After a superb start, which consisted of charred corpses and moral conflict, this episode slides quickly into mediocrity and eventually disaster. The lowest point in the series, Hearts and Minds, acts as a lesson in audience alienation (pun not withstanding), containing glaring plot holes, illogical character behaviour, and lazy direction.
The episode begins frantically with Hobbes aiming a ground-to-air missile at a V shuttle. After the inevitable explosion and destruction of the aircraft, Ryan, Father Jack, and Hobbes scurry to explore the result of their most outlandish strike against the V’s. To their horror, amongst the wreckage, lies not the husks of dead lizard people, but the burnt remains of Human passengers. At this point, the title sequence commences and I rub my hands together like a trench coat wearing, curb crawler.
However, this was the point when the producers decided to use the laziest, most clichéd technique in television; they pulled the ‘12 hours earlier’ stunt. Why oh why do shows repeat this clumsy fragmented method of editing? It’s effectively just spoiling the ending, whilst forcing you to watch the tiresome build up to the event you know is going to happen and will almost certainly have to watch again. Shows have managed to make the technique functional by keeping enough mystery surrounding the future event, so that the revelation of how it came to be, is intriguing and satisfying. V is not one of those shows.
Anybody who has watched the program for more than an episode, can grasp the concept that the V’s are somewhat devious and that the resistance didn’t intentionally murder a ship full of human passengers. The events that cause this situation to take place could easily be explained in a short conversation consisting of:
Ryan - “The V’s are sending trackers to come get us… damn, we should shoot them with a big rocket launcher” [Gets rocket launcher]
Father Jack - “Shit… these pieces of torso don’t have scales”
Hobbes - “My bad”
Instead of that compelling little screen play, the writers chose to drag us through 15 minutes of mind numbing dialogue before we even get to what we already know is going to happen. Unfortunately, the ordeal does not stop there. Hearts and Minds contains plenty of action, with FBI hunts for the 5th column (now labeled as dangerous terrorists) and conflict within the minds of prominent characters. The trouble is, it is becoming more and more difficult to become invested with any of their inner turmoil because how so very unlikable these people are. Father Jack is an example of a character so one dimensional, he only seems to open his mouth to play a kind of ’God’s advocate’, where he perpetually nags at the group from his position of moral authority, even when he is the very person who has caused the disaster in the first place. I can’t imagine anybody watching his behaviour without having the distinct desire to lay fist to face. I was an avid watcher of The 4400 and Joel Gretsch was fantastic as the lead, but in V he is little more than a furrowed brow wearing a dog collar.
The other character that has been lobotomized (quite literally) is Chad Decker. Prior to his surgery on the V ship, he was an interesting individual, filled with conflicting emotions surrounding ambition vs. suspicion. Clearly his behaviour has been modified by Anna, but what remains is the shell of a character who is merely a drone with the face of an actor we used to quite like.
- Ohhh you.... No but seriously, give me some of your lines
As far as plot progression goes, the little that happens is forced and creates noticeable inconsistencies. At one point Father Jack is being questioned by the FBI about his involvement with the attack. Erica is present and obviously wants to shut him up and so asks her superior to go fetch some photographs (so that she might be alone with Jack). Firstly, how often do you ask your boss to go fetch some photocopying or a coffee for you? Secondly, how often does he toddle off and get it without pause? Once she has given Jack a good talking to, the once nervous Priest, clearly teetering on the edge of confession, has a complete change in character and swiftly demands to be charged or released. Now, I only wear a Police uniform when I’m dancing for money, but I would still have enough common sense to conclude that Erica did something a bit fishy to cause this kind of u-turn in suspect behaviour. Instead, within minutes, she is chosen to lead a task force to track down the Fifth Column. But there's more... Her partner in this new investigation is to be Malik, the detective played by the seemingly omnipotent cast of Battlestar Gallactica actors, who appeared out of nowhere halfway through the season. You know the one; the emotionless woman who pulls sinister facial expressions at every juncture. Well the shocking twist is….. She is a V!!
I know, jaw dropping stuff. But sarcasm aside, this really was built up as a big reveal, complete with tense music and unnecessary flashback. It was about as effective as Michael Jackson’s dermatologist and I’m pretty sure I cringed out loud on witnessing it.
There were a few (very few) redeeming features however, surprisingly involving Lisa and her new sensitivity to Human emotion. Her evolution as a character is the only thing that interested me in the entire episode and not only because she broke up with the androgynous mess that is Tyler (he actually weeps against his mother’s bosom). Lisa has begun to sabotage her Mother’s plans, as her newly found conscious compels her to protect those in danger. The episode concludes with Anna asking an unnamed V to break Lisa’s legs and it is genuinely quite haunting.
If you can, skip this episode entirely. It brings very little to the table and the plot progression that does occur is forced, inconsistent and unbelievable. I haven’t even mentioned that fact that Anna chose to use Human remains in the crash as opposed to live people (suddenly not killers?) which would have been immediately apparent to any medical examiner when they looked at the bodies. These kinds of plot holes cannot exist in a show already built around a ridiculous premise of alien lizard people from outer space. Science Fiction revolves around the interactions and behaviour of its characters, as soon as the audience fails to relate to that, the fiction becomes out of context nonsense.
I will give V another shot next week, maybe the writers were hungover when they wrote the script or perhaps the monkey ran out of ink on his typewriter, who knows. But as far as Heart and Minds goes, I wish I'd spent the 40 minutes dancing for money as Officer Hardshaft, at least then I'd be almost $3 richer.
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