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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

‘Caprica’ blogging: “There Is Another Sky”

(previous: “Gravedancing”)

(lots of spoilers! assumes you’ve seen the episode!)
Something really awful is going to happen to Willy Adama, or near Willy Adama, isn’t it? I mean, that’s what has to happen, doesn’t it, in order for this kid to turn into the man we saw captaining the Galactica? Uncle Sam is going to be the cause — maybe not even deliberately or consciously — of some huge trauma for Willy, I suspect. Or maybe Caprica will turn out to be even more unexpected than that, and the Bill Adama we already know will be the result of even more complicated and interconnected factors than we can even imagine right now.

Surely the deep and profound bigotry toward Taurons will be entwined through it all. Wow: a group of teenagers has no qualms at all about picking on an adult like Joseph Adama? That shows a level of racism (ethnicism?) that’s more like the Jim Crow-era American South than anything like the more subtle kinds of prejudice we see today. (Bet they weren’t expecting the kid to fight back like that, though!)

The ceremony for Joseph’s wife and daughter was very moving, I thought, and the reverence and meaning for Taurons in their tattoos was beautifully depicted without a single word of explanation.

One thing I really love about how incredibly well written this show is is how it doesn’t resort to that plague of science fiction and fantasy and any story set in an unfamiliar or invented world: the info dump. No clunkly blocks of awkward and unrealistic exposition here! Like with the slow reveal about Tamara’s potential in the V-world. We discover along with her — with no one saying a word about it, everyone just reacting to what’s happening… or what’s not happening, like when Tamara doesn’t de-res — just what it is that she might be able to do there. So goes from scared to lonely to claiming her power pretty quckly, but not in an implausible way. (And we’re seeing that slow reveal over slightly larger scales, too: Last epsiode, there was no more than a casual reference to New Cap City, and here is the game in all its full-grown seedy glory. Nice.) It’s the perfect culmination of the episode that she catches on that she could rule New Cap City.

Am I alone in being reminded of that boardroom scene in Robocop by Daniel’s presentation of the Cylon to his board? Of course, it ends without bloodshed… at least for the moment, anyway. Daniel wins, but he’s setting up the destruction of most of humanity and all of its civilization and culture.

I also was inevitably reminded, by Daniel’s argument in favor of the Cylons, of the orca Tilikum who killed one of his jailers last week at SeaWorld: “It won’t have rights or objections or complaints”? Can Daniel really not see that an entity that he just insisted is intelligent, sentient, and feeling might have a problem with that?

But perhaps Capricans — like their descendents here on Earth — have some sort built-in cultural blindness to accepting an “Other” as likely to want the same things that they do. If they can treat other humans like shit merely because they’re from another planet and a slightly different culture, it’s hardly surprising that they mightn’t see that a constructed metal robot could conceivably resent being enslaved.

Random thought on “There Is Another Sky”:

• I can’t be the only one, either, who thought: “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the object of New Cap City is…”

(next: “Know Thy Enemy”)

(Watch full episodes and get recaps at SyFy’s official site for the show.)

MPAA: rated TV14-V

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