Erica: “If she’s going to use my son, then I’m sure as hell going to use her daughter.”
Before its return, V bombarded us with promotional material pitting Erica against Anna as if to imply the series was now a tale of two mothers fighting for their children’s future. The build-up to this confrontation has been inconsistent, to say the least. On the one hand, Lisa’s unexpected plight has become my favourite arc this season. On the other, well, there’s Tyler. If “Fruition” is any indication, the big payoff will focus on the former thread, which feels a bit like improvised restructuring, given Tall, Dark and Whiny’s prominence earlier in the year.
I’m not complaining, mind you. The new Powers That Be appear to be finding their feet. Twice now, they’ve centered every subplot on a single event, providing a sense of cohesion to all the twists and turns as well as a believable context for the heroes’ permanent state of gloom. Simply put, the writers have finally found a formula that works for V. Also, in case you were wondering, their feet were in their shoes. It’s always in the last place you look, isn’t it?
V Is for V-Shaped Scar (Hoho, I Cheated)
Resolving last week’s cliffhanger, the season’s penultimate chapter focuses on Anna framing the Fifth Column for her daughter’s beating. This allows Erica, as both the boyfriend’s mother and the agent in charge, to meet the alien queen at last, and the payoff’s a real hoot: a tense, duplicitous conversation completely devoid of the series’ usual in-your-face shenanigans. It occurs to me the V creative team only struggles with dialogue when the characters are being truthful.
I also enjoyed the bit at the line-up with the two matriarchal figures at either side of Lisa. Laura Vandevoort is proving remarkably effective now that she’s allowed to emote. The hesitant way she closes her eyes when Erica embraces her at the beginning of the episode and her terrified look as Anna enters the room sold me on the whole premise, despite the writers flagging their own plot hole by having the Visitors heal the girl’s legs before convincing the world of the severity of her facial injuries. Uh-huh.
V Is for Victims of a Frame-Up
Erica also gets to track down Lawrence Parker, one of the two fugitives Anna framed, and discovers in the process a plot point from the original series. I’ll leave it at that so as to avoid classic V spoilers. The second fugitive is Kyle, who appears to have sold out la Résistance for some intel and “one hell of a big pile of dollars”. As I’ve grown quite fond of the character, this deal should worry me, but the truth is I don’t believe it for a second. The mercenary never specifies how much money he wants (an important detail if Marcus is to follow through), which hints at the amount of time the writers spent on the scene and therefore how seriously we should take this latest twist.
V Is for Vanishing Act
To my surprise, the weakest link is Chad’s thread, in which Anna freezes the reporter out so he’ll give a rousing editorial in favour of the Visitors. It seems to me this would only serve to distract a confirmed ally, but then the dubious logic might be the point. I suspect Anna’s true motives are to get back at Chad for refusing to divulge his source last week, which would explain her cattiness: “I’m sorry, Chad. I had other things on my mind beside Chad Decker.” I really do love how pride and pettiness are subtly usurping her judgment.
My issue is the story comes about fifteen years too late. What with television punditry at an all-time high, the idea a newsman today would apologize for giving opinions instead of facts is so divorced from reality it borders on comedy, evoking images of Alanis Morissette looking for a knife in her wedding dress. In the end, Chad calls Anna on her convoluted ploy, proving he’s no fool indeed, so I suppose one could argue he was merely taking the piss with that goofy speech.
Bits and Pieces
- Anna’s overdoing it a tad with the cracked smiles. She pops one out every time she gets away with a lie, which is to say every twelve minutes or so. You’d figure she’d be more cautious, what with the entire world watching. Besides, it’s all about dosage. Just look at Joshua, who wows us all with his first smile of the series as Lisa breaks from Anna’s bliss.
- Shanghai as seen through the eyes of the V Powers That Be: a skinny Asian boy in a nerdy school uniform, eating rice next to blossoming cherry trees. Urgh. This is almost as bad as the tribal Africans dancing next to pyramids in Independence Day (1996). Why is that kid eating a bowl of steamed rice with nothing on it? Why did he carry it full all the way to this gorgeous park, which apparently no one else visits? And how can it be the middle of the day in both Shanghai and New York City?
- The mother ship’s egg room looks a lot like the one from Aliens (1986). All I could think about, though, is how painful it must have been for skinny little Anna to lay all them bad boys. She is so hardcore.
Marcus: “Fear of the Fifth Column is spreading like wildfire throughout the twenty-nine ships. I’ve never seen such worry in them.”
Isn’t worry an emotional state?
Joshua: “Agent Evans, I believe we have some friends in common: Fifth Column. We’ve spoken on the comms device.”
Okay, next time, just say your name. She’s spoken to you before.
Anna: “I’m sure you’ll do whatever you can to find who did this before they hurt someone else’s child.”
Erica: “I will. You can count on it.”
The neat thing about this conversation, which I was tempted to transcribe in full, is Anna and Erica spend most of it telling the truth but making it sound like something else.
Outdated social commentary and ignorant depiction of China aside, this was pretty enjoyable.