The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Gravedancing and Avatar-dancing

with 3 comments

This episode really centered around two key relationships: Daniel and Amanda Graystone and Joseph and Sam Adama.  And these two connected to each other through Joseph’s ongoing grieving and Amanda’s continued impulsiveness…both of which actually paid off for them tonight.

It’s one thing for Joseph to see his gangster brother live out such violent scripts, but when his mother-in-law starts echoing the same sentiments, he pauses and seeks to call Amanda’s killing off.  Her jokes about the finger bones of Tauron children and her murderous whispers that she would kill Amanda with her own bare hands and sleep well at night both triggered moments of hesitation for Joseph, yet his final motivation for calling off the killing remains somewhat elusive.  Surely, numerous factors contributed to it – not least among them, his being a Caprican in a Tauron body (what a fabulous line in a tv series already pressing us to think about the mind/body/identity connection!) – but I actually got the sense that part of his motivation lay in a growing concern about the moral compass developing in his own son.

The grandmother’s vicious advice to the young William, that you can get more out of enemies because they’re scared of you, than you can out of friends revealed that the young Adama will be receiving training in brutality not only from his dear Uncle, but from his maternal granny also!  As she and Sam continue to be greater influences in William’s life than his own father, I couldn’t help but wonder how Joseph felt about his choice in babysitters; a need created by the loss of his wife and daughter? And in a way, perhaps it was his own ongoing grief – over the loss of wife, daughter and, potentially, son – that called him back to his own moral center.

The grandmother’s advice regarding enemies played a dual function, however, as it also served to foreshadow the situation the Graystones will inevitably find themselves in with regards to Joseph once they figure out his connection to Sam.  Sam noted when he didn’t kill Amanda that he just left her scared…Perhaps this fear will be precisely what Joseph will be able to exploit in the future.  Or, rather, perhaps Joseph’s belief in this fear is what will lead him to try to exploit the Graystones in the future?

Because to be honest, as the Graystones snuggled into bed later that night, they seemed more self-congratulatory (and playfully self-mocking) to me than they did afraid.  While Amanda’s impulsiveness and seeming inability to consider consequences led her to get into a car with a dangerous stranger, it also led her to leap into her husband’s live interview and, effectively, save it.  I was struck tonight while Daniel was having his make-up done how used he is to getting his own way.  When turning on his charm to the make-up artist doesn’t work, he simply bribes her.  But as Graystone stock goes down (metaphorically and literally), Daniel might find himself unable to charm or bribe!  Indeed, this was the situation in which he found himself as the interview began and it was a shock to see this man, usually so in control, flounder like that.  In the end, it was honesty and good faith that got them off the hook…virtues made possible not by Daniel’s obsessive planning and preparation, but rather by Amanda’s impulsive, consequence-ignoring brazenness.

In fact, this episode dealt a lot with consequences and the characters’ inability to face them – Joseph calling for the death of Amanda without thinking it through; Amanda’s own dashing from catastrophe to catastrophe with a few silver linings thrown in; and of course, Sarno’s interpretation of how virtual worlds lead to the destruction of self and others.  This is a live question in our own time – does the growing influence of virtual spaces lessen our ability to consider or face the consequences of our actions?  And like in our world, Caprica isn’t coming down with a hard answer.  We have to remember that while Zoe was involved with the monotheists and, perhaps, even the Soldiers of the One, she wasn’t involved with the bombing.  Moreover, the depth of her association with the STO remains unclear as we recall that she was moving away from Sister Clarice and, in the first episode, Zoe seemed to have found her own path beyond the STO in her creation of an avatar self.  Indeed, she tired of the lack of boundaries in the virtual world and went on to tasks much more creative instead (of course, which we also know will lead to events much more destructive).

Two small points before closing:  we got more on the polygamous situation with Sister Clarice.  Apparently they all do all sleep with each other which, while interesting, also felt a little overdone when they all seemed to wake up together sans morning breath and ready for sex.  Surely one of the four wouldn’t feel like it?  Are we to think this polygamy stimulates so much desire that it’s constant love-making in the Willow household?  Or, and this is my hope, will they also give us an image of the complexity and potential failures of such a system…we see the highs and lows of the Graystone marriage; let’s hope they give us the same complexity with the Willow one.

And of course, Zoe’s dancing was just lovely!  Her sweet flirtation with the scientist boy was almost heartbreaking as she lost herself in the movement of her body.  While this episode’s title, Gravedancing, referred to Daniel’s near-willingness to exploit his daughter’s memory for financial gain, it also enclosed a sideways glance to the continual awakening of Zoe’s avatar trinity self.  Last week she chopped off fingers.  This week, she danced…a great improvement to my mind!

Posted by Natalie

Written by themothchase

February 20, 2010 at 10:39 am

3 Responses

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  1. i, too, was pretty confused as to Joseph’s motives for calling off the killing, even after watching a second time. but i think the key relationship established this week was the one between William and his grandmother (who makes Livia Soprano look like a girl scout, apparently). overall, i’m not too keen with the way the show is developing it’s female characters — with the exception of Clarice, the seem to avoid texture and nuance. pretty sad considering that BSG was highly focused on gender (while all but excluding ethnicity).

    as for the Willow marriage, i think they have already showed the lows. when they introduced us to the polygamist set, it all seemed pretty dysfunctional. i think that the bedroom scene, in addition to providing a quick thrill, was about poetic license to show, “hey, there are some benefits to this situation — let’s ignore the morning breath.”

    and i LOVED Zoebot’s dancing. it gave me so much hope for the longevity of the show and their ability to work the angles between the images of Avatar Zoe and the Zylon in the long run. the show is developing at a slow pace and, for some reason, i think that it’s taking a cue from other recent hits (Mad Men, Californication) and making Season 1 all set up and prologue…which means that have to make it to a 2nd Season for it all to really pay off.


    February 21, 2010 at 10:51 am

  2. Just watched it tonight. Two key themes jumped at me.

    1) The notion that monotheism (or any dogmatic religion for that matter) is attractive because it provides simple boundaries and solutions is something that IS NOT stated in polite company. It’s so very true and I’m sure we all know smart and capable people who have placed themselves under rigorous moral codes as a way to avoid the struggle that comes with ambiguity.

    2) There’s a real struggle within the Adama family that reads like it’s straight out of an Alasdair MacIntyre book. Should Adama hold his own particular mores or give into the cosmopolitan mores? In this instance, I think that we’re all glad that the cosmopolitanism of Caprica won out. I’ll be interested to see how his decision effects him and if he settles into Caprican mores over Tauron cultural imperatives.

    Thunder Jones

    February 21, 2010 at 11:15 pm

  3. Hey Natalie,

    Great post. I’d (somewhat predictably) love to throw out an additional theme worth paying attention to this season. I’m just joining this convo, so let me know if you’ve already touched on this, but I’m fascinated by the role young people, particularly teens, are playing as cultural barometers on this show. You get this dual picture of the adolescent both as product of their environs and as the potential leaders in resistance. Given the historically prophetic role young people have played in social movements, I’m psyched to see a show that lends youthful idealism some real complexity.

    Nice work.

    Carolyn D

    February 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm

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