V episode 5 review

ABC brings V back to our screens - but is the show stuck in a transitional phase, or is it hitting its stride? Ron has been finding out...

5. Welcome To The War

Did you enjoy your V-cation? While you and I had a break from the show for a few months, the powers that ABC were busy little beavers. The show runner from the first four episodes, Jeffrey Bell, was taken off the show permanently. Scott Peters, creator and executive producer, lost his power.

The show is now the baby of a guy named Scott Rosenbaum, a writer and producer for NBC’s hit Chuck, because a guy known for writing light spy comedy is a guy I want in charge of my hard-hitting sci-fi drama!

While the changes behind the camera have been many, for me, the thing that’s been the most damaging to the show has been this new network tactic of the half-season. Like for V and FlashForward and a bunch of other shows, ABC decided to show four episodes, then take a long, long break. That’s why last week’s episode was a clip show (that’s right, they’ve already busted out the clip show for a show that had less than a month’s worth of episodes). At least it spared us an interminable recap at the beginning of the show (ahem, Caprica, I love you, but you’re killing me with the recaps) and allowed us to jump right into the action.

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Father Jack, fresh off his stabbing, gets rushed to the only place where he’s sure to be revived: the V healing center. The very same healing centers where people are getting their shots of the V flu shot known as R6, for some nefarious purpose or another. Well, actually, all the shots have the same nefarious purpose, and it’s very similar to the built-in cameras on the V ambassador jackets.

The problem is that people aren’t getting those V flu shots fast enough. Not enough people are going to the Visitor healing centers, because people don’t trust them. Which is reasonable on our part, given that these aliens just glided in and offered us gifts.

So Anna’s plan is to lean on Decker, get him to run a special on the healing center, and crank up the indoctrination process before the Fifth Column gets any more scalps. She’s also working over winning the trust of the FBI by handing them the head of most-wanted criminal terrorist mastermind Hobbes (I cannot find out the actor’s name) on a plate, thanks to some magical V technology.

Of course, Erica knows it’s a lie, since she’s with the group that blew up the factory, but everyone else is suitably wowed. However, since she’s lead on the bombing case, she’s able to track down Hobbes using information from her partner Dale’s computer.

He’s probably the one to put the finger on Hobbes for the bombing, or who put the idea in Anna’s head, so it’s only fitting that his secret files are the deus ex machina for our group of determined resistance fighters to find someone with guns and expertise. You need those things to raise an army. At least, you need those things to raise a human army.

All Anna needs is a selection of beefcake warriors and her own eggs, ripe for fertilization.

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Meanwhile, Erica’s worried about her son Tyler while Ryan is worried about his pregnant girlfriend Valerie’s potential lizard baby. (Valerie provides us with one of the most fun moments of the episode towards the end, when she does a serious tease about reenacting the infamous V hamster scene.) I find myself caring less and less about Valerie as she gets less and less screen time. That’s one of the huge weaknesses about ensemble shows like this. When you’ve got Father Jack, Action Priest, running around with Erica and Ryan while they recruit an international terrorist to the war, there’s not much of my attention left over for babies and binge-eating pregnant ladies.

In the fourth episode, I was hoping there’d be the famous hamster reveal at the end, so as to keep viewers coming back to the show after the break. There wasn’t, but one thing I liked is that the episode teased us with that classic TV moment’s revisitation before cutting to a similar, equally horrifying reveal (marred by some bad CGI).

Is this going to be the episode that reignites interest in V? I’m not sure it can be saved at this point. The interruption was a killer for both V and FlashFoward‘s respective momentums, and if the ratings were slipping when people followed the show from week to week, the long break definitely encourages viewers to stop tuning in, even if I do think the new time slot behind Lost should help (and the move to the later time slot should allow the show to be darker).

They seem to be moving in that direction (Anna’s black widow snack attack, the new character’s proclivity for violence, how this episode started out with Erica killing a V ambusher), but I don’t know if it’s going to work. It was awfully quippy this episode, like a bad 80s action movie. I do like that, but not mixed into this show as it exists now.

V is in a state of transition. I only hope enough people stick around to see where it goes. I’m not sure they will, though, as this week’s episode was definitely one the weakest so far. It’s like whoever the new guy in charge is loves the idea of Hobbes, so we had to rush to get him into the plot, and it came off as really sloppy writing. The whole episode seemed… off.

I hope that the new voice of power will start to tie things together better, and soon. Otherwise, Rosenbaum might be looking to get his Chuck job back.

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Read our review of episode 4 here.

Peace Ambassador… err, US correspondent Ron Hogan doesn’t like vaccinations or flu shots. Not because he’s afraid of tracking tags in his DNA, but because he’s afraid of needles. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.