Friday, August 1, 2014


Well, the series comes back from it's brief hiatus and the first episode of the back nine is... a boring, confusing waste. They ended the last one with a bang and then the show is off the air for weeks, and THIS is what they decide to pick it up with? DVD commentary said the ratings were done for it and I can see why.

Synopsis: Clarice is on Gemenon to sell folks on her virtual afterlife ideas. Lots of religious people talk and scheme and die, but it's boring and seemingly inconsequential. Graystone sells his soul to the Ha'La'Tha (well, actually Zoe's soul -- he's offering them the virtual afterlife avatar thing too) to get his company back from Vergis. And Amanda's not dead. Shocker (not.).

That's it. It was forty minutes of "so what" and "wait, what?" Isn't it a little too cute that both Graystone and Clarice spend this episode peddling the idea of a perpetual virtual existence? And Graystone doesn't have the tech anymore; what is he bargaining with? Not to mention the Tamara experiment, as far as he knows, was a failure. Why would he think this was a good idea?

Let's look at the happenings on Gemenon. While it's nice to get off Caprica, I have no clue what's going on here. I am so much more confused and spent the whole episode confused. After all that talk about Gemenon for so long this is what we get? Apparently, there is a church of monotheism based there. I do not understand why there isn't some big holy war raging on Gemenon, the seat of the polytheistic religion. Are they just super tolerant of all religon on Gemenon? Even so, they are growing terrorists there. I don't understand the relationship between the STO and the Church. So the STO are the "militant arm" of the Church. That means they sanctioned the idea of random terrorism? They recruited kids to join and be terrorists. There is an organized cell network. Oh, and the bizarre Catholic visual trappings continue here. But this is very confusing because I thought Clarice was a Sister of Athena! The Athena Academy is polytheistic in nature. So is this a completely separate church organization that also happens to be obviously Roman Catholic in its iconography? It's such lazy television to always paint religion with Western ideas of monks and nuns. There's even a Mother Superior. Clarice seems to answer to all these people, as if she's a nun in their church. But she's not, right? I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON.

And why should I care? This is the first time we've met most of these characters and we've never clearly had the relationships between the various faiths and stuff laid out for us. So I feel as a viewer I'm always one step behind when they talk about things. This one monk guy gets killed Julius Caesar style at the end of the episode, and I don't care because I just met him and have no idea how he fits into anything. This episode was like being invited to a family barbecue and then finding out that the only ones who showed up were the random cousins you've never met who talk about things you have no connection to.

This episode for the first time breaks the rules established on the series for going in and out of V-world. Usually, there's some visual clue to the audience. But there are none this time. The first time we're in the virtual world is a fake-out where some STO terrorists blow up the stadium. Then we learn it's all in the holoband. So I get why they'd be coy with it, even though it's a stupid cheat. But later when we see New Cap City again there is also no visual signal.

And speaking of that explosion, this was Clarice's ad campaign for STO apotheosis. After the explosion, only the STO terrorists are reborn as avatars to the new afterlife, saying "praise the one true God". As an evangelical Christian, this bit really rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed a blatant dig at evangelical language and rapture ideas. To lump that in with terrorism and shades of Islamic extremisms shows how out of touch Hollywood liberals are regarding religion. It's as if they were saying, "It's all the same," but it's not.

And then we get more glimpses of Barnabas' STO group performing some "ritual" involving bloodletting from their hands. Again, this seems swiped from various Klingon rituals that Ron Moore wrote on DS9 (I've always wondered, wouldn't characters like this have very very scarred hands?). Why is the STO a blood-letting cult, and what does it have to do with anything?

The one good line in the episode is when Obal (the monk I don't care about) says to Clarice, "You want to serve God. ...Or do you want to BE God?" Clearly, that seems to be what's happening. She thinks this grand virtual afterlife of hers is wonderful. She touts it as a religion without faith. Sounds like the progressive humanist's fantasy, doesn't it? And yet she's also talking up the One God. Everything here seems confused and bizarre. She can say "apotheosis" as many times as she wants, but it will not suddenly mean something to this show.

Let's look at that, by the way. She specifically says, "That is apotheosis" of her silly virtual afterlife idea. If this is what she's been talking about this whole time, she's wrong. That's NOT what apotheosis means! Apotheosis means to become like God or gain divinity. Heck, it has the root "theo" (god) right there in the middle! Given the ad campaign when the series premiered where Zoe had the apple, recalling an Adam and Eve scenario, then apotheosis would make sense. That would paint Clarice as the serpent, tempting Zoe with the idea of becoming like God. But in the context of the series as it stands now, there is no apotheosis. Even in the looser sense of the word, meaning the ultimate quintessence of being, I don't see how a phony avatar copy of someone counts as something so transcendant. Really, isn't it dependent on the computers running the programs (why has nobody brought this up? Where is all this data stored? The holoband worlds have to "exist" somewhere beyond the ether)? In no way is this about becoming god-like. And how is this at all relevant to the service of this One God over the many?

In the pilot, it seemed very heavily implied that monotheism was a fringe idea and strongly associated with the STO. To me, to now have an organized church of monotheism flies in the face of that concept. These aren't a secret cult of a few crazies. And why aren't they being more evangelistic about the One God instead of just blowing crap up?

Clarice leaves Gemenon having gotten the blessings of the Church to take over the STO cells on Caprica. Whatever. The idea you'd need church permission to be Head Terrorist is so incredibly stupid to me.

At the end of the episode, we're back in New Cap City and Zoe shows up there. I honestly didn't even recognize her as Zoe for a long time. She kills a bunch of guys who have Tamara's mark on their heads. Since she's pure avatar she cannot be killed either, and she can manipulate code just like Tamara. BUT... last we saw of Zoe she was in a robot and crashed into a road block. How did she gain access to the holobands and why did she go to this game world specifically? And how did she learn of her code-manipulation powers? (or is that how she changes clothes?)

This episode was a lot of sound and fury that signified very little. Of course Amanda's not dead. I have all kinds of questions regarding Zoe. I don't care at all about the STO storyline. This just felt like a boring waste of an episode and a terrible way to kick things off. Watching this, it's no surprise that the show was cancelled.

And what the heck does the title have to do with anything? Who or what was unvanquished?

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