After the intensity of “Gravedancing,” “There is Another Sky” provides a welcome respite, focusing in on the smaller stories, providing closure for some, and endless possibilities for others. Tamara Adama—remember her?—is still in V-World, trying to find her way out. The “other sky” of the episode title hangs over New Cap City, a game in V-World that takes place in a virtual, lawless version of Caprica City. Its players, one of whom is a cute boy her age, discover that she has a special ability. Since she is all avatar, she can’t be de-rezzed, which is advantageous in a game where once you de-rezz, you’re locked out of the game and can never come back. They agree to “help her get home” if she is willing to help them pull a heist that would improve their status in the game. Meanwhile, Joseph is having trouble dealing with his son as he continues to struggle with his grief, pushing Willie closer to Sam and the values of the Tauron underworld, and Daniel Graystone deals with the possible loss of his company by introducing the profitability of a cylon slave race.
This episode finally puts the Adamas’ place in the Battlestar universe into sharper focus by reminding us that there were two daughters resurrected in the virtual world. So much focus has been placed on Zoe Graystone that Caprica was starting to feel lopsided. That’s changed with “There Is Another Sky.” I have to be honest, up until now I thought that Sina Najafi (Willie) and Genevieve Buechner (Tamara) were the weakest links in the cast, which was disappointing, considering that the Adama storyline is my favorite, but this episode allowed them to shine.
Najafi has been cute up until now, but not really anything more than a pout, big eyes, and long eyelashes that make you go “awww!” It’s been said that on Tauron, someone Willie’s age would be a man, and Najafi did an admirable job in the first episode in which he was really allowed to deal with that. From pummeling a much bigger opponent who insulted his Tauron heritage, to defying his father, to solemnly saying goodbye to his mother and sister, he displayed a surprising maturity. Interestingly, Willie in his defiance taught his father about maturity and being a man, forcing him to work toward stepping up and being a father again. Willie’s defiance teaches Joseph that men are mature enough to know when it’s time to let go, when pain and grief has stopped being normal and started being a crutch. However, Willie also seems to have picked up Sam’s violent streak. The question then becomes, will he be a Tauron man, a Caprican man, or will he learn to balance the two and become a kind of man that neither his father, nor his uncle could ever be? (Namely, Edward James Olmos.)
Buechner has an unselfconscious, natural ease about her, and her journey from vulnerable, confused naïf to gun-wielding mistress of V-World happened so subtly it would be easy to mistake it for an accident, but it is clear there is talent there. Her Tamara is less showy than Torresani’s Zoe, but in the end it is she who is free to walk an entire world (albeit a virtual one) with a gun in her hand, strong and in control of her own destiny. It’s a compelling juxtaposition. Tamara is trapped in a virtual world, and yet she is free to roam a place that feels natural to her; where the rules are designed to benefit her, and from where she can communicate with the outside world via those over whom she now has control. I’m looking forward to seeing where this newfound power takes her. Zoe, meanwhile, has the outside world, but she’s trapped in a body that’s not her own and she, for now, lives at the mercy of her father, who unknowingly places his daughter in an uncomfortable position.
OK, she has to rip off her own cylon arm, so maybe it’s a bit more than uncomfortable.
That scene, in which Daniel convinces his board members that the future of Graystone Industries rests on the back of cylons, made the episode. In one powerful moment, Eric Stoltz both scared the living bejeezus out of me and made me want to be the guest of honor at the party in Daniel Graystone’s pants. There’s something compelling about power, isn’t there? It is in this scene that the connection to Battlestar Galactica is felt most strongly. Daniel basically says that the future of his company is in creating slaves. Not only creating them, but designing them so that people who buy them can feel emotionally connected to them even as they are having them do all the work. We know that later, the cylons are not too pleased with second-class citizenship, to put it mildly, and that resentment leads to war. It’s chilling, then, to watch someone have that first thought; to come up with a justification for creating a new species simply to work for us, and not even for any sort of high-minded reason, but merely to save himself and his company. Meanwhile, Torresani, for once, isn’t spunky, or snotty, or a know-it-all as Zoe. For the first time, we see her truly vulnerable. When she first steps into the room as the cylon, she seems full of pride at being her father’s best creation. When Daniel talks about the “brilliant mind” inside the cylon, Zoe beams. For once, it seems, she has genuine approval from her father. So, when she is asked to obey unconditionally and ordered to rip off her own arm, she is visibly deflated, and it’s heartbreaking to watch Avatar Zoe pull at her tiny, braceleted arm as the cylon complies.
The kids are not all right on Caprica, but Tamara, Zoe, and Willie each display strength in their own way, and it’s fascinating to think about how it seems that they will be teaching the adults of Caprica as much, if not more, than they have been taught.
Maybe one of them can teach Sam how to wear a shirt to a funeral.
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.