Broadcast Date: 17 November 2009
Director: Frederick E.O. Toye
Writers: Diego Gutierrez and Christine Roum
Cast: Morena Baccarin, Lourdes Benedicto, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Logan Huffman, Elizabeth Mitchell, Laura Vandervoort, and Scott Wolf
With their two-part introduction out of the way, the show runners give us a taste of what a typical V episode ought to be like, and, if “A Bright New Day” serves as any indication (spoiler alert: it doesn’t), we’ve got some terrific stuff coming our way. Consider how quickly the Visitors’ takeover is progressing. While details like the issuance of visas show the writers have a definite interest in the mechanics of a diplomatic siege, it’s also clear they have a short-term goal in mind: setting up Anna’s forces as a Hydra empire on Earth with Erica and her crew as the lowly resistance.
By “Hydra”, I don’t mean the thinly veiled Nazi placeholders in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) but the serpent-like beast from Greek mythology with the multiple poisonous heads. Though Father Jack’s plot thread this week largely serves to unite our heroes at last (most of them anyway), “A Bright New Day” confirms the idea that each cast member will be battling a different head or, if you don’t care for highfalutin analogies, a different facet of the V invasion.
Chad, for example, is fighting on the media front. So far, he seems to be losing. The manipulative journalist may have got subtle-as-a-brick Marcus all flustered, but Anna made minced meat out of his attempt to cast Mary Faulkner, a young mother widowed by the Visitors’ arrival, as the new face of anti-V sentiment. In fairness, the guy barely appears in the episode. This round belongs to Anna, and I love the scene in which she rehearses her grief like a star-in-the-making preparing for an audition. Who knew the geisha from Firefly could come off so creepy?
Ryan’s Hydra head represents the Visitors’ internal politics. Through his attempts to revive the Fifth Column, we’ve so far learnt that Anna controls her people by way of something called “bliss”, that a few Visitors broke free of its influence and formed a rebellion, and that some bloke named John May lead it. At this point, the convenient exposition generator still doesn’t have much of a personality, but maybe the writers are saving the good stuff for when he interacts with Erica. After all, the urgency of his situation and his previous position of leadership should either make him an invaluable right-hand man to the FBI agent or clash with her more subtle, almost surgical approach.
Consider her demeanor when asked to stop a terrorist from interfering with Anna’s plans, the way she conveys just enough skepticism to make her ultimately siding with the Visitors believable. Incidentally, I love the writers’ subversion of the standard action-thriller plot, how they muddy our expectations by aligning the villain’s goals with that of our heroine but keeping the focus on the righteous officers who would stop him. I honestly didn’t know whom to root for. Erica, on the other hand, figures out immediately what she has to do, biding her time for an opportunity to infiltrate the Visitors’ true surveillance room. Her poise and patience fascinate me.
Mind you, the woman’s got a few pressing issues, what with Tyler falling in love with Lisa, who is, of course, manipulating him for undisclosed (not to mention unlikely) extraterrestrial purposes. I’m a bit wary of the writers personalising the stakes for our heroine to the point of making her and Anna potential in-laws. Unless the boy turns out to be John May’s son, I can’t say I fully grasp what this particular Hydra head is meant to symbolise beyond the habitual “loss of innocence” cheese.
At any rate, I dig how all the other threads tie into each other: Chad introduces the world to Mary Faulkner; Ryan discusses “bliss”, which hints at how Anna wins her over so quickly; and Erica’s terrorist threat turns out an excuse for the Visitors to publicise the widow’s change of heart, leaving our heroes with gooey alien pie on their faces. Of course, Anna isn’t the only V capable of grade A subterfuge. Joshua revealing himself a Fifth Columnist had me floored. It’s possibly my favourite moment in the entire series. If “A Bright New Day” serves as any indication of what one might have expected of a typical V episode, I can’t for the life of me understand why the network hired a new creative team.