V episode 11 review

V, for the second week running, delivers a really good episode. Has the show rediscovered its form, wonders Ron?

The one thing you can say for V is that it is never consistent. Usually, that’s been a bad thing, as episodes have varied wildly in tone, filming style, lead character, script quality, acting quality, and (especially) direction of the show. It is a soap opera with aliens? Is it sci-fi 24? Is it a scathing satire of modern media mixed with a police procedural? I don’t know.

Actually, I’m still not sure, but I can say there’s been, for the first time since the first two episodes, two really good episodes of V in a row.

One of the strange things about the show is that every week I was sure that Tyler and Lisa were the weakest members of the ensemble. However, the more they get put into the background (or at least used properly), the more I see they’re actually not bad from an acting standpoint, or from character standpoints.

They’re useful plot pendulums when used by good writers, and this week’s combination of writers (including show runner Scott Rosenbaum and Gregg Hurwitz, who penned last week’s excellent episode) made really good use of the two. Lisa, in particular, was handled very well as a tool for both Anna and Erica to manipulate.

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This week’s show was all about dichotomy, both featuring it prominently and actually showing it on screen. For instance, Lisa torn between her real mom and fear of said real mom, and Erica, who represents a loving mother, her loving boyfriend, and loving love. Anna definitely playing both sides, as she has all along, using her daughter’s pretty slashed face and mangled limbs to her advantage. Erica is both working for the V’s and for the Fifth Column. how much longer can she maintain the role?

The scene in which Erica, Anna, and Lisa are all in the interrogation room, while Lisa anxiously tries to decide if she’ll finger the man her mother wants her to frame, was some legitimately tense, really well-done television the likes of which this show has done too little of over its premier season.

Is Hobbes playing both sides, perhaps? What’s his true motivation? He’s edging dangerously close to double-crossing his fellow Fifth Column, despite the fact that the Visitors seem to have it out for him and want to frame him for everything from terrorism to jaywalking.

Speaking of true motivations, Chad Decker knows he’s being manipulated, and plays along in spite of this, but to what end? Is he all about ratings? Does he have some idea of what he’s trifling with? Will he cave in to Anna’s latest public relations campaign attempts?

Plus, there’s always Morris Chestnut. Ryan started out as an emotionless lizard, but developed love for Valerie. Now his love is his greatest weakness. Will he take Hobbes’ advice and burn the love out before it ends the Fifth Column in New York? Will he succumb to Anna’s bliss once again thanks to the advice of an amoral sociopath? More importantly, will Morris Chestnut ever return to not sucking every time he’s forced to do something close to acting? (Seriously, he’s starting to drag the show down when he’s given any emoting to do. There’s underplaying it, and then there’s not having a pulse.)

One of the positive things you can say for the show is that, since the new staff have taken over, they’ve done their best to put things back on track, balance the various storylines, and do some serious juggling.

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Erica is back as the show’s primary mover and shaker, while the other characters are falling nicely into the niches prepared for them. Plus, we’re actually getting some teasers for stuff I want to see happen, and the all-important end-of-season-wrap-ups for stuff I’m ready to be rid of.

For one, Anna’s soldier eggs are threatening to hatch, and Lisa is threatening to get pro-choice on their unscrambled asses. While the egg scenes this week looked dodgy, this would be a great opportunity for Laura Vandervoort to get soaked in green slime.

There’s also the V fleet on the cusp of entering our solar system, which Anna will have to hide from the world by using more of her contacts, thereby giving her and Chad more chance to spar mentally.

Plus, Hobbes is approaching the delightfully evil Marcus to save his own bacon and fatten his bottom line (or so they’ve teased. Will they really let the show’s best character walk away?).

Oh yeah, there’s also the issue of Val’s lizard baby, which is finally starting to hatch/crown/whatever, the reptile-killing deus ex machina Hobbes has the formula for in his possession, and the only question that really has to be answered by next week’s episode: will the show be renewed for next season, and does it deserve to be renewed?

Two weeks ago, I would’ve said no. Until last week’s episode, I was basically counting the days down until the show was over so I could find something else to do with my Tuesday 10:00pm hour, but now?

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I think if ABC chooses to bring the show back for a second season, I’ll be around for the ride. Unless they really drop the ball in the upcoming season finale, which is always a possibility, I think the show is moving into a good direction and I’d like to see how Rosenbaum and company play out these plot strings.

Read our review of episode 10 here.

US correspondent Ron Hogan isn’t ready to pull the plug on V just yet. Of course, he’s also not paying the electric bill. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi, and at his blog, Subtle Bluntness.