6. Pound Of Flesh
Hobbes (Charles Mesure) was introduced to the show as a much needed man of action. The Fifth Column was all talking and planning, and they had no actual way of doing anything on any large scale since, you know, they’re all a bunch of civilians. Sure, Father Jack, Action Priest had spent a few years in the Gulf, but that was as an Army Chaplain. How much fighting skill could he possibly have? Thankfully, Hobbes (and, no doubt, orders from up on high at ABC) has turned the Fearsome Foursome into a true Fifth, and the wheels that have been in motion for awhile are actually getting traction.
While it’s nice to see that something is happening, V seems to be falling into a serious trap that I like to call the Sherlock Holmes problem. Meaning that, while there are a variety of meticulous plans being made and plots being carried out, the main character is always one step ahead of them. When it comes to Holmes, the fun is in the denouement. We want to hear how Holmes put all the pieces together. When it comes to Anna, who is the main character on V, for better or worse, she just seems to never be taken by surprise.
No matter what happens in this episode, she seems to have covered the angles. While that might not be anything new for the show, it’s more apparent now that, you know, stuff is happening!
The event in this case, is that the Fifth Column has finally put a plan together. When Anna goes onto global television to make her announcement about the Live Aboard program, they’re going to go up there and interrupt her. Of course, they’re not going to interrupt her with some video footage of aliens doing evil alien things, or with any hard evidence. No, that’d be too much. They’re instead going to flash some message to awaken the rest of the Fifth Column on Earth, thanks to a little help from the Fifth Column on the mothership.
Interestingly, the episode kicks off with a bang. Literally. A rogue V blows up a bomb on the Sydney mothership while Anna’s blessing out all her faithful. Apparently, the bliss doesn’t work on Visitors who have human emotions, like, say… Ryan. Of course, emotions run both ways. Now the Fifth Column have a way of figuring out which V is a good V, and Anna and her crew of flunkies have a way to pick out the Fifth Column, though with a little margin of error and some acceptable losses.
Yes, there was a lot of family melodrama in this week’s episode. More so than last week even, and I was already sick of Pregnant Girlfriend and the V-tus and Tyler and Erica’s alien mama drama. That continues in this episode, along with some clumsy dialogue.
The already-crowded show has also managed to add some new minor characters, at least for awhile, in the form of Joe Evans, Tyler’s dad/Erica’s ex-husband (played by Nicholas Lea, best known to us TV geeks as Alex Krycek from The X Files), and a second visit from Dr. Leah Pearlman (Lexa Doig of Andromeda and Stargate SG-1), who seems like she’ll be taking over as Ryan and Valerie’s practicing physician.
It’s almost as if they’re trying to distract us from the show’s problems by amping up the sci-fi (both in character and special effects form). There was a great shot of the V-tus in this week’s episode, a great little nod to A Clockwork Orange in the form of Anna’s Turing test, and a neat little scene in which some of the V that fall within the margin of error of said test prove their loyalty via self-disintegration.
The tone and direction of this week’s episode were also greatly improved over last week’s episode. Hobbes seems like he’s going to become the best of the new characters, and the show seems to be working harder at thinning the herd out a little bit, relegating characters like Decker and Tyler to tertiary roles and putting more emphasis on blowing stuff up and some much needed action. I give all the credit to episode director, Jonathan Frakes, if only because he has a beard, and that means he has the authority and wisdom to turn a pile of waste into a pile of win.
At least for this week, anyway. Next week will probably be a long series of doctor’s appointments for Valerie and Ryan, while Fr. Jack takes confession and Erica, Joe, and Tyler have a long family chat about anything not related to the bombshell throwaway line from this week about “telling Tyler who he really is”. Also, Anna will only get like 10 seconds of screen time, and will do nothing cool and evil.
I can see why the network wanted to retool the show, if only because it wasn’t doing as well in the ratings as it did when it debuted, but I’m not sure in the middle of the first season was the time to do it. Yes, the new team seems to be moving the show closer to the right direction, but there are still a lot of main characters (even after you subtract one via killing [possibly] and shuffle others off to the side). I worry that for every step forward in terms of action, the show will take another leap back in dialog quality and logic.
The alien fetus-monster is still roiling around and showing signs of life, but the show needs a big dose of prenatal ass-kicking and a melodrama reduction in order to make it through gestation. It might be too late. Still, I’ll be sticking it out, if only because I’ve made it this far.
Read our review of episode 5 here.
Peace Ambassador and US correspondent Ron Hogan is president of the Alex Krycek Black Ooze Society. You can find him strapped into an armchair watching Jason X on loop. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.