In Caprica’s two-hour pilot episode, Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) and Joseph Adama (Esai Morales) meet by chance after their daughters, Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) and Tamara (Genevieve Beuchner), are killed in a suicide bombing. When Daniel Graystone stumbles onto some highly advanced programming that his daughter Zoe left behind, he and Joseph enter into an unusual partnership that involves stealing a rival company’s technology in an attempt to bring back their lost daughters.
A gifted programmer herself, Zoe Graystone built upon her father’s holoband technology — the equivalent of virtual reality complete with senses of smell, taste, touch, etc. — to create her virtual “twin.” More advanced than the avatars that holoband users use in virtual space, Zoe’s virtual double is not only a perfect copy of Zoe Graystone’s physical appearance, but also shares most of her memories and feelings and, most importantly, has the ability to act independently of her human counterpart — even after Zoe’s death.
Daniel stumbles upon his daughter’s virtual twin with the help of Zoe’s friend, Lacy Rand (Magda Apanowicz), and attempts to transfer her into one of the cybernetic bodies that his company is developing for a defense contract. When the robot’s programming crashes, Daniel believes his daughter’s virtual twin to be lost. He fails to connect the leaps and bounds that his cybernetic soldiers make in anticipating and innovating with this failed experiment, allowing Zoe to remain hidden in and have control over the cybernetic body.
While the two-hour pilot episode of Caprica focuses heavily (by necessity of its subject matter) on the emotional distress caused by the terrorist bombing that killed Zoe Graystone, Tamara Adama, and myriad other Caprican citizens, the second episode, “Rebirth,” examines some of the underlying issues that brought about these catastrophic events. Zoe’s mother, Amanda Graystone (Paula Malcomson), incites a riot and tarnishes her family’s reputation when she makes a shocking announcement about her daughter at a public memorial service for the victims of the bombing. When Amanda is approached by a woman named Natalie Stark (Nimet Kanji) and discovers that her daughter not only had a boyfriend that she didn’t know about, Ben Stark (Avan Jogia), but that she had dated him for over a year and the two of them were members of a group called Soldiers of the One that is generally recognized as a terrorist organization that promotes monotheism, it’s too much for her to bear and she falls even deeper into depression and despair.
Although it wasn’t clear from the series’s previews that religion would play such a large role on Caprica, the way that religion and society are portrayed in the series thus far is very interesting. The conflict that the show creates between Caprica’s dominant religious beliefs, which are polytheistic, and the beliefs of the “terrorists” held responsible for the bombing in “Pilot” is an unusual one that will capture audiences’ attention rather than boring them. Very infrequently do contemporary television series pit monotheism against polytheism in the manner that Caprica does — labeling those that believe in a single, all-powerful deity and a clear distinction between wrong and right as terrorists who threaten the Caprican way of life.
Caprica‘s cinematography is one of the series’s greatest strengths: after Zoe’s virtual persona is loaded into the cybernetic body, the director of “Rebirth,” Jonas Pate, alternates between shots of the cybernetic body and actress Alessandra Torresani. Rather than confusing viewers, this type of filming works to establish and continuously reinforce Zoe’s humanity despite the cybernetic body’s appearance. Pate intentionally places the shots of Zoe’s human body into scenes where these images will create the most sympathy for her character and will help the audience relate to Zoe Graystone as an individual with thoughts and feelings. It will be interesting to watch what happens as a person like Zoe is treated as little more than a freakish, monstrous object.
Caprica airs on the Syfy channel Fridays at 9:00pm EST. For more information on the show, visit the show’s official web site on Syfy.com.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars