Monday 29 March 2010

Caprica - Dead people shouldn't have avatars.

Caprica: 1x06 The Imperfections of Memory. 

One of the most coherent issues throughout “Caprica” so far is how those left behind after a tragedy deal with the loss of a loved one. “The Imperfections of Memory” delves into Amanda Graystone’s past – we find out that she lost a brother, Darius, in a car crash, and spend two and a half years in a mental hospital afterwards because she “went crazy”.
Now that Amanda has lost someone else close to her, and is only starting to reconcile Zoe, the daughter, with Zoe, the terrorist (as at this point in the story, the Graystones are convinced that Zoe was the one who carried the bomb into the train), old memories come to the surface again. Sometimes “Caprica” is at its best when it makes a point in the most subtle way possible: Amanda is desperately clinging to the memorial and starting to lose her mind once she discovers that it is about to be replaced – she is trying to LOCATE Zoe, but in such a different way than Daniel, who ultimately rooted what remained of his daughter to the metal body of a Cylon.

Zoe, meanwhile, is caught somewhere between being a teenage girl and the purposeful creation of “original” Zoe. The conflict between the two is introduced in the most likely way possible: after all, whenever we don’t see the Cylon, the person that appears is a sixteen year old girl, who is now using “cute lab boy” to find a way out of Daniel’s lab, and when she answers Lacy’s “do you like him”, her “that’s not relevant” is anything but convincing. I still think that Lacy is the more interesting character of the two, struggling to help Zoe (her “Original Zoe wanted me to get on that train, not you. I have never let you down.” is intriguing: She still bothers to make a difference between original Zoe and the Avatar, and seems more sympathetic to the latter), which is turning into a dangerous task, even though Lacy decides not to tell Zoe about what happened with Barnabas, or her decision to become STO.

It’s not just Amanda who is literally chasing ghosts here: Joseph is searching for Tamara after finding Heracles, who is actually called Ted and works a dead-end job (once again driving home the point why New Cap City is the way it is). Tamara has become a legend within the game already, the dead girl who can’t die. Clarice is chasing a ghost as well, but it’s her idea of Zoe as the creator of “apotheosis”, the “mother of life everlasting”. It’s interesting to see her switch between religious fanaticism and pragmatism so flawlessly. She uses Amanda in her vulnerable state without hesitating, but justifies it because she is the mother of Zoe (“God is using these women to speak to me. And I have to listen.”), like she is some kind of holy creature herself. Everybody in “Caprica” is entangled in some kind of intrigue, one of the most burning question is whether any relationship developing between characters can be honest and true (Zoe is using Philomon, Lacy is using Keon or maybe the other way around, Clarice is using Amanda).
Clarice: “God does not want you to punish yourself, he loves you unconditionally, he made you in his image. We don’t know the reason why he takes the ones we love, like Darius or Zoe, we just have to give ourselves over to his final judgment, we have to trust in his wisdom, and if you can learn how to do that then you’re gonna be free of all the pain of these terrible years. You just have to trust him, Amanda. Trust god.”
Amanda: “Which god? Which one? Which god do I trust?”
Colliding interests and intentions also dominate the central scene of the episode: after a strange second date in which Philomon decides a flight simulator is the right place to woo “Rachel”, Zoe tries to convince him that “freedom” would benefit the Cylon (she is, of course, actually saying that he should set her free), but he only picks up on the parts where she explains to him why the chip only works for the one model and not for mass production. Teenage Zoe gets what she wants (the kissing ends in a horrible awkward scene where Daniel once again walks in on his teenage daughter unknowingly), but Avatar Zoe realizes a bit too late what the consequences of Philomon finding a way to duplicate her chip (“Essentially, a tiny difference would make a difference.”) might be. Philomon thinks he is giving Daniel a way to meet his deadline, but another things he is delivering, without realizing, is the missing piece Daniel needs to figure out that ZOE inside the Cylon is what makes the chip uncopyable.

Random thoughts:

Joseph trying to fly in New Cap City? Priceless, also, looked a bit like someone was poking fun at “Heroes”.

The contradictions of “Caprica” made me a bit nostalgic for “Buffy”: Lacy and Keon discussing terrorism in a playground, looking like they are on a romantic date. They are only teenagers after all, but somehow, the hellmouth under them messes everything up.

“You know they say that surviving is the punishment for leaving things unsaid.” – somehow, this feels like the most important line of the episode? 

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