On Friday's episode of Caprica, called "Reins of a Waterfall," we went deeper into the conspiracies that form the deep structure of the show. Plus we got an even darker look at interplanetary family dysfunction.
Last week Amanda, Zoe's clueless mother, decided to announce on television that her daughter was a terrorist and partly responsible for the train bombings. Which isn't exactly true, since Zoe was just trying to escape to Gemenon. And in Friday's episode, Lacy tells the unctuous Sister Clarice that they "had nothing to do with the bombings," which means that some splinter group - connected with bomber Ben and probably Clarice - must be responsible.
We get a glimpse of who this group might be when Clarice visits a virtual room after failing to suck Lacy into trusting her. Clarice goes into some kind of confessional, speaking to a hidden person whose voice sounds like it's been digitally distorted. The voice refers to the bombing as a "premature explosion" that's attracted too much attention to the STO group. Clarice babbles about how she's about to find "the virtual Zoe," and how Zoe has been "given the spark of life by God," and then the voice sends her on her way - to track down virtual Zoe.
But then - conspiracies within conspiracies - we learn from Ben's best friend Keon that the two of them were in a special STO group that didn't include Clarice. So maybe Ben was acting on his own.
Here's another interesting factoid about Ben. It turns out that the cops investigating the bombing actually hauled him in a year before the bombing because he was out after curfew with a backpack full of explosives. They even recorded the whole thing on videotape. Fearing they'll be smeared in the press for letting the bomber go, they destroy the tape and go on the offensive against the Graystones. Durham, the lead on the case, leaks to a blog that they haven't been allowed to search the Graystone's house due to "bureaucratic red tape."
One of the things I really loved about this episode is how much it focuses on the PR and media shitstorm that swirls around the Graystones' lives. Sure, Daniel has poured his daughter's consciousness into a killer robot who lives in his basement and watches him and his wife having sex (oh yes - that happened in this episode and it was seriously crawly and disturbing). And he gets beaten up by Sam Adama for not returning Joseph's calls. But those aren't his biggest problems. Nope - his biggest problem by far is that he's being parodied every night on Caprica's equivalent of The Daily Show, called Backtalk With Baxter Sarno (with Patton Oswalt as Jon Stewart - I mean, Sarno). Sarno's ratings are zooming thanks to the Graystone scandal, and Graystone Industry's stocks are tanking in large part due to Sarno's mockery.
Though sadly Sarno isn't nearly as funny as Stewart (or Oswalt, for that matter), it's a delicious moment of realism in a show devoted to speculative technology and alternate worlds. There's even a scene where a PR expert tries to convince Graystone that he has to make an appearance on Sarno to turn the tides of public opinion - especially with the younger set, who are the target market for his company's holobands.
But Daniel isn't the only guy losing his grip on his job. Joseph is suffering too, and gets chewed out by one of the corrupt judges he pays off to let his Ha'la'tha clients go free. Instead of kissing this judge's ass the way he should be, Joseph is busy getting Sam to punch Daniel until the guy lets Joseph back into the virtual room where his dead daughter Tamara has been freaking out for weeks. It's starting to seem as if Joseph's thin veneer of respectability is going to be torn off, and he'll have to take a job more like his brother's.
Speaking of Sam Adama, we finally met his cute, long-suffering husband in this episode. First we got Clarice's friendly polyamorous family last week; now this week we get a sweet gay couple who are treated no differently than the straight couples we've met so far. Caprica continues to impress with its nonchalance about marriages that cause fierce debate here on Earth.
Though she has a small role so far, Joseph's virtual daughter Tamara is starting to be one of the most interesting parts of this show. Like Zoe, Tamara is the avatar of a dead person. Except she has no cylon body in the real world, nor does she have any idea what has happened to her. She's a more purified version of what Zoe was trying to create - a new life form, with no baggage of a "mission" for the STO. Her only job is to figure out who she is. And she's about to find out.
When Zoe jacks her cylon body into the virtual world via the wireless in her father's lab, she and Lacy discover Tamara. The terrified avatar has been all alone in a dark room, afraid that she's dreaming. Zoe and Lacy have no idea who she is, and assume she's some project of Daniel's, just a virtual person like a non-playing character in a videogame. Still, Zoe decides to help Tamara, and shows her how to escape through one of the many "doors" that acts as a gateway between pieces of software (I guess they are the APIs of the holoband world). They wind up in the V club, and Tamara leaves the two girls to "find her way home," which sounds like a major recipe for disaster since a) she's in this scary club where people do human sacrifices and b) she doesn't realize she's virtual and can never go home.
Meanwhile, a heartbroken Joseph has finally strongarmed Daniel into letting him back into the room where Tamara was - and finds her gone. They think her program has somehow just deleted itself, even though that makes no sense. Now both Daniel and Joseph are convinced their daughters are really dead, but instead they've turned into weird, unprecedented virtual creatures and I am dying to know more about them.
There was a great bit of dialogue as the three girls leave the virtual room where Tamara has been holed up. Zoe says to Tamara, "Come with us - you'll be free." And then:
Lacy: Can you be free if you're not real?
Zoe: I hope so.
The setup for our next episode, coming in two weeks, was spectacular - though it did stretch credibility a bit. Joseph, who has up to this point been a criminal with a good heart, suddenly goes evil when he asks his brother Sam to kill Amanda Graystone to "balance it out." In other words, he lost a wife so Daniel should lose one too.
Even more implausibly, Daniel tells his PR lady to book him on the Sarno show.
Plus Zoe wants Lacy and Ben's old friend Keon to help smuggle her cylon body to Gemenon, where Zoe was headed before the explosion. So tune in text time, when we have to decide which is worse: Murder, late night television, or teen cyber-angst. Seriously, though, I'm on the edge of my seat.