Caprica Review: “Rebirth”

Caprica’s second episode brings us further into the show’s funhouse reflection of our world, and into the mind of Zoe-Avatar-ProtoCylon, misunderstood teen monster. It’s not perfect, but it has my vote for best series currently running on television.1

Title: Rebirth

Cast and Crew

Written by Ronald D. Moore and Remi Aubuchon

Directed by Jonas Pate

Eric Stoltz as Daniel Graystone
Esai Morales as Joseph Adama
Allesandra Torresani as Zoe
Magda Apanowicz as Lacy Rand
Paula Malcomson as Amanda Graystone
Sasha Roiz as Sam Adama
Sina Najafi as Bill Adama
James Marsters as Barnabas Greele
Philip Granger as Tanner
Polly Walker as Sister Clarice Willow
Scott Porter as Nestor

Dale Wolfe as Steve Bahara
Hiro Kanagawa as Cyrus Xander
Avan Jogia as Ben Stark (in flashback)

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.

Premise

Zoe-Avatar-ProtoCylon struggles with her new situation, Lil Willy Adama tussles with familial influences, and Amanda makes a startling announcement.

High Point

The somewhat confusing visual device used to show the human and robotic aspects of Zoe work very well in this episode. Technically, it’s very simple: sometimes we see the proto-Cylon that everyone else sees, and sometimes we see Zoe as she still imagines herself. The shifts allow us to understand the violations that she undergoes at the hands of callous technician and, by extension, understand the future Cylons’ point-of-view.

The tiny teen in a monster body also allows for some awkward serio-comic moments as well.

Low Points

1. See my note under “Story,” which strikes me as more a “Problem Point” than a “Low” one. However, it is the sort of thing the writers will need to watch.

2. I know I’m repeating myself to no good end, but I don’t care. The more this show focuses on the complex religious/social elements, the more Battlestar Galactica‘s final seasons seem a violation of the series’ premise. Unlike Star Wars, the conclusion here, rather than the prequel, makes hash of the rest.

3. The “previously, on Caprica” section at the start makes the show seem 35% soapier than it actually is.2

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6. We have a misunderstood monster story, well-handled, and set against a fascinating and fleshed-out world that is not quite the one we inhabit.

Effects: 6/6. They’ve integrated Zoe-Avatar-ProtoCylon brilliantly with the cast and setting.

Story: 5/6 The misunderstood monster story works very well.

I wonder about Amanda’s (inaccurate) revelations at the end of the show. She’s a grieving mother, true, and under tremendous pressure. She may behave unpredictably. She’s also a well-educated, well-heeled member of a leading industrial family who would for years have avoided public displays without consulting lawyers and/or spin doctors. It’s a stretch to imagine that her stress, combined with some uncertain revelations about her daughter (whose memory she would more likely be driven to protect) would lead her to make her shocking announcement on camera, before a huge and emotional crowd, in a manner that could destroy her family’s future prosperity.

This marks the second time in two weeks that (without further explanation or context) a character’s action seems driven more by the demands of the story arc than the character. This happens all the time on television, but it stands out in a well-acted series with a script so driven by character.

Acting: 5/6. Torresani and Apanowicz continue to excel in their roles, and most of the cast carry on the BSG tradition of strong acting. I found some of the Adama scenes a little stiff and overtly scripted.

Emotional Response: 5/6. From the handling of Zoe-Avatar-ProtoCylon to the manipulations of Sister Clarisse, this show features a lot of effective and plausible low-level creepiness.

Production: 6/6. Caprica City has this great Gotham vibe in some scenes.

Overall: 5/6. Caprica has become my new favourite show.

In total, the “Rebirth” receives 36/42

Notes

1. I’m a huge fan of Mad Men, but it’s between seasons.

2. Of course, 75% of online statistics are made up by the person posting.

7 replies on “Caprica Review: “Rebirth””

  1. TwistyHat says:

    Amazing you like it so. I though it was a totally snoozefest of unimaginative rubbish.

  2. Tekzel says:

    I agree with JD, I am hooked. It is a well written and acted character driven drama with sci-fi elements. For the most part, the characters are believable and easy to relate to.

    I am less bothered by Amanda’s big reveal than JD was though, people under that kind of stress can do a lot of things. How many mothers have murdered their own children, absolutely contrary to every natural instinct? How many fathers have killed their entire family in a murder-suicide? These are extremes and it happens in the real world. Temporary insanity, they call it. I think what Amanda did would take a lesser state of temporary insanity than would the preceding examples.

    I have high hopes for this show, the pilot was great to me, and last nights episode continues the greatness. Lets hope it doesn’t follow the Heroes formula: A great first season then a quick hop off a cliff.

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      Yeah, I give it a pass on similar grounds. However, I’m hoping characters do not continue to do these sorts of things in order to drive the plot, and I had similar feelings about the nature (not the fact of) last week’s terrorist act.

  3. Foeclan says:

    I liked this episode better than the pilot. Both were interesting, but I’m finding myself put off by the theistic terrorism story. If I want to watch people blowing each other up over whose imaginary friend is better, I’ll watch the news. That part of it was less of a focus this time, so I think that’s why I liked it more.

    Hopefully we’ll get a better idea of why Ben did what he did in the pilot, since it was clearly premeditated unless C4 vests are all the rage in Caprican fashion this season and thus far doesn’t seem to fit with the picture they’re painting of he and Zoe.

    And how did Lacy get into the house (much less past the gate) when Daniel explicitly revoked her security clearance?

    • Tekzel says:

      Fiction often draws from current events, sometimes with the intention of showing from a different angle how ridiculous those events are. Maybe they are trying to do the same thing here.

      I assumed that Zoe reinstated her access, she was inside, though in a mechanical body. As the super hacker she was made out to be, I doubt that would pose much of a problem.

      • Foeclan says:

        I don’t begrudge them including current events in the show, nor are they necessarily doing a poor job. Just not what I’m looking for. Purely a personal preference.

        It occurs to me that they used voice controls to authorize people, so maybe they never thought to remove their dead daughter from the authorization list and she can do a close enough approximation with the Cylon body.

        Kinda wish they’d say stuff like that rather than leaving it to the viewer to make up explanations. Makes it feel like a plot hole. Though I suppose it could turn up as a plot point later as how her dad figures out she’s in there.

        • joe__gee says:

          They’re gonna have broken furniture to figure out too. :) I liked those touches.

          If one looks on the internet, there’s a spoiler-filled discussion of Caprica’s effects. The only thing I’ll share is that the fellow they interview comments about how quickly the plot and characters have evolved to require many more effects shots. I think we’re about to go on quite a ride.

          The crew is close to completing shooting of the series’ first season. :)

          -Joe

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