In light of V’s perilously slow road toward a conflict that may never come, “Uneasy Lies the Head” is not as terrible as one might expect from a show whose current goal is to disappoint viewers from virtually every conceivable angle. Tonight’s episode finally featured a pro-active attack from the newly revitalized Fifth Column, regrouped and re-organized by Erica. The problem with that is, like so many things on the show, it’s too little too late. By now, there’s no way to hope that the show can redeem itself satisfactorily, not after so many plot holes and so many more instantly cobbled together assumptions about characters’ emotions that were never established prior to any given new episode.
The fact that I’m flaunting the hopelessness of V with two more episodes to go just goes to show you the futility of watching the show in the vain hopes that it might prove to somehow right itself. Maybe V’s writers and directors never had a chance considering how many times the show's producers have proved that they have zero faith in the audience’s intelligence. For example, prior to “Uneasy Lies the Head,” one had to ignore the preposterousness of the soul-extracting machine and the lame and never fully fleshed-out correlation between human emotions and the soul just to accept the show’s foundational premise: The Visitors want to mate with us so that they can evolve their own species at the cost of the destruction of their unwitting human participants.
Now, the super-duper, extra-secret, soul-extracting machine is apparently also the means by which the Visitors are extracting DNA material from humans to add to a huge centrifuge shaped like a mutated DNA helix. So let’s recap: The Soul-Extract-Omatic is also apparently a DNA sampling-device. This kind of makes sense in a weird way, based on the soul-extracting table’s ludicrous design: the metallic spines that descend from the giant hula hoop-like rings that encircle the... sigh. Look, long story short: the soul-extracting table/device has always kind of looked like a fucked-up helix.
That having been said: When did this become a thing on V? Because correct me if I’m wrong (and I might be), but as far as I understand it, this is the first time that DNA-splicing-is-connected-to-the-soul-machine angle has been introduced to the show. And faulty though my memory may be, I wouldn’t put it past the writers to try to slip in a tidbit as integral as that at the 11th hour. Many of the key decisions on the show have been made to cater to an ideal viewer that doesn’t have enough patience to remember events beyond an episode-by-episode basis. So everything necessary to understood a new episode is pre-packaged and broken down for the viewer in that episode.
The same thing applies to the Fifth Column’s plans: If you take the episode on its own terms, you can ostensibly appreciate how writers Cameron Litvack and Gregg Hurwitz might have thought an ideal viewer would passively accept Erica’s plan to use the Live Aboard program enlistees to corrupt Anna’s giant DNA strand thingy. But again, the resistance’s whole plan hinges on a plot point that has only been established in this episode, ignoring everything else that was left dangling from previous episodes, like the recent disappearance of Kerry and Erica’s partner Chris.
Willful ignorance is also the only way you could appreciate Father Jack’s outrage at being unwittingly allowed to participate in a mission that endangers the lives of unsuspecting human beings. After all, what was he expecting a group of guerilla fighters to do to defeat the Vs: Keep their hands clean and talk to the evil aliens that have the whole world duped into surrendering peacefully? This should matter to Jack, because now the Fifth Columnists are using civilians that don’t know they’re being used to stop the Vs’ plans. But within the context of a show where the Fifth Column has done virtually nothing but sit on its hands and wait to be picked off by Anna, I can’t say that Jack’s pleas for a safer alternative plan won me over.
Then again, the new DNA suicide bomber plot more importantly establishes how ruthless Erica has become. Unsurprisingly, it does a miserable job at that, too, mostly because there hasn’t been any visible focus on Erica’s descent into an anger-fueled spiral of increasingly more violent decisions. You know the show is just trying to stay afloat at this point, when you see them cheaply use Hobbes to prove just how fallen Erica has become as a heroine. Even he, the dirtiest resistance fighter of them all, admires Erica’s tactics: “DNABombs: the next evolution of attack.” Furthermore, the fact that Hobbes and Erica get it on, as “Birth Pangs” suggested that they inevitably might, suggests we’re supposed to assume Erica is at her lowest and most vulnerable point, doing things she, under better circumstances, would not. But again: Her Fifth Columnists haven’t done much of anything of late. So some dirty action is better than none, right?
Sadly, the action in question isn’t even that unclean. Episode director Jeff Woolnough shoots Hobbes and Erica coupling like he were shooting the coupling of two over-achieving underwear models. Special attention is paid to Charles Mesure’s six-pack and even coyer shots of Elizabeth Mitchell’s lacy brassiere and the back of her jeans, just before Mitchell’s hand darts down the backside of her pants (surely this means something). Soft lighting gives the scene all the menace and desperation of a very tasteful softer-than-softcore porn: That is, none. The only visible hint that this sex act is meant to reflect poorly on Erica’s part is a brief glance at a discarded photo Erica’s kept of her late husband and Tyler.
Still, the fact remains that the Fifth Columnists did something in this episode, and it was something that was kinda neat to look at, too: The infected Live Aboard virus carriers all convulse and barf up what looks like the Italian Ice equivalent of bloody vomit before they pass out and die. That’s good TV, any way you slice it, even if ensconcing scenes where the repercussions of said act of rebellious upchucking are discussed are less than satisfactory.
- Finally, Ryan did something to get his ass off of that ship!