I just finished watching the finale episode of Caprica (the spin-off/prequel to Battlestar Galactica) and my mind is whirling from it a bit.
This show, like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles finds itself in the interesting position of existing within and challenging an extremely loved franchise. I’m fairly certain that with both Battlestar Galactica and Terminator there are a lot of fans who are drawn to the sci-fi elements, the cool special effects, the violence, etc. Then along comes this new television series for each that starts looking at the philosophical issues and complicate everything we knew before.
And, of course, both T:SCC and Caprica failed to attract the audiences of the original series and were ultimately canceled (at least T:SCC made it to season two… but to be fair the first half of season one was pretty by-the-book/boring/what people wanted).
So as I reflect internally on Caprica, I have a few thoughts that will mean nothing to people who didn’t watch the show (sorry 99.9% of the two of you who still read this blog…). SPOILERS AHEAD so if you haven’t finished the show or don’t want to, stop reading!!
Re: The monotheism/polytheism stuff: As an atheist I love anything that deals with religion (!!). The religious aspect was by far my favorite part of Caprica. I loved the mind-trip that was Zoe as the holy trinity (dead girl ghost Zoe, bodiless Zoe in the computer world, resurrected Zoe as the cylon). And I loved the conflict between one vs. multiple gods.
Re: the Willie is Bill Adama’s dead half-brother reveal: Based on what I’ve read around the internet, people hate hate hate this aspect of the finale. The more I reflect on it, the more I love it. Basically it’s showing how resurrection is accomplished without resurrection technology. “William Adama” dies and then a few years later he’s reborn as “William Adama” (though with different DNA, memories, etc. — unlike resurrection). The story also sort of parallels the Greystone’s loss of Zoe: a child dies and it’s unbearable to the point where replacing the child with a copy of the original is the only coping mechanism. To me it doesn’t feel like a cop-out or gotcha-storytelling. I think that had Caprica continued beyond season one some of this stuff might have been made more explicit.
Re: Lacey: I think everyone agrees that her story was the best. She went from Zoe’s sidekick/friend who was afraid to join the monotheist cause in the pilot, to unwilling participant in one terrorist cause to unwilling participant in another terrorist cause to leader of the monotheist movement. And she could control the cylons!
Re: “Trying to fit too many things into one show and not getting to the exciting stuff that would’ve been season two fast enough”: Sure, the epilogue at the end of the series that sort of gave us a hint of what season two would’ve looked like was totally awesome. And it seems that a lot of people are saying that they thought Caprica should’ve ignored all the other stuff in season one (Barnabus, the Vergis corporation, etc.) and gone straight to the juicy parts. I disagree because I really felt like throughout season one the creators were able to develop the characters and really build the world of Caprica. I really think the creators assumed the show would get multiple seasons and viewed the first season as a way to set up the rest of the series. Had they known the viewership would’ve been so low they may have opted to change things up a bit, but given the popularity and critical-acclaim of Battlestar Galactica I don’t think they could’ve foreseen the difficulties Caprica faced.
Re: “A sci-fi version of Dallas“: This is sort of how the show was first explained — that it would be a soap opera about two powerful families (Greystones vs. the Adamas) facing off and it just happened to occur with a sci-fi background. Well, this wasn’t what the show ended up being at all (to its benefit, I think). I wonder had they pitched the show as an examination of science and spirituality had it done better?
Re: Good. vs. Evil: I loved that I never could decide who was “good” or “bad” in Caprica. With Battlestar Galactica I always know that humans = good, cylons = bad. With Caprica it wasn’t so simple: While the STO were terrorists and did lots of bad stuff, I found myself really sympathizing with them or at least really loving Clarice and Lacey. As for the Greystones, toward the end of season one I was so sick of Amanda that I probably cheered when she presumably committed suicide during the mid-season finale.
That about wraps up my thoughts. I’m incredibly disappointed that I won’t be able to enjoy a second season of the show. If there is one light at the end of the tunnel, it’s that reading reviews of the finale sort of reminded me that I should pick up on Babylon 5 again. I stopped mid-way through season three and am thinking I should start it up again. Somehow, it seems, that show was able to start with a five-year plan and execute it (for the most part) without fear of being canceled. Everything is supposed to tie together much more neatly.
By your command.