“It is God’s will”
Caprica is a very different beast to Battlestar Galactica. Set 58 years before the fall of the 12 colonies nothing seems comparable. The 12 colonies are very separate entities. We have no war going on and as such we spend all our time on Caprica rather than in space, nor scattered throughout multiple planets. We do not meet a Cylon early on given they have not yet been created. Fans of the previous show will have trouble gelling with Caprica and early episodes will be hard going if the pilot is anything to go by, but the overall after-effect of watching this feature-length opening is that a great many layers of multiple strands are there for all to discover and in keeping faith early on the rewards can be reaped later on.
“The one true God”
We are introduced to Caprica in such a way as to know immediately it’s a supremely different proposition to Battlestar – we’re in a nightclub in which, amongst all kinds of debauchery (much off-screen but hinted at through what we are privy too), shows the sacrificial murder of virgins. It turns out to be a virtual nightclub thankfully. This makes it alright, of course. Still, this early scene introduced us to Ben, Zoe and Lacy. The latter two of which are key to the whole of the pilot and I suspect future episodes over the course of series one, too. The three of them have found the one true God – they are members of the soldiers of the one (STO) cell and are planning to runaway to Geminon where they can indulge said beliefs without feeling any recrimination as they believe they would if Caprica remained their home. People seem to be polytheists on the whole. But they don’t make it to Geminon – Lacy can’t take the final step (fortunately as it turns out) and Ben goes onto blow the lev train up as an act of terrorism, killing himself, Zoe and a great many others.
“So say we all”
Two key plotlines develop over the course of this pilot. One, the development of the cybernetic life-form nodes, or Cylons, and two, Daniel Graystone’s equally challenging attempts to harness the genius AI (for use in the Cylons) created by his late daughter, made (virtually) real by downloading from any information source all known data relating to Zoe Graystone. This latter task is, I think, the key outcome from this pilot for a number of reasons. We can see that although Dr. Daniel Graystone is known in the future as the father of the Cylons (a tag which may not be quite as cool as it probably seemed at the time) the final steps to realising the vision were that of stealing a metacognitive processor (MCP) from a rival corporation and utilising his daughter’s AI she developed in order to create a fully functioning version of herself. That AI is taken from the virtual world in which it was constructed and placed in a real-life robotic body eventually – in an attempt to both bring Zoe back to life and deliver fully functioning Cylons. He’s not really the big man on campus. It’s also a very intriguing occurrence. A big theme throughout Caprica is the religious aspect – polytheism as practiced by the majority today and the rising monotheistic people. It’s apparently not right to believe in one true god as they should not be all-seeing and have the only say in who lives, who dies etc. Having said that, in so believing in the one true god Zoe has died because it was so written. The fact she’s brought back to life by herself / her father is a little ironic, no? It also smacks of classical religious storytelling given Zoe’s resurrection and deification as a computer genius – for what purpose is this suggested?
“Cybernetic life-form node”
The STO are growing in numbers it seems in Caprica, demonstrated by the fact that by the end of the episode we are aware that the Sister at the Athena academy is involved and that Lacy is not alone now, despite her losing Ben and Zoe whom she thought to be the only similarly minded people around. We know from Battlestar that the Cylons believe in the one true God, so will the STO steal Cylon tech? Will the Cylons and they join forces to propagate their joint message? One thing for sure is that the unexpected death of Zoe was bad for the STO – with her tech having now fallen into the hands of the atheistic Daniel Graystone it will be used for very different purposes.
“Frakk off you dirt-eater”
Politically Caprica is very different to Battlestar. With the latter we had the already established 12 colonies brought closer together by the war against Cylon-kind. Here, we have no such war, no confederation and therefore a level of racism not seen previously. Joe Adams, a lawyer whose wife and daughter were killed in the explosion, and a man whom is offered the chance to see said family once more in exchange for the MCP, is originally from Tauron. His son, Willy Adams was born on Caprica. Willy is 11 years old and set to grow up to become Admiral Bill Adama, leader of the 12 colonies’ military might in 58 years time. Another surprising link here – Joe Adams helps Graystone to manufacture the Cylons by obtaining the MCP, yet his son is the one who brings them down ultimately. This show deals with irony by the bucket-load.
“What would you do if you had the chance to be with your daughter again?”
The casting and acting in all areas of this Caprica opening is superb. Zoe Graystone in particular is standout, with a suitably downbeat exploration of Daniel Graystone’s character by Eric Stoltz. Lacy is clearly troubled by the after events of the explosion and what went before; Joe Adams feels like he should be Tom Hagen in The Godfather and Amanda Graystone plays the grieving mother as well as anybody. The supporting cast also are well placed and make the show as a whole feel coherent and build the world within which things are set to happen over the full series and beyond, if successful. It must also be said that Bear McCreary’s music is as always fabulously emotive and able to communicate the feelings in a given scene in addition to, or in place of, dialogue and actions.
“All targets neutralised. Program completed by your command”
By the pilot’s end we have been introduced to the soldiers of the one, the true genius behind the technology with which we go to war (Zoe Graystone) and seen the demise of both. Despite this they do live on, one way or another, and the Cylon body (Daniel’s IP), combined with Zoe’s AI programme and Virgis’ (competitor’s) MCP succeed in proving to the Caprican government this is the way forward for defence. We the viewers are also aware that Zoe’s construct has been successfully downloaded into a cylon body (the same as the toasters we know and love from BSG) so we have success in both of the two key plotlines laid out early on. Caprica as a show is much more complicated than its chronological successor as it carries multiple themes, plotlines and character arcs because it is not loaded down with a focussed need to extinguish the threat posed by Cylons by way of war. Much more is touched upon in this opening to Caprica. It’s clear the writer’s have an ambition and are confident of meeting that given past experiences on BSG. There is quality storytelling and seeding here, suggesting a thoroughly challenging and exciting series is ahead of us.