Thursday, March 24, 2011

Revew: V "Mother's Day"

"Would you say that's lavender? What do you think? Lavender? No?"
Non Spoiler Review!
What could be the final episode of V promised a cast cull and plenty of excitement. What we got was more of a checklist of items unfolding in the usual manner to push along the plot. That being said, the second half moved things along more briskly than the first. The two queens plotline is wrapped up, we get some deaths, though all of them happen in such an offhand manner there isn't really a sense of loss. We see the Visitors without their skin, and lots of Blissing and serpentine tails being lashed about (that appear to be extremely stretchy). As usual, multiple characters act foolishly and create disaster for everyone. The only saving grace was the guilty pleasure of watching Anna (literally) chew up the scenes with her over-the-top villainy.

V returns to the religious themes it loves to dance around, and perhaps that might have worked had it not been the end of the series. Something on this scale should have been at the forefront of the invasion rather than a spontaneous idea to try to Bliss humans as Anna decided last week.

The big reveal at the end lacked any punch, highlighting the writing flaws that focus more on standalone episodes than a serialized arc that promises build up and foreshadowing. A sad way to go out, if that's the case, given the string of failures the Fifth Column has already endured since Erica took over. If there is a season three, it will certainly be a changed dynamic. But the plotlines seem in such a mess I wonder if it's even worth it.

Never fails when you wear a white dress—impaled on spiky reptile tail.
Spoilers Now:
Erica wakes up in bed with Anna sitting there, and a gun on her. No one but her knows what it's like to have the fate of an entire species on her shoulders, Anna muses. "I'm nothing like you!" Erica protests. Anna shoots her. And Erica wakes up from her of course it's a dream. But she is sleeping with Hobbes again. It's going to be a big day, because today is when they take down Anna.

Lisa is fertile and ready to mate with Tyler. That's sufficient for some Anna gloating. But they haven't found the secret of the human soul yet, negative Marcus counters. Amy is the answer, she tells him. She'll help them Bliss humans. Marcus remains skeptical, but a terse I'm the queen! from Anna shuts him up. Then Amy runs in. She's had a dream something bad happened to her mommy, but Anna promises to never abandon her like her father. Lisa walks in on them hugging. 

Diana has contacted the resistance with an urgent message. Marcus informed her Anna's plans are moving along and they can't wait any longer for their coup. Erica's less of a fascist these days, so she asks for everyone's vote, but everyone agrees anyway. She orders Ryan to redeem himself and break Diana out. 

Lisa shows up in a coffin for some reason and has brought some V weaponry to Hobbes. But she didn't get Tyler off the ship and wants to know the plan. Erica needs to get Anna away from her security, so they'll fake Lisa's kidnapping. Oh, and by the way, Lisa will be the one to kill her.

Chad breaks the news that Lisa has been kidnapped, saying the Fifth Column has unprecedented demands—Anna's life in exchange for Lisa's. Anna watches on Vcam, sending her best tracker and readying her shuttle. 

Anna arrives at the embassy and meets with Paul and Erica who are acting FBI again. They've been instructed to bring her to Jack, and if she agrees to the trade, they'll take her to her daughter. Paul has a body double ready, but Anna says she must meet their demands. 

Anna opts to meet with Jack. She can't help but remind him his anti-V rhetoric has cost him his collar. God is telling him to do the Fifth Column's bidding? He doesn't answer to her, he counters. He was told she was to turn herself over in one hour with instructions in an envelope, at which point he'll be informed where they're holding Lisa. She also wants to someday meet his god, she whispers. 

She gives the envelope to her tracker who sniffs it and heads off to locate the human scent. He does this rather quickly, advising that Lisa's alone in a warehouse. The Fifth Column must have left already. Anna addresses the crowd gathered around the embassy. If anything happens to her she hopes the world with accept her daughter as they have her. Then she directs her agents to ensure Chad Decker is there when the FBI gets her daughter.

Hobbes is still with Lisa, though (tracker must have missed that) and then leaves after getting her ready for her mission. The gun is behind her in a desk. The FBI got an anonymous tip that Lisa was inside and arrives at the warehouse with Chad and crowds of people. Anna wants to adhere strictly to the Fifth Column's demands so she won't use a body double. Marcus advises her it's safe for her to go in.

Anna finds Lisa and unties her, then begins to rage about the Fifth Column. But she sees her daughter's reflection and watches her reach behind her to get a V gun. Anna starts going on about how worried she was, and realizes her human skin has made her feel emotions she felt when she might lose her. She turns around as Lisa hides the gun behind her, and walks over. Everything will change—there will be peace between humans and Visitors. Lisa sucks it up and embraces her as Anna confesses her love for her daughter. She slips the gun back in the desk.

Lisa comes out first, then Anna, leaving a horrified Erica and Chad. Anna goes to get interviewed by him, leaving Erica and Lisa to talk. Lisa says her mother's changed, but Erica is incensed that the entire plan is blown open. Lisa says they can trust her. She's merciless, Erica says. But no more merciless than you can be, Lisa snaps back.

Ryan gets on the mothership via shuttle, meeting with Joshua, who takes him to Diana's cell. They get Diana, who is sporting a funky white dress now. They contact Erica who informs her Lisa failed and they have to abort. But Diana won't go back to her cell and instructs Joshua and Ryan to gather her people.

It doesn't take long to assemble thousands of Vs on the mothership apparently, as Diana walks out among her people, her children. She explains Anna had her imprisoned and is ill-equipped to be their queen. The human soul must be embraced. Together they can live side by side. Her people kneel around her. Then Anna suddenly appears (no one saw her, Marcus and Lisa walk across the stage) and impales her with her tail and hoists her up above the crowd, throwing her down. Diana tells her with her dying breath that she's doomed her species.

That's how you kill your mother, Anna tells Lisa. Snap! Anna explains to the crowd (who isn't startled at all given they have no emotion) that Diana was imprisoned because she was stained with human emotion and would have subverted their species. If anyone defies her will they'll meet the same fate as her mother. Then she orders Lisa taken away, and, oh yes, everyone kneel. Joshua and Ryan are watching in the crowd, and Ryan says he's not leaving without Amy, so he scurries off.

Amy's in her funky bedroom when Ryan shows up. She's not happy to see him at all, and he tries to explain they have to leave before Anna finds out. But she won't go with him, and her lizard tail appears. He abandoned her and let her suffer, she says, and she'll never let him hurt her again. She strangles him with her tail and just like that breaks his neck. 

Erica calls Tyler and tells him to get off the ship now. She's kept things about the Vs and it's time he learned the truth. But Tyler wants to hear all that from Lisa herself, and tells her he loves her and hangs up. Meanwhile, Paul and Chris are listening to the whole thing, as they have Erica's house bugged. 

Chad reports world leaders are flocking to Anna after her selfless decision. Anna is pleased. And she finally brings Marcus into the loop that Lisa won't be mothering the species. She takes Marcus to Joshua, who is watching the queen egg hatch, and there's the first full frontal Visitor in the flesh. Anna tells them to put skin on her new daughter and ensure she looks exactly like Lisa. Tyler's in for a surprise!

Jack and Chad meet up with Erica. Hobbes has vanished and everything has been cleared out of their headquarters. No one can get a hold of him or Ryan. Erica's a bit upset with everything that's going on and Tyler still being on the ship and all. Bad day overall. She decides Jack is the only one who stuck to his beliefs while she became someone just like Anna. So they're friends again.

Marcus confesses to Anna that he watched her fall prey to emotion and betrayed her to her mother, so he offers up his death as punishment. She says no, given he acted on what he believed was best for their species. But she has learned emotion can be useful—it's how she stopped Lisa from killing her by preying on her vulnerability. Using it to manipulate humans will make her more powerful than ever. Grrr.

He's sad he can't give up any of the conspirators, given he only dealt with Lisa and Diana, but she pulls up the Fifth Column hostage video on Vcam and uses human technology (?) to unscramble the voices of the kidnappers. Uh oh. It's Chad. She tells Marcus to bring him to her (and don't betray her again, by the way, or she won't go so easy on him!). Joshua brings Lisa 2.0 in and she's just perfect. In fact she's apparently a completely functional mental adult, as well, so Anna sends her off to Tyler.

Lisa's waiting in bed as Tyler arrives and needs to talk. He says he heard that they don't really look like humans underneath and they're there to hurt everyone. That's just crazy, Lisa says. And seduces him.

Lisa 1.0 is being held in grandma's old home, and Anna welcomes her there. Anna won't kill her, because she wants her to suffer, and turns on the Vcam to watch her new sister having sex with Tyler. After they're done, Lisa opens her fangy mouth and kills him. Other Lisa screams.

Erica's still trying to reach Tyler but instead gets abducted from her home. She's tied up in a dark room and a shadowy figure emerges who is none other than Mike Donovan himself (!)—except he's named Lars. She's there because of what she knows and must now deal with the consequences. 

She's brought into a ginormous war room a mile beneath Manhattan that Lars suspiciously says can withstand a nuclear bomb or the destruction of a mothership (!)—obviously a graduate of the same school as Erica when it comes to planning Fifth Column operations. Poor Manhattan. This is Project Ares, a cabal of high ranking military and government leaders that long suspected the Vs were not of peace and have been on Earth a long time. And there's Chris and Paul! They've been tracking her long enough to know she can be trusted. This is humanity's last best hope.

Meanwhile a team of V heavies show up at the network and tell Chad he's to come with them to see Anna. It's not really a choice, either. Bye Chad.

Anna is dressed all in white and attempting to Bliss humanity, but Marcus thinks it will surely kill her. As her eyes bleed, Marcus tries to stop her. Then Amy arrives and tells her she can do it for her. So Amy takes over.

Alarms go off in the war room. The computers are detecting something is happening to people... everywhere, as around the world they dreamily stare up at the motherships as Amy's Bliss seduces them. Anna praises her as a miracle.

Erica gets up to the surface (maybe not the best idea if she was in a secure location and safe) and sees everyone in a trance as far as the eye can see. Oh, and there's Jack, too, and it looks like his faith has been turned to something else now. The camera pulls back from the mothership and out into orbit where the masses of Visitor ships lie in wait.

Devotion to the Visitors is finally manifested on a worldwide scale. But there appears to be little room for maneuvering if it comes back next season—does everyone just wake up from the V's rapture and move on?

Is V actually commenting that faith can be swayed so easily? That's a bold statement, which falls short given it's had so little play on the series. If this had been an ongoing theme that the masses could be moved at Anna's whims, the final moments would have proved a culmination to that agenda, rather than just another plan of the week.

If this is the end of the series, the finale is quite a dark one, with the defeat of humanity and Anna victorious. Given the Fifth Column never really struck any lasting victories under Erica, it serves as a monument to her failure, despite the reveal of the Ares Project.

After all the incriminating talk in her house over how many weeks, it takes the Ares Project until this moment to determine she can be trusted to be part of their cabal (yes, they call themselves a cabal). She was sleeping with Hobbes there, for Pete's sake.

It was really unclear just where Marcus' loyalties lay through the whole episode. He was giving everyone, including Erica, suspicious stares, and even filled in Diana about the situation, yet is suddenly loyal to Anna again. What was the ultimate purpose of taking him out of commission anyway, leaving Thomas with nothing to do now.

The soap operish moments provided the most entertainment, including the fully grown, fully functional Lisa 2.0 who is apparently an adult mentally, as well as physically. Anna's delight in her grandiose revenge schemes against her mother and daughter brought some chuckles, showing she's likely the most emotional of all the Visitors.

What exactly constitutes loyalty to one's queen? Anna kills the mother of a lot of the Visitors right in front of them, yet they do nothing at all. That means Anna's rule was never in question from the start if she could take over with a few angry words without any worry of repercussions from Diana's subjects.

As much as I hated Tyler and Ryan, their deaths were so casually brushed off, it just felt like the writers were checking off an itinerary for the episode. I am a bit surprised Lisa 1.0 survived (especially given how her choice pretty much doomed everyone), but they do need a queen in waiting to write themselves out of a bind if necessary.

I feel like ranting about all the wasted storylines that went nowhere—Karen and Thomas? Tyler's on and off phosphorous levels? Hobbes' absent dead-alive girlfriend? There seemed to be no desire to create a cohesive arc. While the advancement of the plot did benefit from this shortened season, the series has never really escaped its problematic beginnings—attempting to expand a series out of what was a successful miniseries, but never allowing it to evolve beyond its initial scope.

It would be nice to see V renewed just to imagine the crazy of a season three full scale war. A series like this needed a more adult venue on cable like AMC or HBO. I'm holding out hope that the forthcoming Falling Skies will pick up the many balls V dropped delivering a decent alien invasion.

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