V: “Hearts and Minds”


By Sarah Stegall
Copyright © 2010 by Sarah Stegall


“Hearts and Minds”
ABC, Tuesdays, 8PM
Written by Gregg Hurwitz
Directed by Bobby Roth

Ryan: We need to get our hands on a missile.

Hobbes: Finally, some fun around here.

We’re doomed. Week after week after week, the Visitors win. It’s been consistently shown that they have superior technology, firepower, and resources. The only weapons we puny humans have against them are our emotions and our brains. With this episode, I think we’re down to emotions. This has to be some of the dumbest “strategic thinking” I’ve seen from the Fifth Column yet. Joshua, the Fifth Column mole on board Anna’s ship, tells Ryan that a contingent of V trackers is being sent down to Earth to find the Fifth Column. Ryan warns his cell that, once they land, they’ll disperse and become impossible to trace. Hobbes convinces everyone that they must shoot it down. Ryan assures the team, especially the squeamish Father Jack, that the shuttle will contain only Vs, will fly only over unpopulated areas, and will follow only a specific timetable. How unbelievably naive for an allegedly seasoned tactician. Father Jack is so nervous about the impending attack that he inadvertently leaks a hint to Anna’s own mole, Chad, who reports it immediately. The shuttle is shot down—and proves to have contained only humans. The Fifth Column loses the propaganda war in the first engagement. Even better, having taken no precautions to protect their identity whatsoever, the members of the cell are on surveillance video all over the place.

Does this Fifth Column contain any grownups? We have Father Jack, who wants a clean, surgical war where no one gets hurt and presumably all combat is conducted with pillows and water balloons, while wearing boxing gloves. We have Hobbes, who constantly simmers on the edge of boilover, and probably doesn’t even trust his own left hand. We have Ryan, the alleged former V warrior, who can’t find, much less protect, his baby mama, and who doesn’t even check his intel before firing a missile at an aircraft. And then we have Erica, the FBI agent who apparently is not worried about the Bureau monitoring her calls to the Fifth Column from FBI headquarters. This is the most inept military organization since F Troop. They consistently and disastrously underestimate Anna and her resources. They have almost no organizational discipline. They are hugely incompetent at their jobs.

Take Agent Erica Evans. While she’s walking around the site of the shuttle crash, she’s all teary eyed and guilt ridden. She conducts no forensic investigation. Back at her office, she stumbles across some photographs of bones from the crash site on her computer that prove that the humans on board the shuttle were conveniently dead before it was shot down. She actually thinks this is exculpatory, as if world opinion would absolve them for firing on an unarmed shuttle, regardless of who it carried. And does Erica save these all-important photographs? Why, no, she places a phone call to brag about it, and then watches helplessly as they are deleted from her screen. What, no “Save Image” button on her browser? In fact, it never seems to occur to Erica that she doesn’t even need those photos if she can get her hands on the actual bones themselves; she never even looks for them. Having lost the secondary evidence (the photos) it never occurs to her to secure the primary evidence (the bones). Worse, when the FBI locates a camera with surveillance footage that might ID the missile team, she directs Ryan and Hobbes to retrieve it. But she doesn’t check to see if there’s more than one backup, and so Ryan’s entire mission/risk is for nothing.

Father Jack is clearly shown on the video. He mumbles a half-confession of guilt to another priest, not even in the confessional where theoretically his words might be protected. When the FBI get him in for questioning, he comes close to spilling all the beans. Only Erica’s Jedi mind powers seem to be able to warn this idiot to shut the hell up. Chad eventually blows his cover and even Father Jack can figure out he’s a mole; at the same time, Erica is partnered with another agent to head up a Fifth Column task force. It doesn’t take a genius, or even someone fully awake, to figure out that the other agent is yet another mole for Anna.

Usually I reserve most of my scorn for Tyler, but in this episode it is Father Jack who takes top honors in the irritation department. Not only is he stupid enough to trust Chad (will he never learn?), but he gets pissy with Hobbes after the missile mission goes sideways. And after he finally figures out that he just might possibly have been the leak that led to that disaster, he never apologizes. Had Father Jack mentioned his conversation with Chad to Ryan or Hobbes, either one of those two experienced operatives might have been alerted to the possibility that their security had been compromised. At the very least, they might have double-checked their intel with Joshua. But Father Jack is willing to trust anyone except his Fifth Column associates; he talks to anyone about anything, blabs every secret he’s given, and then gets cagey with his co-conspirators. Jack Bauer would have dropped him off a bridge long ago. If we’re lucky, Hobbes will persuade Father Jack to embrace martyrdom.

Even with Father Jack edging him out for Dunce of the Week, Tyler manages to annoy in whole new ways. When Lizard Lisa breaks up with him, he dissolves into whining and tears in his mama’s arms. Now would be the perfect time for Erica to reveal what she knows about the Vs, but she commits the cardinal sin of all TV parents—she would rather soothe her child with lies than tell him the truth. Back on the ship, Lisa confesses to her mom that she could not, after all, convince Tyler to come live aboard the ship. Anna strikes her hard enough to break a cheekbone, and then orders her guard to break her legs, all in order to get Tyler’s attention again. I think the only reason I am still watching this show is for the chance to see Anna do something really creepy at the end of every episode.

V averaged 5.58 million viewers and a 2.2/ 7 among adults 18-49. The crazy thing is that a poll this week showed that V is the fifth-highest earner in advertising revenue. How does this happen on a show that pulls in less than half the audience of American Idol? Because V was expected to be a huge ratings monster, the ad space was sold before the season began. I’ll bet those advertisers would like their money back now.