Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blood and Chrome

After the failure that was Caprica, the creators of BSG again went back to the well for a prequel series this time set during the First Cylon War. It was planned to be a series, and after a long time they finally produced a pilot movie which the network then decided not to air. It passed on the series, but decided instead to debut Blood and Chrome as a web series, so they split the movie into 10 parts and premiered them on the internet. Only later was it aired in its entirety and released on DVD. This review is of the full unrated DVD version.

Overall, I found I actually quite enjoyed Blood and Chrome. It was a nice palate cleanse from Caprica and reminiscent of the good stuff in BSG. For me, Razor was the best thing Galactica did, and so going back to young Adama was fun. I was surprised how well a lot of this worked, despite some retcon. I'm kind of glad it didn't go to series, because that would probably have led to more bad continuity and such, but this is a very nice movie to use as a prequel to BSG, and it works whether you are a regular viewer or have never seen it.

The basic story is that it's 10 years after Caprica and we're fierce into the Cylon War. Young Bill Adama is a hotshot pilot fresh out of the academy and is assigned to the Galactica where he's given Raptor duty, though he wants to be flying a Viper. He has to transport some scientist lady, but they get more than they bargained for when they come to a planet in Cylon space on a secret mission. Ultimately Adama gets his Viper and we learn the origins of his call sign "Husker".

Blood and Chrome opens with the exact same shot of Caprica that we ended that series with. I think this was a very clever way to begin, as it starts us just where we left off. With some Adama voice-over catching us up to what's gone on with the rise of the Cylons, we are treated to some of the same shots of Cylon construction that we saw at the end of Caprica. This helps make them all part of the same universe.

We see Cylon centurions here, but they are a new model. They appear to be sort of a cross between the old-fashioned Larson versions and the ones seen on BSG. While it's nice to have a step between in the evolution of the Cylons, I feel like this came too soon. Razor's flashbacks take place at the end of the war, and we see old-style Cylons in that. So I'm not sure I like seeing only these new models and no older ones. Part of the fun for me of the Razor flashbacks was seeing the old-style Galactica stuff.

The movie does at least keep up the other classic aesthetics with the old flight suits and even the Cylon raiders and base stars adhere to the classic design. I really appreciated these nods.

The movie takes an interesting path in having a human collaborator with the Cylons. Though this was a  subject of paranoia in early BSG, we never really saw it this way. It was a great way to do something instead of just Cylon skinjobs, since we know there are only 12 models. I found the reveal to be intriguing even if it doesn't really go anywhere. How very human for someone to side with the poor Cylons. And of course the Cylons don't care about her pity for them and just kill her!

We see an evolution into the creation of the skinjobs here. It's like the next step up from Zoe, a humanoid robot with what appeared to be an organic arm grafted onto it. And in a nice nod to later continuity, this model is voiced by Tricia Helfer. Apparently, this design will eventually lead to Number Six.

As I said, I liked Razor, and I watched the Razor minisodes right after Blood and Chrome. It was cool to see Adama start in the war and then the end of the war. Unfortunately, it does seem like they played a bit with continuity. In Razor, Adama says he's never flown in combat before, and is a little nervous about it. But here, Adama is eager for action and takes all kinds of risky maneuvers blowing Cylons out of the sky. Maybe we can excuse it by saying he wasn't going intentionally into a combat situation and it wasn't in a Viper, but that's a stretch. It's hard to believe that he's never flown combat for three years. Also, there are similarities in story between the two, both involving Cylon operations on secret ice planets.

One thing I just don't understand is the notion of Cylon territory in the war. I don't get why the war is being fought out in space and not the 12 Colonies. Why is this not a land-based civil war? Or at least, a star system-based war? Did the Cylons build their own ships? When Blood and Chrome begins, they've got space marked as their territory, and worlds they have been using as bases and stuff. I simply don't understand this. The text that opens the miniseries says they left to find a planet for their own, but I got the impression that was after the war. And even if it wasn't, why would humanity not just let them go? Why were they at war? We've only ever had the vaguest reasons for the war: that they "rose up against their masters". I need more! This would have made so much more sense if the Cylons were an alien race who attacked Earth.

Once again, the creators use their freedoms to throw some gratuitous nudity in. In this case, it's a very brief shot of some boobs in a shower scene, showing that the men and women steam together. It doesn't really add anything, but it's not as pointlessly salacious as the stuff in The Plan. Also, they've gotten freer with profanity; there are many uses of "shit", though they keep to "frak" otherwise. Did it air this way on TV? It felt like they were just, "hey, this is DVD and the internet, let's curse!" Saying "shit" over and over doesn't make it any more adult, but this is a habit with television shows that become movies.

Despite my issues with some of it, I found Blood and Chrome to be much more enjoyable than I expected it to be. It ends with Adama zooming off to a rocking version of the Galactica theme music and I felt like I'd just had a dose of the old BSG magic. And I was never a big fan of the show, but it reminded me of the good stuff, when it was people fighting robots and none of that silly angel stuff. It maintains continuity with Caprica, and there are some mentions of Graystone, but also keeps focused on Adama and where things are heading when BSG starts. The few retcons are a little annoying but not as glaring as some moments in The Plan or Caprica. If this is the last we ever get of this series, I was surprised that it was pretty worthwhile. It's not the most amazing thing I've ever seen, but it was a good prequel and it was fun.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Last Thoughts on Caprica

While I generally liked the pilot on the whole, Caprica as a series was essentially a failure very early on.   I've complained a lot about BSG here, but that series was reasonably consistent compared to Caprica. Maybe it would have found its footing in season 2, but I'm very doubtful about that. The origin of the Cylons already conflicts with established BSG continuity, but if we ignore the revelations in the last season or two, it works okay. Caprica could serve as a decent introduction to the universe for the uninitiated. But little things like Willy Adama turning out to not be who we thought he was felt like cheats. Again, this likely would have been softened as the series went on and we got to the real Bill Adama, but it was bothersome.

Knowing that we've now invested in characters like Zoe and Lacy makes me wonder how they are supposed to fit into the larger Cylon mythology. What becomes of Zoe now that she's go her fancy robot body? Is she immortal? Does she die in the war? For someone who essentially created the Cylons, why is there no mention of her at all in BSG? Problems like this haunt the series.

While it was a curious development to say that the Cylons' monotheism came from the humans that programmed them, that monotheism is never properly explored. There are no attempts to really look at how it fits into this universe and the nature of faith. Instead, it is mixed with stock fundamentalist villainy tropes to say that religion started the First Cylon War. The show comes across as being very anti-religion in a way, and this seems at odds with itself when you consider the angels that supposedly were behind it all. The tensions between the polys and the monads was never properly explored beyond "those guys are terrorists". It was lazy world-building.

And yet there were great moments scattered throughout. The intercutting of Zoe-bot with Zoe-avatar was inspired. There were some nice character moments. But it's unfortunate that so much ended up centering around a misunderstanding of apotheosis, and gang warfare. When Adama would talk about his dad the lawyer on BSG, it excited me to see Joe Adama on Caprica practicing law. I would have liked to get a show that was part legal drama in space. Instead, attention shifted to his mob connections.

Characters like Amanda Graystone would have a few great moments, and then oscillate between extremes of craziness. It was clear that the writers had no idea what show they were writing for the entire duration of the season. Even after "retooling" halfway through, the series remained adrift. Nowhere is this more evident than in the character of Tamara who simply had no reason to be in this series and every attempt at stringing the narrative along with her resulted in abrupt dead ends. So we wait for several episodes for Adama to find her, only to have him immediately booted from the game. Then we wait for episodes for her and Zoe to reconcile and discover their purpose, and she's just written out. She was inconsequential and it dragged the series down. That's true of so much of the series: it had so many ideas that ended up just being there dragging things down instead of developing or paying off. BSG was guilty of this too, but not so much so soon.

Eric Stolz was wonderful, though. I single him out as the best acting on the show. No matter what curveball the writers threw there, he was always in the moment as Daniel Graystone. I could disagree with the writing, but not with his performance. It was always strong. Other performances were strong as well, but it's much harder to get behind some of them when the characterization is so bad. Yet Amanda finally reconciling with Zoe, or Clarice's realization she killed the wrong spy, these are moments that stand out.

In the end, Caprica was not essential viewing and I didn't really miss much by giving up when I did. It succeeded at least in getting a mostly self-contained story into that first season. While it's a bit of a shame Sci-Fi cancelled it when it did, just before it picked up again, it's just as well the series ended. I don't think a second season would have been good for it. To go further down that rabbit hole, now with the added knowledge of 5 years down the road, would probably have been no more successful than what came before.

Sorry, Caprica, but you'll stand as a testament to how inconsistent writing can kill a show.

Best episodes: the pilot, "Gravdancing", "Here Be Dragons"
Worst episode: "Unvanquished"

Saturday, August 9, 2014


And now we come to the finish.

Synopsis: Apparently Clarice doesn't need her holoband after all and no one can stop her plan now. She's got bombs being planted at the stadium and is prepping heaven for the arrivals. The GDD descends on the Graystones, but Cyrus helps them escape. Daniel and Amanda find the holoband and discover what her plan is. Graystone gets the other lab tech (the one that Zoe didn't kill) to help him link up his laptop and he and Amanda sneak into the stadium disguised as fans and commandeer the computer network to locate the bombs. Once they do, Daniel summons troops of Cylons who descend on the stadium and take out all the terrorists. Zoe hacks her way into Clarice's heaven program and gives her a stern talking-to about what a terrible idea this all is. And then she uses her power to destroy the simulation and fry Clarice's servers. As the episode ends, we see a jump ahead five years where the Graystones have designed a "skinjob" model for Zoe, the public has welcomed Cylons as a worker class, Lacy is now head of the monad church on Gemenon, and Clarice is giving passionate speeches to the Cylons about how they are lives and God has a plan for them, so they must rise up against their oppressive creators. We know this won't end well, but it does end this series.

Well, at least it's over and things were mostly wrapped up in some sort of way.

I liked Cyrus pulling out the gun and saving the Graystones. Go Cyrus! Though apparently it's pretty easy to dodge Caprican security. Even if you're the most wanted man in town and are the face of a famous interstellar company, you can disappear by wearing a hat. Seriously, Daniel and Amanda just put on hats and sunglasses and immediately they blend in.

It's clear that Tamara wasn't necessary at all because she doesn't appear at all in this episode. So really, all that time we wasted with her character was pointless. She could have just been erased after the pilot and that would have been better for the show. They didn't know what to do with her, and dragging out stories to keep her around only hurt this show.

The ending, with the Cylons coming to the stadium in airships was very reminiscent of Attack of the Clones. And it served the exact same story function: these factory-made weapons will become our heroes but also eventually our enemies.

I like that we actually saw suicide vests again like the one Ben wore on the train. So they didn't just plant bombs under seats; they were going to blow themselves up too. That seems totally unnecessary, since they're all going to die anyway, but maybe it was a contingency plan. Apart from the logic or lack thereof, I just liked that it was a connection to the bomb we saw in the pilot.

Clarice really has lost her mind. It's all about what she wants, though she keeps claiming it's God's will. I've known women like that. The sort of super-spiritual person who claims everything they do is from God even when it's their own selfish quest for power. In fact, there was a recent article about such people in Charisma magazine. So on that level I totally understand the character and where they were going with it. But some of the things she said and did still bother me because they got the level of religion and terrorism being synonymous, which this show seems to keep propagating. When faced with the fact she's killing thousands of people, Clarice is completely nonplussed, saying it's irrelevant. But then we get the kicker and the point where I felt like Clarice was no longer just speaking for her character but on behalf of the show. She says, "If one man is resurrected, that will change the worlds." This is an obvious allusion to Christ. But in the context of her artificial afterlife and all, it feels like the show is taking needless shots at Christianity. I won't go on a long tangent here, but to conflate Clarice's or the STO's plan with the origins of Christianity is to completely misunderstand the Church. I feel like the writers think they're being clever, saying that Christians are really judgmental nut jobs who don't care about humanity because they're in the exclusive Jesus club that gets to go to heaven. And that's not it at all. The Bible says that "God is willing that none should perish but that all should come to repentence." If Clarice's plan was to warn the Colonies that a reckoning was coming from the One True God but that she offered a means of immortality and THEN she blew up the stadium, one might argue the similarities. But she's just killing people indiscriminately and only her people get to go to heaven. She doesn't ever really evangelize for the One True God. Zoe at least did (though I don't think she ever really knew what she was getting into). So the two ideas are not comparable.

What they do get right is Zoe's point about all this. She argues that if everyone just goes to heaven than nobody's actions will have consequences and humanity will continue to live vile lives; life will just be a game like New Cap City. I wonder what original Zoe would have ultimately done. Zoe-A has now forged her own path apart from the STO. In this way, she's also distinguished herself from original Zoe.  I do think that the New Cap City metaphor was a little heavy-handed over the course of the series. "Get it? It's like life!" No one knows why it exists or what the point of it is, but once you die you can't come back.

But what do the angels think about all this? We know that Zoe talked to angels, and we must assume these are the angels from BSG. We saw one of them in an episode and it was she who gave Zoe the idea to make the Cylons and the avatar program in the first place. What was the original intent of the program? Clarice was going to use it for this crazy cult heaven, but was that Zoe's original intent or was Clarice just messing with her? And for all Clarice's talk of knowing God's will, it seems the angels never came to her. So what was the angel's intent in putting this all in motion? Ulitmately, it leads to full-scale war and the near-destruction of humanity. Was that God's will too? Somehow I have a hard time seeing this all as benevolent.

So Willy Adama really is dead, and I guess it didn't matter that we never really got to know him because he wasn't the real Bill Adama after all. The Adama we come to know is born later and is named after his brother. Does Bill Adama have Tauron tattoos and stuff, or did the Cylon War keep him away from those things? It is an annoying bait-and-switch for this series. We start the pilot thinking that this is a character we will know later. There were little continuity nods, like the lighter. And then we find out it was a fake-out, like so much of this series. That's frustrating. Had the show gone on and we'd gotten to know little Bill, maybe it wouldn't feel so cheap.

Now let's look at the "Shape of Things to Come".
I hate hate hate it when TV shows jump ahead five years. It's becoming a lazy cliche now. And Kevin Murphy having just done it recently on Desperate Housewives before coming over to Caprica makes it that much worse. Had the show gone on, it seems they would have used it as a sort of flash forward, like How I Met Your Mother did with the wedding. But I still don't like it.

We do get to see the integration of Cylons into everyday life. Graystone says that it's important to remember the Cylons are tools and not to imbue them with some sort of humanity. At the same time, he's doing just that with his dead daughter. Is he just putting on a face for TV, or can he really not see the connection? He similarly had talked about the Cylons as slaves earlier in the season.

I don't like the idea of Zoe getting a "skinjob" body. Even though it's not a real organic skinjob like later, it still feels too early for that to me. And I don't like the use of the word "skinjob" here. Better question: what becomes of Zoe as the First Cylon War begins? Does she die? She's not one of the 12 Cylon skinjob models on BSG. So what the heck becomes of her? All of this skinjob stuff actually makes it harder to reconcile where he places is in the ultimate BSG storyline.

Lacy is now the head of the monad church? LACY? So she took over by force, I guess. She holds some sort of authority over Clarice, but is it exercised? What is her connection to the Cylons as they plot the war? And just why are the Cylons in church anyway?

Clarice takes on a role as a crazed prophet-preacher rallying the Cylons to war against their makers in the name of God. We know from the little "blood cell tunnel" effect that these scenes are set in a virtual church, not a real one. While it makes sense on one hand to hold these meetings in secret, why are the Cylons going? How did she rally them there? What level of sentience to the Cylons have that they can project avatars into this space? And it looks like we have Clarice to blame for the First Cylon War for putting the idea in their heads to overthrow their makers. That just makes them automatons of a different kind, to be brainwashed like that. I mean, I have no love for the "robots that rise against their makers" trope, but it's one thing to say that they evolved intelligence and weren't respected so they started a war. It's quite another to say the idea was just put in their heads and they became puppets of another kind. Zoe should have just killed Clarice.

What is Zoe's ultimate connection to the Cylons on Gemenon and stuff? Do the Graystones let anyone know they have a walking daughter-doll living with them now? Does Daniel try to market this to those grieving losses? I feel like there are a lot of implications that never get fleshed out. Part of that is because this was all shot before the show was cancelled and intended to lead into future seasons. But I'm somewhat glad it was cancelled. I prefer it mostly ending and leaving it at that before the continuity got even more muddied.

I like though that last shot of the planet as we pull out. There's a kind of somber feeling knowing where it's all going. That epilogue, despite its flaws, at least did a good job closing out the series and setting up what was to come. In that way, we didn't need another season or series. ...And yet, they would try once again to do a prequel, this time set in the First Cylon War, called Blood & Chrome.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Here Be Dragons

Synopsis: Amanda doesn't trust Sam, and when they learn he plans to kill the Tamara avatar somehow, they kill Sam from the game. Fidelia puts a hit on the Adamas. Sam and Joseph try to make a run for it, but are caught. There's some gunfire and before the threat is neutralized Willy is shot and dies. The Graystones realize they are only pushing Zoe away by chasing her, so they wait for her to come to them. They have a sort of reconciliation in V-world and invite her back any time. But during all of this, Clarice breaks into the Graystone house looking for her holoband with all their heaven plans. The Graystones remove their holobands just in time to be caught by her and her husbands. But luckily, Zoe hops back in the Cylon body, kills Nestor and scares Clarice away. Back on Gemenon, Lacy's life is in danger, but the STO kids stage a coup and kill off their teachers. Rather than simply escaping, Lacy takes command of the Cylon army.

Now this is more like it. While I didn't fully love everything in this episode, it was much better than most of the episodes before it. The scenes with the Graystones and Zoe finally sort of becoming a family again were great and everyone put all they had into it.

The episode opens with the standard "previously on Caprica" and even shows us a shot of Caprica, but then starts with the Lacy story. More like "previously on Gemenon"!

I think it was a nice bit of continuity that Amanda recognizes Sam's face and doesn't trust him. She doesn't quite realize exactly that he's the guy who almost killed her back in episode 4 (and why would she remember exactly since she only saw him the one time), but I like that it was a vague enough recollection to inform her actions. It was not that TV thing where everyone is immediately recognized, but at the same time they didn't forget about it. For a show that's been pretty sloppy with continuity, I was glad to see this.

Horses on Caprica kind of bothered me. We know from BSG that these humans will all go to earth and eventually be our ancestors (well, half-ancestors since the other half is Cylon or something). BSG had a lot of annoying stuff from Earth that they shouldn't have had (Bob Dylan, Emily Dickenson) and that drove me crazy, but animals is a whole other thing. Am I to believe that horses evolved just as humans did in these Twelve Worlds? Or are horses in this universe purely products of imagination and solely confined to the holobands?

Zoe turns the horses into dragons and they are kind of shlocky-looking TV CGI creations. But Zoe's transformation over V-world has been commended for how real it is. Graystone just mentioned her generative algorithms (nice bit of continuity there) and how she's improved on the setting. So I find it hard to believe she makes lackluster dragons. If these were just things already in the game I might buy it. However, perhaps she modeled them specifically on the hokey illustrations in some book about the dragon-fighters of Kobol. If so, then I buy it.

Speaking of which, dragon-fighters of Kobol seems an obvious allusion to Dragonriders of Pern, the popular book series by Anne McCaffrey. Ron Moore is a fan of the series and in fact had attempted to produce a television series based on them.

Graystone has very good security at his house. Gotta commend him for his forward thinking.

The whole bit with Odin having to shoot Lacy and then the gun not being loaded really annoyed me. Must everything be a test with these STO people? I was also left a little confused by the whole thing because I understand about the STO setting him up, but then his buddies take them out. So it seems Odin had this planned all along as a sting operation. My question then is, was Lacy in on this plan the whole time and she's a great actress, or did she have no idea they were risking her life that way?

It would have been so much smarter of them to just leave Gemenon. I understand Lacy going back to the Cylons, but couldn't she have taken them with her, or just given them orders to kill everyone while they left? I don't understand Lacy's motivations anymore, and this is a constant problem on this series. Her only motivation that I can see is her loyalty and friendship to Zoe, who she thinks is tied to the Cylons somehow. So I get that as far as it goes. But I don't see how that makes her some true believer militant monotheist. Lacy used to have enough sense not to just get on the train. Forethought has made her a worse person.

The Graystones suggest they will try to make a new body for Zoe, a more humanoid body with skin. I hate the implications of skinjobs coming in on this show. It's far too early for that, since that was supposed to be just newly developing during the Cylon War. Or there are already skinjobs that exist because the Final Five are out there. Either way, I don't want the Graystones responsible. Besides, there's no Zoe model.

Willy Adama dies. So this character who started on the show but then had less and less screen time is killed off. In my notes it says, "when you don't know how to write a kid, you kill him." Says it all.

What the heck happened to Tamara? Zoe met with her parents, and then later joined them back in her house. What about all that "I have a purpose and I think you're part of it" stuff? Zoe just abandons Tamara in their fancy virtual hideaway fort and nobody cares. No one mentions her name again once Sam leaves and after the very beginning we never see her again in the episode. Good riddance, but that's some bad writing there. Is Tamara just going to go crazy again? What's she going to do with herself?

I must confess I was very confused by where the original Zoe-bot U-87 Cylon was. I thought maybe it was on Gemenon last episode, and was the one Lacy talked to. But no, it seems like that was just a random Cylon and the bot from the crash is still in Daniel's lab because it's the one Zoe goes back to. It's confusing because sometimes it seems like not all the Cylons have the "U-87" plate on them. So I started using that as a way to track Zoe-bot. The one on Gemenon had it. But I guess they all do and I just can't always see it. Also, though it was never explained how or why, I guess Zoe was still hacking into the holobands via the Cylon body however she did before. Which means Vergis never did take the chip and wipe it to make the other bots. So how did they succeed in making working MCPs? Or was Vergis right all along that Graystone just wasn't able to work with something he stole and didn't understand?

This was an emotional episode, and a reasonably satisfying one. The Tauron stuff was mostly kept to a minimum, which I liked. The Lacy stuff also wasn't too bad as it killed off some more useless STO terrorists. But the heart of it was the Graystone stuff. Here was an Amanda I could get behind. Good job, folks. One episode left.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Heavens Will Rise

Synopsis: Clarice is moving forward with her plans for apotheosis: she's going to blow up the stadium for realsies this time, and use Zoe's avatar program to save the martyrs responsible. Duram was killed by a mysterious sniper in the woods after revealing to Amanda his hand in Marbeth's death. Lacy discovers she has control over the Cylons on Gemenon, one of which is the Zoe-bot U-87, though whether Zoe's still in there is unknown. Clarice finally learns that Amanda was the spy and she killed her innocent wife for no reason.Zoe and Tamara have made a little jungle fort/Great Wall of Monotheists inside New Cap City and Graystone popped in to talk to Zoe, who promptly booted him out. Now he's going back in with Amanda and Sam as a bodyguard. Though Sam has been scheming with Evelyn and may have an ulterior motive. Zoe's feeling? "Let them come."

Okay, this is more like it. The show still has numerous problems, but this episode was much more engaging as plot threads are advanced and people who have been stupid are called out for their stupidity.

Graystone admits how wrong he was for the fire torture he inflicted on Zoe-bot. It's nice to see Daniel and Amanda cozying up to each other again.

Graystone gets into the game the first time because he says he has backdoor access to all the programs in the holobands because he invented them. If that's the case, why couldn't he and his company shut down all the illegal hacks in V-world?

Clarice's demonstration of apotheosis to the church was not a hypothetical. She's literally planning to bomb the stadium. What kind of ridiculous message is that to send to people? "Follow my one true god or I'll blow you up!" And apotheosis won't help the many many dead who won't get their avatars uploaded, nor will it convince the polytheists of her apotheosis ideas. How will anyone else know about her little virtual heaven? ...And can't people just hack their way into it like they hack into everything in V-world, thus negating the purpose of dying in the first place? Clarice is just another crazy terrorist no better than Barnabas, and her delusions of godhood are getting to her.

It was nice though to her her husband say he had second thoughts about the mass casualties of their plan, since he could just upload the avatars without murder. Glad there is some voice of reason in the STO.

Duram getting shot was a shocker! Sure, he deserves it for getting Marbeth killed, but I'll miss him. He does prove his bias against monotheists though. He doesn't care about Marbeth's baby since he'll just grow up to be another terrorist. Uh, not if you stop the terrorists, silly!

There's a moment when Willy comes home wearing an Avenging Angels shirt and Sam immediately makes him take it off. Okay, that's fine, but is Willy so stupid that he doesn't know he's wearing his sister on that shirt? Why can't this kid figure this out? Especially because the people in New Cap City KNOW who Tamara is! If people at school are talking about the Avenging Angels, are they talking about how one of them is his dead sister? Why does he have no feelings about that? Why is the show not addressing this? And why is Willy barely a character now?

I like the wrinkle that Lacy can command the Cylons. Not sure what else is going on with her though. I miss the Lacy who was too scared to get on the train.

I love that moment when Clarice is called stupid for killing Marbeth, and the sense of overwhelming panic that floods her. She deserves the tongue-lashing! Finally someone on this show says the things I've been thinking!

Overall, this was a much better episode than those that preceded it. Despite the problems this show continues to have, it's building to a conclusion of some sort. I hope the pay-off is worth it.

The Dirteaters

Okay, first let me clarify something from last week. Duram DID give Marbeth's file to his boss, so he did indeed orchestrate the whole thing as a misdirect. It's a bit callous of him to sentence her to death to save his own investigation, but since he hates monotheists I guess he doesn't care. Plus she was getting in Amanda's way. But I don't understand how Clarice knew about it unless the edit of the show was a cheat. What we see is that "confessor man" tells her "you have a spy in your house" and she immediately takes off the holoband. So as far as we know, she was never told who the spy was! Unless this is just tricksy editing, I find it very confusing.

Now on to this episode. It's worth noting that from last week on none of these episodes aired on Sci-Fi until after the DVD was released. Then they burned off the last 5 in a marathon that January.

Synopsis: We learn in flashback of how Sam and Joseph lost their parents. Two of Clarice's husbands are killed in New Cap City by Zoe, so now they know someone's running around with her avatar (but they are too stupid to figure out that it's really her). Tamara and Zoe are now called the Avenging Angels, and hype about them has spread outside the game. When Graystone learns of it, he goes into the game to find her. She and Tamara avoid him, and use their powers to create a place just for them. Graystone tells Amanda about it, and they resolve to go back in and find her. Graystone also educates himself on Tauron and the mob, and secretly meets with Sam, asking that he find some way to avoid killing him. Amanda's spy tech is working, but she can't report to Duram as he's now been fired on trumped up charges.

Now, I'm no fan of the Tauron storyline. It just bores me. But I was glad we at least got a bit more information about the Adama backstory and the Tauron war. This is the sort of thing that LOST would have done episodes ago, and the flashbacks do feel a lot like the way LOST did it. Sam and Joseph feel like Mr. Eko and Yemi. And while there were some good emotional moments here, these flashbacks also fell back on bad writing on discontinuity. The parents show them these suicide pills, with the intent that they will use them if necessary. And then they don't. So why show us the gun if it never goes off, as it were? It's also implied that Adama's grandparents went out by suicide. Why is everyone on this show insane? Are Adama's "we're ready to kill ourselves for our cause" parents any better than the STO?

Then the series pulls another annoying twist, when we're made to think Sam will kill his father for him, but in the end, it's Joseph who pulls the trigger. I object  to this for two reasons: first, it's yet another annoying twist. This show has more twists than M. Night Shyamalan. But secondly, what about when Adama just 5 or 6 episodes ago had to ask Sam what it's like to kill someone? In that episode, he had a problem pulling the trigger even when he knew it was a virtual world and no one was getting hurt. But now I'm supposed to believe he killed 4 people, including his own father, when he was a kid! That's just very very lazy continuity (and I know Kevin Murphy joined the show late, but someone on the staff should have corrected this). Stuff like this is why I'm growing to hate Caprica. Even BSG wasn't this inconsistent in its first year.

Clarice and her family are also kind of dumb. Now that they have Zoe's avatar files and all, what are they doing with them? Nothing! And when her husbands say that saw a girl in V-world whose avatar looked like Zoe, Clarice doesn't even react! WHAT? She's more concerned with designing her artificial afterlife. There's a good moment where she argues it should have more stained glass and statues, only to have them ask, "Statues of who?" Fair point. She somewhat sheepishly implies she means of herself.

And that's really what this episode is highlighting when it's not bogged down in Adama drama: man wanted to become god. If there is to be a thematic connection to Genesis, the words of the Serpent ring true here: "And ye shall be like gods." Graystone wants to play god to bring back the dead and create a robotic slave race. Clarice wants to play god, ushering in an afterlife of her making. Zoe and Tamara are literally playing god in V-world.

What they used to call the Death Walkers are now called the Avenging Angels. Why do Tamara and Zoe keep getting nicknames that sound like bad metal bands? What are they supposed to be "avenging" anyway?

Toward the end of the episode, Zoe and Tamara opt to remake New Cap City in their image using their power over the code. And they're only just doing this now? What have they been doing all this time, just killing gamers? For what reason? Tamara finally suggests they leave New Cap City, and I don't understand why they didn't do that along time ago (apart from the financial reasons that the show already had the sets and costumes).

The club Sinny McNutt's Slash 'n Gutt seems to be a reference to the show's DP Stephen McNutt.

Again, I don't care at all about what's happening on Tauron. And I kind of don't care about Zoe either, since it seems they're never going to do anything interesting with her. We still don't even know how it is she's there, or if she's still in the Zoe-bot. But for all that, at least certain plots were building. Amanda and Daniel are reconciling. And things are heating up for Duram. So the show is starting to build toward the end, even if sometimes it's still far too slow. Not as bad an episode as "Unvanquised", and there are definitely good moments each episode, but the show just doesn't feel tight enough to me. The twists continue to be tiresome.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Synopsis: We pick up with Lacy at the spaceport on her way to STO training on Gemenon. A group of trainees are taken on a plane of some sort only to be hijacked by polytheists demanding their apostasy. Lacy and another guy she meets, Odin, stage a rebellion. But it turns out the whole thing was a ruse anyway; the first exercise for the STO trainees. Graystone is given two weeks to get his program working. The Ha'La'Tha is planning to kill him whether or not he succeeds. It is revealed the "confessor" person is actually the guy in charge at the GDD, and he succeeds in getting Lacy's pin to Clarice. It is indeed a storage device. Duram knows something's fishy, and tries to get cameras to help Amanda's spy mission. But he must reveal that he's got a spy in there. So Clarice is warned there's a spy in her house and she kills Marbeth, thinking it is her. At episode's end, Duram appears to know more than he lets on about who the mole in the GDD is.

I know that some of you won't believe me, but I figured out that that pirate raid was all a ruse almost immediately. I take real-time notes while I watch so I remember what things to write about. The very first note I have reads, and I quote, "FINALLY some conflict between polys and monads -- unless it's all a ruse." I found this so frustrating because it seemed so terribly obvious, especially because this show has a history of such "aren't we clever?" writing turns. Right away I suspected something was up because to date we have never seen ANY conflict between the polytheists and the monotheists on Gemenon. And you would think there would be. I'm very surprised there's been nothing. So I was hoping there might actually be some, but I immediately suspected something was up. Then, when they started "executing" kids, I knew it had to be false. If they really wanted to just kill kids, why would they showily walk them over to the airlock and have them kneel down? Why not just shoot them where they sat? By the time the girl was made to stand up, I was positive this was just an exercise. They even closed the door to hide the shot from us (and the kids on the plane). I'm surprised not one of those recruits figured it out. I really thought Lacy was starting to put it together, and was annoyed that she didn't.

Now let's look at Clarice and the spy in her home. It's all Clarice's own fault that there's a mole in her house. She wasn't going to bring Amanda home; she said it would cause friction with her spouses. But then because she was so desperate to get any word on Zoe's belongings, she changed her mind and invited Amanda over. So she brought it on herself.

And we have an annoying switcheroo once again! They fiendishly edit the episode to make us think she's going to kill Amanda, only to have it be her wife. Sure, shocking twist, but does it make any sense? Why on earth does she suspect her wife of being the spy? Sure enough to kill her! Maybe I wasn't paying attention. The final scene seemed to suggest Duram knew that would happen, as if he threw shade on Marbeth to distract from Amanda. Otherwise, his actions were downright reckless and nearly got Amanda killed. So I don't know what's going on here, but it seemed like sloppy writing just for shock value.

Duram is very clever for playing the GDD mole, suggesting that Marbeth was his informant. It throws him off the trail. I like this Duram guy and wish there was more of him.

Then at the end, we are back on Gemenon and some of those kids are being executed. Now, my DVD skipped a bit so I may have missed something, but why were they killed? Because they were afraid to die for the cause? And their executioner was a Cylon, which means the Taurons are supplying Gemenon with military robots. I don't understand the STO at all, and I don't understand why Lacy is still there and this was yet another shock for shock's sake. "We killed kids! Just kidding, we faked it! But then we did it for real!" And that's the problem with this episode, and a growing problem with the show in general. It's just too many twists.

I got bored sitting through the STO stuff because I already knew what was going on. So I was just waiting for the reveal. This episode was just shock twist after shock twist, and a steady diet of that actually kills tension because we no longer trust the series and we start second-guessing everything we've seen. This means we start to spot the ruses before they are revealed. While certain threads are finally getting traction, it bothers me the show feels it needs to create this artificial drama instead of focusing on the real stuff. Willy Adama might as well not be on this show, and what is going on with Zoe and Tamara? They've been missing for two episodes now, and I just know when we get back to them it will be more annoying New Cap City stuff that I'm tired of. And with Graystone deleting the Amanda avatar files, is he essentially back to square one? What will become of Zoe now that Clarice has her data? And why should I care about any of it?