Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: V "Siege"

Non Spoiler Review:
Siege plays out like a series game-changer, with Anna gleefully (whoops, that would be emotion) cornering Eli Cohn and the Fifth Column thanks to awful Ryan's treachery. A whole lot of people are put in jeopardy as scheme number two is set in motion to get Tyler to move aboard the mothership for good. Some die. Baby cries. There's talk of the human soul. And Jack gets kicked out of his rectory after being laicized by the Pope (which isn't near as interesting as it sounds).

Unfortunately, the events of this week would have been suitable for last season's finale, and rather than finding any excitement in the climax, it felt more like about time. Siege highlighted how wasted the series has been, taking a season and a half to do what was accomplished in the four hours of the 80s miniseries. There's so little emotionally invested in these characters right now, they could mow down half of them and spark no feeling from me (which means I'm a Visitor, I guess).

I'm finding some joy in the farcical behaviour of the FBI, personified by Paul and Chris, which brought a few humorous moments. Meanwhile, the Visitors have slipped so easily into cheesy super villainy, Anna might just as well put on a cape and stare out the window of the mothership all day scheming. Somehow I don't think the writers intend to be so self-satirizing, but it seems Diana is speaking for us when she comments to her daughter "Why do you keep doing this, coming down here to gloat, doing this dance we do..."

Spoilers Now!
One day later, the world is waiting for news on Marcus. Karen and Chad debate the issue, and she suggests actions like these are going to lead Anna to lose her cool and forget she's of peace. That's very insightful, given that Anna is on the mothership by Marcus' bedside, vowing (so vindictively, I might add, she might as well be Scarlett O'Hara swearing she'll never be hungry again) to hunt down the Fifth Column and make them PAY. Grrr...

Then she goes to Ryan who can't get the baby to stop crying. Just in case we've forgotten, Anna reminds everyone she'll need her Bliss. In exchange, she wants Eli Cohn this time and instructs Ryan to meet and kill him (perhaps it would be more efficient if she outlined all her requests at once, rather than one per episode). Ryan admits the Fifth Column must know he sold them out and won't let him get close. Anna suggests he'll find a way. It's so easy to be her.

Erica's been raked over the coals by the FBI for the shooting fiasco, and she's been taken off duty for the time being, which allows her more fun time with the family. But first she needs to give Cohn a head's up to keep a low profile. Hobbes is certain that Ryan sold them out. And apparently this conversation has already happened offscreen, as Erica tells him to bring Ryan in so she can at least look him in the eye first before they kill him. Wow. What difference one episode can make.

Jack receives an official papal decree that he's been laicized and must move out of the rectory within the week. Jack asks to give one last service, but Travis won't let him and demands his collar. It's just ordinary Jack now.

Ryan's back to his old days of tracking, which means jumping on cars and stuff, and kills one of Cohn's men (there goes the double agent theory). But he runs into an already armed Cohn and several men waiting for him in his building. They taser him and beat him up a bit.

Erica's enjoying happy time with Joe and Tyler when she gets the call from Cohn that Ryan tried to kill him and is in his custody. Erica wants to talk to him first. Cohn agrees, but Ryan is going to die, regardless. Outside Cohn's building, an additional tracker has followed Ryan to Cohn's base and advises Anna of the Fifth Column's location. She has an even better idea—call the FBI anonymously to report the location of the Fifth Column, and the Visitors' hands will be clean. Like clockwork, A.D. Paul gets the tip and he and Chris head down to the site.

Given Erica is a prime suspect, they avoid calling her to tip them off, but Erica's already arrived to see about the Ryan situation. Beaten and tied up, Ryan gives his sob story about his sick baby, and he came for Eli not Erica. He warns her to leave or she'll be dead like the rest of them.

Cohn's men alert them that the FBI is on the way and are surrounding the building. Eli has the area under surveillance and Erica is adamant she won't get in a firefight with her colleagues. She knows what to do to avoid a bloodbath and get them all out of there. She apparently has figured out the FBI is on to her already, so she'll pose as a hostage (Oh, my god. No one's ever done that!). That would clear her and buy them all time, Cohn muses. He has to punch her a few times in the face, though, to make it convincing.

Outside, ever diligent Chad has already arrived to report on the situation, just as Erica is brought out onto the balcony as a hostage so she can wave her cell phone and look all battered for an astonished Paul and Chris. On V cam, Anna is surprised to see Erica there, too, but that gives her an even better idea to work the situation—get rid of Erica and Joe, and Tyler's emotional ties will be severed. Thomas will handle it, and Anna instructs Lisa her job will be to get Tyler to cooperate and on board the ship for the next phase of the invasion. 

Tyler and Joe's football game is interrupted by a call from Lisa advising him about his mother. As planned, Joe heads down there to find out what's going on, saying he'll call Tyler as soon as he knows anything. Meanwhile, defrocked Jack is leaving the rectory when he sees the news about Erica, and he takes off there, too. 

Paul apparently trusts Erica now as they speak on the phone. She says Cohn has an idea to get them all out without anyone getting hurt, but everyone has to keep calm (I think I somehow missed where she explained what she was doing there in the first place. I think). Meanwhile, Thomas gives Paul a V device to see inside the building, allowing them to pick out all the Fifth Column snipers—Hey, that would really have come in handy last week for the Concordia gala...seeing through buildings and finding snipers and stuff.

Joe arrives and pushes his way through the police barriers to get an update from the FBI. An agent, a friend of Erica's, tells him they found a hidden entrance into the building that the Fifth Column doesn't know about. Once they have the go ahead, they'll do everything they can to get her back safely. The agent is abruptly called away and leaves that very set of blueprints (complete with marked out passage) with Joe (!).

Erica and Cohn share a brief and heartfelt conversation about family and how important it is (given they have so much time on their hands at the moment). Then who should be brought in, but Joe! They found him in a bricked up tunnel in the basement. But Erica's never heard of the agent who gave him the map. Was it a sleeper V? Erica puts it all together, and figures the V's want both her and Joe killed.

Anna is advised everything is proceeding as planned, though the FBI has called off its attack on the building. Anna says Marcus has another asset on the ground—Hobbes—who will take care of everything if the FBI doesn't move in. She sends Thomas down to handle it (how that must suck for the chief engineer to have to do all Marcus' errands too).

Cohn watches the FBI lock in on targets that they can't possibly see (using Anna's tech). But he has another ace up his sleeve and makes a call. Random people in the crowd get the signal and pull off their jackets. It's a flash mob—but with suicide vests. Paul calls off the attack on the building as these new men take hostages and head inside.

Erica is infuriated and decides it's time for a moral debate about involving civilians. Hostages are the only way to ensure they all live right now, Eli says. Cohn is willing to die if he has to, but Erica and Joe must escape with his own second-in-command who knows all of Cohn's worldwide contacts (let's call him Fierro, as I think that's what they called him). Oh, and he's drafting Erica as leader of the Fifth Column because he's seen in her that she recognizes this is a fight for their families. He tells her to live to fight Anna another day and take his people out there with her. 

Jack shows up at the police barricade, but they won't let him in and Chris decides to come over to yell at him for putting Erica in jeopardy. So he calls Hobbes, who won't show up either given his high visibility. But Hobbes is intercepted by Thomas, who has a job for him. Apparently they have his girlfriend Sarah (who was supposed to have died five years ago). Thomas has her voice recorded, and orders him to detonate a bomb in the crowd, or he'll never see Sarah alive. That seems to be sufficient to convince Hobbes to betray his friends.

Remember Ryan? Erica comes to say good-bye. She says she'll do everything she can to help the baby, but she'll never forgive him. He apologizes, but it's too late for that, she says. Erica then says good-bye to Cohn. Fierro will blend in with the hostages as they walk out. Finally, she gets to Joe, and he says they have so much time to make up for, and kiss. Aw. That can't be good.

Chris then gets the call from Erica that Cohn wants to release the hostages and he'll surrender himself. He assures her no one will fire as long as Cohn's men don't. 

Erica slowly leads everyone out, but Hobbes is on site and removes the explosive device, ready to set it in the crowd. Cohn, meanwhile, arms all the suicide vests and blows himself and the building up first. With absolute mayhem, the FBI moves in, creating a firefight with the snipers who are apparently still on the roof (or some roof. Somewhere). Erica tries to get Joe and the hostages to safety but he's shot in the leg. Chris drags Erica away, and Joe is gunned down in a hail of bullets. She pulls free and goes to him (this scene needed some slow motion). Hobbes puts the device back in his pocket, considering they don't need any more stuff blown up, and slips away. Anna watches it all with a smile (Ack! More emotion). 

In the aftermath, Fierro has managed to walk away in the commotion. Tyler runs over, as he got tired of waiting for his dad to call, and since apparently no one has a medic for Joe, the three of them just huddle in the rubble. Chris watches sadly and comments that they were wrong about Erica. She's clean. (So...I guess they'll just forget all the surveillance footage of her and Jack). There's no doubt that she's off the hook as Paul literally announces he will kill the paperwork on Erica Evans.

Anna gloats to Diana that the Fifth Column is destroyed and soon the human soul. "Why the need to prove herself to her?" Diana asks. Anna says her attempts to fuel human emotions in her will not work. Diana counters that she thought it was working so well. "You'll have to try harder," she says. "Oh...I will," Diana sneers. 

Anna emerges from her space elevator thing, which just happens to be in the middle of a corridor, and Lisa just happens to be strolling down that corridor in the kilometres-long mothership and sees her mother walk away. Lisa decides to see what that's all about and descends into the pit and looks around.

"I'm your grandmother!" Diana says. But she can't tell anyone yet. "How do I know I can trust you?" Lisa asks. "We share the same enemy. Your mother," Diana declares.

Tyler decides to leave for the mothership now that dad's dead. Erica needs him, but he says people killed his father, so he's going to the V's. If Erica had stopped the Fifth Column maybe Joe would be alive. So there. Erica slaps him (Yay!). He leaves. Not her best day.

Jack, Chad and Hobbes hang out at the headquarters as Erica shows up. Joe's dead. Tyler left. Eli left her in charge, so her first act is to declare they go on the offensive. They strike first from now on. They're all in. She tells Hobbes she should have listened to him about Ryan. She's kept him caged, but not anymore. He says she's got him (until Sarah gets trotted out again). They have an army now. Very inspiring. This should have happened last season.

It's a crime that an actress like Elizabeth Mitchell, who delivered such emotional performances in Lost, has to struggle through these horribly written and contrived scenes. But at least she gets to cry twice.

Speaking of contrived, Hobbes is working for the Visitors...or not...I don't really know, given we hadn't heard about this since Marcus met with him. Apparently through the miracle of Visitor technology (plot devices) they've dug up his missing girlfriend after five years and that's enough to soften Hobbes' heart (when we all know he's super crushing on Erica).

The scariest notion is that Ryan has survived the explosion. The lack of a final scene with him, much less a body, promises that Anna will get to hold that screaming baby over him again someday. And maybe the FBI should have put their police cordon a few blocks away from the building and the snipers, just so that all the spectators didn't get showered with bullets and debris when it all went to hell?

The only gem this week was Anna's chat with her mother, which is starting to become more and more like alien Dynasty with the snappy barbs and Jane Badler's virulent sneer (never mind the evening gowns). It's all great fun, and now that Lisa's stumbled upon her, it's sure to get campier. 

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