Caprica, Chapter II: Sh** Just Got Real

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As I alluded to in last week’s Caprica essay – where I examined the first hints of the meltdown to come – I’m quite excited about the new direction the producers are now taking the show.

Friday night was a “mid-season finale,” which is now being followed by some sort of extended hiatus, but what’s clear even at this point is that the show’s writers are beginning to see the value in breaking out of the bubble. I actually call it the ‘bubble of gloom and theory.’ The bubble in which fathers fret over virtual daughters, a mother has something of a secluded mental breakdown, where an ailing father curls up on the couch with his holoband, scouring New Cap City for his little girl.

All these internalized, detached, removed sequences that have lined Caprica thus far. (More at Techland: Read our interview with the Caprica creators)

As much as anyone watching the show, I’ve appreciated the philosophical, metaphysical debates that are playing out within this bubble. But I can also understand why some early viewers of the series may have grown antsy. This is all talking and mulling, posturing and emoting. Where’s the action? Where’s the momentum?

Well, Friday night’s episode tossed a grenade into that bubble and blew the series wide open, with a chapter that looked and felt unlike anything the show has done thus far. We opened with a high-speed chase – and a robotic war machine on the move – saw the STO actually step up and commit some real terror, witnessed Amanda Graystone take the plunge in a suicide attempt, and saw Joseph Adama get permanently obliterated in New Cap City.

It was a wealth of payoffs, one after another, all with far-reaching implications. For instance, now that we know the robot’s on the run, and that Graystone Industries is losing its military connections, what does this mean for Zoe’s avatar? If they decommission the project, where does her sentience go? And if the company starts to go broke, how will the affluent Graystones begin to cope? There’s also that whole theft and murder subplot, lingering around since the pilot…how is Graystone going to deal with the prospect of becoming a common criminal? (More at Techland: See a preview of the whale war, to air on tonight’s episode of Life)

The Adamas, forced out of the holoband universe, will now have to direct their rage elsewhere. Lacy, betrayed by the STO, is clearly done trying to petition them for help. Sister Clarice, knowing that she was the target of a hit, is no doubt going to either go underground or retaliate in a very real way. And Amanda: Even if she isn’t dead – and here’s betting she isn’t – she’s clearly hit rock bottom. I think it’s through her story where the issue of mourning and tragedy will shift. Joseph Adama and Daniel Graystone now have bigger things on their minds.

All plot aside, I just loved the way this show moved. There was tension, there was suspense, there were explosions, as well as the creative device of structuring it all around Zoe’s road race and the timeline leading up to that showdown. And we’ve now crossed some crucial lines that ensure the show is going to be more immediate and urgent. No doubt emotional discussions and debates will stille be prominent, but one of my favorite recent Caprica moments involved Clarice, on the phone with a teary-eyed Amanda, all but rolling her eyes at this mushy housewife. I bet Clarice’s annoyance matches that felt by some of the show’s critics.

But there’s more parts moving now than there were two episodes ago, and while it might take it a little while for all of these developments to fully sink in – we’ll be posting a much more thorough Caprica analysis and primer before the show resumes – I finished the episode a little exhilarated by where things are going and how quickly they’re getting there. I think we’ve turned a page here. Sh** just got real.

Caprica fans: Impressed by this changing tempo and attitude?

Caprica critics: Any chance you’ll give this show a try again now, knowing that we just witnessed a rather bad-ass high-speed chase, and a wicked car bombing?

More at Techland: Welcome to the Harry Potter theme park