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'Caprica' recap: Frakkin' Caprican in a Tauron body

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A prep schooler and an immigrant grandma wouldn’t seem to have very much in common. But we live in interesting times. You never know who’s going to blow up the local holocafe. Was it some dirt-eater gangster? Or a Gemenese wacko from a God cult? Maybe. Then again, it could be a rich kid with an afterschool job at the Bike Kitchen. Or it could even be a kindly old lady like Willie Adama’s grandmother, dear old Tsattie.

I didn’t think very much of Tsattie before last night’s episode of Caprica. I thought she was a weird pastiche of Foreign Grandparent cliches — “Tauron” this, “Tauron” that, eat your Tauron food, send your son to Tauron school. Last night, though, Tsattie was a veritable fountain of important life lessons, the sort of things that you’d want every Tauron child to learn (especially when they’re young, before Caprica softens them up). “On Tauron, when you’re 13, you’re a man,” she told her grandson, giving him a moral excuse to ditch school for morning booze with Uncle Assassin.

Tsattie wasn’t done teaching her grandson manners, though. See, Willie wants to work in the Pyramid locker room (I guess as the Pyramid version of a batboy?). But he can tell that Dad’s relationship with Mr. Graystone has gotten a bit complicated. Who cares if he’s not a friend anymore, said Tsattie. “You get the best things from enemies, because they’re scared of you.”

Message to Joe: You might want to consider finding a nice retirement home for the in-law. Especially since she’s a little devil on your shoulder, too. When she saw the Graystones on Baxter Sarno, she said, “The dead don’t really die until death is avenged.” Joe got the hint. But just in case he didn’t, Tsattie was there towards the end of the broadcast, by which point Amanda Graystone had charmed the pants off Sarno and everyone else on the Twelve Worlds. (Her mere presence turned her husband from a scripted automaton into a noble patrician.) Amanda looked like she was smiling for the first time in months. “I could kill her with my own hands,” said Tsattie, “Sleep well every night.”

And so, students, we learned an important lesson: Tauron Grandmas might cook like Italians, but they hold grudges like Russians. Taking a cue from Tsattie’s home-schooling, let’s run down the list of important life lessons we learned on last night’s episode, “Gravedancing.”

You really have to play it a little guilty.

I’m way too obsessed with fascinated by all the media stuff on Caprica, so you can imagine that I was loving all the scenes last night between Pryah, Cyrus, and Daniel. Both of his employees had very specific interpretations of how Daniel should play “Daniel Graystone” on Sarno. He should be a grieving father, but he shouldn’t call too much attention to his own guilt. Don’t be cute. Make sure to use the word “troubled.”

That word, “troubled,” became the focus of everyone’s conversation. That attention to linguistic detail, combined with the way the actors playfully threw dialogue back and forth in these scenes, reminded me a little bit of an old plot from The West Wing, where everyone couldn’t believe a politician actually used the phrase “if the shoe fits” without any hint of irony. “‘Troubled’ is a good word!” Cyrus argued. Then Daniel actually said it on the air. Quoth Cyrus, “It’s really not a good word.”

Again on Caprica, we’re returning to the essential theme of persona: how the face we show to the world is somehow unreal, or fabricated. (It’s even there on the fringes of storytelling — did you catch that Amanda is a plastic surgeon?) I find it interesting that, so far at least, we’ve only seen Baxter Sarno on the set of his TV show, playing to his audience (this time around, I thought he was a bit more Conan O’Brien crossed with the madcap moral certitude of Glenn Beck.) I thought that we were going to see a kind of Daniel/Baxter showdown in the episode, probably with Baxter unmasked as a populist gasbag.

But Caprica is too smart for that. Instead, we got to see something that actually looked quite a bit like a real talk-show conversation. Daniel Graystone got to promise sweeping reform of his Holoband technology (I have to rewatch the episode to understand exactly what he was talking about, but I got the sense that he was basically talking about open-sourcing the Holoband, essentially transforming Graystone Industries from Apple into Google. Agree/disagree?) Amanda Graystone got to regain the moral high ground and get in a joke about the Bucs. Baxter Sarno got the ratings and a satisfying conclusion to his running joke narrative. Everyone walked away happy, except for the dead and those who still mourn them.

Taurons work every menial job in Caprica City.

Yet again, Sam Adama got access to somewhere he shouldn’t just by flashing some of his tattoos. I’m starting to understand why Sam feels so compelled to train his nephew in the Tauron ways. For him, the mere fact of being Tauronese grants him boundless social capital. Did you notice how Amanda didn’t even bat an eyelid when he said he was Baxter’s driver? You think she’d believe a clean-skinned Caprican was a driver for a living? But some Tauron with neck tattoos and a mock-leather jacket — well, what else could he possibly do for a living?

(By the way, has anyone found a website with a list of Tauron words and phrases? I want to start throwing them around in front of people I hate.)

Gemenese scum are luring good Caprican kids into a killer cult.

I like Agent Durham. Like Clarice Willow, I don’t necessarily know that we’ve gotten a good enough sense of his character and his background to fully understand him (and there were some implications last night that he has a personal vendetta against the Soldiers of the One.) Brian Markinson plays Durham as a combination of relentless curiosity, driven intensity, and a slight hint of apologetic gentleness. Watch how he gingerly tried to explain to Amanda Graystone why he was going through her dead daughter’s laundry.

I also like Lacy Rand, though I wish she had more to do than blather on about Zoe all the time. Maybe I just enjoy seeing her and Keon flirting while repairing hardware and chatting about the best ways to get your dynamite out of your locker when the GDD shows up with a warrant.

Group Marriages mean Group Beds.

This should have been self-evident to everyone, but thank you, Caprica, for showing us, just so we know for sure. Wait, I think I forgot. Could we see that again?

The first Cylon is a better dancer than I am.

Oh, Caprica. Your ratings are so, so bad, and yet you keep on doing things that seem purposefully designed to drive away the viewing population. I’m sure quite a few viewers cancelled Caprica on your DVR’s series manager after seeing the Zobot do a Robot Dance, while the moony-eyed Niceguy Technician danced along.

But you know what? That scene worked for me. It looks to my eyes like they’re ramping up the effects work on the Zobot: instead of looking embarrassingly clunky, it’s starting to look meaningfully clunky, like a beautifully half-finished claymation Frankenstein. Was it completely bizarre when the Niceguy Technician shared a long meaningful look with the Zobot? Yes. And I loved it.

(Note: I actually can dance better than the Niceguy Technician.)

Best Description of the Monotheistic Divine Being

“A moral Dictator called God.” – Agent Durham

Second Best Description of the Monotheistic Divine Being

“The big Destructo-God in the Sky.”  –Baxter Sarno

What did you think of “Gravedancing, ” PopWatchers? The ratings haven’t been great on Caprica, but I’m starting to think I wouldn’t mind very much if all we get is this one beautiful, weird season. Do you think people will hear about the Dancing Zobot and start flocking to the show? Do you agree that, for there to be any beneficial change in Holoband abuse, you’d have to take away the profit motive? I mean, it worked when they legalized drugs, right?

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