Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So long and thanks for all the genocidal robots

Okay, so I just finished watching the final episodes of "Caprica." I seem to be in the minority, but I really liked them. I thought the second half of the season was much more interesting and better-paced than the first. Admittedly, the final episode had to telescope quite a bit, as is probably inevitable for a canceled prequel. And the physical portrayal of the Cylons (communicating through hand gestures? kneeling in church?) was a bit silly at times.

But in general, I like the way the show continued to deal with issues related to technology. In particular, the final episodes dealt with the ways that new technology can distort and destabilize power relationships. The Adamas used the robots to aid the uprising on Tauron, probably increasing their own power within the Tauron community on Caprica. The Quatral used the robots to make extra money and cement his power base, which resulted in pushback against him and his ultimate downfall. Lacey used the robots to take over control of the STO. And, perhaps most significantly, Daniel used the robots to play the role the state could not play in preventing a terrorist attack. (This was huge -- imagine 9/11 being prevented by Bill Gates while an Al Qaeda operative was running the FBI.) I can only imagine how powerful Graystone Industries was, and how diminished the Caprican government was, after that day.

Like the "Star Wars" prequels, "Caprica"'s moral message was inevitably confused. It's difficult to know for whom to root when you're watching characters whom you know will later become genocidal maniacs acting like good guys. But I found the moral confusion useful. It remains particularly interesting that Daniel's motivations in creating the robots, and later the skinjobs, were so sympathetic. If you had the power to recreate your dead daughter, wouldn't you try? And then once robot servants were available to fight your wars or even walk your dogs, wouldn't you use them? His hubris was humanity's.

I'm curious about a few things going forward, some of which will hopefully be addressed in "Blood and Chrome":
  • What happens with Zoe over time? She is something like the God of V-World, with tremendous ability to manipulate virtual space and to appear pretty much anywhere within it. Do she and Tamara eventually evolve into ChipSix and ChipBaltar?
  • What happens with the STO? Are the humans in the movement completely wiped out in the Cylon uprising? "Galactica" doesn't show us any monotheists at first, suggesting that the faith is created among the humans around the time of Baltar's trial. Did it exist underground before then?
  • Isn't it immoral, if not illegal, to have a TV show's poster feature a topless 15-year old girl? Or does the Blind Faith precedent make it okay?


Steve Greene said...

Love BSG but never watched Caprica. I'm big on moral confusion, though, so I may put it in the DVD queue.

Seth Masket said...

Steve, I'd advise you not to get your hopes too high. Caprica's a very interesting show and I'm sorry it got cancelled, but the quality had a much higher variance and lower mean than that of Galactica.

Z said...

I suspect the image of a naked fifteen year old is rather softened by the fact she's actually 22.