Broadcast Date: 3 November 2009
Director: Yves Simoneau
Writer: Cameron Litvack and Angela Russo
Cast: Morena Baccarin, Lourdes Benedicto, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Logan Huffman, Elizabeth Mitchell, Laura Vandervoort, and Scott Wolf
The final episode prior to an extended hiatus, “It’s Only the Beginning” isn’t meant to further the season arc (which it does) so much as entice us with cliff-hangers, far-off concepts, and the promise of untold possibilities should we tune back in come March. If you don’t believe me, take another gander at the title or, better yet, its source quote, V’s final line before the break and, as it turned out, a catastrophic change of guard: “What you’ve seen today, Tyler, is only the beginning.”
This isn’t to say this final chapter of sorts doesn’t have a self-contained plot to call its own. Expanding on a throwaway reference to universal health care in the pilot, “It’s Only the Beginning” centers on Anna’s boldest proposal yet: a supercharged “vitamin supplement” to be dispensed to every man, woman, and child on the planet. As in last week’s episode, Chad exposes the premise and is given little else to do, but he does get his prerequisite “tun-dun-dun” moment as Marcus offers to cure his newly diagnosed aneurysm, cementing the writers’ metaphor for an industry whose subsistence depends on the very subjects on which it’s meant to keep an eye.
Meanwhile, Erica tries to figure out whether she can trust Ryan and join his effort to revive the Fifth Column, unaware that Joshua is already leading the rebel faction aboard the mother ship (I heart Joshua). As expected, Agent Evans’ relationship with the V deserter starts off tenser than a Disney Channel reunion with Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, but matters get resolved a bit too quickly for my tastes. In fact, I may have to mark the episode down a grade for that awkward scene in which our heroes practically high-five each other after a job well done.
Anyway, our newly formed resistance has obvious reservations about the V shot, partly because it gives the aliens too much control over our lives, partly because, at the time of broadcast, American media had generated a false controversy over government-sponsored vaccination. I like the twist of the Visitors infecting our own flu medicine, aiming to discredit Earth’s established infrastructure and gain a monopoly on our health. It’s the sort of reversal that’s made V such a compelling watch so far.
On a related note, I find the basis of the writers’ social commentary surprisingly sound, given the subject matter. Their argument is not that vaccines will give your kids autism or whatever nonsense Fox News concocted, but that centralising an important medical process affecting every citizen entails certain logistical risks worthy of analysis. In “It’s Only the Beginning”, evil extraterrestrials are deliberately poisoning our flu shots. In the real world, a lesser incident could stem from simple clerical error, careless pharmaceutical policies, or good old-fashioned ignorance. How many children were infected with HIV in the eighties before we figured out to screen our blood supplies?
Where was I? Oh, right, cliff-hangers: Father Jack gets stabbed, though the wound is clearly set to the side, which is TV code for “whatever, just walk it off”; Valerie learns she’s pregnant with Ryan’s hybrid child, though I personally have more interest in her role as Tyler’s therapist (perhaps the dynamic can give both characters a bit more personality); and Erica may well have lost her son to the Visitors, though I’m not sure any viewer would see that as a tragedy, given his propensity for generic teenage tantrums.
Then again, Tyler’s thread does hint at interesting possibilities when paired with some of the show’s other mysteries. What if Lisa is prepping the boy to house her true alien mate? What if “skinning” is considered a cruel punishment because the Visitors require fleshy shells to survive? What if they’re parasitic beings in need of human hosts and that’s the reason Anna hasn’t blown us to smithereens? What if the “vitamin supplement” really serves to enhance their future bodies? What if ABC had allowed the original creative team to answer all these questions instead of replacing it in haste over some petulant fanboy feedback? V would still be awesome, that’s what.