Broadcast Date: 8 March 2011
Cast: Morena Baccarin, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Mark Hildreth, Logan Huffman, Charles Mesure, Elizabeth Mitchell, Christopher Shyer, Laura Vandervoort, and Scott Wolf
Anna: “Now that’s how you kill your mother.”
End of the line, folks. Even if, by some blue energy miracle, V were to get renewed, it stands to reason season three will bear little resemblance to the show we all know and couldn’t quite love. By now, I’m sure you’ve read countless reviews pointing out “Mother’s Day” might have comprised a step in the right direction if the Mario platform in front hadn’t already sunk into lava. There are only so many ways to say, “too little too late”, so I’d like to offer a different perspective, one that doesn’t interpret the finale as a series of deck-clearing cliff-hangers but as a deliberately bleak conclusion in which humanity drowns in a pool of its own fallacies.
V Is for Volition-Challenged
Like Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, “Mother’s Day” uses anti-climax to convey cruel irony. Consider the fate of Erica, who concludes her season arc by realising she’s a piss-poor captain. You might think the writers have given her a second chance with Project Aries, but they’ve doomed the heroine to live out her nightmare from “Red Rain” with Tyler dead and the human race asleep. This is Agent Evans’ punishment for failing to raise her son as a man. She could have told Tyler the truth. Instead, she tried to carry the world for him, losing both in the process.
V Is for V-8 Gushing from One’s Neck
On the subject of Tyler, it occurs to me the insufferable twit was more a MacGuffin than a proper character, so neither the show runners nor I have much to tell about him. I suppose I should point out his death would have proven more effective if Erica had somehow witnessed it instead of Lisa, but let’s face it: we’re all just glad he’s gone at this point. Besides, the real lesson here is, never trust a woman who makes out with you when you say you need to talk. My note when he and Fake Lisa started making whoopie: “No time for love, Dr Jones!”
V Is for Vaginal Double
I like that Anna has found yet another convoluted reason to keep Lisa around despite having a designer-made replacement for her. It denotes subconscious attachment. Poor Lisa. La Résistance insensible should never have asked the princess to kill her own mother. They knew it was a bad idea too: “I didn’t want you to have too long to think about it”. Oh, yeah, there’s a formula for success. Also, if no Fifth Column terrorist was guarding the exchange site, why didn’t the FBI storm in?
V Is for Voice Recognition Software
Chad’s involvement with the ransom video doesn’t track either. Doesn’t Erica have a whole network of lunatics for this sort of mission? Still, Scott Wolf’s resigned look at the end adds real weight to the story, and his character’s demise fits the overall theme, what with the alien queen using human technology to decipher his voice. Yes, I realise Chad isn’t killed on screen, but I doubt he’d come back now that Anna’s found him out and blissed the world at large. Simply put, the new V would have little use for a wily reporter.
V Is for Vanishing Act
Oh, well, at least Chad gets to see things through to the end. Kyle, on the other hand, just ups and leaves halfway into the episode. Mind you, it makes sense for the mercenary to bolt after such a catastrophic failure, and, as a manifestation of Erica’s dark side, he really should disappear the minute she realises the error of her ways. Besides, the character would fit nicely with Project Aries, so I understand the V Powers That Be wanting to leave their options open.
V Is for Vigil for the Space Devil
Jack may have got praise from Erica, but his moral fortitude stems from a sense of superiority, not compassion. How many times has he rejected those in need of his guidance, refusing to forgive them or even pick up the phone? As such, the writers have designed a special kind of hell for the former priest, one they skilfully set up in his smug exchange with Anna: “I answer only to Him, not you.” Okay, yeah, the man shouldn’t be walking free after collaborating with terrorist kidnappers, but I can’t think of any crueller fate for Jack Landry than to spend the rest of his life worshipping the space devil.
V Is for Vetoed Fatherhood
The V Powers That Be prove equally ruthless with Ryan. All his sins over the past two seasons have been motivated by Amy, whose room is incidentally decorated with flowers: how terrifyingly emotionless. At any rate, I realised Daddy Dearest wasn’t going to make it as soon as I heard the words, “I am not leaving the ship without my daughter.” Ryan doesn’t just die at the hands of his daughter. He dies knowing Anna will raise her. Sometimes tragedy makes for the most effective payoff.
V Is for Valedictorian Address
Sometimes it doesn’t. After nine episodes’ worth of build-up, Diana’s story concludes with a big steaming pile of anti-climax, as Anna eviscerates the former queen before she gets to do anything. How does one sneak up on a public speaker in the middle of a circular stage surrounded by hundreds of her subjects? A single shout from Lisa, and we might have got a full-scale civil war instead. Anyway, it occurs to me this episode serves up an awful lot of parricide. Clichéd as they may be, Diana’s last words intrigue me: “You’ve just doomed us all!”
V Is for Vigilant and Therefore Still Alive
On the subject of getting the royal womp-womp-womp treatment, Joshua, who barely got an arc this year, ends up exactly where he started in 2009, acting as the Fifth Column’s last and only hope aboard the mother ship. I suspect that, like Chad, the character was brushed aside this season because he doesn’t lend himself to ineptitude, a central theme for la Résistance réinterprétée. Should V get a third season, I hope the writers find more substantial material for Joshua, who deserved better than a mere reset button.
V Is for Vestiges of Character Development
This leads us to Marcus, whose season arc also consists of moving from point A to point A, except here it sort of works. We knew so little of Anna’s right-hand man that any insight into his motivations feels like progression. The alien queen choosing to forgive him speaks volumes about their friendship, but I was hoping he and Thomas would have a climactic kung fu fight in the halls of the mother ship. I wonder if Thomas ever defeated Dark Angel’s merry band of Manticore escapees…
V Is for Victor to Whom Go the Spoils
If this turns out the end of V, the series will have been about an alien invader saving her people at the cost of the human race, and Morena Baccarin deserves mad props for bringing consistency to the makeshift anti-heroine. With her enemies nearly defeated, Anna reveals her softer side, showing genuine affection for her adopted daughter and most loyal subjects. She even sets aside her aversion to spirituality when she calls Amy a miracle. Are the writers suggesting she’s part of God’s plan, like a Horseman of the Apocalypse or a new version of Noah’s flood? Is the idea that the Visitors will inherit the soul because we let uncertainty corrupt our connection to faith (Jack), truth (Chad), morality (Kyle), and the future (Erica)?
Bits and Pieces
- Project Aries fails to impress. Its elite members just sat on their hands while Anna mind-wiped the entire human species.
- Lars Tremont has a silly name, but he’s played by Marc Singer, the leader of la Résistance in the original V series.
- We finally got to see what the Visitors look like under their skin suits. Meh.
- The mother ship has terrific cell phone reception. I can just imagine the Verizon guy walking among the live-aboard candidates: “Can you hear me now?”
The writers give us a couple of killer lines this week, but it ain’t V if it don’t got the Alanis Morissette Award for Outstanding Misuse of a Thesaurus:
Anna: “Then I will die, but not before I fulfill my promise to my subjects and show them that humanity cannot nor will not ever defeat us.”
I like this line because it emphasises Anna’s selfless devotion to her people, but, yeah, that’s not how you use the word “nor”.
Erica: “She’s merciless!”
Lisa: “No more merciless than you’ve shown you can be.”
Anna: “Human emotion can be useful. It’s how I stopped Lisa from killing me. If I can wield it like a weapon, use it to manipulate the humans…”
You’ll be right back where you started, seeing as you’ve been exploiting human subjectivity since the pilot.
Amy: “A father who abandoned me, let me to suffer in pain?”
Suffering’s bad enough, but suffering in pain is just the worst!
Anna: “I wasn’t lying when I said not all human emotions is bad. This one’s called vengeance. I will see you suffer!”
And then she leaves, making sure not to see any of it.
Erica: “Now just untie one hand, and it’ll be a fair fight!”
Oh, Erica, how I’ll miss your eighties hardcore one-liners.
Anna: “And this God you have so much faith in, I hope someday to meet him.”
Anna: “No one understands what it feels like to have the weight of an entire species on your shoulders, every decision, every hard choice… To survive, you must show no mercy, be devoid of humanity just like me.”
Erica: “I am nothing like you!”
Anna: “Yes, Erica, you’re exactly like me.”
I invite you to examine this exchange in function of Anna instead of Erica. It gives the series a very different meaning.
As a finale, “Mother’s Day” lacks grace and momentum, but it hints at the one thing of which I never thought I could accuse V: depth.