Yesterday's mid-season finale could prove to be a make or break moment for the remaining fans that have hung in there for Caprica. The penultimate episode, "Ghosts in the Machine," embodies much of what is wrong with this series. Everytime one gets caught up in a given plotline, the episode cuts away to another less interesting one. I would have bet early on in this show's run that Esai Morales would have held my interest more than Eric Stoltz. But that's not how it's worked out.
The "A" story continues to follow Joseph's Orpheic search for his daughter Tamara's avatar in the virtual (under)world of New Cap City. The mysterious Emmanuelle, introduced at the climax of "The Imperfections of Memory," continues to guide him, revealing that she was paid to help him. Emmanuelle's most important contribution involves a virtual "drug" called Amp, a hack that heightens one's senses while in the game in order to enhance performance. An Amp junkie tells Joseph he can find Tamara-A (known in New Cap as the "dead girl") in a burlesque club called Mysteries. The club is presided over by a crossdresser known as Cerberus (Dmitry Chepovetsky), who asks Joseph a riddle that hearkens back to a speech his son made on Battlestar Galactica, "As the Gods overthrew the Titans, so has Man overthrown the Gods. But when Man visits his sins upon his children, how shall he be repaid?" Joseph is unable to solve it (in hindsight, of course, the clear answer would be "the Cylons"), so he doesn't get an answer regarding Tamara-A's whereabouts, but he does find some distinctive graffiti on the walls outside the club indicating she was there.
The secondary plotline proves far more interesting, following Daniel as he reasons with Zoe-A, hoping to flush her out from hiding within the U-87 Cylon prototype. But she only responds to his direct instructions to the U-87. Daniel runs the U-87 through assembling and disassembling a gun as he reminds her of a traumatic fire that burned down their house when Zoe was 5, setting up an internal conflict for Zoe. On the one hand, she is disgusted by the way he orders her around, like property. On the other, she identifies with the humanistic way he tries to reach her. Revealing her conflicting feelings to best friend Lacy, Zoe-A surmises Daniel doesn't have her interests in mind. He lied to her about putting her in the Cylon, did it in order to save his military contract, and will use her again in some way if he finds out she's in the Cylon.
She determines to keep her emotions in check and only do what he orders the prototype to do since she believes Daniel does not ultimately think of Zoe-A as really being his daughter Zoe. Daniel applies more pressure, psychoanalyzing her. Just when he seems on the verge of getting through to her, he falls back on a threatening tactic, lighting a fire under her, literally, and orders the U-87 to stay in its place. Daniel hopes the flames will awaken a traumatic memory and get her to come out of hiding, defying the orders to the machine. Zoe-A is petrified, but stands her ground. So Daniel decides to test her by ordering the U-87 to shoot the family dog. To Daniel's horror, the U-87 fires the weapon. Fortunately, Daniel loaded it with blanks. He finally believes that Zoe is not in the Cylon prototype. In V-world, Zoe admits to Lacy that the robot knew—she knew, she corrects herself—the gun was filled with blanks from its weight. And she confesses that, had it actually had real bullets, she might have shot her father for his callousness. Sad, because Daniel's failure to find Zoe-A in the robot finally allows him to begin mourning for her, proven by his need to see her in the home movies his wife, Amanda, had been watching.
Just as she did last episode, Amanda continues to hallucinate, seeing her brother drive by when she visits the location of his fatal accident. She calls Clarice to get her head straight after her latest hallucination. But Clarice shifts the conversation to the Zoe avatar, asking Amanda if she asked Daniel about it. Amanda tells Clarice that Daniel lost the avatar due to its instability, emphasizing his belief that it isn't really Zoe anyway.
- The Battlestar wiki credits Stefan Arngrim in the part of the Amp junkie. Arngrim is best known for the part of young Barry Lockridge on the Irwin Allen sci-fi classic Land of the Giants.
- Surely it's not Heracles paying Emmanuelle to help Joseph, since Tad—his true identity in the actual world—is a lowly dishwasher. So who is helping Joseph and why?
- The denizens of New Cap City don't believe Tamara-A is Joseph's daughter, since they think her invulnerability only makes her a part of the game.
Tony Dayoub considers all manner of films and TV at Cinema Viewfinder.