V episode 3 review

In the penultimate episode of this year, V once more proves that it's one of the best shows of the season...

3. A Bright New Day

There was a lot of stuff going on in tonight’s episode of V. There are wheels within wheels, double-crosses and triple-crosses, and the long-awaited reveal of the presence of the Fifth Column (which feels like it needs initial capitalization due to being an awesome name of a resistance group in general, as well as a reference to the specific anti-fascist resistance group from the Spanish Civil War). However, before I get into that, I need to take a moment to praise the breakout star of V.

Morena Baccarin, as the V’s supreme leader Anna, has just been the absolute best thing about the show thus far, and that’s saying something because I’m a big fan of the show so far. She’s knocked this role out of the park, and given that she’s the most important character on the program, she’s going to be what carries it or allows it to fail (well, the writers’ use of Anna, anyway).

This was a very heavy Anna episode, and while she never says much, she says a ton with her expressions. The way she tightens her mouth or widens her eyes or softens her forehead just conveys the right amount of either her soothing facade or the cruel alien overlord we all know her to be, depending on the situation. This has been, by far, one of the better performances I’ve seen on television in some time.

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After the delays of last week, the American government has submitted to diplomatic pressure and has issued visitor visas to the, err, Visitors, with Anna leading the way to get the very first surface pass.

Any big change like this is going to rile up the anti-V protesters, who have reached a fevered pitch outside the Manhattan Visitors area, clashing with police and even making a death threat towards Anna. This allows Erica, in her FBI agent capacity, to both get inside the Manhattan mothership and earn some good citizen points with Anna and the Visitors by busting up the assassination attempt.

It also allows Anna to really work the media. The one thing I like most about the show is that, as the Visitors get more experience in dealing with us and the media, they become better at manipulating the media. Last episode’s Media 101 lesson from Chad Decker has really paid off for Anna and company, as they manage to turn both the assassination attempt and the anti-V side’s best spokeswoman against them (Mary Faulkner, the widow of the pilot of the F-16 killed in the very beginning of episode 1.1 due to the V ship knocking his plane from the sky).

Of course, the assassination attempt was a set-up. There are wheels within wheels on V, and you can never quite tell just what is going to happen next. This episode featured not only one, but two double-crosses. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on who is what, the show takes another unexpected twist (but not in the dumbassed M. Night Shyamalan way).

It’s unclear who is a Visitor and who is not. Even if you know someone is a visitor, you still can’t really tell just who is on what side, aside from Ryan, Fr. Jack, and Erica. The Visitors, the human resistance, and now, the Fifth Column of anti-V Visitors are all entangled with one another.

Humans are in relationships with lizards. Lizards are turning against other Lizards. Humans are turning against some Lizards, and making alliances with other Lizards. The Visitors have sleepers in the FBI, the Fifth Column has agents in the Visitor motherships and the FBI, and for all we know, there are human resistance members in the Peace Ambassador program. Given how extensive and subtle the V surveillance has been, there’s no telling just how far their tendrils reach.

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Given that the show is about to go on hiatus until 2010 (and there might be changes during the time off), there has to be something big coming in the next episode to keep viewers waiting. It seems like we’re building up to something pretty big next episode (at least, I hope we are). The various sects of resistance are coming together quite nicely, and the Visitor’s plans are coming along nicely.

More importantly, the new V series finally has its signature graffiti in the form of the phrase, “John May Lives.” It’s a nice nod to the “Who is John Galt?” refrain from Atlas Shrugged, and the reveal near the end of the episode after Ryan escapes from the clutches of a Visitor attack squad was really visceral and quite well done. Every good movement needs a slogan, and I think the new Fifth Column has found theirs.

Read our review of the episode 2 here.

US correspondent Ron Hogan has become president of the Morena Baccarin Fan Club. We get navy blazers with white piping. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.