The Moth Chase

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

Teenage Girls will Save the World (or damn it…it’s hard to tell!)

with 3 comments

Hey Travis,

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!

ox,
Natalie

—————

Natalie,

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.

Travis

Written by themothchase

February 27, 2010 at 10:35 am

3 Responses

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  1. I totally saw that confessional screen too. Good eye! And, to me, the last scene of Tamara walking down the abandoned city street really reminded me of 6 in a similar scene…not sure what to make of that comparison yet though.

    birdonaline

    February 27, 2010 at 12:24 pm

  2. i was pretty disappointed with this episode. i found it poorly directed and felt the whole Matrix/Sin City thing was an extremely lazy (and pretty insulting and pandering and full of holes) way to lay down some of the ground rules of V-World.

    while i find the idea of V-World fascinating (and i wonder how it relates to Cylon projection, if it all), the most engaging thought re: V-World was Graystone’s declaration that his company had to cede the virtual realm to hackers and pirates and move on. that type of clear leadership and hard philosophy was one of the best things about the BSG characters, and i’m glad that some of it is seeping into this show. overall, it seems as if the strong, forceful characters we met over the first three hours of this series are now becoming insecure and unsure ideological wanderers and that’s not engaging television.

    i also found the whole fishing trip to be silly and unrealistic. i don’t find Joseph so out of touch that he can’t realize that his own son isn’t into certain things and that his approaches to reach him are failing miserably. Joe is, afterall, a pretty accomplished (mob) lawyer/messenger boy. you’d think that human strategy would be something he’s a bit more aware of. (he’s also the guy who knew that taking his son to a Bucs game and letting him meet the players would cheer him up, so it makes his current cluelessness seem even more retarded.)

    and what kids are going to start trash-talking another kid in front of his dad? nothing about Joe comes across as physically weak, so it makes no sense that the other boys would try to punk Willie.

    i like what they’re doing with Sam as well as with Sister Clarice and the STO, but they’ve really got to tighten up the whole Grandpa/Sister/Little Willie Adama story line and handle it with more care. they’ve already written themselves into some corners by making a prequel in the first place, but seeing them mishandle the most important link between the two shows–that family that actually makes Caprica a true prequel, as opposed to just set in the same universe–is very discouraging.

    semi-related: did anyone else see correlations between Graystone marching in with Zylon behind him and the BSG scene where Six came into the Cylon meeting, announced that the Centurions had been given back their free will and the Centurions promptly opened up a few cartridges of instant massacre on their former overlords? because i totally expected Graystone to have Zoebot break a few fingers in that meeting.

    killiterati

    February 27, 2010 at 6:30 pm

  3. I had a different reading on Zoe-bot in the Graystone Industries board meeting: I didn’t see her reactions to the point of obeying the order to tear off her robot arm to be especially about trying to get father-approval. No doubt that was mixed in there — she’s probably got lots of ambivalence (as did the real Zoe) about parental approval & love — but I think the reason she tore off her arm was: she was caught between a rock & a hard place. She could either obey, & keep herself hidden; or disobey, & risk Daniel becoming suspicious about why she disobeyed. It still holds true what she told Lacey a couple of eps ago: that her greatest security right now lies in nobody knowing that she’s inside that ‘bot. Especially ferfraksake her father. (Though she originally told Lacey that in reference to Sister Clarice.)

    However, I’ll take a second look — I’ll be rewatching the ep tonight with a friend.

    I’ve gotta say that I’ve developed some ambivalencies about Daniel Graystone myself. I thought he was an absolute creep in the pilot; but over time I’ve developed a liking for him in some contexts, most especially in his private relationship with his wife. I very much like him in those scenes — I can very well believe that he loves her, that their love is very mutual, that their relationship has lastingness to it in spite of the incredible stresses they’re undergoing now because of their daughter’s death & Amanda’s disclosure at the memorial that Zoe was in STO.

    But then put him back in corporate world & he becomes, again, a dick. There he was talking about sapient beings — he was esssentially describing the Cylons as such — & yet casting them as slaves. What sapient being wants to be a slave? Could Zoebot’s smile be one of those smiles of “frak this I’m angry”? (I’ll check it out again tonight.)

    killiterati wrote:

    the most engaging thought re: V-World was Graystone’s declaration that his company had to cede the virtual realm to hackers and pirates and move on.

    When Graystone first announced this on Baxter’s show, I got rather that he was saying that regulation of the virtual realm wasn’t really possible so long as Graystone Corp. claimed all control over the virtual world made possible by the holobands. Graystone was to holobands as Apple is to iPods if iPods were the only .mp3 player in town. Graystone held all the DRM cards, except that it didn’t, because of the work of hackers virtual places like V-club & New Cap City could exist. The lesson here: prohibition leads to “crime.” In this case, Graystone was the sole regulator of V-world — a monopoly — and what Daniel did was to let go of that monopoly & basically hand it over to the public domain. Which opened up v-world to government regulation, which could theoretically be more democratic & more “free” than the “monopolistic because that’s how we make our profits” regulation (prohibiting third party innovations) that Graystone had previously exercised.

    That’s how I read it anyway.

    I thought the fishing trip was stupid too, mostly because the stream was so damn shallow that it was unlikely to hold any fish worth catching. Maybe Willie would have been more interested in fishing if it looked like there were any fish to be had.

    Y’all are giving me a lot to think about. Thanks!

    yksinainen

    March 1, 2010 at 8:15 pm


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