Archive for the 'Battlestar Galactica Retro-Review' Category

Caprica 1×08 “Ghosts in the Machine”

TWISTING AND TURNING, YOUR FEELINGS ARE BURNING, YOU’RE BREAKING THE GIRL

I don’t know if I was just feeling off when I watched this one, or it’s because there was a six-week gap between me watching this, starting to write about it, then watching it again and actually writing about it, or what, but it didn’t seem nearly as great as the first time I saw it. It might have to do with the fact that so much of it relies on tension and not knowing how Joseph and Daniel are going to react to the continued frustration of their daughters’ refusal to contact them.

Joseph, perhaps unsurprisingly given his history, has the more drastic fall. At first, exploring the V-World version of his apartment (inhabited by a shabby man with a probably-coincidental resemblance to Saul Tigh in that flashback where he was setting fire to his medals with a hooker on his bed in another Room 3), Joe absolutely freaks out when he’s pointing a gun at a thug who’s messing with him because, hey, it’s New Cap. That scene really played differently after seeing “The Dirteaters,” where we saw the last time Joe Adama held a gun, he was about ten years old and shot his own father to end his suffering, right after hearing his mother be tortured to death in the next room. It also make’s Sam’s reaction to Joe asking how to kill someone take on some additional shading (or does it? I don’t remember if little Sam had already escaped by that point. Maybe he doesn’t know exactly what happened in the end). In any event, Joe completely fails to avoid Cerberus, the transvestite MC, on his next trip to New Cap, and shows no interest in trying to answer a riddle, which I will briefly digress upon.

“As the Gods overthrew the Titans, so has Man overthrown the Gods. But when Man visits his sins upon his children, how shall he be repaid?”

This is fairly opaque in the cut, but seeing the deleted scenes and learning more about Cerberus’s patter has given me some clues. Cerberus, like certain other people of our acquaintance, is married to the Cycle of Time, reenacting the fall of the Titans and rise of the Olympians every night, but expressing the hope that one day, someone will crack the riddle, break the cycle, and something different will happen. Sadly, on purely statistical grounds, its unlikely that Cerberus managed to survive the collapse of New Cap, the Cylon Wars, 40 years of aging, the attack and the exodus to actually see his dream come true. We don’t even know if it all worked out yet, anyway. (Also, the “your-anus” pun is apparently older than human civilization)

Back to Joe in the nightclub. After being reduced to a pouting, foot-stamping mockery of himself, he gets ticked off at being called a coward, and decides to do something about it when he sees the flower and realizes Cerberus was bullshitting him about Tamara. He then does the coolest thing an Adama is going to do until Bill goes around Galactica shooting mutineers with a gun in each hand. That whole guns akimbo thing gets to be cool again when it’s done in a show that’s typically more realistic in style.

After they see that Tamara has been tagging all of New Cap with her flower (I noticed in a deleted scene that there was at least one hidden earlier in the episode), Evelyn/Emmanuelle advises Joe to give up. This whole strange relationship they have leads to some interesting questions. Not just how she orchestrated her appearance, or why she was playing New Cap in the first place, but did she ever, you know, tell Joe what she did? And even if she didn’t, did she ever give him back his money?

JUST DON’T ASK ME HOW I AM

Then we have Zoe and Daniel. Daniel doesn’t care to wait her out, or use the carrot (but, then, what can he give her?). Granted, I get irritated when people don’t take my calls, too, but I’ve never had someone I needed as much as a dead daughter. If someone avoids me, I generally take the hint even if I don’t want to. Oddly, Daniel almost seems to be enjoying himself when he’s thinking of new ways to get a rise out of Zoe. I guess, like Sam says, you turn it into a game so you aren’t stopped by the horror of what you’re doing.

Speaking of that line, I wonder if one of the places Caprica was going was dealing with the Cylon-on-Cylon wars. That may have been the ultimate cause for the revolution. Clarice had an army of monotheist “dumb” cylons (or maybe it was another colony with a bunch of sub-sentient Cylons), and to fight them off, Daniel and Zoe had to make sentient versions that could outthink them using the Avatar program, and then the smart ones ended up being convinced by Clarice and left the Colonials worse off than the were before.

Back to the war of the wills, Daniel reveals more of himself than he means just before he sets the robot on fire (it looks like I was wrong when I guessed that it might’ve been tylium when it first aired— the can specifically said “gasoline”), when he talks about Zoe running away. “You have to make decisions like that, and sometimes you make the wrong ones and you have to keep going anyway.” All of this business with Zoe and Vergis and Amanda has Daniel swimming like a shark, afraid to drown on air if he ever slows down.

Just to close with a little more Tauron culture, when Vergis tells Amanda about Daniel having the MCP stolen, he implies that he would’ve respected him more if he’d stolen the chip and killed the scientists personally. I mean, come on, Tommy. You and Daniel are rich men. You have people for that sort of thing.

Caprica: Season 1.0 is available on DVD.

• March 20, 2011 • Comments Off on Caprica 1×08 “Ghosts in the Machine”

Caprica 1×07 “The Imperfections of Memory”

AND WE WERE INTERESTED IN HER AND HER CLIENTELE

So, what’s the giveaway with Clarice? At the beginning of the episode, a construction worker immediately pegs her as a member of the clergy, despite the fact that she’s in plain clothes and hasn’t said anything. My best guess is that giant ring she wears. I don’t think we ever saw any of the priests later on wearing anything like that, though.

Clarice’s attempts to ingratiate herself with Amanda go off swimmingly, aided by Amanda’s nervous breakdown. And, might I say, the fact that the Darius storyline doesn’t go anywhere is a frakking mercy compared to the original concept that Vergis hired an actor to impersonate Amanda’s dead brother in the hopes of provoking a mental breakdown as part of his campaign of vengeance against Daniel. I mean, Jesus. We were really spared some awful, awful things thanks to further consideration, weren’t we? I’m not even going to talk about Saul and Ellen’s marriage almost becoming the lynchpin of the finale. Yet. Anyway, after Amanda and Clarice go out to the Dive, Clarice begins telling her how she needs to trust in God, and Amanda obliviously asks which of the gods she’s talking about. In light of that drunk-dialing deleted scene I talked about before, I think we can conclusively say that Clarice is the worst secret terrorist ever. Amanda isn’t doing much better, since she’ll be utterly shocked once Durham tells her the Willow family is one giant STO cell. In the deleted scenes, Clarice snaps out of it with admirable swiftness and fingers Zeus as the god in question. Yep, just go to Zeus with all your problems. He’s the guy you need.

There’s an interesting moment after Daniel comes home and he’s so distracted that he repeatedly almost notices that Amanda had someone over, and once it finally sinks in, he asks if he should be jealous. Amanda say’s she isn’t sure yet. I don’t recall if there was ever any compelling indications that Clarice and Amanda actually got it on at any point. I suppose if it happened, it was probably while they were in her secret love cabin after the suicide attempt. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that when I get there.

WHO MAKES THE RULES? SOMEONE ELSE

There was also a deleted subplot with the GDD using their new facial recognition software (acquired in an earlier episode’s deleted scene) to mass-screen the spectators of a Pyramid game. There’s some stuff with Durham going after a guy who’s 75% likely to be an old-hand STO bomber who’s served his time and been released, arresting him because he looks like he might be an ex-con at a sporting event. The real meat is another one of Durham’s cracking anti-Monad speeches. I always loved how twisted these were, ever since a quote from his first one in “Pilot” was put into an early review about the dangers of a single God who could, on a whim, decide that murder or theft were morally virtuous. More or less, he says today that “Monotheists are weak people who need God to tell them right and wrong because they have no sense of personal conscience or respect for law.” Can’t say I never met someone religiously or politically doctrinaire enough to have that description apply to them. I may use it sometime myself.

SHE’S GOING TO SMILE TO MAKE YOU FROWN, WHAT A CLOWN

Zoe and Philo go on a date where, in her attempts to sweet-talk him into taking the robot on a field trip to Gemenon, she accidentally explains why her chip is different from all other chips. There’s a bit of eyecandy with proto-Vipers that, interestingly, have Greystone logos painted on them. That’s probably because they’re in a computer game, and not because Greystone actually manufactures Vipers. I’m curious about what all those off-shore platforms were for, though. Do you need to get that much petroleum if you aren’t burning it for fuel? Zoe’s loose lips, along with Vergis taunting him about how the chip he stole was a lemon, finally let Daniel put two and two together and realize Zoe-A faked her death and is still in the U-87. It’s still odd to me that no one ever commented on how the robot’s eye would go crazy whenever someone talked about Zoe, but I guess no one pays attention to the help.

Lacy continues her attempt to get the STO to take the robot to Gemenon through the magic of flirting (it’s a shame she doesn’t know how much they want killer robots. It’d make things so simple to just ship Zoe with a batch of other U-87s. Of course, the others won’t work until she abandons the chip to give them a duplicatable operating system, so it’s a bit of a catch 22, there). Ben’s friend explains the holocafe bombings are being prompted by the fact that V-World allows people to go and sin against God’s will without having to face the consequences of their amoral behavior as they would in the real world. This is actually pretty similar to the reason Zoe-A will condemn V-World heaven in the finale, but it also opens up an interesting philosophical question: are evil acts still evil if they’re divorced from their negative effects? And, if they aren’t, then what’s the intrinsic problem with V-World depravity? I mean, there’s the concern that it can lead to acting out in the real world, the theory Baxter Sarno advanced, but Zoe and Barnabus were offended that people would even contemplate doing the sorts of things seen in V-World, even if the reasons they were wrong didn’t exist there, just leaving the theater and spectacle of it all.

It’s a complex question, and I’m a little surprised they never had anyone challenge Zoe-A to explain why, for instance, a human sacrifice was so bad if no one actually died in it?

SHE WAS A GIRL, SOFT BUT ESTRANGED

Joe begins his wild trip through V-World. When he’s talking to Tad and convincing him to help him look for Tamara, he seems really fuzzy on the relationship between the Avatar and the original. This despite the fact that Tamara-A is so obviously not the same person as Tamara. I’m going to chalk this one up to his mind being clouded by grief, as well as Daniel’s attempt to up-sell the realness and perfectibility of the Avatars. Still, the makes me wonder whether Adama would’ve bought Clarice’s spiel about V-Heaven.

There’s a hilarious deleted scene where he tells Tad/Heracles to stop calling him “Joe,” and when Tad says “Or what?” Joe reaches up and yanks his holoband off, making him scream and cry like a little girl since “That’s connected to my brain! You don’t go ripping things off people’s brains!” Don’t be a baby. Adama didn’t blubber like that when Daniel yanked off his holoband a few weeks ago. The whole bit is something to think about and smile the next time a keyboard warrior starts getting under your skin.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it in these reviews yet, but I’ve always wondered about the blimp in New Cap City. Is it an in-game hazard, or is there some asshole who’s been playing the game for months or years, saved his cubits, and then went and bought a blimp and just uses it to grief the other players? I have to say, I’m personally a fan of the asshole theory. Anyway, Tad gets blasted by the blimp, leaving an opening for Emmanuelle to show up. It’s never really gone into, but we get another look at the kind of person who plays New Cap. Evelyn is a professional adult, but she’s evidently quite experienced with the game, and can play the role of disinterested guide for Adama to the hilt, enough so that it didn’t seem likely to me that she might be someone Adama knows until well into the next episode (also, I’m looking at the DVD, and I’m surprised that this whole arc is only three episodes. The second quarter of the season feels a lot more dense, story-wise, than the first quarter).

Caprica: Season 1.0 is available on DVD.

• February 6, 2011 • Comments Off on Caprica 1×07 “The Imperfections of Memory”

Caprica 1×06 “Know Thy Enemy”

STEP FROM THE ROAD TO THE SEA TO THE SKY

This episode suffered a bit of Caprica-itis. Too many running plotlines, and no real through-line for the episode. The closest thing to a main plot was Tomas Vergis’s introduction, but it didn’t really coalesce into a complete something that you could call an “episode.” The troublesome part is, having everything on DVD means that I could indulge the show in its desperate, desperate desire to be a couple of ten-hour movies. My desire to just smash through the whole thing almost makes me regret starting this project. Of course, that might just be because I delayed writing about the last two episodes, and there isn’t much meaty stuff to sink into in this one.

There’s a small bit of Adama with Joe buying a holoband, Daniel visiting him, paranoid that Joe sold him out, rather than Vergis simply not being an idiot and figuring out that Greystone was responsible when there was a break-in at his lab and the device stolen just happened to start showing up in Greystone products, and Joe and Evelyn finding the kid from the last episode who was hanging around with Tamara. The most interesting part was Daniel mentioning that Ruth let him in. This, despite the fact that she recognized him on-sight a few episodes ago as “that man you don’t like.” Ruth just don’t give a frak. I think I may have laughed out loud at how sanguine Willy was about being woken up in the middle of the night by his father arguing with the richest man in the universe in their living room.

There’s a little bit of Tauron culture when Vergis is having lunch with Daniel. He cuts his food with his fork and knife, but actually eats it with his fingers. I think this is also our first indication that Clarice and Amanda are both immigrants. I don’t remember if we ever found out which planets they were from originally, but they do both seem to have a taste for Scorpian booze. Oddly, Daniel later tells Vergis it might be easier to win over Capricans by marrying a Caprican woman “if you dare.” Well, how in the hell would you know, Daniel?

There’s more of Daniel and Amanda being all married and shit when she picks up on the fact that there’s something wrong with Vegis. And might I add that Vergis is… wow. I give major kudos to the actor, because he really sells that part. With the PR Lady and Tauron mobster, I still see or hear Kat and Duck, but I really have to be reminded that this is the same guy who played Asshole Pegasus CAG on BSG. Of course, Asshole Pegasus CAG was in one episode, but, still. Vergis. Man. That whole closing scene is something else, the way he just straight up declares his intent to Daniel to destroy him piece by piece, but he still seems so genuinely happy for Daniel when talking about his childhood dream of being a sports star.

I’d forgotten that little bit where it’s confirmed that Barnabus was, indeed, responsible for the train bombing. I wonder if we ever would’ve found out how the cells all were before the bombing. My assumption would’ve been that Zoe and Ben just dealt with Clarice, but apparently not, at least in Ben’s case.

SHE’S ONLY EIGHTEEN, DON’T LIKE THE ROLLING STONES

There’s some interesting robo-human relations. Clarice is extremely put-off by Serge, and thinks the U-87 is scary looking (I’ll assume she’s gotten past that once she starts performing sacraments with them). Philomon got caught flirting with the robot by Daniel, who thinks it’s weird (because it is).

(Quick aside: I just remembered that during the whole “You can’t rape a machine” debate during the Resurrection Ship trilogy, a line I used more than once was that I’d buy that theory the day Lt. Thorne or the Sunshine Boys bent over a centurion, dropped trow, and gave it what-for. It’s not even so much the fact that Philo is feminizing and sweet-talking the U-87 as that he does it while it’s standing there, suspended. It’s like macking on someone while they’re asleep. I wonder if there was someone in the Fleet (or one of the Humanoid Models, for that matter) who actually would’ve contemplated a tender moment with a centurion.)

Probably because she can’t see what it looks like to an outside observer, Zoe-A thinks it’s sweet, and concocts a fake on-line profile to flirt with Philo at OkEros.cap. Despite those giant blocky fingers, the U-87 touch-types surprisingly well. I had some freeze-frame fun with that. “Rachel” is a 21 year old Caprican University student who loves playing the cello (quite possibly the most overtly underplayed aspect of her backstory), Sci-Fi novels, Software Beta testing (oh, you so funny), and the Nicky Casino TV show. Normally, lying about your age to get dates with men on the internet is a bit earlier on the path to juvenile delinquency than running away to another planet, but, what the hell. You’re only a horny teenage robot once. On the actual date, she adopts this ridiculous shy geek girl persona, apparently to put Philo at ease, but she might overplay it a little. I think she might’ve actually snorted when she laughed. She also mentions that she was “cash poor” while concocting her cover story about why she looked like Zoe and couldn’t change her avatar again. I wonder if that means avatar changes are a paid service, and V-World is Free-to-Play like Farmville or something, or if there’s some kind of in-game currency or points you can accumulate that allow you to switch faces, like the customizable armor in Halo.

Caprica: Season 1.0 is available on DVD.

• February 4, 2011 • Comments Off on Caprica 1×06 “Know Thy Enemy”

Caprica 1×05 “There is Another Sky”

THE MEAN INDIVIDUAL, HE VANISHED IN THE BLACK OF NIGHT

I didn’t actually take notes on this one at all, so this review’s really gonna suck. The V-World bits were interesting. It prompts the question of exactly who these people are on the outside, sometimes. The older woman who hired Tamara and the New Cap mob boss she was sent to knock over both prompt the obvious questions of why, in a world where you could look like anything, they would choose to be so tired and fat, respectively. On the other hand, we didn’t see many examples of people with done-up avatars (as far as we know). In fact, it was just Evelyn. Zoe claimed to have done it (but she couldn’t in actuality, but that’s another episode), but that’s it. I realize a lot of that was probably to limit confusion; if there wasn’t an explicit story need for it, like in Evelyn’s case, it’d just be irritating to have the V-World person and their real-world body played by different people.

There’s also a question that I wondered about in the pilot. My guess is that all the V-World environments are populated with a mix of real people and NPCs. I figure there’s some way to tell the difference (possibly the ancestor to the Humanoid Cylons’ sixth sense for telling identical copies of the same model apart), but we as the audience don’t know. The reason I bring it up is the fat guy (I’d look up the names, but, honestly, they’re one-shots and you probably wouldn’t remember their names any better than I do) had a boy and a girl hanging off of him. So were these Avatar tramps, or does someone actually get off work, flop on the couch in their jammies with a cup of hot chocolate, and put on their holoband so they can play a game that consists of being stroked by an obese mobster in an ivory suit? I’m not an MMORPG player, so maybe I just don’t get the mentality. Maybe it’s just another form of grinding. Maybe its an S&M thing, and the players for those two have some high-stakes, high-responsibility jobs and they unwind by getting to be some fat bastard’s pet for a few hours.

Tamara picks up on the fact that she owns the game pretty quickly, all told, and her head start in messing with V-World will serve her well in several episodes when she decides to make Zoe pay for her progenitor’s crimes.

I WAS UNDERAGE IN THIS FUNKY BAR, AND I STEPPED OUTSIDE TO SMOKE MYSELF A J

There’s an interesting deleted scene where Clarice is high as a kite in the Dive (love that name) and leaves a detailed, if rambling, voicemail for Amanda explaining the specialness of Zoe-A, her importance in the Apotheosis project, and asking Amanda out on a coffee date so she could become part of the One True God. She later wakes up from a sound sleep and remembers what she did and panics. Nestor panics, too, and he’s a bit of a prick about. Granted, Clarice just recorded a full confession, but, still. It’d be more helpful to just concentrate on how to fix it which, I presume, happens in a deleted scene in the next episode. (Edited to add; it isn’t on the DVD, but I think it was in the script. There are some harsh edits in a phone call between Amanda and Clarice suggesting something was moved around.)

TAKE THE NOOSE OFF YOUR AMBITION

Zoe just has one scene in the episode. It is a doozy, though, when Daniel gives his “Let’s see how much hubris we can get away with before it finally bites us in the ass” speech, where he actually explicitly says that the beauty of the Cylon is that it’s a thinking being with no rights. The best part is that she’s really enjoying the show and tell, eyeballing all the fine folks on the board, beaming as Daniel brags about how intelligent “it” is. Daniel probably wouldn’t have had nearly as much trouble getting her to talk in a few weeks if he hadn’t gone and made her mutilate herself. And then he had to go and cross every line he could find trying to get Zoe back.

THE MORE I SEE, THE LESS I KNOW, THE MORE I’D LIKE TO LET IT GO

While Daniel’s trip down that character arc is still in the future, Joe’s version of it is a bit more compressed. Having found last week that just offing people for the hell of it doesn’t make him feel good, he’s just kind of listless. His son’s a little punk, his brother has long since gotten tired of being helpful, and his mother in law just sits there chopping raw rabbits with that damn cleaver and telling him that all his problems would go away if he’d just man up and kill someone. Anyone! Joe tries to win back Willie by reliving a family fishing trip, but Willie is a terrible human being and just bitches and whines the whole time, before he ends up rising to the bait of a bunch of other kids who, by methods I don’t fully understand, can tell that he and Joe are Taurons. God only knows how, since accents and ethnicities are spread throughout the Colonies, and they aren’t visibly tattooed. Finally, Sam convinces Joe that he needs to move on, so they have a proper Tauron funeral/wake/shiva-sitting, where Joseph and Willie both get mourning tattoos (clue #23 that he’s not Bill Adama, though he can borrow his family theme music). Joe has finally accepted that his wife and daughter are gone, and is ready to move on with his life… and at that exact moment, some punk kid comes up and tells him that Tamara-A is still around.

Isn’t that how it always is? Now, I’ve never suffered a loss anywhere near on the scale of losing a spouse or child, but we’ve all had something upsetting happen to us. A disaster, a firing, a break-up, whatever. And you’re going around, finally getting over it, having a really good day, and then something happens to remind you of how you got hurt, and it all comes crashing back down again. It’s worse for Joe and Daniel in their cases, though, because Zoe-A and Tamara-A give them the illusion that they can do something about it, even though they really can’t (the final scene of Caprica notwithstanding). In that respect, it’s almost less like a death and more like a dumping, in that neither of them can move on until they manage to obliterate the irrational belief that everything is going to go back to the way it was. Joe’s just going to have to learn that Tamara isn’t going to get back together with him, and there’s nothing he can do to change that. Well, he’ll certainly get the message in the end.

Caprica: Season 1.0 is available on DVD.

• February 3, 2011 • Comments Off on Caprica 1×05 “There is Another Sky”

Caprica 1×04 “Gravedancing”

THROW AWAY YOUR TELEVISION

I took sparse notes on this episode, and then waited two days to actually do the writeup, which has taught me an important lesson about how much easier this is when the show is fresh in my mind. You know, I realized watching this one that Joe never actually met Amanda. In fact, it’s kind of surprising in shows like this when you remember that some pair of main characters never actually ever saw each other. Most of the time, your main cast in a show tends to live or work together so everybody can be expected to know everybody else to some degree. In other random thoughts, Zoe’s holoband was making modem noises which could possibly make sense on some level. Sam has a little bull statue on the dash of his car, because he’s from Tauron. There’s a quick line in the Baxter Sarno interview about New Cap City, so it doesn’t come totally out of nowhere in the next episode.

Daniel and Amanda start to move on in the grieving process, on live TV as it turns out. Daniel makes the fateful decision to stop making money off holobands, hitching his company’s wagon completely to the incipient Cylon product line (which, let’s recall, has exactly one working robot. I don’t know much about manufacturing, but I don’t think you can really absorb the cost of a 99.9999% defective rate). Daniel caves in on calling Zoe “troubled,” which probably didn’t help his massive guilt complex but, hey, she and her ghost are gone, so nothing for it.

I appreciated that the show was willing not to stop and spell everything out when Amanda makes it clear to Daniel that she knows he’s bullshitting something when he said he was able to make a VR Avatar of Zoe that magically knew her secret opinions about the state of the world. Especially in a show like this, that deals with a lot of concepts and a lot of made-up rules, it’d be very tempting to hold the audience’s hand about things like the difference between Zoe-A, Tamara-A, and general dumb avatars. Actually, as long as the drama works, it doesn’t seem to matter how much you explain of the world. The people who care will figure it out, and the people who don’t will let it wash over them.

By the way, Alessandra Torresani dances really hypnotically.

Caprica: Season 1.0 is available on DVD.

• February 2, 2011 • Comments Off on Caprica 1×04 “Gravedancing”

Caprica 1×03 “Reins of a Waterfall”

Now, that’s a title! I wonder if that comes from something. Not too much to say about tonight’s I don’t think, which is good, because I can’t keep up this pace for a hundred hours. Also, I’ll run out of amusing quotes and song lyrics to use as section breaks.

“GET UP, CHIEF. WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED.”

Early in the episode, Sam and Joe ambush Daniel to beat the crap out of him. To be fair, Daniel said Joe was more than welcome to beat the crap out of him if he didn’t deliver on his promise to bring back Tammy, so everything’s still square. And Joe’s started wearing a nice big double-breasted gangster suit. This helps foreshadow the fact that he’s flipping the fuck out, culminating in ordering his first hit just for the hell of it at the end of the episode. Yay, stress.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Amanda are being only slightly more healthy, what with her quitting her job, and the both of them arguing and later nailing in front of the robot, which starts freaking out when they’re screaming about Zoe, and studiously avoids looking once they begin getting it on. Like I said, a weird situation.

There’s a funny deleted scene with Serge and Zoe working on getting the Holoband to work with the u-87, beginning with her trying to just put it on, and it not fitting over the cylon’s head. I wonder how far this subplot went before they realized it wasn’t ending up in the final cuts. Maybe it’ll go all the way to midseason, like Boxey did. Will. Whatever.

I remember a lot of grief on-line about how the police station was using video cassettes with magnetic tape to store interrogation recordings, but I don’t recall anything about the far more blatantly illogical touch of the GDD office having a black and white TV. A black and white, flatscreen, high-definition TV. Did color come to the Colonies after digital?

By and large, the most interesting things in this episode were the sheer number of things that were introduced that come back later. Zoe’s return to V-World, the secret STO director of GDD, Clarice’s STO handler and secret GDD mole (in retrospect, that should’ve been a bit of a giveaway), Baxtar Sarno (the man who acts like Jay Leno and is described as Jon Stewart), the future Mrs. Evelyn Adama (I wonder if this was all just because they realized it was easier, long run, to fix the continuity problems this way rather than rewrite “Pilot”’s script to fix all the dating mismatches), Duck the Tauron gangster and Kat the PR rep.

There are also a couple of plot things set up. Daniel takes a hard line on hanging Zoe’s legacy out to dry on interplanetary TV, but that’s not going to last. I’ll probably talk more about the effect caving had on him in the next episode, once he actually does it. He also  exhibits what I hadn’t realized was a catchphrase, referring to folks who piss him off as “these lovely people.”

Caprica: Season 1.0 is available on DVD.

• January 30, 2011 • Comments Off on Caprica 1×03 “Reins of a Waterfall”

Caprica 1×02 “Rebirth”

I was putting together something to eat before I started the episode and let the menu play through. I am not impressed by the production values of this DVD. Okay, the menus are just a little extra flair, and so long as they get me to the episodes, commentaries, and deleted scenes, and those are all high quality, great. I get that. But the top menu has the opening credits theme to the show playing. Trouble is, it’s ripped from one of the episodes. You can hear the cylon eye at the end from the zoom-in to Zoe-A. I mean, come on. I have a clean copy of the theme, and I didn’t even work on the show.

WHAT THE MAMA SAW, IT WAS AGAINST THE LAW

One of the big things in this episode is Amanda discovering more of Zoe’s double-life, culminating in the big Terror-Mom scene. I’d kind of forgotten that that happened this early in the show, so when I saw the very first shot of the episode was Zoe-A’s memory of the infinity brooch, I assumed it was a case of planning ahead, foreshadowing its importance in the second half of the season as the backup copy of the avatar program. Alas, it was not to be the case, and it proved to merely be foreshadowing the end of this episode. Well, you know, whatever. I’m already way more invested in these people thanks to the later episodes, so the show’s already retroactively become better.

I was curious last week, and more so now, as to exactly what Durham found to link Ben and Zoe to the bombing, and each other. I suppose Ben isn’t too hard- he’d be the only victim with remains on every part of the train, but there’s no indication of exactly what evidence he had to join him to Zoe and Zoe to the STO. If it was just circumstantial, since Ben was the bomber and Zoe was a classmate on the same train, then you’d expect him to have come down a lot harder on Lacy, since it seems to be a matter of fact that she played hooky on the same day and almost went on the train with them, since Amanda knew about it. Apparently, there was something deeper in the investigation that joined Ben and Zoe to STO. It wasn’t Ben’s previous pickup with bomb materials, since they won’t find the record of that for another couple episodes.

Anyway, I’m getting away from what prompted this, which is the fact that Zoe never brought Ben home to meet mom and dad. I can totally understand this. Not only was original Zoe an evil, conceited bitch who hated her parents, Ben is incredibly creepy and not the kind of guy you want to have to introduce to anyone in the age of majority. That didn’t go both ways, though, as we found with Mama Stark at the memorial. It does prompt the question of whether Druham gave her the same “Sorry, lady, you birthed a mass-murderer” talk he gave to Amanda. She seemed awfully composed, so I’m guessing not. On the other hand, she can’t have avoided the news, even if she didn’t go to the briefing for the victims’ families that Joe and Daniel met at, so she probably would’ve recognized the Monad paraphernalia for what it was. Maybe she was STO, too. Though, again, why wasn’t Durham riding her ass the way he was going after Amanda?

Speaking of the STO swag, I admire the restraint in the final edit. In the deleted scenes, we see the video Amanda was watching of Lacy recording Zoe wearing the infinity brooch in its unedited form, where Amanda would’ve seen Zoe bragging about Lacy being her first convert to the STO, talking about how God made everyone in His image, and screaming out “Look at my giant fucking Monad brooch!” Without that, it’s much more plausible that Amanda would only recall Zoe wearing it once she got the real thing from Mrs. Stark, and then flip out. Trust me, I know from denial, and you can willfully ignore all sorts of unsettling little details like wearing cult symbols, but only so long as the subject of your denial doesn’t go out and draw attention to it. That just ruins the whole “You pretend you’re not doing anything upsetting, and I’ll pretend you’re not terrible at hiding it, and we’ll both be happy” dynamic.

HE WAS A MEAN INDIVIDUAL, HE HAD A HEART LIKE A BONE, HE WAS A NATURALLY CRAZY MAN AND BETTER OFF LEFT ALONE

Back in the Adama household, Joe is having trouble adjusting, trying to pick up Willie from Tamara’s school. Apparently, more than once. Luckily, that just gives Sam more time to corrupt the little bastard, with helpful advice like “If you run, you’re guilty of two things, the thing and the running away from the thing,” “Give in on the little things, and they’ll miss the big things,” and, my personal favorite, “If someone tries to make you feel guilty, you just start talking about whatever makes them feel guilty,” which Willie used to great effect on his own father, complete with a little shit-eating grin during a heartfelt father-son hug.

It’s much easier to be down on Willie now that I know he won’t become Bill Adama. I don’t think Bill would resort to that kind of sneaky psychological manipulation. Bill was far more direct with his psychological manipulation (“I could smell her, like a dog in heat. Smelled so good”). Though I am probably going to remember that bit about asking to pay the fine. That’s the sort of thing you just don’t learn leading the exemplary (read: boring) life I have. Now I know what to do if I ever run into that son of a bitch again and can’t keep myself from beating the pretty off his face with my bare goddamn hands. Don’t run away, ask about the fine. Easy.

There’s also some good Adama in the deleted scenes, including a bit where Joe throws away Willie’s Graystone PSP and tells him to read a book, saying “He’ll thank me when he’s older.” And Bill Adama did love his books, having so many that they wouldn’t even stay on the shelves, and his quarters were filled with loose stacks of novels. A man after my own heart, who apparently benefited from his parents explicitly preventing every personality flaw possessed by his namesake. In the same scene, Ruth advises Joe to beat the crap out of Graystone, despite not knowing who Joe is upset with or why. I’m wondering if Grandma didn’t get that name because she is, in fact, ruthless.

“GOD DIDN’T CREATE THE CYLONS, MAN DID. AND I’M PRETTY SURE WE DIDN’T INCLUDE A SOUL IN THE PROGRAMMING.”

There’s some clumsy dramatic irony in Zoe-A’s flashback to first being introduced to Ben (in a V-World temple to God which… well, let’s call it a fixer-upper) being told by original Zoe that, “You’re a gift, and everyone will know it soon.” Given the schizophrenic way this show developed, I honestly can’t tell if that was intended to be an ironic comment on her being the first of the race that would bring about the end of humanity, or a double-ironic reverse because she was going to try to stop the STO later on. At least with the sly reference to Amanda’s previous institutionalization, I know that that was intentional. Also on the foreshadowing front, Philomon could’ve very easily been killed when Zoe was freaking out in the truck and he tried to talk her down, which is pretty much exactly what happened to him in the end. Odd that he was much more sympathetic to the robot when it was just a really smart robot, and couldn’t get away from it fast enough once he found out it was also his girlfriend. I mean, he didn’t even stop fetishizing the U-87 when it bit off his buddy’s finger. His buddy was an asshole, though. “It’s not a person, it’s a tool.” “She likes it rough, she told me.” Jackass, even if you are “only” risking the bosses favorite robot.

Caprica killed or wounded a lot of kids, didn’t it? Maybe it got away with it because so many of them were jerks.

There’s a deleted scene where Zoe-A talks to Serge. I actually thought that was just a little logic patch that they inserted into Serge’s twitter to explain how Lacy kept sneaking into the house, but, nope, they actually filmed him finding out that Zoe was in the robot. I’m not sure if that scene was before or after the one where Daniel tells Amanda that Serge has a crush on the U-87… could this be our first robo-mance? Are these star-crossed lovers going to foreshadow the profound weirdness that is Tigh and Caprica Six? Or the just plain horridness of Cavil and Tough Six? Oh, God, I just thought about that scene three seasons before I actually need to deal with it.

There’s fun bit of business where Zoe-A picks up a miniature giraffe extremely gently, sits on the bed, breaks it, and then puts down the giraffe, still gently. And then she sits on the bed again, not having learned her lesson, though we only see that in Zoe-vision, so it’s hard to tell if she broke it more. I’m not sure if it means anything, but there was something familiar when Zoe-A told Lacy to “Take a good look” at her robot body. I feel like that line’s used elsewhere, like a “Would you kindly” sort of thing. Zoe worrying if the robot looks like a boy is also a good beat, especially on the rewatch. By the time “Here Be Dragons” comes around, we will find nothing at all unusual in a computer duplicate of a dead teenager’s mind taking over a combat robot which proceeds to beat her principle’s college-aged co-husband to death with its own arm, so it’s nice to have the reminder that all of this is extremely weird.

“HELP ME LISA! I HAVE SERIOUS MENTAL PROBLEMS!”

Oh, speaking of Nestor, the deleted scenes confirm he was, in fact, deliberately trying to seduce Lacy on orders from Clarice, who we now know for certain was using Homer Simpson’s winning strategy of telling the truth in a sarcastic tone of voice so you aren’t technically lying when her spouses gave her grief about it. I wonder what her “track record” was, anyway.

Which brings us to the list of miscellanea, mostly related to production design and world-building. Don’t complain, I actually made an effort to be organized this time instead of just throwing up everything more-or-less as it came up in the show. If you want more editing, start paying me.

The crate the U-87 was shipped in had the same vertical-and-diagonal paneling that was frequently seen in the interior walls of Battlestars. Maybe it’s a decorative thing related to the eight-sided paper.

I understand it would’ve been a pain to shoot and keep clean, but I wish they’d been able to chrome the metal bits on the real-world U-87 when the prop shows up in a few weeks. I just kept noticing this episode how shiny and metallic the CGI one was in shots where it would’ve been played by its physical counterpart.

I caught that the Willow kids were watching the nuclear power cartoon from “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” when Lacy came over for lunch, or, at least, a cartoon with the same music. I’ll have another Bear-related musing in a few episodes, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

They mention that it’s been two days since the end of (ugh) “Pilot,” yet Joe’s successfully put through the paperwork to change his and Willie’s names to “Adama” from “Adams.” He uses both names when he calls Willie’s school, and Serge refers to him as “Adama” when he tries to visit Daniel at the house (there’s a deleted scene where Daniel doesn’t recognize the name and then calls him Joe Adams once he sees him on the CCTV), so it must’ve gone through officially by now. I gotta say, Caprica must have one hell of a streamlined bureaucracy. I know someone who’s trying to change her name, and thinking you can go from deciding to do it to having everyone down to the butler-robots know about it is insane. I’m guessing there’s a lot of computerization involved in the record-keeping. That would also be something that, and I’m just throwing this out there, would make it fairly easily to plant a false war-record for a certain drunken freighter-monkey after a devastating twelve-year-long interplanetary conflict and have it percolate to everywhere it would need to be to seem real.

Just saying.

Clarice likes the hookah. Sadly, I did not spot any kids with guitars in the delightfully-named “Dive,” but we’re getting closer. Try the purple, it’s good shit.

Amanda has a “Look! We remember the themes of the parent show!” moment when, during the Terror Mom speech, she mentions that, as a parent, she created life, but then had to face what it ended up growing into. Indeed, don’t the Cylons make them all Terror Mom, in a way?

There was another deleted scene featuring home video of toddler Zoe on an “Apple Hunt,” which looked like the Caprican version of an Easter Egg hunt. I would love to know the cultural basis for this one. All I can think of is Paris and the Golden Apple. Honestly, the egg and rabbit symbolism would make far more sense on the face of it in a pagan society like the Colonies of Kobol than they do as reappropriated Christian imagery. I mean, they celebrate Solstice, for God’s sake. Let ‘em have their naughty nature-sex traditions with fertile eggs and shagging bunnies.

There’s a mention in another deleted scene of an actor coming out of the closet as a monotheist (complete with catty announcer quipping, “That’s right, he believes there’s only one god, and that it’s him!”). We see in another cut scene that the Adamas own a Graystone laptop (which wasn’t a MacBook, at least. It might’ve been an unmodified real-world PC but, frankly, there are so many gunmetal grey boxes with blue lights out there, I’d never be able to pick it out specifically).

We don’t see too much of it, but Lacy’s house… well, “modest” is probably the nicest way to put it. I wonder how her family manages to send her to what’s apparently one of the best (and, likely, most expensive) private schools in the Twelve Worlds. Or, at the very least, in the greater Caprica City metropolitan area.

Finally, just to rob some of the magic, the deleted scenes revealed that Serge is played in real life by an RC car with a three-foot-tall stick with a blue light on the end attached to the roof. I’m ruining all your illusions, I know. I’ll stop.

Caprica: Season 1.0 is available on DVD.

• January 29, 2011 • Comments Off on Caprica 1×02 “Rebirth”

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.

• January 27, 2011 • Comments Off on Caprica 1×01 “Pilot”