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Caprica “Rebirth” – Survivor’s Guilt

January 30, 2010

The following is an episode review, and therefore contains spoilers. By spacepug

Are there any good guys to cheer for on a doomed world, or does everyone share some of the responsibility?

Where BSG started off with fast-paced action, for Caprica we get a close-up view of how grief shatters lives.  Caprica’s first post-pilot episode was all about guilt, blindness and manipulation.  As our main characters mourn the loss of those they loved, others pull their strings mercilessly.  The pilot episode gave us a variety of moral points of view, equally valid.  By the end of “Rebirth”  we are now starting to see clear differences between right and wrong and have clear signals as to who we should side with.  Yet all the characters are flawed.  That makes for good television.

Lacy really needs a hug

Characters

Sam Adama is the most overt of all the characters.  As portrayed by Sasha Roiz, he has nothing to hide.  He has no qualms about teaching his nephew, the young William Adama (Sina Najafi) how to deflect attention away from your own guilt by finding out what the other person is feeling guilty about.  The student uses his new knowledge to shut down his father’s inquiry about missing school before he gets to the “Oh, and I got arrested” part of the story.

Joseph Adama (Esai Morales) is so busy drowning in his own guilt that he barely notices his son.  The possibility that he abandoned a virtual version of his daughter alone in the darkness between life and death leaves him reeling by the end of this episode, and further depressed by witnessing the very public breakdown of Amanda Graystone.  He is poised to do something stupid, we just know it.

Rarely is a passive character interesting.  Yet while Lacy Rand has not made an active choice since deciding to not board the maglev train, she is rapidly winning our hearts.  So far, details of her character are coming slowly.  Clearly not from a wealthy family, she must have earned her place at the exclusive Athena Academy from her academic achievements.  That she could go toe to toe with billionaire Daniel Graystone over the ethical implications of his holo-band invention was proof enough of that in the pilot.   Her character is as subtle as Zoe’s is brash.  Right now, though the publicity machine seems to revolve around Alessandra Torresani as the first Cylon, I suspect it will be Magda Apanowicz as Lacy Rand who will win over fans.   Lacy is clearly intelligent and though not innocent, still somehow pure.  Lacy Rand has been hurt, but she is not a victim.  Already, we worry for her since it is clear Clarice has plans for her, but Lacy is aware the obvious flirtation by Nestor has another purpose.  Polly Walker delivers a beautifully complex and surprising character.  What little we saw of her in the pilot implied Clarice was a master manipulator, but I don’t think anyone expected her to be a drug-addicted, multi-married, dangerously focused zealot.

Paula Malcomson truly stole the show as Amanda.  She is struggling at the start of the episode and each new scene delivers a new emotional blow as she learns one more thing after another that she didn’t know about her daughter when she was still alive.  Her breakdown at the end is utterly believable.

Finding the Right Mix

I appreciated the light touches, such as the interaction between Daniel and Serge, the housebot, and then the subsequent joke about Serge wanting time alone with the U-87.  Nicely done and a necessary counterpoint to Amanda’s disintegration.

The sequence where Cylon*Zoe freaked out in the vehicle was frightening.  The flipping back and forth from the robot to the girl was seamless.  The scene achieved both the sense of danger inherent in such a powerful machine and the compassion necessary when dealing a frightened girl, even if Philomon (Alex Arsenault) is reacting by instinct rather than from true understanding.

I really like the degree of visual world-building already in the story.  From the mix of visuals in the opening sequence to the spectacle of Atlas Arena and the stirring Caprican anthem, “Caprica Abides” (Bear McCreary’s always wonderful blog has more on the music from “Rebirth” here.) I was hoping the series will delve more into the day to day lives of Capricans, and they seem to be going in that direction. I enjoyed the old style vehicles and clothes contrasted with the new cellphones and holobands.  I’m sure they will continue to play with the balance over time.

I really liked that both Sam’s homosexuality and Clarice’s group marriage were introduced in such a matter-of-fact manner.  Not an issue to the characters, though racial intolerance clearly is.  Though the issue of Capricans’ feelings towards their technological creations was only touched on, I suspect there is more much to develop here.  I don’t read too much into the differing attitudes of Graystone’s two assistants.   Mr. Nine Fingers is just a jerk, period.

Caesar knows what's going on

Locations

The 13th Colonists get a unique perspective on Caprica.  While most viewers see Caprica City, we see Vancouver.   For instance, the scenes inside the Atlas Arena for the pilot episode were shot in our “Garage”, General Motors Place, the home of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.  The Caprica Buccaneers dressing room was the one used by visiting teams.  The female sportscaster we heard in “Rebirth” was played by Renu Bakshi, one of our local TV news reporters. The Little Tauron sequence was shot on Gore Street on Vancouver’s downtown eastside, not far from our Chinatown.  The big memorial sequence at the end was shot at a public plaza near our new Convention Centre.  It’s so-called “green roof” is visible on the right side of the wide shots

We’re furiously taking notes as the episodes go by, and will get to doing some location scouting blog posts once the Olympics are over and our city gets back to normal.  Incidentally, the Caprica crew worked furiously over the last several weeks and wrapped production this past week, so they could clear out of town before the world comes to visit.

Nitpick of the Week:

Daniel Graystone can afford the best bodyguard in the world.  Not one that would panic, pull his sidearm and point it at the faces in the advancing crowd. Granted, the crowd turned on them unbelievably fast, but it was a visual cliché, and not believable for a trained professional.  One shot into the air would have accomplished the same thing.  Sadly, that one choice by either writer or director took away from Paula Malcomson’s brilliant performance in the previous scene.

For those of you who enjoyed millari‘s Battlestar Galactica reviews here at the 13th Colony blog, don’t worry.  More to come for her in the weeks ahead.

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5 comments

  1. I didn’t have a problem with pulling the gun as a practical matter. Waving the gun is effective and safer because you know you’re not going to shoot but the crowd doesn’t. The problem with shooting in the air is ‘what goes up must come down’. Worse for PR.


  2. Very thoughtful review! There’s certainly a lot to chew on here.

    I liked the stuff you said about the matter-of-fact way things like Clarice’s group marriages and Sam’s gayness were introduced. The group marriage was played a little more for the weirdness factor, given Lacy’s reaction, but I really liked how Sam’s sexualty just came out in an offhand remark in a fun family anecdote Sam is telling to his nephew (young Bill Adama). (It also is kind of neat in that it suggests by extension that Bill would have had absolutely no issue with his crewmembers such as Gaeta and Hoshi being gay, nor would it have been any issue in his interactions with Cain, all as should be.)

    I too am enjoying the visual worldbuilding going on here, and I too love the contrast between the old and new. I liked the little bits like how they hold their hands over their hearts during the national anthem, and the incorporation of “So say we all” into the theme. Caprica City I totally recognize as Vancouver after having visited there, but huh, I was wondering about that stadium. It looked really CGI to me, lol. I remember at the time we saw those shots of the stadium while Joe and Daniel were at the C-Bucs game, turning to my partner and saying, “That’s not even really there, is it?” They really made the place look quite futuristic.

    I’m curious about how the Colonials see their relationship with their house robots. I remember once reading an article about humanoid robots that said studies had found people don’t want their robots to look too human, because it disturbs them. It’d be interesting to find out if Serge looks the way he does because the technology just isn’t there, or because people deliberately avoided making their house robots look too human. They certainly seem like they’re going to be getting us to sympathize with the Centurions’ point of view, if all the scenes in this episode with Zoe flashing back and forth between girl and robot are any clue.

    I did have one nitpick with the scene with Daniel’s comforting his wife and joking about the U-87. I wished they’d not taken so long to show us Daniel’s softer side. It seemed almost out of place to me by the time we saw him being kind to his wife. I mean, I was glad to see it, but it seemed a bit jarring by that time, and I wish they hadn’t portrayed him so coldly up until then.

    Again, great review! Thanks for giving me lots to think about. I’m really starting to warm up to this show. I hope it delivers on its promises so far.


  3. For a fascinating inside look at the CGI cityscapes, including the Graystone house and offices, check out Doug Drexler’s blog here: http://drexfiles.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/vancouver-as-caprica-city/


  4. I truly believe that we have reached the point where technology has become one with our society, and I think it is safe to say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.I don’t mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside… I just hope that as technology further develops, the possibility of downloading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It’s a fantasy that I daydream about every once in a while.(Submitted by Nintendo DS running R4i Net3)


  5. You don’t shoot guns into the air. That happens every New Year and people blocks away get killed. What was the guard supposed to do ? Tell the crowd that she was wrong & they should go home ?

    The Graystone family does have a problem recognizing their chauffeurs. You would think the wife would have her own car & driver.



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