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V: "A Bright New Day"

Halfway through tonight’s episode of V, I was all fired-up and ready to slam it on the AV Club for the third week running when a funny thing happened – the plot started advancing. There were some honest-to-goodness twists! The resistance gained a name, and some new members! And hell, Lauren Vandervoort even took her clothes off. I don’t think V’s out of the woods yet – it still feels too small-scale considering its theme and most of the dialogue just falls out of the actors’ mouths – but with one week to go, progress is being made.

It took a half-hour of slow-as-molasses bullshit to get the “A Bright New Day” started, though. The biggest snore came as Erica was assigned by the feebs to protect the Vs after death threats were made against them – which makes absolutely no sense at all whatsoever. I understand that the Vs now have tourist status and are technically under U.S. jurisdiction, but hello, they’re aliens in motherships. I’m sure they have their own very capable security measures.

Erica, capable fed that she is, proves excellent at her job – she totally figures out that someone stole a V jacket and pinpoints the attacker when he draws two huge guns and points them at the man-V (I forget his name) in slow motion. Nailed it! The Vs are very impressed and as such, she gets an in with them, sort of. It’s more of a “we’ll call you,” but she gets to look behind the curtain of their dull, CTU-style headquarters and finds a surveillance room with lots of floaty red boxes. The Vs are monitoring us…through the jackets they’re distributing! Pardon me if I didn’t find this creepy. Considering the modern surveillance society we all live in, I’d be a little more impressed if the Vs were watching traffic cams and stuff too. Instead, we have to be near a jacket for them to have their eyes on us?

I didn’t really understand Erica’s motivations in making an effort to help the Vs, either. She tells Father Jack it’s better that they don’t get shot and accrue more public sympathy, but what if the assassin totally shoot their faces off on live TV, revealing the scaly skin beneath? Now, it turns out that the assassin was a V agent himself and it was all a ploy to accrue sympathy, but she didn’t know that!

Our other main resistance fighter, Ryan, bids goodbye to Ms. “I’m just collecting a paycheck” Lourdes Benedicto and contacts another V traitor for info. But otherwise, the scene plays exactly. The same. As it did last week. Ryan says “hey dude, help a lizard-alien-traitor out!” The other guy says sure, then double-crosses him two seconds later. On the plus side, we learn some new stuff. The V traitors get a name – THE FIFTH COLUMN. Ooh. They have a mysterious leader, called John May. Cyrus (the other traitor) tells Ryan he’s been promised “reconnection” to the “bliss” by the Vs, as long as he turns in Columnists (that’s what I’m callin’ em). Now, I’m not a die-hard Trek nerd, so apologies if my memory is hazy, but that sounds a bit like the Dominion from Deep Space Nine, right? Odo was severed from the great linky-thing, which was basically like a thousand-person orgy of writhing minds linked together. Is this why the Vs all whisper to each other like they’re in softcore porn?

Anyway, it’s just allusions and conjecture at this point, but maybe that’s how Anna keeps everything so uniform. Less certain is: does she has the same effect on humans (mind control) or is she just so damn charming? Anna’s charms defuse a Cindy Sheehan-type protestor whose husband was in the F-15 that crashed in New York in the pilot episode. Just by talking to her in a reasoned way, the protestor backs off, and praises the Vs message of peace. Did Anna use her BLISS powers, or is it us, the humans, that are fools? Either way, Morena Baccarin, still the star of the show, got the best moment of the episode, a cute-n-creepy montage of her rehearsing the most sympathetic way to apologize.

I guess it’s time to talk about the whole Obama thing. Various news outlets have posited that V’s message is we shouldn’t be so trusting of peace, or the media, or Obama’s cult of personality, or something, because HE COULD BE A FUCKING LIZARD UNDERNEATH THAT HANDSOME FACE. When the pilot aired, things got intense enough for someone to lob a question at Robert Gibbs about it. I really don’t think this is what V’s going for – the media is endlessly finding hidden right-wing code in TV and movies, like Knocked Up or The Dark Knight – but if you think different, sound off. In a reasoned fashion, please.

Along with the info gleaned from Ryan’s traitor (who Ryan, somehow, turns into a pile of cinders by the episode’s end) and the revelation that the Vs staged the assassination, we got a bunch of other healthy twists. Dale (Alan Tudyk) wakes up on the V operating table, all milky-chested and confused after Erica bashed his head. His doctor soothingly tries to rebuild his memories, and we learn that there’s at least one more V in the FBI office (at this point, the only other character is Erica’s boss, so it has to be him) and that Vs call having your fake human-flesh torn off “hanging open,” like your fly is undone. Also, Dale’s doctor turns out to be a damn dirty fifth columnist!

And in the closing minutes, two things that felt like they would never happen, actually happen. First, the resistance, which was made up of Erica and the generally-useless Father Jack, gains a couple members when George, who brought everyone together in the first place, introduces them to Ryan. Maybe, once they start sharing info, they can start having some real adventures. Second, Tyler totally makes out with Lisa, and in an effort to fool his mom into thinking she’s not a V, Lisa disrobes. As silly as the scene was, Elizabeth Mitchell finally got a chance to dust off the old funny-bone – she was amusingly distressed, but not exactly unhappy, that her son was attempting to bone such a hot chick.

Only one week to go before V leaves us this year, but I feel a little more confident about where they’re taking us now. Now, they just need to spice up the dialogue, kill off Tyler’s fat annoying friend, and give Chad more to do that summarizing the episode’s events on TV and raising an eyebrow once in a while.

Stray observations:

Ryan muses about the old days of the Fifth Column. “The way we used to fight those Vs,” he reminisces. Man, this show was more exciting before it existed.

“My mom doesn’t like the Vs. GOD I HATE HER,” Tyler whines to Lisa. We’ve all been there, kid.

Forgot to mention that we found out Anna is Lisa’s mother. And they’re planning to use Tyler for something creepy. My guess? Pregnancy!

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