Teenage Girls will Save the World (or damn it…it’s hard to tell!)
So Tamara quickly became my favourite character last night – badass! And she brought a new dimension to our ponderings about bodies with regards to avatars. While Zoe continued to test the limits of her new body in the real world with the horrific ripping off of her arm – an act that surely set in motion a chain of consequences – Tamara began to experience her avatar body as limitless in a deeply productive way. I found the idea that a coma or deep sleep can stop one from experiencing the pain that makes one defraz in V-world to be fascinating! Like a slap in the face to someone hysterical, the one who receives pain gets a jolt back to reality, quite literally. But for Tamara, it’s the endurance of the pain that leads to healing, and ultimately a renewed strength and ability to take her destiny into her own hands. Ok, so the whole, she’s now able to manipulate the code because she somehow is the code thing was a little too Matrixy for me – I thought Agent Smith was going to come running around the corner! Nevertheless, I’m intrigued then that it’s Zoe who has fulfilled that messianic role more so than Tamara; that Tamara is just a kid trying to get home and she’s using her badass capabilities to make that happen rather than to save the world. And of course, I love that both figures are girls here – just young, confused, at times flirty, conscious of their fashion choices, teenage girls. What a great spin on themes of power and salvation!
So on to our other girl – Zoe. I wondered if that boardroom scene could be nearly so poignant for a man to watch as it would be for a woman? While we have William Adama rebelling against his father, we get to see Zoe willing to do anything to feel her father’s love…a common aching rite for many teenage girls. Watching her move from experiencing some sense of recognition by Daniel and getting to hear him laud her brilliant mind to facing the need to rip of her own arm to maintain his attention was heartbreaking. And as she threw her own pound of flesh onto the table, I – not knowing very much about the eventual cylon uprising at all – wondered what grounds that event would have in the imagination of a daughter so deeply wronged by the father whose love she seeks with all the wonder and hope of a teenage girl,
Daniel’s own speech was so chilling. Not knowing BSG and therefore not knowing that he was moving towards promoting slavery, I was caught up in the beauty of it. Zoe’s proud reactions at being his partner in this creation were lovely. And when he mocked the crowd for asking about the practical implications of creating another race to walk beside us, I scoffed with him at their overly simplistic way of thinking about the relationship between creation, invention and practicality. And I was immediately humbled as I realized that it’s Daniel’s inability to think the practical that will lead to the downfall of the Caprican race. I wanted to question the believability of his fast move from the joy of creation to the tragedy of slavery, but it rang too true to human history – to our desire for power, control and the next great thing – for me to muster any real challenge to the plot. Of course that’s what would happen. Which is perhaps why escapes like V-world remain so necessary?
Did you notice that moment when Joseph received the call from the school re: William’s absences involved his face being framed with a confessional booth motif – I loved that! It was as if he were taking on the culpability for his son’s actions which, by the end of the episode he does do. Great sneaky foreshadowing visual!
Ok, I’ll sign off and leave that beautiful funeral and the fact that avatars can be stolen to you to comment on. I can’t wait to hear what you thought of the episode, and I’m so glad you’re joining me on these reflective chats, Travis!
Thanks for letting me come on board, and for getting the conversation started! I have to admit that I was a bit lukewarm about last week’s episode, but I was intrigued by Graystone’s (apparently) impulsive move to bankrupt his company in order to win back some of his public image. I say apparently, because in the back of my mind, I thought, if this show knows its character the way I think it does, then the writers haven’t forgotten that Graystone is above all a consummate capitalist, whose every move is infused with calculated ambition. So when we saw him speaking to his board of directors with the Cylon in tow, I was thrilled (at the craft of the show, that is; I was repulsed by Graystone). Of course Graystone is going to make a forward-thinking decision, one calibrated to push his company, and Caprican society, to the very limit of technology’s cutting edge by exploiting his newest invention.
The familiar scifi theme of technology’s progress outpacing its ethical moorings is functioning here, but more profoundly, this move by Graystone provided a way to plumb the increasingly fraught relationship of children and their parents in Caprica. I, too, found Zoe’s look of adoration and gratitude heartbreaking as Graystone bragged about her, because he was really boasting about himself (an all-too-common transference among parents!). The scene recalled that fascinating, and sexually charged, opening scene in Spielberg’s A.I. to me, so I had a feeling something violent or degrading was coming; but this didn’t make it any less devastating. Again, I’m reminded of that line from BSG I quoted a few weeks ago: “Humanity’s children are returning home. Today.” Even without enslavement, generational strife is becoming the signifier of this show.
So when the Tamara (yes: badass; and yes again, got a bit too Matrix-y, just as Dollhouse did several weeks ago) is asked “What are you?” and she intones, “I’m awake,” something deeply ominous is being presaged. The parallels between Zoe and Tamara were striking; Zoe, too, is awake, or if she’s not, maiming herself has to have done the job. So we have the two virtual daughters cut off from their parents, both of them finding themselves imprisoned and finding in that imprisonment sources of power. They’re awake. And they’re probably pretty pissed off! Tamara is not, of course, a Cylon, but I imagine that we’re going to see these two storylines converge; for the benefit of those readers familiar with BSG, I’d speculate that V-world, and possibly even Tamara, could be a precursor to the technology that allows the Cylons to communicate on their ships, and perhaps a forerunner of resurrection capabilities.
One of the great strengths of this show is the slow, patient way it is building its world, its social structures, and its systems of religious belief and practice, all while maintaining references to our own so that genuine human pathos can be produced. The Tauron funeral was a tremendous example of this: it was textured and felt like an authentic artifact of a living tradition, all while preserving emotional resonance for us as viewers. We’re a long way from the simple monotheism-polytheism opposition with which we started. Virtual Caprica evoked classic scifi dystopias (notably Blade Runner, and again for BSG watchers, did you notice the Vipers?), but also provided a great visual representation for our own virtual social wasteland. V-world is pretty much exactly what I think the internet would look like, were it truly “virtual!”
So all that to say that this theme of parents and children continues to fill in the mythology of BSG in fascinating ways, while also opening up a profound window into our own world.