Thursday, 14 October 2010

'CAPRICA' 1.11 – "Retribution"

Thursday, 14 October 2010

It's so frustrating, but Caprica has hit a quagmire since it came back from extended hiatus. It seems to be making all the wrong decisions right now; not least putting the emphasis on Sister Clarice (Polly Walker) in these first two episodes back, when the terrorism angle to Caprica is one of its least enjoyable components. I'm officially bored with 9/11 fears being reflected in entertainment now. On the plus side, "Unvanquished" and "Retribution" have made me realize just how much Zoe's storyline was keeping this show's heartbeat steady. The writers desperately need to get back to her story.

This week, Daniel (Eric Stoltz) has allied himself with Tauron gangsters Joseph (Esai Morales) and Sam (Sasha Roiz), who are helping him get his company back from Vergis by blackmailing the board members of his business into giving him their vote for a return. His only loyal employee, Cyrus (Hiro Kanagawa), has also returned the remnants of the broken U-87 Cylon his dead daughter's avatar was inhabiting until recently. Having Daniel interact with Joseph directly is a good move, and watching him flush away his humanity to regain his career (one colleague he pressures ends up committing suicide) is dramatic, and yet... just another layer of bleakness in a show that's becoming intolerably depressing.

The bigger focus of the story was on Clarice, who became the target of an assassination attempt at a Caprica interplanetary airport, masterminded by her STO rival Barnabus (James Marsters), which acolyte Lacey (Magda Apanowicz) and her bombers failed to pull off. This triggers a turf war between Clarice (who has the blessing of STO figurehead "Mother" to control Caprica's terrorist cells) and the ousted Barnabus, which leads to him being caught and killed with a bomb as Lacey is kidnapped by Clarice.

Simultaneously, Amanda (Paula Malcomsen) begins to realize that her friend Clarice is a terrorist leader when she's informed of the compelling evidence against her by a detective building a case against Clarice. She now looks likely to become his confidential informant, providing intelligence on Clarice's movements so the authorities can eliminate the monotheist cult that recruits suicide bombers.

In not so much what happens in Caprica that's a problem, rather how it goes about telling the story. It's becoming a suffocating sci-fi show, with nothing to balance out the dark storylines, and clogged up with plot and characters whose motivations and purpose have become difficult to remember. You need to be able to hold each of Caprica's storylines in the palm of your hand, but most are slipping through my fingers now. Of primary concern: I'm losing the thread with the Soldiers Of One cult, and why they believe bombing innocent people will somehow convert people to their cause. Who wants to join a monad religion that doesn't preach their beliefs reasonably, but primarily kills non-believers? Why is monotheism not tolerated by society? If the idea is that Clarice's followers are fundamentalist zealots that have bastardized monotheism to their own ends, then this needs to be made clearer.

I can't summon the enthusiasm to write about "Retribution" any more, but feel free to add your own thoughts below. I know Caprica wasn't to everyone's taste when it debuted earlier this year, but it really seems to be struggling now. Knowing they've had months to rethink and adjust things, with the benefit of knowing the audience's doubts and concerns first-hand, means there's really no excuse for this state of affairs. Maybe, as many suspect, there just isn't enough to Caprica's raison d'etre (let's reveal how the Cylons were created) to fuel a television show, and this should have been a six-part miniseries?

WRITERS: Patrick Massett & John Zinman
DIRECTOR: Jonas Pate
GUEST CAST: Hiro Kanagawa, Panou, Winston Rekart, Ryan Robbins & Zak Santiago
TRANSMISSION: 12 October 2010 – Syfy, 9/8c