Caprica Ramps Up Again: Dudes, Bring on the Cylon Armies!

Serge Graystone is once again tweeting from Caprica City… and while the early critical reviews are mixed, the Facebook posts to the Caprica group for last night’s Caprica Season 1.5 opener are very positive – some even ecstatic.

Syfy’s Caprica series started up again on October 5th with Season 1, Episode 110 – Unvanquished after six months hiatus.  It’s a tall order to recapture momentum and take stock of the characters – did Amanda actually kill herself?  Where is Zoe? How will Daniel regain Graystone Industries? Will Joseph reconcile himself to his Tauran upbringing?  What is Clarice up to on Gemenon with this apotheosis (“virtual heaven”) business?

Caprica, of course, is the Battlestar Galactica (BSG) prequel that introduces robotics entrepreneur Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz), his genius but misguided daughter Zoe (Alessandra Torresani), and Joseph Adama (Esai Morales) – the father to BSG’s Admiral William Adama – as well as the beginnings of the Cylons. The complex, interwoven stories that make up the narrative arc of the first 10 episodes of Season 1 (now on DVD) provide a fascinating glimpse into a future of human-level AI, robotics, and virtual worlds that will appeal to most H+ readers. Hardcore BSG fans, however, have not been so patient with the slow moving and sometimes muddy parallel plot lines and the lack of Star-Wars-style battle scenes and armies of cool robot Cylon Centurions.

Yes, the Cylon armies aren’t there yet. But Graystone Industries – now controlled by arch rival Thomas Vergis – is starting to mass produce Cylon chassies in the Season 1.5 premier-cum-episode.  And the drunken, grieving Daniel is willing to cut a deal with the Taurons to regain his company.

If we’re to believe Facebook, Caprica has quite a dedicated fan base in spite of the complaints from hardcore BSGers. Sexy, sentient robots with guns and game-like virtual worlds are… well, cool. And Zoe appears to be getting even hotter now that she’s shed her Cylon chassis and is being remade as a “dead walker” – a virtual version of Tarantino’s The Bride but without a human body – kicking ass with her Samurai sword in V-space and de-rezzing a gang of droogs with a little bit of the old ultra-violence and some Jedi mind control.

The terrorist-religious Soldiers of the One (STO) provide an interesting philosophical backdrop to Caprica’s cool technology.  Sister Clarice on Gemenon works to convince the leaders of her monotheistic religion that her plan for apotheosis can bring them followers. Clarice asks them to “imagine a world in which death has been conquered, in which eternal life is not just a dream but a reality.” Thirty-thousand Capricans will die, but those who accept the one true God will be “saved” (translation: uploaded) to live in a virtual heaven that she intends to build. She’ll need help from a Graystone to do this – and the Season 1.5 opener ends with a scene of Clarice with an incognito Amanda Graystone.  The convergence of plot lines is clear – after all, we already know where things end up in BSG – but it’s the journey that counts.

And the journey may make all the difference to Caprica’s survival as a series. Caprica’s Season 1 Metacritic ratings are mediocre at best: 72 out of 100 (Mad Men is rated 92 by comparison), with a user score of 6.7 out of 10. The series will likely require some retooling, character focus, and more narrative clarity (don’t get me wrong – it’s not an easy task for the series’ writers to cull the complexity from the BSG mythos) to survive as a series.  Ratings pay the bills after all – not just interesting transhumanist ideas. Is it time to bring on the Cylon hoards?


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