Caprica 1×01 “Pilot”

AND THEY HAVE A PLAN

Here we are. After a succession of attempts fell through, I’m taking the opportunity provided by the end of Caprica and the many months left before Blood & Chrome to do a complete rewatch of Battlestar Galactica. Including Caprica, webisodes, telemovies, and deleted scenes. And, to top it all off, in chronological order. And since it would be dull to just watch old TV on my own, I’m going to put into practice my own example of technology running amok and use the internet to inflict my thoughts on all of you, episode by episode.

Now, be warned, this project is a synthesis of the entire show, meaning that every entry is going to have spoilers as I tie things into other episodes, behind the scenes info, and suchlike. I’m going to spoil everything in Caprica. I’ll spoil everything in Battlestar Galactica. I’ll spoil novels and comics. I’ll spoil the original series. I am going to spoil things you didn’t even know existed. I might not even be making a point by doing it, and just I’m just mentioning things for the hell of it.

In short, if the words “apotheosis,” “hybrid,” “Pythia,” “Final Five,” and “Philip Glass” all seem unrelated, this probably isn’t something you should be reading. Go, watch Battlestar Galactica instead. You’ll probably enjoy it a lot more.

There’s going to be some new stuff in here for me, though. I haven’t seen Caprica on DVD yet, so all the deleted scenes will be new to me. Also, I’d been saving the extended episodes in season 4.5 for inevitable (though much delayed) rewatch, so those’ll be exciting to see, eventually.

Actually, come to think of it, I only watched the Caprica pilot in the advance-release DVD (thanks, Netflix!), and only skimmed a few scenes on Hulu of the TV cut. So this’ll be new to me, too.

ALL OF THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE

I really hate it when they don’t name episodes. It’ll bother me with the miniseries, too. I mean, “The Miniseries.” What kind of title is that? It’s like they’re trying to force us into the nerd stereotype of referring to the episodes by number. Fifty quatloos to anyone who can think of the best title for (ugh) “Pilot.”

Anyway, wow, I took a lot more notes than I expected.

So, here we are, 58 years before the Fall, as the title card helpfully informs us. Well, give or take. Probably closer to 59 or 60. And look, there’s Gemenon, up in the sky. And we begin in the V-Club which, come to think of it, I don’t think we’ll ever visit again. By some twist of collective memory, or possibly because there are only so many places to film in Vancouver, it’s curiously similar to the Opera House in the City of the Gods on Kobol. I’m going to say that was intentional, given that the Opera House ended up being the symbolic representation of the crucible of human destiny. That makes it seem like the kind of imagery that would tend to pop up, even if it isn’t necessarily appropriate.

I realize it was intentional, to hit you over the head with the depravity (hence the BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS in the unrated cut) but the V-Club is really a pain in the ass, design-wise. You’ve got all these people humping on the dance floor, crowded in with no space between them. Meanwhile, the kids with the guns are just running around shooting everyone, and there’s a human sacrifice going on up the stage. In deference to television decency and the horror of the unseen, the orgies and the “really weird stuff” are in separate rooms, but, still. Must be annoying. And there was that stoned girl who came on to Daniel when he dropped into the V-Club. You’re just there to dance, and you’ve got someone’s foot up in your face, and a guy coming up out of nowhere to bust a cap in your ass, and this woman’s on stage and keeps turning into a wolf or a goblin or whatever the hell was up with that…

Anyway, that’s why I don’t go in for the club scene. Maybe there’s a V-Coffee House, where the kids go and read Kataris and play Dreilide Thrace covers on acoustic guitar. That’s more my thing.

“PASSCODE, TWO WORDS; ‘ZOE’S DEAD’”

So, among other things, the Pilot is notable for being the majority of our exposure to Zoe, Ben Stark, and the only thing we ever see of Tamara or Shannon Adams. I noticed that Zoe was very quick to question Ben’s commitment when he got nervous over her going home and risking the trip to Gemenon. Also, Ben was incredibly creepy. I mean, yeah, mass-murdering child-terrorist true believer but, still. He managed to rope in Zoe, both romantically and theologically. Maybe it’s that serial-killer panache.

Zoe also manages to make, possibly, the worst impression ever. Aside from sending her apology to her mom, she doesn’t do anything remotely sympathetic. During her argument with her parents, she slips in a reference to her father making his money from “dirty science,” which is ironic on so many levels. Of course, no one covers themselves with glory in this scene. Of particular note is the fact that Amanda immediately regrets striking Zoe for implying she married Daniel for the money, but she doesn’t apologize, even though she’s the one who takes Zoe to school the next day.

See, that’s one of my rules. You do something big like that, you make up promptly, because you never know when the person you wronged is going to be blown up by her boyfriend in a monotheistic terror strike. It happens more often than you’d think.

Now, Tamara, she is something else. Especially since I’m used to Tamara-A. We only see her for a few minutes, but she’s got a viciously sly sense of humor and is clearly a very bright girl. She quickly traps her dad into making an extra effort to be home on time (incidentally revealing that the bombing was on Willie’s birthday, and joking that if Joe screwed this up, Willie would need therapy for the rest of his life, which he did, though not for that reason, and not for as long as that phrase might imply), and after they get on the train, she brags to her mom about kicking a kid at school in the nads after he called her a Dirteater. Compare that to Tamara-A, who starts life raving, simpering, and with essentially no personality outside of the broadest strokes (I am a girl. I love my family). Even when she becomes queen of New Cap City, she’s still a cypher, and doesn’t have any of the personality she demonstrates in this one scene. Daniel’s later going to run into this same problem when he tries to perfect Grace™ by Graystone, except he apparently has a lot more to go on when he makes Stepford-Amanda. Tamara is just the most basic default, without even the unconvincing diary quotes (which is kind of amazing, since Daniel implies that she’d be easier to recreate as an AI than Shannon. Maybe he assumed that since she was younger, she’d have more stuff on the web to build of of). Clarice’s Apotheosis program probably made much better copies, since she had the original living brains to work with.

Lacy ended up being double-smart for skipping out on the train. Not only did she avoid being killed, when she did end up going to Gemenon, it kind of sucked. And this time, she wouldn’t have had any robot buddies to help her out.

Zoe-A must’ve had a rough two weeks just sitting in that room covered in blood. I wonder if she got bored. Its interesting that she was supposed to have a live connection from Zoe’s mind. Despite her apparent sapience, even her own creator intended her as a glorified PDA, an appendage to herself. Oddly, when she talks to Lacy, Zoe-A appears to have internalized all the bigotry she and her inheritors are going to face, saying “I’m not a person, but I feel like one.” That’s not going to keep her from getting pissed when she meets Daniel and he keeps ignoring her and calling her a thing.

An interesting tidbit on Tauron culture; when Sam tells Joe to find the terrorists and take revenge on them, Joe responds that he’ll grieve in his own way. I don’t tend to think of grief and vengeance being part of the same process, but there you go. Also, it’s much easier to deal with Willie being a little prick to his father when we know that he, in fact, isn’t the same Bill Adama that worshipped the ground his father walked on. Also, Joe refers to the attack as “the accident,” which is just another bit of his Capricanization. It’s okay. It’s nobodies fault. Sam later accuses him of crossing a line when he asks his mob contacts to steal the MCP chip from Vergis, which, in light of what’s going to happen over the next year, he certainly did.

Speaking of lines, Sam kills the racist defense minister with mob ties and Blade Runner glasses. There are a couple things to say about this scene. One; Is there ever a Battlestar Galactica sex scene that doesn’t end up being profoundly disturbing? Here’s Daniel and Amanda getting it on while Joe thinks very hard about crying and Sam slices and dices the old bastard. And on that note, Sam is stripped to the waist. Is that, like, a thing? Was it so the defense minister could see all his tats? Did he not want to get blood on his shirt? Was it warm that night? Maybe some kind of weird sex thing they didn’t go anywhere with?

In the flashback to Ben and Zoe trying to convert Lacy, Ben uses a similar line of argument to Baltar’s (“It’s not that the gods aren’t listening. It’s that they don’t exist.”) Of course, Ben goes on to condemn virtual promiscuity, something Baltar practically considered a sacrament. On the other-other hand, as far as we know, Ben was Zoe’s only IRL boyfriend, and she had that prescription for the Pill, so he definitely wasn’t opposed to knocking boots in general. I’m not sure if it was a Larry Craig hypocrisy thing, or if it’s not fornication if you believe in God, or what, and I don’t really care. As I said, Ben is creepy, and I’m glad he’s dead.

I’m running out of steam, so let’s wrap this one up with a brief mention of two other things I’m glad about not having to deal with down the line in Caprica: Amanda and Tomas Vergis having an affair,and there being a secret Avatar of Ben to go around V-World and be creepy. The idea that Clarice and Daniel used to date was also kind of stupid. The series improved as they realized that they didn’t have to actually embrace the worst excesses of the soap opera. But we can discuss that more when we get to the dead brother.

On a VFX note, in that close-up at the end, it looks like the U-87 has a 50-pin serial port in its nose, just under the eye-slit. That amused me. I wonder if that’s actually what it is. It seems like a sensible place for a connector, right next to the robot brain. I’ll have to keep an eye on it, especially once they transition to the physical prop.

Next up, the first regular episode of the show, “Rebirth,” where can all try desperately to pretend we can’t tell the differences caused by the months-long gap in filming. Spot the camera setups they could only use in the pilot because the Greystones lived in a real house and not a studio set duplicate!

Caprica: Season 1.0 is available on DVD.

~ by David Gian-Cursio on January 27, 2011.