Bring It Back: ‘Caprica’

Drew Dietsch

Television has been experiencing a welcome surge in revived shows lately. The X-Files, Gilmore Girls, Arrested Development, and many others have been (or are going to be) resurrected thanks to fan support and demand. We here at Fandom think this is always a good thing, and we’d like to look at some shows we believe they need to bring back. SPOILERS may occur, so read at your own risk.

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It’s easy to see why Caprica failed. The prequel spinoff of the immensely popular Battlestar Galactica remake was jarring in a lot of ways. It lacked the sense of ever-present tension that helped Battlestar Galactica in innumerable ways; it took its sweet time building up a complex society and tenuously connected characters; and the issues it dealt with were more in line with the controversial and existential concepts that the last season of Battlestar Galactica delved into headfirst. In fact, Battlestar Galactica‘s final sequence showing the evolution of artificial intelligence acts as a lead-in to Caprica‘s deep meditations on the ideas of consciousness and what it means to even exist.

Caprica is an admittedly difficult show — especially in the beginning — but it’s well worth its slow burn. Caprica is a story of an empire at the height of its power, unlike the struggling society of Battlestar Galactica‘s survivors. Though Caprica is ostensibly about the birth of the Cylons — in the form of the virtual avatar of the deceased Zoe Graystone — it also tackles religious zealotry and what faith and belief means in a world with constantly evolving technology.

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The most contentious way this was explored was through the character of Clarice Willow. Clarice was the secret leader of a monotheistic terrorist group called the Soldiers of the One. In the world of Caprica, the twelve planets — or colonies — that make up this society all practice different religions, leading to a fervently polytheistic society. Willow and her followers believe there is only One True God and that their mission is to overthrow the current establishment in order to implement their radical beliefs. While an allusion to Islamic terrorism might seem what the writers were going for, things get much more broadly challenging towards the show’s end.

In Caprica, people use holobands (think the ultimate version of the Oculus Rift) to enter a virtual world. Willow’s plan involved murdering a large number of people during a bombing, then having their virtual doppelgangers immediately be uploaded to a paradise of Willow’s creation. This was a show that dared to attack the very concept of Heaven as some kind of eternal reward. It’s bold commentary that a lot of people just couldn’t really get on board with.

caprica holoband

It’s not just the thought-provoking religious commentary that makes Caprica great. The world of the Twelve Colonies feels vibrant and believable, and it’s intriguing to look at a highly civilized society that openly embraces such things as same-sex marriage (one of the main characters, gangster Sam Adama, is gay) and even polygamy. There’s obvious allusions to the Roman empire, but it’s fascinating to see such constructs play out in a world where robotic life is slowly beginning to evolve.

So, why bring Caprica back? Well, for starters, it was one of the victims of the Syfy Channel’s descent into more mass appeal television. Both Caprica and Stargate Universe (another contender for this column) were cancelled while leaving off on huge cliffhangers. Caprica made the ending even more painful by showing a jaw-dropping trailer of what was to come. Some of the unproduced greatness would have had Cylons learning about religion, the birth of the first humanoid cybernetic body, and even a meeting with one of Battlestar Galactica‘s infamous Final Five.

Battlestar Galactica

Caprica is a show that was burdened with too much expectation and wasn’t given the room it needed to grow into its own. Admittedly, the first half of the season felt like there was some wheel-spinning going on, but the season finale showed a story that was both confident and willing to take even bigger risks. Caprica was also just a teeny bit ahead of its time. With virtual reality and robotics becoming more and more commonplace, Caprica‘s world seems more relevant than ever.

Bring Caprica back so that the story can at least have some sort of satisfactory ending. Caprica was cut down just as it was becoming undeniably compelling. It deserved more than the unceremonious axing it received at the hands of a television channel that was distancing itself from the kind of programming it takes its name from.

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