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Caprica, Season 1

Caprica, Season 1

By Jonahh Oestreich • February 1st, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
CAPRICA (SERIES)
Syfy

Originally aired: January 22nd, 2010 to November 30th, 2010
Total run time: 1022 minutes

Created by: Remi Aubuchon, Ronald D. Moore

Cast: Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Alessandra Torresani, Magda Apanowicz, Paula Malcomson, Sasha Roiz

Caprica

“The end of humanity has a beginning” — an unfortunate tagline for a TV show that’s gone before it had a real chance to begin; the sci-fi series was cancelled after its first season and is now available on DVD in two volumes. Intelligent and rather thought-provoking, Caprica tackles some of humanity’s political, ethical and social hot topics but is nonetheless an entertaining and involving adventure.

Conceived as a prequel to Battlestar Galactica (4 Seasons, 2004-2009), Caprica explores the origins of a robot race (Cylons) that will eventually attempt to annihilate mankind. It starts with teenage girl Zoe who lives on Caprica, one of 12 planets belonging to the “Colonies” — an advanced polytheistic civilisation that existed some 150,000 years ago somewhere else in the Universe.

Zoe’s father is scientist and business man Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) whose research in artificial intelligence has spawned “V World”, a virtual reality where people can build “parallel worlds” or just live out their fantasies. Rebellious Zoe is an ingenious computer geek and has created an exact copy of herself in “V World”. When the real girl dies in a terror attack staged by “The Soldiers Of The One”, a monotheistic cult, the virtual Zoe lives on and becomes the linchpin in a battle between religious fanatics, a paranoid government and rival dynasties fighting for control over the latest developments in artificial intelligence.

Possibly Caprica doesn’t make a lot of sense if you’ve watched just one or two episodes, or the second part without having seen the first one. It’s more a mini series with a comprehensive narrative that builds on a complex structure of characters and side stories, all of which contribute to an overall conclusive sci-fi tale. However, the show lives well on its own; it doesn’t depend on anything that happens in Battlestar Galactica — in fact, Caprica is an excellent primer to the saga on the war between humans and Cylons. Both shows have the same executive producers which definitely paid off as the more or less intellectual approach remains consistent and creates the same vibe, look and feel that have made both shows be original, if not unique.

Caprica

In particular, Caprica doesn’t tell its story in a black-and-white manner; the grey tones dominate. It’s not as much about Good vs. Evil as it is about the seemingly small choices the characters make in a confrontation that is ultimately incomprehensible to anyone of them. The consequences of their actions are unpredictable, and in many cases disturbing, which also makes for an emotional rollercoaster. It’s easy to take sides and to connect with the players, even if you wouldn’t agree with everything they do and say.

Certainly, this will cause even more disappointment in the last episode, as we know the story ends there and then and we are left with an unfulfilled outlook on the shape of things to come. Many questions remain unanswered but at least we get a “summary” of what happens between the end of Caprica and the beginning of Battlestar Galactica, though this is not necessarily satisfying.

Yet, the bravery of the filmmakers can only be appreciated. In the current climate, I can imagine it’s not easy to produce a show that actually discusses the ethics of science and religion. Too many sci-fi shows and movies merely use the settings of Capricaother worlds and futures as a backdrop to reflect on the human condition as it is. Caprica, maybe even more than Battlestar Galactica, goes one step further and creates a reality that feels familiar but has meaningful aspects alien to our own.

Although a recognisable world, Caprica nevertheless challenges our world views — if you let it, that is, as the story is neither pushy nor overwhelming with its underlying themes. Whatever you think about artificial intelligence, for instance, the show does not indoctrinate or jump the gun. The question isn’t whether or not there will be artificial intelligence but rather what we’ll do with it — and what it will do to us.

The different ways Caprica’s characters deal with “V World”, act in it and use its possibilities, is as tantalising as it’s haunting. I guess hardly anyone thinks virtual reality, once it looks and feels absolutely real, will be just fun and games, but the hypothesis that VR could be a means to manipulate whole populations in terms of deception and propaganda is rather scary. What if the conflicts of the future will be fought “virtually”?

For the inclined audience, the ultimate question of Caprica might be what the “soul” is, where it comes from and in the end, where it’s supposed to go. For most people the show might just offer an interesting and maybe emotional “thought experiment” but I think Caprica’s dramatisation of this question is somewhat ahead of its time.

Caprica

Jonahh Oestreich

Jonahh Oestreich

One of the Editors in Chief and our webmaster, Jonahh is a photographer and journalist who has been working in the media industry for over 15 years, mainly in television, design and art. As a boy, he made his first short film with an 8mm camera and the help of his father. His obsession with (moving) images and stories hasn’t faded since.

His passion for intricate stories and the ‘seven basic plots’ (ask him!) often times makes his friends and family put him in the doghouse for "predicting" too many twists and endings.

You can follow Jonahh on Twitter @Resonance_Zero.

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