Wednesday 5 January 2011

Caprica - Never forget who these people are, and what they are capable of.

Caprica: 1x14 Blowback

“You’re STO”.  / “You don’t have to look so surprised.”

Lacy started out as Zoe’s sidekick – the girl who wasn’t brave enough to leave, and got left behind. Ever since letting Zoe get on that train and losing her friend, she has tried to redeem herself for that betrayal, by faithfully following the requests of Zoe 2.0, even if that meant risking her very existence. In the process, she’s lost control over her own life: Zoe sent her to Barnabas. And now, Clarice forced her to leave for Gemenon, a place she decided not to go to in the very first episode, both to punish her for her betrayal and to make her into a “real soldier” (Clarice, after all, started her own career right there).
Her first arrival at Gemenon already points at how much she has grown during the time we’ve seen her: while some of the other students (some of them aren’t their voluntarily, but their fanatical parents have signed them up) panic, she remains cool. There weren’t really that many things that rooted her to Caprica anyways, and even though the show never examined her family, it never seemed as if they really provided a safe environment for her anyway: her family used to be Zoe, and Zoe is, as far as Lacy knows, gone, both the original and the copy.
Lacy is basically drifting and accepting whatever comes her way, and one of the things that do come her way is a brutal test the STO puts its recruits through, in order to determine who is a true believer and who can hold up under stress. It is always interesting to see the world through the skewed ideology of the STO – the smiling martyrs in Clarice’s ad, who kill thousands but are just the nice people from the neighbourhood – or, in this case, the radical and violent polytheists that capture the ship and put the recruit’s faiths to the test. It isn’t Lacy’s faith that makes her say, from the very beginning, that they have to fight back, that makes her insist that waiting for the right moment is going to cost more lives. When she fights back, she does it fiercely and successfully. Maybe she even feels a sense or pride for finally being really good at something rather than being overshadowed by others when she does arrive at the STO camp, and she’s “found her quarters, her bunk and the cocktail party” – but then she sees that those who did not hold up as well as she did, those who either renounced the one true god or did not face death with enough resolve, are being executed – by a Cylon.

“What happened to you? Where is your outrage?”

At this point in the show, I am more fascinated by how the stories are connected, how the decisions made in one storyline affect the others, than in the destiny of most of its characters.
The Cylon Lacy sees on Gemenon is there because the Guatrau Sam, Joseph and Daniel work for is more interested in profit than in patriotism. The Adamas are starting to question their own allegiance to him (he was, after all, born on Caprica and seems to feel no connection to the home world both of them still feel rooted in).
Sam: “You knew about this? Which side?”
Joseph: “With the Guatrau it’s always about the money. You know that.”
Sam: “Which side, Yussif?”
Joseph: “STO.”
Sam: “Oh, nice. We forsake the struggle of our own people, let them die on the streets, but the frakkers who murdered your wife, blew up your child, now I’m glad the Guatrau found it in his heart to show them a little bit of love.”
Joseph: Don’t you go getting pious on me. Do you think I like the position I am in?”
Sam: “What happened to you? Where is your outrage?”
Joseph’s outrage is an inconsistent thing. He used to hate Daniel because he blamed him for the loss of his wife and daughter, but now, it’s Sam who feels more uncomfortable working with him. He used to be opposed to the resurrection programme, the “end of human grief”, but he hasn’t spoken up against the Guatrau’s support of Daniel’s plans.

Daniel, on the other hand, is starting to severely remind me of Topher, even though they are so different on the surface. It’s not just a question of what you CAN do, you should also CARE ABOUT what you do – and even though Daniel has a sense of how severely he would change civilization if he ever managed to complete his programme (just as Clarice knows exactly what she is trying to get her hands on), he doesn’t seem to realize that controlling this beast he is creating will be impossible. He couldn’t control Zoe. Clarice couldn’t control Zoe.
Daniel: “When this programme is complete it will end death and disease, it will demolish our very conception of mortality. Whoever controls this will transcend any single corporation, government or syndicate, so anything we do that will jeopardize this opportunity…”
The Guatrau isn’t interested in changing the fabric of society – he is going to support Daniel until the payday, if it ever comes, and then have him killed.

“I know my wife better than you do.”

Sometimes I wonder at which point of the process the writers and producers of Caprica assumed that the series would not get a second season. Shows desperately trying to get a specific point in their narrative before their untimely demise seems to be one of the recurring themes lately, but with Caprica, it’s not completely clear if this is the same first season it would have been with a second one or not. Sometimes the character’s motivations are shifting. Sometimes, they are changing for no apparent reason. Amanda shifted seamlessly from depending on Clarice to believing Duram’s theory that she was responsible for Zoe’s death, to a point where she was willing to risk everything just to take revenge. They are very good opponents: both of them have a much stronger will than the people they surround themselves with (Daniel is basically lost without his wife, wandering through a virtual representation of their house with a version of her he can’t stand). Both follow their convictions and they tend to hold grudges against those who wronged them.
Both Clarice and Amanda get what they want in this episode. Agent Duram sacrifices an innocent woman to protect Amanda from being found out as the spy, Clarice finally lays hands on Zoe’s backup copy of the programme which she needs to build her artificial heaven, the one product her power depends on (ironically, the very same thing Daniel’s depends on also). Amanda returns to Daniel, explaining her theory of how he works:
Daniel: “I’m not thinking clearly. I’m losing it.”
Amanda: “No, you’re not. The crazy confidence of you is just the side you let everyone see. This side, what’s going on right now, the fear, the anxiety, that is always there. That is always with you. Yes it is. It eats at you, you overcome it, and it gives you forward momentum, that’s how you work. Without that, I don’t think your little empire would exist.”
Daniel: “So I exploit my own fear to get what I want, that’s your novel theory?”
Amanda: “You exploit anything that isn’t nailed down. That’s my theory. The truth hurts, pal.
No, it doesn’t.”
She realizes Daniel’s selfishness, and it fits her own, and they can only fully function when they are together.

In the end, we see the extent of Clarice’s ideology: she is willing to kill the woman she suspects to be a traitor with her own bare hands, and there is already a hint that she will eventually end up completely alone. 

Random notes:

I’ve actually seen all of the five episodes already, during their original Canadian run, but I’ll try to pretend like I haven’t because Caprica started as the one show I reviewed without any knowledge of the completed series. So, I’ll avoid spoilers.

Lacy: “Do you speak Caprican?”
Odin: “Everybody speaks Caprican.”

Caprica has been very concerned about its many issues, but one that hasn’t really been talked about is the privileged position the colony has, compared to others (we’ve seen the marginalized Taurons, but apart from that, the dynamics between the twelve colonies haven’t really been explored). This short bit clearly indicates that Caprica is the United States of the Colonies: a political and cultural hegemonic power.

I also want to note at this point that during my re-watch of BSG, I discovered that Tauron is now considered a rich colony, so something must have changed dramatically in the years between the two shows.

I kind of can’t bring myself to care about the “big reveal” that the chief of the GDD is Clarice’s informant. It’s like… I feel like I already knew that before the episode? Or I frankly do not care about Agent Duram enough to feel his alienation for the agency he works for?

The bits between Daniel and fake!Amanda are hilarious, but they serve more to underscore how lost Daniel is without the actual Amanda, and how Zoe’s abilities as a programmer far surpass that of her dad.

Amanda: “A marriage only works as an equal partnership so look out mister.”
Daniel: “What are you doing?”
Amanda: “You said I was fawning too much.”
Daniel: “So now you’re just guessing what I want from you.”
Amanda: “Which is a typical human reaction if you think about it. Neurotic, and very authentic. Make love to me.”
Daniel: “My entire future is riding on fixing the resurrection programme which is you. I have two weeks to pass you off as an emotionally recognizable human being. If I don’t, I’m dead.
Amanda: “Let me take your mind off a bit.”
Daniel: “Every time I come back in here you are further off the mark.”
Amanda: “I am sorry, you make me nervous. If she were here and you were accusing her of being inauthentic, wouldn’t she react just like this?”
Daniel: “No, she would be mad, she would be in a rage.”
Amanda: “But we don’t have a control group, do we?”
Daniel: “No we don’t.”
Amanda: “Because we don’t have her. Because you don’t have her. And I’m glad because you are a frakking nasty monster who deserves to be alone and I hope you do die. WAS THAT BETTER?”
Daniel: “This isn’t working.” 

I appreciated the manipulative editing when Clarice was clearly out to meet someone and kill them and Amanda was clearly out to meet someone, and then the twist was that Clarice killed Marbeth and Amanda got the surveillance equipment from Agent Duram – on the other hand, it was kind of clear that the showdown between the two wouldn’t happen like this, and that Amanda would have to survive. On the other hand, the images the murder scene created were powerful – with Clarice wiping the blood from her hands before going off with the baby, while her devoted husbands cleaned up behind her. 

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