Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: V "Concordia"

Non Spoiler Review:
Such promise...for about ten minutes. Some more of Anna's master plan is revealed, and her vendetta against the human soul has blessedly little screen time. The Fifth Column has a chance to strike back hard against the Visitors, if they can only get their act together. And Tyler's eighteen, free to make all the bad decisions he wants.

Concordia was building up to a promising finish, but the writers again dropped the ball and we get an erratic series of short scenes that just deflate a lot of the tension. The actors aren't even trying anymore and chug through their exposition-heavy lines. What could have been multiple exciting revelations come across as big yawns.

We've reached new depths of incompetence with the resistance. The Visitors really deserve to win if this is the best they've got. Ryan's behaviour is outrageous and Anna hauls out the screaming baby a few more times this week. Apparently Erica just wants to be in Fifth Column Lite for now, unless, of course, it directly impacts her family. Chad gets a new co-anchor, but their screen test is laughable and they would be hard pressed to find work on a local access channel. Big fail.

Hobbes and Cohn need to stage a coup next week and vote Erica and Jack out of the Fifth Column. And while they're at it, skin Ryan. And toss that damn crying baby out of the mothership. That will be Bliss.

"Please, help me welcome my new co-anchor and unnecessary character, Karen."
Spoilers Now!
Anna gives Chad an exclusive of the Visitors' latest gift to humanity, Concordia—a name that refers to cooperation between their two species. The holographic representation shows ginormous city-like structures that will be constructed in vacant urban areas worldwide, a space for learning, healing, etc, and employing countless thousands in its construction. A giant urban renewal project, Chad muses. Indeed, and the announcement will be made at a gala the following evening.

As Erica watches the interview, she reviews the video of the church vandalism again. Tyler comes in, and it's his big eighteenth birthday. She doesn't say anything about what she knows of his activities, but tries to make him feel like he can trust her. When he leaves for peace ambassador duty, she calls his father and tells him they need to talk.

Anna consults with her chief engineer Thomas to ensure Concordia proceeds on schedule. Once the landing sights for their ships are ready, the invasion can proceed, he says. Marcus worries the Fifth Column will attack the gala, but Anna has put her faith in Ryan that he will help them with that.

Ryan meets up with Cohn, and surprisingly confides in him that Anna has his daughter. He wants to work together with him so they can strike hard against her. The problem is Erica, who is ideologically opposed to his methods, but Ryan suggests he can be the bridge between them. They agree that the gala is the perfect opportunity to take Anna down for good.

Yay, we're back together until I'm killed next week.
Erica's busy—as head of the Fifth Column Task Force, Assistant Director Paul gives her and Chris lists of names to clear for Anna's gala. They're also attempting to get a warrant for Father Jack.

As they go over the plans, Tyler's father, Joe shows up (he must have teleported to NYC). She takes him into her office to show him a USB of everything about the Visitors and Tyler's DNA (she's made up a little presentation). That's a lot to take in, but Joe does a pretty good job, much like everyone who learns the truth about the invasion. He's also brought up to speed on Tyler's missing DNA segments. They don't really talk about the questionable paternity, but I guess we're assuming they do that off screen.

Erica has a plan, as she's just as much a manipulative mother as Anna.  Tyler wants his family back together, which is something Anna can't give him, so she asks Joe to come back.

Anna is excited it's Tyler's birthday, too (as excited as she can get without a soul). Now he's eighteen he can make his own choices and not be bound by his family. She can give him something humanity cannot—a future. Lisa has a present for Tyler, as well. She gives him a Visitor video thingie of them kissing. She probably spent $5 on it, and it's totally not as awesome as her mother's.

Joe and Erica walk up, creating an awkward moment (likely because Joe is considering his son is sleeping with a lizard). Joe's solution is to give his son a map of a route he took when he turned eighteen and the restored Harley to drive him there. Erica gives her blessing for him to use the couple of months before college and take some time to think about his future. Make the trip and they'll be here for him when he gets back. Joe wants another chance. On the V jacket cam, Marcus and Anna watch. No big deal, Anna muses. He has yet to see her gift.

The Fifth Column meets, and Ryan announces Cohn wants their help to assassinate Anna by bombing the gala. That doesn't go over well at all with Erica and Jack. Which is why he needs their help, Ryan says. With Erica's inside access, they can kill Anna with little collateral damage. Ryan and Hobbes are both on side. If Anna dies, Lisa would be queen, he would get his daughter back and Tyler would be safe. It's all win-win. Ryan's going to take the chance regardless of their decision, and so Jack sides with Erica when she refuses to agree to it and risk civilians. She warns Ryan not to put her in a position to make a choice, because she'll take him down if she has to.

Joe calls Erica to join him on the mothership as Tyler got a call from Anna about his birthday gift. They all come up to see them as a family where Anna introduces Tyler to engineer Thomas and offers him the opportunity to be the first human to pilot one of their shuttles (yawn). He will live on board and Thomas will oversee his training. Tyler thinks that's awesome. Erica thanks Anna for the generous gift. After her mother leaves, Lisa confides in them that she isn't sure what it all means (I know how you feel, Lisa), but plans for Tyler must be accelerating.

In this week's side plot, Chad gets a talking to by his network superiors, who want to change the program format from a pro-visitor stance to a more critical outlook, given all the doubts about Anna recently in world opinion. Kind of a point-counterpoint thing. Chad's all for it. So he begins testing with co-anchors. He and new gal Karen debate the merits of Concordia and Visitor intentions with the most tedious back and forth exchange imaginable. She aces the screen test with her illuminating colonial analogies and gets offered the job.

Marcus comes to brief Erica at the FBI with her team. Anna thanks them all for providing security at the event. Security is going to be really tight. But...Erica has had a change of heart all of a sudden now that Tyler's life is in jeopardy so she's now okay with assassinating Anna in a room full of people.

What ensues is an attempt to convey an elaborate byzantine caper as we go back and forth between the FBI briefing and her own walk through with the Fifth Column. Jack is going to be the decoy, drawing personnel to his location when he comes to protest the gala, allowing Hobbes and crew to get in with Erica's help. Cohn will have his men there as protesters ensuring the cops are busy. Erica hands out disposable cell phones. Everything will go through her. For tonight, at least, they work together.

Anna and Thomas review their Concordia plans, and the big reveal is this—the structure of Concordia will be completed as the Red Rain takes effect in the population. The structures will allow the cloaked breeding ships to land on top, and Visitor soldiers will begin rounding up women for breeding. The second phase of the invasion will begin, and it will be too late for humanity. Gasp!

Erica is dolled up for the gala, and says good-bye to Joe. She suggests Joe crash on the couch rather than drive back home. He says okay. Subtle, but this is the extent of romance on the show.

Anna is looking quite smashing, as well. She meets Ryan with his daughter before she departs the mother ship. Anna wants to know if there are any threats from the Fifth Column (nice of her to ask at this late juncture). Ryan tells her he's not aware of anything. She seems to accept him at his word so she says he needs to infiltrate deeper. The baby makes a ruckus—the disease Anna's given her is getting worse and only her Bliss will alleviate it. So she doles out some more Bliss. 

At the gala site, guests begin to arrive. Everybody we love is there, including Chad, and suddenly Karen (who has managed to swing an invite). She wants an introduction to Anna, so when she has her big chance, Karen asks her what's the purpose behind all their generosity (she must have been saving up this question for a long time as I'm sure Anna's never been asked it before). Anna tells her they've only given things that were needed to humanity, and they're of peace always. Karen's, like, oh okay. Just checking.

Outside, Jack is with some anti-V agitators. On Erica's signal, he leads his protesters to the gate. She sends Chris to shut it down. Hobbes and Cohn are signalled to move in. Erica lets them in through a back door. Hobbes and Cohn set up their rifle at a nice sniper-friendly area with clear view of the podium. That's the plan!  

Ryan watches the broadcast from home, given he was too recognizable to participate in the operation. He checks a photo of his baby on his phone. What is this we Uh oh.

As Anna makes her way to the stage, Marcus suddenly steps up and warns her Ryan (!) has reported in that the Fifth Column is planning to assassinate her. She refuses to cancel the announcement, so ever-loyal Marcus says he'll take her place instead. When it appears that they've been tipped off, Cohn decides on his own to take a shot at Marcus to at least take out their second-in-command. Erica's not sure about that, and even less so when Marcus introduces Tyler as the first human to pilot a V shuttle and brings him up out of the crowd.

Cohn assures her Hobbes can make the shot, and he's like I'm gonna do it! Erica runs up on stage to giver her son a big hug and embarrass the hell out of him, but also get him out of the line of sight, and Marcus takes a hit. 

Mayhem ensues and Anna is rushed out of the crowd. Erica leads Tyler out and they pause to watch Anna board the shuttle, who sends Erica one of her mighty suspicious glares.

On the mothership, Joshua advises that Marcus' injuries are critical and there's a good chance he'll die (Here's an idea, Joshua—how about using the same medical technology that pretty much resurrected you from the dead!). She places Thomas as her second-in-command. Add to her vexing evening, Tyler has opted out of the shuttle program. But Anna says he is not their only choice. There are others...

Tyler tells his dad he doesn't want to lose his family. After a long evening of assassination attempts, Erica's baked a cake and they enjoy a happy family birthday party. Paul is thoroughly pissed with Chris and Erica, but Chris tells him he gave Erica a lot of rope that day and she took it. His surveillance shows she met with Jack earlier. The protest was a planned distraction, so he let Jack go in favor of catching the bigger fish...he asks to start a special investigation into Erica.

Jack's actions have violated Vatican policy, so Father Travis has the duty to remove him from the parish. Ryan is back on the mothership with his screaming baby. Anna's peeved that he was not entirely truthful, but he tells her he'll give her whoever she wants if she just Blisses his queen!

Hobbes and Cohn stew about their haywire plan and wonder who tipped Anna off. There's really two options—Erica and Ryan, and Hobbes knows it wasn't Erica. So guess who gets skinned next week? 

Why can't I be an FBI agent, part-time resistance leader and mother?
This week had great potential, but yet again slid off the rails at the climax. It's a sad state of affairs when the only sympathetic characters are aliens and terrorists (re: Hobbes, Cohn and Lisa). Everyone else is incredibly stupid. 

Concordia was actually a good premise and brought a lot of lingering plot elements to the forefront—the massive fleet that's been sitting on the backburner, Tyler's value to Anna, and Erica and Joe's relationship. Though the storylines were rushed and we get the usual short, plot driven scenes of exposition, at least these elements were somewhat interesting. Something tells me Joe is not going to last very long here.

The entire gala was such a contrived mess it had me longing for the original series. Back in the day, the old V had a gala too, where Visitor commander John and Diana were announcing a cure for cancer—only the resistance succeeded in crashing that party and ripped John's face off on live television, revealing the lizard underneath. It was awesome! And that was in the 80s! Why can't this show pull off stuff half as good as that?

Anna apparently has total control already, if she can simply announce the construction of what amounts to new cities within the world's major urban areas with a couple of weeks of negotiations that must have included national, state and municipal governments. All of this after she created that public relations disaster, Red Rain. How long are these things going to take? From the diagram it looks like they reach at least a mile into the sky, if not more, and they're building these mini-cities everywhere? (I guess we'll just wait until season ten of V).

Ryan's crisis of conscience has been played so ridiculously, I'm ambivalent if he remains loyal or turns on the Fifth Column. The writers could be pulling out some double agent twist where he's actually going to get to Anna, but I just don't care at this point. He's in the Fifth Column, then he's not, then he's in again, then he's saving Anna's life and calling her queen. Because his baby has a disease that Anna must alleviate through continued Bliss? It's going to be bittersweet for him when he finds out Anna's been playing him all this time and he just has a a colicky baby!

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