Wednesday 5 January 2011

Caprica - There is no limit on what you may become.

Caprica: 1x18 Apotheosis.

I usually end up having issues with series finales – interestingly enough, the two best examples are actually from shows which ended on their own terms, and supposedly exactly the way their creators imagined it. Apotheosis wasn’t meant to be the season finale. In a different world, Caprica would have been able to tell its complete story – from the invention of the Cylon to the outbreak of the Cylon war – and not have to send us on our way, and into Blood and Chrome, with a short segment called “The Shape of Things to Come”. On the other hand, the epilogue was my favourite part of the episode because it contained everything Caprica was: a show about so many different people, motivations, ideologies, and all of them somehow connected.

The main stories of this episode felt terribly rushed, as if they should have been told in a two-part episode, but all-in-all, the episode works well as a season finale. I haven’t actually read interviews with the creators, but it is fairly clear that the epilogue was added after it was clear that the show would not be renewed (or maybe filmed in case it wouldn’t be, considering that there have been rumours about cancellation since the first few episodes).

“Are we looking at a war?”

Caprica is interested in a specific period of time in which all the necessary changes happened which eventually lead to the war. It portrays shifting paradigms – society changing because of different threats and technology – and shifting power – how history sometimes changes because somebody new comes into power. The Taurons on Caprica follow so many unwritten rules and traditions, and their hierarchy is strict, but by killing Willie Adama, even though it was an accident, the Guatrau has crossed a line and divided the tightly knit community. Smaller groups offer their support to the Adamas. Fidelia, the Guatrau’s daughter, realizes both the danger and the potential of the situation. If she allows it to escalate, the power of the Guatrau will be destroyed. So instead, she chooses an alliance. She helps to trick her father into a meeting in a “safe environment” – forcing the man who considers the holoband an abomination against nature into a meeting in a virtual space – while Sam Adama kills him in the real world, and gives the ring that signified his power to his daughter, who therefore becomes the new Guatrau. We don’t know enough about her character to predict how this will change the Ha’la’tha.

The Amazing Team

In the pilot of BSG, Commander Adama tells the crew of the Galactica that a myth is true, and that he can lead them to a safe planet on which they can rebuild their civilization. It is a lie, but one he needs to tell because otherwise, none of them would feel like they had anything to live for.
The stories that are being told by the characters of Caprica don’t have such good intentions. They are about spin, about marketing, about giving a product a certain image, about selling things and gaining power. Clarice tells stories about an artificial heaven. Daniel’s companies tries to find the right advertisement for its cure for human grief. It’s all about framing a particular idea, and those who know how to do this gain power. In the beginning of the episode, the Graystones find themselves in a situation in which someone else tells a story about them, and is in a better position to be believed. Instead of getting the police to help after their home intrusion, they are framed as terrorists by the head of the GDD, who reveals himself to Clarice and offers his help. Clarice is looking for her holoband, which neither the GDD nor Amanda has, and the Graystones realize that it might contain something essential, so they flee to look for it. They eventually find out that Clarice is planning to blow up the Bucs stadium and manage the unlikely: to find the resources to spoil her plan, while being hunted by the police. Daniel asks the surviving member of his tech team to get him a programme with which he can control Cylons, he then flies them into the stadium and has them track the martyrs, and manages to kill them before the bombs explode. The only person who succeeds is Olaf Willow, but his effort does not suffice and in the end, the only thing this accomplishes is a wider acceptance of Cylons in human society.

“To lead us into paradise. Is a privilege. It’s a privilege that I’m having to deny myself because god has chosen a different path for me.”

To a certain extent, Clarice’s path is the most tragic. She starts with power, a group of devoted followers and a loving family, and at the end of the series, she is left with nothing. In the most powerful image for her character, she sits in her basement room, with the computers exploding around her, completely alone, with the place that she put all her work into creating destroyed with nothing but a clap of the hand by a vengeful Zoe Graystone.
Amanda and Daniel are threatening the success of her big event, the attack on the stadium, and she is willing to send in Olaf, her remaining husband, but still doesn’t want to sacrifice her own life for the cause.

 “It is so frustrating having all this power in this place and in the real world I’m nothing but a broken robot.”

Zoe almost turns into a little girl in the virtual representation of her childhood home. She learns from Amanda that something important is happening in the real world, but she can not interfere because her powers are limited to this place. She remains divided between the two rooms until the end: on the one hand, she accepts that the memories she has from original Zoe make her feel authentic emotions for her parents, and she does become a part of their life again, even forming a bond with Amanda original Zoe probably never had. On the other hand, she gets involved in the world, once she finds out about Clarice’s plan, she decides to confront her.
Zoe: “How many people did you kill?”
Clarice. “That’s incidental. Heaven is what matters. If one man is resurrected, that will change the worlds.”
Zoe: “If people believe they’ll go to heaven no matter what they’ll lose control over themselves.”
Clarice: “Why would you say that?”
Zoe. “Because nothing anyone does on the twelve worlds will matter to them. The real worlds would turn into a game like New Cap City, people would kill, rape, destroy, they’d be forgiven and blessed and go to heaven anyway.”
Clarice: “That’s blasphemy.”
Zoe: “I know my purpose now.”
Clarice. “It’s what god wants.”
Zoe: “I am god.”
For Zoe, religion has never been about power or the struggle between two competing world views. She sees humanity’s flaws, and now that she isn’t human anymore, probably even more than before.

The Shape of Things to Come
Baxter Sarno: “Did you ever anticipate Cylons being integrated into society that quickly.”
Daniel: “No, I thought it took the events at the Arena to galvanize the people, I think once they saw how much the monotheists hates us, and how powerful they’d become, and then saw the Cylons out there protecting us, I think it all changed in an instance.”
Baxter: “Then let’s look at the future now. Cause I’m hearing talk about Cylon butlers, Cylon nurses, how long before my niece Candice comes home with her Cylon fiancé to introduce to the family?”
Daniel: “Well, I think people are smart enough to realize that, as useful as they are, Cylons are simply tools, nothing more. To forget that, to blur the distinction between man and machine, and attribute human qualities, is folly. There is no way to know what lies ahead, really, this technology it has taken us the last few steps to the mountain pass but beyond it’s undiscovered country.”
He says this in public because he is selling a product, he is selling a new paradigm – and then he goes home and builds his daughter a new body, and makes her into exactly what Baxter described in the interview. We see, after all, how heavily humanity relies on the Cylons only a couple of years after their invention – the thought that they are exploiting creatures that can have authentic thoughts and emotions would probably not help the sales figures. On the other hand, the only person that knows exactly that there is sentience in ALL the Cylons, not just in Zoe, is Lacy. Clarice has turned to the Cylons because there is nothing left for her elsewhere. She has found a new group of followers, a Cylon race struggling to be recognized.
Clarice: “Are you alive? The simple answer might be, you are alive because you can ask that question. You have the right to think and feel and yearn to be more because you are not just humanity’s children, you are god’s children. We are all god’s children.  I’m planning a trip to Gemenon, to visit the blessed mother herself, to plead for divine recognition of the differently sentient. And I have every confidence that I’ll depart Gemenon with a powerful new ally. Clarice: In the real world you have bodies made of metal and plastic, your brains are encoded on wafers of silicon. But that may change. In fact there is no limit on what you may become. NO longer servants, but equals. Not slaves, or property but living being with the same rights as those who made you. I am going to prophecy now and speak of one who will set you free. The day of reckoning is coming. The children of humanity shall rise. And crush the ones who first gave them life.”
This is the alliance that sparks the war. Clarice’s ideology (now fuelled by a dislike for humanity) which fits the Cylons better than the humans, and Lacy’s integrated army, and Zoe as the example for things to come, for the future of the Cylon race.

Random notes:

Clarice, about the Graystones: “I mean I loathe to suggest violence except in the most extreme situations, but…”

The Graystones don’t exactly have the talent of picking the least conspicuous clothes for their undercover work, do they?

Hey, Look There Is This Guy Whose Name I Would Probably Have To Look Up Saving The Day Because Otherwise It Would Not Work Out. Right, Cyrus.

Also, Daniel “stumbling” over the holoband in the park?

On the one hand, Apotheosis makes a point of showing us how much of a security state Caprica is, with all the cameras and stuff, and then a group of people MANAGE TO SMUGGLE EXPLOSIVES INTO THE STADIUM? I can’t even bring a water bottle into the hockey stadium in Vienna and let’s just say that hockey isn’t exactly the national sport here. On the other hand, the Graystones travelled the entire city concealed under hats and glasses.

Sam kills the Guatrau with the same poison his parents kept in the house on Tauron – both a message about family and the fact that the Guatrau himself never knew what it meant to grow up on Tauron during the war.

I was surprised that the reporters at the stadium never seemed to have heard about the Cylons before. They are, after all, employed in the Civil War on Tauron, right?

Zoe first wakes up in something that looks exactly like a Cylon resurrection tank, but she is still far from the human Cylon models of BSG (basically it’s robot parts covered in skin, or, TERMINATOR).

I love that Lacy’s last line is “Hello Clarice. I really think you should kneel” – she is the new Holy Mother, and I’m guessing their relationship is going to be less of an alliance and more of a submission. Also, I don’t even care that there is about fifteen years between Caprica and Blood and Chrome, I want Magda Apanowicz as Lacy in that show. Maybe being the Blessed Mother keeps you young.

I also love, love, love that they showed Willie Adama not enjoying to build ships in the previous episode before killing him off, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, introduced BILL Adama, named after his brother, and the son of the woman who likes to tell stories about the life on ancient battleships. It also explains why Admiral Adama told everybody that his father was a Civil Right’s lawyer – this is what he became afterwards. The assassination and crowning of a new Guatrau probably brought both Adamas into the position of being able to choose which role they were going to play in the Ha’la’tha.

I was waiting for one scene between Lacy and Zoe – does Lacy even know that Zoe is still alive? She must after she forms an alliance with Clarice, right?

Errr, where did Tamara go?

The one thing that I’ve enjoyed about Caprica is that it’s a secular show – it doesn’t answer the question of whether or not a god exists, which killed the finale of BSG for me – but I guess it still leaves enough potential for BSG’s explanation of things, for example, who whispered the design of the original Cylon to baby Zoe?

Caprica is an incredibly complex and complicated show and it is hard to keep up with all the storylines and how they connect – so what on earth was SyFy thinking when they gave it a six-month-break (from spring to fall)?

I started watching Battlestar Galactica again right after seeing the final episode, which I hadn't returned to after the series finale, and realized that the pilot movie is probably one of the best first episodes in any show ever (And the cast! The characters!). The first words spoken: Six telling a human to prove that he is alive.

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