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End of Line, or End of Caprica’s Road?

March 28, 2010

by spacepug

Honestly, it doesn't matter what you look like.

A lot of things actually happened in the mid-season finale of Caprica.  Some plot lines appear to have wrapped up, and some new ones appeared.  It was an exciting cliffhanger, designed to hook the fans firmly enough that they will tune in whenever the show returns in several months.  Did they succeed? Well, they certainly gave themselves options.

What follows is a recap and review of End of Line and as such, contains spoilers.

The episode began by showing us how it would end…with an exciting car chase as the U-87 races a Graystone Industries van down a lonely highway, pursued by Serenity-like flying vehicles, complete with primitive DRADIS consoles and a voice saying the Cylon prototype is not to be engaged.

Twenty hours earlier, the pace is back to slow burn as we see what led up to that moment. Daniel is increasingly agitated.  Under pressure from all sides, he finds the courage to make the one choice he didn’t want to make, sell the C-Bucks to rival Tomas Vergis.  It just might buy him enough time to save his company.

STO-ers Barnabus and Keon wait in an industrial zone, suddenly and unexpectedly visited by Sister Clarice and a few gun-toting guards.  The confrontation between these two is one we’ve been waiting for since we heard Marsters joined the cast.  The scene is nicely done by both, and clearly sets up an exciting tension for the second half of the season, particularly in light of how the episode ends.

Amanda is at home, researching news articles about the theft of the MCP, while a TV in the background shows us one of Caprica City’s oldest and grandest bridges (Vancouver’s Burrard Street bridge) and the announcer declares the structure has attracted its share of jumpers who have relied on its 100m height and turbulent waters below to end their lives.  It’s one of those blatant foreshadowing moments that everyone I was watching with took notice of.  The rest of Amanda’s storyline for the episode was clearly headed in that direction, and we didn’t need the flashbacks to a bloody razor blade to tell us that.

Then we get another glimpse into the STO as Barnabus leads his little group of terrorists in a prayer.  “In the name of the one, we cast out the many.  So say we all.”  And then they all touch the centre of their foreheads, in a gesture now eerily reminiscent of the U-87’s one red eye.  He kicks the followers out, but asks Lacy to stay.  They flirt with creepiness, but it turns out what he really wants is to show her he’s done what she asked, got her a packing crate ready to go, but he wants a favour.  Replace the keyfob on Clarice Willow’s keychain with a duplicate he has created.  Smart Lacy figures out she shouldn’t ask why.  She does what is asked of her.

Philomon was front and centre this week.  We get another scene where Philo and Zoe!Rachel snuggle on a four-poster bed in the middle of a lake and he tells her he really doesn’t care about what she looks like in the real world.  And he means it.  Rare find that one. Hold on to him, just not too tight.

Colonel Sasha Patel of Military Procurement comes to see Daniel.  He proudly shows off his prototype results, but she isn’t impressed.  She knows exactly where he got the MCP.  She moves up his deadline to a week away.  Selling the C-Bucks may not have been enough, after all.

In New Cap City in V-World, Emmanuelle, Joseph’s guide, has found his daughter, and has a request to make of Tamara.  The search is ruining Joseph, and she wants Tamara to help her father let go.  “Billy’s real, I’m a ghost.”

Daniel barges in on Philo working with Zoe!Cylon and announces they are to irradiate the chip to remove its flaws.  That would mean the end of the Zoe avatar, so naturally, Zoe demands Lacy move up the transport schedule.  She doesn’t give Lacy even a chance to complain.

Daniel takes his frustrations out on some yellow peppers while Amanda wallows in self-pity, and a strangely prominent operatic score begins.  Please, we don’t need to be hammered over the head with what’s going to happen.  Amanda asks Daniel outright if he stole the chip, he deflects and she walks.  He does not follow.  Can’t he hear the opera music?

I think Bear McCreary is a brilliant composer, and I love the fact that he brought in Alessandro Juliani (Gaeta on BSG) to sign on this operatic track, but here the music felt heavy-handed, and so unlike his usual touch.  Here’s a link to his blog entry about the episode, in which he explains his process.

In New Cap City, Joseph goes to the last place we saw Tamara.  He amps up, and finally, father and daughter reunite.  It doesn’t go as well as planned.  She kills herself (only for his benefit, we know) and then she boots him out of the game.  She rises, and we learn the true identity of Emmanuelle.  We should have known all along, it’s Evelyn, Joseph’s assistant.  It’s her task to help him move on now, and she seems to be eager to do just that.  Let’s hope the second half of the season finds Joseph Adama with more purpose.  Will we see Tamara again?  Hard to figure out how, with Joseph now permanently kicked out of the game.   She’s an interesting character even if she’s stuck in a clichéd environment.

Philo is with the U-87, and Zoe reveals herself as both Rachel and Zoe the avatar.  She orders him around just as she has been doing to Lacy, but this time with disastrous results, as the robot’s strength smashes the life out of Philomon.  End of the line for him.  Kudos to Alex Arsenault for giving the character such intelligence and sincerity.

Zoe!Cylon  escapes, stealing the van.  The robot must be driving, since inside Zoe is reminiscing and the memories are all about conflict and yelling.

The Colonel meets with Vergis, and promises “You get the company, you get the contract, guaranteed.”  That sounds an awful lot like Daniel’s company is what Vergis is really after and the military are happy to have this happen.

Yep, Amanda is at the bridge, contemplating her wedding ring and so much more.

Lacy bursts in on the plot to murder Sister Clarice.  And there she learns how dangerous Barnabus truly is.  The keyfob is the key to a bomb.  Her boyfriend Keon built it, but of course, Lacy still kinda likes him, so when she is forced to choose between killing Clarice or Keon, she chooses Clarice and pushes the button.

Amanda takes off the ring and her shoes, and jumps off the bridge.  Will she survive?  My guess is no.  And really, they’ve written this poor character into a hole that even such a talented actress cannot pull her out of.

Clarice is looking up at the now empty ledge on the bridge when the explosion happens behind her.  The car was moving at the time it blew up, so presumably her cute husband Nestor is now gone.  With the STO thinking Clarice is gone, she now has an opportunity to change her path.  Interesting.  After all, we did find out Clarice’s trip to Gemeonon was all about getting the right to kill Barnabus, so she is hardly as innocent as Lacy thinks she was.

Zoe drives into a circle of light

And then there is Zoe.  She drove into a circle of light.  Seriously.  Could there be any more obvious metaphor for suicide?  It wasn’t just a JJ Abrams lens flare.  The spark-filled explosion that resulted from the van crash was eerily reminiscent of Starbuck’s viper explosion in BSG’s “Maelstrom.”  I think there is a strong possibility that Zoe is gone.  I think that would be a good thing for the show.  Her character is annoying.  Constantly whining and bullying those around her, I no longer care if she is brilliant or chosen by the one true God.

The character I care about most now is Daniel Graystone.  He appears to have lost his wife, his daughter, his lab assistant, his sports team and possibly his company. He’s a grade-A jerk, but I don’t count him out by a long shot.  He did his best work as a young man when he had nothing to lose, so I’ll bet that will drive him again.  A close second is Lacy.  How will the weight of thinking she has murdered Clarice sit on her shoulders?  Will it drive her further into Barnabus’ hands, or will it give Clarice the chance to snatch her up in her own claws?

So what did you think?  Was this episode enough to guarantee that you’ll tune back in to Caprica in October, or whenever, the series returns?

9 comments

  1. Caprica sucks. All the things that made BSG great are absent, and the absolutely terrible writing is killing it. The concept that the Cylon race is descended from an AI avatar of a bratty rich girl who’s selfish, stupid, and has that cow-eyed stare that makes you wanna slap Zoe every time she appears on the screen is bad enough.

    But it’s the details that are killing this show. The theme song is awful. The advanced civilization of 150,000+ years ago on 12 planets turns out to be a bigger, stupider version of the USA. None of the characters are particularly interesting or well developed -they’re all simple minded 1 d characters.

    And of course there’s the fact that aside from a few hints, the fact this IS a way advanced society is absent from the show. People on these planets go from one to another the way we go to the Carribbean. And yet we never see it. Putting Bill Adama into this is just a cut and paste -there’s no reason and no continuity, not even with the events of Razor.

    All in all a big ol’ failure, and I really hope they cancel this crap ASAP. It’s embarassing fanfic with good special effects. and the fact that those nerds at io9.com like it is another reason to kill it off.


    • I have to agree with you on a lot of points. I’ve tried hard to like the show, and have given it more than a fair chance just because it was different. I’ve criticized the writing on the show several times, but I think it is the concept itself which is flawed. They’ve tried to do too much with too many characters, too many themes and yet no through-line story. And the continuity problems…yikes! The guys at Space Channel commented on “Innerspace” the other day that they are going to have to do a re-set with the Adamas, kill off the current Billy, and have Joseph Adama get a new son with blue eyes. Now, that’s reaching.


  2. Couldn’t agree more with the above comment. I quit watching after the 5th show… it’s laughably bad at times and I feel no connection to the show or any of the characters.

    I have no clue how you go from the brilliance of BSG to this garbage.


    • Thanks johnny, I agree that it is tough to find any character I consistently sympathize with. When Sam Adama and Tomas Vergis are way more compelling than the series leads, that’s a problem.

      But I think Ron Moore’s “write by the seat of your pants” approach, which was so evident in the latter half of BSG, is what has doomed this show. With so many elements, if you don’t have a plan from Day One, you’re going to write yourself into a confused mess.


  3. Caprica is a swing and a miss. I think the SF element of it distracts a lot of frustrated viewers from articulating the fundamental writing problems with the show, but the posters here are spot on.

    Caprica fails because it assumes the audience’s investment in the characters without earning it. Television like The Sopranos and The Shield thrives with its corrupted protagonists because they choose a protagonist and dive deeply, showing these guys imposing their own brand of order on an even worse world, while also trying to preserve something we all identify with (ie. a home and family). We get to know these guys and overall, we like them. These stories play with that tension between how we feel about these characters personally vs the choices they make. We also get to see these characters taking actions to affect their own fates – we may question their methods, but they are least seen to be effective in the long run.

    In contrast, a season in, I still don’t know or care about any of the main characters. I still don’t know what is actually at stake or what they want (in BSG, the answer was clear – survival). I don’t LIKE any of the characters, which compounds on the sole nod to investment with the Greystones – I’m so bored with his wife’s nutty grieving that I don’t care about their marriage. Because the monotheist/polytheist thingy is kept deliberately vague, there is no onramp into the emotional stake for either camp. They both act like goons and there is no reason for the audience to grasp who should win, or why?

    Despite the action and deaths at the end (and many prolonged sequences of vegetable chopping), none of those stingers has any impact if the audience doesn’t care in the first place. And that’s why this, despite its dressings and pretension, is nothing more than soap. The writing is designed to churn plot, but not develop story.

    Caprica had potential, but was stillborn.


    • Really nicely stated, Nephandus. Thanks for contributing to the discussion.


      • Thanks. I’d add – unlike The Sopranos, where we want Tony to win, or at least to succeed more than his rivals — that’s not the case with Caprica.

        Greystone’s rival, Vergis, is more charming and is more sympathetic than Daniel. He has a clear case for wanting to exact his revenge.

        Moreover, in light of the established history of the setting, we have every reason to understand that it is important that Daniel fail (coupled with the futility of knowing that he doesn’t).

        The continued exploration of this developing Cylon threat is a dramatic dead end. Band of Brothers wasn’t about whether WW2 would be won, just as Titanic wasn’t about whether the ship would sink – it was about the individual fates of the people we came to care about and how they struggled against a clear danger.

        But because of Caprica’s unique established setting – the history we’ve already seen – we have multiple layers of futility weighing on the show. We don’t care about the protagonists, they already lose the most important things to them in the pilot episode (everything else is minor), they don’t establish any kind of emotional connection to what they are protecting. What ARE they protecting? And since the bombs will drop in 58 or so years, all of this sinister buildup is moot. Our protagonist is on the wrong side of it. Even if it was a case of a “journey” where Daniel is gradually made to be a sympathetic character, we know he will fail and those bombs will go off.

        All that’s left is this self-reflective prequelitis that fiddles with the background notes to a much better story, with real characters and clear motivations. This show needs to figure out what it is about – what it is trying to say.

        None of this stuff is rocket science for a writer, so I’m struggling to understand why it seems to be escaping the show.

        It’s not that “nothing happens” (though I recognize the filibuster editing, where chopping veggies seems to filling dead airtime. It wouldn’t be dead air if these characters actually had some depth and substance.


  4. The only Caprica characters I like are the sweet Philomon and the sincere Lacy. I can identify with their personalities and I emphasize with their struggles.

    I cling to Caprica fiercely because it is the last bit of the reimagined BSG that I have left. Its soapiness helps to fulfill my need for “therapeutic” sci-fi. I delight in seeing familiar places in the scenery for each episode. The episodes have kept my attention and gotten better and better to me since the pilot.

    I agree that with previous posters’ points that the show is flawed. Nonetheless I found this most recent episode gripping. My impression was that Barnabus gave Lacy the choice of either bombing Sister Clarice or having Keon and herself shot. Lacy might have called the number to ultimately save herself. I am anxious to see what Sister Clarice will do next and how the show will progress now that Philomon, Zoe, Nestor and Amanda are supposedly gone.


    • I like Philomon, best summed as nerd who likes a girl, but he doesn’t appear to be much beyond that. Sympathy for a character does not equal investment. Who is Philomon – what’s his struggle?

      And especially, what is Lacy’s struggle about? I see that she is being played as a pawn between feuding sects of religious terrorists, and that she is party to a mysterious plan involving an AI, but because the showrunners have chosen to play those cards face down – there’s not much to grab onto there except that she emotes naivete and desperation. I like her, but I don’t necessarily feel that her struggles or concerns are important – and if they ARE important, it’s only because a bunch of people whose motives are undefined are saying they are.



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