The second episode finds Caprica suffering from an identity crisis, but so is the Zoe-bot. Does the show want to be a thriller, a soap opera, a terrorist procedural, or Big Love? Will the Zoe-bot end up the agent of humanity’s demise or a teenage messiah?
Cylon No. 1: So far, the Zoe-bot (the avatar of Zoe Graystone trapped inside a metal exoskeleton) is the only robot Papa Graystone’s company can get to work, which means they’re short 99,999 Cylons for the Caprican defense contract. His lab rats have the stolen meta cognitive processor, and but it’s not synching properly. “Take it out and put it in any other body and it’s a moron,” Token Asian Engineer quips. Dr. Graystone decides to take the bot back to his home lab to figure out what alchemy made the first one work. He knows that it’s the same model he tried to download Zoe into, but doesn’t know that she’s still inside, peering out. “So what makes you different from the others?” Graystone asks. “I put her in there, now she’s gone.” The Zoe-bot keeps mum — even she can tell Daddy’s not to be trusted.
Sister Clarice: Villian! Villain! Villain! Yeah, we get it. Enough with the ominous glances and suspense-inducing leitmotif. The Athena School headmistress invites Zoe’s best friend Lacy over to her house for lunch and — oh, look! — new guy Nestor (played by Scott Porter, the wheel-chair bound quarterback from Friday Night Lights) is there. It’s nice to see him ambulatory, less nice to see him stuck in our least favorite sub-plot. Lacy (hopeful): “Is he, like, your son?” Clarice: “No, he’s my husband.” Well, one of her husbands. Hooray, gender-equality in plural marriage! The lunch has a creepy, backwoods, FLDS vibe, what with all the kids and the pregnant women and jokes about eating squirrel. But coupled with the shots of Lacy on the steps of her dilapidated wrong-side-of-the-tracks house, we’re starting to see some class division in Caprica.
At lunch, Nestor squeezes Lacy’s shoulders like he wants her to become the next sister wife. Later Clarice’s family accuses her of orchestrating the seduction, alluding to something she’s done in the past. Like sleeping with Zoe’s boyfriend Ben to get him to blow up a train? Is all the polyamory a front for a monotheistic terrorist cell? Oh, and Clarice is also a relapsed drug addict. We can’t tell if the haste with which Caprica layers on new threads will lead to unresolved questions à la Lost, but we see her sniff a crack rock that looks like a burnt knish. Now every time she comes on screen, “Sister Christian” starts playing in our head. Hey Clarice, what’s your price for flight?
Zoe = Jesus? Once the Zoe-bot’s in the Graystone basement, Lacy comes over to visit. The girls chat about whether Zoe’s new Cylon body makes her look like a dude and who she really is. Zoe: “God it’s confusing, I mean I’m Zoe, and the avatar, and the robot. It’s some kind of whatchamacallit, three part… .” Lacy: “Trinity, that’s what you are. Three faces of one thing.” Zoe’s religious beliefs are the reasons the Cylons in BSG are such zealots for monotheism — that was one of the revelations from the pilot. Now they’re drawing a parallel between the Three Faces of Zoe and the Father/Son/Holy Ghost. What does it all mean?
Willie and Friend! It turns out that Sam, the tatted-up Ha’la’tha gang member who carved up the politician last episode, is actually Adama Sr.’s brother. He sneaks his nephew, Willie, out of Tauron School to teach him lessons from life on the street. Hokiness aside, the real problem is that the show has rewound Commander Adama too far back in time. He’s just a kid. It’s hard to care how his moral compass is getting tuned because he’s decades away from being charged with keeping the last humans safe.
Amanda Graystone: Paula Malcomson, who plays Zoe’s mom, is actually trying to act, which is why it often seems like she’s in a different show, one that values subtlety.
In the middle of a nationally televised memorial service for the people who died when Zoe’s boyfriend Ben blew up the MagLev train, Ben’s mother approaches Amanda and hands over a broach Zoe had left in Ben’s room. Amanda fiddles with it until she realizes it’s an infinity symbol and recognizes it as sign of Clarice’s terrorist group Soldiers of the One. Vexed by the fact that she barely knew the kid she raised, Amanda gets up on the podium, holds up the infinity brooch, calls Zoe a terrorist, and says she thinks her daughter may have caused the bombing. Dang, Graystone needs to keep a better eye on wifey. But Amanda’s outburst gets her husband away from Adama Sr., who’s pressuring him about what’s happened to his daughter Tamara’s avatar, who is still confused and scared and locked away in a virtual box.
We like the idea of making the Graystones reviled (for parenting a terrorist). The first half of the episode had them waving like quasi-royalty from their box seats at a Pyramid (that’s Caprican basketball!) stadium. It’s easy to imagine that the more despised Herr Graystone becomes, the easier it’ll be for him to justify building the Cylons that will try to exterminate the human race.
Verdict: For all its potential, this episode felt like it cobbled together bits from a handful of genres and shows. Maybe this means we watch too much TV. Maybe it means Caprica’s writers needs to figure out how to inhabit the universe they’ve set up.
TV Fanatic thought so far the series’s concerns with religion and terrorism have played second fiddle to the basic plot: a misunderstood facsimile of a little girl.