The season is complete and V has well and truly invaded our TV sets, unmercifully culling Flashforward while solidifying its own position with consistently good ratings. Is it a shining example of Sci-Fi drama? Or does a look beneath the surface reveal something not so pretty?
V had a bumpy start that wasn’t helped by a four month hiatus between the 4th and 5th episode. The first few installments showed promise, and the element of mystery surrounding the V's motives (for those who hadn’t seen the original) made for some compelling viewing. However, there were also many problems caused by poor casting and a significant lack of truly likable characters.
Red Sky is the season finale and, even though the buildup to the final episode was rather lackluster, said episode does involve some rather major events both on the mother ship and on Earth. The resistance realizes that Anna’s baby soldiers are about to march out of their embryonic slime (gunge if you are British) and when they do, Earth will be in a right pickle. So, Erica hatches a plan (pun intended) to destroy the little blighters while Tyler invites his mother to tea with Anna and Lisa. I say plan, but in reality it’s more of:
“When I’m on the ship, I reckon I’ll blow up all the eggs." This is about the equivalent of me having a plan consisting of:
“When I’m within 500 yards of 20 Victoria Secret’s models, I’ll seduce them all and make them my wives."
Anyway, lack of foresight aside, things do manage to conveniently fall in place, ironically due entirely to Joshua and Lisa. Joshua is actually one of the few characters I really enjoy watching onscreen. Mark Hildreth does a great job of providing us with a character that projects sincerity and depth using very little dialogue and some rather corny lines. Unfortunately, Joshua is forced to get rid of his Comms device quite early on, and the resistance has no way of contacting him about the kind of distraction Erica will require. But fear not Earthlings! Father Jack has an awesome idea. You remember Chad Decker, the reporter who betrayed them in Hearts and Minds, the one who went on the air to make a tearful plea for all of mankind to beg the V’s to stay? Well, Jack reckons Chad would be the perfect person to trust with a coded message to Joshua on the V ship. Needless to say, Chad sets up Joshua, and he is quickly imprisoned. Lisa is actually the person who turns out to be most instrumental in the plot, releasing Joshua and providing Erica with the magic blue ball of destruction. It’s worth noting that Joshua also refers to her as "my Queen," hinting at things to come.
Val gives birth to her lizard/human hybrid baby, providing another enormous disappointment. The best we get to see is a poorly implemented CGI tail and some gargled baby sounds from a voicebox. I had been holding out to see this creature, and showing a bunch of swaddling blankets is a cheap cop-out. Sci-Fi shows rely on strong visual imagery; remove that and they quickly become farcical nonsense.
There was a highlight however, in Joshua’s sacrifice, as he forces Erica to shoot him in an effort to keep her cover intact. I was extremely disappointed to see Joshua die since he is the only character that is consistently enjoyable to watch. I was ready to curse V once again for ruining perfectly good characters, but, as I shall explain soon, there is a strange twist to this particular tale.
Erica is able to destroy the vast majority of the baby monsters, and in so doing, she unleashes untapped emotion in Anna. It wasn’t quite as earth-shattering as one would have hoped, but it did have quite an impact, particularly her piercing scream and the sight of the first cracks in her flawless visage. Acting on her emotion, Anna sends what appears to be an attack signal to the other cloaked ships she has waiting outside Earth's atmosphere. This has the most terrible consequence that anyone could have ever imagined. In fact, I’m at pains to describe it now because of how unbelievable horrific it is… Anna makes the sky go a bit red!!! I had no idea how evil she had become. Now every city across the globe looks like it does when there is going to be a really nice day tomorrow. I think this might also be the hidden meaning behind the episode title. Red Sky might well be called "Red Sky" because at the end of the episode there is a red sky. Who knew?
Sorry, I’ll try to be less facetious, but it really was laughable. There was this huge buildup and all we got was the hint of a couple of ships and what looked like some people admiring a nice sunset. If the audience had any idea of what the redness was all about, or if it looked the least bit sinister, then it may have had the intended effect. However, we were never really shown this cloaked army that Anna seemed to have, so there was absolutely no sense of foreboding, not to mention imminent doom. The scale of the conflict is not properly portrayed as all we ever see is Anna and a bunch of eclectic misfits that make up the resistance. We never hear anything of the countless other ships around the world or indeed the other few billion people going about their lives.
But the biggest problem with the series has been the poor casting, as well as character development that has verged on fictional homicide. Elizabeth Mitchell is not a good actress. Through no fault of her own she has an unnaturally expressionless face and delivers lines vacantly and without emotion, which is ironic in the head of a resistance against emotionless creatures. The character of Father Jack has descended into pious idiocy. His speech in Red Sky surrounding the rejection of false prophets was unnecessary, a little creepy and an obvious bit of hand-holding for the Christian majority in the US. Hobbes and Chad have also turned from interesting and complex characters into one-dimensional, self-serving traitors while Ryan has simply gone back to the dark side.
The only light at the end of the tunnel was a glimpse of Joshua awakening, his wounds healed by Marcus. Why this happens is a complete mystery and I’m a little annoyed that it got my attention so effectively because now I feel I’ll have to watch next season to see what happens. Maybe Marcus is alarmed by Anna’s new human emotions or perhaps Joshua will be a tool to infiltrate the 5th column whilst being one of Anna’s mindless pawns. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
As an episode, it fell just shy of good. However, as a season finale, it failed miserably. The effort was obviously put in to create a climactic event; the trouble is there is very little tension surrounding the central characters' activities. It’s difficult to identify with such unlovable people, and I find myself completely indifferent to any of their fates. Strangely enough, the only people I would like to see develop are Joshua and Lisa. The entire resistance should be replaced as far as I’m concerned; they simply do not evoke enough interest.
I’ll watch next season, if only so I can write another unadulterated rant, but I truly hope some heads are knocked together in the ABC board rooms. V should be about conflict on a scale the world has never seen, a threat to our very humanity. It needs to decide whether it wants to be a serious drama or a cheesy play on the alien invasion genre, because it most certainly cannot be both.
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