V: "It's Only The Beginning"
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V: "It's Only The Beginning"

So, uh, remember all that stuff I said last week dismissing the cable news interpretation that the V lizard aliens=Obama? Well, maybe not. The final episode of V that we get this year kinda gave the viewer something to think about, as well as moving the plot forward somewhat, but still...it kinda sucked, didn’t it?

And that’s excluding the most questionable plot reveal this week, which revolved a V vitamin injection, offered to all, to supercharge human immune systems so our bodies can beat cancer and shit. What about the common cold, asks Dale the fearless reporter. You’ll have to rely on your own flu vaccines for that one, Anna quips. Ha ha ha!

Our gang of rebels assumes the V vitamin is evil in some way, but then we find out that it’s a bait-and-switch: the vitamins are totally fine, but the visitors are poisoning our flu vaccines instead! Who’da thunk! Let’s break down just why this is so stupid. One, flu vaccines don’t have much to do with the common cold. Two, it’s hardly a bait-and-switch when flu vaccines will surely end up less popular than IMMUNIZATIONS AGAINST CANCER. And three, well, Erica’s reaction to the whole thing was eye-rollingly ridiculous. “The media bombards us...with stories about epidemics...it’s very CALCULATED, isn’t it,” she says, noting that the Vs have taken advantage of humanity’s predictable nature with this cunning, cunning move.

Damn that Obama/Anna! Taking advantage of us through the fear media and then poisoning us with flu vaccines! I totally have a video on YouTube you should watch about this! I would understand that the show could be making a larger point about the media, unrelated to any specific president, but the flu vaccine angle does make it seem like a contemporary jab. And I don’t even care if the writers of V have some problem with our leader’s supposed cult of personality. I just care that it’s conveyed so clumsily, with Elizabeth Mitchell basically looking straight into the camera as she tells us we’ve all been fooled.

Another dumb thing: not only are the V’s dumb enough to hide their ambiguously evil chemicals in the wrong vaccine, they’re dumb enough to put all of their supplies, the entire nation-spanning scheme, in one warehouse in New York that three idiot yahoos can blow up just by tricking a guard. Suddenly I’m not so impressed with Anna’s machinations.

Even with that chink in her armor, Anna remains the star of the show. I thought this was a weak episode, but she had the best set-pieces: one where she lines up her men in search of a traitor, and when somebody yells he’s Spartacus, orders him skinned alive. It wasn’t exactly scary, but Morena Baccarin makes it work. You buy her as a leader that doesn’t even have to raise her voice to terrify her people. I was kinda hoping she’d unhinge her jaw and just swallow the traitor whole, but I guess that’d be too obvious an homage to the original show.

In the episode’s denouement, she totally gets naked and projects happy orgasm thoughts throughout the world. This is the “bliss” we heard about last episode – but last episode, it sounded like the bliss was available only to non-traitorous Vs. Will it hypnotize the rest of Earth now that they’ve felt it?

What I don’t like about Anna’s scenes, and the whole show really, is the décor. I’ve complained before but I’m doing it again. The greenscreened spaceship set saves money, I’m sure, but is pretty obviously fake and takes me out of the moment whenever we’re up there. And hell, if you’re going to greenscreen, take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to build a set and make it look halfway interesting. The bland, minimal, grey-silver thing makes everything look really colorless and washed-out. It’s the same in the healing center sets down on earth. Lots of blocky concrete and very little light. It might be an artistic statement, but it really kills the mood for me.

Chad’s continuing ethical dilemmas are watchable enough, and I like the nuances of his latest plotline: the Vs say he has an aneurysm developing that no doctor could catch, and they can heal it…for a price. Are they making it up? Are they not, but trying to fuck him somehow anyway? Probably. Scott Wolf is not a great actor. But he’s a decent actor, and he’s making the most of the few minutes he gets onscreen every week.

On the other hand, the ongoing adventures of the do-gooders Ryan, Father Jack and Erica are nigh-on unwatchable. Obama-busting aside, we were subjected to a lame in media res opening (where it was plainly obvious Ryan wasn’t aiming anywhere near Erica) that served only to make the subsequent parking lot shootout even less exciting since we’d seen it already. George, the supposed veteran V fighter who’s been doing this longer than anyone else, says he’s planning to kill an alien and show the lizard insides to everybody.

I asked this question last week: why not just reveal that, like Homer Simpson with Clinton and Dole, and let humanity have at the aliens? Ryan gives us a plausible answer: if the Vs are compromised, they’ll just wipe us out. Fair enough. But then George (who, given his veteran status, really should have gotten that answer years ago) keeps insisting he’ll do it anyway. The good news was, the last we see of him, he’s bleeding out from a gunshot. The bad news was, he didn’t actually die. I sure hope that’s the last of him, because his character adds nothing.

The other credited cast member, Lourdes Benedicto, kinda got something to do this week, as it was revealed she has the extremely unenviable task of being Tyler’s therapist, as well as the extremely extremely unenviable task of being pregnant with a human-lizard hybrid that will claw its way out of her chest in the next month. Or not, but that’d be preferable to what we probably will get: Benedicto continues to be sidelined in a lame pregnancy story that drags on at least til the end of the season.

V is gone now, back in March after the Olympics with more exciting tales of the Fifth Column and Anna’s creepy plans for Tyler and Lisa. Are people enchanted enough with the show for us to keep covering it? I’ve ragged on it a lot this month, but I still think there’s vague promise and posts seem to generate a lot of discussion.

 

Stray observations:

Loved the Scooby-Doo shot of Ryan, Jack and Erica as they fled the warehouse. Just summed up how amateur their operation seems.

Regarding Jack: it’s revealed he served in Iraq, but he has issues around picking up a gun, or something. Wasn’t he saintly enough as a priest? Now he’s a peace-loving, freedom-fighting army hero? I’m sure that’ll heal up his gut wound in no time. 

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