Before the Articles of Colonization, before the Centurions, back when the Twelve Colonies of Kobol were just warring countries much like our own -- and the Final Five were still fifty light years away on their journey from Planet Cylon to save us all -- there was Caprica. If the Twelve Colonies are like superpowers, Caprica City is like NYC and Caprica herself is the US: Arrogant, rich, pushy, corrupt, secular and hypocritical. Luckily for everybody: Terrorism!
The Soldiers of the One, monotheist fundamentalists, have established a network of crazy-pants children and scary headmistresses to bring the word of the One God to the people. Three of these kids, including the daughter of mad scientist/Captain of Industry Daniel Graystone, detonate a bomb on a skyrail car. Two of them die, one wusses out, and among the victims are the wife and daughter of complicated attorney Joseph Adama.
The fathers of these two dead girls, despite being yards apart in both station and breeding, form a bond. The surviving girl-terrorist, Lacey, accidentally lets slip that Daniel's daughter Zoë is still alive in the Matrix, having inherited her daddy's mad scientist powers. Daniel captures this ghost Zoë and uses her intelligence to improve his designs for a new government-issued Cybernetic Life-Form Node, or Cylon, made to fight inter-Colony wars and hopefully not get genocidally bummed out by that.
Daniel's wife is having an affair and Joseph is all mixed up with Tauran mobsters. Meanwhile, Zoë is very much her own agent, and we learn that a ghost of dead terrorist-boyfriend Ben is also extant. So now she's got one friend on the outside, one friend in the Matrix, a powerful new robot body, and a terrorist network that's still very much alive thanks to their mentor, Athena Academy headmistress and secret terrorist Clarice Willow. There's a cop on the tail of the bombers, and a formal investigation into the Soldiers of the One -- but if Gossip Girl has taught us anything it's that you should never bet against one pissed-off teenage girl, much less two. Especially if they are in a terrorist cult.
Speaking personally, I never wanted anything more than Battlestar Galactica without the spaceships and gunfights, so I'm good. Toss in some genius teenage terrorists, a hearty helping of internet paranoia, the recapitulation of Midrashic feminine divinity into sexy jailbait manqué, mythic cyberpagans, analogues of both Fox News and The Daily Show With Patton Oswalt -- plus wardrobe, hair and sets straight out of the Gaius Baltar Collection? -- I'd say we're good to go.
Please note that this recap refers to the DVD edition of the Caprica pilot.
As far back as I can remember I've had this dream. Not much anymore, but for a while I had it all the time. There's people on a rollercoaster and they're having the time of their lives, and it's loud and crashing, and there's the booming of the ocean and the acoustics of the wind, and they're screaming with their hands in the air, and the thing that they don't know is that the tracks stop, somewhere at a crest, just gap into nothing, and they're hurtling toward it. They think that they're safe but they're not safe.
And usually the dream gets bogged down in bureaucratic detail, trying to mobilize a team to somehow solve this problem, all the futile possible ways we could save them. Dream logic; leadership dreams. Maybe if they all raised their arms at the same counter-intuitive time, at the bottom of the hill maybe, it would provide some kind of drag. Maybe if they all unlatched their harnesses at the same moment, if they somehow all knew to do it at the same time, like in a football wave, if they could do this as they were launching into space, and off the tracks altogether, they would take flight, and we could... catch them, somehow. Everyone would be safe.
JG Ballard died this morning. He will be missed. He said "a widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction."
Karen Armstrong wrote one of my favorite books of all time, the elegant and accessible A History Of God. It's brilliant, I've read it lots of times, have bought and given away more copies than I can account for. In 2000, she wrote a sort of follow-up called The Battle For God, about fundamentalism in the new millennium.
The idea, the rationale as such, is pretty simple. We find ourselves in a complex, degenerate post-God secular world; there are no rules, the center doesn't hold, nobody's watching you or judging you. Some thrive; I thrive. But it's nervous: you're looking into an existential abyss, or you're standing in the middle of Sodom trying to avoid eye contact, or you're getting turned on and about to do something really stupid. Those are the main things. Fundamentalism is sort of like all of those things at once. Gin a body kiss a body, need a body cry?
What's most amazing about the millennial fundamentalisms, which every single religion has, is their basic intent on going "back to basics" in some fashion, while completely ignoring the fact that there aren't actually any "basics" to go back to. The stuff they want to accomplish, for all of us, the walls they want where a body meets a body, the rules be which we must abide, never actually existed. They're syncretistic fantasies about control, mental lockdown, revisions to decisions that no moment can erase. Every single fundamentalism is synthetic, reaching backwards for an imaginary grace.