Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review: Caprica "The Things We Lock Away"

Non Spoiler Review:
Wow! This episode opened up so many cans of worms, it's worthy of a rewatch just to catch all the subtle bits. Everyone continues to behave really badly, except the two dead ones. We get the climactic board meeting which determines Daniel's future with his company, and it has several unforeseen consequences for Daniel and Tomas. Amanda starts to settle into her knew role as Jordan's spy in the STO and Clarice is as zealous as ever, answering every question with "Because it is God's will."

This episode provides a lot of focus on the deathwalkers...Tamara and Zoe finally meeting again in New Cap City, dealing with the ramifications of who and what they are in v-world. We also get several flashbacks to Zoe's childhood which provides a shocker that really sneaks up on the audience. I had no idea the writers were going to go there, but it opens up so many possibilities, and firmly ties this series to the Battlestar mythology.

Easily the best of the first three episodes back, and one of the more compelling ones of the series to date. Once again the writers have us guessing what direction the myriad storylines will take.

Spoilers Now!
It's interesting that everyone survived the cliffhanger, but the last three episodes have continued an ongoing massacre of lesser characters.

First, Graystone Industries has its surprise board meeting. Tomas is not impressed at all that he's so unanimously removed as head of the company. Daniel has won, but Joseph informs him that Tomas is Tauron and as such, the Ha'la'tha must return him to the soil. Ever rational Daniel thinks he can put the brakes on all this Tauron nonsense and wants to talk to Tomas as two reasonable businessmen rather than two thugs.

Amanda, meanwhile, goes through the cabin top to bottom but finds nothing at all that could tie Clarice to the STO. Jordan wants her to get in deeper—as in move in with the polyfamily. Clarice at first thinks that notion is ridiculous, but that could be because she's keeping Lacy hostage in the attic of their house and playing all sorts of good cop/bad cop mind games with her via Nestor and Olaf (it's difficult to keep track of her husbands).

Interestingly enough, we assume now the entire family is involved in the STO, that they would allow Clarice to conduct her interrogation in the house (as long as she doesn't talk terrorism in front of the kids, stresses plain bitchy wife Mar-Beth). But Clarice needs to find out if there was a backup to the resurrection program and Lacy informs her the robot was destroyed, but...Zoe used to store all sorts of data in her STO infinity broach, so maybe...

That sets Clarice back to chatting with Amanda about how nice it would be if she got all of Zoe's things back from the Planetary Defense Department, including any bits of jewelry, too. Amanda is able to use this to get to move in to the Willow household, which is getting a bit crowded. Clarice decides to send Lacy off to the terrorist training camp on Gemenon to make room for Amanda.

The main story involves Zoe tracking down Tamara in Thunderdome (actually the New Cap City version of the Sea Bucks arena). Tamara knows who she is via newspaper clippings that peg her as the maglev terrorist. "Oh, that," Zoe sighs. What follows is quite a trial of pain and suffering for Zoe, who is confronted by several v-world players who lost loved ones in the bombing. She can't die, but she can feel everything.

While she's suffering this Christ-like trial, we start to get flashbacks to real Zoe's childhood. We see a young girl drawing a picture of a fire in which she's trapped inside while her family can do nothing to save her. Except for an angelic pink figure on the roof. "Thanks for rescuing me from the fire," she tells this older Zoe who is in the room with her (!).  Yes...this is a Head Zoe.

A later flashback shows a more spunky adolescent Zoe chatting with a younger Daniel who is busy working on robot designs. "Those look like the pictures I used to draw as a kid," she says. Daniel brushes it off, but as she looks through her little box of memories, sure enough, there are several drawings of the familiar grey chassis and glowing red eye. Head Zoe appears suggesting that she should be angry with her father for stealing her ideas. But Zoe at this point is pretty easy going and knows she's not good enough build an actual robot like her father. How about creating something really life, Head Zoe suggests.

Next we get real Zoe initiating her avatar program for the first time. V-world Zoe appears and real Zoe is pretty pleased with herself. But it's not an act of hubris. Rather she wants this new Zoe to be her own person. Zoe's memory has been scanned up to the point of her creation, and from here on out, she will be creating her own set of experiences independent of her creator.

In New Cap City, Zoe climbs to her feet, battered and bloody, and challenges Tamara to consider their true purpose. As they fight, she tells her that they are not just ghosts of the dead girls, but their own selves free to make their own choices, including abandoning New Cap City and the decadence of its inhabitants. As Head Zoe watches in approval from the crowd (acting very Sixlike), V-Zoe tells Tamara she knows she has a greater purpose, and she thinks Tamara is part of that. The two of the them come to terms and leave the arena together.

Ha'la'thaHa'la'tha, with their combined resources. It looks like maybe Tomas is considering that. But really it's just a way to get Daniel to agree and swear on his knife, which allows Tomas to plunge the dagger into his own stomach. Tomas has a prolonged and messy death scene on Daniel's floor, which prompts Daniel to call Joseph and Sam to clean up the mess. 

What Worked:
The flashbacks to Zoe were done very well, including recasting a much younger actress for Zoe, and later an adolescent Zoe without all the makeup we're used to seeing in V-world.

Tomas Vergis' death was another solid shocker. I would have assumed this character was in for the long haul, so I'm very curious to see what will be served by his sudden death. The writers continue to pull out the unexpected twists—I was expecting a long drawn out struggle to regain Graystone Industries, but all of that is resolved and Daniel is back in power making Cylons.

Of all the mythological ties to Battlestar Galactica, I did not anticipate a head character. Head Zoe is a bit chilling when we see how happy real Zoe is when chatting with her father. The devil/angel temptations of the head characters is evident here with Head Zoe suggesting she be bitter with her father for taking her ideas. Is Zoe's rebellion and angst a result of this continued poisoning by Head Zoe throughout her young life?

Wouldn't it be interesting if the Graystones are a family with a destiny just like the Thraces? How long before we learn that Amanda's maiden name is Thrace? That might be a stretch, but just a thought.

The series has really hit an exciting stride with these first few episodes. All the slow buildup of the first half of the season is paying off now.

What Didn't Work:
While I don't mind Lacy, I'm not in love with the character yet, or really sure why she's becoming a terrorist in the first place. She's not an overt zealot, so I hope we get some kind of flashback that explains why she would devote herself to the STO when she just seems to be going with the flow. Or does she have other motivations to infiltrate the STO?

We need to get back to the Adamas at some point, because right now they're serving nothing more than hired muscle and clean up for Daniel's mess. Hopefully next episode brings us back into the Adama household because another installment focusing solely on the Graystones is getting a little much.

The memory transfer of the avatars has been glazed over a little too much. At first Daniel said it was a collection of multimedia, online presence and journals to construct memories and personality. Well, that doesn't really cut it. Here, Zoe comments that Virtual Zoe was scanned so will possess her experiences up to that point. Does she mean scanned memories? Like Cylon resurrection? And what about Tamara, who was constructed well after Real Tamara died and is only the sum of what was collected about her. This needs more explanation, especially in the context of apotheosis.

Finally, as we've seen, Caprica seems to get a lot of torrential rain, so what's up with Clarice's rickety attic with sunlight flooding through the slats of the wall? That place must be full of mold. Raising a house full of terrorists is probably the least of Mar-Beth's problems.

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