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TV Review: V Getting Past “Birth Pangs”

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While I have mostly enjoyed ABC’s V, it has had wild swings in quality. At times, the episodes flow nicely and make a lot of sense. Other times, there are gaping plot holes a whole fleet of invading V ships could swarm through. This season has been a bit more even than the first, but the show has gotten to a point where it is exciting enough to overlook some of the flaws. Just some, mind you. If they start to swing too far back the other way, it won’t take long to turn against the show once more.

Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) is series heroine. The last couple of weeks, Erica has been taking a turn towards bada**, which is welcome. It’s about time. For too long, Erica and her friends have been hiding in the dark, barely fighting back against the V invaders. They’ve done a few little missions, but nothing that meant all that much in the larger scheme, other than slaughtering the eggs at the end of last season. However, after the death of international Fifth Column leader Eli Cohn (Oded Fehr), Erica now finds herself in charge of a vast organization, and she decides to use it.

At first, though I love seeing Erica in that position, I was resistant to the change. What a coincidence that the worldwide leader just happened to be in Erica’s neighborhood! And after only a week or so of knowing each other, he hands the whole thing over to her, rather than the people he has been working with for years. Then I stepped back and tried to view it from his perspective. Erica is a very formidable woman, and has huge stakes in what is going on. Additionally, she has ins and connections that the other followers do not. As such, I began to accept that twist. Eli’s top lieutenants doubting her until she could deliver to them progress and a plan also helped with the transition, though I’m not sure that what she accomplished this week would really have been enough to win over her skeptics, converting them into enthusiastic followers.

That being said, Erica has already uncovered more about the V in the last few weeks than she has all season. She and Hobbes (Charles Mesure) have a rousing sequence in the apartment complex, and her video chat with her original cell is pretty inspiring. With Sid (Bret Harrison) on board, real progress is being made on understanding the V’s DNA tampering. As Erica gathers more and more people working for her, I get more and more behind the belief that Erica can topple the technologically-superior aliens. And now that her son Tyler (Logan Huffman) is not around, she has a bit more focus.

On the subject of Tyler, why the heck doesn’t Erica tell him the truth? She should have done so a long time ago. I can’t believe that she can’t stop him from going to the Vs if she just explains what is going on. Tyler’s true loyalty to the aliens is bonded mostly through one particular V, Lisa (Laura Vandervoort), who is on Erica’s side! If Erica doesn’t want to inform Tyler, can’t Lisa? She cares about him, too, so she should stage some sort of break up to keep him safely away. Instead, both Lisa and Erica, who are supposed to care about the boy, let him be pulled into Anna’s plans, in which, by the way, Tyler is expendable. Great job, you two!

Erica has a chance to succeed because of the V uprising brewing against Anna (Morena Baccarin), the series’ other leading lady, only on the opposite side of the fight. While thus far the show has shown a two woman battle of the wills between Anna and Erica, every week Anna’s daughter, Lisa, is growing more formidable. Yes, Anna is beginning to suspect that Lisa’s loyalty isn’t with her mother, casting suspicion on her actions. But Lisa has the support of her imprisoned grandmother, Anna’s mother, Diana (Jane Badler), which I am thinking may give Lisa the power that she needs to take over the fleet. But if she does that, the show will be over, so I’m not expecting it anytime soon.

Diana, on the other hand, is simply mysterious. I know she stands against her daughter, but Badler’s sly looks make me think that Diana is not just going to stand behind Lisa, either. She must have her own motivations, and while Diana does exhibit emotion, I’m not convinced she suddenly developed feelings for her just-reconnected with granddaughter. I worry that once Lisa gets Diana free of her prison, Erica and the others may suddenly be battling two formidable enemies.

Luckily, all of these power struggles have been the most interesting part of the show. On both sides of the line, leadership is being questioned and changed, in sometimes action-packed ways, like buildings blowing up and fierce shoot-outs. Honestly, as much as I like the personal drama side of things, V can be a little weak with the writing, so a focus on big action and betrayals is probably the smartest way to go to keep an audience. Know your strengths and your weaknesses, and play to the former.

I am pretty unnerved about Anna’s new hold over Hobbes, supposedly having his wife prisoner. It feels like this has already been done before with Ryan (Morris Chestnut) and his daughter. I think it’s lazy of the writers, having lost Ryan from Erica’s central group, to just do the same thing to another one of her friends. Unless they play it quite differently going forward, this was a bad move.

As to how Ryan may or may not be relevant to the story anymore, I don’t really see his place. His daughter is more attached to Anna than him, and she’s the subject of Anna’s latest experiments. The only place story-wise I see to go with Ryan is to have him rescue his daughter. In which case, he will need to find a hiding spot and be a father. I don’t see how Ryan could re-enter the fight, unless his daughter is aged to at least teenager before he rescues her (a possibility, I know). Then perhaps they could get into the Fifth Column together. As such, I wonder why Ryan even survived the explosion last week. I think it may have been more dignified than what is character is about to become to the show – a drag.

Then there’s Father Jack (Joel Gretsch). While he has pledged to be a soldier now that he’s been kicked out of the church, I can’t imagine that means he’ll be fine with a killing spree. Will he be Erica’s moral compass, letting her know when she’s gone too far? I hope that is how he will be used, as if he’s not willing to step up in a violently aggressive manner, and I don’t see that as a realistic choice, that’s his only real purpose.

Lastly, we have Chad (Scott Wolf), who is just a courier right now. I’m glad that he was swayed from V-supporter to a member of the Fifth Column. But now what? Will he just be a message relayer from Lisa to Erica? I don’t see him excelling in combat. His access is limited, at best. Anna uses him, but doesn’t really trust him. His place in the series confuses me.

We’re definitely more in the middle of a story arc than at either end, so now is mostly just the time to wonder. To see what comes of things, watch V on ABC Tuesday nights at 9 p.m.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • Julie

    This is such a great review!!!!!!!!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    Aw, thank you very much!

  • ben

    love love love we want more,we need a season 3

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