Monday, April 19, 2010

V 1.07: "John May"

“Human emotion? It’s not sickness. It’s beautiful.”

-John May

This is one of the rare episodes of V that seemed to have some semblance of a theme. The episode was all about the pain that lies can cause. Some characters get a chance to tell the truth, and for others, it’s too late- the damage has already been done. This episode also gave us some great backstory on John May, the founder of the Fifth Column and perpetual thorn in Anna’s side. Overall, I thought this was a very solid episode. It could have been even more powerful had more work been done to really develop these characters before this point, but that ship has already sailed.

Flashbacks to John May’s final hours are interspersed throughout the episode. The first flashback is to John May and Ryan meeting in a field. This isn’t an old-school Fifth Column meeting though. Ryan is still loyal to Anna, and he’s been sent to hunt John down. Ryan is thoroughly disgusted that John is turning his back on his people, and doesn’t understand what John sees in his human life. John, however has come to value human emotion over the Bliss. There are also flashbacks to Ryan visiting the May family and subtly threatening John over dinner and John writing a suicide note so his family could get some closure when he was forced to leave with Ryan. It also turns out that Ryan first met Val at John’s funeral.

The episode opens with the Resistance team once again conferencing at the Church. The discussion is still about how to rescue Georgie. There’s some of the usual hysterics until Ryan comes up with a plan that even Hobbes thinks is smart. They’re going to head to upstate New York, more specifically John May’s old town. Joshua told Ryan that an old communications device John used to talk to Resistance members on the mothership is still there. The only potential complication (which could also potentially be helpful) is that John May’s stepson, James, is still in the area.

Up on the mothership, Anna and her Number Two are concerned about the “John May Lives” message and its impact on the Live Aboard program. They worry that if the motherships are seen as targets for terrorism, people won’t want to try living there. Anna’s response is pretty predictable- she wants to get Chad to fix the problem. Chad does a calming interview with Anna where she tries to explain “John May Lives” as nonsense left over from the program the Vs learned to use English. Chad then does a bunch of profiles of people who will be taking part in the program. He realizes that the people selected for the program are all sort of “broken toys.” All people with great potential who didn’t reach it for one reason or another. He confronts Anna and when she gives a canned response, tells her he’s going to need more from her to keep doing what he’s doing. “More” is kind of left to the imagination and kind of squicks me out.

So, anyway, the team arrives at the house of James May, John’s stepson. James has a live-in girlfriend, and thanks to an earlier scene where all the sleeper Vs were given “panic buttons” and the camera lingered on one previously unknown V, it’s obvious that the girlfriend’s not human. I liked the concept of the panic button, but I thought that the way that scene and the first scene at James’ house were handled was a bit too much like spoon feeding things to the audience for my taste. The team makes small talk with the couple for a short while before James is taken into a separate room. Ryan is the primary person talking to James. He tells James about how he knew John May and spent time with him shortly before his death. Ryan credits John for turning him into the person he is. When James expresses some dismay that John committed suicide, Ryan tells him an interesting truth. John May didn’t actually commit suicide.

Meanwhile, Erika and Hobbes are chatting with the girlfriend, asking her simple things like about where she’s from. She says she’s from California and went to UCLA. I guess Erika might have sensed something was off, because she then purposely tries to trip her up. Erika says she’s a big fan of college sports, but she gives the wrong mascot for UCLA. When the girlfriend agrees, Erika knows she’s lying. Soon enough, there’s a knock down drag out fight which only ends when Hobbes breaks the sleeper V’s neck. What can I say? Dude’s brutal. James is, not surprisingly, really, really unhappy when he comes back out to the kitchen. I don’t know which he thinks is worse, that his girlfriend is dead, or that she was a V.

James regains his composure enough to take the team to a storage facility where he keeps all of his stepdad’s stuff. After some searching and a battle with one of those V remote bomb-like weapons, they find what they’re looking for. Surprisingly, it looks kind of like a large marble or a superball. Before leaving upstate New York, Ryan makes a somewhat shocking revelation- he killed John May. Everybody is kind of aghast, but they appreciate that he’s being fully honest.

Back at the church, the team waits anxiously for Joshua to call saying he’s found Georgie. Joshua does eventually call, and it’s not good. Joshua thinks Georgie can hang on for a few more days until the Live Aboard launch causes enough bustle that Joshua can sneak him on to an Earth-bound shuttle, but Georgie has other ideas. He has been through horrible torture aboard the mothership, everything from nasty little critters called Scours to watching the death of his family at the hands of the Vs over and over, and he’s done. He’s ready to be with his family now. In what is probably the series’ most powerful scene to date, Father Jack says “God bless you, George Sutton,” and Joshua injects something that finally puts Georgie at peace.

There are other truths finally revealed in this episode other than Ryan’s connection to John May. Much to Joe Evans’ chagrin, Lisa shows up eager to hang out with Tyler. He didn’t think the girlfriend was part of the deal when he agreed to keep Tyler for a while. While he’s complaining about this to Erika over the phone, Lisa is eavesdropping and hears Joe say that he’s not even really Tyler’s father. Erika fills us in on the details in a conversation with Jack. When Tyler got in a bike accident, the hospital needed blood donations, so they ran some tests on Erika and Joe (blood typing, I presume). According to those tests, Joe was not Tyler’s father. Erika swears up and down that the tests were wrong, and that mistrust is what ended her marriage. Um…DNA testing, anybody?

Lisa spills the beans to Tyler, and when Tyler questions Joe, Joe doesn’t deny it. He goes on to tell Tyler his side of the story. After all the Georgie drama, Erika comes home to find Tyler sitting on the floor of their living room. He confronts her about what he learned, and Erika sticks to her “Joe is your dad” position. As much as Erika cries, and begs, and pleads, though, Tyler doesn’t believe her. I think this is the moment in the series where I was most reminded that Elizabeth Mitchell also played Juliet on “Lost.” Usually I can separate the two characters, but her crying was just the same. I honestly think this particular subplot is ridiculous. Erika and Joe are both educated people- why didn’t they get more definitive testing done? Heck, even people who aren’t as educated know about DNA paternity testing from daytime talk shows. Seriously.

The other big secret that’s finally out is Ryan’s heritage. Val finds a safe in the back of Ryan’s closet, and she instantly becomes suspicious. She calls in a locksmith to open the safe, and she’s very, very upset by what she finds. She finds that Ryan has passports from several countries, and even worse, she finds her real sonogram. As she’s looking through all of this stuff, Ryan leaves her a voice mail saying he has something he needs to tell her. She obviously doesn’t get the voicemail, though (or doesn’t care about Ryan’s explanations, because by the time Ryan gets home, she’s gone.

At the end of the episode, Anna is still worked up over “John May Lives” message, so much so that she’s trembling. The trembling could also be partly due to whatever the V equivalent of labor might be. She goes into this large pool and starts laying eggs. Even though the Resistance might have won one battle, she promises her enemies “a thousand defeats.” And judging by how many soldiers are likely to hatch out of that pool, she just might be right.

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