Battlestar Galactica #114: Reins of a Waterfall

"Can you be free if you're not real?" "I hope so."

SO SAY WE ALL: The world reacts (badly) to Zoe Graystone potentially being responsible for the bombing. Adama desperately wants to see his daughter's avatar again, but she's escaped into the VR world.

REVIEW: Patton Oswalt makes his first appearance in the channel-zapping montages, as Baxter Sarno, a late night talk show host on a mean-spirited version of The Daily Show, part of the world-building Caprica deals in, at least early on. Graystone will have to go on the show if he's to save his company from free falling stock prices in the wake of his wife's revelation to the world that they raised a terrorist. My gut instinct is to find this mob rule reaction unreasonable and unbelievable, but I live in 2021 and I'm not sure that instinct is founded. Nevertheless, physically attacking the parents of a girl who was evidently indoctrinated by the Soldiers of the One, as if they wanted it to happen and aren't victims of the tragedy themselves is a bit extreme. Through the Adamas we get a better sense of why this is. Different Colonial cultures may have different takes on this, but the old school Greek gods they worship may well prescribe revenge, responsibility on the entire family, and so on. How else also to resolve Adama's apparent remorse in the Pilot, except to see it as embracing a culture that worships Mars, an eye for an eye, and a "balancing of books" that leads him, at the end, to call for the death of Amanda Grayston (an eye for an eye, a wife for a wife)? Where Caprica is sometimes difficult to gauge is in its presentation of today through the lens of an alien world. If Capricans are essentially Americans, how they differ culturally may not be readily apparent.

Public opinion is of course governed by those elusive values, but we do recognize the corporate and media structures at play, and Graystone, who claims not to care about PR is nicely called out by Cyrus as being VERY PR-minded, portraying himself as in touch with the people by boxing in a rat hole (which cleverly puts him in the wrong part of town so the Adamas can shake him down). He gets home and has been taping all references to his name. And kicking and screaming, he'll go on the Sarno show. Like BSG, Caprica exists in ambiguity, where we both root for this 1-percenter and see him as despicable or dangerous. One of my favorite things about him is that while he obviously wishes Amanda hadn't blurted out Zoe's secret to the world and caused him all these problems, he still loves and supports her. For someone who can be entirely too focused on his work (to the point of ignoring ethical issues), he's really really into his wife.

The Adamas also live in a gray world where it's entirely acceptable for Sam to let Willie work at the local hangout so long as he reports to roll call before skipping school, and has a loving husband at home who is well aware of his "occupation". Similarly, while Joseph would be appalled to learn his son is becoming a low-level gangster, once his chain's been jerked one too many times by Graystone, he pretty easily calls a hit on his wife. And here we thought he was the immigrant hero of this story. We can see this turn of events as heinous and still have a lot of empathy for what he's going through. After weeks of trying to see Tamara's avatar again, is is assured she's in the VR environment, but can't find her there. From his point of view, Graystone deserves Tauron justice.

But Tamara's digital ghost isn't there because she's been let out, and for that story, we have to talk about Zoe and Lacy. In this episode, Zoe finds a way to connect with the holobands so she can meet her friend in the VR world. While there's a door to the V-Club and all of that jazz, her backdoor is the black room where Graystone built the Tamara avatar. It's a great reveal, the bright light of the door making her appear out of nowhere, as confused as ever. And since the girls can't know she's "as real as" VR Zoe, they just let her loose in the club. All I can say is that this subplot is going to be interesting.

I wonder if this Tamara could serve the purpose VR Zoe was supposed to, if Sister Clarice gets her hands on her. We learn a little more about that in a secret, filter-enabled conversation between her and a Gemenese contact who's not too happy Ben/Zoe blew the train and brought all this attention on the Soldiers. It appears she believes in a prophecy about Apotheosis, but not everyone in the organization does. What IS Apotheosis? The dictionary calls it "the highest point in the development of something; culmination or climax", and in this context seems to mean VR Zoe, but you can never be sure, it could mean Tamara. The idea that the Soldiers might have different factions should be expected as the terrorist cells have a partitioned structure (as evidenced by Ben's friend having contacts that could allow Lacy to take the Cylon body to Gemenon, but is blissfully unaware that Clarice is part of the organization). The left hand doesn't talk to the right one, and that's how the bombing happened. Speaking of Ben, we also find out he was picked up by Duram's Global Defense Department a year ago, with bomb-making equipment, and released. Irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but the screw-up puts pressure on the GDD to make bold moves, like force a search of the security clearance-only Graystone house.

CAPRICANADA: The Global Defense Department scenes are shot in Riverview Hospital's Crease Clinic. The same location is used for Clarice's VR hallway. Speaking of hospitals, UBC's Koerner Library acts as the establishing shot of Caprica General Hospital. The off-track bettering place Willie is "working" at is only a few blocks away from the Little Tauron street corner, in Chinatown. Since the Tamara avatar is taking on a bigger role, it may be relevant to mention she is played Alberta-born Genevieve Buechner. In fact, many small roles in Caprica are played by Canadian actors, perhaps cast when the character wasn't going to be too important, then got developed in the writers' room (as with BSG).

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: If PR expert Priyah Magnus looks familiar, it's because the same actress played Kat, the edgy Viper pilot, on Battlestar Galactica (she's not the first BSG alumn to reappear in a different role, but it's the most notable to date). Clarice following a prophecy that not everyone necessarily believes in echoes a lot of what happened in Battlestar.

VERSIONS: Deleted scenes include a report of strife in Graystone's Pyramid team, Zoe working on the VR interface with Serge, and Adama and his mother talking about Tauron justice.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - This is a typical episode. Pieces are moving, information is teased, but we don't yet know to what end.

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