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Caprica Recap: Cylon, Cyloff

Well, that was a letdown, wasn’t it? Since the end of the pilot, we’ve been waiting for the moment when Daniel Graystone discovers that his dead daughter’s avatar is stuck in the Cylon prototype that he’s been trying to replicate in his basement. Last week’s cliffhanger finally delivered the goods. But with the avatar stubbornly staying mum, Daniel spent the bulk of the hour trying various methods of psychological torture to get her to admit she’s in there.

We weren’t the only ones high on the expansiveness of last week’s existential and technological theorizing. But after all the coded revelations, zeroing in on Daniel’s attempt to get the avatar to admit that she’s “tangled up in alloyed skeleton” felt like stalling out. There are big ideological clashes on the horizon over man’s power to create and extend life (or a simulacrum of life). Why waste a week playing with matches? Don’t get us wrong, there was still plenty of juicy techno-theistic musing, but mostly from the direction of New Cap City.

Daniel’s a fire starter, a twisted fire starter.
We don’t blame the Zoebot for being reluctant to admit she’s still “alive.” From the second Daniel reboots her, it's clear his motives are ulterior. He’s using the language of a concerned parent to coax out a sign that she’s in there, but with the cadence of Benjamin Linus. Plus, the last time he hugged her, it was just to upload her into a flash drive.

When the Zoebot doesn’t comply, Daniel exercises his only leverage: the fact that the U-87 is programmed to respond to his commands. We have no idea where a lab geek learned the art of psychological warfare, but Daniel feels eerily comfortable in his new role. He has her dismantle and put back together a firearm all the while regaling her with the story of that time she was stuck in the attic while their house burned down, in order to see if she’ll flinch.

Daniel and the avatar represent two sides of the can-avatars-have-souls debate.
The point of these scenes seems to be to push each party closer to moral bankruptcy — and closer to ushering in the worlds’ end. We just don’t get the logic of rushing through heady concepts like extending life and analog MCPs last week, but drawing out low-grade torture this week. It’s not like BSG, where battle scenes actually leave you battle weary.

The Zoebot goes through two more trials. First, an actual ring of fire. (Daniel says he loves her no matter what her role in the MagLev bombing, but he sure was quick with the gas can.) Then Daniel orders the U-87 to shoot Cesar, the family dog, and gives the avatar five seconds to intervene. She doesn’t, but Daniel filled the gun with blanks.

Caprica hedges its bets on turning Zoe into a monster (at some point the Cylon bloodlust has to seep in, right?) by having her tell Lacy that she calculated right away that the bullets were blanks by the weight of the gun. But not entirely: “If they were full, I might have pointed the gun at” Daniel.

At Mysteries, Joseph gets roped into trying to solve a riddle from the club’s cabaret host (“As the gods overthrew the Titans, so has man overthrown the gods. But when man visits his sins upon his children, how shall he be repaid?” Death by Cylon?). We will say that we called it with the writers going Labyrinth on this sub-plot. As they leave, — riddle unsolved — he sees Tamara’s signature, a T with a flower on top, scrawled over and over on the club’s brick wall. Writ large, so to speak, the little girl’s doodle starts to look like a lonely ghost.

When things get rough with the junkies, Joseph hesitates to go in for the kill. But a moral quandary at this point is perfunctory at best. He already signed the death warrant on that Tauron politician and ordered a hit Amanda Graystone. Is he really going to flip out over shooting someone’s avatar in a game he thinks is reprehensible anyways? On the other hand, it was kind of deliciously ridiculous to have Sam tell Joseph that the big secret to offing people while in their face is by pretending it’s not real.

At Mysteries, Joseph gets roped into trying to solve a riddle from the club’s cabaret host (“As the gods overthrew the Titans, so has man overthrown the gods. But when man visits his sins upon his children, how shall he be repaid?” Death by Cylon?). We will say that we called it with the writers going Labyrinth on this sub-plot. As they leave, — riddle unsolved — he sees Tamara’s signature, a T with a flower on top, scrawled over and over on the club’s brick wall. Writ large, so to speak, the little girl’s doodle starts to look like a lonely ghost.

Again, it feels like the writers are purposely slowing things down before Joseph finally runs into a daughter he might no longer recognize and who no longer belongs in his world.

Caprica
isn’t shy about drawing parallels between New Cap City and life itself. We get it again with the surprisingly apt riddle and when Emanuelle says like life, in New Cap, “you’ve gotta figure out for yourself what’s important.” Maybe the game’s architect can break it all down for us.

A house divided.
The rift between Amanda and Daniel has been growing by feet, not inches. Caprica staged it beautifully this week by having the two unravel simultaneously, but in different wings of Castle Graystone. Think of it as a more elaborate version of those rich-people dining-room scenes where each spouse sits on the far end of an impossibly long mahogany table. Except on one end of Castle Graystone, Amanda is chain-smoking to keep away visions of her dead brother while Daniel’s lighting a ring of fire to smoke out their dead daughter’s avatar.

Later, at the exact moment that Daniel looks to be sending Cesar to an untimely end, Amanda gets a visit from Tomas Vergis, Daniel’s nemesis. Amanda’s sympathetic when she sees that he’s in mourning (from the Tauron gloves he wears). That is, until Vergis tells her the employees he’s mourning were murdered at the behest of her husband. She starts out righteous, insisting that if Vergis knew Daniel, he could never accuse him of this. But when Vergis pushes it, her doubts rush in.

Daniel’s no Tony Soprano — yet. He may prize his defense contract over the only vestige of Zoe, but his body count is stalled at a pitiful two. That doesn’t stop Amanda from having her Carmela moment. When Vergis asks if she really knows him, her only defense is to say, over and over, that he’s her husband. Here’s hoping next week brings a domestic brawl the likes of which we haven’t seen since "Whitecaps."

Photo: Eike Schroter/Syfy