Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Quick Thoughts on the Finale of Caprica

Warning: Spoilers


In following the buildup hype towards the finale of Caprica, I recall reading on some US sites that the final 3 episodes were to be shown in January, and yet here in Canada, Space aired what it calls the series finale tonight. Doesn't make much sense that they'd delay the finale in the US but show it in Canada now, but it's been officially labeled the series finale, so that's the info I've got to go on and will proceed with this review on that assumption.

I'm pretty certain that this was the finale though, for no other reason than the big wrap-up in the last 5 minutes showing more-or-less what's happened with all the main characters and laying down the foundations for the coming Cylon war. Moore & Eick and their writers certainly don't like to leave many loose ends/mysteries/unanswered questions lying around, do they?

That being said, I'll give them credit for answering all the questions in a quick, punchy 5-minute set of sequences. This was far more effective in terms of keeping the pacing - accelerating it, in fact, and actually building some tension into the wait for the coming series about young Bill Adama in the war - while giving necessary information than the closer of BSG was. Say what you will about the flaws of the BSG finale (and there were many), one of the things that really bugged me about it was the self-indulgently long and painfully slow wrap-up on Earth.2 of all the characters' plot lines/fates. The bitter irony was that this, what, half-hour, 45 minutes? of television at the end of BSG felt a hundred times longer than the 4 or 5 entire hour-long episodes that it took to do the same job for Babylon 5 - and the B5 wrap worked! Caprica's final group of short, sharp shots was emotionally satisfying, if not shocking.

The Adamas: After last week's shoot-out ending with Willy's death, I figured the only way the writers were going to explain Admiral Bill Adama would be to have Joseph and his secretary/girlfriend have another son and name him after the first boy a-la the Atreides family in Dune with the Letos.

Also no surprise that the Adama boys would go looking for some vengeance against their mafia kingpin. I have to say though that I was pleased at the resolution of the conflict, with the Guatrau's/Don's daughter helping in the assassination and taking over as the new boss. It would have seemed like too much of a stretch for the Adamas to not only survive the gang war, but to come out in control of "the family". This way, they get their revenge and a smart woman who can be trusted takes over the organization, allowing the Adamas to remain comfortably in the upper middle, but not at the top, of the power structure, which leaves Joseph free to pursue the legal legacy that's referred to in BSG.

What I was unsatisfied with, in terms of this family's role in the finale, was the lack of any real presence of Tamara. You'd think that will everything going on in the world(s - real and virtual) that she'd have shown herself, if for no other reason than to watch. Really, given their relationship, I'm surprised that there wasn't any dialogue between Zoe and Tamara about what was going on and what their role would be. Granted, Zoe's probably thinking about herself and her chance to be with her parents again and what to do about Clarice, but given the amount of time she's spent with Tamara and the bond they've formed, I really doubt Zoe would just ignore her co-virtual-goddess throughout the unfolding crisis. It felt like this was a major oversight on the part of the writers. What's intriguing is Tamara's presence in Clarice's virtual chapel at the end. Part of me thought it was a last-minute add-on by the writers who may have realized they'd forgotten Tamara in the finale and had to tie-up her storyline. And yet part of me wonders if this scene means that she was deliberately left absent from the entire episode as a means of indicating that she was just watching from the sidelines. In the end (literally and figuratively), this quick shot in the chapel strongly hints that Tamara will play some role in motivating the Cylon rebellion years down the line. Zoe may proclaim herself to be god, but with Tamara in the chapel among the Cylons, one has to wonder if it's the quiet Adama girl who will in fact grow into the role of the Cylon god.

The Graystones: (for some reason, I've always got to do a mental check when I think of this family's last name, as I always swap it with Greystoke from Burroughs' Tarzan) I have to admit I didn't quite accept the plot device of the monotheist police captain/inspector/chief/whatever going so far as to declare the Graystones to be suspected terrorists after Clarice's failed attempted murder of them. Really, Daniel's company is so huge, wielding so much influence, that even with the admission of Zoe's involvement in the train bombing that happened in the pilot episode, I seriously doubt he'd have the authority or that he'd get the backing, for a carte-blanche warrant against the Graystones - especially after the break-in and attempted murder. He might have been able to get them tailed, but (without any knowledge of Caprican criminal law particulars) I'd wager he'd be bogged-down in the warrants process and backroom police and prosecutorial and judicial politics so long that the attempted bombing of the stadium would be resolved long before he was able to get a public warning put out against them.

It also didn't make much sense to me that with a city-or-planet-wide warrant out for the Graystones that they were able to make it into the stadium at the end. You'd think that the Caprican security computer systems would be sophisticated enough and have good enough facial-recognition software, that Daniel and Amanda would have been snagged by cops on the street, regardless of the sunglasses-and-scarf combo, long before they got anywhere near the stadium.

That being said, I did like the resolution to the bomb crisis, with Daniel calling in the robotic troops to stop the bombing and take down the terrorists. Making the Cylons the heroes of the day was the perfect plot twist and sets up a delicious irony for their eventual rebellion and genocide of the human race.

It was also kinda cool as a Lower Mainland resident to see Caprica cast singer Mark Donnelly, who performs the national anthem at the Vancouver Canucks games, as the anthem performer at the C-Bucks game. Donnelly performs the Caprican anthem well, although the song itself is so ponderous that I had to wonder if it was merely a case of bad lyrics on the part of the series writers, or whether it was done deliberately as another subtle dig against the people of Caprica (as we've seen in other quick flashes from time to time in the series).

The wrap-up scenes with the Graystones made sense too. I thought that in his last media interview, Daniel's optimistic tone of voice despite his unwillingness to speculate how relations between humanity and the Cylons would go gave a hint that he'd grown as a result of the events of the series and wasn't quite so sure of himself or the world anymore. It was also bittersweet to see Daniel and Amanda reunited in the flesh with Zoe, knowing that this was something they'd wanted and yet leaving a nagging uneasiness given what we know of the humanoid Cylons' role in destroying the Colonies. What's also nagging is that the finale doesn't give a clear indication of Zoe's role in the Cylon war ahead. As I mentioned earlier, with Tamara in Clarice's chapel, there seems to be a sign that Tamara might be the Cylon god, rather than Zoe. Zoe may have decided to protect her parents from Clarice, and to destroy Clarice's heaven, but will the girl have any real or lasting sympathy for humanity, or will she become as jaded about humans as she was with her parents at the beginning of the series? And that begs the question that even if she does side with humanity, why was she not able to offset Tamara if Tamara becomes the force motivating the Cylons towards revolution? Wouldn't Zoe be able to stop the Cylons if there's a little of her in every toaster? Despite Moore and Eick's fondness for tying-up loose ends, I don't think we'll get the answer to this one.

Clarice: What happens with Clarice makes sense and is a sign of the talent of the series writing team. It's no surprise early in the episode when she cagily admits that she isn't planning on joining the others in the suicide bombing of the stadium. Clearly, she's a person who lusts for power and glory but firmly believes it's the duty of others to die for the cause - not her (that would interfere with her path to said glory). In washing her hands of that job, she's totally keeping with the nature of her character. I've always thought that there's a direct parallel between Clarice and the Cylon D'Anna Biers - I've wondered if the similarity in their personalities somehow implies that maybe Clarice was used by the Cylons as a personality template for D'Anna, although admittedly that's sheer pie-in-the-sky speculation. Best of all though is when her husband calls her on her ego and unwillingness to put her life on the line. His statement that she'll be in their god's light is as much a condemnation and a warning that she'll be judged and damned by their god as it is a lip-service parting blessing. No surprise either that in the wake of the plan's failure she'd waste no time in trying to set herself up as a religious authority again, targetting a new flock and stirring discontent in the Cylons. No surprise either when she goes to Gemenon and we find that Lacy is the Mother-Superiour of the monotheists with a Cylon on her right. The question is, what happens to Clarice when Lacy tells her to kneel?

I'll also give the finale of Caprica credit for the sequence at the end showing how the Cylons are being integrated into society as more than just soldiers - as slaves doing manual labour and menial chores like dog-walking. It paints a very clear picture of the world described in the Planet of the Apes movies just before Caesar said "no", except in this case, the rebellion is not entirely self-motivated. This time the Cylons, in place of Apes, are goaded by outside forces as much as they are driven by their own discontent.

And now the wait for young Adama's war.

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