Caprica S1, Ep 6: “Know Thy Enemy”

“Know Thy Enemy” was less about spectacle and taut suspense and more about providing information and allowing the characters to deal with the consequences of their actions. It also introduces two pivotal characters: Tomas Vergis, head of the Vergis Corporation, Graystone Industries’ rival company on Tauron; and Barnabas, a mysterious leader within the STO, played by genre television staple, James Marsters.

Daniel is forced to face his ability to rationalize illegal activity when Vergis crashes a Graystone function and confronts him with the knowledge that Daniel stole his technology, which resulted in the deaths of two Tauron men. Meanwhile, Sister Clarice reaches out to Amanda, easing the burden of Amanda’s grief as she attempts to steal the program for Zoe’s avatar from Daniel’s lab, Joseph gets one step closer to finding Tamara in V-World, and love seems to be in the air for Philomon and Avatar Zoe.

This episode was definitely the slowest of the bunch so far. Lots of long shots down hallways, or long shots on people thinking deep thoughts, feeling regret, or being high on drugs. However, so much information was packed into the quiet that this episode benefits from a second viewing. For example, we learn that Keon, Lacy’s friend, partner-in-crime, and potential future boy-toy, was responsible for building the bomb Ben used to blow up the MAGLEV train. How will that affect his friendship with Lacy and their mission to get Zoe’s cylon to Gemenon? We also learn that the Graystones had a home before their current residence that burned down when Zoe was five, leaving us to wonder why that bit of information is important. How did it burn down, and why did Zoe never feel quite at home in the current Graystone house?

Sister Clarice’s storyline was finally pulled into focus, and this week was Polly Walker’s turn to shine. Clarice has been a bit of an ice queen until now, so resolutely focused on her beliefs that she seemed inhuman. In this episode, however, we not only get to see her be charming with Amanda and triumphant as she accomplishes her task for the cause, but we see her uncertainty, as well as a very human desire for approval and one-upmanship, when she speaks to her mysterious STO superior, who tells her that she must be patient as STO followers flock to Barnabas. Walker elegantly walks the line between selfless devotion and selfish ambition.

Of the two new characters introduced this episode, I was most drawn in by the one I least expected. Much ado was made of James Marsters making his debut as Barnabas, but it was John Pyper-Ferguson who stole the episode as Tomas Vergis, charming his way into Caprican hearts and mine as he single-handedly embodied Tauron values, pride, and determination. His scene at the end of the episode was intense, as was the way he admitted that “[His] dream is to tear up [Daniel’s] dream.” However, his intensity had nothing to do with villainous menace, but with a very real grievance, as demonstrated when he showed the tattoos representing the children who are now orphans because of Daniel’s theft.

I really just need to get a Tauron flag or something already. I know where my loyalties lie, and it’s not with the antiseptic Capricans!

Caprica is making its lead character almost completely unsympathetic; a risky, but interesting and compelling move. There’s no question that Daniel Graystone is motivated by a very understandable grief. However, the man uses his daughter’s unwitting best friend to steal his daughter’s technology; he steals the technology he needs to make his daughter’s technology work, which results in the death of two people; he intimidates the man who helped him steal the technology in the first place, accusing him of “setting him up”; and he has the nerve to continue to justify and rationalize his actions to himself and everyone around him. Daniel is a man who apparently started his own successful company from nothing, and yet all we have seen of him is that he has stolen everything from others. He has nothing of his own, save a cylon carcass. Yet, we still care about Daniel, and this is largely due to Eric Stoltz’s complex performance, the finely-etched relationship between Daniel and Amanda, and the moments in this episode where he actually seems troubled by the deaths he’s caused.

Or has he?

As I said earlier, this episode benefits from a second viewing. Upon watching it again, I noticed several things that cast some doubt on what Daniel is actually responsible for. First, in the one scene that Joseph has with Sam, where he asks him to confirm that he did, indeed, “do his job.” Sam seems really defensive as he replies, “I handled my business, now you go out and handle yours!” Secondly, in the flashes of killing that we see as Daniel struggles with his guilt, the Tauron hands doing the killing aren’t Sam’s. Here’s where tattoos become really useful. Interesting, too, that there’s a close-up on Sam’s hands later as he’s counting money when talking to Joseph. Something is amiss. The only person we’ve seen Sam kill so far had nothing to do with Daniel’s theft, but with an already existing Ha’la’tha grievance. So, who killed Vergis’ men? Did Sam send other Ha’la’tha members to steal the chip, and they did it? Did those killings have anything to do with the theft of the meta-cognitive processor? Could it be that Vergis is mistakenly coming after Daniel for something that actually wasn’t his fault? Or is it that he’s not mistaken at all, but that he’s knowingly coming after Daniel for something for which he isn’t responsible, because Daniel is an easy mark in his grief?

It is wonderful to see Avatar Zoe just being a teenage girl thinking that the geeky lab guy is cute, and it’s her reactions to him that do more to speak to her sentience and humanity than just about anything else. We also now have a new name for her to go by—Rachel, which is how I will refer to her in V-World from now on. So that’s Zoe, Avatar Zoe, Rachel…and I hear there are more versions of her on the way. It seems Alessandra Torresani never has to worry about being out of a job, which is great since she continues to make each of these versions of Zoe distinct and interesting. Kudos, too, to Alex Arsenault as Philomon. The scene in which Daniel walks in on him flirting with the cylon physically hurt to watch it was so awkward, and yet Philomon is completely charming and compelling in his loneliness.

And lastly, was Evelyn, Joseph’s assistant, totally flirting with him as she examined his new tattoo? Gods, woman! That man’s wife has only been in the ground a month, for frak’s sake! Ease up a bit, will you?

Caprica fascinates by managing to make us sympathize with, or at least understand, some really dubious people. The strength of this show continues to be its characters.

Teresa Jusino was born on the same day that Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. She is a contributor to, a webzine examining geekery from a feminine perspective. Her work has also been seen on, on the sadly-defunct literary site, 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.


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