V episode 2 review

Can the second episode of the new take on V match the standard of the first?

V: There Is No Normal Anymore

2. There Is No Normal Anymore

One of the elements of V that I find myself really enjoying as we go into the second episode is the paranoia. Really, one of the things the show has done incredibly well with the sleeper alien cell angle is establish that pretty much anyone can, and just might be, a Visitor. I mean, in the first episode we had two surprising reveals of various Visitors, so it’s obvious that V is living by the old Joe Bob Briggs Drive-In Rules, except replace “Anybody can die at any moment” with “Anybody can be a secret lizard”.

As I watch the show, I find myself studying each character that pops up intently, attempting to determine just what their true motivations are. I’m getting paranoid, staring intently at my television as if I can somehow read who is a V and who isn’t based on their expression or their body language. Yes, I know it’s a TV show and that they’re all (probably) human actors, but the show is doing a great job at pulling the viewer into the mindset of FBI agent Erica and Father Jack.

As the two definite humans in the cast, they have no one they can really turn to but one another, and Erica is working overtime to remind Jack of this fact. Jack, whom I have nicknamed Father Voice of Reason in my copious show notes, isn’t quite getting the whole ‘Anyone can be a V agent’ thing, and keeps stumbling, thanks to his more trusting nature. While he’s definitely more representative of how a normal person would respond to the V introduction (thanks to being confused and blindly trusting the authorities to do the right thing), Erica is definitely more along my mindset and, for that reason, she’s more of the focus of the show as I think the average viewer is going to be reading the show and its characters as closely as I am in an attempt to pick out the V’s before the reVeal. (I already have a couple of them I suspect strongly, though I won’t reveal them yet.)

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Part of the fun of this kind of show is that mystery. I like that we’re basically playing Spot The V, The Home Game.

This episode, in particular, does a good job at using the extras to provide that extra layer of paranoia. It’s shot well in general, actually; there’s a dueling interrogation scene in which Erica meets with the Visitor Threat Assessment Joint Taskforce while Father Jack gets interrogated by a different agent from the VTAJT at the church regarding the stabbing from the first episode. It’s really well cut together. V is really well made by television standards, thanks in no small part to the special effects budget.

However, while some people, like Erica’s son Tyler, have completely embraced the Visitors, this episode papers over a problem a lot of people had with the plot by emphasizing that not everyone is all keen about our new alien overlords. Indeed, outside of the V ship zone in Manhattan is a loud, angry group of protesters that Tyler scuffles with. It’s not the best idea for a Peace Ambassador to get in public fist fights, and that gets Tyler banned from Lisa and the V compound.

It also sets in motion what is obviously going to be a Romeo And Juliet plotline with Tyler and Lisa. After all, Erica is insistent that her son not have any contact with the Visitors, since she knows what they’re up to. Lisa is also banned from visiting Tyler by the dueling forces of the US government’s careful relationship with the Visitors and Tyler’s banning from the V ship as a result of his fisticuffs.

That makes it all seem like a big set-up to ingratiate Lisa with Tyler, due to the forbidden interspecies love affair. Given that anyone can be a V and that they’ve already infiltrated one anti-Visitor resistance group, it makes me wonder if this wasn’t all set up by the Visitors from the beginning, but for what purpose?

They’ve proven themselves to be master manipulators of the humans’ emotions (Anna’s soft voice, symmetrical features, non-threatening haircut, and the omnipresent halo of white light behind her every public speaking appearance is proof of that), and when they can’t get the reach they need, their human collaborators (like self-serving Chad Decker) are more than willing to help them out for short-term gains.

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The interplay in this episode between Decker and Anna is spectacular. It’s fun to see both sides playing against one another for power and control in the relationship. Normally, I’m not a Scott Wolf fan, but he’s really good as a sleazy news opinionist.

Love is going to be a big player in this show, since the relationship between V Ryan and (apparently) human Valerie also gets a lot of attention. Being a member of the pro-human V resistance, as Ryan seems to be, is dangerous. They’re everywhere, and can access any information. No wonder Eric is so pants-soilingly paranoid.

That makes me wonder, why would there be more than one Visitor working with the resistance? Or any V willing to turn against his own people, obviously risking everything, to aid the humans? Just exactly how bad are the plans the V’s have for us?

It’s telling that the show has me second-guessing pretty much all the interactions between every character save the definite aliens like Dale (who isn’t off the show yet, Alan Tudyk fans!) and the definite humans like Erica, Father Jack, and Tyler.

Even in situations where a character’s motivation is obvious, I’m still studying all the angles trying to tell just what is going on and who is leading whom. I’m hooked.

Read our review of the pilot episode here.

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