Caprica episode 3 review

The Caprica story continues to thicken: but does the show need to just offer a little bit more to the watching audience?

Reins Of A Waterfall

There aren’t too many shows out these days that, for their third episode, require a two-minute recap to help you get your head around what’s happened thus far. Yet, Caprica has been dense with storytelling and set-up since its maiden episode, and its third episode continues with the work. Too much work, some might argue.

It’s an episode that first and foremost deals with ramifications, as the fall-out for the Graystone family following Amanda’s announcement to the world that their daughter, Zoe, was a terrorist is quickly explored. And it all adds up to bad news for Daniel and his business. The share price is nose-diving, the late night talk hosts are making mincemeat out of him, and the police, as we later discover, have found a way to get a warrant to check out his home.

That’s a piece of the jigsaw for a future episode, however, as is the news that the police let the Maglev bomber, Ben Stark, go a year before he committed the atrocity. If you’re looking for a show that explores contemporary issues, and contemporary reactions to them, then not for the first time, science fiction is the genre you require.

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Elsewhere, there are increasingly deep threads to follow. There’s the Cylon version of Zoe, for starters, arguably the show’s most intriguing storyline right now. What we learn this week is that the human Zoe had kept some information back from her avatar, seemingly her links and interaction with Sister Clarice. Clarice is becoming an interesting character, and we get a sense here that’s she a pawn in a much bigger game. As you might expect, what that game is remains unclear for the moment.

Cylon Zoe, however, not only has to suffer the pain of watching her parents, er, ‘get down to business’, but she’s also found a way to get back into the virtual zone, where – thanks to a holoband – she meets up with Lacy. And the pair get more than they bargained for, when they unlock the avatar of Tamara in there too, although she’s still not worked out that she’s dead.

Her father, Joseph Adama, knows all too well that she’s bought it, though, and he finally gets face to face with Graystone after the latter had been avoiding his calls. The rules here appear to be don’t mess a man around who has mob connections, even if said mob connections seem to be playing out a mini-version of Goodfellas with his son without him realising.

Joseph, therefore, – are you still following all of this? – gets Daniel Graystone to let him back into the virtual zone, where it appears that the avatar of Tamara has disappeared. Where’s she gone? Buggered if we know: we last saw her going off exploring. That’s all we’re getting for now, but assuming she can’t physically come back to life – unless she finds a Cylon shell waiting somewhere – what damage can she wreak in the virtual world? A fine question.

The show then threw in yet more narrative strands to follow, namely, the desire of Cylon Zoe to go to Gemini and finish off whatever plan Human Zoe had, and the desire of Joseph Adama to have Daniel Graystone’s wife killed. The latter is the big cliffhanger moment, and given the downbeat mood of Caprica thus far, you wouldn’t discount the assassination being successful.

You’ll have to forgive me for spending a little time trying to pull all of that together, but Caprica is beginning to make my head hurt a little. There feels like many, many narrative balls being juggled here, and the show seems determined to quickly weave as many threads under the surface as it can. But I’m getting a slight sense of a problem. As compelling a family drama as the show has been thus far – and it has more of a feel of a Godfather movie at times over a science-fiction show – it’s not actually throwing the audience too many bones.

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I remember sitting through – and how unfair a comparison is this? – the first four or five episodes of The Wire, and soon got a sense that this was a show challenging you to think, forcing you to get your head around a lot of interesting characters and a lot of interesting plotpoints. Caprica is, arguably, doing the same. But The Wire was savvy. It always felt like it was looking over its shoulder to check that you were still keeping up.

I don’t get that sense with Caprica. It might be me being dim at times, but there are moments where I feel that its story is developing so deeply so quickly that it’s feeling a little more of a show that you study rather than you absorb.

As I said, I’m only getting the tiniest tingling sense of this at the moment, and I find myself looking forward to each episode. There’s undoubtedly a dense and meaty drama developing here, put together by very skilled people. Personally, though, I’d just like to feel that I’m enjoying it a little more than I am. This latest episode? It was strong in places, packed a lot in to its running time, and left lots of strands to pick up in the future. Let’s hope it gives itself a little more space to relax and explore them just a little slower…

Read our review of episode 2 here.