10. Hearts And Minds
Last week, it looked as though V was hopeless. Another sci-fi TV show damned to the refuse pile, destined not to be renewed next year. Then I read an article saying just how much money per commercial break the show pulled in thanks to its hot start earlier in the year.
As it turns out, V is the fifth-most profitable show per episode thanks to high commercial ad rates (must’ve been before the show lost big chunks of its viewers).
Given FlashFoward‘s stagger and tumble, and V‘s relatively stable, albeit a bit low, number, given the financials involved, is it possible that V might be showing some signs of making a renewal in spite of the show’s decrease in relative quality from its opening episode?
As if seeing the writing on the wall, and the glimmer of hope contained therein, V has somehow managed to put together the best show of their post-Olympics season in the form of Hearts And Minds.
There were some serious positives in this week’s episode. For one thing, it played out more like an episode of 24 than the standard V episode, as it kicks off with a bang. A literal bang, as Ryan, Hobbes, and Fr. Jack, Action Priest, use a stinger missile modified with some V technology to blow a shuttle craft full of what the Fifth Column believe to be V trackers out of the sky.
Imagine their surprise when the shuttle wreckage is full of bits of human. Of course, I was expecting it from the moment they showed the scene in last week’s “Coming up on next week’s V” segment, but just because it’s predictable doesn’t mean it can’t be well done.
I knew Anna, masterful manipulator of human media that she is, wouldn’t allow herself to be painted as the bad guy easily. It’s fairly pedestrian, but for a show prone to doing things as wrongly as possible, at least it makes sense.
Another big positive for this episode was they kept the melodrama to the absolute minimum, while still moving various storylines forward. Tyler and Lisa made an appearance, but it was only for Lisa to break up with Tyler. Rightfully, the both of them are becoming side characters and their screen presence is being minimized. Like with Anna and Chad Decker, this is very important for them and it makes their appearances more significant rather than mind-numbingly boring.
The show was paced much better than it has been recently, with every character getting some screen time, and every character loading something significant into that screen time.
Father Jack Action Priest is establishing himself as the conscience of the group (which is obvious considering, you know, he’s a priest). Ryan is the brains, since he’s an actual V. Hobbes is the muscle. Erica is the nervous system, because she’s the link that keeps all the parts moving together and the ultimate decision engine.
Strangely enough, by not being constantly around, the characters are growing more than they did when constantly hanging out together in the basement of the church.
There are still a few clunky moments in the show but, all in all things, seem to have taken a turn for the better with this week’s episode. I mean, the show actually took me by surprise again this week, thanks to Anna’s vicious plan to undo the damage Lisa caused to their plans by breaking up with Tyler. I knew Anna was vicious, but I didn’t know she’d go that far to be successful. I guess the Visitors really don’t have any human emotions!
I checked the IMDb and this week’s episode was written by Gregg Hurwitz, comic book and mystery novel writer (he worked on Punisher MAX and Foolkiller MAX for Marvel, among other things). He’s also written some of my favorite episodes of this season of V, and the few best episodes of this particular new half-season.
I’d really like to see him crank out a few more episodes. Maybe he can help perk the show back up in terms of viewer interest.
The idea of the Fifth Column as terrorist group seems to be one that works well for this particular iteration of V, given that the Visitors aren’t in open conflict with humanity yet. Plus it keeps them from acting out in the open, keeps them separated a bit more, and helps to ratchet up the paranoia the show established in the first few episodes with the sleeper V agents that’s been lacking since Alan Tudyk’s FBI-V was killed off.
Will this show ever find consistency? I don’t know. Could it eventually grasp onto the promise it once held? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Read our review of episode 9 here.
US correspondent Ron Hogan has become a big fan of lizardy V actor Christopher Shyer. There’s much more general lizard appreciation from Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.