Sunday, June 6, 2010

V 1.10: "Hearts and Minds"

“Maybe you should stay away from the V-only shuttles today, Chad.”


When I first watched “Hearts and Minds,” I didn’t really like it at all, mostly because I found Jack’s attitude to be absolutely ridiculous. On rewatch, however, I can appreciate that even though Jack’s attitude most definitely still grates, this episode is one of the more contained and focused episodes of the series. It completely revolves around the events leading up to and the consequences of one action taken by our core Resistance group. The structure of the episode is actually very good from a technical standpoint, even if the actual execution leads something to be desired. I liked that Anna’s nefarious plan of the week was in reaction to something the Resistance was planning. She had to think on the fly, when usually she’s several steps ahead of all humans.

Of course, the fact that this episode revolves around one event means that the writer couldn’t resist using what seems to be the go-to gimmick of this TV season- in media res. That’s one of the things I’ve really enjoyed about maintaining this blog this TV season. I’ve learned and noticed so much about storytelling devices- it’s been quite educational and fun. Anyway, the event we’re focusing on in this episode is Ryan, Hobbes, and Jack shooting down a V shuttle with a missile. When the shuttle crashes, they are horrified to discover that all the passengers onboard were human, not V.

We then backtrack to find out why the guys decided to shoot down this particular shuttle. Ryan is at home sifting through the destruction caused by the other V’s and mourning the loss of Val when he gets a call from Joshua on the comms system. Joshua warns Ryan that since the solder attack in the last episode was foiled, Anna will be sending down a shuttle full of Trackers to find the Fifth Column responsible. If the Trackers are allowed to touch Earth, the Resistance will be found out and destroyed quickly. The only solution is to make sure the Trackers never reach Earth. Father Jack is not at all in favor of this plan when Ryan brings it to the group. Jack is firmly convinced that to remain “better” than the V’s, they can’t take any lives. Jack is overruled, and the plan goes forward.

Jack is still troubled about the direction the Resistance seems to be taking, and when Chad stops by to visit (and get information, of course), Jack can’t help but make a really stupid decision. Chad mentions that he often travels on the V-only shuttles; Chad thinks he’s gaining Jack’s confidence in Chad’s ability to make a difference. Jack tells Chad that there’s been whispers among his parishioners, and Chad should avoid taking any V-only shuttles today. Chad, naturally, takes this information directly to Anna, although thankfully he at least has the decency to not name his source. The refusal to name doesn’t really seem to come from an altruistic place, though. Chad doesn’t want his lines of information drying up. Without information, he might fall out of Anna’s good graces.

Anna tries to act like nothing’s wrong, that there were no V-only shuttles planned for that day, but she’s covering. As soon as Chad leaves the room, she calls in her second-in-command and tells him that someone leaked the information about the trackers. She quickly changes her plan in a way that will make the Fifth Column pay dearly. And they do indeed pay. After the crash and subsequent immediate scrambling, the Resistance meets up back at the Church. Jack completely freaks out. He feels like there is absolutely no room for error in what they’re doing, and if lives are going to be lost, he’s out. He storms out of the room and doesn’t return.

Back at the FBI Erika makes some very interesting discoveries. First, she finds out from her boss that because of FBI roadblocks, the terrorists responsible for the crash had no choice but to go through a toll booth with hidden security cameras. Her boss is on his way to the data center where that footage is stored. After warning Ryan and Hobbes about the security footage, Erika starts looking through photos of the crash scene. Erika looks at a photo of a skeleton and is shocked and elated to see that the bones are smooth. I know that sounds weird, but it makes sense. According to Erika, smooth bones means that what was in the shuttle was a corpse, not a still-alive human. The Resistance wasn’t responsible for these deaths. They were already dead. No sooner does Erika make this discovery than the photo is mysteriously deleted.

Erika’s boss arrives at the data center, and Ryan manages to wipe the toll booth footage and escape just in time. Meanwhile, Jack is having a very interesting conversation with Chad Decker back at the Church. Chad tells Jack that he informed Anna of Jack’s warning. Jack’s not to thrilled about that, but he lets it go. I think that’s the first crack in Jack’s self-righteous armor over the whole situation, though. Later on, the other priest at Jack’s church suggests that if Jack is feeling guilty over something in the legal realm, he ought to turn himself in.

Back at the FBI, Erika’s boss said that even though the security footage from the actual escape was wiped, he figured the terrorists were professionals and would have done a dry run. He has security footage from the time when a dry run would have likely taken place, and that combined with some tire treads has lead him to a suspect they currently have in for questioning. Erika is shocked and a bit concerned to see that suspect is Jack. I was impressed with how well Erika handled the situation, though. Jack was about to turn himself in until Erika, acting like a hardass to ensure she doesn’t break her cover, gets her boss to leave the room to go get some crime scene photos. Still acting like she’s berating Jack to anyone who can see through the window, she tells Jack that the crash victims were already dead. His attitude changes immediately. He becomes assertive, and he convinces Erika’s boss to cut him loose.

While all this has been going on, plenty is also happening aboard the New York mothership. Lisa encounters a human woman taking part in the Live Aboard program. The woman is agitated and scared, and she tells Lisa about what she thinks must have been a nightmare. The woman describes being led down a dark, narrow hallway, then poked with hundreds of needles. Lisa tries to calm the woman as Anna looks on via a security camera feed. Later, Anna is trying out different inflections for the speech she is going to give in response to the shuttle crash (super creepy, by the way), and she asks Lisa’s opinion about which version is best. Lisa says that the second seems more sincere, and Anna is impressed by her daughter’s grasp of human emotion.

Lisa notices a mysterious door with red lettering in the mothership, and as she investigates, she finds out that the woman’s nightmare is real. As she watches a human be poked with needles, she looks at the files of Live Aboard subjects floating around on a screen. She sees Tyler among them, and she knows she has to try and save him from this fate. I think watching Lisa develop emotions has been one of the more interesting things about this first season of “V.” Lisa breaks up with Tyler, because she thinks that’s the only way that he won’t join Live Aboard. Lisa tells Anna that Tyler has changed his mind about Live Aboard, and Anna’s response is not-so-surprisingly violent. She slaps Lisa and instructs the guards to break her legs. She wants Lisa to be the damsel in distress who lures Tyler back into the V fold.

On Earth, the Resistance encounters some final challenges and victories. Erika has been assigned to head up an anti-Fifth Column taskforce. This seems ideal, as she’ll be in a position to direct the investigation away from real Fifth Column. The only problem is that she’ll be working with Agent Malek, who we learn near the near the end of the episode is actually a V (not especially surprising considering the shadiness that was going on at the FBI). Most importantly, Jack returns to the Resistance, and his presence seems to give the group renewed purpose.

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