Friday, March 4, 2011

Review: V "Uneasy Lies The Head"

Non Spoiler Review:
Uneasy Lies the Head forces both Lisa and Erica to face the weight of their new responsibilities in the grand scheme of things. A more focused and ends-justify-the-means Erica sets in motion a bold operation to destroy Anna's master plan, but at the expense of a close friendship. Anna is forced to accelerate the live aboard program when it becomes apparent all is not well with Lisa's 29 future ex-husbands. And the queen-in-waiting begins plotting against her mother with dear old grandma.

This was another decent episode that managed to rise above the outrageous science (again), ridiculous dialogue and plot devices to deliver some mature themes that we haven't seen on V before. Erica's character has swung to the other end of the spectrum, but it's a shot in the arm the show really needs at this point. She (and Hobbes) realize a war to save billions will require some sacrifice, and the singular way she goes about achieving this week's plan was shocking to watch, given how wishy-washy she and Jack have been. Whether it's realistic that losing her family would turn her into a global resistance leader is up for debate, but I like it.

Enter Ryan, who also played a significant role this week and, amazingly, was less annoying. All the pieces for the Fifth Column aboard the mothership are beginning to come together, including a surprise reveal at the end, while Diana's ongoing role and back story get more interesting. If the final episodes continue to deliver this new and improved V, I'll actually be looking for a third season.

And V officially has it's first sex scene (with humans).

Spoilers Now!
In Beijing, a peace ambassador collapses, bleeding from his eyes and vomiting some kind of pink nasty as onlookers scream. On the mothership, Anna's scientists (painfully) extract DNA from a live aboard (why not use one needle instead of 100?), adding it to a gigantic spinning machine that is combining all the best DNA they've gathered since the program began. Anna gloats (again) about decapitating the Fifth Column, and soon they will have the last genetic components they need to start breeding.

Or maybe not. Erica addresses the global Fifth Column, planning a strike against Anna. Sydney will infect the last live aboards with a flu virus that will contaminate their DNA (really), and once those components are mixed in with the rest, it will spread through the Visitor's stored samples and destroy them all—a DNA bomb. It doesn't sound all that nice for the live aboards, either.

But Erica and crew will need to break into a low security lab and steal the virus first. This time Sydney must come along to chose the correct sample, which prompts Jack to turn all pacifist again and insist Sydney isn't ready to be thrown into a combat situation. New and improved Erica tells him everyone is in the fight. End of story. Jack pouts.

Joshua reports that the Beijing boy was one of the 29 breeding candidates. One in Johannesburg already (conveniently) died on the mothership, so he can do an autopsy. What he finds is that the missing segments in their genetic structures are causing them to collapse (much like how the scientific accuracy on the show has). Until they acquire the last DNA of the live aboards, they could lose all the breeding boys. Anna steps up her agenda. So far Raphael remains the most suitable candidate until Tyler's viability can be determined. On to the good news—the queen egg is nearing maturity thanks to Joshua.

Anna forces Lisa to make a second date with Raphael with instructions not to mess it up again. Thomas advises her one of the live aboards' children, Jennifer, has a uniquely high immune system which would be totally awesome to add to their genetic makeup. But her mother, Melissa (a live aboard candidate), is being uncooperative and insists on meeting Anna before she agrees to come aboard.

Anna turns on the charm and meets Melissa and little Jennifer. Melissa has concerns, because if she came up to the ship she would have to leave Jennifer, as her daughter wouldn't have any friends to play with. Anna confesses that she has a daughter of her own, Amy, that she's kept secret for security reasons. And she's precisely Jennifer's age. Neat!

Ryan is enjoying some time with his daughter Amy that is rudely interrupted by an assassin. Amy somehow runs out during this. Ryan makes short work of him, though, and runs over to see Joshua (because security measures on the mothership are non-existent). With a  gun to him, he demands to know where his daughter is, but Joshua says she's with Anna and needs her Bliss. He can't cure her, by the way. Ryan says they were comrades once in the Fifth Column, since he's all about human emotions again, and he hopes Joshua can rediscover the emotion inside him. Then he knocks him out using the emotion of blunt objects to the head.

Using science, to build things...with technology!
Erica and Hobbes lead the team on a frontal assault on the science facility, getting to the lab (pretty easily). Sydney finds their virus, but a guard walks in and shoots Hobbes. Erica shoots him back, and Jack runs over to fret over the fallen guard until he notices that he's wearing a vest. They all make a clean getaway, and Jack's upset because this war has way too much shooting.

Raphael shows up to see Lisa again for their second try. He's a young Ricardo Montalban. She was just nervous the first time, she explains, and kisses him. Except Tyler happens to walk in, which really spoils the mood. Plus, his short haircut has made him all belligerent and he starts punching Raphael. That causes Raphael's eyes to bleed and vomit up pink stuff and kills the entire mood for Lisa.

The next day, the virus is being distributed and Erica's team is responsible for infecting their candidate in New York. Sydney advises that as long as no one interferes with the infected (whatever that means), there likely wont be any side effects (like death). Jack is horrified that he wasn't told this was a possibility, but Erica tells him she knew he wouldn't agree anyway and it has to be done. When he balks she asks what he did in the army when a superior officer gave him an order he didn't like. He followed it, of course. Well, consider it an order. Haha, Jack! So Erica, Hobbes and Sydney spike some coffee and pass it off to the live aboard. The rest of the Fifth Column is successful with their targets around the world.

Tyler comes to see Lisa in the lab, who is looking at sickly Raphael. Tyler apologizes, but Lisa tells him there are things going on bigger than both. He seems to have found his emotions he lost last week, and leaves like a hurt puppy. Maybe he shouldn't have told her all he cared about was being a shuttle pilot.

Melissa arrives on board with little Jennifer anxious to meet Amy. Anna wants Joshua to begin the DNA extraction on the girl immediately. Meanwhile, the infected guy starts to feel sick in the registration line, and manages to pass out right there. Joshua sedates him immediately to determine the cause and finds a virus has been introduced into his system contaminating his DNA. If it had gotten into their batch, it would have been disastrous.

Anna orders all the live aboards to be tested immediately around the world, and any infected are to be executed. For some reason the only way to explain that to the public is to say they were Fifth Column, effectively announcing that it's still active around the world. 

Ryan sneaks up on Lisa, telling her he's on Erica's side. She tells him there is someone on the ship who can help him, and they go see Diana. His queen! Ryan's in shock. She remembers him, as she does all her children. Ryan needs to escape the ship and Diana will help, but expects a favor in the future. Years ago she built secret escape pods cloaked from detection by humans and Visitors. No one knows about them (This is actually quite believable given that every room in the mothership appears to have 10 metre high cathedral ceilings. So hiding a dozen launch tubes and shuttlecraft in the superstructure likely wasn't a big deal back in the day).

But Ryan wants to see his daughter one last time. His hybrid daughter. What what what?! says Diana. A successful hybrid? That could mean the future of their species. Any enemy of her daughter is a friend of hers, and not to worry, she can use her own Bliss to cure her. 

Chad goes on air, announcing another Fifth Column attack on the motherships. According to the official story suicide bombers gained access as part of the live aboards and blew themselves up. They've identified the New York perpetrator as the same guy Erica infected.

Erica finds some minor victory in at least resurrecting the Fifth Column in the minds of everyone, despite that the DNA attack was a failure. But Jack sees no victory at all, just 29 innocents dead. She has a private conversation with him and Jack needs to acknowledge the deaths. Erica tells him it's a war with billions at stake. But he refuses to believe that she's changed so completely that she's brushing it off so easily.

Ryan is back to wandering around the mothership, and, with Lisa's help, gets a last look at his daughter as he uses a device to spy on Lisa, her mother, and Amy. He vows to come back to her, then activates one of the escape pods, which miraculously appears out of the ceiling and ferries him off the ship. 

Little Jennifer is in the process of having her DNA extracted and Joshua adds it to the mix, completing the cataloging sequence. Anna wants all the boys injected immediately. Anna summons Tyler, telling him he needs to prepare his body for interstellar travel. Joshua gives him an injection (much less painful than the extraction process, evidently). Tyler gets his dose of super DNA and Anna promises she'll never hurt him. The concerted attack of the Fifth Column is alarming, however, and she needs to identify the new leader.

Back at home, Erica looks at the photo of their victim and calls Jack. But he won't answer. Then Hobbes shows up figuring she could use a friendly face and she quickly forgets about Jack. He's brought a bottle. He tells her she did bloody good today. He turns to leave but she asks him to come in. They start doing shots and she admits she's not sure how she's doing given Tyler's absence and Joe's death. He says he lost someone he cared about once (oh, and nearly betrayed the Fifth Column a couple of weeks back), and vows they'll get her kid back. Then they make out. And have sex.

Lisa advises her grandmother Ryan escaped. Diana is pleased she brought him to her. They are all feeling emotion, including Anna, who just won't admit it. But they need to reach out for help. There's someone else aboard Diana trusts who needs to know she's there. So Lisa goes to sickbay and tells a vastly recovered Marcus that Diana is alive. 

This week delivered on the consequences of the Fifth Column's plan going awry. It brings to mind last season's episode where the resistance shot down a shuttle only to find human remains. Ultimately they were off the hook when it turned out to be a Visitor frame. But here it was surprising to see that 29 innocents died as a result of Erica's plan. Good job.

My way or the highway Erica is coming a bit out of left field, but it's certainly shaking things up, and the chemistry with Hobbes is welcome. It only occurred to me watching their tryst that this is the first real sex scene on the show. The series needs some romance. It's a good pairing, though, and reminiscent of the original series hookup between resistance leaders Julie and Donovan.

I confess to enjoying spineless Jack's doe-eyed reactions. His character bumbles along with no real direction—one minute making YouTube videos without regard to the consequences, then getting upset when the resistance actually starts fighting.

The idea of loyalty to different queens is an interesting element raised this week, with Diana's progeny (and her own Bliss) as potential forces to raise against her daughter. Is Anna's position resting entirely on the secrecy of her coup against her mother? 

So Uneasy Lies the Head managed to rise above the usual insane science and plot devices, though I'm wondering if some of that quality can be attributed to Amy's growth spurt that gave us the first week without a screaming baby. 

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