My apologies for being a bit delayed with this recap – hopefully you were all so busy enjoying your turkey and Black Friday shopping you didn’t mind the wait! On the other hand, perhaps this is one way to prolong the interest in a show that may not have been given enough time to grow legs.
This episode opens with action – our resistance heroes Erica and Ryan are racing through a parking garage, then we see Erica standing over a wounded Georgie, while Ryan aims a gun in her direction…
Then we cut, West Wing-style, to 14 hours earlier. The writers on The West Wing did this often, and very well, so I was excited. Had we just seen the final scene, or the penultimate scene of the fall finale? What a way to end! But no – this story-telling technique, while very effective sometimes, was not put to its best use. But more on that later.
So, 14 hours earlier…our Fab Four is having their Meet & Greet, and Erica is very suspicious of Ryan. While she’s trying to figure out his game, the four argue about the best way to vex the Visitors. Georgie’s enthusiastic about making a big reveal – catch a Visitor and expose him for all to see. But Father Jack cautions them against moving too fast, insisting, “We have to be smart.” Later, Georgie and Ryan argue. Georgie wants to know why Ryan won’t admit he’s a V and Ryan warns Georgie to stop talking about skinning Vs.
Meanwhile, up above in the Mother Ship, Anna, Marcus and Joshua have a dead sleeper on their hands. Anna is completely pissed about the presence of the Fifth Column on her ship, and charges Joshua with the task of finding Dale’s killer.
Erica’s preoccupied with trying to find out more about Ryan, so she fluffs off Tyler when he says he wants to talk. While Tyler waits for Mom to pay him some attention, he watches the latest episode of the Chad and Anna show on TV. The Vs are bringing out even more healing technology, plus a Super Vitamin that will do everything – except cure the common cold. Get your flu shot, Anna says with a smirk. She’s so convincing, she should do Public Health ads. Erica and Tyler are interrupted again by Ryan’s phone call. This Super Vitamin could be the secret to what the Vs are really up to.
Tyler’s got to talk to someone, so he’s off to his therapist to bemoan the fact that Erica doesn’t appreciate the Vs. “The world is broken and they’re fixing it,” he insists to…Val! In a disturbing disruption of doctor/patient interaction, Val shares her own health concerns with Tyler, who convinces her to get herself down to the Healing Centre for a checkup. He even offers her a front-of-the-line pass – and she takes it. Anna and Lisa are watching the whole thing on Tyler’s jacket-cam, and Anna thinks it’s time she meets Tyler herself.
The Fab Four has tracked down Professor Combs, a sleeper V who Ryan assures them will have information on the Super Vitamin. Georgie corners Combs in the parking garage first, but Georgie adopts a shoot first/talk later approach. A shootout ensues and Georgie is wounded – and we’ve now caught up to our opening scene, far too early. I was really disappointed that we got here so fast. I used to love it when they did this on West Wing. The whole hour would become a process of piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, and I’d be glued to my chair. Catching up so quickly really diminished the impact of this storytelling technique, making it seem a little gratuitous.
Turns out, Ryan was shooting past Erica at Combs. The wounded V pops a suicide pill before Ryan can stop him and bursts into flame just after calling Ryan a traitor. Erica has now caught on to the fact that Ryan’s a V too, and demands answers, which Ryan refuses to give. “We’re on the same side,” he tells her.
As Val checks into the Healing Centre, Chad is undergoing his own physical exam for the camera. Scott Wolf reminds me more and more of a younger Michael J. Fox every time I see him. Chad reports to the audience that the Vs have medical technology that Earth doctors don’t even come close to. Off-camera, he complains to Marcus about his limited access to more information, but Marcus blows him off.
FJ treats Georgie’s bullet wound and admits to having served in Iraq. Georgie warns him that he’ll have to choose eventually – soldier or priest? Having been reassured of the presence of the Fifth Column, Erica’s willing to shelve her suspicions about Ryan for now, and the two of them go through Combs’ briefcase to determine their next step.
Sky-side, the hunt for the Fifth Column is underway. Joshua’s fellow medic is eager to get him off the ship, insisting Josh is too valuable to be sacrificed, but Josh is staying put. Anna lines up the medical team and informs them that unless someone confesses, the innocent will suffer. This is one ticked-off Lizard! In the nick of time, Josh’s buddy throws himself on the sword – or, in this case, the skinning knife. Josh is ordered to carry out the sentence.
Tyler’s ready to meet Lisa’s mom, but falters when he realizes it’s Anna herself. “My mom doesn’t bite,” Lisa tells him, smiling. Perhaps she squeezes her victims like a boa constrictor? Anna takes Tyler off for a chat and a tour, chuckling over it being a universal instinct to protect your young. She shows him the Mother Ship’s engine room, something no human has ever seen. Tyler’s impressed and relaxes.
Combs’ notes have led FJ, Ryan and Erica to the warehouse where the Super Vitamin is being shipped from. Amidst some scary looking corpses, they discover it’s not a vitamin – it’s the flu shot! I know it’s a classic conspiracy theory, but the writers showed some forward thinking here in terms of all the H1N1 media coverage these last few weeks. That’s something that used to happen occasionally on The West Wing too; it’s smart writing, but this whole scene just felt rushed, right down to Erica’s discourse on human predictability/vulnerability. Explaining things to the viewer isn’t necessary.
The security team returns to the warehouse and sounds the alarm, but Ryan hits the failsafe. We get to see FJ throw a few good punches, Erica saves Ryan’s life (now they’re even) and then our heroes escape the V’s clutches once more. The whole place goes kaboom.
“Skinning a V’ seems to be a very bad thing indeed, especially when it’s one of your friends. Josh has paralyzed his savior to spare him some physical suffering at least. The skinning takes place off camera, with a very nasty-looking knife. Not seeing it was almost worse than seeing it.
Marcus has some very bad news for Chad – he’s going to die in six months. Chad deadpans about getting a second opinion, but the V doctor informs him that human technology can’t detect this yet. To prove they know what they’re talking about, they give Chad a printout of his medical history. Chicken pox, a broken femur, migraines – Chad has gone through an awful lot in his young life!
Just before the warehouse explosion, Ryan sent another “John May Lives” message and Anna knows things are getting out of control. She explains that she’ll just have to manage everyone’s fear. In the weirdest scene yet, an apparently naked Anna appears to cosmically connect with her people. Light streams from her fingertips, and her soothing voice reminds the Vs that the past is gone, there are no regrets, they’ll never be alone. We see Vs everywhere stop and raise their heads to receive her message.
It’s not clear if Tyler can hear Anna, but he can see the impact on the Vs around him. “It’s a gift from my mother,” Lisa tells him. “Bliss.” The attraction of “Bliss” to the Vs was really well conveyed here. Whatever Anna was doing, however she was communicating to her people, it stopped them in their tracks, and allowed them a momentary escape from their reality. Cyrus’ desire for Bliss in the previous episode, to the extent that he betrayed Ryan in the hopes of gaining it, is a little more explainable now. However, there’s still the question of why some Vs, like Ryan, can resist it, or at least, not want to pay the price to have it.
Home again, Ryan finds out Val is pregnant. FJ, mulling Georgie’s words about making his choice, is attacked and left bleeding on the church floor. And Erica discovers Tyler’s gone to the Mother Ship and isn’t answering his cell phone.
Anna, Lisa and Tyler stare out at the city, and Anna muses about Tyler seeing space one day. “It’s only the beginning….”
The view pulls back and back and back –past the planets, the sun – to show an armada of Visitor ships waiting. It’s only the beginning….but we’ll have to wait until March 30 to get the next installment.
A few thoughts:
We’ve got a number of cliff-hangers here, but I’m not sure if they’re powerful enough to regain viewers next spring. Sure, there are mysteries, but they’re not the major bafflers that we’ve seen on Lost, etc. Unlike, say, “what the heck is a smoke monster?” We know the Vs are reptilian, we know that the alien/human offspring is going to cause some kind of conflict for someone, we can predict that Erica is, at some point, going to be torn between saving her kid and protecting humanity.
For me, the most interesting twist of the first four episodes is Chad’s new knowledge that he’s going to die. How will this affect what he’s going to do next? Will he continue to serve as the Vs’ propaganda channel in the hopes of saving his own life? Or will he experience a wholesale change of character and devote his remaining days to serving truth? Chad is a character that was hardly given a chance to develop at all; I hope the “rework” takes advantage of what could be a really key character in this series.
We’ve gotten some of the nods to the original that we were promised – the alien/human romance, the giant Mother Ships, even the fleet hiding behind the sun (although I don’t think that was ever mentioned in the series, only in the book). We haven’t gotten the hinted-at guest starring by actors from the original, and I really hope that eventually happens. I can’t remember the last time I saw one of them.
It’s hard to remember that the original mini series wasn’t much longer, time-wise, than what we’ve been given this fall. I would have expected more to happen in the time we’ve been given; in fairness, though, a weekly series hoping to return season after season can’t have the story end too soon. The ominous fleet hiding in the far reaches of the galaxy is obviously a hint that there are many, many more layers to this story than what we might have assumed.
Every time I watch an episode of Lost, I come away shaking my head in absolute awe – how do they do that? I think to myself. I haven’t felt that way about V – yet – but I’ve seen enough to sense there’s something there that, if accessed, could turn a good show into a really great show. I’ll happily return in the spring to see what happens next.
This week, it was announced that V would follow Lost on the spring schedule, airing at 10 p.m. on Tuesday evenings. If they nail the rework, Lost viewers will stay sitting and bump V’s viewership up a notch. If they don’t, V will suffer by comparison. Have your say in the comments – what do you think it’s going to be?
See you in March!
When not leading the resistance, Shelley blogs at Once I was A Writer.