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Caprica Recap: Death Drive

For frak’s sake, Caprica, pull it together! This episode, the mid-season finale, showed no restraint in pushing each character toward a precipice (some ledges were more literal than others). But what we don’t understand is how the same minds that sent the Daniel-Zoebot-Philomon story line careening to unexpected ends could think it was okay to drag viewers through scenes from Amanda’s fugue state. More Yuppie-emo vegetable chopping as a signifier of inner turmoil? Really? Fine, if Caprica insists on keeping its personalities split, we’re going to recap it that way. But we hope they use their downtime (the air dates for the nine remaining episodes are to be decided) to stop smoking purple and come back a more coherent self.

The Good
Four words, people: high-speed Cylon car chase. Our pleasure centers nearly ruptured! We were confused at first when the episode opened with a delivery truck burning rubber. Wait, what show are we watching? Is that the frakin’ Cylon at the wheel?? We don’t know if viewers who missed Battlestar Galactica had the same reaction, but it felt so strange to see these robots we’re used to occupying decimated planets, or infiltrating spaceships, or even stuck in a lab suddenly in the driver’s seat with two planes in hot pursuit. Oh, the discombobulating absurdity!

To explain how this came to pass, Caprica breaks out the ol' twenty-hours-earlier device. The fact that they hadn’t before makes you appreciate how structurally innovative the show really is. So, lo, those twenty hours ago, Graystone stock dropped 37 percent, forcing Daniel to sell his Pyramid team to Vergis. But the deadline for the defense contract just got bumped up: deliver 100,000 Cylons by next week. The procurement official who delivers the bad news knows why it’s taking so long: “It’s hard to reverse engineer stolen tech.” We like the cynicism dictating that Caprican officials would turn a blind eye to murder just to avoid funding a Tauron.

Philomon is busy telling everyone how he’ll love his virtual girlfriend Rachel (really Zoe's avatar) no matter what she looks like. Eh, not so fast. He confesses as much to Rachel during their virtual date (in a canopy bed, on a lake, covered with rose petals), and she believes him. The setting’s ripped from the pages of a Caprican romance novel, but Zoe, for all her Club V savoir faire, is a still a teenage girl. Plus, he tells her she’s the smartest person he knows. Bonus recap dating tip: This line works.

And do you remember how Tamara’s avatar getting stuck in New Cap was going to be a terrific way to complicate the whole avatar apotheosis business? (Because she was unwillingly downloaded and, unlike the Zoebot, has no exit strategy.) Well, this episode took the easy way out, and spent the time closing up the tiresome will-Joseph-become-an-amphead angle. Sam and his secretary find him tweaking in his bathrobe on the couch. As we suspected, his guide Emanuelle was actually his secretary. She convinces Tamara to shoot her dad so he can heal himself with some Tauron organ meats and get over trying to save her. Good, we like New Cap better without Joseph in it anyways.

Just as Philo’s about to wipe out her hard drive, Zoebot finally reveals herself IRL. (“It’s me, the robot. And I’m Rachel, too.”) He tries to run away. She reaches her hand out to stop him and accidentally crushes a shelf. To sedate her, he repeats the same lines from the canopy bed, but with a very different look in his eye. When he makes a second break to set off the security alarm, she reaches out, but ends up flinging his body into a cement pole. Cylon death toll: one down, twelve colonies to go.

The Meh
The warring factions of the STO cell have a standoff at the docks. Barnabus tells Clarice that STO central likes action, “Not some crazy plans that make you into a bouncer in some homemade heaven.” But between his penchant for murder and Clarice’s apotheosis kick, we can’t tell which side is supposed to be fringier. Barnabus promises Lacy, now officially STO, a preapproved ride for her unnamed cargo to get to Gemenon. But first, she has to swap out a thingy on Clarice’s key chain.

The Spastic
Remember way back in episode four when Amanda single-handedly salvaged the reputation of her family (and Graystone Industries) on national TV? Because it doesn’t seem like anyone writing Caprica does. She’s been reduced to a simpering caricature. We’re not sure if it’s the ghost of her dead brother or the fact that Daniel’s a murderer that’s causing this distress. But it leads to hackneyed scenes of her dreaming of razor blades, watching shows about bridges to jump off, and fingering a sappy Eros day card from her loving husband (all to the sound of drippy Caprican opera). When she finally confronts Daniel, he just keeps chopping vegetables and she walks out the door.

And do you remember how Tamara’s avatar getting stuck in New Cap was going to be a terrific way to complicate the whole avatar apotheosis business? (Because she was unwillingly downloaded and, unlike the Zoebot, has no exit strategy.) Well, this episode took the easy way out, and spent the time closing up the tiresome will-Joseph-become-an-amphead angle. Sam and his secretary find him tweaking in his bathrobe on the couch. As we suspected, his guide Emanuelle was actually his secretary. She convinces Tamara to shoot her dad so he can heal himself with some Tauron organ meats and get over trying to save her. Good, we like New Cap better without Joseph in it anyways.

The final moments of the episode were the most poorly orchestrated we’ve seen so far. We don’t know where Caprica got the idea that it needed to ratchet everything up with vampy, telenovela-esque flourishes to keep us watching. With the opera score now inflecting other subplots, the scenes flash from one story line to the next. What you need to know: The device Barnabus had Lacy plant was a bomb and he forces her to detonate it. Clarice sees Amanda Graystone about to jump off a bridge and gets out of the car, narrowly missing the explosion. Once she’s carjacked a truck off the Graystone Industries lot, the Zoebot starts to take after her dear old mum, sobbing and crying and crying and sobbing until she finally crashes the truck, sending metal bits tinkling off the Cylon body in slo-mo.

The only redeeming detail came when Daniel got a phone call in the last seconds of the hour. Is it the police calling to tell him that he lost his daughter or his wife? “This is Graystone,” he answers — sounding not at all perturbed to be speaking in the singular.

Other Recaps:
Television Without Pity had a "spiritual sense of attrition" watching all the characters they love getting lined up and shot in the head every five minutes. "It's tiring."
PopWatch thinks Caprica is heading away from BSG's fantasy that's realer-than-life into straight fantasy, and that this episode played out like a game of "Two Truths and a Lie."
HitFix thought the name of the bridge (Pantheon) that Amanda may or may not have jumped off of was symbolic of the gods Zoe rejected.

Photo: Courtesy of Syfy