Return to the Soil

October 20, 2010

by spacepug

Remember that phrase brides talk about before weddings, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”?  This week’s episode of Caprica, Things We Lock Away, had all of them: echoes of the old Roman Empire, a reference to new social media fad Twitter, a glaringly prominent theme borrowed from Battlestar Galactica, and one of the most powerful scenes on the show to date…which left this blogger very blue indeed.

What follows after the cut is a recap and review, and therefore contains SPOILERS.

The format for this week’s recap is going to be a bit different from earlier ones.  The show’s editors gave the episode a fast pace by cutting back and forth between four storylines, but trying to read about it with that many cuts makes my head spin.  So, I’ll deal with each story line at a time.

They Don’t Care Which One of Us Bleeds

Two Deadwalkers go head to head in Thunderdome!  Almost all of this week’s action takes place in V-World, in a pyramid court that doubles as a gladiator arena.  Zoe walks in and demands to see Tamara, the other Deadwalker, avatar of Joseph Adama’s dead daughter.  She’s more than a little surprised that Tamara responds by shooting her, then unleashing a mob on her, made up of relatives of the people who died in the maglev bombing.

Zoe is stabbed, slashed, beaten, kicked.  It goes on and on, and it’s hard to stomach.  But there is a purpose to the storyline.  Three purposes, in fact.

The show’s creators have often referred to Caprica as a debauched society in decline, comparing it to the final days of the Roman Empire.  The theme is heavily reinforced here.  Not only is the arena filled with the “blood and sand” of any gladiator arena, both Zoe and Tamara are dressed in short dresses or jackets very reminiscent of the tunics worn by Roman soldiers.  And the crowd is certainly as bloodthirsty.  Zoe finally gets through to Tamara by pointing out to her that the crowd doesn’t care which one of them wins, as long as they get their bloody entertainment.  It’s a great moment between these two young actresses (Alessandra Torresani and Genevieve Buechner) and well done. Thus the second aim of the storyline is accomplished, the two Deadwalkers become allies, standing against the throng.  What can these two girls do to change V-World, or Caprica itself?

But clearly the most important storyline involving Zoe this week is the introduction of Head!Zoe. Yes, ripped straight from the Battlestar Galactica playbook, Zoe has had her own guardian angel since childhood, whispering in her ear and guiding her major decisions and accomplishments, just as Head!Six did for Baltar after the Cylon attack of the Colonies. As Zoe endures each round of attacks in the arena, we get flashbacks which show us her brilliant creation of the avatar was inspired by Head!Zoe, and even she thought it was beyond her own capabilities.

WTF?!  Battlestar  Galactica spent four seasons teasing us with the question of “What is Head!Six?” before the finale gave us the answer: an angel of God.  So, now that we know there is another angel here, who has been guiding Zoe since childhood, they just pulled out all the underpinnings of the Zoe who once lived.  She wasn’t brilliant, she was manipulated.

Don’t Drink the Water, Lacy!

Lacy’s all trippy, thanks to Clarice’s husbands. Yes, we finally do see that Nestor survived the car bomb in the mid-season finale, and he’s playing the sympathetic one in this STO kidnapping plot.  Seems neither Olaf nor Nestor like Lacy too much, so besides locking her in an attic with lovely white sunbeams pouring through the wooden slats, they’ve spiked her water with a drug that makes her remember what Barnabus put her through these last few months.  The visual effect they used to show Lacy’s state is really kinda cool.  She makes a couple of ineffectual attempts to escape before finally refusing to drink or eat until she gets to see Clarice.

In between visits to Amanda, Clarice comes up to the attic to finally ask Lacy “Are you ready to talk to me?”  Even Lacy has to point out she’s never been asked to talk.  But in exchange for her life, as she is forced into exile on Gemenon, she offers up a doozy….if Zoe had made a backup of the avatar program, it must be in the infinity pin she wore.

WTF #2?!  If Zoe had made a backup of the program, wouldn’t Avatar!Zoe know about it?  The avatar was certainly convinced in the first half of the season that there was absolutely no backup, and that her very existence was threatened several times.  Daniel wasn’t smart enough to think of backing up the program before he put it in the Cylon with the MCP, and it crashed.  This new plot twist smacks of the writing tricks Moore and company managed in the latter half of BSG, pulling out miracles to force the story into an ending they hadn’t planned for.  At the very least it reminds me of a mystery novel that doesn’t give you a chance to figure out whodunit because a vital piece of the puzzle remains hidden until it is needed.

Amanda Has Become an Informant

Communicating with GDD Office Jordan Durham via text message, Amanda has searched the cabin she has been sharing with Clarice and found nothing related to the STO.  Durham gives her a new mission: “Infilitrate her home.”  Amanda does her best to get Clarice to invite her to come live in the Willow household, but Clarice is absorbed with other matters (or trying to hide the fact she has a prisoner in the attic) and brushes her off.  Poor Amanda has no choice but to return to the Graystone mansion.

Serge is beside himself with joy.  Honestly folks, this little guy is already showing sentience, don’t you think?  He even offers to “ping” Daniel to advise him she’s come home.  We already know Serge uses Twitter, but the term “ping” seems a little glaring here on an alien planet with a civilization predating our own by thousands of years.

Clarice comes around after Lacy tells her about the infinity pin, and now she wants Amanda to come and live with her.  When Amanda arrives, it is clear Clarice’s family is not happy with their new roommate.  How long will it be before there is a revolt inside the home, and can Amanda exploit the cracks in this family for her own ends?

You Made Me Dead

Daniel’s deal with the Ha’La’Tha comes to fruition this week as he unseats Tomas Vergis as CEO of Graystone Industries.   John Pyper-Ferguson’s performance as Vergis this week is absolutely brilliant.  From his “What the frak is going on?” when  Cyrus tells him about the emergency board meeting, to his final scene in Daniel’s house, his performance is subtle, brutal and true to his character.  Cannot offer enough praise.

Vergis’ final scene with Daniel is by far the most powerful scene in Caprica to date.  Though Daniel’s arrogance makes him believe that he can turn this deal around on the Guatrau, he is naive enough to think there will not be consequences.  That the price to be paid is his enemy’s life is more than he can stand.  That Vergis knows and accepts the price, is all that much more wrenching.  To him, it is not important that he will die, but that he must “control his return to the soil.”  He does so in dramatic fashion, offering Daniel a blade to swear on, and then using his enemy’s hand to drive it right into his own heart.  As the life bleeds out of him, he grips Daniel solidly, symbolically bringing him down with him.  At the end of the episode, Daniel must ask Joseph Adama and his Tauron thugs for another favour, the disposal of the body.

Adieu Vergis.  Brilliantly played.  This show will miss you, badly.

So, there you have it.  I loved some elements, absolutely hated others.  I’ll keep watching, but I won’t stop criticizing.


  1. I saw this ep last night… I agree with everything you said! Good Frakking SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I can’t say enough good about this episode! To address your WTF #1 and #2…

    WTF #1 Just because an ‘Angel of God’ encourages you to do something doesn’t mean that, because you do it, you were simply manipulated and that you’re not brilliant. They didn’t have Head!Zoe in there telling her where to put the lines of code, simply a nudge in the direction. Real Zoe still deserves credit for being brilliant, until we see Head!Zoe actually telling her how to do it. The only thing I can think of from BSG that would shed suspicion on my hypothesis is that Head!Six told Baltar he needed a nuke for the cylon detector. In science fiction.. EVERYTHING is a plot device!

    WTF #2 Lacy told her there that *if* there was a backup, that’s where it would be. This could be a ruse to allow for her freedom. Or it could be a PLOT DEVICE! Unfortunately, plot devices are simply a fact of fiction.

    “You Made Me Dead” was absolutely brilliant! I will lament the loss of this character, though. Caprica needs a few less sidebars, but I like all of them, so its sad to see any of them go.

    I just love the introduction of Head!Zoe, simply because its an homage to reimagined Galactica. Thanks for blogging, Spacepug!

  3. I agree that head!Zoe just nudged real!Zoe in the right direction and that this doesn’t negate Zoe’s actions in the matter. The idea that God, in whatever form he takes, can speak to you and counsel you and give you strength to carry on, without taking away your free will, is a central idea in many religions. Far from ripping themselves off, I see this as more of a tie-in/homage/parallel, that those complaining this show is too different from BSG should be glad of.

    The backup copy did feel a little out of nowhere. Yes, a plot device, because if they’d had the copy all along there would have been less source of conflict in season one to get this program, and now that they have it they can use it in future story arcs. But it’s not weird that Avatar!Zoe didn’t know about it, because she doesn’t know everything Real!Zoe knew, as evidenced by the fact that she doesn’t know details of Zoe’s overall plan for the STO, and that Zoe wasn’t in the know about the train bomb. And it can’t be that that was too close to her death, because she would have known well before she boarded the train whether or not she was planning to blow it up or to arrive at Gemenon. Real!Zoe probably chose to conceal some things from her avatar just to keep her from running amok. (Didn’t turn out so well, did it?)

    And “ping” is a translation, just like everything else on this show aside from frak, dradis, morpha, and what have you, because they didn’t have 2010-style English 150,000 years ago. Doesn’t bother me. You can’t take the BSG universe too literally.

    Tomas Vergis’ death shocked me. The close-ups on Daniel’s face and eyes showed how numb/shaken he was. Loved the drippy blood. Great end to the episode.

    Btw this is Katherine from the meetups.

    • Well put. Having seen it again, I’ll concede your point about Head!Zoe as advisor rather than manipulator. Since this show has been overtly about religion since day one, the presence of an Angel advising a true believer is easier to accept than I found it in BSG. Head!Six used sex, violence and fear to control Baltar and her later reveal as an Angel played very differently.

  4. I’ll have to re-watch the episode, but I actually heard ‘page’ not ‘ping’. In any event isn’t ‘ping’ becoming part of the standard vernacular as a word describing post/instant message/comment? d

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