Peace the frack out, Caprica!

As many people know by know, Caprica, the Battlestar Galactica spin-off prequel show, has been cancelled in the middle of it’s first season.

Caprica debuted on January 22nd this year, although the pilot was released exclusively on DVD and digital download almost a year before. Caprica was set 58 years before the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica and focussed on the development of the robotic Cylons who would eventually plot to destroy their makers in retaliation for their enslavement.

The show was filled with promise to begin with. The pilot episode introduced us to two families – the Greystone’s and the Adama’s – who both lost loved ones in an act of religious terrorism. The idea of religious fundamentalism was a strong one in Caprica. As Battlestar Galactica fans will know, a strong bone of contention between the humans and the Cylons is their differing views on religion – the humans are polytheists and the Cylons monotheists.

Of course the technology in Caprica was a massive part of the story as well. This was a civilisation that created robots capable of self-awareness, so the technology surrounding the characters had to support this. Zoe Graystone – one of the girls killed in a train bombing – created an ‘avatar’ of herself, a version of herself capable of living on in the virtual world after ‘original’ Zoe died.

The end of the gripping pilot set the stage for an interesting and potentially challenging sci-fi show. So what went wrong?

One of the main problems with Caprica was that it was a slow-burner. Some might say that this made the show boring – and at times it was definitely hard to see what the writers were trying to achieve. It appears as though the show was trying to bring in too much of the Battlestar Galactica world too soon, then momentum was lost, storylines got muddled, and the show descended into arguments between differing religious factions. While this idea of a religious war closely mirrored the real world, this could have been the very thing that was wrong with the show.

Another problem with Caprica was the tagline. The question asked was ‘How far would you go to get your daughter back?’ but it seemed that all Amanda Graystone (Zoe’s mother) was going to do was get drunk and hallucinate her dead brother, and Daniel Graystone was too blind to see that the Cylon in his lab contained the avatar of his dearly departed Zoe. Speaking of Zoe, we did not see enough of her. Her struggle to come to terms with being in the Cylon body was too long and drawn out, and then Zoe simply disappeared for two whole episodes. There were also too many incarnations of one ‘person’, we had ‘original’ Zoe, avatar Zoe, Cylon Zoe and, in the penultimate episode, Messenger Zoe. When was all this going to end? Also, the one person that was an anchor to the Battlestar Galactica mythology – William Adama – was given tons of screen time to begin with, and then quickly moved to a backseat.

On the plus side, the performances in the show were fantastic, in particular Eric Stoltz as Daniel Graystone and Polly Walker as Sister Clarice Willow. Alessandra Torresani made a decent stab at playing the various incarnations of Zoe and clearly portrayed her religious confusion and rebellion. Recurring characters such as James Marsters as Barnabas and Sashas Roiz as Sam Adama added an extra layer to the show.

All in all, Caprica got some things right. The premise of the show was a good one, and we were going to learn about how the Cylon war was made possible. The idea of the existence of a soul and whether it is capable of being transferred into a robot body was also an interesting one, and the very real grieving process given to Daniel and Amanda Graystone was worth watching. It is sad to see Caprica come to an end, especially since it asked more questions than it answered. The show had earned a reputation as a slow burner but it appeared that it was just beginning to gather momentum in the last episode to air – False Labour – where Sam Adama discovered the Cylon’s potential as a weapon. Caprica had a lot more to show us before it ended. Let’s hope the five episodes that we hope to see in 2011 will help wrap the story up – to some degree – and that Blood and Chrome answers the questions that many of us still have.

Peace the frack out, Caprica!

GS reviewer: Brogen Hayes

More from the world of Geek Syndicate

%d bloggers like this: