Season 1 Episode 3

Reins of a Waterfall

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Feb 05, 2010 on Syfy

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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  • A fascinating study, if marred by a few holes.

    Caprica continues to redefine how a sci-fi series can be made. In keeping eith the producers' comments, what we have here is no "traditional" sci-fi drama, with episodic tales belended with intertwined story arcs. No, Caprica really *is* a science fiction soap opera, the segments aired to date blending seamlessly into one smooth, expanding arc. If you want proof of this - do what I've done: take all for segments (the 2 parts of the pilot and the two episodes aired so far) and remove the recaps, opening titles and end titles. What you are left with is pretty much a 3-hour movie, each segment dovetailing neatly into the next. This approach has instantly made Caprica compelling on a number of levels: most notably in the fact that it relaxes the pace at which the story can be told. Without the need for episodic stories topped and tailed to fit a 42-minute broadcast time (sans commercials), Caprica is free to use each segment to explore the events and characters we've been introduced to to date without the usual baggage associated with the episodic approach. There is no need for large-scale exposition or the cliche of the flashback to explain things or bring significant past events to our attention. Things don't have to be hurried along in order to tell the "story of the week".

    Instead the writers are free to explore the charcters naturally, focusing firmly but gently on their actions and reactions "in the now", so to speak. In this, while Caprica dispenses with the cinema verite style that marked nuBSG, it neverthless achieves a realism that matches that of its predecessor - and yet may surpass it. Watching Caprica is not so much a case of watching some fictional drama - it is an exercise in being drawn into people's lives and being invited to observe them and understand them. In the case of the "adult" characters - the Adamas and the Graystones - this intimate, gentle peeling away of layers draws us into caring about these people, feeling their respective loss, recognising their strengths and flaws in a way that almost mirrors getting to know a new aquaintance in real life. In short, it helps these characters to step out from the screen as real, rounded, individuals, complete with everything that can both attract us towards sympathy for a person - and repell us in shock. In "Reins", Joseph Adama is the clearest example of this. During the pilot and the first espisode, we were drawn to him not just out of sympathy for the loss of his wife and daughter but because, as we witnessed his work for the Ha'la'tha and his reactions to both receiving orders and carrying them out, we saw a man of deep conviction apparently caught in a situation he resented and from which - if he could - he would gladly step away. This added depth to his vulnerability and helped draw out our sympathies towards him, much as we often want to help those around us in real life who appear trapped by circumstances beyond their ability to fully control. But in this segment, we see that far from being wholly repulsed by the Ha'la'tha's approach to things, or indeed being unable to separate himself from it, Adama is actually fully part and parcel *of* the mob. When the situation suits him, he is fully prepared to set aside his convictions and openly use ha'la'tha style thuggery to make his point - as the assault on Daniel Graystone demonstrates. Then, at the end of the episode, he demonstrates that he is prepared to go further - casually ordering the murder of Amanda Graystone. It is very possible that, without a lot of backstory and exposition, such acts on the part of a sympathetic character so early on in a series would damage his standing in the eyes of the viewer; he would be diminished, becoming someone we could never fully trust again. But, set in the context of what we've seen unfold over the previous segments, through Sam's discussions with the young William, the byplay betwen Sam and Joseph, while the order to kill Amanda Graystone comes as an unexpected shock - we have everything very naturally laid out before us as to why Adama who give so drastic an order. We see and understand his motivations we may even *identify* with them - and thus our sympathy with and for him is preserved. So to do the other adult characters - for the most part - draw us in. Sam, in particular, reveals that his conscience is at least equal to that of his brother; inded, I'm laying odds that it is Sam who gets Joseph to turn away from his desire to "balance" matters in the number of deaths he and Daniel Graystone have suffered. Even so, despite the powerful performances from the likes of Malcomson, Morales and Schultz, the story does stumble in places, and extraneous background information is introduced that we simply *don't need*. The whole thing with Ben Stark having been questioned by one of the "Homeland Security" agents looking into the STO is simply....irrelevant. It doesn't add to our knowledge of Stark himself, nor does it play any part in our understanding the boy's motivations. It is simply a means of justifying the act of "leaking" information about the investigation to the media. And frankly, the justification isn't needed. So what if "homeland security" leak information for the sake of achieving their end? We *all* tend to expect such agencies to act this way anyway. It's the nature of the beast. Does the vignette of the Stark interview work to increase our identification with the agents? No; so again, it is extraneous to the story. Similarly, while the fact that Sister Clarice appears to be working for a faction of STO that is far more sinister than Zoe and Lacy (and quite probably the majority of younger followers) had been lead to believe really comes as no surprise. Nor will it come as much of a surprise if it transpires that Clarice seduced Ben Stark in an effort to get to Zoe - and inadvertently lead to Stark blowing up the meglev...

    No, what is a let down is the clumsy "confessional" reveal that Clarice is following a more nefarious agenda. Again, we simply didn't need this ramming home so abruptly or in such a contrived manner. The foundations had already been laid - and it would have perhaps been more beneficial to underline her role somewhat more subtlely than a scripted equivalent of a slap upside the head. These complaints aside, "Reins" again demonstrates that Caprica has the potential to become a truly captivating story. The wealth of information that has already been mined is phenomenal - up to and including Tamara Adama's re-emergence as an Avatar, which beggars a whole slew of questions in its own right - one just hopes that both the exectives at SyFy realise what they have on their hands, and refrain from stirring the pot in the interests of "viewability"....