Caprica shows us what religion really is

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Last night's episode in the new season of Caprica, "Unvanquished," was quite simply amazing. It brought together disparate threads from the previous season, and showed us how business, crime, and religion are pretty much the same thing.

While the first season of Caprica focused on two families, the wealthy Graystones and the immigrant mobster Adamas, this season has shifted emphasis. Now the Graystones are completely interconnected with the Adamas, and the two powerful forces at work are the Graystone Corporation (now run by Daniel Graystone's enemy Thomas Vergis) and the monotheist terrorist movement STO. Both groups are vying to use technologies developed by Daniel Graystone and his daughter Zoe to further their goals to dominate Caprica - whether that's financially or spiritually.


Clarice visits religious leader "the Mother" on Gemenon to present Apotheosis, a virtual heaven based on Graystone's VR bands. She wants to use Zoe's soul digitization technology (let's just call it that in the absence of any other name) to give members of the monotheistic religion a chance at having an afterlife. That way, she says, religion will not longer require faith. It will be a simple fact that if you join her religion (and possibly pay a monthly access fee?) you are guaranteed eternal life in a cyber-wonderland.

Even as Clarice is doing the machination dance to get the Mother to endorse her plan, we see all the ways that it can't possibly work. First of all, as one of the religious leaders on Gemenon points out, a virtual heaven can't "surprise" us, and therefore it's just fake heaven, and potentially quite boring. Second, we already know how much the digital soul of Zoe has been tormented by her experiences - even though she's an STO member. First her soul was stuck inside the body of her father's cylon, but she smashed that body up in a car crash last season. So now she's stuck inside the virtual world, just like Joseph Adama's daughter Tamara. And guess what? V-World is hell, especially in New Cap City, which is the main place everybody seems to hang out.


But why worry about that stuff when there are units to be sold? Clarice wants to sell her idea to Mother, and is willing to murder Mother's closest advisers to do it (which she does, and which Mother seems not entirely upset about). And Daniel is willing to kill and blackmail his way back into control of Graystone Corporation, which is why he's now enlisting the aid of Joseph and Ha'la'tha godfather Guatrau to strongarm board members of his former company into voting him back to his previous position. But it's going to be tough going, partly because Vergis is churning out the cylons for the military in the way Daniel failed to do. And partly because his board has turned against him. Even a blackmail attempt fails when the target commits suicide rather than do what Daniel wants.

We see some weird scenes of Joseph and his brother hazing Daniel before agreeing to help him retake the company, and they only agree to do it after Guatrau decides he likes the idea of marketing the soul digitizer to help mourning families reunite with their dead loved ones. Guatrau puts Joseph in charge of the soul-digitizing project, and hints that this whole thing could turn him into a "made man."


So now we've got two groups battling for Capricans' immortal digital souls: A corporation riddled with mob connections, and a religious group that favors terrorist tactics. Meanwhile, Zoe is hunting through New Cap City for Tamara, swords drawn, which could mean a new force will emerge to challenge both. I love watching business and religion battle to control the gadgets of the future.


This show, like Battlestar Galactica, isn't afraid to tell an intelligent, morally ambiguous story. Let's hope it stays on course. And gets renewed, for frak's sake.