E: And lo, the sky was crowded with Angels, heralding the return of V, the highly anticipated reboot of the classic 80s sci fi series. Not an moment of new footage had been seen since last November. Surely the lengthy break since an episode last aired will have afforded the crew the time to figure out what made those first four episode less thrilling than the camptastic original?
No. Sorry. Still disappointed.
We did get some revelations this week, but some how, there’s no umph to them. How is that possible? We learned some seriously crazy stuff, but in the end it just feels like the creators trying to shock without changing up their style that much.
M: I’m not in full agreement with you here, sis. They are trying to be darker and edgier and less campy than the original, so if fans are looking for that they’re not going to find it, but more importantly,I think they are intentionally trying to to plow through the building of the resistance phase of the show, which is something that can be interesting and different to watch. I don’t think they’ve succeeded completely, but I think they have done a good job of laying groundwork for something sustained and entertaining.
E: I’m not saying I want it to be campy. I want it to be like the BSG reboot – dark and twisty and dramatic and thrilling. You know what I think it is? It’s too early in the invasion timeline for us to feel the urgency of the V threat. We know they’re evil because of the earlier series, but the new series is relying to heavily on that outside knowledge. The Vs are mysterious and untrustworthy, sure, but even Anna’s new obsession with soldiers and previous brutal punishment of internal dissent hasn’t amped up our feeling of danger. So it mostly feels like our tiny band of conspirators is futzing around for nothing, with absolutely no shot of their underground rebellion getting anywhere.
M: Again I think it goes to pacing.
E: Well, that’s my point – they’re floundering, because they don’t know how long to spin this out or how to have action before it’s really warranted.
M: I think they are not aiming for a mini-series (E: duh) , or a single season, and therefore are trying hard not to rush into the entire populace not trusting the V’s. They want mostly everyone to trust them, because building a resistance is easy if you know you’re in a war. If you think you’re being saved, you’re not going to fight against it unless something really compelling changes your mind. They want us to feel like our little band is not getting anywhere, like they are disconnected and alone, and like their cause is hopeless. That’s where the greatest success, and the greatest drama, comes from. And remember, we’re only 5 episodes in.
E: I guess that’s fair.
Generally, what happened in Welcome to the War was this: Father Jack was healed of his stab wound (his pastor took him to the V Healing Center) and injected with R6. Ryan found out from another underground V – a doctor, who can’t act – that this acts as a tag. We see that the Vs now have a body profile on Jack. Does this mean they can track him somehow? The rebellion better find out!
M: Yes, clearly that’s not a good thing! The good news is that with over 6 billion people to track, a Catholic priest may slip through the cracks until they can find a way to jam the tracking signal.
E: Here’s hoping! Erica was attacked by the same V that stabbed Jack (someone who was responsible for the security of the warehouse our conspirators torched and was cleaning up before telling Anna) and took him out. Impressive – and it also contained the threat to their existence.
The Vs, meanwhile, are freaked out by the warehouse bombing. Anna demands to be sent some suitable soldiers – being that the real troops are on those bazillion ships waiting at the edges of our solar system.
M: Could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure they did the whole “zooming through space past a vast number of star systems” thing before showing the armada of V ships, I think they’re a long way off.
E: Maybe. That would make more sense in terms of her behavior, but I remember it as being horrifying in part because they seemed closer. Her chief flunky, Marcus, manufactures evidence pining the bombing on a terrorist named Kyle Hobbes, and gift wraps the plant for the FBI.
M: Ok, the scene in the FBI office I found both very cool, and a little disappointing in one regard. The scene itself, where the V’s showed how they were able to, in their words, “recreate” the explosion, while Erica squirmed hoping it didn’t reveal her as the bomber was tense and well done.
E: That’s true.
M: The problem I had was that the V’s clearly stated they were recreating the explosion, not that this was an actual video of it. Yet when the recreation came back with a finger print everyone in the FBI rejoiced because they finally had something to tie to the guy that played Shannon’s abusive Aussie boyfriend in the first season of Lost. Um, right, because a simulated finger print in a simulated recreation of an explosion would be admissible in court? Riiiiight.
E: Heh, that’s an excellent point. Love that – or don’t love that they did that, actually. And good i.d. on the actor – I missed both of those things. Our team sneaks up on Hobbes first, and recruits him. Are we getting in bed with the devil, they wonder? Who the hell cares? We’ll do what we must. Hobbes, who serves the same function Michael Ironsides did in the original, will teach them how to function as an army. What, the 4 of them couldn’t teach themselves? At any rates, Hobbes is at least expressive, sarcastic, unpredictable and interesting, a few things that are generally in short supply.
M: Yep, he seems like a good addition.
E: After some hemming and hawing, and a second opinion, and a heart to tyrannical fascist heart with Anna, Chad decides to get treated for the brain aneurysm he has yet to develop. I’m undecided about whether this was a scam or not – did they use an actual diagnosis to get to him, or was it all a head game? Either way, he bought it. And I didn’t believe him buying it. Bah.
M: Bah yourself. It’s Scott Wolf, I’d believe him doing just about anything dumb, so it worked for me.
E: I dunno, he seems capable of thinking for himself part of the time. I just didn’t think Anna did anything that would have reasonably resolved his internal debate. Now, when she isn’t browbeating Chad, Anna has Tyler locked in a “memory chamber” which makes him replay his life. The entire point of this seems to be so that she can play Erica more effectively, so they can keep Tyler and be his new family. If Tyler had shown even a gram of sense, I might be more frightened for him, but he is seriously a complete and utter tool.
M: Clearly, you were never a pubescent boy, never mind one who thought he had a shot with the hottest girl he’s ever seen, who just happens to be an alien he thinks is here to save the planet. That he’s running 100% on hormones, with very little higher brain function going on, is completely realistic.
E: Clearly I was never a pubescent boy. Thanks for remembering that. And for making me really sad about your gender. I don’t even feel sorry for him the way I did for foolish Robin, the knocked up teen in the original series. On the other hand, if Lisa is planning to use him to fertilize her eggs the way Anna did the prospective soldier (M: Who, Officer Beefcake?), I ought to be more upset on his behalf. What with Anna eating the guy, praying mantis style, because the eggs need nourishment. Which, seriously? Even Tyler the drip doesn’t deserve that fate.
M: And there in lies the problem. We already know that won’t be his fate, he’s the main character’s son, and one of the main characters himself. It’s not like Marc Singer’s son in the two mini-series, where they weren’t expecting a full series out of it and they could have him be a traitor. To quote Prince Humperdink, unless I’m wrong, and I’m never wrong, he’s going to be around for the life of the show. Plus, in the memory chamber we found out that his father is played by Rat-Boy Krycek from the X Files, Nicholas Lea, and you can never have enough Krycek.
E: Oh my gosh, what a great thing! I didn’t ever get that good a glimpse at him. Do you suppose he’ll show up later in the series, or was he just an Easter Egg for fans? Do you break out Krycek if you’re not going to use him?
M: And we found out that the V’s are not encumbered by emotions like we are, which is a useful tidbit.
E: Yet about as unVulcan-like as can be, wouldn’t you say? Why is it that half the time, the Visitors themselves look like CGI? I get that their surroundings are, but when the camera couldn’t stop whirling around Anna and Fifth Column healer guy, they didn’t even look real. That’s another thing that makes them harder to fear.
M: I agree, the environment on the ship seemed so fake at times that it was distracting. Plus, I still struggle with the whole concept of space ships with huge cavernous open spaces in them.
E: Yes, completely wasteful from a logistical point of view. Sometimes I can buy that, but for pleasure cruisers, not warships. Although I suppose the point here is not to look like a warship.
M: Like submarines, space ships are tight quarters because of physics. It takes a lot to move something out of or into a planetary orbit, and to feed the people on board, you just wouldn’t see a massive open area in the middle like the one we see from Anna’s little breakfast deck.
E: And there it is. The rebel band has grown by one, and even if that one is a guy with connections and military training, I don’t know. Ryan and Georgie were supposed to have extensive military contacts, too, weren’t they? This is yet another way the show can’t pull the trigger – they don’t know how long they’re going to be around, so they’re not letting the Vs really expose themselves and their evil plans yet. And that makes it hard to care as much as I want to. They’re just dithering.
M: I think there’s a bit of dithering, but not as much as you do. And Ryan and Georgie have contacts, but not military. And most of their contacts are either dead or too scared to do anything.
E: Elizabeth Mitchell did have a nice moment, though, when Tyler confesses that he’s joined the Hilter Youth (erm, sorry, the V Ambassadors) and pulls out his jacket with its handy camera fabric just before Erica is going to tell him that the Vs are really lizards with an agenda. But sadly, moments like that – moments that cause the audience to feel genuine emotion – are few and far between.
Absolutely the best moment of the episode came when Ryan’s girlfriend Val, gripped by overwhelming hunger, noticed a mouse in a trap by the trash can, and desperately wanted to eat it. Completely gross and awesome, and nicely referential to the seminal freak out of the miniseries, when V leader Diana distends her jaw to swallow a rodent snack.
M: That was great, and I thought that she was going to actually down it.
E: Lourdes Benedicto owned that scene. It was way more interesting than watching Anna get her fangs (or her groove) on with Officer Beefcake. It does make you wonder what pregnancy is like for the Vs. Do they all lay thousands of eggs at one time? Can only Anna reproduce, or only V daughters (like Lisa) of her choosing? It’s clear that V gestation is faster than the human equivalent – otherwise how does Anna intend on producing soldiers before the ships can arrive? And then clearly the little Vs must grow quickly to maturity. I can’t imagine Val is going to birth thousands, so how is this all going to work? Will she give birth by the end of the season?
M: It made me wonder when they referred to her as the queen. If I remember my insects correctly, in a hive where there is a queen, there are no other sexually mature females. If they’re trying to mate Lisa with Tyler, she’d have to be of age, which under normal “queen” behavior, would make her a competitor and a threat, and would likely have Anna kill her. Let’s see where this goes.
E: As the V resistance doctor suggests Anna might do to Valerie, should she find out about that pregnancy. We know she’d take the baby/babies. How long before Ryan freaks the hell out of his poor girlfriend by telling her he’s really a lizard, and so is their kid?
Ah well. Those are my thoughts. What about you? Did anyone else watch? Is anyone else wondering what the heck the staff did with their massive break? Do you like the show more than I do (M: Yes), or will you be giving up shortly, as I’m tempted to?