Thursday 21 October 2010

Caprica - I need your help, not your fear.

 Caprica: 1x12 Things We Lock Away.

What a perfect title for this episode! I’ve always avoided discussing the obvious parallels between “Caprica” and “Dollhouse”, but this is probably a point in the show where it makes sense to point some of the out: basically, both shows a concerned with some of the same questions. How does technology shape society (but more importantly, how does it change relationships and identities?). How do individuals justify their own actions, not just to others, but to themselves? Is someone who has all the memories and emotions of someone else just a copy or an individual, a person? It’s fascinating that this question seems to be so present – after all, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” was at its most interesting when it discussed the limits of Cameron’s programming, and “Fringe”, after two (or at least one-and-a-half) entertaining, but philosophically light seasons, is delving into some of the same issues about identity and memory.
I already mentioned in the previous review that I see New Cap City as the culmination of the different effects Caprican society, its particular type of violence, oppression, entertainment, boredom, emptiness, has on its youth, which might be disenfranchised politically, but has access to the technology to build their own world elsewhere. New Cap City in the Tamara Adams Era is an even nastier place than before: a group of followers, or at least loosely associated colleagues, is organizing fights that a bloodthirsty crowd watches (this is, of course, considerably less disturbing than the blood sacrifices we saw in the very first episode, but the graphic on-screen violence in this episode is still more drastic and inescapable). Presumably, all these kids have grown up in the absence of a major military conflict; war is no longer a reality (or never was, I can’t really remember anything about the pre-Cylon history, if there is any). These tournaments look like substitutions for a more authentic reality, one in which there is more to do than passively consume media. This is where “Caprica” differs radically from “Battlestar Galactica”: while BSG in its first few years was very good at making points about society in a constant state of emergency, battling an elusive enemy that had infiltrated the remaining few survivors of a nuclear attack, “Caprica” is a portray of a society that is only (and subtly) at war with itself, that is slowly coming apart, not suddenly, where changes still occur through the introduction of new products, not because the President decides that the religious text is to be taken literally. It is a world very recognizable to us, the viewers – so naturally, the transgressions against what we perceive to be moral standards are more haunting.

Zoe and Tamara

Zoe walks into the stadium, looking for the other dead walker, but “you don’t find the dead walker, she finds you”. And when Tamara finds her, she gets one of the best entrances any of the characters had in the second half of the season: Visibly angry, she shoots the girl who can’t die but can feel pain twice. She seems to only find out about the fact that the original
Zoe has been made responsible for the bombing that killed her after this (although that is weird, since everybody else who actually has a life outside New Cap City should know about it), and her initial anger probably stems from the fact that Lacy and Zoe left her in the dark when she was terrified. In a way, Tamara is the thing they locked away – although Zoe isn’t the reason for her existence, Daniel used her to demonstrate what he intended to pass on as his own technology.
Zoe perceives that she and Tamara are the same thing: dead walkers who only exist in the virtual world, copies of people who no longer exist in the real world. She is right, but Tamara’s perception of the situation is radically different: Tamara has never stood opposite the original Tamara. She feels that there is a continuity in her identity, since she has all the memories. Zoe, remembering moments from original Zoe’s past and her own existence, also thinks about the first time that she started to exist, the point in which her own memories start to deviate from that of original Zoe, the moment in which she became her own person.
Zoe’s memories are a strange thing indeed: apparently, even original Zoe had a different version of herself in her head, a person driven by the need to prove her own genius. It is hard to interpret why she is fragmented, but it almost seems like she has been carrying someone else around in her head even before she created an Avatar, as the creation itself was a way of expressing a split identity (which possibly first occurred in the fire, when she was still a kid). 
Zoe(f): “You know what infuriate him? Beating him. At the thing he’s best at.”
Zoe: “I don’t wanna beat him. Besides, I can design a chassis. It’s not the same as making a robot.”
Zoe(f): “Think of something bigger.”
Zoe: “And what would I create?”
Zoe(f): “Life’s a good start I think.”
Tamara makes Zoe responsible for actions that the original Zoe allegedly committed (she didn’t actually, but there’s never been anybody who knew this, apart from the viewers), while Zoe insists that she is only a copy and not responsible for the actions of the original Zoe Graystone.
Tamara: “Yes, please explain why you deliberately slaughtered hundreds of innocent people  all for your meaningless fictional god. You took my life, and my mother’s.”
Zoe: “It wasn’t me, okay? She died on that train. It says so right here. I’m a copy. Just like you.”
Tamara: “You are lying. I am not a copy. I have all of my memories. I have all the feelings I had, and it stands to reason you do too.”
Zoe: “It’s hard to explain.”
She functions as a scapegoat for all the angry people in the stadium: stabbed, kicked, beaten up, an angry mob in a place where nobody controls their actions. When Tamara says “Maybe you just won’t fight because you think you deserve this.”, the voice in Zoe’s head tells her that this is exactly what is happening: She hasn’t realized fully that she is not responsible for original Zoe’s actions, that she can have her own path and deviate from her programming. Surprisingly enough, Zoe has given her that option on the very day she created her:
Zoe: “That’s okay, you don’t have to talk yet, you’re brand new. God, if I did this right, you’re me. Welcome to the world. Well, V-World anyway.”
Zoe 2.0: “I can talk.”
Zoe: “You can talk.”
Zoe 2.0: “I’m you, right? I have your memories. I can feel them.”
Zoe: “Don’t worry. I think you’re probably perfect.”
Zoe 2.0: “A perfect copy.”
Zoe: “Right now, yeah. But what I meant is perfectly alive. Starting right now, you’re a person.”
Zoe 2.0: “But I can’t leave V-World.”
Zoe: “A person with restricted movement is still a person.”
Zoe(f): “You’re not her. You’re not the same. You keep walking in her footprints even after her footprints stopped. Maybe you didn’t have to. Now are you gonna lie down and pay for your sins, or are you gonna own yourself?”
It is unclear what exactly Zoe’s intention is in forming an alliance with Tamara, but she does make her point while they fight.
Zoe. “I remember you from the darkroom, Tamara. I know how scared you were.”
Tamara: “We are nothing alike.”
Zoe: “We are. You have great abilities here. Why get caught up in this like all of them? You’re better than this.”
Tamara: “I’m tired. Of. Listening. To. All your crap. That girl I was, that girl you remember, she’s gone. You put me here, so stop talking.”
Zoe: “See I get that. I get that on a personal level. That girl is gone. So what does this girl like and what does this girl hate?”
Tamara: “They like watching your pain.”
Zoe: “They don’t care which one of us bleeds, look at them. Is that what you want to be? Entertainment? New Cap City is disgusting. It’s a place for people that come to act out their worst impulses to kill, rape, destroy, it’s wrong.”
Tamara: “Why do you care?”
Zoe: “I have a purpose, and I know this now. I think this is it or a step on the way, I don’t know, but I think you’re supposed to help me.”
She is successful in forming this alliance, and in the end they are standing opposite the screaming crowd, holding hands.


Daniel gets what he wants: the board, after being intimated by Joseph and Sam, vote unanimously to reinstate him as CEO. He thinks that this is it now: he will go and realize his ambitions, but soon Joseph informs him that Tomas needs to die because he is Tauron and he will not ever let it go. This compromises Daniel’s vague idea of keeping his hands clean, and he insists that Vergis is a business man and will understand his reasoning, as they “speak the same language”.
Daniel: “Human beings value life. That’s one of the main things that makes us slightly more evolved than animals. Understanding the value of life.”
Joseph: “Other things have value.”
Daniel: “Look, if I don’t at least try, I’m no better than…”
Joseph: “Me?”
Daniel: “Him.”
Note how his explanation already sounds like a commercial for his “Cure for human grief”.
Hit attempt to reach out to Tomas fails; where Zoe is successfully (although it is a much more painful process for her), he fails – the moment of possible triumph, when he thinks he has convinced Tomas to forget about the Tauron tradition and join a futile fight against the Ha’la’tha (where does this idea come from all of a sudden?), Tomas throws himself into his own sword. The only thing left for Daniel to do is to call Joseph and order some cleaners, now that he has successfully brought the bloodbath home with him.

“Your burden will be lifted”

The most literal exercise of the title is what happens to Lacy after Clarice picks her up at Barnabas’: She is locked up in the attic of the family home, drugged by the spiteful and angry husbands, because Clarice still needs her.
Locked up, knowing that Clarice has ruthlessly killed two other people who betrayed her, she is still resilient: She manages to remove one of the boards on the windows. She smashes a pane and screams for help. It doesn’t lead her to freedom, it doesn’t help her, but it shows that she has a stubborn sense of survival even after all the things that happened to her (“you’re drugging me, you motherfuckers”).
Clarice: “She’s gone, Lacy. This is not a betrayal. She would want you to help me, we were working together. And if you do tell me, your burden will be lifted.”
Clarice is the first person to realize that Lacy’s knowledge might be a burden. Lacy is the only one who knows the whole truth about Zoe’s existence after her death (Daniel only assumes) – and she remembers that Zoe used to keep things in the ever-present STO-pin. It comes in handy that Amanda has asked Clarice to move in with her, even though she has her own reasons for it (unable to find evidence in the cabin, the police officer has asked her to infiltrate Clarice’s home).
Amanda: “You know, Clarice, maybe that’s why we were brought together, through some kind of destiny. Some way of keeping Zoe alive, I think that’s why I wanted to come and stay with you so badly. I just have this feeling that there’s more.”
With that piece of information, Lacy has served her purpose. Clarice intends to send her off to a terrorist camp in Gemenon to “protect her” from her vengeful husbands, but Olaf predicts that she will be back soon – and I hope he is right, because I really wouldn’t want her to be gone for good.

Random notes:

Whenever Zoe is in pain, it triggers memories – this reminded me of how Cylons download their memories when they regenerate, so that the individual can remain intact.

I probably should have at least mentioned in the review that Zoe actually did draw Cylons as a kid. Now this might mean that Daniel simply used her design and she watched a lot of robot cartoons on Saturday mornings... or ZOE GRAYSTONE IS SECRETLY A CYLON HERSELF SENT TO CAPRICA TO START IT ALL. Please, let it be the former, because I like how "Caprica" isn't "Battlestar". 

Is Nestor dead? Is Lacy plagued by her guilt for killing him, so much that he haunts her, or did he not die?

Where is Joseph’s son? I assume he is being brought up by the awesomely shady grandmother, but we haven’t seen him in a while now.


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