So, we’ve had the first nine episodes of Caprica on Sky1 – the remaining nine come later this year – and contrary to the image above which was used to sell the series and the DVD, at no point did Zoe take her top off and eat an apple. It’s almost as if that image was created to lure people in. (She’s a schoolgirl, by the way, so I hope Christopher Tookey’s averting his eyes.)
Zoe (Alessandra Torresani, actually 22) is, however, the pivot around which the action revolves: it’s 58 years before the Cylon attack on the Twelve Colonies that precipitates the Battlestar Galactica saga, and after a bit of decadent, last-days-of-Rome scene-setting in the permanent-disco virtual world where teenagers hang out, we lose Zoe in a suicide bomb attack on a monorail. From here on, she exists only in scrubbed-up avatar form, until uploaded into a prototype, red-eyed robot or “cybernetic lifeform node” (ie. Cylon – tingle!), where she gradually achieves a Frankingstein-type life. Meanwhile, her dad, seemingly genial ginger prof Daniel Graystone (the show’s only big name, or biggish, Eric Stoltz), starts to unravel through grief, corporate guilt and technical frustration, and so does his wife.
We also meet the Old Man, when he’s a Young Boy, William Adams/Adama the Tauran hoodlum-in-waiting being schooled by his little-bit-wooh-little-bit-weergh hoodlum uncle Sam – Uncle Sam? – our most explicit link to BSG (we know he’s actually going to turn out to be a Battlestar commander of substance and honour, who even tries a moustache out for a bit). The idea of Caprica, courtesty its creators Ronald D Moore and Jane Espenson, is that you don’t need a working knowledge of BSG to get into it, and that’s probably true – it’s closer to a soap opera than a space opera – but how much more thrilling it is when you know what happens in 58 years’ time. I love Polly Walker as Sister Clarice, too, matronly high priestess of the Soldiers Of One.
There’s lots to get your teeth into in terms of racial identity and prejudice, as well as the trademark pantheism versus monotheism holy war, and the foretold Skynet-style showdown between man and machine. So what if there’s more emphasis on teenagers? Caprica is a Colony on the verge of extinction and it doesn’t yet know it – we know the kids can’t prevent the apocalypse, but they still embody hope and change. Having now seen The Plan, I could foresee further prequels sets on the other Colonies (“the oceans of Aquaria are burning etc.).
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Caprica‘s first nine episodes – they certainly know how to play a cliffhanger (“Zoe?” – that was one of my favourites) – and I look forward to the Final Nine. Perhaps Zoe will take her top off and eat an apple at some point. Or not.