High Crimes and MisdemeanorsFebruary 7, 2010
Note: This is a review of the Caprica series episode Reins of a Waterfall. Do not continue reading if you do not want to be spoiled for this or any previous episodes.
This week’s episode gave us a view of the long and diverse continuum on which immoral behavior can exist, ranging from the small and petty to the huge and unforgivable.
The episode opens with the impact of Amanda Greystone’s revelation at the end of last week’s episode – that her daughter Zoe was a member of Soliders of the One and involved in the Caprica City MagLev bombing. The story has become fodder for the news vultures. We see them pouncing on Zoe’s schoolmates with interviews and on Amanda, who has apparently been fired from her position at Caprica City Hospital because of the bad pulicity and can’t go anywhere without being hounded by journalists. We also see a comedian looking to boost his ratings by making tasteless jokes about the Graystone family and Zoe night after night on his talk show. Daniel Graystone himself is getting pressure from Graystone Industries officials concerned about the company’s plummeting stock value and rumors that the holoband made Zoe into a bomber. A new public relations specialist brought in to help wants Graystone to go on the comedian’s talk show and talk about his daughter. They want him to repair the public relations damage to his family and his company by telling “charmingly self-deprecating stories” about himself on television and disavow Zoe as “troubled.” For fans of Battlestar Galactica, incidentally, this public relations person is played by Luciana Carro, who played the pilot Kat Loutraine on BSG back in Season 2 and 3.
In another part of town, clearly a less affluent part – we see that young Bill Adama has started to skip school and ingratiate himself with the men of his uncle’s gangster world by bringing them what seems an awful lot like burritos while they play cards (Triad, presumably). Uncle Sam Adama is not a good influence, as his major gripe with Sam’s skipping school is that he didn’t wait to be counted at attendance before he skipped out. Sam also offers to concoct a story for Bill’s teachers so he’ll be counted as absent, not skipping. (We do see a softer side of Sam though for a very short scene with Bill having dinner at his uncle’s house with Sam’s spouse, Larry. The two men are sweetly flirty and obviously in love with each other and it’s a bit of an antidote to the fact that the only gay character on the show so far is so morally questionable and violent.)
Meanwhile, Caprica City’s police detectives find out, much to their chagrin, that they had MagLev bomber Ben Stark in custody a year ago, picked up on a curfew violation and found with explosives wires in his backpack. Despite the fact that they could have never really suspected what Stark was up to, the higher ups are paranoid the media will find out, and so make it clear that this information must never comes to light. In response, the detectives destroy the evidence and decide to anonymously tip off the press with a highly biased story about how they’ve been barred by defense department red tape from investigating the Graystone family. The result? The higher-ups are pleased, and the case is no closer to being solved.
A Search For Answers
Some people are searching for answers, however questionably. Athena Academy Headmistress Clarice Willow tries her best to manipulate Zoe’s surviving school friend Lacy into joining the school’s underground chapter of Soldiers of the One, despite the fact that Lacy is being shunned by her fellow students for her association with Zoe and walking around in a daze because her best friend has become an avatar trapped in the body of a frightening robot. (Incidentally, is it me, or does Athena Academy look like a cross between a Catholic School and Hogwart’s?)
In an uncomfortable scene where Clarice offers her tea, Lacy does everything she can to keep Clarice at bay, sensing the woman’s motives are anything but genuine. Later, when Clarice dons a holoband to meet virtually with a STO superior, we learn that Clarice is not the founder of the STO, and is in fact, in a subordinate position to people higher up in the hierarchy who won’t show their face or even their voice to Clarice. Clarice is indeed trying to gain Lacy’s trust mainly in order to get access to Zoe’s avatar. It’s unclear how Clarice knew about the avatar, but she thinks it’s divinely-inspired innovation, so she wants to get her hands on it. Clarice’s contact meanwhile, whose voice is altered digitally to hide it, is dubious and chides Clarice for drawing attention to the STO.
In court, meanwhile, Joe Adama bribes a corrupt judge – apparently a regular occurrence – and enlists his brother Sam to dole out a streetfighter-style beating to Daniel Graystone. Why does he do the latter? He’s tired of Graystone ducking his calls ever since Graystone showed him a computerized avatar of Joe’s daughter Tamara (more about her goings-on later) and Adama took off in a minor rage about it.He’s decided he wants answers about all this, but he wants more: After the beating is concluded, Joe demands that Graystone also create an avatar of Joe’s wife, who died with Tamara in the bombing, despite Graystone protesting that it’s impossible: Zoe invented the program and it died with her, he says. By the end of the episode, the truth of what Graystone is saying has apparently sunk into Joe’s head. His response is way on the dark end of the immorality continuum stretching along this episode: In the final scene of the episode, Joe tells Sam that he lost his wife and daughter in the bombing and Graystone only lost his daughter.
“Balance it out,” he orders his brother ominously.
At the moment, the only person who seems to be acting in any responsible fashion is Amanda Graystone. Naturally, given what she’s just come to believe about her daughter, she’s a mess. But there’s an inner strength buried beneath her hysterics, as she awakens to the knowledge that no matter the specifics of what Zoe did or didn’t do, she didn’t know her daughter anymore at all by the end. She regrets spontaneously announcing this information to the entire world and bringing down a rain of fury upon herself, but she is resigned to the fact that this was the truth of Zoe’s life. She pushes her husband into a screaming match on the subject until he has no choice to admit this to himself too. Their mutual realization of their blindness brings them closer together than they perhaps have been in a long time, and they have make-up sex, ironically oblivious to their daughter’s presence in the room hidden inside the programming of the proto-Centurion Daniel has brought home to work on.
And what of the lost daughters, Zoe and Tamara? What are they up to this episode? Tamara, as you may recall, ended up trapped in the virtual world of the holobands created by Caprica’s youth for partying, but locked in a dark, empty room by Daniel. During this episode, it becomes clear that Avatar!Zoe continues to contact Lacy and can visit the virtual holoband world any time she wants, no matter where she is (perhaps a precursor to Cylon projection?) and so she and Lacy virtually visit their familiar holoband world again. They find Tamara while looking for a locked door Zoe has noticed in the world and liberate her. Tamara, (who still can’t feel her heart beating) decides that her best bet is to go “outside” of the virtual environment. What this exactly means is still unknowable. But she disappears on the two other girls, whereabouts unknown. It also means that when Daniel Graystone and Joe Adama go looking for Tamara on the holoband, Graystone’s locked room is empty and Tamara is gone, thus prompting Adama’s deadly order to his brother at the end of the episode.
Meanwhile, Avatar!Zoe pressures Lacy into figuring out a way to transport her Centurion body to Gemenon, because the real Zoe had told Avatar!Zoe that she was going to take her with her to Gemenon. She feels she belongs there. Lacy naturally protests, given that the Centurion body weighs a ton, and so Avatar!Zoe turns up the pressure, saying if she’s Lacy’s really her friend, she’d do it for her.
Overall, the show’s threads are starting to unfold nicely, with Joe Adama’s grief turning him hard and ruthless, just the kind of cold, cynical guy that would end up raising a stoic son like William Adama and later nurturing a protege intern into someone like Romo Lampkin. He seemed at the beginning to be trying to leave behind his Tauron roots and the gangsters that seemed inextricably intertwined with them, but he’s clearly letting himself become one of them – asking for violent favors and using physical intimidation to get his way. (Will Sam kill Amanda Greystone next episode? Let’s hope not. There are already few enough interesting female leads on the show as it is, and Daniel and Amanda are finally beginning to share a relationship that makes sense and seems to have actual depth of feeling.) The STO seems to be developing from what at first seemed like a small-potatoes group of high school wannabe bombers led by a megalomaniac headmistress, to a force to be reckoned with that the Twelve Worlds doesn’t quite realize is as far-reaching as it is. Meanwhile, Zoe’s avatar seems hellbent on moving to Gemenon, and that seems like it’s going to come into conflict soon with Clarice’s priorities, which should make for an interesting showdown and hopefully some compelling plot twists. Also, I’m curious to get our first glimpses of Gemenon.
Which brings me to the thing that this series so far is managing to do rather well – building up a believable sense of diverse cultures for the Twelve Colonies. Everywhere in this episode, we saw and heard intriguing bits of cultural behavior and attitudes. The Taurons apparently have different religious holidays than the Capricans, for example. Sam Adama’s advice to his nephew Bill about concocting a story about being absent due to a “Tauron day of devotion” implies that Caprica’s culture is probably one that favors equal rights for all races, but in practice is fairly hegemonic, since teachers in schools can be counted on to have no idea when Taurons religious holidays are celebrated. Caprica City has a curfew, presumably a youth curfew, we find out in this episode. Paired with the reference to the Caprica City police being unable to question the Graystones because of Graystone Industries’ defense contract, suggests a touch of the militaristic police state in Caprica’s culture. In addition, there seems to be tension between the races of the Twelve Worlds: In this same scene, we hear Sam Adama’s minions telling dirty jokes about Virgons that rely on derogatory stereotypes and in the background is playing what is supposed to be Tauronese rap music, suggesting by association that Tauronese musical culture on Caprica is a subculture, not the dominant one. The late-night talk show comedian Sarno also provides a bit of pop culture for our consumption. He’s clearly supposed to be Caprica’s version of Jay Leno or Jon Stewart, since it’s noted that a large percentage of young adults on the Twelve Worlds get their news from Sarno’s show.
Next week: Will Sam Adama really kill Amanda Graystone? After all, the upcoming episode is disturbingly titled, “Gravedancing”.