V 1.08: We Can’t Win

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Broadcast Date: 20 April 2010
Director: David M. Barrett
Writers: Cameron Litvack and Christine Roum
Cast: Morena Baccarin, Lourdes Benedicto, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Logan Huffman, Elizabeth Mitchell, Laura Vandervoort, and Scott Wolf


© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

Anna: “You’ll get to see progress being made firsthand.”

Now this is more like it. “We Can’t Win” delivers everything I’d come to expect from the series but wasn’t getting anymore: mildly satirical political intrigue, heroes who think beyond the demands of the plot, and Erica pointing a gun at stuff with a cold yet empathic look on her face. There’s also some long-term planning. The three subplots this week (four if you count Valerie’s brief scenes) may appear self-contained, but they’re really transitional arcs designed to seamlessly shift the characters into more interesting territory.

Mind you, the episode does have its flaws. I wish, for example, the V Powers That Be would stop writing dialogue for the daft and hard of thinking, undermining the impact of every twist and deception by explaining the details of the plot ad nauseam as if the average viewer was a needy, hormone-driven moron incapable of putting two and two together or even formulating a thought without help from the nearest non-parental authority figure and, oh, my God, I just described Tyler.

V Is for Vacillating Reporter

The most obvious symbol is Chad’s dream about sleeping with the enemy. On first viewing, I dismissed the sequence as exploitive filler, even though I quite enjoyed Morena Baccarin’s creepy performance. However, when I watched the episode again, I realised its importance: it comprises our only insight into Chad’s true thoughts regarding the Visitors. Without it, we’d have no reason to question his sincerity when, at the end, he compares Anna to a god and calls himself a believer. As Secretary General Chima, who’s chuck full of clever lines, puts it, “it’s never just a word in journalism.”

Chad’s ambiguous point of view makes what transpires at the World Progress Forum all the more intriguing. I considered describing the subplot here, but then it occurred to me I could just quote the Secretary General again: “Anna came here under the guise of diplomacy but played politics with tragedy. She used the people of Timbal to gain public and political clout. The question is, if they’re just visitors, why does she need that clout?” Ever heard the expression, “Show, don’t tell”? V is so thorough it shows, then tells.

V Is for Vixen in Love

Aw, comfort sex in a phallic-shaped spaceship: how romantic! Though I can’t for the life of me understand what she sees in Captain Teen Cliché, I rather like what the writers did with Lisa, who falls in love just in time to fail Joshua’s empathy test. It’s about time they gave the girl a personality, and the notion any Visitor could switch sides because of the skin suits’ side effects has interesting implications. Laura Vandervoort, at whom I spent most of the season rolling my eyes, does a great job conveying her newfound hurt and confusion, especially when Tyler asks whether he’ll see her tomorrow.

The storyline also gives me the occasion to discuss Joshua, who’s just about the coolest character on the show, owing in part to Mark Hildreth’s ability to convey very little in a strangely suggestive way. I don’t think there was ever any doubt he’d lie about Lisa’s test. What struck me, though, is his deceptively simple response when she inquires about his motives, the way he presents himself as a duplicitous rat to conceal his involvement with the Fifth Column. Joshua is one clever lizard.

V Is for Volunteer Cannon Fodder

This week’s obligatory action plot follows our not-so-merry band as they rescue a civilian member of the Fifth Column and then get the poor sap killed while baiting a V assassin. It’s worth noting Erica is the first to embrace Kyle’s risky plan. I sense some definite sparkage between the two, which is odd and fascinating, given how little they have in common besides cold efficiency. Also, the sequence with Kyle instructing the Red Shirt based on the assassin’s line of fire is pretty cool.

It’s unfortunate then that the story concludes with yet another torture scene. This time, though, the violence pertains to a substantial character arc. Early on, Kyle has this to say about the murdered rebels: “This is a war, padre, and they were soldiers.” Later, Father Jack betrays his vows by bringing up confession to get a witness to talk. By the end of the episode, he’s pointing a gun at someone’s head, abandoning the priest in favour of the soldier. This makes his silence as Kyle interrogates the assassin particularly meaningful.

© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures


Bits and Pieces

  • The runaway Valerie arc is quickly resolved, wasn’t it? I suppose the point is to bring her relationship with Ryan to its next phase and, of course, inject the poor woman with R6.
  • I realise it’s a reference to the eco-buzzword “green energy”, but the name “blue energy” sounds silly.
  • Anna makes several references to the future of her species resting on Lisa’s shoulders. If the Visitors are fighting for survival, that sort of changes the whole dynamic, doesn’t it?

Quotes

Chad: “You’re saying that the bottom line is more important than helping people?”
Chima: “I’m saying it’s the same thing.”
Now that’s a politically loaded comment.

Tyler: “I need to start my own life.”
Yes, preferably in a spinoff series I won’t be watching.

Marcus: “Tragedy.”
Anna: “No, an opportunity.”
Shouldn’t Anna be concerned Marcus is showing empathy? That’s the problem with inconsistent writing. You can never tell whether something’s a clue or a mistake.

Tyler: “You okay with this?”
Lisa: “No.” [Kisses him passionately.]
You heard it on V first, kids: no means yes.

All right, so the dialogue’s a bit of a mixed bag. Just the same, I’m glad I stuck around.

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Category: V, Verdict: 3.5 | Tags:

          
Editor in Chief / Movie Critic: When he started this site, Dimitri never thought he'd be writing blurbs about himself in the third person. In his other life, he works as a writer, translator, and editor for various publications in print and online. His motto is, "Have pen, will travel."