?

Log in

 
 
09 August 2009 @ 11:22 pm
Caprica: The Pilot Episode Review + Meta  
FINALLY. THIS HAS BEEN WRITTEN. TOOK FOREVER OMG. But still, sense of accomplishment, go me!

Caprica, 58 Years Before The Fall

The story takes place fifty-three years before the fall of the Twelve Colonies, on the planet Caprica focusing primarily on two different families, the Graystones and the Adamas. Daniel and Amanda Graystone are two very successful, very wealthy individuals who have worked their way into respectable society with their daughter, Zoe, who appears to be a normal disobedient teenager but is more than what she seems to be. The Adamas, or "Adams" as they've referred themselves in the episode, are a steady middleclass family where the father, Joseph Adama, is a lawyer in Caprica City. Both families suffer major tragedies as both their daughters (along with Joseph's wife) were killed caused by an act of terrorism, and Daniel and Joseph are destined to meet as they grieve together for their unexpected losses.

The mythology deepens more as the episode continues, seeing the virtual world through the Holoband, a technological device created by Daniel Graystone, the brilliant mind of Zoe and her own private creation of a virtual copy of herself which she had unknown plans for before her death, and the creation/enhancement of the first Cylon centurions that are underway as part of government experimentation which is the starting point of where the first Cylon war between the Twelve Colonies is destined to take place, all going through these two families.

Caprica is a prequel to Battlestar Galactica, however it is not the same science fiction space opera fans are used to. It's more of a character drama with the blend of science fiction elements that tie everything that preludes the destruction of humanity, and overall, is a very great start to a series that one doesn't have to understand the original series to get into.


Character Stories: The Graystones and the Adamas
"You can see your daughter again. Isn’t that worth whatever price you have to pay? If you leave now, you’ll never know for sure. You’ll always wonder. You’ll walk by her room, you’ll see her pictures on the wall, and you’ll ask yourself every day for the rest of your life, whether you had a chance to bring her back."
The show introduces us to brand new characters through a familiar history, and although this is the pilot where we're just getting to know these characters we get a pretty good idea of some of them and their roles in the show. The two main families, the Graystones and the Adamas, are more focused and their ties together is what's going to be the essential piece to the story, which I did find intriguing for a beginning introduction to them.

First we have the Graystone family. Daniel Graystone is a well-respected and brilliant computer engineer and had actually invented the technology of the Holoband, and is also part of a robotics firm that is designing and improving/enhancing technological evolution of cybernetic lifeforms. His wife, Amanda, his also successful in her line of work as a medical surgeon, and both are well-respected in their community as well as independently wealthy due to their careers. We see from their ravishing glossy and fancy house by the lake, with glass windows going from floor-to-ceiling and such modernist designs that being well off has done them good. However, there is much dysfunction when it comes to their daughter, Zoe, who is disobedience and a disturbance of their family than either of them would have liked; she argues with her mother, a lot it seems. Not so much reaction from her father, and in the beginning we see just how Zoe's relationship with her parents stands. And it's that typical teenager behavior, but with Zoe Graystone not everything is what it seems, and there was more she was hiding from her family than they realized.

The pilot opens with Zoe and her two friends at the V-Club, a secret virtual underground club by the use of the Holoband, were we see her and her virtual copy as she is testing an unknown experiment. Later we learn that she and her two friends, Ben and Lacy, are involved with a secret organization called Soldiers of the One, supposedly a religious cult advocating the belief of a singular God (as the majority of humanity believe in multiple gods, this is considered almost a blasphemous and dangerous belief, which we'll get to later in the discussion of religion). The terrorist attack on the Lev train, caused by Ben who was wearing a bomb strapped around his chest, was in the name of "the One True God", unbeknownst to Zoe herself as she dies with him and many others on that train.

It would seem that neither Daniel or Amanda knew of her involvement with this group or even that she was on the train planning on leaving Caprica and going to the planet Geminon. It would also seem that neither of her parents truly understood or even knew Zoe, especially Daniel who knew she was smart, but not as brilliant and a computer genius as she was to create a virtual copy of herself, not just in appearance but by programming all her memories and emotions and just nearly reprogramming a virtual representation of herself into the computer system. This is, of course, when we see Daniel's downfall from reason.

This makes me question about Daniel and his relationship with his daughter, if he truly did love her or if he's playing both sides of the equation; wanting her back and still making progress with his technological advancements. Basically, is he taking the cake and eating it too?

Zoe-A tells him that his arrogance is what drove Zoe away from her family, from Caprica, everything. That they saw her but never truly did see her. Whether for as she was, for her brilliance and intelligence, her beliefs, that both her parents were so consumed with their lives and accomplishments that they never did pay attention to what else was happening around them, especially their own daughter. Could this be why she converted to monotheism? Was this because of her true calling, her gift from God as they have said, to make a change in what she was observing around her? These are questions I hope they will be answering as the series continues, and how Daniel and Amanda will factor with their relationship as well (as in the commentary RDM did mention they had scenes where Amanda was having an affair, but decided to cut those out entirely because it wouldn't make her sympathetic, which I agree; though it would seem I would like to have some more of their marital issues pop up due to his obsession with the technology and such in connection with his daughter).

Secondly, there are the Adams, or rather the Adamas, featuring Joseph and his involvement with Daniel Graystone, but more pointedly his own family life issues in terms of coping with the death of his wife and daughter, and mending his relationship with his son, William. Joseph is a lawyer in Caprica City, is part of the working class background as he and his family came from Tauron, a notable planet mentioned throughout the pilot as being discriminated against. When he meets Daniel Graystone they grieve for their family losses together, and there's a bit of bonding. But Joseph soon learns that Daniel is more of a manipulator and, well, slightly insane with his propositions regarding technology and clashes of ethical and moral reasoning, particularly when he used the Holoband to see the avatar of his daughter in such a heartbreaking scene. It's obvious that their friendship was doomed to be short-lasted anyhow because of that alone.

I see Joseph Adama's storyline going more towards the acceptance of his role in society, instead of hiding behind the name "Adams" he tells his son near the end that they should embrace the surname of "Adama", honoring their Tauron heritage. We might actually get to see how he and Daniel butt heads again, wherever all that may be leading to. But it's clear that Joseph has more, and perhaps because of his status as a lawyer might get to the bottom of whatever is cooking in the underground of that kind of technology being used. Who knows?

All-in-all, the character drama seen in this pilot gives us more or less a taste of what is to come in future episodes, and there is great chemistry between the actors/characters so it'll be interesting to see more of that. I especially want to know more about Zoe and what her plans with the Soldiers of the One had truly been, and how her avatar is going to help, or evolve, with the rest of them?


Technological Evolutions: Downloading Personalities, Impossible?
"The human brain contains roughly 300 megabytes of information, not much when you get right down to it. The question is how to store it, it's how to access it. You can't download a personality, there's no way to translate the data. But the information being held in our heads is available in other databases."
One of the interesting subjects both Battlestar Galactica and Caprica are presenting is the advancement of technology and how far humanity will go to improve something and overabusing that power, essentially playing God. What's more is explaining how this technology ever came into place and how it evolved, thus becoming self-aware machines that wanted to destroy humanity, and could it even be possible today?

We're given the explanation that it's impossible to download someone's entire personality, that there is no way of translating the data, however it's not impossible to collect whatever data is on such a person. Zoe-A explains this incredibly well in her little monologue to Daniel that everything from birth certificates and e-mails to medical records and school reports, even movie tickets, can tell something about a person and their personality. It would have to go more deeply than just those things of course, but we're given the impression that someone could actually make a copy of you, with imprinted memories and echoing feelings, through a virtual program. That this would become a perfect replica, a copy. This can also be the beginnings of the Cylon downloading process, since the human brain only contains "roughly 300 megabytes of information", the Cylons have a bit more superiority in their creation than their human counterparts. Giving them the advantage of creating copies of themselves and once one model dies, all the information, their memories and consciousness, can just be transferring and downloading back into the default backup drive on the resurrection ships and into a brand new identical body. Also, with the datastream that feeds them information on the baseships, another contributing factor as well.

Still, Caprica raises a lot of questions since Daniel Graystone wants to use this with real human personalities and not just with machines or information punched into a screen. Could this be absolutely possible if we had that kind of advancement, of creating immortality for everyone if they just make copies of themselves through information? Could this be the ending for us as a human race? And more importantly, could you ever copy one's soul?

With shows that give these kind of morality and philosophical questions for the audience to ask, from Battlestar Galactica and Caprica to others like Terminator and Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, it's a wonder why there are a lot of topics on this matter. Though sometimes it's not discussed enough within many circles because this, I feel, is very essential to the creations of Cylons and how we see the cycles repeating again, and again and again.

The most disturbing thing is that such technology is actually very possible, and perhaps already has begun to evolve right now as we speak.


Religion, Politics and Society in Caprica
"There is good and there is evil in this world; there is a right and there is a wrong. But only through the One True God can we know the difference. And Zoe knew, because Zoe knew God. And God touched her heart, and gave her the ability to create...life itself."
The presence of theological and political affairs is nothing new to this universe, and is rather essential to the storytelling of these characters and the background of everything that's happening and what is going to happen in the scheme of things. It's a representation of our own society, reflecting on our current events and it plays beautifully with such raw realism, I've never complained about either being featured on Battlestar Galactica and I surely won't as it's featured here in Caprica, especially since both play vital parts in these character's lives.

Polytheistic views are more popular amongst the Twelve Colonies than the belief in a singular god, nevertheless both polytheistic and monotheistic beliefs are primarily represented in this series much like it's predecessor. Although the belief in one God is not as widely accepted as those who believe in the Lords of Kobol, especially after the terrorist attack incident on the Lev, suspicions go towards the cult known as Soldiers of the One, an organized religious group that praise the name of the One True God. One of the main special detective agents featured in the series has very strong views, which very well mimic the rest of the Caprican society:
"It doesn't concern you Sister, that kind of absolutist view of the universe, right and wrong determined solely by a single all-knowing, all-powerful being whose judgment cannot be questioned, and in whose name the most horrendous of acts can be sanctioned without appeal?"
He is, of course, speaking to Sister Clarice, headmistress of the Athena Academy, the school in which Zoe and her friends attend, and is later revealed to actual being a member of Soldiers of the One. This indicates that while there are people that worship and have beliefs of a singular god they have to remain in hiding for fear of being ostracized by society. Even though with these kinda of extremist actions by organized religion it brings forth the fear of believing in something the majority do not and having that fear being brought to the surface after a single horrific act has been committed (in allusion to terrorism attacks today, and people making brash assumptions and sweeping generalizations upon those who do have such a belief system rather than those individuals themselves).

Religion also touches the heart of children, specifically the three main young characters in the series. Zoe being the most responsive in her activism with her belief in the One True God, and her gift she believes is something that He gave to her for a specific purpose. Maybe in connection to what Zoe-A was created for, perhaps she has her own angel whispering about the destruction of mankind and she was chosen for this particular task. Who knows? But we see kids being incredibly impressionable and influential, the flashbacks to when Ben and Zoe convert Lacy to Soldiers of the One, for example, illustrates how one's own personal belief comes shining through. It really makes the impact and influence of religion and spiritual beliefs in this series very poignant. We've seen this with characters on Battlestar Galactica, who a spiritual path can lead them places they never expected to go before; self-exploring and self-fulfilling journeys, etc. For Zoe Graystone, while her death was untimely and premature, perhaps it was her destiny as her soul (more or less) and genius still exists. And whether fans accept the concept and ideas of faith and religion, it truly does set forth the pace for what we know in BSG and where things will definitely lead to once this series gets picked up.

Government and politics also play a major factor in the series, not just by investigating the terrorist attack but by setting the standards of Caprican society. Socioeconomic backgrounds are incredibly vital to Caprica, which we learn that it's the wealthiest and possibly most respectful and powerful planet amongst the Twelve Colonies, and it's clear that classism very well exists. For example, those who are Tauron are often looked down upon and are called "dirt eaters" (due to the fact that, Joseph Adama recalls to Daniel, when coming from Tauron to Caprica he was fascinated by flowers because there were none on his home planet). Obviously an allusion of immigrants coming to the "new land" to start off a brand new life, new name, etc. This kind of discrimination is seen throughout the pilot, from the beginning to the end where one of Daniel's colleagues mentions that Taurons are untrustworthy, implying anything going by them is likely to end in disaster.

This also takes into account what Ronald D. Moore talks about on the DVD commentary about there being no unity between the twelve planets of humanity. There is no President, no Quorum of Twelve, nothing which brings unity of the Twelve Colonies. It is mentioned that such an arrangement happened sometime before or after the first Cylon War, when it was humans versus the machines, not colony versus colony.

Conflict of religious beliefs, cults, corrupted or slightly flawed political systems, terrorist attacks, racism, rivaling patriarchs of both the Graystone and Adama families....this seems like an interesting formula for an equally interesting series which explores more into the Colonies of humanity and their ultimate self-destruction. And these are the very subjects I'm intrigued by.


The Things I Liked About Caprica:

++ The atmosphere, the way they made everything so different from the way the inner city looked to the bright and shiny flourished surroundings of the Graystone home to the warm color tinting of the Adama household. I particularly liked how they designed the V-Club, the underground getaway club which anything and everything happens there: drugs, sex, human sacrifice, random fights and killings, whatever. It had been said this is what a virtual world of MySpace would definitely look like, and I would have to agree. It's something that perhaps one day, in our near future, something like the V-Club could indeed happen. It's both fascinating and frightening, and I love how it all came out in the end. The secret room where Zoe kept Zoe-A, especially. So different from the outside in the V-Club; it had a certainly spiritual zen to it, a kind of serenity with the stained-glass window and the candles to the couch. And of course, the water streaming down.

++ I have to say, I was really impressed with the actors. From Eric Stoltz as Daniel Graystone to Esai Morales as Joseph Adama, two respect actors who have achieved their roles with great success in this pilot. Though it is Alessandra Toreson, who plays Zoe, was perhaps very outstanding in my eyes. I understand not everyone agrees about young actors and their ranges, but watching this I actually felt there was a difference between Zoe Graystone and Zoe-A. Her avatar was like her, only a bit more innocent and curious and obviously scared, but definitely not stupid after her final confrontation with Daniel. I felt for her, only wished we could have know more about the real Zoe before she died in the very beginning, but overall I think Alessandra does an amazing job and there's great chemistry between the rest of the actors.

++ There is also Magda Apanowicz, who plays Lacy Rand, Zoe's best friend, who deserves recognition as well. I adored her journey through this pilot, we see that she's struggling with the truth and wants someone to confide in, which she gets with Sister Clarice (who was also spectacular). We'll be seeing more of her as the series continues, because of the secret she'll be harboring with aiding the now-IRL Zoe-A inside of the Centurion, as witnessed in the final scene.

++ Which, that was the perfect way of ending the pilot, without a doubt. The whole Frankenstein-appeal to it was marvelous, and the idea that Zoe-A is now within the Centurion makes for an interesting lead-in to the next episode once the series begins, for sure.

++ Speaking of Centurions, "BY YOUR COMMAND!" Holy shit, that was awesome. Old school Centurions for the win, bbs. Although while I was watching as the humans were watching their "creation" behind the glass and controlling it with programmed demands, I have to say I was a bit saddened and slightly irritated by it. Of course being someone who loves the Cylons it's definitely my "why are you just standing there acting like this machine WON'T WANT TO CUT YOU?!" reaction. Heh.

++ I loved the family interactions and the inter-family connections between the Graystones and the Adamas, even though it didn't last long with their friendship you can tell there's going to be another confrontation in the future between Daniel and Joseph. Their alliances and friends in common will certainly take hold, particularly in one of the deleted scenes where Joseph's Tauron family friend/relative (Sam) mentioned that he was certain that the Graystone's daughter was in connection with the bombing on the Lev, killing Joseph's wife and daughter. Needless to say, they all have great chemistry and I can't wait to see more.

++ WEE!BILL ADAMA! FUTURE ADMIRAL OF THE GALACTICA! They got the perfect kid to play him, that's for sure. I hope there's also more of his involvement along with Joseph, too.

++ PYRAMID! CAPRICAN BUCCANEERS! \O/

++ The music. Bear McCreary proves yet again his amazing talent in composing music. It's not as dramatic as BSG, since there's a completely different feel altogether, but the soundtrack overall is absolutely amazing. Love the tracks such as "Children of Caprica", "Monotheism at the Athena Academy" and of course "The Graystone Family". There's a certain motif used which is blended throughout, which I like a lot.

++ OH HAI THAR NUDITY! I'm guessing teh boobies and teh sexing times won't be featured on the broadcast version. ;p

++ SERGE! I think I lol'd so much with Serge, but at the same time it's very frightening having a robotic servant that is almost just as tall as you on rollers. With no face. OMGWHUT. When that one becomes self-aware, BE CAREFUL OKAY! Just saying.

++ Love that they used the Infinity symbol as the Soldiers of the One sigil. Very symbolic and ominous.

++ Still love that they use the same terminology and phrases, "frak" and "so say we all". Like there would be any doubt they wouldn't use such terms, really. But I've gotten so used to hearing characters like Lee and Kara and Adama and Roslin use them that by anyone else, it seems weird. But in a good way kinda weird.

++ Cybernetic Life Form Node = CYLON. Get it?

++ The scene with Joseph and Tamara. Oh my God, that was really depressing and simply heartbreaking to watch, and it doesn't get any easier after multiple viewings either. I mean, just the rawness of that scene alone shatters your heart and you feel for both Tamara and Joseph, and you definitely wouldn't blame him for thinking Daniel Graystone as an amoral man, which that far in the series he most certainly became one. I mean, just imagine being that virtual representation, created without any idea where you are, in complete darkness, alone and scared out of your mind. Suddenly your father comes out of nowhere and you're clinging to him, but you know something is wrong, and you can't feel your heartbeat. Your heart is not beating at all and your freaking out and want to know what is happening....and suddenly your father disappears, leaving you all alone in the dark again. The last bit is definitely something we didn't see but it's implied due to Joseph ripping off the Holoband in such distress and disgust. There was so much raw emotion in that scene, and I can't help but feel so sad just watching it. Such a powerful and dramatic scene and, if anything, that should be something everyone should watch along with Daniel's explanation of what is considered an abomination by definition and really seeing how twisted his idea of morality has become.


Things I Want To See Expanded In The Series:

++ Zoe Graystone. Both her original self and her copy, since both are her but with different experiences, especially now that she's been resurrected, so to speak, into a Centurion. I do wonder how that'll play out since Lacy will most definitely be hiding her or keeping her secret given that last scene. I also read in an interview that Alessandra is going to be wearing different outfits and even wigs as part of the Zoe-A persona, which indicates either flashbacks or Zoe-A still is within the virtual reality. I would also love to see more of her relationship with her family, her father and mother and how she was converted to the belief in God and how she managed to keep that secret from her parents.

++ In addition to that, the Soldiers of the One. How was it created, who is the leader, how many people follow their teachings, etc. Also, was Zoe's project with her computer engineering genius something they wanted her to do? Something they knew she could achieve at? Her running away, leaving Caprica and going to Geminon definitely wasn't something they just planned. She found God, she wanted to help the people of Caprica see "the light", so what was her mission exactly or her intentions with her engineering genius?

++ I am very intrigued and attracted to theology, and from what we've learned in BSG is that the Final Five came to the Twelve Colonies and knew that the Centurions had a belief in a singular God. Could this very well be the origins of that, or is there another force at work here? Like, say, how Gaius had head!Six with him perhaps Zoe or whoever is leading these people have their own head!angel guiding them towards God's Word. Or could Zoe-A, now embodying a Centurion, could actually endorse this belief if the other Cylon models become self-aware? If so, how? I really would love these to be explored more.

++ The Graystone family, how they'll learn to cope with everything and if Amanda Graystone will actually realize what her husband has been doing, or understand what her daughter had created. I also wonder what other dark secrets they'll discover from her daughter's involvement with the Soldiers of the One.

++ The Adama family, how they'll factor into everything and how Joseph will become more of a contributing character alongside Daniel Graystone.

++ In one of the deleted scenes we saw that Sister Clarice went into the V-Club with Lacy after she revealed her involvement with the Soldiers of the One, indicating that Lacy told her about Zoe-A and wanted to show her. After Lacy left, Sister Clarice remained to find Ben amongst the crowd. This was somewhat ominous and mysterious, because he is dead. So his virtual avatar still remains, however possible and if he'll also continue to be a factor in the series. Or if there will be more answer's to Sister Clarice as well (which I hope so, the actress was quite amazing in that role and I got a great vibe from her and hope to see her reappear again).

++ I want more of Joseph Adama being badass. I mean come on, Bill Adama had to get his badassery from somewhere, didn't he? Or with Sam Adama -- RDM did mention he wanted him to become a huge part of the series, and I agree. Particularly that scene with him and those swords killing that big politician guy. Wow.

++ Speaking of which, more with the political aspect of the show and the dealings with cultural differences needs more spotlight and exploration. It's obvious there is going to be much more conflict especially with the Caprican vs. Tauron ways, and it's not going to be pretty, and with what they've dealt with before on BSG I would love to have more of the seriousness of the government focused on, and how screw up they really are.

++ Bear McCreary is composing the series, y/y? It wouldn't be an expansion of the BSG-universe without him, just saying.


Overall: This is different from Battlestar Galactica, but that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't good. In fact judging from this pilot alone it presented everything it should have and then some, something that the miniseries did with the beginnings of the universe which led to a very successful four-season run series. I really do enjoy what Caprica brought to the table, the things like character drama and the conflicts of socioeconomic struggles within the society on Caprica, the theological and philosophical aspects, the technology and science fiction elements which all attach towards the mythology of the entire universe with creating machines which will soon come to turn on their human masters, and so on. Yes, it's not Battlestar Galactica by any means, but I think it's still brilliant and has loads of promise and potential. I don't think fans should compare it to it's predecessor but rather accept it as something different, telling a prequel story in a different setting but it's still Ron D. Moore and David Eick. It still is an attachment to the BSG universe and, giving it a chance, would make it worth everyone's while. And hey, even if this doesn't quite get someone's fancy give it time to develop and add more in what this couldn't offer.

In any event, I loved the introduction of Caprica and I want more. So much more.


I do think that, in spite of fans being either disgruntled that Battlestar Galactica is over or even disappointed with its ending for whatever reason, Caprica really is something new and different yet familiar at the same time. It gives us something new to look forward to, but it's definitely not going to be for everyone. It has the same kind of dealings like faith and religious belief, political aspects especially with the government and how they manage their society, racism, terrorism, questions pertaining to morality and ethical responsibilities, the relationships in family, and all the same issues that were featured in BSG. It's just in a domesticated setting instead of space.

Just, without much bias, give it a chance to all that are skeptical and even a bit wary. It may very well surprise you. And with that said, and now I will be waiting impatiently for The Plan to come out already.
 
 
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: Lady Gaga - Love Game