Thursday 11 March 2010

Caprica - Do you not understand the enormity of this creation?

Caprica: 1x04 There is Another Sky.


It was surprising to see Tamara Adama return to carry this episode. Nothing in the previous episodes indicated that she would have this important role in “Caprica”, and with every new episode, there are so many new questions opened, so many new issues tackled. “Caprica” is an ever-growing universe, and in “There is Another Sky”, we see another part of the holoband – a virtual representation of Caprica, without rules, called New Cap City.
The virtual world is an interesting place because it shows all the aspects of the open Caprican society that seem to get suppressed. Despite the lack of taboos on Caprica, the freedom enjoyed, we already know what is lurking beneath the surface (after all, we see again and again what it means to be Tauron). The pre-occupation with death, power and sex that dominates not only the V Club, but even more so the much more complex world of New Cap City (a place modelled after Caprica, that, or so it is hinted, even contains the attack on the train), says everything about Caprican society before the fall (that is, after all, brought about by an arrogant doctor looking to get laid).
Tamara: “What’s the object of the game?”
Heracles: “It’s a mystery. It’s almost like figuring out the object of the game is the object of the game. But we think it’s about getting things that convert into points, like money, or weapons.”
Tamara: “So noone’s ever finished it, or won it?”
Heracles: “Not yet. There’s this thing. When you die in the game, you’re out, and you can’t ever come back. But with you, I might actually have a shot.”

This dialogue already hints at the consequences of a technology that can, in theory, recreate reality perfectly (even to the extent that players can “die” in the game and never return): there is no predestined object of the game, just as there is no predestined path in life (which, of course, contradicts the solution of “BSG”, but I am hopeful that “Caprica” will try to stray from its source as far as possible, which it has done pretty well so far).
“There is Another Sky” is about technological leaps and what they lead to. We already saw Zoe’s uniqueness (she is the “Trinity”), but now Tamara turns out be something different as well (more than “an electronic ghost of a dead girl”). She can render the virtual reality of the holoband, and she only exists within the virtual world, which means that she can not be killed (or at least not with the same means that make players “de-rez”). While both Lacy and Zoe 2.0 are still following the vague path the actual Zoe has drawn for them, Tamara is taking charge of her own destiny by the end of the episode, walking New Cap City like it’s her kingdom. She is angsty and terrified at the beginning of the episode, but by the end, she fully realizes her own potential, after realizing her own death. She tells Heracles that he can be someone in the real world (and to deliver a message to Joseph, just as he is about to let go of her) – but I think that Caprica is the kind of place where it can be just as important to be someone in the virtual world (like Amanda said: Nothing much is real these days).


Zoe meanwhile finds herself the centre of his father’s attempt to save his company, or at least his own standing in the board that threatens to let him go. With the holoband profits gone, Graystone Industries needs a new profit scheme – and Daniel’s suggestion goes far beyond the limited military order of Cylons. He is outlining a world radically changed through the emergence of a new species that is programmed to serve humanity.
Daniel: “Holobands are over. The hack sites are eating up more and more of the market share each quarter. And that’s where the kids are going, because they’re free. And the next generation coming up, they’ll expect it all to be free. We can’t own it forever. We can either marshal all our resources and funds towards saving that sinking ship, or we can look for the next big thing, the next big leap forward that will change the worlds. We either move into the future, or we die trying to hold on to our past. And this…this is our future.
[…] The cost is irrelevant, considering all that it can do. […] Makes you a little uncomfortable, doesn’t it? Do you find yourself wondering what it might be thinking, or feeling? Well that is the big leap forward people. Do you sense it? Beyond artificial intelligence, this is artificial sentience. Do you feel it? I feel don’t you? I feel there is a vie inside this machine, something alive, and vital, and special. And it’s not our imagination, look at our test results. There is a brilliant mind in this.
[…] Are you seriously asking me about the practical applications about creating another race that will walks beside us? Do you not understand the enormity of this creation? It’s more than a machine. This Cylon will become a tireless worker who won’t need to be paid. It won’t retire, or get sick, it won’t have rights, or objections, or complaints. It will do anything, and everything we ask of it, without question. U-87, rip your arm off.
There is pride in Zoe’s face when she hears the beginning of her father’s speech because it is the first sign that he acknowledges that this machine is more than just a simple robot or a monster, as her mother continues to call her. Daniel recognizes that the Cylon is sentient, yet proposed the creation of a slave race, proving that this application is workable when he demands something that only we, the viewer who see Zoe the girl, not Zoe the Cylon, understand as utterly brutal and horrifying, especially when she does comply to his command. This of course raises the question whether Zoe can disobey a direct command and only follows here because she wishes Daniel succeed (she is, after all, a copy of his daughter). Zoe becomes the opposite to Tamara in this scene – because she does not make her own fortune, she is bound to someone else.

Random notes:

Someone has been reading their William Gibson!

New Cap City is like Sin City plus steampunky / dieselpunky goodness (a ZEPPELIN!). I was generally very pleased with the look of this place, but I also thought V World was done very well (like a more expensive version of the raves we see ever so often over at my other favourite show).

“Anything that’s pure code can be manipulated.”

Amanda mentions a “big fat meeting with Microcap” in Daniel’s past. They are not subtle with the pop cultural and historical references, are they?

Seeing little William Adama beat up the much bigger kid that had insulted him was…satisfying? But there seem to be no consequences for his actions. Yet?

The ceremony to mourn and let go Tamara and Joseph’s wife was heartbreaking (and I love whenever the shows portrays Tauron culture) – and just as Joseph might be willing to let go, Heracles knocks on the door.

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