Episode 3 of Caprica, “Reins of a Waterfall,” begins with the aftermath of Amanda Graystone’s sudden announcement that her daughter, Zoe, was affiliated with Soldiers of the One, the monotheistic organization that has claimed responsibility for the MAGLEV train bombing. Both Amanda and Daniel experience violence, Graystone Industries takes a huge hit in the stock market, and even the Caprica Buccaneers, the pyramid team Daniel owns, suffer as a result of Amanda’s unfortunate lapse of control at the memorial service. Meanwhile, Virtual Zoe asks Lacy to help her get to Gemenon to fulfill Zoe’s plan for her, Sam Adama begins teaching his nephew about the city’s criminal underbelly, the Caprican police become more determined to connect the Graystones to the bombing, and Joseph becomes more and more vengeful. What begins as an unexceptional, but perfectly competent and serviceable episode explodes with a final, jarring scene in which we see Joseph Adama go completely to the dark side.
“Reins of a Waterfall” is all about spin. Is it possible for someone in the public eye to grieve away from it? Is law enforcement about justice, or about looking good? How do others perceive us, and how do we spin our choices to allow us to live with ourselves? Daniel is asked to appear on a Daily Show-like comedy talk show to improve his image. At first, he refuses, saying that he will not drag his daughter’s memory through the mud just to pander to the young people who “get their news” from shows like that. However, as the Graystone name becomes more and more tarnished, he reluctantly agrees, not seeing any alternative.
Meanwhile, the Caprica police have to smooth over a major faux pas in their investigation of the bombing. Apparently, they had pulled in Ben Stark over a year before the bombing for violating curfew and being found with all manner of wires in his bag. He was interviewed, then released with his bag, and his tape was mislabeled and sat ignored for months. In order to prevent attention from being drawn to their slip-up, they put the focus back on the Graystones in the press, calling the papers to play up the angle that government bureaucracy (which doesn’t allow the Graystone home to be searched, because Daniel has a contract doing classified government military work) is preventing them from doing their jobs and searching the Graystone home.
There are more subtle allusions to image in the episode, too. In a heartbreaking scene, Virtual Zoe listens as her parents (well, Zoe’s parents) have a conversation about how she “strapped a bomb to herself” and blew up the train. She can only listen in as they proceed to alter their perception of her, drawing their own conclusions from limited evidence and assuming the worst. Joseph Adama, tired of being the powerless widower, tries a different tactic with Daniel in order to continue to have access to his daughter’s avatar, by employing the help of his mobster brother, Sam. It seems that by reverting to the name Adama and embracing his Tauron heritage, he is also embracing his darker side, and is trying to brand himself differently in the eyes of the powerful, beginning with Daniel Graystone. He refuses to be seen as someone to be trifled with.
Three episodes into Caprica, this seems to be a recurring theme. The wealthy and powerful can write their histories. The poor and vulnerable have their histories written for them.
Caprica has some of the most interesting, intricate character work on television right now. Daniel is at once intensely arrogant and wounded in his grief. He is both the kind of person who would play God in an attempt to bring his daughter back, and the kind of entrepreneur who would shun PR efforts that would help him, because they would dishonor his deceased daughter. Meanwhile, Amanda’s complex feelings about Zoe are fascinating. She is a woman who didn’t think highly of Zoe when she was alive, seeing her as shallow and spoiled, and now that she’s dead and Amanda realizes how little she knew her, she is prepared to assume the worst about Zoe, jumping to the most negative conclusions. Daniel didn’t know his daughter well either, but his lack of insight into Zoe manifests itself as being reluctant to see the bad in her. She simply is (and is oversimplified as) Daddy’s Little Girl. The Graystones are compelling because they are a perfect couplecompletely each other’s match, attracted to each other, supportive of each otherbut are less than perfect parents. Normally, television gives us the reverse, and it’s interesting that the writers are giving us a relationship that doesn’t only work in relation to its offspring. In addition to the characters being well written, Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson are perfectly cast. They have incredible chemistry, and each of their performances is completely lived-in.
And then there are the Adamas: Sasha Roiz is wonderful as Sam Adama, the Tauron mobster we love to hate to love, and we completely buy him as someone who is capable of both heinous acts of violence and treating his family with tenderness and care. Little William Adama, played with oodles of spunk by Sina Najafi, is a little boy who misses his mother and sister, and is channeling his grief into rebellion. And from the start, Joseph Adama has been someone who has tried to live ethically and honorably, which conflicts with his role as a mob lawyer who bribes judges. Now, living with the grief of losing his wife and daughter, Joseph is pushed further away from his honorable nature, and shows that he has more in common with his brother than he would like to admit. Esai Morales delivers an amazing performance as Joseph, demonstrating a complexity we’ve only begun to see in this episode.
So far, so good! Caprica continues to be compelling television.
There is no new episode of Caprica this week! But the show returns Friday, February 19th.
Teresa Jusino was born on the same day that Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. She is a contributor to PinkRaygun.com, a webzine examining geekery from a feminine perspective. Her work has also been seen on PopMatters.com, on the sadly-defunct literary site CentralBooking.com, edited by Kevin Smokler, and in the Elmont Life community newspaper. She is currently writing a web series for Pareidolia Films called The Pack, which is set to debut Summer 2010! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, Follow The Pack or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.