Broadcast Date: 22 February 2011
Director: David Barrett
Writer: Cathryn Humphris
Cast: Morena Baccarin, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Mark Hildreth, Logan Huffman, Charles Mesure, Elizabeth Mitchell, Christopher Shyer, Laura Vandervoort, and Scott Wolf
Anna: “Finally, everything is falling into place.”
Welcome to Bizarro V, in which the human storyline turns out a hoot, whereas the Visitor sequences keep putting me to sleep. No, seriously, I had to scan through the episode a second and third time to confirm I’d dreamt the scene in which Ryan rescues his preteen Bieber-loving daughter from Joshua’s evil syringe bots. I suppose the three-headed mime juggling purple kittens in the background should have tipped me off. He wore the cheese. The cheese did not wear him.
All this is not to say “Birth Pangs” is in any way bad or even disappointing. In fact, I’m pleased to report the writers are making fine use of the good will and momentum they garnered last week. Not only do our heroes deliver on their promise of proactive bad-assery, they show genuine growth for the first time this year. After half a season of clumsy build-up, I get the impression the latest V creative team is gearing to conclude its makeshift alien saga, and we may have a satisfying finale yet!
V Is for Venereal Disease Waiting to Happen
Given her rigid rendition of Supergirl in Smallville, I’m always surprised by how much depth Laura Vandervoort brings to the role of Lisa. Her subplot this week, in which Anna forces her into prostitution and then watches with bated anticipation (eew), strikes me as melodramatic sensationalism at best, not least because Earth has had test tube babies for over thirty years now, so magical blue energy in vitro ought to have been around for at least twice as long. However, Vandervoort sells it by getting us to focus on Lisa’s growing desperation. I dig the way she flinches when Diana tries to hug her. That’s a nice touch.
Granted, it’s easy to shine when opposite Logan Huffman, who insists on portraying Tyler anywhere between six and thirteen years too young. Take, for example, the scene in which the perpetual twit tells his girlfriend he doesn’t want to feel anymore. Imagine how compelling the exchange would’ve turned out if, instead of playing a boy emulating his favourite cartoon robot, Huffman had evoked hidden layers of hurt and rage the way Vandervoort hints at suppressed anguish when dealing with Joshua. That’s a missed opportunity.
V Is for Visiting Other Countries at Last
The thing with V is it relies on its stronger cast members to elevate the dubious material. Consider this week’s Résistance thread, in which Erica, Kyle and newcomer John Fierro go international at last, hunting down a V obstetrician in Hong Kong. Again, we’re exposed to a fair bit of nonsense, as the writers confuse Darwin’s theory of evolution with Mendelian genetics and have our white heroes impersonate local law enforcement while the Chinese detective in the group sits there eating chicken feet. Again, though, the actors driving the plot make it all work with their charisma and bow-chicki-chicki-bow-bow chemistry.
I do so enjoy watching Erica and Kyle kick butt and take names, especially with their sparkage becoming more and more overt. Their bit under the safe displays just the right balance of comedy and suspense, though the manner in which their captive exits the scene beforehand leaves to be desired. First, guns are made for shooting, Erica! Second, how is it no one on the streets noticed the self-combusting suicide jumper? Whatever. I’d rather focus on our heroes finally coordinating their efforts. The sequence of a thousand laptops is pretty cool.
V Is for Very odd Couple
To the theme of The Odd Couple:
The Church gave one the boot
The other just wants to shoot
Jack came with duffle bags
Put them right next to Kyle’s mags
No more seminary
Now lives with a mercenary
But neither wants to save Ryan’s baby
Jack holds up the plot
While Kyle thinks Erica’s hot
They took over for Cohn
Even though their cover’s blown
They can never agree
On the best way to beat Anna’s lizard army
Them evil V
Boy, the Fifth Column’s in trouble
In deep trouble
That odd couple
Bits and Pieces
It’s been a while since Chad got the spotlight, so I thought I’d devote this section to making fun of him and his profound misunderstanding of communications technology:
- Chad needs a crash course in OPSEC. It’s no use logging on to a secure network if you’re going to hold a video conference in an open area filled with trained reporters.
- It’s also worth noting wearing earphones doesn’t stop others from hearing you. In fact, you’re likely to speak louder when they’re on, making it that much easier for eavesdroppers.
- Nodding does not constitute effective communication over the telephone. How Lisa knew to fax him Anna’s secret live-aboard files is beyond me. Perhaps her advanced alien hearing allows her to recognise vertical chin motion by sound.
- Come to think of it, how is Chad able to read Anna’s secret live-aboard files? Has he learnt the Visitor language somehow? If that’s the case, I take this whole section back. The man’s got mad skills and foresight.
We’ve got a healthy mix of intentional and unintentional humour this week. As always, let’s start with the winner of the Alanis Morissette Award for Outstanding Misuse of a Thesaurus:
Wen Chiang: “Chicken feet are a delicacy.”
No, they’re just food. A delicacy refers to a rare or expensive type of yum-yum, not just a dish that people from other cultures enjoy but you find gross.
Erica: “It’s very Mission: Impossible.”
Kyle: “Det chord: never leave home without it.”
Anna: “While Tyler’s away, you’ll meet a young man named Raphael. I want you to entertain him.”
Why the sudden euphemism? If the point is to show the alien queen’s callousness, then she ought to be blunt and say “breed”. Otherwise, the writers run the risk of evoking in easily distracted reviewers the image of Anna walking round town with a gold cane and purple fedora.
Kyle: “I like this new you.”
Me thinks you liked the old her too.
Jack: “You know, twelve years in the church, and my whole life fits into two duffle bags.”
That’s because Catholic priests are required to take a vow of poverty. Good heavens, man, did you even attend the seminary?
Jack: “I won’t crowd your closet space. I’ll leave plenty of room for all your cool black t-shirts.”
Teehee. I like this line a lot.
Not the strongest episode, but the show’s still got momentum, yo.