We open on a group of sixteen year-olds wandering through a marble, sex covered, blood stained club. These three teenagers watch as a girl their age is sacrificed. One locks eyes with another girl close to the sacrificial altar. The girl close to the altar feels the glare and looks up to see an exact copy of herself staring her down. They are Zoe Graystone, one is alive and the other is a virtual representation.
Caprica the pilot is a clean, tight and intriguing episode set fifty-eight years before Battlestar Galactica and follows the Adama and Graystone families. There is a Philip K. Dick quality to this pilot with 1930s style, flying cars and monorails. It is a tight noir that explores the question: if you could have a loved one back from the dead, would you do whatever it took to make it happen?
Boiled down, that is what this entire show is about, including the creation of the Cylons by Dr. Graystone (Eric Stoltz). It also explores how Cylons may have become sentient humanoids. “Skin jobs” as they were called in the original series, and it may have something to do with the virtual representation of Zoe Graystone played with Blake Lively-like attitude by Alessandra Torresani. It is with Zoe and her friends that you can tell former Buffy: the Vampire Slayer writer Jane Espenson is really having fun. Co-written by Ryan Mottesheard*, the writers also pose a possible solution to how the Cylons believe in one God.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but it is quite literally the Graystone’s legacy in both of these aspects, and the possible answer to the question: “how did we get to the first episode of Battlestar Galactica?” That is essentially the premise of the entire show and is literally what the entirety of this 93-minute premiere is beholden to, that you liked BSG enough to find out where it all started. With characters that were at best merely a spectre in BSG (as in Joe Adama played by Esai Morales) and at worst never even mentioned (as in Stoltz’s Graystone).
Stoltz’s character is by far the most compelling in that he is literally the father of the Cylons and it is because of a tragedy that he and Joseph Adama become friends. However, it is the inclusion of Adama in the series that ultimately makes the entire thing confusing. There is A LOT going on with this family, starting with the Adamas not being of Caprican birth. In fact, I’m not even sure how you spell the planet the Adamas are from because Morales mumbles through his lines. I can’t tell you how many times I had to rewind and stand next to the television to understand what he was saying. Maybe the problem was my six-year old Daewoo TV, but I did manage to glean that where they are from, they were forced to change their name on Caprica because of a war between the two planets.
The other irksome aspect with the Adamas inclusion is the fact that William (the character who would eventually be played by Edward James Olmos in BSG) is eleven years old in Caprica. Considering this takes place fifty-eight years before the fall of Caprica to the Cylons, this makes Olmos’s Bill Adama 69-years old and quite literally the “old man.”
Regardless of its flaws, what intrigues me about Caprica is how exactly do they get to resurrection? How and where do the Final Five come into play? How is this technology just being discovered now, only fifty-eight years before the fall, and how did this “murder-go-round,” as Lucy Lawless’s character put it during BSG, happen? Those questions, and more, are what they are banking on here with this movie to get people and keep people interested. Well, it worked because I’m in.
*Sidenote: The DVD credits say the pilot was scripted by Ronald D. Moore and Remi Aubuchon and IMDB says it was written by Jane Espenson and Ryan Mottesheard. Who really wrote it? Good question.
Caprica the pilot is available now on DVD at Amazon and other fine stores. Caprica the series premieres on Sci-Fi Channel in early 2010.