V episode 4 review

The last episode of V until March. And there's a heck of a cliffhanger...

V: It's Only The Beginning

4. It’s Only The Beginning

Given that V is going on hiatus for a soul-crushing three months, you’d think there would be something put out on screen to grab the viewer and make them want to return once the Winter Olympics are over.

While V‘s cold opening this week was a great one, and while there are several really good special effects shots in this week’s episode, I was denied the great, gory kind of shock shot I was really hoping for (unless you count a very distant show of naked Anna’s booty). While there was a big reveal, and a HUGE cliffhanger, there wasn’t what I expected.

Of course, that’s my fault for expecting something I knew I wouldn’t get. There’s always the real season finale, though!

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This week’s show is very heavy on Fifth Column action, as it’s time for Father Jack – Action Priest!, Erica, Georgie, and Ryan to get their hands dirty. What causes the Fifth Column to start planning real action? Well, a new development from the V Healing Centers, of course.

Chad Decker’s show has become must-watch viewing for anyone interested in V life, as he’s the only newsman who seems to get any kind of access to V technology and the V’s themselves. That’s all due to his quid pro quo relationship with Anna and the other Visitors. They give him exclusives, he gives the V party line out on the air. It’s a nice, neat little relationship, at least as far as the Visitors are concerned.

When Anna reveals during Decker’s show that the V Healing Centers are expanding their services to include preventative medicine, it’s not a huge surprise. However, what is surprising is the V announcement that they’ve developed a “vitamin shot” designed to fight off cancer, retard the aging process, and be a general wonder drug. (As a sports fan, the use of the phrase “super vitamin shot” makes me think the Visitors are going to start giving us all steroids and Human Growth Hormone, both of which would definitely slow aging and make us feel worlds better.)

Of course, since you can’t get humans to trust vaccines given by Earth doctors, how are you going to make them trust V doctor vaccines? Time to call on Anna’s pet journalist, Chad!

Some of the comments have suggested that I’m a little hard on Scott Wolf’s character because I’m not a big Scott Wolf fan, and maybe that’s true. I described Decker as sleazy on more than one occasion, because I see him bending over backwards to do whatever he can to get further ratings for his show (and greater access to Anna). To me, that’s kind of sleazy to engage in that sort of propaganda-style interview just to keep getting V approval, but to the show’s credit, Decker is starting to get more and more irritated with the conditions placed on his access, and his constant shadowing by Anna’s second in command.

Of course, as Decker shows more signs of pulling away from his V puppet masters, they’re smart enough to keep tightening the strings, as a demonstration scanning from a V medical technician filmed for the show reveals that Decker needs a little bit of that magical V medicine. Now he’s got motivations other than celebrity to kowtow to the V line of thinking, in spite of himself.

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Speaking of V medicine, Ryan’s fiancée, the mostly-neglected therapist Dr. Valerie, gets significant screen time this week, if only because she’s Tyler’s therapist. Through him, she gets bumped to the head of the line at the V medical clinic for a quick medicine adjustment and a trip through the V scanomometer. She and Ryan are going to be the Willie and Robin of this new V, apparently. Which I figured would be the case, if it wasn’t going to be Lisa and Tyler.

Meanwhile, while all this is going on, we’ve got a lot of Fifth Column action. Given the announcement of any sort of mass inoculation is met with skepticism, the announcement of V injections sends the Fifth Column into a frenzy to try and find out what the real motivation is. This gives the four members of the group, Ryan, Georgie, Erica, and Jack, a chance to get to know one another and the chance to start working together as a unit.

It also provides some fractioning in the group, as Georgie’s first response to any V plot is to start making with the violence. Apparently, he’s as unhinged as the first episode made him look, and then some.

Ryan, Erica, and Father Jack work well together as a team. That’s going to be crucial for the resistance, and crucial for the success of a show. There’s a lot of good chemistry between the three of them, and I think that the Fifth Column is really shaping up very nicely. Now that they’ve got some experience in working together, and how their various skill sets are meshing up, I think we’ve got a core that can take on the much bigger challenges that lay ahead of them.

There’s also a lot of Fifth Column action on board the V ship, as we see just how far Joshua and the other anti-Anna Visitors will go to protect their movement.

We also get to see just how Draconian Anna is willing to be, which again provides a nice counterpoint to the sweetness she displays to Tyler when he finally gets introduced to his new girlfriend Lisa’s momma. We knew she had evil intentions, but now we can see just why her fellow space lizards would risk everything to stand up against her. While the Fifth Column work together, Anna is definitely an old-style brutal dictator (dictatress?), having traitors flayed alive.

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Given that this is essentially a half-season finale, I expected the show to throw in a cliffhanger, and they threw in a really big one. They also threw in a lot of eye-candy special effects, a secondary reveal of the pregnancy, and a lot of call backs to the old V series (the cancer cure, the suicide pills). It wasn’t the best episode of the series so far, but it wasn’t from lack of trying.

There was a lot of ground to cover and not much time to do it in, lots of stories had to start intersecting, and they had to build in enough hooks to ensure everyone would come back after the Winter Olympics.

I think they did a really good job at doing what they needed to do to try and hold onto viewers, and now I’m mad at ABC for splitting the series in half and making me wait to find out what’s happening next.

The final shot of the episode should be enough to make any sci-fi fan salivate at the idea of what’s yet to come when the show returns in March 2010.

Read our review of the episode 3 here.

Peace Ambassador… err, US correspondent Ron Hogan has totally not been compromised by V propaganda. All hail Anna!  Um, I mean, find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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