Caprica: Know Thy Enemy
KNOW THY SPOILERS: Tonight’s “Caprica” introduces Tomas Vergis, the owner of the rival company that Daniel stole the MCP from in order to complete his U-87 project. That decision finally comes back to haunt him, literally and figuratively, in Know Thy Enemy.
Played brilliantly by John Pyper-Ferguson (recognize him as the Pegasus CAG Pegasus in “BSG” Season 2?), Vergis is a complex and interesting character. He is clearly an antagonist, with his sights set on ruining Daniel Graystone and his company. However, he is also a Tauron, and as such, is understandably motivated by vengeance for the two men who were killed in the theft, whose deaths he blames solely on Daniel.
Clearly, Vergis needed his own theme, one that captured the various nuances of his personality and motivation. You will hear glimpses of it throughout the episode, but it comes into play fully during the last scene, as he declares his intentions to Daniel. This scene is the most “Galactica”-influenced of this entire series thus far, in my opinion. Michael Nankin brought his brilliant directoral eye to the scene and allowed these two amazing actors to craft the scene at their own pace. With all its various characters and subplots, “Caprica” moves pretty fast. So, this deliberately paced scene was a real delight to score.
An ominous pad first sneaks in as Vergis stands, taking off his coat. I didn’t want to hit the moment too big, but definitely strove to underscore the tension and mystery. Why was he taking his coat off? Is he about to kick Daniel’s ass? What’s going on?
Then, as he reveals his tattoo, the first element of the Vergis theme sneaks in. A harp, piano and gamelan ensemble play the Vergis Ostinato:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/cap106a.mp3|titles=Caprica – Vergis Ostinato]
It’s simple and repetitive, evocative of a folk song. This was intentional, because I wanted the Vergis Theme to subtly reference his Tauron heritage. This idea is cemented when the melody finally enters. As Vergis steps closer, Chris Bleth plays the Vergis melody on a Chinese membrane flute:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/cap106b.mp3|titles=Caprica – Vergis Theme on Membrane Flute]
The only other time I’ve ever used the membrane flute in “Caprica” has been for the occasional statement of the Tauron Theme. The sound of this unique instrument added cultural meaning and tension as we get our first glimpse of his heavily-tattooed arm.
Vergis leans in very close, brewing with menace. Here, the bass and low strings enter with a secondary thematic idea I call the Vergis Bass Line:
Vergis puts his coat back on, now exuding the intimidating confidence of a Tauron mobster. To drive this point home, Paul Cartwright picks up the Vergis Theme on the acoustic fiddle, an instrument reserved solely for Tauron-related melodies. As Vergis says “Eventually, I will destroy your company, but before that you have so many precious things,” Chris Bleth’s membrane flute returns once more, to state a final version of the Vergis theme.
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/cap106c.mp3|titles=Caprica – Vergis Theme on Fiddle]
Vergis leaves, and Daniel is now alone to contemplate this new turn of events. A subtle version of the Daniel Ostinato begins in the harp, piano and gamelan:
The intensity builds, as bigger and bigger percussion enters the arrangement, leading to the end of the episode:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/cap106d.mp3|titles=Caprica – Daniel Ostinato]
This scene was a lot of fun to score, but also lead to a bizarre experience that’s never happened before: I began to crave food in a scene! In the process of scoring this scene, I probably watched it fifty times. So, fifty times I witnessed Vergis raise his glass of bright, tangy orange juice into the sunlight and take a sip of it. Director Michael Nankin and DP Stephen McNutt made this look like the most tasty, fresh and mouth-watering glass of orange juice in the history of fruit. After about an hour of watching this scene, I noticed that the drink looked really refreshing. By the end of the second hour, my mouth began watering the more I saw it. Finally, I had to stop and go to the frakking store and buy some damn orange juice or I was going to go insane.
So, in addition to being a great scene in a great episode, this sequence also functions as a perfect ad for orange juice.
Other subplots, such as Joseph’s search for Tamara’s avatar, were explored a bit as well tonight. They will be expanded upon in subsequent episodes, and lead us to some really interesting musical moments. In the meantime, just keep drinking your “Caprica’s Finest” Brand Orange Juice!
(Click image to embiggen. Thanks to Andrew Craig for the logo!)
So Say We All!
PS: For more details and insight into the creation of this episode and the series in general, check out the DAVID EICK PODCAST COMMENTARY, which I took part in this week!