Thursday 28 October 2010

Caprica - After all, there is no substitute for the real thing.

Caprica: 1x13 False Labor.

The “real thing” is such an elusive idea in “Caprica”, not just because some of the characters are virtual versions of actual people, slowly learning to deviate from the source. Real emotions are also always called into question whenever two characters have a relationship based on lies – like, for example, Clarice and Amanda. In spite of the fact that both have ulterior motives, the moment in the beginning of the episode, when Clarice comforts Amanda in her uneasy sleep, begs the question whether it really is only pretence. In other cases, the episode deals with how current events and how we are involved in them can sometimes change our relationships: Sam Adama witnesses a Siege on Tauron (again, on television) that reminds him of what happened in his childhood (apparently, the Adamas lost their parents), but his husband does not understand why he is so involved in something that is happening on Tauron, when Caprica is their home. Daniel is having nightmares about Vergis’ death – and his complete isolation in the house, where he still sleeps on the sofa long after Amanda has moved out, serves as the perfect contrast to the lively home of Joseph Adama.

Sam Adama
Sam: “Take a good look kid. That’s your home world. People like us are getting crushed under tanks because fat colonies like this one are propping up the crooks that run that place.”
“Caprica” tackles yet another issue that is not represented very often on television: the question of migration and “home”. Willy Adama has never been to Tauron, he was born and raised on Caprica, yet, his uncle reminds him, it is his home world and the place he is still responsible for. Joseph’s allegiances remain vague, but Sam is smuggling weapons to support the rebellion against the dictator, even though this is against the policy of the Ha’la’tha. He gets into trouble for it because somebody else has a monopoly on illegal weapons trade, and the Gautrau tells him take care of it or else he will lose his position and honour: and, in one of those interesting coincidences, Sam stumbles over the plans for the prototype of the first line of Cylons, and realizes its potential for his own cause (again assigning a new function to one of Daniel’s inventions). The Cylon is the perfect tool for taking out the competition, and, after the other arms dealer is dead, Sam realizes that it would completely change the situation on Tauron if the rebels had Cylon soldiers on their side – an intriguing notion, considering that it would be the first step towards a Cylon army that is not directly linked to the Caprican government, but with a very different agenda. The Guatrau tells Sam to let it go –
Guatrau: “Governments are ephemeral, they rise, fall and return to the soil. The way we endure is by staying out of politics.”
Sam: “It wasn’t like that in the beginning, back home.”
Guatrau: “This is home now. This is where your family is. Your obsession with the old world is a distraction. It ends here.”
- but there is probably a good chance that whatever decision Sam now makes is going to play a role in the fact that his nephew is eventually going to end up fighting Cylons.

Daniel Graystone
Amanda(v): “It’s that programme, isn’t it?”
Daniel: “I keep running into road blocks. Zoe’s code, what I remember of it, it’s so intuitive. It makes me feel like a hack trying to recreate it.”
Amanda(v): You’ll figure it out. I have faith in you.
Daniel: “I wish you did.”
The way Daniel imagines his ideal wife reveals things about him we already suspected: on the one hand, he wants the happy family, the devoted wife, who serves breakfast in a revealing bathrobe and finds him incredibly intelligent and charming, even when he’s not. On the other hand, as the episode progresses, he gets increasingly frustrated because his virtual version of Amanda lacks all the qualities his real wife has: she is not stubborn; she is not questioning his motives; she is no challenge for him (“You can’t love anyone. You’re not human, you’re a thing.”).
While this version of Amanda fulfils an essential need for him, she is also his little experiment to finally figure out Zoe’s code and make the resurrection programme possible that has convinced the Ha’la’tha to back him up. While he is still struggling to make the avatar “human”, relying on memories and emotions rather than information and facts, Graystone Industries has already produced a (creepy) ad for “Grace by Graystone Industries”, in which a virtual image of Daniel promises “a future without loss”. Daniel’s argument that Graystone Industries acted immoral because they used his image without his consent is, of course, ironic, given that Daniel has been using other people’s images for his own cause throughout the season and is going home to find an appropriation of Amanda there that only exists to serve his every need. The Guatrau is in a position of power and can demand of Daniel to re-shoot the spot with his actual image, but the sentence he uses – “there is no substitute for the real thing” – is, of course, the one thing Daniel is working on proving wrong. What is a real thing if a fake virtual version of it becomes indistinguishable (and all this, while Zoe and Tamara are becoming more than just a perfected version of the original, but their own individuals).
Amanda(v): “I may not be perfect, but I am good at some things. I bet I could please you.”
Daniel: “I don’t doubt it. A healthy sex drive along with a desire to please are a baseline component the programme builds into every avatar.”
Amanda(v): “You make it sound so mechanical.”
Isn’t it somewhat telling that Zoe creates life while Daniel creates a “more believable hooker” (in this case, the “Dollhouse”-reference really do fit)?
Daniel: “I never should have started up again. It’s like every decision I made since the bomb has been a wrong turn. Now I’ve made so many of them I’m not sure I even know how to get back.”
Joseph: “Back to where?”
Daniel: “To who I was. Who I thought I was.”
Joseph: “You can’t do that alone. You need somebody. You need someone who can see the man you were inside the man you’ve become, who can forgive you.”
Daniel: “You wife do that for you?”
Joseph: “Yeah. Until your daughter blew her up.”
If “Caprica” had gotten more time to unfold, I am sure that these two characters would have eventually ended up on opposing sides. Both have changed their lives radically after losing their last ones – Joseph has gotten involved with the Ha’la’tha, Daniel doesn’t know who he is anymore – and still, there is an underlying conflict in their relationship that can not be resolved.

Amanda Graystone

Amanda gained Clarice’s friendship because she allowed herself to be weak: she told the story of how she went mad after her brother’s death, and, not knowing Clarice’s true motives for letting her move in with her family, she relies on a similar story (that might be a lie, or maybe not, it is impossible to tell these apart) with Clarice’s increasingly doubtful family. She is a doctor, questioning their ways without even noticing it, and she still is “Terror mom”, the woman whose daughter became a terrorist. It’s interesting how incomplete information works both ways: Clarice’s wife does not know that Zoe had nothing to do with the bomb, and Amanda does not know that Clarice’s STO cell did not endorse violence and was not responsible for the terror attack.
Sam has issues with his husband, not understanding why he is so involved with the rebellion on Tauron – Clarice’s pregnant wife, meanwhile, is having trouble with the fact that “god’s will always seems to serve” her needs, and that Clarice is apparently willing to put anything behind her great cause, Apotheosis (her cold and shocking answer to whether she’d be willing to sacrifice her own family is: “I pray to god that he never asks that of me”).  Amanda lies her way into the family, telling the pregnant wife about her own post-partum depression after Zoe’s birth, which, she says, might have been responsible for the fact that they never really connected. She is accepted into the family, just like the GDD agent asked of her, and finally hands the newborn baby to the happy mother: while Clarice welcomes it to a new world, one that will soon be changed forever by Apotheosis.
“For every ending brings a new beginning as surely as spring follows winter and thus in the face of adversity, we are heartened to renew our spirit and reclaim our cause. For yours is the promise of life everlasting on these worlds and on the world hereafter. So say we all.”
Random notes:

SyFy announced yesterday that “Caprica” is cancelled. The remaining episodes will air next year. I expected this to happen, and it still saddens me because this show simply was the smartest hour of television, along with “Mad Men”.

Really though. Daniel believes he has finally made a breakthrough because his virtual version of Amanda has given him a more believable blowjob? Again: does not help to make him more endearing to me.

I also found it re-assuring that I wasn’t the only one who immediately thought of Spike’s Buffybot.

Is the baby significant? Okay, so I was kind of waiting for Clarice to call her “Laura”.

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