Caprica: Know Thy Enemy

By  · Published on March 6th, 2010

Synopsis: Things get a little Pirates of Silicon Valley as rival inventor and Tauron, Tomas Vergis, confronts Daniel about the meta-cognitive processor that was stolen from him (by Daniel) and the two employees that were killed during the break-in – Vergis vows to destroy everything that Daniel cherishes. Elsewhere, Lacy is granted an audience with notorious, monotheist terrorist, Barnabas Greeley (James Marsters) and asks for his assistance in transporting Zoe’s avatar – a request that he denies.

Review: If you gave up on Caprica after the first few episodes, I urge you to start watching again. Despite all my little quibbles, this is a great show and, with only a few episodes to go before the mid-season break, it deserves a second look. So rather than doing a run-of-the-mill episode review, I’ve decided to shake things up a bit and list three reasons why all of you Caprica denouncers should rethink your position.

1. The Writers are Picking Up the Pace

A snail, a tortoise, a very slow-moving anaconda – critics of the show are apt to compare Caprica’s pacing to any one of these dilatory creatures. Though I haven’t been too bothered by the plotting – and would actually call the pace deliberate and not slow – I can see how it could be an obstacle for some people.

Any fan of hour-long, operatic dramas knows that these shows have to withhold certain details to maintain interest. Yet, some significant information has to be divulged from time to time in order to reward the audience for their faithfulness and prevent them from feeling like they’re being strung along or tricked into tuning in every week. It’s a delicate and elusive balance but Caprica is showing signs that it may be able to achieve it.

Aside from the fact that there’s just been a lot more action in recent weeks – Tamara Adama is awake and causing a big commotion in the V-world, Barnabas Greeley is blowing up holoband cafes, willy nilly – something that I really enjoy about the show is that there is a satisfying amount of resolution from episode to episode. In “Know Thy Enemy,” the mystery surrounding Tomas Vergis and his reasons for toying with Daniel, were introduced and then wrapped up in the space of an hour – he wants revenge and plans to destroy everything that Daniel values. Of course there’s room for elaboration in future episodes but I appreciate that sort of closure. And the bigger mysteries – like, what Sister Clarice plans on using Zoe’s avatar for – feel like they’re coming to head. The point is, the show definitely has direction and now that the foundation has been firmly established, everything is starting to move at an entertaining pace.

2. Thematic Cohesion

The writers are juggling a ton of characters and storylines and even though this can be a little overwhelming to watch at times, every subplot is, for the most part, thematically connected. That sort of purposefulness is rare. Last night’s episode, for example, had three major narrative threads – Sister Clarice attempting to steal Zoe’s avatar, Daniel’s dealings with Vergis, and the introduction of Barnabas Greeley. Although the events aren’t directly related, all three are about subterfuge and revolve around morally ambiguous characters. At the same time, there is enough variation and subtlety in the way that the theme is presented that you – as viewer who’s really just looking to be entertained – don’t feel like you’re being pounded over the head with some message.

3. James Marsters as Barnabas Greeley

As a fan of Buffy and Torchwood, I’ve been anxiously awaiting James Marsters’ Caprica debut; and I think that whoever directed last night’s episode knew that – Marsters was basically hidden behind a screen during his first scene and then almost ceremoniously revealed, as if he were some kind of rock star stepping out on stage. It was a little cheesy but I know one middle-aged woman (aka my mom) who was hooting about it.

Marsters brings a little punch to the show, not only because he’s a sci-fi/fantasy fan favorite but also because his character is being set up in direct opposition to Sister Clarice and that’s going to add an interesting level of tension to the show. Sister Clarice has been trying to get a hold of Zoe’s avatar from the very first episode. We don’t know how she plans on using it, but clearly the avatar is going to help the Soldiers of the One and further their cause. The introduction of Barnabas Greeley, a terrorist who’s obviously more interested in immediate results, is going to bring some more action to the show but it’s also going to force Sister Clarice to speed up her mission.