Quick thoughts on CapricaApril 22, 2009
I just finished watching the new pilot for the BSG spinoff/prequel Caprica this evening and, so far, it’s got my vote. Interesting characters and storylines with enough hints about the seeds of the Cylon war that viewers can already start speculating about how the show’s going to pan out (if it’s given enough time).
The story revolves around rich technology giant Daniel Graystone and lawyer Joseph Adama (father of Admiral William Adama). Both men lose their daughters (Adama loses his wife as well) when a boy terrorist sets off a bomb on a passenger train. Graystone, who’s been trying to create a successful military robot prototype but needs an AI to make it work, stumbles upon a secret of his daughter’s that could affect his life and his work, while Adama tries to raise his surviving son while struggling with obligations to his people and the mob as he tries to stay legit.
Some of the highlights for me were the way Graystone (Eric Stolz’s character) was written – nothing is simple. He’s equally motivated by wanting his daughter Zoe back and also wanting his prototype AI-driven military droid to work so he can land the defence contract. Hijacking Zoe’s AI from the online club was a very determined way to have the best of both worlds. And yet it would be too easy to paint Graystone as the mad scientist trying to resurrect his dead daughter or pushing the limits of technology for his own personal fame and fortune… the story makes Graystone out to be a man who’s juggling too many things, watches some of them come crashing down, and desperately tries to reassemble the pieces while keeping the other items in the air. It’s not just about making the robot work, or reuniting with his daughter, or trying to figure out if the AI can really be considered his daughter at all – he’s trying to maintain his relationship with his wife, override the grief over Zoe’s death, outmanouever corporate competition, and justify himself to Adama. Despite his grandeous problems, he’s a very real, believable personality.
For Adama (played by Esai Morales), as much as the interplanetary racism aspect of this universe was interesting, the real defining and powerful moment came when he meets the AI replicant (dare we say cybrid – because the process of assembling information to create a personality is the same as what Dan Simmons described in Hyperion) of his daughter in virtual reality. He’s nearly ripped apart by his desire to have her back conflicting with his abhorrance of the “abomination” of something that’s real but not quite real, and more importantly, his pain over seeing a personality in deep distress over the fact that it’s been suddenly thrust into being alone in a mode of existence it doesn’t have any experience with and lacking even a heartbeat to reassure it that it’s alive. It would be shattering to see another person go through this kind of helplessness, confusion and fear, but worse yet if that person looked, sounded and acted like your own daughter. Seeing Adama deal with this made the back half of the show really worth while.
The quiet moments also worked quite well – most especially the scene with Graystone and Adama in the cafe just smoking over their coffees.
And ending things with the Zoe AI in the Cylon body calling Zoe’s school friend on the phone for help was definitely creepy. A sure hook to keep viewers interested for the series.
While it wasn’t fall-out-of-your-seat amazing like the BSG pilot was, Caprica was certainly a good hour-and-a-half and worth watching.