Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: Caprica "Unvanquished"

Non Spoiler Review:
Thank the Lords of Kobol, Caprica is back! We jump right into the action as viewers are brought up to date after a few weeks have passed since the cliffhanger. 

This episode was all over the place, but in a good way. Pretty much all the major characters had a moment to see where they were at. Daniel and Joseph are grappling with their respective tragedies, and circumstances once again are tossing the Graystones and Adamas back into the same orbit. Meanwhile, Clarice is off to Gemenon to meet with the church of the one true god, and their Blessed Mother (Meg Tilly!). 

After seeing the briefest glimpse of Tauron last season, it's a treat to finally get off Caprica to Gemenon and a taste of the monotheistic movement that is both church and terrorist organization. 

Light on action, but heavy on dialogue, the mood of this episode was solemn and foreboding as we see that Graystone Industries is well on its way to meeting its battle robot quota (and nothing bad can happen with that).

Aside from one spectacular action sequence teased in the preview that turned out to be just a v-world bit, this was a welcome back installment in what is sure to be a great back end to the season.

Spoilers Now!
Three weeks later...and Daniel is a mess having lost both Graystone Industries to Tomas, and, apparently, Amanda. But he's not done for yet. As Graystone Industries pumps out 1000 (non-sentient) Cylons a week, Daniel meets with the head of the Ha'la'tha where a stoic Joseph and Sam watch as he offers to sell the mob boss on the software program for life after death. Joseph is a little startled by the offer as he thought it would be for battle robots, but the Ha'la'tha is intrigued, and offers Joseph the opportunity to be the liaison with Daniel, which is a significant promotion. It looks as though Joseph is returning to his Tauron roots hardcore.

The Ha'la'tha tests Daniel, seeing just how far he's willing to go—putting him in a position of sacrificing his mother's life for the deal. It looks as though crazy Daniel just might do it, but he backs down and shows his limits. Joseph suggests he reconsider the offer now that they know his limits.

Lacy is hanging with the terrorists, standing up to Barnabas and impressing him with her moxie. But it's Clarice's storyline that gets quite the injection. Apparently she's more well known than just the small terrorist cell on Caprica. She's popular enough to prove a threat to the conclave of religious leaders on Gemenon.

Clarice is selling them on her PowerPoint presentation of apotheosis, which seems to intrigue all but one of the leaders, who confides in Mother (Meg Tilly) about the danger Clarice poses if she accumulates more power. Mother gives the go ahead to take her out, but they've all underestimated Clarice's power and feminine wiles when it comes to recruiting allies. When the assassination attempt is made, it turns into a Julius Caesar moment as the conclave member is killed by both the terrorists and his brethren while Mother watches in horror. Mother is a smart cookie, though, and opts to give Clarice anything she wants for her afterlife science project, including total control over the STO on Caprica. "Lord save me from the Capricans," she sighs. Indeed!

Clarice returns home to a cabin on Caprica where we find Amanda Graystone (!) replying to Daniel's voice mails that she needs more time alone. Apparently Daniel hasn't just been speaking to her ghostly answering machine, but is in fact still communicating with her.

The Cylon prototype is all smashed up from the car crash, and Tomas orders Cyrus to "box the toaster" (giggle!), but luckily Cyrus is still loyal to Daniel and keeps him in the loop on such things, saving it for him if he should ever get back to it. New Cap City we see Zoe dressed all bad ass, ambushed by some thugs who ask if she is one of the deathwalkers. Maybe, who wants to know? She then goes about thoroughly kicking their asses and they won't be playing New Cap City ever again.

What Worked:
The morose tone of this episode is no stranger to the series, but coming off the events of the cliffhanger, Daniel's loss and Joseph's stoicism were a nice balance. Both men have dealt with their loss in different ways, and again they find themselves thrown together.

Getting off Caprica was great, and I hope to see more of the other colonies. We were teased with the conflict on Gemenon (the polytheist forces and the Hephaesteans, whoever they might be). How powerful is the church of the one god? And the blessed mother (Meg Tilly) seems very uncertain and paranoid given her position as a female pope of this church.

I'm very happy that Amanda survived her jump and it's no surprise she's ended up with Clarice. Both actresses are magnificent to watch, and playing two equally unbalanced characters. Clarice's nature has evolved so much since the pilot, she is truly a force to be reckoned with and drips crazy religious zealot with every word. I'm not satisfied until Clarice says apotheosis at least ten times an episode.

What Didn't Work:
While being all over the place, the show can't be faulted for bringing us up to speed on as many plot points as possible. So no William this week hopefully means he will be seen soon, given his plot line fell off the radar last season.

So Daniel has a mother? Why haven't we seen her? Especially since he's lost a daughter, a wife and a company in such a short time. You would think Mrs. Graystone would be playing a bigger role in her son's life.

Clarice's coup of the STO seemed a bit fast and quite thorough. We got a sense she was the head of a minor cell, but is apparently far more popular than we ever knew and has managed to win the hearts and minds of all the religious leaders. What happened is akin to someone taking over the Catholic Church and intimidating the pope. It seemed a bit much to swallow in so short a time. We also have the mystery voice that counsels Clarice in the v-world confessional. Is this going to be a major revelation?

Clarice's heaven is a bit confusing still. Apotheosis requires more explanation, because right now we don't have a sense of how memories are scanned into these avatars. And who gets into the heaven? From her presentation it looks as though only the suicide bombers will get a reward in her Elven paradise. It does provide a lot of food for thought, though, and the writers have me guessing at any number of ways this can play out: Cylon resurrection, the source of Cylon souls? There are many possibilities.

Finally, I must balk at the trend of misleading trailers. The destruction of the Sea Bucks stadium was teased through the Season 1.5 preview and was an epic moment—only to reveal it's all a v-world program. Let this be the last time this happens, please!

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