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V, Episodes 5-8: Welcome Back, Sort Of

April 27, 2010

Both V and I took a several month hiatus, and luckily (or un-) for you, we’re back (see links to other episode reviews at bottom).  Why such a long break for the hit show, which premiered Nov. 3, 2009, ran for four episodes, then shut down until episode 5 aired on March 30, 2010?  Depends on who you ask, but io9 has ideas.  Either way, TV’s newest-rehash-of-old-show involving alien invasion has returned, and not necessarily better.

A recap for these four episodes:  Erica (FBI mom) is attacked in her home by a Visitor but of course she breaks bad and ices the dude.  She gets deeper into the Fifth Column resistance, which adds a shady character to its ranks to learn how to run an insurgency.  Erica and her son Tyler grow closer, then more distant, then closer, then way more distant, in no small part due to Tyler’s V girlfriend, Lisa.  Several promising mother-son moments devolve into overwrought sentiment.  So we need father-son moments between Tyler and his dad, which start well and devolve into overwrought sentiment, and shocking secrets are revealed, and on the next Maury

Val, who is “good” Visitor Ryan’s girlfriend, finds out she’s pregnant but doesn’t know Ryan’s a V.  Ryan is freaked out, not because he’s not ready for fatherhood but because V-human hybrid babies aren’t supposed to be possible, and Val’s pregnancy has turned…interesting.  We also learn that Ryan hasn’t always been a stand-up guy, and has done his share of assassinatin’.  In fact, he admits to killing an old Fifth Column member—to the man’s stepson, no less—in a manner like, “Hey, I capped your step-dad, but that was back when I was bad and then he taught me that human emotion is good and someday I would see, and I met this chick at his funeral for his fake suicide and he was totally right! and (oh, I meant to tell you he didn’t kill himself.  I killed him but he left a suicide note because he knew I was going to kill him but didn’t want you and your mom to find out we were both aliens.  Whoopsie!) so now I’m happy and you’re sad and resentful, but it’s OK because it’s all part of human emotion.  Now, who’s up for a Blizzard?”

Other Visitors are acting more like Visitors, except for the Fifth Column who are growing in number and becoming bolder in their guerrilla resistance.  Anna continues to be the cold, calculating queen with an agenda.  We still aren’t clear what she wants from humans, or Earth, but we know it’s something that’s not so great for us.  Chad Decker is probably the most conflicted of all our characters—he’s trying to combine vocational ambition (essentially being Anna’s press attaché) with his remaining shreds of journalistic integrity (he knows something is up with the Vs, but just not what).

These four episodes brought in new characters by the truckload and killed off a few, some in the same episode in which they were introduced.  Some of the characters are going to become integral (Hobbes, the questionable new Fifth Column operative), some won’t/can’t (Alex Caruso, the schlubby computer science teacher/plot device).  The episodes did not bring us, however, much plot advancement (note: killing off characters does not necessarily indicate plot development):

  1. We already know that Anna and most of the Visitors are giving humans medicines and technologies with an ulterior motive, but we’re no closer to figuring out what that is.  We do find out that Anna will screw her own soldiers to conceive an army of super-soldiers, then munch on the babies-daddy for a post-coital snack.  This doesn’t at all fit in with what we’ve seen of Anna heretofore, and seems to have been added for shock/schlock value.

    Anna: a lover and a fighter

  2. Georgie’s still mad at the Vs, for the same reason he was before.  He gets captured aboard a V ship and stays unrescued, a minor subplot leading to a dead end for a major character.  At least he remained a hater.
  3. Val is still pregnant, and doesn’t know she’s carrying a baby with a non-embryonic tail.  She still has the crappiest lines (although Ryan’s line “All our questions will be answered next week,” sounded like an apology for that episode and an entreaty to tune in to the next).  She and we know something is up with a fetus that kicks at 6 weeks and makes her crave dead mice.
  4. Vs are still killing Fifth Column members, and John May lives (sort of).  Anna is pissed that her plan isn’t going perfectly but schemes and plots and creepy-grins her way through setbacks to create opportunities, the poster-lizard for making lemons into space-lemonade.

V will keep me watching for a while, if for nothing else than to find out why the Visitors are here, and what this alien-human baby will look like.  The narrative pacing is acceptable, even though the major plot points have dragged (see above) while the seemingly minor revelations get introduced and resolved over one, maybe two episodes, hardly long enough to get excited.  The camera-work and sets at times allow the viewer to make judgments about character motivations and plot hints, without being bludgeoned with them.  Some exceptions: V loves the extreme facial close-up, and apparently requires that all cast members take courses in jaw-clenching; brow-furrowing; and intensely delivering lines regarding Fifth Column: NYC Chapter unity, and remembering what they’re fighting for, and pull yourselves together! and don’t you die on me! and other action-drama clichés.  Oh well, it’s network television.  I ask only that ABC go back to what made V work in the beginning and make it worth my while to watch until the end.

(V airs Tuesdays at 10:00p on ABC.)

V, Episode 1 (Pilot)
V, Episode 2 (There Is No Normal Anymore)
V, Episode 3 (A Bright New Day)
V, Episode 4 (It’s Only The Beginning)
V, Episodes 5-8

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