Blood in the SoilNovember 10, 2010
The initial promise of Caprica was to tell us the early chapters of the story of the William Adama we knew from Battlestar Galactica. The most recent episode, Dirteaters, gave us the story of another William Adama, the father of Joseph and Samuel, grandfather to the man who will someday become the Admiral. Fighting for a cause runs in the Adama blood, and we learned some of the tortured past that has made Joseph and Samuel the men they are today.
Dirteaters was mostly a collection of scenes with two people talking, but some of those conversations were brutal, and very revealing.
What follows is a recap and review and therefore CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Allow your Brother His Day
The story opens in the Tauron clubhouse on Caprica, as Samuel and Joseph prepare to be promoted within the ranks of the Ha’La’Tha. Samuel is to become a Captain, a leader of men, and Joseph is to finally join the mob, and get inked. We know that Joseph is having more than just second thoughts about the Guatrau’s decision to kill Daniel Graystone, but he doesn’t show his worries to anyone but his brother. As the Guatrau honours them, we slip into Joseph’s memories of the past, to his childhood on Tauron and the first time he received the mark of manhood from his father.
Young Sam is restless and William Adama Sr (Aleks Paunovic, seen in Season 3 of BSG) chides him to allow his older brother this day to enjoy his rite of passage. Yet when their mother Isabelle (Alison Araya) returns from the fields, we learn that today’s rite of passage is indeed going to be brutal. “It is time” she tells her husband. They sit the boys down and ask them if they know how their grandparents died. Proudly, they say. “When an Adama starts a fight, we finish it….We control how we return to the soil.” And then they haul out what they call the kapi, suicide kits. This is their destiny, to be men of Tauron. Now that’s bleak.
Find Your Opponent’s Weakness
We get to revisit New Cap City, and a bar named “Sinny McNutt’s Slash & Cut.” Now considering that Caprica’s Cinematographer is Stephen McNutt, you really have to wonder what kind of on-set antics led to choosing the name for that sign! Our favourite Deadwalker ladies arrive and the place clears out fast as most players choose to bail on New Cap City rather than face death and permanent banishment at the hands of our two heroines. Two very familiar men decide to take them on. Olaf and Nestor Willow. Clearly, Clarice is the brains in that family. Zoe and Tamara don’t play by any rules. Olaf is killed and Nestor flees, escaping death for the second time this season. As they pop out of V World, Clarice is there to admonish them about spending too much time on the holobands. They even drop a HUGE hint that they encountered the avatar of Zoe Graystone in V World and Clarice doesn’t blink. Big mistake. That one’s going to come back to haunt her.
Turns out our favourite Admiral isn’t the only boxer in the Adama clan. Joseph’s in the ring with Daniel Graystone. Right before he clocks the genius, Joseph drops his major hint– find your opponent’s weakness. Clearly Daniel is a lot smarter than anyone in the Willow clan. In the next scene, Daniel is nursing a bruised face but doing his research. Starting with Samuel, then Tauron history, then the Guatrau and finally, what the Guatrau has done with the companies he takes over and their CEOs. All are dead, except for Daniel. At least, not yet.
What Zoe and Tamara are up to in New Cap City is making waves in the real world. They’re famous. They’re called the “Avenging Angels” and they have their own line of T shirts. It even makes the news. Mark my word Caprica fans, before the end of the year, we will see “Avenging Angels” Tshirts show up for sale. Perhaps before the end of the week. (Correction: turns out they are already on sale. Check here.)
Thirty years ago on Tauron, commercialism wasn’t quite so rampant, but Sam always had a nose for making a buck. The boys are wakened by the sound of violence in the street. Two men are beating another man in the street below their bedroom window, leaving him for dead. Sam ventures out in his pajamas, relieving the dying man of his wallet and his gun. His older brother Joseph begs him to come back. “You’re afraid of everything,” Sam taunts.
In the present, Daniel Graystone does the unthinkable: he shows up at the Ha’La’Tha clubhouse and asks for Sam. That takes stones, so Sam agrees to speak privately. Daniel is direct. He wants to know how and when Sam is going to kill him. He quotes a Tauron proverb about pruning a tree from the top. Sam isn’t impressed with his Tauron pronunciation, but he’s listening. Daniel plays his best card, having correctly guessed that Sam is more loyal to Tauron than to the Guatrau. He calls the Guatrau “pure Caprican.” He says he can help Sam and the Guatrau will never know. He will give him Cylons to send home, but in exchange, Sam must find a way to keep him alive.
Eve and Joseph are still together, sharing an intimate moment, but the conversation follows a familiar path. Joseph is disgusted that the Guatrau cares more about cubits than his own people. And it really rankles him that his new boss is selling Cylons to the STO, the people who killed his family. He needs a cigarette. We get a wonderful look at that famous lighter, but once again Joseph’s thoughts turn to the past.
Back on Tauron, there is a harsh knock on the door of the Adama household. Isabelle rushes the children into the pantry before William Sr opens the door. There are soldiers waiting. They have questions. It turns out the man who died in the street the night before was one of them. They do not believe William’s protestations that he is a sound sleeper and heard nothing. When one of the soldiers finds the gun Sam took and hid under his mattress, things go from bad to worse.
No One Can Get To Us
Jordan Duram is still relishing his victory from last week. He proved to himself that GDD Director Gara Singh is dirty, and he even says that to his boss’ face. Problem is, he’s been set up. Singh has brought Internal Affairs to investigate the murder of Duram’s criminal informant, Marbeth Willow. It is a credit to Brian Markinson’s performance that you just know how much he wants to gloat and tell his boss that it’s too bad Marbeth wasn’t the real informant. But he soon realizes he’s in trouble. They take his gun and badge. When Amanda later calls GDD to speak to him, she is told he no longer works there.
Stuck in a closet in the past, Sam and Joseph have to watch their father scream in pain as his knees are shattered with blows from a nightstick. The soldiers want names of the Ha’La’Tha rebels. Their mother is taken into another room, where even more horrible screaming is heard. Very briefly, the boys come out and Sam tries to untie his father. Shocked that they haven’t run away, William tells them to flee, but first to get him the kapi. Too soon, they have to return to the closet. Their father tells them to run, but they don’t. They hear shots from the other room. Their mother is dead, and not by her own hand.
In V world, Daniel is walking down the street when he encounters a young man wearing one of the Avenging Angels Tshirts. He buys the shirt, and goes into Sinny’s Slash & Cut. The girls arrive on cue, Zoe sees her father, they run away. Daniel is shocked.
Zoe and Tamara are standing on a rooftop, staring out at the skyline of New Cap City. Zoe doesn’t want to see her father. And it dawns on her. “We’re gods in here. Let’s act like it and forsake these motherfrakkers. Let’s build a place where no one can touch us.” And they do. Like Neo at the end of the Matrix, the girls suddenly discover the awesome power to control the fabric of their environment. They tear down New Cap City and create something new. It’s a jaw-dropping visual effects sequence of the dirty cityscape transforming into a green wilderness.
We Choose Our Own Path
Clarice is not happy with her husbands, and this time it has nothing to do with their video game habit. They are designing the look of the afterlife and she doesn’t like what they’ve come up with. She suggests soaring arches, stained glass and statues. Of who? She gestures to herself. Hubris of the highest order.
Sam is up to something, closing up two trucks and sending them out of the Graystone Industries loading zone. He’s recruited his young nephew William to run interference. He’s almost done, if only the young boy can delay Joseph long enough for the trucks to get away. William offers to go fishing with his Dad, but Joseph knows the tricks little boys can get up to. He confronts Sam later, warning him that crossing the Guatrau will put blood in the soil.
In the past, it is clear the end has come for William Adama Sr. The boys are in the closet, but they have a gun, the one Sam stole and touched off this nightmare. Unable to bear the violence being done to his father, knowing his Dad has called for the kapi and is ready to die, and motivated by his father’s own pleading looks, it is Joseph who points the gun and shoots, hitting all the soldiers in the room. The boys emerge from the closet, for one last moment with their father. He begs Joseph to return him to the soil. It is Joseph who sends Sam away. Then he pulls the trigger and takes his own father’s life. As a whistle sounds in the street to bring the police, the scene returns to the present and a whistling kettle on the stove, as Joseph makes tea for himself and his brother.
We knew Sam was suffering, and we finally understand why. Stealing the gun is what led to the death of his parents. He blames himself. That kind of guilt leads to the assassin career path.
Finally, it is Joseph who is the strong one. He has finally found his path. “I’m your brother, I’m always with you.” They will go against the Guatrau together. We return once more to the past, and see Joseph mark Samuel with the symbol of manhood and describe being always faithful to the soil. But as Samuel repeats the ha’la’tha phrase, Joseph interrupts him. “We choose our own path.” They will be more faithful to each other than anything else. Blood is thicker than soil. It is a powerful scene and the perfect way to end the episode.
Yet, there is one more scene. It’s a clumsy piece of setup between Daniel and Amanda, preparing us for next week’s episode “The Heavens Will Rise.” Daniel tells Amanda he has found Zoe and she’s alive. Once Amanda has realized he’s talking about the avatar, she admits she wants to see for herself. “Let’s go find her.” Textbook definition of anti-climax.
Despite the small gaffe at the end, I would call this episode a success. This episode relied on great acting to keep us involved, and everyone delivered. From the subtle emotional wounds that still linger in the performances of Sasha Roiz and Esai Morales as the adult versions of Sam and Joseph, to the very real pain and commitment of Aleks Paunovic as their grandfather. The two young actors who play the young versions of the boys, whose names I have been unable to find, deserve praise for fine performances. (Correction: the young actor who played Sam is Alexander Kambolis. )
Simple. Subtle. Powerful.