Caprica: Pyramid Scheme


Know Thy Enemy
Season 1 Episode 5

After last week’s dive down the virtual rabbit hole into New Cap City, we’re back on Caprican soil, where the residents of the 12 colonies continue to machinate in the service of their own petty ends as though the planet isn’t about to be decimated by killer robots fifty years hence. We’ve been impressed over the last two shows with how well Caprica picks up and weaves together a growing number of threads without getting tangled up. But in the middle of all this sophisticated narrative development, we missed the show’s usual goofy/fantastical bent. Especially with two new villains in town.

Dream Crusher, come crush my dreams
Early in the season it seemed like Daniel’s nemesis was Joseph Adama — and then it was the media machine, then his company’s corporate board. But clearly the man Daniel should have been keeping an eye on was Tauron business tycoon Tomas Vergis.

In the pilot, Daniel coerced Joseph into getting the Tauron mob to steal a meta-cognitive processor from the Vergis Corporation, his competition for the defense contract, to give his Cylon body a brain. Now Vergis shows up at a party (at the Caprica City version of the Temple of Dendur) seeking revenge for the theft and the two men Daniel’s hired help killed in the process.

We’re treated to a lot of voiceovers and nightmares and one scene of Daniel hacking at a cucumber, all meant to show us that he’s struggling with the blood on his hands from the killings. But it seems like what’s really getting under his skin is his inability to figure out Vergis’s angle. Rather than expose Daniel as a murderer or punish Joseph, Vergis tells Daniel he wants to buy out his professional Pyramid team, the Buccaneers, for $300 million cubits. Seems terribly convenient now that Graystone Industries is so strapped for cash.

Vergis gets himself on Sarno’s late night talk show to smooth over the idea of foreign ownership of the Buccs. And his spin — as well as the show’s depiction of the spin — are pitch perfect. Sarno only gestures at the populist zeal he had a couple weeks ago. He’s just happy to try to repeat the ratings boost and Vergis is happy to get a platform. There’s even some allusions to post-9/11, with Vergis saying “we’re all Capricans” in the wake of the MagLev bombing.

Daniel thinks he sees through “the cagey bastard” and invites Vergis over to gloat. But Daniel was so very wrong. Turns out Vergis wasn’t try to buy the Buccs to seem Caprican and win back the defense contract. It was merely step one in Operation Annihilate Daniel Graystone. “You get to be the puppetmaster with the professional ballclub and your inner ten-year-old runs around with the joy of it … It’s your dream. My dream is to tear up your dream.” Daniel almost chokes on some salted nuts.

Spike’s back, and he’s just as bloody
Keon goes down to the docks to ask STO operative Barnabus to help Lacy get to the safehouse on Gemenon with the Zoebot. We’ve been hearing a lot about Barnabus. The anonymous STO higher-up thinks he’s been setting off the bombs, Clarice thinks he’s not righteous. Finally he emerges — and, be still our loins, it’s Spike from Buffy! He’s not a vampire anymore, but the leather fetish is intact. And now he’s also into self-flagellation. “Pain keeps our brain from going down bad paths,” he tells Keon as he winds a spiked rope around his wrist. (Why are zealots so into making themselves bleed??) He agrees to meet with Lacy, but shuts her down when she won’t say what the cargo is.

In other cracked-out terrorist news, one of sister Clarice’s husbands brings her some bleeding-edge tech called a swipe drive. If the program that Zoe used to build her avatar is stored on a computer somewhere, they can download it onto the device and then use the two to create living avatars for any dead person. Tsk, task, Clarice corrects them, “It’s not just a living avatar. It’s a continuation of the soul into eternity.” So that’s what the apotheosis prophecy was all about. Kinda disappointing. Clarice pays a visit to Castle Graystone, knocks back some scorpion ambrosia with the clueless Amanda, and manages to worm her away into the lab and steal the program. Then she smokes some more crack. But Nestor tucks her into bed anyways.

Parents just don’t understand
Our favorite part of Joseph Adama’s subplot was his bungled attempt to get to New Cap City to find Tamara’s avatar. He buys a Graystone Industries-issued holoband just like every other schlub, but he’s startled when he logs in to find Daniel’s avatar squawking at him like the MovieFone guy. “Welcome to Virtual Graystone Industries!” he says, tipped forward like Serge the robo-butler. “I don’t need menus! Take me to the hacked world!” Joseph barks back. This is the V world equivalent of opening up your browser window and yelling “Porn!”

One giant step for man-robot love
While everyone else was falling apart, Philomon and the Zoebot were coming together. After their dance party for two, Philo is starting to wonder if any real girls will get him the way the Cylon does. “12 Planets and not one woman is interested in me,” he complains to the Zoebot after checking a dating website, “But what would I say if I checked robots? Hmm.” Zoebot, maybe feeling like she can’t hold out for hotties like Ben now that she’s a one-ton, six-foot-tall metal skeleton, sends him a message asking him out. When they meet in the virtual world, Philo doesn’t seem to mind that his new date looks like the boss’ dead daughter. We suspect she’s ultimately only in it to hitch a ride to Gemenon, but maybe those crazy kids will make it work!

Our wish list for next week: more Barnabus, another visit to New Cap, and scenes of Vergis going after the only thing Daniel can’t bear to part with: his wife.

Caprica: Pyramid Scheme