Kyle: “A priest, a civie, a lizard, a fed. If this is a joke, I’m not laughing.”
Let’s face it. The sci-fi series I and apparently six other people enjoyed last fall is gone, and it’s time to move on. First, though, I want to get something off my chest: V, as initially conceived, was a solid remake, and it’s unfortunate the show didn’t find the audience it deserved. Reshaping the original’s basic tropes into an allegory about modern propaganda, the four episodes that aired before the extended break had something to say beyond, “Bad aliens go boom!” This retooled version doesn’t. It just wants to thrill, and to judge it by any other standard would be unfair.
Take this episode’s opening sequence, in which a member of the Fifth Column blows up his girlfriend and fellow Visitors in Australia. Do the writers realise they’re asking us to side with suicide bombers? Granted, taking this kind of association to the extreme, one could brand Han Solo a terrorist for killing all those Death Star construction workers in Return of the Jedi (1983). However, V’s initial creative team invited us to make such parallels, so selective memory becomes a necessity to give the new episodes a chance. In a way, I’m writing this review with one hand tied behind my back, which incidentally makes the shift key somewhat cumbersome.
V Is for Vehemently against Emotions
“Pound of Flesh”, as the title suggests, is all about sacrifice. Anna’s involves isolating all the Visitors with emotions and asking them to swallow a death pill to spot those loyal to her. The notion that Visitors don’t have emotions is, of course, inconsistent with Alan Tudyk’s performance at the beginning of the series, but then that’s where selective memory kicks in. The real problem with the whole “empathy versus efficiency” angle, which appears to be the show’s new theme, is that it’s desperately unoriginal. I mean, haven’t we seen this before, like in every Star Trek episode ever made?
Besides, Anna’s assertion that the traitors would refuse to take the pill doesn’t make a lick of sense. The opening scene establishes they’re willing to die for their cause, so it seems to me the rebels would be the first to kill themselves so as to avoid interrogation. Also, presuming they’re with the Fifth Column, why are the remaining Visitors just standing there like automatons? Your enemy just handed you a weapon. For heaven’s sake, grab the overconfident moron and feed her the explosive!
V Is for Vial of MacGuffinium
All right, I’ll admit it: I’m guilty of TV racial profiling. The main sacrifice occurs as Ryan infiltrates a V ship to snatch alien medicine for Valerie and send a message to la Résistance. Given the show’s newfound propensity for eighties clichés and the fact he’s a charismatic black man with an expectant wife and friends who keep telling him to “be careful” and “just make it home”, I thought for sure Ryan would bite the bullet. I mean, the man even put on a red shirt for the caper!
However, Georgie lets himself get caught instead, allowing his friend to escape the ship. Kyle, who’d be my favourite character if he weren’t trying so hard to be edgy, calls the man “acceptable collateral damage” because of his limited skills and knowledge. The irony is Georgie would probably have agreed, though, in his mind, it’s the fact he’s got nothing, or rather no one, left to lose that makes him expandable. Poor Georgie. I kind of like the guy all of a sudden. Sort of. Not really.
V Is for Vapid Teenager Who Just Won’t Go Away
How dare the V Powers That Be tease us like that? For a second, I thought they were writing Tyler out of the series. No such luck. Actually, I don’t mind him so much. Yes, like the notorious Dawn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he’s whiny and judgment-impaired, but then he’s seventeen. If you had it all figured out at his age, more power to you. I, for one, was an idiot, so I have a hard time imposing my judgment on the character.
Anyway, to keep him away from the Visitors, Erica leaves Tyler with his father, Nicholas Lea from The X-Files. I expected Sawyer. This is a huge sacrifice for the single mother, who breaks down in tears as soon as she steps out of her ex’s home. Elizabeth Mitchell plays it beautifully. As an aside, it’s worth noting all the good guys’ actions this week are motivated by their offspring: the child Ryan’s expecting, the two Georgie’s mourning, and the one who looks eerily like Jonathan Brandis with a bit of Zac Efron mixed in for good measure.
Bits and Pieces
- I might have been harsh in the last review when I compared V’s green screen environments to what you’d find on a Sega Genesis. I should’ve mentioned the Sega Saturn instead or perhaps the Starfox Super FX chip for the Super NES.
- According to the set designers, Valerie doesn’t know how to paint a room. She just leaves random marks left and right. Lady, pick a wall and commit to it!
- I still feel that V is trying too hard to be kewl. The scene in which Erica punches Kyle in the face is just silly. I have the same problem with most of the dialogue. Case in point:
When you stop and think about it, none of these ominous lines actually mean anything. They just sound like they might:
Erica: “You bark, Hobbs. You bite too?”
Joshua: “Once you give it to her, Ryan, there’s no going back. Ever.”
Anna: “There will always be obstacles in your way. It’s not if you remove them but how.”
P.I.: “Aside from a knocked-up girlfriend, he’s the cleanest of the bunch.”
Wait. What? How is having a child with someone you love unclean?
Like the quotes above, this episode was all style and no substance. That doesn’t thrill me.