Broadcast Date: 11 January 2011
Director: Steve Shill
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz
Cast: Morena Baccarin, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Mark Hildreth, Logan Huffman, Charles Mesure, Elizabeth Mitchell, Christopher Shyer, Laura Vandervoort, and Scott Wolf
Diana: “It’s Earth or nothing.”
This may seem off topic, but I have a lot of patience for soap opera writers, who have to churn out new material every weekday without a summer break to catch their breaths. Sure, their output often amounts to a pile of cheese, but what do you expect with deadlines like that? Case in point: I once caught an episode of Days of Our Lives in which Sami asks a favour of the evil Stefano. “What do you want in return?” she inquires. Stefano looks straight at the camera and exclaims, “Your soul!”
This brings me to “Serpent’s Tooth”, which features essentially the same line, except the V writing staff had several months to come up with it. Add to that an offensively shallow take on home-grown terrorism as well as some prime ham from the usually likeable Morris Chestnut, and you end up with a seemingly bipolar Dimitri alternating between utter despair and hysterical laughter. This isn’t cheese. This is a milk-based fungus monster with killer corn tentacles.
V Is for Viewpoint without Insight
I find it troubling the writers think Lisa’s beating last season would incite public sympathy whereas a series of suicide bombings would serve as an awesome display of the rebellion’s efficiency. The discrepancy illustrates a key problem I have with the V Powers That Be, who keep bringing up headlines from the world over but don’t seem interested in reading the articles below. To them, lynchings are a tragedy because Americans have suffered them. Suicide bombings, however, only happen to foreigners, so they’re the stuff of melodrama.
I’ll skip the political rant and focus instead on Erica’s hunt for the new rebellion. I like the bit with Kyle grabbing her from behind (bow-chicki-chicki-bow-bow) and whispering a few words before they split in a bout of uncharacteristic efficiency. Of course, Malik spots them anyway, but I’m not too worried, seeing as the actress spends most of the episode telegraphing her exit from the series. Notice her change in posture, with the round back and swinging arms, indicating she stopped giving a poop. By the way, V spies, you may want to avoid supplying confidential evidence to one of the most prominent members of your species in broad daylight, surrounded by news crews. I smell lactose!
V Is for Veal Parmesan with Lots of Parmesan and No Veal
Over on the mother ship, Anna announces her new plan: to give the Winchester brothers a run for their money and destroy the human soul. Forget the improbability of the Visitors studying our species for centuries and not noticing we’re a spiritual people. Forget that the alien queen has been exploiting public emotions since she got here, so her problem isn’t with the human spirit but the alien skins. Are the show runners seriously turning a series that began as an allegory about voter manipulation into the adventures of the space anti-Christ?
V has long fashioned itself the genre show for the right, which was kind of neat when it was making astute observations about voters focusing too much on hope instead of actual government (“A Bright New Day”) or about the folly of effecting social change without accounting for our fiscal ecosystem (“We Can’t Win”). Here, though, Anna’s conversation with Diana suggests atheists mean to annihilate the human soul. Uh, no, they claim it never existed in the first place, a difference about as subtle as a tractor in a library for the mute. More importantly, the thinly veiled reference isn’t social commentary. It’s hyperbolic hate mongering akin to Father Jack’s despicable sermon in last year’s finale.
V Is for Vortiginous Character Development
It seems the writers are doing a fair bit of backtracking on this one. The swelling score at the end of “Red Sky” hints we were supposed to agree with his xenophobic ravings, but Father Jack is now having second thoughts in light of his baffling inability to recognize the most obvious cry for help since Britney Spears shaved her head. That’s fair enough, though it does negate the priest’s character arc last season, which ended with his finally embracing a decisive role in the war.
On the subject of plot threads going in circles, wouldn’t it have made more sense for Anna to blackmail Ryan with the skin-wrapped baby before setting him loose on Earth? Mind you, I don’t think a more cohesive structure would have helped any, given Chestnut’s Tyler-worthy performance. I’ll admit I got a kick out of seeing the actor move his arms and head like a lunatic while discussing the suicide bombers. It’s not his fault, really. The original creative team cast him to play a gentle alien trying to protect his family, not a petulant man-child winging about how his emotions are hurting his feelings.
Bits and Pieces
- Cute baby!
- Diana came to our planet after we unleashed the atomic bomb, which she presumably saw through a very expensive telescope. Anyway, human emotions eventually got the better of her, so Anna staged a coup of some kind and put her in a hole where she spent the last fifteen years without her junior astronomer set. Now, that story, I want to see.
- I rather enjoyed Chad talking Keegan Connor Tracy from Battlestar Galactica out of giving birth in the Visitor facility, but the V Powers That Be have got to get him back on the mother ship. His interactions with Anna were a highlight of the first season.
- Whatever happened to Kyle’s subplot with Marcus? Surely, the alien didn’t blackmail him into going about his usual business.
- When she unleashes her creepy choppers, the alien queen looks an awful lot like Baraka from Mortal Kombat. Anna has Babality!
Chad: “With Anna revealing Red Sky to be a gift to humans, by and large, the Visitors are once again being embraced the word over.”
Really?! Wow, I’ve got to get myself one of them fast-acting reset buttons.
Erica: “This was ground zero!”
Actually, Erica, in the context of a bombing, “ground zero” refers to the site of the explosion, not the secret warehouse where the terrorists hatched their plan. I understand how you might have got it wrong, though, seeing as the term is not at all associated with one of the greatest tragedies in recent American history.
Diana: “You’re infertile.”
Since when? Didn’t Anna give birth to a room full of soldier eggs just a few episodes ago?
Man: “And then I heard your sermons again, Father, on the Internet.”
How did that get on the Internet? I don’t remember anyone at the church waving a cell phone in the air.
Diana: “The soul is what lies beneath.”
Anna: “I always dismissed it as fantasy.”
Diana: “It can’t be looked at solely with a scientific mind. It’s too complex.”
Anna: “Nothing is too complex for our technology. I will isolate it in the medical bay.”
Diana: “Not in a lab, not there. It’s here.” [She points to her heart.]
Think this is cheesy? Imagine the exchange with classical music playing in the background.
Anna: “You have no soul, Ryan. You will never have a soul!”
Anna: “The soul is the single greatest threat to our species. If it’s there, I’ll find it, and I’ll destroy it!”
Jack: “Just pray with me, Ryan. The soul, it is a blessing.”
Ryan: “No, no, it’s also a curse, no!”
Kyle: “Just like a woman, eh? Why save time when you can enjoy the scenic route?”
Pff! Women and their… Uh… Good God, man! What does that even mean?
Look, spirituality is a complex thing. If you’re going to bring religious iconography into a show about flying saucers, make sure you have something more to say than “Aliens bad, not like soul!” Incidentally, the same goes for suicide bombers.