CAPRICA 1.11: Retribution

Forced to explain why she botched her attempt to bomb the Trojan Spaceport in this episode, Lacy (Magda Apanowicz) stammered, “It got complicated.” I get the feeling that CAPRICA itself is getting complicated – to the point where it is taking on a life of its own; one that its creators are having trouble reining in. Which is pretty ironic for a series about runaway technology.

On the surface, this week’s installment was about Sister Clarice Willow (Polly Walker) settling accounts with Barnabas (James Marsters), who dared to challenge her control of Soldiers of The One field operations. But beneath the surface, it was a story swallowing its own tail. The political intrigue within the STO seems to be just story filler and a way to inject action into an overall story that is about ideas. The problem is, it is difficult to make ideas look interesting onscreen. It’s tough to dramatize, say, consternation. So why not bring in a bunch of good-looking young people and let them blow them stuff up?

In this political climate, such storyline manipulation is bound to be controversial, but there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? (However, there is such a thing as bad ratings, and CAPRICA is, sadly, struggling a bit since it returned.) It is possible that the density of the storyline is hurting the show by making it opaque to new viewers. However, I can’t help but wonder if the flagging ratings are due to the focus on the religious storyline. I, myself, prefer the story threads set in “V World,” where Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) and Tamara (Genevieve Buechner) hold sway. Tamara, in particular, was on a roll when the season was interrupted, and I was devastated to see the show lose momentum. Being already dead in the real world, Tamara wields untold power in V World. And Zoe is…well, what the hell is Zoe? An unholy fusion of machine and girl, Zoe’s consciousness is a digital copy of her “real” mind, and the cyberworld version of Zoe is an unstoppable killing machine.

All of this means that I vastly prefer the so-called sci-fi elements of CAPRICA over the spiritual issues. Even after watching the entirety of BSG and all of CAPRICA to date, I still do not understand how the superstitious hoodoo interlocks with the science elements. Why do the STO believe that V World, clearly a man-made realm — created by Daniel Greystone (Eric Stoltz) — is the paradise of the afterworld that they believe in? I believe one of the priests acknowledged the artificial nature of what they call apotheosis. (BTW, to us, “apotheosis” is defined by Merriam-Webster as the elevation to divine status. In other words, it’s the process of becoming a god. To the STO, it seems to refer to the place we might call heaven. Unless, in the STO playbook, reaching their Valhalla means to merge with god and become divine themselves?

As much as I dislike watching the storyline about the violent STO and its proffered rewards in the afterlife, I think we viewers have to simply ride it out, because I don’t think executive producers Ronald D. Moore, David Eick and Remi Aubuchon can pull out of this death spiral any time soon.

When a writer creates a particularly vivid and consistent character, that character tends to take on a life of its own, and will practically tell the writer what she should say next, or dictate how he will react. It makes writing a story easier if your characters are co-plotters. I think something similar has happened with CAPRICA, except characters like Daniel and Amanda Greystone (Paula Malcomson), and Sister Clarice have no intention of acting out the story as originally conceived. They have spiraled off on their own, and become so entangled in a different story that the creators cannot extract them with major compromises.

It might have seemed like an interesting detail to make the monotheists terrorists, but the STO have become such major players off on their own little side project that it is difficult to see where they fit in the original plan of depicting the creation of the cylons. Okay, the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA cylons were dyed-in-the-wool monotheists. And now we know why: the original template, Zoe Greystone, was a monotheist. Done. Sorted. What does that have to do with a power struggle between ambitious STO militants Clarice and Barnabas? Well, nothing, actually. But can TPTB just walk away from the storyline after setting the terror campaign in motion? Not in 21st century USA, they can’t.

Still, I think CAPRICA has to get back on the path to greatness that it was following for the initial handful of episodes. It can be done…

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