great that the Cylons were spawned from an angry teenage girl.

The switch-a-roo on Willie Adama caught me off guard, but looking back, the signs were there. If 'Caprica' takes place 60 years before the fall of the Colonies, than Bill Adama from 'BSG' would have been in his mid-70s, if we were to believe that Willie was to grow up to be the Edward James Olmos character. Also, Olmos wore blue contact lenses, while Willie's eyes were brown. Still, Willie's death did come as a shock at the end of "Here Be Dragons" and before you could say "So say we all", we got to see his little blue-eyed brother during the series ending flash forward section.

Speaking of which, that was probably the best way to handle things. We still got a glimpse into the series that wasn't, but without having to endure the less interesting parts. Clarice becoming the own that brings religion to the Cylons made a great deal of sense. Lacy Rand as the new Reverend Mother that can control the robots was kind of neat and one of the plot points that would have been interesting to see developed if 'Caprica' was allowed to continue. Finally, we get to see Zoe resurrected in a familiar bathtub of white goo. Nice symmetry. 

Lacy Rand (Magda Apanowicz) is forced to make some hard decisions at the STO training camp.
Photo Credit: Syfy
 So where did it all go wrong for 'Caprica'? I think the acting was pretty solid for the most part and I found a lot of the concepts interesting, but what were the show's problems?

Sometimes it felt like the writers and producers were trying too hard. There was an unearned and unnecessary since of self-importance that hung over the series. While I don't think that science fiction needs to be laser fights and space battles all the time, 'Caprica' seemed to take itself way too seriously. Even 'BSG' had room for some fun once and awhile. At least there was some energy between the moments of modern allegory and the pathos on that show.

New Cap City felt like a waste of time. Maybe if it was developed a little more or had some greater significance down the road, I wouldn't have minded. However, before the season was up, Zoe and Tammy had completely recreated the place in their own image. The idea of the duo as pop culture icons was interesting and had some potential, but it was too brief.

Joseph Adama (Esai Morales) makes a deal with the Guattrau's daughter, Fidelia (Carmen Moore).
Photo Credit: Syfy
Looking back, probably my biggest grievance with 'Caprica' is that there really wasn't anybody to root for. It felt like the entire cast of characters had some amount of moral deficiency or were just too emotionally damaged beyond repair. Sometimes both. I like my characters to have faults, but the folks on 'Caprica' felt completely broken and unrelatable. Everyone had a secret agenda and was out to double-cross someone else. I'd like to have actually cared for what happened to a few of the characters or possibly even have liked one of them. Unfortunately, I couldn't and this disconnect carried over to my view of the series.

Was 'Caprica' a bad show? No, but it was far from great. It was merely a decent show with so much potential for stories and characters. The acting was pretty solid and the visual effects were top-notch. However, this was a series that couldn't decide what kind of show it was or which direction to take until it was too late. I enjoyed it for the most part, but it was sometimes hard to see past the flaws.

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