Willie’s real. I’m a ghost. —Avatar Tamara
I am real! —Avatar Zoe
There was so much going on in Caprica’s mid-season finale, “End of Line,” that I couldn’t contain everything I wanted to discuss in one post. CLICK HERE for Part One.
Of all the characters that represent ideals, Sister Clarice and Barnabas are probably the most straightforward. What’s interesting, though, is that the ideals they defend have very little to do with the religion they’ve attached themselves to. They are each concerned with defending their own power. Surprisingly, it is Barnabas who seems to believe in The One True God the most. Yes, he is violent and concerned with maintaining control over his cell, but when he prays it feels sincere. Sister Clarice, on the other hand, seems to be cultivating the image of Devout Leader without being too terribly concerned with belief at all. She displays her strongest emotion not while praying or when talking about God, but when her authority is challenged, her power is threatened, or when her manipulations go awry. She is similar to Kai Winn from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, another female religious leader more concerned with her own power than the power of the God(s) she serves, and this makes her fascinating. It has been a slow build for Sister Clarice’s character, but now that we can see what she truly is a woman more concerned with killing a rival than with her faith she’s exciting to watch. Clarice lets no one, male or female, get in her way, and when they do, she plans accordingly.
So far, we’ve seen characters devoted to science, to spouses, to family, and to culture. In Lacy, we see an almost religious devotion to her friendship with Zoe. From the beginning, she never seemed too keen on the idea of One God. In the Caprica pilot, her involvement in Zoe and Ben’s plan seems to stem less from actual belief and more from a desire to belong to a group as well as a desire to get away from an undesirable home life. Zoe provided a respite from the mundane, and when Zoe died, Lacy, like Joseph, became slavishly devoted to an avatar. Lacy could care less about the STO, but she wants to serve Zoe’s plans as well as hold onto her friendship with Avatar Zoe, so she joins the organization to that end. She chooses helping Avatar Zoe over her her nagging conscience and detonates the bomb that blows up Sister Clarice’s car. Her ideal has turned her into someone who is capable of choosing to kill.
The juxtaposition of Avatars Zoe and Tamara in “End of Line” was one of the most intriguing things about the episode, as they have differing opinions regarding their “lives” as avatars. Avatar Tamara is more accepting of building a life for herself in V-World. She calls herself a ghost, unlike the “real” people in the outside world, and gives up her father’s love, as well as a connection to life outside, in order to save him. Avatar Zoe, on the other hand, is determined to live on the outside and determined to think of herself as a person. “I am real!” she screams at Lacy, when she suspects that Lacy might consider her less than human. This might be a matter of upbringing. From the time that Avatar Zoe was “born,” created by Zoe, she was nurtured by human beings, coddled, promised a purpose and the outside world. She, therefore, feels entitled to that world and to a human place in it. Tamara, however, was created and left defenseless in V-World. She had to fend for herself, adapt to a world she wasn’t used to, and figure out a new identity. Whereas Avatar Tamara seems prepared to build a life on her own terms in a new place, Avatar Zoe would rather die than continue to live as a seven-foot cylon who is capable of accidentally killing a “nice boy” while continuing to be under the thumb of her father.
Each of these avatars seems to represent the cultures from which they’ve sprung. Avatar Tamara is the quintessential immigrant who has to pull herself up by her own bootstraps and create a new life in a new world. She is Tauron. Avatar Zoe is the product of wealth and rose-colored propaganda. She’s never had to want before, and so she rebels when she can’t have her way and can’t adapt when dealt hardships. She is Caprica.
In addition to the stunning performances from the entire cast, Michael Taylor, the writer for this episode, skillfully brought together all of these themes and characters into an epic climax. There’s a bit of confusion regarding the title of this episode. In all of the previews I’d seen, on the episode podcast, as well as the way the title came up on my DVR, it’s called “End of Line,” which I thought was a great reference to the hybrid cylon in Battlestar Galactica. However SyFy’s Caprica site now refers to it as “The End of the Line,” which still makes sense (this episode seemed to be end of the line for several people), but is not as wonderful. So, to me, the episode is called “End of Line.” I refuse to acknowledge another title! So there.
The episode was expertly directed and paced by Roxann Dawson, sci-fi director and probably best known for playing B’Elanna Torres on Star Trek: Voyager. Between her direction and Esai Morales’ brilliant performance, it was difficult for me to restrain my squees of Puerto Rican pride. Not that we’re taking over sci-fi or anything, I’m just saying…
What really made this episode sing (Pun intended. Sorry.) was Bear McCreary’s music. The story and characters were already epic, and Dawson’s direction hit all the right notes, but the music really tied the whole thing together with a brightly-colored epic bow. As you can read about on his blog entry about the episode, McCreary basically wrote an opera for this episode, as opera seemed to be the only way to capture the grandness of this story. It worked so well, I almost wanted to put all of the actors in Ancient Greek theater masks and Viking helmets.
“End of Line” ends with Daniel Graystone receiving a phone call. Was it the authorities calling to report Amanda’s death? Was it a call to inform him that the Cylon had blown itself up? Both? I think Caprica fans will have a difficult time waiting until October to find out. But “End of Line” was a fascinating mid-season ending and a sure sign that Caprica is a show worth waiting for.
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 in Fall 2010! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, Follow The Pack or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.