CAPRICA: Unvanquished – Mini-Review

CAPRICA returned from it’s “mid-season” break last night on SyFy.
caprica_cylon_StoltzThough it’s been months for the fans of the series, only three weeks have passed for the characters. I’d like to say it was worth waiting for, even though I’ve been at best a casual and inconsistent viewer. (I’d actually forgotten I’d ever watched any of it, until I started looking at material for a recent interview.) In any case, this premiere left me cold.
Cold is the operative word. Cold, bleak, depressing. As I was watching it, I realized the blunt fact about this program that I’d managed to forget: I don’t like any of the characters. I don’t really care what happens to them,they generate in me only a mild curiosity toward their actions and fates.
Make no mistake, this is a well-acted, handsomely mounted program from NBC-Universal and the producers of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. But it possesses little if any of that show’s charm and energy.
The direction, by series star Eric Stoltz, was often visually striking, not always something you see from actor/directors. There is an extended scene in which a terrorist attack by fanatical mono-theists is carried out, and that was really quite well done, the absolute high point of the slow, talky episode.
Characters seemed well drawn, even in scenes in which some rather silly “religious” costumes were worn.  It was interesting to see that Meg Tilly guest as the soft-spoken “Reverend Mother” of the One God religionists/terrorists.
It seemed bit cynical and heavy-handed to see how intimately the “Soldiers of the One” and the hierarchy of the Church are connected. Save for the single semi-appealing and relatively rational guest star—who was killed off, in an entirely predictable moment— they all seemed half-mad and morally depraved.
This cynicism and amoral outlook seemed to be a theme in the episode, in which formerly nominal “good guy” Joseph Adama (Esai Morales) appeared to have crossed over completely from the side of the law to the Tauron Ha’la’tha underworld. He presents Daniel Greystone with a truly grotesque choice that’s supposed to prove his sincerity about working with the Ha’la’tha, something that no sane man would do—nor would, I suggest,  any member of that supposedly family-oriented mob.
Graystone refuses, and this is supposed to be a sign that he’s not worthy to work with them to regain control of his business, something the ‘Godfather’ figure appeared very much to want, leaving me utterly confused at the purpose of the charade, unless it’s simply a writer device to make us feel how intense the scene is supposed to be, rather than actually writing something that made more sense.

Alessandra Torresani
Alessandra Torresani

Towards the end of the episode, it showed some more energy, in a scene in which the Zoe Graystone cyber-construct (Alessandra Torresani), now a ‘Dead Walker’,  faces off against some bowler-hatted thugs (apparently inspired by A CLOCKWORK ORANGE) in the VR New Cap City world. A bit too little, too late, I thought.
Not that I’m pushing for an action-heavy, slam-bang show. But I do want to care about what’s going on onscreen.
Your mileage may vary, faithful fans of the show might have found it a great deal more satisfying than I did. They should enjoy it while it lasts, because based on last night’s show, I have doubts it’s going to attract enough viewers to be renewed for another season.
CAPRICA: Unvanquished
Directed by Eric Stoltz, screenplay by Ryan Mottesheard.
CAPRICA airs Tuesdays at 10:00 PM ET/PT on SyFy.

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