Caprica Six & The Rainmaker of Kiau Tchou

Mailbag time.

…Your comment, both here and on Facebook, that it’s all about Caprica Six. I’m intrigued, and interested in hearing more, if you have time. I’m finding that my mental hierarchy of all of the characters’ arcs and their significance has been shifting as I re-watch, but I still haven’t quite decided where to place Caprica Six. It’s amazing to rewatch an entire series after seeing its conclusion, even if it was an imperfect conclusion. Many things take on new and different meanings, viewed through that lens. you find out that maybe you weren’t watching exactly the story the writers were telling all along. My sympathy for Baltar, for example, has grown immeasurably. Also my disgust for him, oddly. But Caprica is fascinating and elusive, and as I’m at about mid-fourth season now, I’ll be keeping an eye on her based on your statement.

Well, it’s kind of a long one, but since you asked, I think a lot of my personal emphasis on Caprica Six is really just overidentification with the character. She doesn’t show up, in any real way, until halfway through the series, but it’s pretty telling that, before she comes back, Boomer was my favorite. And then the things that I loved about Boomer became things to love about Athena. They both cross the salt. 

But in the final analysis, Caprica does it best because Sixes don’t love the way Eights do: Not through Boomer’s interpersonal, relationship, boy-girl Love, but through a kind of love that we don’t really talk about in our culture much because it’s fundamentally “religious.” And not through Athena’s sense of loyalty and honor, which are beautiful, and certainly helped shore up her version of love against some odds.

It’s a Jungian truism that the one place that Christianity, or the Western Judeo-Christian viewpoint, is often weakened in its denial of balance: That absolute good is possible and that peace is possible, and therefore anything that doesn’t fit the program should be repressed, ignored, or destroyed. That means untold damage you’re doing to your own soul, when you hate so much of yourself instead of looking into it and exploring, to my mind. 

I was thinking today about Star Wars, and how the Jedi should have been my favorite thing“soldier” plus “priest”but I was immensely distrustful of the whole idea even as a child, because when they talk about bringing “balance to the Force” they’re using “balance” in a really weird way that means ignoring and attempting to destroy all darkness everywhere, including people they think are tainted by it. It’s very thin Eastern lipgloss slapped on a fairly old Western idea: We admit dichotomy and opposition, but are content to wish things were otherwise.

Contrast then with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which I would say is the Gen Y equivalent of modern myth to Gen X’s Star Wars “fighting Daddy” obsessions) which is centrally and continually a story of recognizing and negotiating darkness within the self. No Big Bads, in the way of the Emperor: Even the vampires are complex people, with all manner of capabilities and qualities inside themselves: The complete opposite of the faceless Stormtroopers (who are eventually revealed as literal clones).

Anyway. The reason I love Caprica Six is that from the first moment we see her, she is demonstrating both opposites at once: The heartlessness of war, and the seed of what will become the greatest compassion on the entire show. Her model’s dedication isn’t corrupt or compromised by anything: It’s a Six that runs the Farm, blows the Armistice Station, and starts the Cylon Civil War, because she believes that children will lead us closer to God. If Caprica/BSG is about moving through sentience and into soulhood, my money is on Caprica Six because she’s the only one who is realistic about anything. 

When she explains to Tigh about the clarity of painwhile her angel counterpart is inspiring Gaius to his litany of heresiesit’s because she’s been there. She holds her values higher than anything, including her own safety, which is another step beyond Athena’s evolution, which is group-centered. Gaius is made a scapegoat, but Caprica offers herself willingly. 

She is intellectually nimble enough to murder her spiritual leader and take over the government when Three makes a wrong ethical call, because her ideals are higher than anything the other models can even conceive. And I think she got there through hard spiritual work that transcended any of the intellectual gifts she was programmed with, which is something to which I aspire — but also is the final nail in the conflict. 

Past mid-S3, everything bad that happens comes out of personal vendettas and weaknesses and horrors and revenge motives, but Caprica is the only person who ever manages to put things back together, and it’s because she’s not afraid of opposites and dichotomies, which isagain, in Jungian terms, and before him, the alchemists’the highest spiritual state we can aspire to, because it means you can finally stop fighting yourself and start the work.

Personally, it’s because I am unbelievably morally rigid and judgmental, and fairly certain I’m smarter than everybody else, and I love the idea of God and I love kids, and that’s all she’s really got going on. But in terms of the story, I really do think the evolution of Caprica Sixby the end, or rather the almost-endtells the story in a way that could never be done upfront, through actual narrative, because it’s too internal and too magical. But I think she saves the world.

There’s a story in the Jung community that everybody likes to invoke, before certain discussions, about this Chinese village the Sinologist Richard Wilhelm was observing, Kiau Tchou. They couldn’t get any rain, so finally they called in a rainmaker, this old dude, who came into the village and wrinkled his nose and demanded that they sequester him in a cottage and bring him food and leave him alone, and on the third day it not only rained, it snowed, and the ethnographer was like, How did you do that? “I didn’t do anything.” You made it rain. “Oh right. No, I just come from a place where the people are in order, they’re in Tao. And when I got here, you guys weren’t, and it infected me. So I went inside until I was back in order, and then the weather got right again.”

Bitchy, but still TCB. Sounds like my girl to me.

3 thoughts on “Caprica Six & The Rainmaker of Kiau Tchou

  1. Thank you for answering my question. This is really insightful. I can definitely see Caprica Six as a major symbol of spiritual balance in the story. Having just finished my rewatch, this is all very fresh for me again, and what I noticed was how much more central both Caprica Six and Gaius are to the overall arc. Watching the first time, week-to-week with and with long hiatuses, and without being as immersed as a TWoP recapper, I found it was easier to follow the Kara/Lee story and the Roslin/Adama story. Those are certainly central, but their character arcs and roles in the story are (usually) more clear-cut, while Caprica and Gaius — especially Six — had arcs happening that were maybe more deeply embedded and harder to parse.

    I now see that Caprica was the one who had the most spiritual strength of anyone, which I think is part of what you're saying. Also, her incredible capacity for love, which is the same thing (God is love). I see your comparison with Boomer, too, in that, and the selflessness you mentioned. I think of the scene where Boomer is about to snap Hera's neck on the basestar, and Caprica kills her, then takes Athena and Hera back to Galactica. Knowing she'll suffer for that, but doing it anyway. The love and spiritual confidence in that act is staggering.

    I won't get into the Western/Eastern religious stuff except to say: Yes, indeed.

    Thanks again, an excellent read and fascinating analysis, as always.


  2. Kiaochow is most famous in our house for — like BSG — having been symbolized by an iconic capital ship.

    We're watching the episodes again and what strikes me about the 6 is how their “baby fever” is always a symptom of something else, that hard spiritual work you point out. Redrawing the borders between inside and outside.

    Do we ever hear the 6 talk much in the first pronoun singular? Can't remember but they seem so willing to set the “I” on fire to keep the world moving.


  3. That is a very interesting take but it also makes me see more clearly why I can't really warm to Caprica 6 in the way you do. She seems to me to be able rationalise destruction too easily precisely because she is not afraid either of opposites or trying to transcend them in synthesis.  She is forever the person who instantiates what is inherent in saying 'and like God our infinite mercy will only be matched by our power'.  Those who are able to internalise mercy and power as the same thing will always have New Caprica in them and I can't see that Caprica gets past that impulse.  She seems to me to be a character that is ultimately, except in the mythological sense that she is a version of Eve, difficult to place in the show's central thematic preoccupations both because  she is an idealist in a show that is pretty committed to a critique of idealism – whether it be the callowness of Lee's, the pretty strong commitment to the ethics of responsibility over the ethics of conviction, or the whole New Caprica arc from the Boomer-Caprica perspective – and because  her arc puts no sustained dramatic pressure on her commitments in a show that in part works by subjecting its characters to fierce critique by interrogation of the choices they make when up against it. The exception is New Caprica which does have consequences in her disillusionment with Baltar and murdering Boomer, but they're pretty soon forgotten especially on the Baltar front. That there's no way back for Felix from his New Caprican disillusionment with Baltar and what follows from that seems to me truer to the show's narrative than Caprica's way back from it. A good part of her apparent strength seems to come from a lack of interest in her in something of the same way in which Athena's murders in season four go unexplored and consequently jar.


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