Monday, November 30, 2009

V 1.04: "It's Only the Beginning"

“You know, pretty soon, you’re gonna need to decide what you are. A priest or a soldier.”


The latest episode of V, while not really held together by any common theme, was a satisfying end to the first “pod” of episodes (don’t even get me started on that…I could rant for quite a while), with several serious cliffhangers. The cliffhangers were the best part of the episode, really, because of the shock value. I think this episode suffered somewhat from not having any one cohesive element to bring it all together. Other than being surprised by the final two scenes, I really didn’t have much of an emotional response to much of the rest of the episode.

I did appreciate how the story of Erica, Jack, Ryan, and George’s first attempt at fighting back against the Vs shows the large scope of what they are up against. George simply wants to cut a V open and show the world what they are, but Ryan quickly vetoes that plan. He means it too- he shoots George when George tries to put that plan into action later in the episode.

Ryan has a more concrete plan of action once he sees a disturbing report on the news. Anna is announcing that V Healing Centers will now offer vitamin shots to supercharge the immune system. Ryan remembers that some sleeper Vs were working on a drug that was part of the V plan to take over Earth, so he immediately suspects that the two are related. The group starts by targeting a V Ryan knows worked on the project in the past. This is the V that George tries to expose, and we all know what happens next. The only thing really interesting about the “George gets shot” subplot is that we get a little more Jack backstory and Jack tries to patch up George’s wounds. It turns out Jack was an Army chaplain before taking the job at St. Ignatius. Erica also discovers Ryan is a V when the V they were targeting calls Ryan a traitor before taking a suicide pill.

The uninjured members of the group make their way to the warehouse where the vitamin shots are being stored. Using some conning skills and Ryan’s knowledge of V procedure, the group manages to get the Vs to evacuate the building so they can look around. It turns out that R6, the experimental compound Ryan knew about, is being placed in flu shots, not the vitamin shots. I think this is great commentary on the extent to which our society has knee-jerk reactions to media hype. The Vs know that the media will scare people over the coming flu season, so distributing a drug via flu shots is a great way to expose a large segment of the population.

Ryan manages to set up a sort of self-destruct sequence that will blow up the warehouse and deliver the message “John Mays Lives” to Anna and the other V higher-ups. The group doesn’t escape without encountering a few Vs who didn’t evacuate, though, and a tussle between Jack and one of the Vs ensues. Jack manages to escape, but the V is still alive.

Erica isn’t having an easy time in the home life department, either. The V resistance is taking up a lot of her time, and Tyler is acting out. The message this particular plotline is sending out pretty much hits one of my pet peeves square on the nose. The message that a working mom is going to neglect her kids is extremely destructive. Women do not need television to add on to the heaping helping of guilt society places at our feet if we do not conform to traditional gender roles. My own mother took college classes and worked part time while I was growing up, and I grew up just fine. I had a shining example that I could be and do anything without limitation, and I did not feel deprived. In fact, I looked forward to going out for Chinese food with my dad when my mom was in class.

Tyler’s therapist just happens to be Valerie, Ryan’s girlfriend. She hasn’t been feeling well because of the meds she takes for her heart condition, and when Tyler mentions the V healing centers, she’s intrigued. Tyler uses his connections to get Valerie an appointment. Chad is also checking out the local healing center for a news story. Both Valerie and Chad end up getting news they didn’t expect. Chad will have a brain aneurysm in a few months if not healed by the Vs, and Valerie is pregnant. I’m not sure what this coincidence is supposed to mean. Are the Vs lying? Do they tell something unexpected to every person who shows up at a Healing Center?

Tyler, meanwhile, has his own V drama to deal with. Lisa has invited Tyler to the mothership to meet her mother, and Tyler is extremely surprised to find out that Lisa’s mother is Anna. Anna is trying to figure out if Tyler is “the one” like Lisa said he is, although we still don’t know what being “the one” entails. Knowing about his love for motorcycles and other machines, Anna shows Tyler the mothership engine room. He has fully bought into whatever the Vs are selling.

The plot I found most interesting this week was Anna’s reaction to Dale’s murder. It turns out that Joshua, the V who murdered Dale, is the lead medical officer, so Anna puts him in charge of the investigation. This puts Joshua in a very uncomfortable place. He can only delay the investigation for so long before Anna threatens to just punish somebody at random if nobody owns up. David, another Fifth Column member of the medical staff, takes the fall when he sees Joshua about to confess. Joshua, as a close adviser to Anna, is too valuable to lose. Joshua is forced to carry out the punishment- skinning David alive. Anna steps into a special chamber of the mothership to give her subjects the Bliss, figuring that they might be feeling down after hearing of the warehouse explosion and the possible return of John Mays.

The end of the episode certainly brings the cliffhangers. First, the V Jack tussled with at the warehouse comes to St. Ignatius. Jack only realizes his identity when it’s too late, and he gets stabbed in the gut for his trouble. His fate is unknown, although it sounds like the other priest at the church was awakened by the incident, so Jack should get medical attention quickly. The moment that really surprised me was the final shot of the episode. The camera pulls back from Anna, Lisa, and Tyler looking at the NYC skyline from the mothership to show that many more than 29 V ships are approaching Earth.

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