A new clip from the Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica just came out, at the same time as a draft of the pilot script appeared online. Seems there's a surplus of naughtiness in BSG's past. Spoilers!
In Caprica, we mostly follow the wealthy Graystone family at first. And then later, we meet the show's second family, the Adams clan. (Whose real last name is Adama.)
The Graystones are rich and pampered — Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) is clearly meant to be Caprica's answer to Bill Gates. He's sort of a path-of-least resistance guy whose big project, military fighting robots, is five years behind schedule. (For some reason, the prototype fighting robot can't even hit a moving target with a paintball once.) Daniel's big achievement is the holoband, a headband that lets you experience a virtual world.
Meanwhile, Daniel's wife Amanda Graystone (Paula Malcomson) is a big-time surgeon, who occasionally cheats on Daniel with a rival computer geek, Tomas Vergis.
Amanda constantly fights with her daughter, Zoe Graystone, who's a 16-year-old rebel. This leads to one of the script's many long speeches that will probably sound better coming from the mouths of A-list actors than they do on the page:
AMANDA: That’s enough! You are so lucky and you have everything in the worlds you could possibly want and all you can do is run down our family and complain about society — you have no idea what it means to build something, what it means to have discipline or to work hard for anything — it’s all been handed to you by the gods!
ZOE: Yeah, I guess I’ll just have to learn to how to marry into money.
Zing. And then Amanda slaps Zoe, who tells her she'll regret that for the rest of her life.
Zoe Graystone, meanwhile, is a student at the Academy of Athena. The academy's headmistress, Sister Clarice, is a secret monotheist. And Zoe plans to run away to the colony of Gemenon, with her emo boyfriend Ben and her flaky friend Lacy. They're all part of a secret monotheistic society, whose symbol is an infinity sign, and they meet in naughty holo-clubs where you can have group sex, human sacrifice, or fight club. Here's Lacy, later on, showing Daniel Graystone around the holo-club, in a clip uploaded to Sci Fi Wire today:
It's not all sex-and-sacrifice in the holographic club, though. Zoe has found a way to use a search engine to suck up every bit of data about herself and create a virtual "avatar," or copy of herself. (Honestly, the explanation of how she did this seems a bit iffy to me.) The virtual copy of Zoe hangs out at the holo-club and talks about monotheism a lot.
Anyway, it turns out that Ben, Zoe Graystone's emo boyfriend, doesn't actually want to run away to Gemenon with Zoe. Instead, he wants to score a point for monotheists by blowing himself up on a levitating subway train, with Zoe on board as well. Also killed in the explosion are attorney Joseph Adams' wife, Shannon, and his daughter, Tamara. This happens on Willie Adams' birthday — no wonder the grown-up Admiral Adama is damaged!
So we learn more about the Adama clan... actually there's a super brief prologue at the start of the pilot where we meet Joseph (Esai Morales) and his brother Sam as kids, when they're refugees from the colony of Tauron landing on Caprica. After Joseph and Sam Adama established themselves there, they changed their name to Adams to distance themselves from their Tauron roots. (And yes, the brother's name is Sam Adams.) Sam becomes an enforcer in the Tauron mafia, while the mafia puts Joseph through law school. In one scene, Joseph helps to bribe a judge to get a face-tattooed gangster out of prison on bail. But Joseph draws the line at helping to threaten the life of the Caprican defense minister... at least at first.
After Ben the emo boyfriend blows up the train and kills Zoe and the Adama girls, everyone is thrown into major grief. Joseph Adams and Daniel Graystone meet and become friends, and Joseph also starts spending time with his son Willie Adams for the first time. The three of them (Daniel, Joseph and Willie) go to see a Pyramid game, and it turns out Daniel owns the team.
Meanwhile, Amanda Graystone retreats into having sex with Tomas, Daniel's rival. But then Daniel and Amanda start getting back together again, and Daniel makes Amanda breakfast in bed.
Zoe's friend Lacy talks a lot to her headmistress, Sister Clarice, who wants to know about Zoe's work with computers. This spurs Lacy to go to the Graystone house and track down Zoe's online "avatar," which still retains all of Zoe's personality — and somehow, the avatar is covered with blood and rememebers the train bombing that killed the real Zoe:
LACY: What happened? Where’d all this blood come from?
ZOE-A I... I think it must be from the... bombing.
LACY The bombing...? But you weren’t even there — you couldn’t be there.
ZOE-A I know. (realizes) Zoe told me... she was working on a biofeedback protocol... she wanted me to feel what she felt — in real time. She never got it working exactly, but... something happened.
Lacy pulls back slightly.
LACY You mean you... “felt” her death?
At last, Lacy hugs the virtual Zoe (Zoe-A), and the virtual blood miraculously disappears.
Eventually, Daniel finds out about the "backup" Zoe, and he steals a copy. Then he approaches Joseph with a proposition: Daniel can bring both their dead daughters back to life as virtual avatars, but he needs a special piece of computer equipment that his rival Tomas has developed. Conveniently, the equipment is back on Tauron, so it's easy for Joseph's mafia buddies to steal it. But first, Joseph has to swallow his principles and threaten the life of the defense minister... who later gets his throat slit by Joseph's brother Sam, when he refuses to give in to blackmail.
When Joseph finally meets the "virtual" version of his daughter Tamara, she's freaked out by being locked into this unreal world, and panicked at the fact that she can't feel her own heartbeat any more. Joseph disconnects, and demands that Daniel delete the virtual Tamara from his machine. Daniel complies, but he feels pretty sure that Joseph will be back. This sets up a conflict between the two of them over whether virtual people have "souls," which presumably will play out throughout the series.
So... it's pretty high drama, and definitely has a lot of speeches about the nature of monotheism versus polytheism, and society versus the individual, and the ethics of playing god with cyber-entities, etc. (In one great scene, Duram, a government agent investigating the bombings, says to Sister Clarice, "It doesn’t concern you that there’s a proven link between worship of a single god and an absolutist view of the universe? A belief that right and wrong are determined solely by a single all-knowing, allpowerful being whose judgement cannot be questioned? A god in whose name the most horrendous crimes can be sanctioned without appeal?")
At times, it gets a bit over-the-top, but the cast is so rock-solid that it'll probably work pretty well. It's a pretty interesting look at Caprican society 51 years before the Cylon apocalypse — it's pretty close to our world, except there are levitating trains, Daniel has a robot servant, and all the teenagers are having sex in holographic clubs. I don't know if it'll manage to be as intense as BSG, but it might be great in a whole new way. We'll have to wait and see.