Broadcast Date: 1 March 2011
Director: Jeff Woolnough
Writers: Gregg Hurwitz and Cameron Litvack
Cast: Morena Baccarin, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Mark Hildreth, Logan Huffman, Charles Mesure, Elizabeth Mitchell, Christopher Shyer, Laura Vandervoort, and Scott Wolf
Erica: “I need to stick a dagger into the heart of Anna’s plan!”
Like Gambit of the X-Men and his flashy but convoluted mutant powers, V relies on kinetic energy to get by. As long as the story’s moving and making large objects explode, things are hunky-dory, but the whole house of cards starts to crumble the minute the show has to stand still long enough to explain the plot. Don’t believe me? Compare the recent string of action-based episodes with the season’s first two instalments, which nearly put the series to rest before the new batch of staff writers could sink their teeth in.
Setting the stage for this year’s climax, “Uneasy Lies the Head” doesn’t hurt your brain the way “Red Rain” and “Serpent’s Tooth” did. For one, nobody vows dominion over the human soul this week. However, after the proactive exhilaration of the past few episodes, it does come off kind of bland. Still, given the series’ uncertain future, I give the V Powers That Be credit for building toward some sort of resolution. I mean, a little calm before the storm doesn’t seem like such a high price for a finale that may, in fact, finalise stuff, does it?
V Is for Venerable Effort
What I appreciate even more, though, is the writers’ attempt to move the pieces on the board without resorting to an extended chain of info dumps. Let’s take a quick look at the bits and pieces likely to pay off in the coming weeks:
- Dianna mentions she has several pods hidden throughout the mother ship, not just the one Ryan ends up using. I’m betting this will play into a last-minute escape in the finale.
- We got a fairly gratuitous reminder of Kyle’s lost love, so that ought to get resolved as well.
- The fact Ryan’s daughter thinks Anna is her mother got a passing mention too. We may be heading for tragedy here. Then again, Diana makes a point of marveling at the thought of a hybrid child, so you never know.
- Of course, Joshua is gearing to side with the angels again, though the writers are taking their sweet time with his arc, which I think is the right tact.
- Lisa and Tyler are growing apart. Erica may be too late to save her son.
- Ryan’s exchange with Lisa indicates a significant portion of the V population would turn on Anna if it knew of Diana’s imprisonment: “There was a queen before her, and she was nothing like your mother.”
- This, of course, leads us to the best bit of the episode: Diana calling on Marcus, whom Christopher Shyer has always played as more loyal to the crown than the queen herself. The twist is very Dumas, and I love it.
V Is for Variations on a Theme
Mind you, “Uneasy Lies the Head” isn’t all foreplay, by which I mean the series preparing for its finale, not Kyle and Erica having kitchen sex next to a photograph of her late ex-husband. Sticking to the formula that works best for V, the writers also give us parallel stories comparing Anna’s leadership to Agent Evan’s. The two threads are linked by the episode’s title, which emphasises how troubled the matriarchs have become. Notice how each undermines her own authority by lying and refusing to show compassion.
Like in the old days (two weeks ago), the more interesting segments take place on the mother ship, as Ryan karate chops his way off board, and Anna deals with a nondescript complication to her equally vague genetic machinations. The latter thread confuses me. Did nature and la Résistance present the alien queen with the exact same obstacle at the exact same time, or did I miss a clever time shift in the narrative? Either way, I have trouble believing she could sweep the very public (and gross) deaths of her elite peace ambassadors under the carpet.
V Is for Virus That Makes No Sense
Meanwhile, la Résistance internationale does some cool stuff off screen while la Résistance classique goes on a generic caper to which I paid little attention because I was too busy trying to wrap my mind around the concept of a disease that deteriorates your genetic makeup without affecting your health. Of course, V is about broad strokes, not logical details, and we’re meant to focus on the way Erica deals with catastrophic failure. Truth be told, her spin to the Fifth Column generals doesn’t work either. She’s essentially bragging about losing the element of surprise, which, to me, is like saying, “At least we got kicked in the groin!”
The interplay between Jack, Erica and Kyle proves a bit more successful despite the former breaking his promise to act as a soldier and stop winging about every little violent act. In fairness, he’s got a point this time, and I like the idea of Erica having a stuck-up angel and sexy devil pulling her in opposite directions. Her making hot whoopie with Kyle indicates a dark turn, but I suspect not too many people are going to complain about Elizabeth Mitchell and Charles Mesure taking off their tops. Don’t you know? V is also for Va-va-va-voom!
Bits and Pieces
- The hybrid child has a name at last! Anna has christened her Amy after the mother of poor sap Melissa Heartswell… Wait. Heartswell? Heavy-handed much?
- Melissa’s own little girl, Jennifer, is the cutest munchkin ever.
- I’ve avoided mentioning this for some time, but V tends toward really dubious colour-coding. When the show wants to thrill or surprise us, we’re subjected to some Chinese kid spitting out his insides, a black woman getting impaled by a thousand needles, and a Spaniard bleeding from every orifice as Tyler punches him. However, when disease and torture are meant as tragedies, suddenly the white people get wheeled in.
- Another television rule to add to the list: alien technology always consists of a big pile of spinning blades and spikes because advanced civilisations no longer concern themselves with basic work safety. Better to look awesome and exotic, even if it means killing the odd maintenance worker every time there’s a wet floor or someone drops a banana peel.
We got some pretty clichéd and melodramatic dialogue this week. Just look at the winner of the Alanis Morissette Award for Outstanding Misuse of a Thesaurus:
Anna: “Now that I’ve decapitated the leadership of the Fifth Column, our plans can finally continue without interruption.”
Given that the head of an organisation is defined as its leadership, Anna just claimed to have cut off the head of a head. Either she views the Fifth Column as a two-headed but single-necked mutant, or she screwed up the idiom.
Guard: “Anna also wanted you to have this!”
Visitors don’t have emotions, but they dig their one-liners!
Diana: “Any enemy of my daughter is a friend of mine.”
And any cliché of yours is amusement of mine.
Erica: “When you were in the army and a superior officer gave you an order, what did you do?”
Jack: “I followed it.”
Erica: “Consider this an order.”
Not desperately original, but still pretty cool.
Erica: “The only tragedy here is that the DNA bombs failed.”
And this is where she crosses the line.
Tyler: “Maybe if you were human, you’d understand that!”
Ah, you racist penis!
Anna: “Either Lisa rises to her call with Raphael, or she will meet the same fate as any traitor: death!”
This is what frustrates me about the writing on V, that extra word at the end for the slow kids in the class.
Diana: “Our strength is that we embrace emotion, which makes us a threat.”
Well, yes, in the context of a war, the thing described as your strength usually turns out a threat to your enemy.
Kyle: “You are old enough to drink, right?”
Teehee. Sydney’s unadulterated exasperation sells it for me.
This episode is neither good nor bad. It’s just sort of there.