NFB Re-Watches Caprica: “The Heavens Shall Rise”

You’ve done a great service for the people of Caprica.

Air Date: 16/11/2010

Director: Michael Nankin

Writers: Patrick Massett & John Zinman

Synopsis: Daniel takes additional steps in his search for Zoe-A. Amanda enacts extra risks in spying on Clarice. Lacy discovers she has power over the Centurions. The Adama brothers are surprised by the appearance of an old friend.


“The Heavens Shall Rise” goes back to one of the key flaws of Caprica, in that it attempts to keep every sub-plot that the show has moving forward within a tight 44 minute timeline. This results in a dilution of what each sub-plot can do – all appearing rushed or uneven in different measures – and also means that the episode struggles without having a stand-out main focus. I get the necessity, given that we are now very shortly heading into the finale, so there’s no more time to parcel out time to half of the ongoing narratives: it’s more a consequence of the previous weaknesses of Caprica, now causing further problems down the line.

I guess we’ll start with Daniel, since the episodes starts with him. His role in “The Heavens Shall Rise” is of a man dancing around other characters and narratives, and not really getting too involved himself: I suppose if the episode can say nothing else it has that bare throughline. Aside from a really great scene where he gets virtually knifed by Zoe-A, there’s not much that Daniel is really doing that I would say is noteworthy: he’s a sounding board for his wife’s fears around her CI role, he pays a visit to Sam to remind us of their arrangement, he takes some steps to try and confront Zoe-A and Tamara-A in the virtual space. There’s little of actual character development in Daniel as part of this episode, unless we want to say that his sudden volte-face from treating Zoe-A as a daughter and not a thing is eye-catching. Going by past form I suspect this will just be a temporary state of affairs, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Amanda is also not up to much herself, her pro-active part of the episode being to admonish her husband for hiding Zoe-A from her, and twice being one half of exposition dumps with Duram. “The Heavens Shall Rise” initially sets up that she might attempt to contact Zoe-A in a different way to Daniel’s more blunt method, but the end defers that to the next episodes, and most of what remains – remembering her final words to Zoe, pleading to be brought in, watching Duram get shot – is more in line with her previous role in the show as a cosmic punching bag, there to be put through the emotional wringer, and mostly without much personality. If Caprica has one standout redeeming character problem it’s that it has largely failed to do enough with Amanda other than make her as miserable as possible whenever it can, and it seems intent on keeping up that state of affairs all the way to the bitter end. I suppose at least there might be a good showdown with Clarice coming?

Speaking of, how about Clarice? If “The Heavens Shall Rise” has a narrative that I was genuinely interested to see more of then it was with her and her growing efforts to find a culmination for her plans. Ever since she murdered Mar-Beth we’ve been waiting for the come back, and Caprica hasn’t made us wait too long. Amid divides in her own household and pressures from the STO leadership, Clarice must suddenly contemplate the reality that she was duped into killing her own wife, and all that it entails.

Really this should be the biggest part of “The Heavens Shall Rise” but we have to settle for just a couple of scenes, including one particularly juicy one where Nestor figures it out and Clarice is left scrambling. Polly Walker does a great job of getting across the needed sense of shock, denial and resolute acceptance: the “Amanda as CI” plot has been dancing around true threat for a while now, but here it seems we are finally coming to what should be a very dramatic and entertaining conclusion. There’s also just the fascination in seeing a character like Clarice, who more and more has been taking on the role of a Godlike entity herself, realise she is not as infallible as she perhaps thought she was.

Just across the way in Gemenon, Caprica rushes forward with a plot to turn Lacy Rand, last seen involved in open of the show greatest mis-steps in “Blowback”, into the agent for the STO’s destruction, at least in its current guise. There’s something about this kind of story, a Katniss Everdeen (the first Hunger Games book was published the previous year) type teenager rising up against adult authority in the guise of a fascist dictatorship, that rubs me up the wrong way when it is presented in so clipped a fashion. The writers behind “The Heavens Shall Rise” seem to want us to think Lacy an heroic agent of change within the STO, but in how she stands up to the hardened militants with ease and then adds to it by having a miraculous control over the Centurions, it just comes off as equal parts insufferable from a character perspective and all-too convenient from a narrative one.

Which is not to say that there isn’t intrigue here. Why can Lacy control the robots? Is this just a random chance that comes from her previous interactions with Zoe-A in that form? Or was this a part of Zoe-A’s plan, a recognition that Lacy needed to to have this kind of power? Or is it evidence of a deeper sentience in the Centurions, that have actively decided that Lacy, a friend of their quasi-creator, is worth heeding? These are all questions worth seeking out the answers to. I just wish it was attached to a much more likable character, and not a obnoxious teen who only a few episodes ago was trying to blow up people for not believing in the same God as her. A needless romance with the Odin character, replete with some surprisingly out there sexual stuff (see below), does not add a whole lot either. It’s not hard to see where things are going with Lacy, and the faster we get there the better.

That leaves the various travails of the Adama brothers. Very late in the game Caprica chooses to throw a complicating figure into the mix, in the form of what appears to be yet another ha’la’tha assassin, one who has connections to both of the Adama brothers in her past. Fidelia couldn’t look more like a final boss if the writers had tried, and presumably she is going to be an obstacle for one or both of Sam and Joseph to overcome, but at least there is still a bit of time for the show to flesh her out. It does that as well as could be reasonably expected in the short amount of time allotted here, with Fidelia positioned as something of a rival for Sam and as an old flame for Joseph, in either case someone to be taken with a great degree of seriousness.

When it comes to the individual attention given to the two brothers, well, I did appreciate the time given for Sam to be the unexpected voice of reason when it comes to the status of Zoe-A and Tamara-A. It’s gotten to the point where numerous characters are acting as if these digital creations are the actual flesh-and-blood versions of Zoe and Tamara, with Daniel the latest to drink the cool-aid. Zoe-A and Tamara-A are beings in their own right, but they aren’t the people they are based on, that much is clear to me. That it is the frequently unsophisticated mob assassin who seems to be the only person willing to openly declare that is strange to me, but at least it marks Sam out. On the other side Joseph has a more surprising entanglement with Fidelia, a woman he seemingly had an extra-marital affair with, an additional kink in the inevitable path towards a violent confrontation. Fidelia has the scope to be a very effective villain, but we know she won’t really have the time and space to be such a thing really. In many ways it’s a microcosm of the many problems in Caprica: good potential, bad execution and time running out for anything else.



-The title might be part of a sermon from Pope Leo the Great: “The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.”

-Zoe-A and Tamara-A’s “fortress” has the look of a Tibetan monastery almost. It doesn’t look very fortress like, but it could have all sorts of surprises.

-Daniel underplays it a bit when countering Amanda’s memories of her last words to her daughter in “Pilot”: “I did worse”.

-Zoe-A slashes Daniel with a knife in V-World, causing him to have a panicked reaction in the real one. His summation is great: “She’s still mad”.

-I find it weirdly distracting that Duram is in this all black get-up, complete with balaclava. He couldn’t look more conspicuous while trying to be inconspicuous.

-Nestor’s language as he describes the plans for the stadium bombing is interesting, calmly explaining that they will have “martyrs placed” in key spots.

-Facing Nestor’s sudden dissension, Clarice digs the knife in by suggesting he make himself a martyr: “Are you ready to die for your faith? Thought not”. It’s not exactly the best leadership approach.

-Man, the STO finds any excuse to kill its recruits, doesn’t it? They can’t exactly be overflowing with manpower, right?

-A repeated “Robot, resume!” as the Centurion refuses to carry out the execution just made me laugh more than anything.

-I do love Lacy’s response to being told that when she’s in charge she can do things her way: “I’ll remember that”. Talk about a pitch-perfect subtle threat.

-“Fidelia Fazekas”, what kind of a name is that? It sounds like a weird mixture of Greek and Latin.

-A new swearword for us, as Sam tells Fidelia “You look like skor”. Somewhat clumsily, it’s used twice more in the episode in quick succession, as if the writers are trying to say “Look, we didn’t just make up this word, it’s normal!”

-She also has a Tauron version of “If I told you, I’d have to kill you” which, you guessed it, involves some more returning to the soil.

-I like Sam’s anger as Daniel tries to talk up Tamara-A as real: “It’s not her!” He seems to be the only one talking sense.

-Duram tells Amanda that she has done “a great service for the people of Caprica” then repeats the line when left alone, a little sadly. He’s presumably throwing the empty acclimation at himself.

-So, who shot Duram? The obvious answer is Clarice, but at that point in the narrative they hadn’t figured out that Amanda was spying on them. Maybe Singh, Duram’s boss in the GDD?

-An obvious lack of blood from this apparent gunshot wound to Duram, an indication, perhaps, of some budget pinching.

-Evelyn really is a bit of a ruthless woman, urging Sam, as it pertains to Tamara-A, to “find it and kill it”.

-Joseph dismisses Fidelia’s attempt at remembering past romance with “I was married”. Her response is remarkably clumsy: “Not anymore you’re not”.

-Fidelia needles Joseph a bit about discrepancies in Graystone Industries’ accounts. Joseph betrays his lack of nuance in response, his stuttering efforts to cover up the deceit pretty obvious.

-Woah, where did this Odin “holo-porn” scene come from? It’s surprisingly explicit, not just a basic sex scene, but one where specific acts of titillation are being described and seen. It’s a very strange turn for the show to take, and perhaps more evidence of it attempting to push the envelope as we came closer to the end.

-Man, why is the lighting so bad in these Gemenon scenes? I have to assume it’s a conscious choice, but it irks me.

-I presume the scene where the Centurions raise their arms one at a time is meant to be a take on Spartacus and its famous conclusion, but it doesn’t really work for me. Maybe it was just the iffy CGI.

-Odin smokes “coto” through a gun barrel, and I presume this is meant to be some kind of analogy to weed?

-I suppose I do find it interesting, Lacy’s quasi-religious words to Odin at this moment, followed by sex. That’s in keeping with BSG previously, in the way sex is mixed with the unexpected, like “Act Of Contrition”.

-Daniel comes off as a pretty bad negotiator here, trying to bargain Sam down from the asking price and failing miserably. What was up with that?

-“Mother” gets a bit of a stumbling monologue with Diego, discussing the difference between a “secret” and a “mastery”. If Caprica wants her to be a mostly unseen “big bad”, it’s not really good enough. Just have her come out and order Lacy killed.

-Discussing Duram’s time in hospital, Amanda says that “Cottle was the practitioner on duty”. This is presumably a reference to Doc Cottle of BSG, but given the time difference can hardly be the same man.

-Weird thing to note I know, but I don’t remember this long, elegant table that we see in the background of the last Daniel/Amanda scene. We’ve see a lot of their house, but this is new.

-I love Clarice’s desperate “We don’t know that” as it becomes clear what Amanda has done. The rug really has been pulled out from under her.

-Clarice declares, regards Amanda, that “I just want to talk to her”. Is this going to be like her talk with her students in “Retribution“?

-A bit jarring, seeing all these characters on horses, even if it is a virtual reality. We’ve never seen horses in BSG before, right?

-Zoe-A’s “Let them come” makes it seem like we’re expecting a najor battle scene in the next episode, but I have a feeling it will be something more small-scale.

Overall Verdict: Caprica is, regrettably, stumbling towards the finish line with episodes like “The Heavens Shall Rise”. It has too many plates to keep spinning, and in introducing seemingly key new characters so late it betrays a critical lack of foresight. Perhaps the kind of set-up that we have seen here will pay off in the final two episodes, but I don’t think so myself.

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3 Responses to NFB Re-Watches Caprica: “The Heavens Shall Rise”

  1. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica: Index | Never Felt Better

  2. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Caprica: “Here Be Dragons” | Never Felt Better

  3. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome | Never Felt Better

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