Friday, November 13, 2009

V 1.02: "There is No Normal Anymore"

“You’re a freakin priest?”


I think this week’s episode of V really solidified for me what the show is going to be like on a weekly basis. We won’t be getting much of a self-contained story (or even theme) to differentiate one episode for the next. Each episode is basically going to just tell another segment of the same overall narrative. There is one question that motivates many of the characters in this episode, however, and that is whether or not the United States should open diplomatic relations with the Visitors.

We pick up right where we left off in the pilot, with Erica and Father Jack sitting on the roof wondering what to do next. As they are contemplating, they see a small V ship headed for the warehouse. The Vs are trying to clean up their mess and erase all evidence of the attack on the warehouse. Erica and Jack feel like they have to do something, and they run back towards danger. Jack is about to call for help on his cell phone, but Erica thinks calling 911 on a nearby pay phone is a better idea, because it’s not traceable. Clearly she’s never seen The Wire (although being an FBI agent, she should be well aware that pay phones can be wiretapped), and that will come back to haunt her. The call isn’t actually going to a 911 dispatcher, but to the local V mothership.

This mistake quickly becomes apparent as another one of those spherical remote ‘splodey devices approaches. Luckily, Jack notices it in time, and he and Erica start to run. They manage to outrun the device and duck when it explodes, but they’re plenty freaked out. Erica warns Jack not to trust anyone and practically runs away, leaving Jack feeling pretty pissed. Erica’s still got the jitters when she gets home, almost whacking Tyler with a baseball bat because she thinks he’s an intruder. Erica frantically asks Tyler to promise to stay away from the Vs, but he’s obviously blinded by Lisa, considering he promptly goes and hides his Peace Ambassador jacket under his mattress.

Tyler’s association with the Visitors doesn’t last for long, though (for now). He manages to get his best friend into the Peace Ambasadors as well, and his relationship with Lisa is progressing, but it all goes downhill from there. He’s talking to Lisa through the fence that separates the mothership area from the reset of NYC when he sees his friend being harassed by some protesters as he approaches the mothership. Tyler wants to defend his friend, so he punches the protester. The Vs aren’t happy about this at all. They want everything about their presence to look bright and shiny while diplomatic relations are still up for debate.

The agency created to decide whether or not the US should open diplomatic relations with the Vs is called the Visitor Threat Assessment Task Force, and they have their work cut out for them. The group also probably includes several covert Vs as members. Two of the specific events they’re looking into directly affect Erica and Jack. The first is Dale’s disappearance. Right before she gets the call from the FBI to get to the office because Dale is missing, Erica is in the shower and has a creepy hallucination as she opens the shower curtain. It’s such a short scene that I wouldn’t mention it except that Alan Tudyk, as Dale, is totally channeling Alpha, his character on Dollhouse (RIP). He’s holding a gun to Tyler’s head, much in the way Alpha would wield a knife.

The other incident the Task Force is investigating is the death of the guy who delivered the pictures to Jack. An investigator comes to the church to interview Jack, and Jack decides not to tell the investigator that the guy who died was talking about the Visitors. This omission gnaws on him for the rest of the episode. He doesn’t feel that he did the right thing. He ends up going to the FBI to tell the Task Force what he saw. He runs into Erica, and the meeting is stormy at best.

Erica continues to take the opposite strategy to Jack. She lies and conceals as much as she can about the previous night’s events when talking to the Task Force and her boss. As a little aside, this episode is full of sneaky quick shots that make you think certain characters might be secret Visitors. The other priest at Father Jack’s church is one such character, and Erica’s boss is another. I think if all (or even some) of these secondary characters turned out to be Vs, it would be overkill. It wouldn’t have the same power as the reveal that Dale is a V, because we’ve been there and done that.

Erica does her best to hide the truth, even going so far as to get her badge and gun out of Dale’s car when the FBI is called to the warehouse scene, but it doesn’t do any good. Her boss wasn’t buying that Dale would go there alone in the first place, and he also has a recording of the 911 call. He’s confused because 911 has no record of the call- he had to get it through ATF, who had the area wiretapped on suspicion of drug dealing. Erica says she was obfuscating because she believes Dale was a part of a terrorist cell. She gets a little extra proof from Dale’s wife who gives her the phone records for Dale’s personal cell. He’s called two numbers quite often lately, and only one of them is hers.

The Visitors are also causing Chad trouble at work. He’s still pissed that Anna forced him into a softball interview, and he wants to get a full dialogue about the Vs out there for the public. He decides to host a debate of sorts between someone who is pro-V and someone who is anti-V. This seriously angers Anna and the other V higher-ups. They can’t tolerate any negative publicity whatsoever. Chad’s life is spared, for now, when he points out that in the opinion polls, public opinion in favor of the Visitors went up after his program aired. There’s a sense of foreboding that Anna won’t stand for lack of control in the publicity department for long.

Ryan’s story is still fairly disconnected from everybody else. I guess they’re trying to develop his character so we have some sort of emotional response when the traitor Vs join the human rebellion. He goes to visit his friend Angelo to get his arm fixed after it was injured in the big warehouse showdown. Angelo fixes his arm, but he also drugs Ryan. What can I say, Angelo’s been a little extra-jumpy since the big V reveal. Ryan later wakes up and hightails it back home. He later gets a creepy call from Angelo where Angelo reveals to Ryan just how much he knows about Ryan’s girlfriend, including the fact that she has a heart condition. Angelo thinks Ryan should get as far away from his girlfriend as he can, because if Angelo can dig up all that dirt on her, so can the other, not so friendly, Visitors.

The big climax of the episode is Anna giving a big, self-congratulatory speech in the wake of the US deciding to open diplomatic relations with the Visitors. The speech disgusts Jack, and he realizes he can’t just hide in his church- he’s got to do something to stop the Vs. This allows Erica and Jack to rekindle their new friendship and get back on track towards starting a rebellion. This is going to be especially important considering the final big reveal of the episode. Dale isn’t actually dead…yet.

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