V: Uncertain Faith and Shifting Values

KT is a little tangent-happy today.

V:  2.04 “Unholy Alliance”

I love episode titles where you can go through the episode and say, “Hey it applies to that… and that… and even that!”  This one does pretty well.

The most on-the-nose of the episode’s unholy alliances takes place during Anna’s trip to the Vatican.  She manages to walk away with the support of the Catholic Church, but being Anna, she’s never doing just one thing at a time.  With one visit she builds an alliance, intimidates the entire College of Cardinals, and continues digging for answers about the human soul.

Anna’s obsession with the soul fascinates me because here’s a case in which alien characters are given dialogue that doesn’t always make sense, not because they have Amazing Technology or Advanced Philosophy that we just don’t understand, but because they don’t quite understand us.  And if you think about all the ways in which various cultures around the globe don’t quite understand each other, writing the Vs this way seems perfectly natural.  Anna’s misunderstandings are more subtle and feel more genuine than, say Spock insisting that he doesn’t understand human emotion.

All that to say that I really enjoyed watching the gears turn in Anna’s head when the priest told her first that he believes the soul outlives the body, and then that without the soul we would be mere animals.  Morena Baccarin played the scene so openly she might as well have had thought bubbles reading “Wait, what?” and then “Ahhh, perfect.”

The priest himself turned out to be in a surprising alliance with imprisoned V queen mother Diana.  Together, they prevented Anna from learning what he knew, but it hardly ended well for any of them, especially the poor priest.  I found him interesting, and I particularly like the way he was gradually introduced.  First just a close-up to tag him as The Disapproving One.  Then discussion of the ring he was wearing.  For a moment, I thought it might be a cardinal’s ring and that he might be the actual cardinal and having another man stand in for him for some reason.  (Ah, I thought at the time, that must be why this cardinal with such a German name has such an American accent!  But no, apparently we just weren’t supposed to think too hard about that.)  Anna suggests he might be a sleeper, but his blasé reaction to her blue energy display — in great contrast to the group of awestruck priests — made it clear that he was definitely a V, but also definitely aware of his own identity.  Nicely done, show.

After the jump… all the other characters! Continue reading

V returns in January

If your TV schedule feels incomplete without an impending alien invasion, you’re in luck!

Despite a rocky start, V delivered a strong second half of its first season, culminating in unexpected alliances, tense conversations between enemies, and strong performances from the series leads.

It’s been a long time since that season finale, though, so I thought I might write a quick recap of season one.  But ABC has beat me to the punch, so I’m going to let them handle the heavy lifting.

I think that does a pretty good job of the major storylines. I love the way that the two mothers are becoming closer and closer to the other one’s child — Tyler is enthralled by Anna, while Lisa is a step away from joining Erica’s resistance.  Elizabeth Mitchell’s Erica and Morena Baccarin’s Anna own this show, but Lisa is definitely one to watch.

The finale left us in doubt about some of the supporting characters, though.  Ryan has been on the run from the rest of the Vs from the very beginning, but now he seems to have been re-assimilated, which could do very real damage to Erica’s resistance movement.

Chad the reporter has been defined by the way he sits on the fence.  He’s deeply intrigued by Anna, but he’s also been itching to unleash his powers of investigative journalism on the Vs.  Sometimes he seems suspicious, other times he seems so sincere — hard to say where he will land.

Then there’s the ever-efficient Marcus, who has revived Joshua for unknown purposes.  Could Anna’s right-hand man be disloyal?  Plus there was a secret deal he made with mercenary Hobbes at the end of last season that wasn’t fully explained.  To Anna and Erica, this fight looks black and white, but other characters are finding ways to gray things up.

What can you say?  Nothing’s ever really black and white.

V: The dinner party, and other stories

KT here with a triple-sized double header for the season finale.

V:  1.11 “Fruition”
V:  1.12 “Red Sky”

If anyone still had any doubts that the women own this show, these two episodes should settle that for you.

The beginning of “Fruition” is a gripping contrast between the show’s two mothers, giving Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin an opportunity to face off and act their hearts out in the face of Lisa’s supposed attack.  Even though Erica has little reason to love Lisa, Erica’s concern is palpable and her gentleness is sincere, whereas the cut to Anna saying that Lisa needs the comfort of her own mother is chilling.  In a beautifully directed sequence, Anna comes to see Lisa and cradles the girl’s head, echoing Erica’s pose of only moments before.  And then Anna smirks — crocodile tears, indeed.  The pain on Lisa’s face — not from just her injuries, but from the way her trust in Anna has been shaken — make Anna less likable than she has ever been.

Erica takes the triple whammy of “my son’s girlfriend was attacked,” “she’s a V,” and “she’s Anna’s daughter” very gracefully, and her scene with Anna is a highlight of the episode.  Anna appears distressed and plays carefully on Erica’s maternal instincts, while Erica is a deep well of calmness.  The two women sit at a table and lie to each other — Anna about Lisa, Erica about the Fifth Column — even while they are utterly sincere about protecting their children, each in her own way.  It’s electric.  So is Erica’s speechlessness when Joshua tells her that Anna herself is responsible for Lisa’s injuries.

After stirring up some good old fashioned moral outrage over Lisa’s attack, Anna ratchets things up a notch by announcing the V’s departure while simultaneously cutting off contact with Chad Decker.  At first, Chad seems savvy enough to know — as Ryan and the audience certainly do — that Anna’s bluffing.  But given his impassioned broadcast, perhaps he’s more taken in by Anna than I thought.  I’m never quite sure how to read Chad.

Meanwhile, Hobbes is being framed by the V’s — again — as is some guy who used to work as a weapons engineer.  Parker is a poor, unfortunate soul who is wanted by the Vs because of the research he and his think tank colleagues were conducting.  He opens up to Erica, but as it turns out, there isn’t much she can do for him.

My quibble with the Parker storyline…

[Lots more after the jump.]

Continue reading

V: Shots, soldiers, scans, and skins

KT hopes you got your flu shot before the V’s turned up!

V:  1.04 “It’s Only the Beginning”

Did this seem like a long, meandering episode to you?  I got to the end and suddenly felt like they covered a lot of ground here.  Not a bad episode, but a busy one.

Most of the action came from our fledgling resistance cell in which Georgie quickly proves himself hot-headed and poor at following orders.  I’m not warming up to Georgie at all, but since it looks like that bullet wound won’t be fatal, let’s hope he becomes more likable.  Or meets another bullet.

I wonder if Father Jack’s military history was known to the actor while filming the previous episodes.  (Or even all of this episode.)  Although the two tours in Iraq make him more suited to be part of this group and perhaps more useful to his comrades, it bugs me that nothing about his bearing suggests that kind of experience and training.

I loved that Erica, sharp cookie that she is, called Ryan on being a Visitor, though I thought that their rapid-fire question and answer scene fell short.  The only new information for us was seeing that now Erica knows these things too, and I was a little surprised that she didn’t ask more than she did.  I think if I were her, I’d have had a lot more questions!  But those two are clearly the competent ones in the group, so I guess Erica knows what she’s doing.

The suggestions that the V’s vitamin vaccine might be laced with something bad just seemed too obvious, so I’m glad it turned out that they stuck the R6 into the flu vaccine instead.  Clever.  And remember that Anna talked up the vitamin shots big time, casually mentioning that, yup, sorry, you’ll still need your flu shots as usual.  Nicely done, writers.  But did you see those mummified-looking bodies in the warehouse?  What does R6 do and why do the Visitors want to do that to us?  Is that how they extract the mineral they say they need from Planet Earth?  Ewwww.

On the subject of ewwww, I have to say that I was terrified that they’d show Joshua skinning the other guy and yet kind of hopeful — I really want to see what a V looks like!  Yikes, though.  Talk about turning the tension up all the way.

I liked getting to see these medical centers we’ve been hearing about, and the explanation about how the scanner works in four dimensions was pretty nifty.  I’m skeptical about Chad’s looming brain condition, though.  Scaring him with the diagnosis and then supposedly healing him?  Sounds like a great way to make him feel more indebted to the Visitors and put Anna’s pet journalist ever further into the V’s corner.

Speaking of human pets, what is this business about Tyler being “the one”?  For what?!  Are the V’s interested in human/Visitor hybrids?  Tyler’s scenes with Anna were surprisingly delightful, mostly because Morena Baccarin has the charming-but-sinister smile to a T.  All the while you can see Tyler thinking “Damn, why is my mom always nosy or distracted when her mom is freakin’ awesome!”  Yeah, we’ll see how awesome you think she is when she’s um… doing whatever it is she’s planning to do.  Yeah!

[After the jump:
bliss, babies, and speculation!]
Continue reading

V: First contact

KT is of peace.  Always.

V:  1.01 “Pilot”

Given that (a) I’m a dork and (b) alien invasions are a classic Hollywood storyline, have you ever wondered what a real first contact would be like?  Do they crash-land and need our help?  Do we exchange radio messages and set up a safe meeting place out by Pluto?  Are we the ones scaring the daylights out of them when we show up in orbit?  Or does it happen like this, where New Yorkers stand in the streets and stare, but this time not at something lost, but something gained, for better or worse?

V‘s creative team have mentioned in interviews that they had set out to recreate the show for a post-9/11 world, and as the best sci-fi can, they’re clearly trying to tackle the fears and concerns of this decade.  The 9/11-ish arrival of the visitors — an event after which the world doesn’t look the same any more — and the concern over terrorist sleeper cells are blended with a charismatic new leader and suggestions of universal health care.  However V fares as a story, it is unmistakably a product of its times.

I’m still working out how I feel about most of the characters.  Most seem okay, but a little flat to begin with.  Seventeen-year-old Tyler is the only one who actively annoyed me — and since it looks like he and his mom will be an important part of the plot, I hope that changes.  I did like FBI mom Erica’s relationship with her partner, but when Alan Tudyk was credited as a guest star I already knew it couldn’t last.  At first I figured he would just get killed off, but when they kept putting emphasis on “Wow, it’s like the terrorist cell was tipped off!” I knew he had to be the mole.  What is it with Alan and roles where he’s not who he appears to be this year?

What I didn’t foresee was Ryan (who bought the engagement ring) turning out to be involved with V resistance, and I certainly didn’t expect him to be a V himself!  I figured he had a dark criminal past he had run away from, but this twist was much better!  He’s one of the few characters I’m really interested in after this episode.

I’m also interested in how reporter Chad will deal with his conscience, his career, and his V contacts.  And maybe it’s just because Firefly‘s Morena Baccarin is playing the part, but I think Anna is a fascinating enigma as well.  I’m also enthralled by her shiny, shiny spaceship.  Ships, in the plural, actually.  I hope they remember all those other ships and all those people around the world who may be reacting differently than our New Yorkers.  While I don’t want a Heroes-sized cast, let’s do remember that New York isn’t the capital of the planet.  A look at the reaction in Paris or Moscow or Tokyo could be an interesting wrinkle.

I am glad that they put the reveal about the V’s true appearance and intentions up front in the first episode.  I’ve never seen any of the ’80s series, but it’s hard to find a description of the show — the new or the old one — that doesn’t read “Aliens come to Earth offering friendship and new technology, but turn out to be sinister reptile creatures!”  So, glad that cat wasn’t meant to stay in the bag for long.

In the next three weeks, and then when the series comes back in March, it looks like we’ll be watching Erica, Father Jack, Ryan, and Georgie begin to build the resistance despite inevitable conflicts in their personal lives, while Tyler and Chad help us get a closer look at the V’s themselves.

And what exactly is it the V’s need from Earth?  Are we the entree, as in the Twilight Zone‘s “To Serve Man”?  Or is something more complex going on?

New show I’m excited about: V

We’re hearing all about the new shows that are starting up in the fall, so while we’re in the summer rerun lull, I thought I’d toss in some of my thoughts about some of the new series, based on descriptions, clips and trailers.

First up, V: The Series. I’m completely excited about this show. I don’t know much about it. I never saw the original series (come on, I was two), and if there were movies, I didn’t see those either.

But the trailer has me hooked! See it below.

What’s more, you can watch a couple clips here.

It looks like it could be a really interesting and mysterious series. Plus, adding in Morena Baccarin and Alan Tudyk, both of Firefly and Serenity fame, just adds more to it. Honestly, since these two are in the ‘verse, I think that’s why I’ve seen as much as I have.

Since I know very little, it reminds me a lot of Angel season 4, where Jasmine comes into the picture. People falling head over heels for this new being, only to discover that there might be something dark at its core. What is this resource they need? And when they say “leave the Earth better than it was,” what does that really mean?

My only skepticism is that with big buildups come big expectations. This has already been a failed series once, and though I’ve heard they’ve already signed it on for multiple seasons, I just wonder if it can live up to its promise. Of course, Lost seemed fully able to do so–living up to a multi-season storyline with a mysterious premise and succeeding with its fans–so I’ll keep my fingers crossed. I don’t know if Lost was originally picked up with multiple seasons like I hear this one was, but it certainly had that in mind when created.

Anyway, check out the trailer and clips, and let me know what you think. I think we’ve got some good stuff on our hands.

UPDATE: I just saw this article on TV Squad that mentions that this might be a six-episode mini-series? I’m not sure where my source heard that it’s already been signed on for multiple seasons, but now I’m questioning myself. No clue now if this is a full season, half season, or what. From what I see on the Futon Critic, it looks like it’s a mid-season show (at least it’s not on the fall schedule), so maybe that why there aren’t clear answers. Perhaps the number of episodes are undecided at this time.

Anyway, it looks cool, so check out the clips and share your thoughts in comments!