In one week, we will gather here to discuss the calendar year’s final episode of the brand new V. You might want to dress in dark colors, because our meeting might take on the mournful tenor of a wake. ABC will reportedly make a decision on ordering more episodes of the sci-fi reboot based on ratings and audience reaction to this first ”pod” of episodes. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’d say it’s a toss-up. Last week’s episode was mediocre — but last night’s episode was an improvement. I enjoyed the mounting intrigue about the Vs — their 20-year history of human infiltration, their addictive, possibly mystical ”Bliss,” their uncanny knack for media manipulation and their nifty video camera coats. I want to know more about this mythical John May and the doomed history of the original Fifth Column resistance. Ryan — the reptilian extra-terrestrial in disguise determined to stop his species from doing whatever it is they intend to do with Earth — morphed into a dangerous, cold-blooded rebel leader. His pal Georgie — something of a raving wahoo in the pilot — took on tragic pallor (we learned his family had been killed by the Vs) and became infinitely more interesting. And Anna and Lisa are mother-daughter! I wonder what the family resemblance looks like underneath their respective flesh-suits.
Yet V is much better at suggesting rich stores of mythology than actually telling stories. I totally predicted the big twist in the episode’s assassination plot the minute the story line was introduced? which is to say, last week, during the previews for last night’s episode. Yep, it was that obvious. And I have to agree with Ken Tucker: that Tyler-Lisa story line is all kinds of painful. I want to skip ahead to the revelation of purpose behind Lisa’s seductive mission and be done with it. The biggest problem with the show remains the human leads: Chad, Father Jack, and Erica remain bland ciphers, made interesting only by their casting. If V has a future, they’ll each need an injection of better writing, ASAP.
The brisk, visually slick episode opened with Father Jack taking confession from believers struggling with their faith as a consequence of the Vs’ arrival. ”Are they daemons or angels?” asked one seeker, face surreally distorted behind the perforated confessional booth screen. [Note the spelling of daemons, different from demons. There’s a difference between the two — but I’ll let you do the Wikipedia research this week.] Some yearned to see God amid the paradigm-shifting upheaval; others implicitly questioned the need for God when the Vs were so capable of answering our prayers with cutting edge technology. Father Jack winced. He had no answers, or rather he was afraid to give the answers that he knew — that the Vs were dangerous lizards in disguise. That would have freaked his flock even further.
Needing to unburden his own soul, Father Jack dropped by Erica’s house to commiserate with his fellow V-hater. I bought it when he said: ”I wanna be able to be useful and look them in the eye and say ‘God loves you.”’ It makes sense to me that even a priest can doubt the validity of his God’s promises during times of tumult and catastrophe. But I didn’t buy it when he said: ”Why don’t they annihilate us and get it over with?” Even though this sentiment was consistent with an episode that doted on the theme of cynicism, making Father Jack sound like a mortally wounded dog yelping to be put down rang wrong. I think his faith would be made of stronger, smarter stuff, no matter how shaken.
NEXT: Erica gets the picture