Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review: V "Unholy Alliance"

Non Spoiler Review:
This week Anna hatches a scheme to strike back at Father Jack by getting the whole Catholic Church to condemn him, so she flies off to the Vatican to intimidate the College of Cardinals. While there, she learns more about the human soul (no joke!). 

Erica and Hobbes continue to debate allying themselves with radical Fifth Column leader Eli Cohn as they begin to track him down, but the FBI's investigation of Malik's disappearance is causing them all a big headache. Erica gets a third partner to boot, an old friend who certainly will not pose any danger to her whatsoever.

Unholy Alliance had promise to tackle the religious angle head on. It sort of kind of did, but not in the best way. The Visitors have always had the potential to become there own religion for humanity, and for awhile it looked like that was part of the plan. A plot like this should have been done last year and allowed to evolve over the course of the season. What we get is more of an afterthought for Anna to suddenly consider "Why not take over the Catholic Church today?"

The series is moving along pretty briskly advancing storylines. I'm embracing the silliness of it all (perhaps because The Event has been on hiatus so long and nature abhors a vacuum). The Eli Cohn arc gets a much-needed boost to elevate the characters to a more global scale, but it remains to be seen how good a resistance leader he is, given some of the decisions he makes. Tyler is completely insane. Jane Badler continues to look great, though. 

Spoilers Now!
The murders of three human peace ambassadors brings Erica running to identify the bodies strung up at the embassy. Luckily (for her, not us) it's not Tyler. But this latest round of violence makes the resistance debate how they will deal with Cohn and his methods. Hobbes is obviously on his side and recognizes he could be a great asset, but Jack and Erica will not excuse attacks against humans.

Erica's old FBI friend, Chris Bolling, shows up to be her knew partner (third time's a charm) and investigate the Fifth Column and Malik's disappearance (Erica and crew still have the body). Ryan is spending quality time with his baby on the mother ship but Anna wants results finding the Fifth Column and sends him back to the city. Meanwhile, Chad is reporting that many religions worldwide are beginning to speak out against the Vs, including one cardinal at the Vatican who is urging Anna to meet with them and accept missionaries on the motherships.

Anna gets her idea for this week, and offers to bring Chad along on a little the Vatican. Anna meets the cardinal with Chad in tow, and is happy to accept missionaries on the Visitor ships. But...Anna does ask that he condemn all his clergy who engage in anti-Visitor rhetoric (which would include Father Jack in New York). The Cardinal's aide, Father Moreau (who is obviously a Visitor given his aloofness, and Anna gives him this funny WTF look as she walks by him) whispers in his ear. He says he'll bring his request to the college. Anna notices a ring on the priest's hand (bearing red triangles) she recognizes from her youth. 

Anna meets Moreau in private and muses over a painting of Hell. She finds it surprising they believe the soul survives the body. She asks if the body can exist without the soul. Without it, they'd be nothing more than animals, he says. 

Chris wants to follow up on the Father Jack lead as possible Fifth Column, so he and Erica head to his church for another chat. Erica handles the interview, attempting to steer it away from anything incriminating and they eventually leave. Chris isn't dissuaded. We do learn that Jack killed two combatants while in Iraq.

Jack, meanwhile, has been putting out feelers among his flock about his support of the Fifth Column. In response, someone leaves a box that contains a reptile face and a CD that he takes back to headquarters. The resistance watches the video of a shadowy figure offering to meet with Jack. It's Cohn. Luckily, Ryan has more V tech from when he was a sleeper, so he can follow Jack without Cohn's men knowing.

Just in case we've been missing our Tyler fix, he's obsessing over Father Jack, infuriated by the deaths of the Visitor ambassadors. Lisa tells them they need to get away from all this and tries to divert his attention to like having sex with her. But Tyler is fixated on revenge and storms off. Lisa follows him and his friends to the church where they start to vandalize the place. He paints a big V on the altar and takes a few videos with his iPhone. Old Father Travis finds them, but gets knocked down as they flee. 

Marcus reports Father Moreau is a sleeper agent, dispatched to earth over fifteen years before by Diana to study human emotion and its effect on their species. Anna wants him returned with them so she can interrogate him. Unfortunately, the College of Cardinals has made it's decision and won't condemn clergy who speak their minds.

Big mistake. Anna muses that people's faith in their institution is born from proof, miracles that have fueled their faith over many generations. Their own gifts are just advanced science but also viewed as miracles by some. It would be tragic if faith turned from the Catholic Church to her once people began to see Anna as someone with answers. She wonders how many more miracles it would take before their followers looked to her—one or two a day, perhaps? Then she brings some crazy blue energy gizmo which can do anything

Father Moreau seems unimpressed. But the cardinals change their mind and will welcome Visitors into the church and condemn those in their clergy who seek harm against the Visitors. Chad was watching Moreau's reaction through all this, and manages to seek him out after learning he will be leaving with Anna as one of the first missionaries. Moreau tells him his fate is already sealed, but he gives Chad the ring.

Hobbes and the gang arrive at a secluded cabin upstate, having followed Jack and the men driving him. Inside, Jack meets Eli Cohn, just as Hobbes crashes the party. They get into a standoff, with Cohn pulling a gun on Jack. Cohn knows who they all are, though. He says they're all on the same side and everyone stands down. 

Cohn explains Anna needs their cooperation. It's the only way she can use them for breeding. Eighteen years before, his wife suffered a difficult pregnancy and his son later died. He found out the doctor was working with the Visitors and had done something to his wife and son.

Cohn wants their help. This war will require them all to make sacrifices. Ryan then gets the idea of how to get rid of Malik's body and pin blame on the peace ambassadors murder. As a sign of good faith Cohn's willing to give them the two men who killed the ambassadors (Say what?). Erica wants the Malik investigation closed, so she's all for that arrangement.

Back at the mothership, Moreau is put under the memory extractor, to little success. Anna demands to know everything he's discovered. He explains he was given orders to report only to his queen, Diana.  Anna tells him Diana is in hell like the rest of the damned (Now she's an expert).

Moreau is brought to Diana, shocked and happy to see she's alive. She grants him permission to tell them what he knows. Moreau explains that the human soul is truly unique and is the greatest gift their species has ever found. The soul sustained Diana, giving her the will to live all these years imprisoned, and will sustain their species. Anna disagrees, but says she'll use that knowledge to eradicate the soul and she'll also skin him. Moreau looks to his queen and says he's greatful that it will be Diana who does the deed. So Diana gives him an honorable death by chowing down on his neck (a far messier bit than the rat eating episode). 

Jack returns to the vandalized parish and old Father Travis tells him what happened. He didn't call the authorities because he didn't want to bring more attention on Jack, considering his crazy sermons brought all this about! Jack hears a phone...oh oh, it's Tyler's, because he totally dropped it when he left!

Back at the FBI, Erica tells Chris she re-examined all the evidence surrounding Malik, and, hey, guess what, she found something new. There's this address, see, and that matches a van spotted when the ambassadors were murdered, yadda yadda yadda, it all adds up to a cabin in the woods in upstate New York, so the two of them head there, make a raid, and find the two men according to plan. They also find a tub full of blood and acid, and Malik's badge. Con-ven-ient. Case closed.

Ryan returns to Anna with Malik's skinned face, explaining he made an anonymous call and the FBI handled the arrests. Anna still wants something else before she'll let him see the baby—find and  get Eli Cohn to trust him. Anna wants the entire Fifth Column, so he can be her eyes and ears and help her destroy them all. 

Erica shows up at the church just as the Catholic Church condemns all anti-V rhetoric. Jack says he won't stop speaking out. He gives her Tyler's phone (apparently it has no password protection because she immediately plays the vandalism video). Erica is distraught and doesn't know what to do to save him. 

Agent Chris reports to Assistant Director Paul about some interesting findings regarding Father Jack and Erica—there's video surveillance of her talking with Jack at the church several days before, despite her saying she last saw him when he was interrogated. Paul has brought Chris in to look into Erica's suspicious activities.

What Sort of Worked: was nice to get out of New York, if only for stock footage of the Vatican and some bad green screen.

My high hopes for religious themes have been dashed quite a bit, and what we got here was just a hint of what could have been done had the writers let the Visitor miracle machine loose from the start. Anna has taken steps towards a messiah complex but never seems to go too far. Perhaps the writers don't want to go there.

In Honour of V I'm Revising my What Didn't Work Section in Favor of a More Aptly Titled WTF!?
Anna's religious speech was a nice little bit, but this series should have taken that and run with it from the very beginning. She could have all the world's faithful eating out of her hand if she wanted, but she uses her blue energy to freak out a few priests (who apparently can make grand decisions on church policy in a back room in five minutes).

Bringing the Catholic Church into the mix was interesting, if not handled very well. But they were very easily manipulated. The original series had the Visitors using a better and simpler solution by just brainwashing the humans they wanted to control. Anna just steamrolls over everyone these days uttering thinly veiled threats that don't seem to get reported by anyone, least of all Chad.

Speaking of that, Anna doesn't seem to know anything about the concept of Hell, yet knows enough to use Blue Energy to make a statue of the Virgin Mary bleed?

Eli Cohn just offers up two of his men to the FBI (and likely Visitor torture?) What kind of leader is that? There must be sacrifices, indeed! How does he instill any loyalty in is people after this? And doesn't he risk them giving up critical information on the Fifth Column?

No Rome mothership? Or were the cameras just always pointing away from it the entire episode?

Poor Lisa. She can't even break up with Tyler and he's totally crazy now. Never mind that his mother's an FBI agent and he doesn't bother to password protect his iPhone. Crazy kids.

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