Friday, 29 October 2010

'CAPRICA' 1.13 - "False Labor"

Friday, 29 October 2010

Despite the news Syfy have cancelled Caprica, I've decided to continue reviewing its remaining episodes, albeit in a more abridged fashion. It's become clear that my reviews, much like the show, has dropped in popularity since Caprica came back from hiatus, so it makes sense not to bust a gut trying to write something that's only of narrow interest...

"False Labor" was all about struggle, and introduced an interesting new angle with Sam (Sacha Roiz) getting into the gun-smuggling trade, intending to pass weapons to soldiers fighting a Tauron civil war that echoes a conflict he fought in alongside brother Joseph (Esai Morales). Sam's off-world smuggling drew the attention of a Tauron gangster, who wasn't happy about a competitor on his turf, so threatened Sam's life as a warning. Nevertheless, Sam chose a fight for his new business, by taking control of a Cylon and using it to slaughter his rivals during a shootout at a swanky bar. The likelihood a percentage of Graystone's mass-produced Cylons will be siphoned to Tauron by Sam, giving soldiers an advantage over their enemy, is an intriguing puzzle piece in the show's intention to explain how Cylons became such a menace.

It was also entertaining to watch Daniel (Eric Stoltz) struggle to replicate Zoe's avatar code, trialing different versions of his wife Amanda (Paula Malcolmson) in an attempt to elicit a spark of sentience that's key to producing a convincing copy of a human being. Of course, the science here is incredibly far-fetched (I don't see how linking an avatar to the entirety of someone's online history would enable them to remember memories of events they weren't present for), but the basic idea is still fun to see unfold. Even if the subplot relied too heavily on the trick of having a surprising scene play out, with the audience unaware they're watching a simulation. It worked once, but I was too on guard for it to work that second time.

The real Amanda was still trying to ingratiate herself into Clarice's (Polly Walker) large family, who haven't exactly welcomed her with open arms, but eventually made a connection with the household's pregnant matriarch (by making up a sob story about her own troubled maternity) to aide her acceptance.

This episode felt a lot better to me, if only because the raison d'ĂȘtre of Caprica (explain the rise of the Cylons) was a bigger part of the episode and appears to have found a way to get more Cylons involved on the show. And there were compelling moments with Daniel's attempts to replicate his daughter's genius, as you can sense his desperation to achieve his goal and cheat death through technology. The scene on a building ledge between Joseph and Daniel also crackled, reminding you of earlier episodes when the Graystone and Adama patriarchs clashed. But I'm still bored by Amanda, who only became interesting when she started having visions before the hiatus, so why haven't they returned to that yet?

It was still a rather slow and measured hour, but that has been Caprica's tone for most of the season, and isn't likely to change. The upside is there's some fine acting (Stoltz confessing his many crimes to avatar-Amanda was a highlight) and fascinating ideas floating around. It's just a shame Caprica's individual positives haven't coalesced into something substantially appealing.

WRITER: Michael Taylor
TRANSMISSION: 26 October 2010, Syfy, 9/8c