Air Date: 26/03/2010
Director: Roxann Dawson
Writer: Michael Taylor
Synopsis: In danger of being destroyed by a desperate Daniel, Zoe-A takes matters into her own hands with tragic consequences. Joseph’s friends and family take extreme measures to get him out of V-World. The fractures within the STO become murderous.
There is an awful lot happening in “End Of Line”, the mid-season finale of Caprica, as the show decides to go back to its previous practise of trying to fit everything in. Considering how badly that has worked out before it is a bit of a bold choice, but it actually works out much better in “End Of Line” then it did in episodes like “Rebirth” or “Reins Of A Waterfall”: at this crucial half-way point, Caprica decides to craft a big multi-part drama, and the results are stellar.
It’s hard to know where to really start, so we’ll go with Zoe-A. As a framing device shows the Centurion trying to escape in a literal car chase we get to see the slow build-up to that point, as Zoe-A runs out of options in the lab. Daniel wants her deleted, Lacy can’t come through on the escape and that leaves Philomon as the only option. I’ve not had a great deal of time for that sub-plot, seeing as it had a very predictable endpoint, and so it proves here. But at least Caprica introduced some element of intrigue to it, as Zoe-A battles past an insistence that she is simply using Philomon to facilitate an escape, to admitting that she has at least a degree of affection for him. Not that such affection helps Philomon in the end, as his inability to immediately get onboard with what Zoe-A reveals to him results in him getting literally tossed aside.
Zoe-A does sort of lose it in this episode, perhaps struggling to balance the more complex side of her being with the robotic body she is inhabiting. Her repeated plea that she “is real” showcases this, but the conflict is also there. It’s pretty clear she didn’t intend to kill Philomon, but she did it anyway, after a truly desperate gambit to reveal all to him in the space of about 10 seconds and just hope he would help her escape. Having lost Philomon, and on the verge of losing her freedom, she appears to choose the only path left to her: self-destruction. This whole experience, from “Pilot” to now, appears to have done a number on Zoe-A’s psyche, to the point that she now actively chooses suicide.
A smaller part of that sub-plot involves Daniel, who is starting to get rather desperate. Giving up the pyramid team gets him a few weeks in terms of the job that Graystone Industries needs to do for the military, but all of that goes up in smoke when Zoe-A undertakes her escape attempt. I feel like much of this might be set-up to events later to come, when Daniel is presumably going to have to find a way to get his Centurion project moving and save the day, just like he did in “There Is Another Sky”: in that regard seeing him react to shortened deadlines and the tragedy that occurs in his lab works well. He’s also showcased as being distance from Amanda at a time when such distance is a very bad idea. This is all good stuff, but only as long as it has the kind of pay-off that we need to see. He’s contrasted ably with Tomas Vergis in the one scene where his adversary appears, the Tauron all suave and confident as he effortlessly charms the military officer in charge of the project and even playfully suggests a more intimate liaison with her.
Elsewhere, I love what the episode does with the STO. We knew beforehand of course that the STO was a divided entity, with different cells having different approaches to achieving their goals, and liable to come into conflict. But “End Of Line” is the first time we see some of that conflict, and it’s great that Caprica has added this wrinkle firmly. It helps that the two contrasting forces that we see are so different, with Clarice’s polyamorous marriage-turned-militia out to get Zoe-A through a “softly softly” approach when at all possible, and Barnabas leading what appears to mostly be a criminal gang in a dingy part of Caprica City’s docks. But there are similarities too, especially in how both sides have attempted to use Lacy for their own ends: Clarice in her seductive, subtle manner, before she moved onto Amanda, and Barnabas using a more straightforward method of quid pro quo and then naked threats.
A house divided against itself cannot stand, and the STO is no exception to this. I was intrigued by Barnabas from the moment that he was introduced, and am only coming to enjoy his presence even more after “End Of Line”, the kind of more traditionally charismatic and decisive antagonist that Caprica arguably really needs. In a way the faith seems almost secondary to his enjoyment of power over those close to him, whose lives he can threaten with abandon, and I appreciate this depiction of a character whose determination to follow through on his threats actually make him a very dangerous proposition. Going as far as trying to murder Clarice, using Lacy as a go-between, adds a very important dollop of genuine peril that Caprica has often been missing, and while there is a sense that we have gone from 0-60 very, very fast in that regard, a mis-season finale needs the kind of excitement this sub-plot provides, and all of the intrigue too.
The “Amanda is crazy” sub-plot is not something that I have found hugely impressive, but I have to admit that “End Of Line” is probably the best exploration of it since it was introduced in “The Imperfections Of Memory”. Amanda faces into a relapse of her mental state amid continuing isolation, and one by one her options to relieve the two issues vanish. Clarice is suddenly unavailable, and her husband all but admits his role in a double-murder: with such things, it becomes easier to understand why Amanda feels she has run out of options. The really heart-breaking thing is that she is trying: she reaches out to Amanda, she reaches out to Daniel. It’s just that no one is listening.
The Daniel thing especially is a final straw. Amanda has been at pains at times, like in “There Is Another Sky”, to big-up Daniel as a fundamentally good man, prone to making the right moral choices. Now, presented with proof to the contrary in a chilling scene where Daniel doesn’t even deviate from chopping vegetables, she loses the last thing that seemed to keep her set on this mortal coil. At the conclusion Amanda takes obvious steps to end her life, and Caprica ends things on a cliffhanger in that regard: doubtless she is still alive, but I did like our look at how we get to this point, even if I never really bought that she had died. Amanda as the great cosmic punching bag of Caprica has not been that great really, but this sub-plot plays its part in the general excellence of “End Of Line”.
Somewhat lost among all of these other sub-plots is something of a resolution for Joseph’s search for Tamara-A within New Cap City. He’s become totally lost, spending all of his (not-so) waking hours within the virtual space, using the drugs provided there to get an edge and seemingly unwilling to wake up. In some ways Caprica was starting to give off Inception vibes in that regard, with it made clear that Joseph can only leave the V-World of his own volition, and in danger of making it his new reality. Emmanuelle, showcasing a concern for Joseph that is ever more obvious, comes up with a solution. The revelation that she is actually Evelyn caught me out: I was convinced it was going to turn out to be Tamara-A in disguise, but this works better I think. The slightly creepy way that Evelyn treated Joseph in “Know Thy Enemy” is replaced by something much more interesting and much more caring in “End Of Line”, as she attempts to break him of his pathological need to find this computer copy of his daughter, first by playing along to the extent that she can, and then by decisively intervening when Joseph is unable to make the right choices himself. Tamara-A’s willingness to go along with the plan signifies her own change since “There Is Another Sky”: the “girl” who started that episode was the kind of person who would have gone running to her father at the first opportunity, now she’s engaging in a façade of murder/suicide in order to get him to leave her be forever. “End Of Line” showcases what could be a suitably dramatic conclusion to this plotline, but I suspect that Joseph will be drawn back towards Tamara-A sooner or later.
It’s here at the end that I want to note how well “End Of Line” flows. Previous episodes that tried to pack in a few minutes for every sub-plot faltered under the difficulty of that task, but “End Of Line” manages to pull it off, helped by Taylor’s writing and a much better sense of when to place certain scenes. The culmination is this well-orchestrated sense that so many of the sub-plots are seeing their finales for the episode take place in the same space, while still remaining largely separate. It’s a trick that Caprica has taken a very long time to learn, but if it manages to repeat it then the second half of the season will be something to see. “End Of Line”, and the conclusion specifically, was the first time I really thought that Caprica got as far as BSG generally in terms of quality, and I think we can say that it is the best episode of the show so far.
-The title refers to something more commonly called “newline”, that is a character code used to designate the end of one line of text and the start of a new one. It might also, in this context, be a nod to the Tron franchise. And of course it is something that the Cylon hybrids used to always say.
-Dawson, better known as Torres on Voyager, has her sole Caprica directing credit here. She does a good job.
-The “Previously on…” section features some awkward repeated use of the word “Deadline”, in terms of the Graystone military contract, that it all seems a bit much.
-There are moments in this section that I don’t remember seeing elsewhere. Not the first time the franchise has done that in fairness.
-“End Of Line” has an in medias reis framing device, ala “Act Of Contrition” or “Black Market”, and I’ll admit there could be worse ways to pique my interest in this episode than showing the Centurion driving a lorry.
-Nice detail as the Centurion eye follows the lab tech’s lit cigarette.
-Zoe-A smiles at Philomon’s efforts to talk to the robot, and it appears to be a genuine one. We can put that debate to bed.
-Another look at a pyramid court in the following scene. It’s still hard to get an idea of just what this game is meant to be, but the arena it is played in is small enough.
-Some pretty obvious ADR lines in this scene, inserted for Daniel when is back is to the camera.
-A very noir-ish meet-up between the STO follows, Clarice and her people literally coming out of fog on a dock side to rendezvous with Barnabas and his team.
-Barnabas has a great descriptor of what Clarice is trying to create: a “homemade heaven”.
-The VTOL craft tracking the lorry appear to be using a form of DRADIS from this look at the cockpit.
-Amanda is trying to soothe herself, and of course happens upon a documentary about a Caprica City bridge, that happens to be the perfect size to jump off of.
-Amanda’s isolation is becoming very acute, with even Clarice now shutting herself off as an option. That phonecall is a desperate plea for help, but doesn’t get answered right.
-Barnabas’ service (prayer meeting? Mass?) concludes with a very militant affirmation: “In the name of the one, we cast out the many”.
-It also contains the extraordinary image of candles arranged in the infinity symbol, which must be a pain in the ass to set-up every time.
-Creepy Barnabas wants “gratitude” from Lacy, as he gets a littler physical. He wouldn’t be the first holy man to not be as pure as he likes to make out.
-“Welcome to my cell” is a bit of a clunker. Would terrorists actually describe their units that way?
-This is our first look at what full-blown holoband addiction looks like, and the parallels with actual substance abuse seem pretty clear. How does that work?
-Evelyn is revealed to be Tauron too, as she drops into using the language a bit randomly with Sam.
-Philomon certainly is a romantic with this V-World location, a four-poster set-up in an idyllic field. And just what is this bed for?
-A nice sense of tension is created over the key swap in Clarice’s office, even if it is just a very small part of the episode.
-Colonel Patel is played by Jill Teed, last seen as Sgt Hadrian in “Litmus”. And it’s not the last role she will play in this canon.
-The military are playing some odd games, pushing up the timetable for delivery of the desired robots beyond reason. Or are we to take this as Patel just looking for an excuse to dump Graystone?
-The use of first names is important here, with Patel’s “Daniel” having a certain bit of condescension to it.
-Tamara-A returns, albeit very briefly. In this first scene we see that she has an obvious connection to Emmanuelle, enough to pique the interest.
-Joseph has missed Willy’s “ink day” apparently, some form of coming-of-age I imagine.
-I love Daniel’s annoyed utterance of “Sweet Aphrodite”. Would that be a contrast to “Sweet Jesus” maybe, or “Holy Mary”?
-Daniel is so far gone with what he thinks of his project that he has gone from a representation of his daughter right down to being compared to “a cell phone that works”. It’s just pure function he wants now.
-Zoe-A’s anger towards Lacy really goes into overdrive here. Is this the defining aspect of her own personality, as opposed to the “real” Zoe?
-In something that is really jut a bit too much on the nose, the world of Caprica has its own Valentine’s Day: “Eros Day”. Eros was indeed the Greek God of love and sex, better known by his Romanised name of Cupid.
-I liked Amanda’s comment to Daniel on how the start of their relationship helped to get her out of her depressed mental state: “It was hard to be crazy around you”.
-Amanda confronts Daniel about his role in the Vergis theft: “Tell me it isn’t true” His answer is about as bad as it can be really: “…It’s complicated”.
-Tamara-A really does go full murder/suicide with her father, in a brutal but brilliant scene.
-It’s a measure of Zoe-A’s desperation that she turns to Philomon in the manner that she does, without any preamble. I love the look on his face when the Centurion starts talking.
-It’s a bad plan all the same. Is Zoe-A that naïve that she thinks Philomon will just be onboard with all of this instantly?
-Another defining aspect of Zoe-A: she is very easily lied to. She instantly thinks that Philomon is going along with her plan, and can’t contemplate anything else.
-“End Of Line”, in its closing stages, makes liberal use of some flashback sequences for Zoe-A, all rapidly cut together, and I don’t really like them. They just seem like filler.
-I like the scene of Vergis and the military officer, whom he casually calls “Sasha” in a nice contract with Daniel. The atmosphere is more like a date, and I’d say Tomas is certainly looking for it to end in a certain way when he offers to accompany her on the drive home.
-There’s a mad sub-plot that was meant to be kicked-off with this scene, where Vergis’ driver is revealed to be the “brother” that Amanda has been seeing. Essentially, part of Tomas’ plan was to fake a resurrection of Amanda’s brother to mess with her. They dropped it, thankfully. Vergis works better as a righteous avenger, not a psychological sadist.
-The operatic piece playing over much of the conclusion is Bear McCreary’s amazingly named “Capricoperatica”, with Elissa Johnston as the female soprano and none other than Alessandro Juliani with the male vocals. The lyrics are both an ode to Caprica’s gods, but also a sort of admonition for their lack of sympathy for the plight of mortals: “The gods have wings and bright ascend, to leave us weeping in the end”.
-Back in his lab, Daniel plays the Graystone theme on his own piano, which is a bit meta.
-“The key’s the key”, another slightly clunky line in a script that is otherwise very good.
-Clarice hopes that the Conclave gives her the authorisation to “terminate” Barnabas “personally”, which is as bloodthirsty as we have seen here really.
-“You want to be a terrorist?” asks Barnabas. This guy just has a tendency to talk a bit strange, doesn’t he?
-Excellent confluence of cuts and scenes towards the conclusion, culminating in Barnabas’ understated “Kaboom” as the bomb goes off.
-And, at the very end of it all, a different form of suicide as Zoe-A decides to Thelma And Louise it all.
-“This is Graystone”. “End Of Line” ends on a suitable cliffhanger, as we await the news of who is, and who is not, dead.
Overall Verdict: “End Of Line” is the strongest episode of Caprica yet, and rights the ship after some slipping between “There Is Another Sky” and now. Just about every sub-plot gets either some badly needed progression or a resolution that has felt a long time in the coming, and for the first time in a while I am excited to see just where this show is going. Just from production and editing standpoints, this one is a real stand-out.
As this is a mid-season finale we’ll take a break for a week, but when back we’ll be going all the way to the end of Caprica.
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