Know Thy Enemy
Perhaps it’s because I watched this episode late last night after my dinner guests had left (and after a few rounds of drinks), but I had kind of a hard time following some of it. On the other hand, I get the hunch that they’re setting up a bunch of plotlines that will pay off over time, which gives me hope that we’re getting a second season! The episode opens in Tauron City with Verges discovering his MCP has been stolen and two of his friends have been killed. We swing to a month later as Verges reveals to Daniel both what had happened and how he was going to respond. What remains unclear to me is exactly how much Daniel knows – he knows he had the chip stolen; he didn’t seem to know that the thievery involved murder; and yet he seemed to have these flashbacks to killings throughout the episode. Were these just flashes of guilt or are we supposed to be left wondering if Daniel in fact knows more than he’s letting on right now?
Because we certainly can’t trust Daniel at this point! He’s proven himself now to be as much a bad guy as a good guy (in fact, the scale seems to tip further to the former). Perhaps this is why I find the marriage of the Drs. Graystone so interesting. The way they’ve dealt with their grief together is quite inspiring. They care for each other. They laugh together. They respect each other’s decisions and own spheres of work. They seem to have a great marriage! And in a way, this anchors Daniel for me. Even as he embarks on some evil escapades, he’s got this home-base in family that maintains some sort of goodness in him.
It’s a similar pattern to what we see with Sam Adama, but of course there’s also a difference, which is one of the more fascinating aspects of the show. When Daniel moves out of his anchored goodness, his actions seem to be a selfish breaking of the rules. Sam also has this anchor in family – his husband and his loyalty to his nephew and broader family. But we get the sense that his participation in illegal activity and other untoward goings-on also has some moral framework to it that relates to his Tauron way of life. Something more complex is going on with the Adamas’ extra-legal pursuits than the Graystones’, and I’m hoping for more light to be shed on that in the final three episodes of the season.
Philomon is intriguing me more and more as well. At first I thought he was sweet, but now I’m just finding him creepy. But it’s his name that caught my attention last night. There is a letter to Philemon in the Bible (as I’m sure you know) that St. Paul writes on behalf of a slave, Onesimus, to the slave-master, Philemon. It’s a controversial book because Paul sends Onesimus back to his master, instructing Philemon to treat the slave with love, but not to let him go free. As Caprica moves further into the territory of robot-slavery, I wonder how this Biblical narrative will open up our understanding of Philemon’s role. With what kind of love will he encounter Zoe, either in the real world or with her V-world avatar disguised as Rachel? (btw, I was so glad those dorky glasses didn’t actually work as a disguise – that would have been stupid).
I did love watching Joseph play with the holo-band again. How strange that sanitized virtual world looked after all the other visions we’ve had of V-world. And what a great reminder of how acclimatized all the folks we’ve seen in V-world had to get to their avatars. Joseph looked awkward and confused trying to move his around using only the power of his mind, and not the physical movement of his actual body.
I’ll leave Sister Clarice and the forward movement of the STO to you…Something gives me the feeling that you’re going to want to talk about Barnabus! But how interesting to have Sister Clarice make the first explicit reference to to Zoe’s avatar with the language of souls enduring through eternity. Of course, we’ve all seen that symbolism, but I’m not sure I fully realized that the some of the characters themselves were thinking that way.
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
Before I get started, I need to speak to any Buffy watchers out there for a minute…
…Ok, kids, I think we’re alone now. So here’s what I have to say to you: SPIKE! And the next thing I have to say is this: SPIKE! You got old! Maybe it IS better to burn out than fade away…
Ok. I’m back. I don’t think you’re in bad company; I’ve read several reviews today where people thought this episode was a bit disjointed. That actually wasn’t my experience, though; as a matter of fact, I was thrilled by this episode. It probably was a bit scattered – I agree with you that several plotlines were being set up, and several more were being resumed. But I had a similar experience to last week – as we visited the Vergis headquarters, and then returned to the present day on Caprica, I had the satisfying sense that, once again, our writers were not going to let Graystone get away with the heinous crime he committed in stealing the MCP. They were really going to push the ambiguity, and increasing ugliness, of Graystone’s character.
Before I talk about that a bit, some interesting plot matters. Last week I wondered how the avatar and Cylon plotlines were going to converge, and speculated that we were seeing the beginning of the Cylon resurrection technology – or, as a commenter noted, the heart of the projection phenomenon so central to BSG. That seemed to be confirmed this week, as there was talk of multiplicities of avatars, and their enduring nature, as you pointed out; so we already seem to be heading toward the convergence of the “spiritual” and the “technological” that was so definitive of BSG. I’m struggling a little with how little we’re getting of the STO and the contested nature of “apotheosis,” but it is ironic and telling, is it not, that the group defined by their moral absolutes is so deeply and fundamentally divided.
We didn’t see much of Joseph Adama this week, but I’m really starting to think that he’s going to be important, perhaps more than Graystone, in the weeks to come. He and Graystone form an interesting pair; Adama is continually plagued by guilt and indecision, with occasional decisive acts such as Amanda’s murder (which of course was not followed through with) or the funeral for his wife and daughter; Graystone is a deliberate, caluculating pragmatist, who only occasionally (but with such violence!) shows pangs of conscience or remorse. I was struck by the confessional framing, as you mentioned, a few weeks ago when Joseph learned of his son’s absenteeism, and was reminded of that this week as Clarice spoke to her confessor/contact for the second time. Contrast this to Graystone’s stark refusal to confess to Vergis, and the chilling insouciance with which the latter announces his intent to ruin Graystone. It’s that kind of moral ambiguity and complexity that is Caprica’s core genius.
I think too much can be made of the BSG–Caprica connection – they are definitely standalone shows, and need to be treated as such – but I’m intrigued by the way Caprica is embracing the grays of its moral universe the same way BSG did. BSG took what would have been a stark black and white moral opposition in any other show – the survivors of a genocide fight against their oppressors – and swiftly set out upending the way our perceptions of victimhood and aggression, justice and evil, and sympathy and antipathy play out in such dramas. Caprica is doing the same thing, and it fascinates me. Graystone is indeed a compelling mix of good and evil, and I think he very well may end up something other than a hero – but also, something other than a villain.
Perhaps that’s the deepest irony this week: “Know Thy Enemy” was the title, but all that we’ve said today suggests that there really are no clear allies or enemies in Caprica’s universe.