CAPRICA 1.4: Driving Mrs. Graystone

Amanda and Daniel

After successive episodes that ended with jaw-dropping twists, this week’s installment of CAPRICA was a far quieter affair. It felt like the show paused to catch its breath while giving the actors a chance to breathe in character. Paula Malcomson, Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales and Sasha Roiz got to emote bog-time, and Polly Walker added a little more depth to Sister Clarice. All this made for another impressive episode.

The main story thread continued to deal with the fallout of the bombing of the MLMT train. GDD agent Jordan Durham (Brian Markinson) stepped up his investigation into the Soldiers of The One, conducting a high-profile (and thoroughly thuggish) search of the lockers at the Athena Academy, as well as a more polite tossing of the Graystone residence. Jordan is all about chasing down the terrorists who blew up the train. “I lost everyone on that train,” he tells Amanda. Later, he tells his partner, Agent Youngblood, that he feels responsible for everyone, not just family members. His searches turn up no evidence terrorist activity (beyond an infinity symbol), but Jordan is strangely comforted by the idea the school and the home were “too clean.” So coming up empty-handed strangely reinforced Jordan’s dedication to the cause. I liked this little chunk of characterization.

Meanwhile, Daniel Graystone (Stoltz) tried to navigate the PR nightmare brought on by his wife’s accusation that daughter Zoe was an STO operative by appearing on Baxter Sarno’s (Patton Oswald) chat show. Of course Daniel only made things worse – until his wife appeared and turned the tide of audience sentiment by looking heartfelt and concerned. Polished rabble-rouser Sarno easily twisted Daniel’s words. When the inventor admitted to creating an avatar of Zoe, Sarno was suitably aghast, noting, “You made an electronic ghost of your dead daughter?” Buoyed by his wife, Daniel suggested that the STO exploited vulnerable youths looking for guidance in places like the V Club by offering an all-powerful divine arbiter. In a world lacking authority figures or absolute moral values, kids are fooled into monotheism. Then Daniel made his own impulsive announcement, declaring that he would remove the profit motive from exploiting the cybersphere by halting Graystone Industries’ licensing of VR environments.

Meanwhile, Sam (Roiz) had been watching for an opportunity to carry out his brother’s wish (from last episode) to “even out” the losses by killing Amanda, and got his chance by posing as Sarno’s driver and offering Amanda a ride home. Roiz made Sam more menacing than ever by keeping him quiet and grim; instead of bluster, he exuded subtle menace as Sam calmly talked about losing his sister-in-law and niece in that blast. For her part, Malcomson kept Amanda calm initially, but she slowly unraveled and became tearful as she realized she was in danger. Predictably, Joseph (Morales) had a change of heart, and grew increasingly frantic as he tried to contact Sam to call off the hit. Joseph fell asleep, and when Sam returned home he described killing Amanda to his horrified brother. But Sam was only frakking with Joseph. He received the “60 text messages” and let Amanda live, but he couldn’t resist teasing his brother, whom he called “a frakking Caprican in a Tauron body.” I like the layers to Sam; there’s a lot more to him than just a Ha’la’tha enforcer.

Uncle Sam admittedly can be a poor influence on young William (enabling him to skip school, for example), but watch out for Grandma Ruth (Karen Austin), who fills the boy’s head with the darker side of Tauron tradition. She gives him advice like, “You get the best things from enemies — because they’re scared of you.” Later, encouraging Joseph to exact revenge for Shannon’s death, Ruth noted, “The dead don’t really die until they are avenged.”

The most endearing segment of the show came when techie Philomon (Alex Arsenault) was trying to upgrade Zoe’s chassis, and made her dance as part of a diagnostic program. Watching Alessandra Torresani enjoy indulging in a little bump-and-grind — allowing Zoe to have a little fun (and smile) for a change — was a treat for viewers. In fact, the only real weakness in this episode was the dearth of Zoe scenes. We want more cylon in our CAPRICA!

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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