Blurbs of low rapport . . .

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Caprica - Pilot Episode Review "Sex, Robots, & Religion"

A Simple Review

For those looking for a spoiler free glance at the pilot episode, here's my take on Caprica. Well worth watching! Minus the cool spaceships, the spin off is taking up the reigns from Battlestar Galactica in all the right ways. The writing quality is superb, dialog believable and interesting, and the plot feels very focused. Having believable characters is a sign of a really quality SF series from my experience.

My one major complaint would be that the acting was a little shaky at certain points. For example the chemistry between Amanda Graystone (Paula Malcomson) and Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) was a bit stale. But then again, there's no way of knowing if this was intentional. On the other hand Alessandra Torresani gave a fantastic performance as Zoe Graystone and I was impressed by her. 

Basically, if you liked BSG for being an intelligent space drama, chances are this show is going to be right up your alley.

Now, if you've already watched the episode, read on.

Sex, Robots, and Religion

Under the wings of writer Ronald D. Moore, allegory and religious symbolism were commonplace in the 2004 remake of Battlestar Galactica (or BSG as die hard fans have come to know her). No surprise then that BSG's spin off, Caprica, should sport it's own flare of religious imagery at it's onset. Caprica's leading lady and poster child (actor Alessandra Toressani as Cylon and computer whiz Zoe Graystone) comes with a red apple in hand fresh picked off the Tree of Knowledge -- actually the apple and a precocious smile is all she's wearing as you can see.

Considering the BSG timeline it makes sense that she would be a kind of SF Eve, a temptress that leads to the fall of mankind from the Garden of Eden. Caprica, of course, being our Utopian-style paradise version of the Garden of Eden. We come to find out in the episode that Zoe has introduced a very dangerous kind of knowledge to humanity: the knowledge of the creation of life.

Humanity inevitably bites off more than (s)he can chew. In this case the characters begin to obtain god-like accomplishments while still privy to human vice. So their motivations for using this kind of power (immortality, creation of life, and the like) remain muddled by the negative aspects that make them imperfect human beings. The only example I have at this point would be Zoe's father, Daniel Graystone. But no less an important one.

Rather than being pragmatic, his motivation for resurrecting Zoe is based on a plethora of conflicting emotions. He does it because he loves his daughter. But something seemingly virtuous could be taken as selfish. Besides if he was really doing it solely based on his love for Zoe then why would he not reconsider at the moment she says to him "a part of me hopes you'll fail" just before he attempts the dangerous experiment to turn his daughter into the first Cylon. So what else is motivating him?

One wonders if Daniel is motivated by ambition and curiosity. Does he just want to prove that he is capable of doing it? Prove his godliness in effect. After all, the character makes several statements challenging the Utopian society's conventional religious ideas in the episode. In order for him even to accomplish creating the Cylons he must recruit Joseph Adama (Asai Morales) to work with the Tauron mob in order to steal technology from another company. And in the act he becomes indirectly responsible for the assassination of a man by a terrorist group.

The episode portrays an interesting dilemma. A unique battle between the heart and the mind. When is humankind going to be ready for divine knowledge? This kind of intelligently developed Man v. Self conflict was something that BSG heavily emphasized, and I'm ecstatic at the prospects that it's going to be a major player in this promising new series.

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"O, Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life. Amen." ~Saint Augustine