‘V’: Choose your masters

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Does V stand for Visitor? Is it Victory? Or even Vengeance?

That seems to be the question pondered by the season finale of ABC’s sci-fi drama “V,” recently renewed for a second season. Although the series won’t return until midseason (at the earliest, November), the writers left us with quite a few cliffhangers to think about in the meantime as alliances fractured, sides were taken, and a new threat to the planet was unleashed by a vengeful Anna, in the throes of her first real human emotion.

Given the way that the season ended, with more than a few plot twists thrown into the mix, I’m extremely glad that ABC is giving “V” another shot next season. This week’s episode (“Red Sky”), offered quite a few surprises as Erica managed to get aboard the mother ship and throw a major wrench in Anna’s plans ... only to have Anna bring about hell on Earth itself as the sky above every city on the planet turned crimson.


It was a fantastic sequence that effortlessly mirrored the pilot episode, which depicted the Visitors’ arrival on Earth as mother ships descended on 29 of the planet’s major cities. Here, we’re once again treated to the site of Visitor ships hovering above Los Angeles, Florence and other cities, but with an eerie red backdrop that signals a major turning point in the shadowy war between the humans and the Visitors.

This week’s episode also saw some unexpected new alliances and the disintegration of others as each of the characters had to decide which master they would serve, choosing whether to follow their heads or their hearts, knowing that it could be the most important decision of their lives ... as the fate of two races hangs in the balance.

Ryan and Val: Poor Val really got a raw deal here. Not only did she learn that the child she’s conceived with her long-term boyfriend is a hybrid, but Ryan is himself a reptilian alien hiding under genetically modified human flesh. No sooner does she go into labor than she’s taken prisoner by a deer-munching Visitor soldier, who brings her to the New York mother ship so that she can give birth to her baby. Although Anna claimed that she wants only to help Val, given that this is a severely high-risk pregnancy, the reverse was true. No sooner did Val give birth to the baby and manage to survive the ordeal than Anna decided to murder her, leaving the baby up for grabs and Ryan ripe for the plucking.

Ryan and Val managed to get one tender scene together in the medical bay as the baby’s head crowned. He kissed her goodbye and went to wait nearby, unaware that Anna planned to eliminate Val and keep the hybrid baby. But any hope of a happy future together with the woman he loves was brutally ripped away by High Commander Anna, who injected Valerie and instructed the medical officer to state that Val died in childbirth and only the baby lived.

Later, Ryan confronted Anna and nearly choked her before Anna offered him another option to vengeance. She gave him his child, whose reptilian tail curled around his finger (like a human baby might use its little pinkie), and offered him a second chance. Ryan, for his part, gave into Anna’s bliss this time, allowing her radiance to wash over him and pledging himself once more to the Visitors, eliminating his human emotions and closing himself off once more. Just what this means with regard to his allegiance to the Fifth Column’s cause remains to be seen. But for now, he’s made his choice about which side to support. After all, he now has a child to think about.

“I’m so sorry you lost her,” says Anna to Ryan,"but now you have me.” (Shudder.)

Anna believes that they can learn from Ryan, to gain insight into their enemy and gain an understanding of “love.” If they can manage to turn Ryan back to their side, then they can turn anyone. After all, human emotions are fostered by proximity to the humans. By returning to the mother ship and shutting down his feelings, Ryan might be able to be “saved” by Anna, especially if she continues to use her bliss on him.

Father Jack: Early on in the episode, Father Travis refused to let Jack deliver a sermon that described the Visitors as false prophets, but Jack refused to give in to the demands of his superior, instead delivering a scathing sermon that ended up nearly emptying the entire congregation as Jack stood at the pulpit and asked the parishioners to renounce the Visitors. “You can’t serve two masters. ... Even a single Judas can defeat us,” cries Jack. “Let V no longer stand for Visitor. Let V stand for Victory.”

Jack’s decision to cross the line in the sand, to place his career and safety in jeopardy, is an important one. Unlike Chad Decker, he won’t sheepishly follow the flock and accept these Visitors with a blind faith that should be used to worship the divine. No, Jack is the leader of a flock and he intends to point it in the correct direction, on the path of righteousness, even though it’s not the smart thing to do. As Father Travis tells him, he’s done a very dangerous thing.

So where will we find Jack next season? Will he still be a priest? Or will he have left the priesthood altogether, focusing instead on the Fifth Column and stopping the threat of the Visitors? Hmmm...

Aside: I was a little confused by Jack’s efforts to send Joshua a message after the comm device stopped working. By sending said message through Chad Decker, Anna’s lap dog, he put Joshua and the entire Fifth Column at risk ... and this gambit ended up leading to the mother-ship-based saboteurs being rounded up. However, it did lead to Chad’s eyes being opened about the Visitors and Anna herself.

Chad: Likewise, Chad Decker is also forced to choose his own master this week. At first it seems as though he’s proved his loyalty to Anna but, after his whispering in Anna’s ear led to the Fifth Column being captured on the mother ship and Joshua imprisoned, he finally learned the truth about what’s really going on up in the sky. Joshua told him that the Fifth Column members will be skinned alive and that Anna didn’t cure his aneurysm, she gave him one.

Chad refused to believe Joshua, but then the scales fell from his eyes as he saw the experiments being performed on the Live Aboard humans. He showed up later at Jack’s sermon and stood to the side, seemingly making his alliance to their cause known. Can he really be trusted? Is he willing to put aside his personal ambition and thirst for power in order to serve the greater good? And will Anna ever let him go?

Joshua: The ever-selfless Joshua sacrificed himself to further the goals of the Fifth Column, creating a diversion that allowed Erica to detonate a blue energy grenade within the incubation chamber where Anna’s thousands of eggs lay, waiting to hatch. After preventing Lisa from risking her own life, he then protected Erica’s cover by forcing her to shoot him, seemingly killing him within a firefight. The effect served to prove Erica’s loyalty to Anna and to remove suspicion that she was behind the attack on the eggs. But it’s not the end of Joshua; a quick scene at the end showed Leah and other Fifth Column survivors reviving Joshua using Visitor technology. ... Could it be that he’s meant to replace Ryan as the Visitor member of the human resistance effort?

I also loved the scene where Lisa freed Joshua from the holding cell in the medical bay and she held his face and told him that he was brave. His reply? “Thank you, my queen.” It was a quick but powerful moment that summed up Lisa’s full potential. Could it be that she’s the rightful heir to the throne, a contender supported by the Fifth Column?

Hobbes and Marcus: Both terrorist Kyle Hobbes and Anna’s right-hand-man Marcus have been extremely shifty all season. This week, Kyle managed to get Marcus off of the mother ship so that Erica could work unencumbered without him keeping an ever-watchful eye on her. But it was really a business meeting so that he could trade the research that the Visitors are so desperate to have for his own freedom, as well as discovering why the Visitors framed him months earlier.

But Marcus has a few secrets of his own: He framed Hobbes so that he could get his attention, as he wants to hire him. When Hobbes scoffed at this, Marcus told him that he’s been working for him for months and that he wanted him to infiltrate the Fifth Column. Although this made it seem as though Marcus is evil and wanted Hobbes to betray the human resistance effort, it was more of a bait-and-switch as Marcus was among the Fifth Column members who were present at Joshua’s revival process.

So is Marcus one of them? Is he playing both sides? Is he the Judas at the table, ready to throw his hand in with whatever side seems like they’re about to win? I’m still not sure what to make of Marcus, even at the end of the season. But I dare say that he might just be on the side of the angels, after all. “Welcome back,” he tells Joshua, a sentiment that echoes Anna’s “welcome home” to Ryan earlier.

Erica: I loved the dinner party scene that played out between Erica, Tyler, Anna, and Lisa as the two families came together aboard the mother ship. But although Anna believes that she is using Erica and exerting her influence over her, the reverse is true: Erica used the invitation to destroy the Visitor soldier eggs, destroying all but 12 of them in the process and wiping them out using a blue energy grenade given to her by none other than Lisa.

Which is lucky because the gel explosive that Hobbes had prepared for her was seized when she came aboard the ship (it was concealed in her purse), along with her firearm. But thanks to Lisa, Erica was still able to carry out her mission and escape without Anna being aware that she was the one who killed all of her precious children.

I thought that Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin both did an excellent job at conveying the tension and weight of this meeting, a sit-down confrontation between the two in which neither of them was honest with the other. Erica’s grit and determination, as well as her love for Tyler, really came through, as she pretended to go along with Anna’s game of playing happy families.

Anna and Lisa: The royal mother and daughter couldn’t be more different as we wrap up the first season of “V.” Or are they? Lisa made her allegiance to the Fifth Column clear, giving Erica the means to destroy Anna’s children, her own people, rather than allow them to hurt the humans, or even Tyler.

Anna, however, finally has her very first emotion, giving into her heart-rending grief and agony after discovering that someone has destroyed all of her eggs. As Lisa gave a slight smile behind her mother’s back, Anna screamed out in utter rage and loss, unable to understand what was happening to her. (Marcus explained that it was her first experience of human emotion.) Although some of the soldiers escaped death, their core temperatures were severely affected, and Marcus was unsure how many will actually survive.

While Anna experienced full-blown grief, she turned to an act of vengeance, initiating a sequence that turned the sky red across the planet. Just what has she done? Was this her plan all along? And why has she not waited until the appropriate time to unleash this attack? Could it be that she’s now just as prone to an emotional response as any human? Will this be her very undoing? Or will it be the end of the human race? Find out next season ...

What did you think of this episode and of the season in general? Should we trust Marcus? Sad to see Val go? Will Ryan come back around? Will Lisa become queen? Will you come back next season to watch Season 2 of “V”? Head to the comments section to discuss.

-- Jace Lacob (Follow my musings on television, food and more television on Twitter: @televisionary)


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