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V – We Can’t Win

‘We can’t win’ opens with Chad Decker in a towel. Not my favourite way to start an evening, but half naked men seem to have a way of surprising me when I least expect it. Quickly it becomes apparent that what we are experiencing is merely a dream sequence. Anna appears on screen and proceeds to seduce the still semi-naked Chad and then throttle him. Not the most subtle insight into a character’s mind, but effective nonetheless.

A lot of this week’s episode centres around the news reporter’s suspicion of the V’s and their motivations for helping mankind. At several points Chad confronts Anna, asking probing questions and at the same time solidifies his position as her liaison to Earth. I’m still having somewhat of a hard time understanding why it is exactly he is such an important person to the V’s. Journalists that would sell their own children for global renown, can’t be that difficult to come by. The tabloids here in the UK have some spectacular bottom feeders that would be happy to betray the Human race for a cup of tea and a biscuit, let alone the position of most famous journalist in the world. To be fair, a character like him is necessary to poke at the holes in Anna’s façade, acting as the audience’s voice and questioning what should be obvious to the rest of our overcrowded planet.

A political world forum is currently being held and Anna decides to show up uninvited with the offer of a new kind of energy. It must be said, that they chose to use possibly the weakest name of any made-up science I’ve seen on television. Blue Energy… clearly not as powerful as red energy, but a lot greener than brown energy and conveniently pretty to look at. I’m being somewhat unfair but I do like my science fiction to have some kind of explanation attached to its wacky future tech.

Interestingly enough, the secretary General of the forum was not accommodating and refused Anna entrance, later telling Chad (this time with shirt) that the V’s arrival had caused a great deal of damage to the global economy and questioned their political ambitions.  However, all is not lost for Anna as she decides to use tragedy to her advantage and sees an opportunity in an unlikely place.

Plot progression also takes place on board the Mothership, as Lisa shows signs of experiencing Human emotion. This was probably my favourite development of the episode, even though it resulted in more screen time for Tyler (literally my most hated TV character of all time). She is forced to perform an empathy test and this presents an interesting decision for the V rebels on the ship. The audience is posed the question of whether Lisa will ever defect and this is highlighted in an uncomfortable scene with her mother (there is genuine embryo squishing – on ABC no less). Tyler is still as shallow as Tiger Wood’s rehab program, but he does provide a means to an end with Lisa’s conflicting feelings of love and loyalty.

All is not stagnant within the 5th Column either, with members being assassinated and Ryan, Hobbes, Erica and Father Jack, must battle to stop the killer (as if there would be just one) before more of the resistance dies. This really required more attention and although there were moments of real tension, it was largely vague in details. The fact that an anti V terrorist group was being murdered in clusters around the world, seemed to be entirely ignored by the rest of the globe and was a frustrating plot hole.

Then there is Ryan’s girlfriend Valerie and their unborn, hybrid lizard baby, which lets not forget, was the cliff-hanger of the last episode. I felt this was also rather unsatisfying in the way it played out. Not enough time was spent on what should have been a prominent part of the episode. The story develops, but I feel deeply un-invested in the characters, due mainly to having very little idea what they are thinking or feeling. The inconsistencies and plot holes could be easily forgiven, if I cared about what was happening to each character. However, I rarely see enough of them at a time to gain anything more than a glimpse of their current location.


Overall

Not a bad episode, but a missed opportunity. The show needs to slow down and choose plot lines to concentrate on for each installment. Jumping around at break-neck speed, across five different situations, may give the illusion of pace and excitement, but really it is just distracting and unsatisfying. The episode could have quite easily stuck with Ryan, Valerie and the mystery surrounding their baby, but instead it became lost amongst all the noise. There are certain characters such as Hobbes or Father Jack that rarely say more than one or two cliché references to their former occupation i.e. “fancy a Psalm” and “I‘m gonna punch his face” and given an opportunity, could provide an excellent dynamic to the series.

It’s easy to be pedantic with V, as there are a large number of details that don’t ring true. But to be fair to the show, I still tune in every week and I will do next Wednesday. It’s not the most intelligent or well written program on television, but it is entertaining. The reason I’m so hard on it is because of how it frustrates me with missed opportunities. Hopefully the writers will stop rushing towards a season finale and focus on the characters and their individual conflicts, as that’s where the show excels. That and squashing lizard embryos…. That my friends, is hard to find!

Oliver Hume

Rating
7.2

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