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Review: Caprica - Rebirth

by Nick Zaino, posted Jan 30th 2010 12:40AM
Zoe Graystone from SyFy's Caprica(S010O2) In one scene in the second episode of Caprica, Amanda Graystone holds a book that belonged to her daughter, called The Physics of Religion and Spirituality. The fact that she's holding it at a memorial for the victims of a terrorist attack, while mourning her daughter, Zoe, is more than a little ironic.

We'll start with the fact that the book was given to Amanda by the mother of Zoe's boyfriend Ben, who strapped explosives to his chest and blew up the train in the name of one true god, killing Zoe and many others. When Amanda finds a religious symbol amongst the book and some photos, she is convinced that Zoe was part of the plot to bomb the train (she wasn't, although she shared some of the religious views that led to it).

The second, and weightier, reason for the irony is that Zoe isn't necessarily dead, and it's her study of physics and technology that saved her, or at least a mix of her real self, her avatar from a virtual world inhabited by her and many of her fellow teenagers (accessible through a holoband, one of her father's creations), and a robot soldier body (which her father also created).

Caprica mixes technology and psychology in a way that would make Isaac Asimov proud. Much of "Rebirth" is shown through Zoe's point of view from inside the Cylon prototype. No one except her friend Lacy knows she's in there, so she is poked and prodded and violated like a broken down Ford Tempo. When the prodding is happening, we see the Cylon body. But then we see Zoe, in her human body, reacting to her treatment.

There is a bit of comedy that goes along with Zoe's "condition." She doesn't realize her own strength or weight, and crushes a bed when she sits down as she would when she was entirely human. But what is she now? Her flesh and blood, human identity was obliterated with the train, and now she's seen by some as a monster and by some, including one young scientist assistant of Daniel's who is working on the Zoe robot, as a work of art. If in the future, more Cylons are created from Zoe's prototype, it will go a long way toward explaining their animosity toward humans.

But the psychology lesson doesn't end there. In "Rebirth," we get to see Amanda realize she never really knew Zoe beyond their constant sparring. We get to see gangster Sam Adama take his nephew William, son of Joseph Adama, for a walk while William is skipping school, teaching him about getting away with crime and how to manipulate others through guilt ("It's all about control and power").

There are also nods to group psychology, when Lacy visits Sister Clarice Willow's family, and when William rejects the traditional Tauron meal his grandmother has made, hoping for a couple of hamburgers later on (happy to know that hamburgers survived in the colonies).

It's clear that Caprica is in no hurry to reveal everything it has in store (something I wondered aloud about in the review of the premiere), and there were a few surprises right up to the very end of the show. "Rebirth" introduced a few smaller characters that could wind up being key to the plot now or ten episodes from now, effectively planting seeds. Zoe's transformation will be especially interesting to watch, considering the possible implications for the Cylons 50 years in the future on Battlestar Galactica.

So far, Caprica is a frakking good drama.

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Thanks for a great review! I like this slow reveal - it gives time to develop themes at a pace that allow contemplationhappy to know that hamburgers survived in the colonies". That implies that you think Caprica

Review of the episode on my blog:

February 06 2010 at 3:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

another good introduction episode with a several sub mentions here (not a big one but Sam is gay as revealed when he is walking with his nephew).

i have never watched BSG and find myself curious if certain things will have a deeper meaning if i did watch it - a la the heroes comics.

One thing - the Black fedora hats. is that a Tauorian thing?

I like the build up but worry that there may be eventually be too many threads that go overlooked.

still watching it!

February 01 2010 at 11:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Also, why isn't this filed under Caprica as well?

February 01 2010 at 11:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I always thought battle star was cool but felt to late in the game to start watching it but If I never watched battle star will I enjoy this show?

January 31 2010 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bwonder's comment

yes these are very different shows, in tone and story, so no I don't think you need to have ANY knowledge of Battlestar, though it could possibly enhance your enjoyment of the series. It certainly won't detract from it that's for sure.

February 01 2010 at 6:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

question to everyone:

How did Graystone get Joseph Adama's deceased daughter to be an avatar when there was no imprint made of her when she was alive?

Zoe is one thing. She made an avatar of herself while still alive. But how did they get Adama's daughter? She never saved an avatar of herself.

I'm puzzled by this.

January 31 2010 at 2:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mb's comment

Basically he googled all her information and made a database/representation of her. But the big piece of information you shouldn't think about is she acted acted in the same manner to the Zoe download. How one that was custom built compared to one that was just a database query remains a plot hole the size of the grand canyon.

January 31 2010 at 2:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really liked this episode. I hope viewers are still flocking in to watch. I hate that my cable provider puts in Spanish captions. I have to wait for it OnDemand.

January 30 2010 at 11:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm really digging Caprica: psychological, philosophical, sociological, the science, and the spiritual aspects. Great science fiction! Looking forward to more episodes.

January 30 2010 at 9:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So much potential! Issac Asimov's influence is everywhere. But there's much more psychology and philosophy here.

Smart, serious SciFi is having a renaissance now. Let's hope it last. Our world could use more imagination!

January 30 2010 at 12:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for a great review! I like this slow reveal - it gives time to develop themes at a pace that allow contemplation. Last week it felt really focused on the theme of monotheism vs. polytheism, but this week - as you point out - the shift was more toward embodiment and, I think, mind-body connections. You've got me thinking about that book now - it pulls together themes of science and religion, and so I wonder how the religious differences of Caprica will play into the technologies and their development. Great show!

I blog about Caprica at http://themothchase.wordpress.com - check us out!

January 30 2010 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am finding the story pretty interesting, but I'm really just waiting for James Marsters to show up.

January 30 2010 at 10:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to zippy_zip74467's comment

yup it is really fantastically publicised to the utmost levels of entertainment at http://battlestargalactica.download-tvshows.com

February 06 2010 at 5:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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