V: “It’s Only the Beginning”

Queen V


“It’s Only the Beginning”
ABC, Tuesdays 8PM
Written by Cameron Litvack & Angela Russo-Otstot
Directed by Yves Simoneau

Bask in my light. Take comfort knowing I am here. You will never be alone. —Anna

Well, you can’t say the show isn’t topical. Tying an alien mind control drug to federally mandated flu shots and contaminated vaccine? This whole idea reminds me of Dr. Strangelove—they’re after our precious bodily fluids. In this episode, Chief Lizard Anna announces the opening of new, free “healing centers” where people can be cured of diseases that, on Earth, have no cure. And, bonus!, they’ll be given “immune booster” shots that will help stave off further diseases. Ryan’s girlfriend Val watches the TV announcement even as she’s on the phone trying to get an appointment, worried about her heart condition. Meanwhile, Anna conducts reporter Chad on a personal tour of a healing center, where he stages an interview, asks for unrestricted access, and gets the usual smiling denial. Was anyone at all surprised when the Visitors shortly thereafter told him he has an incurable, undetectable, and fatal disease only they can cure him of? Mind control does not need to involve drugs alone, it seems.

The Vth Column resistance movement is off to a rocky start, as Erica starts checking backgrounds on her erstwhile co-conspirators. One of them pulls a gun on her, Ryan kills him, and he disappears in a puff of smoke—surprise! He was a Visitor. Ryan calmly confesses to being Lizard as well, but insists he’s on Erica’s side. Meanwhile Warehouse Charlie, having been caught in the crossfire, challenges Father Jack to decide—is he a soldier or a priest? Ryan and Erica find links to a warehouse (again with the warehouses!) in the dead V’s briefcase and check it out—it is full of flu vaccine about to be shipped out. What’s more, there are enough corpses and lab equipment around for Ryan to confirm that the Vs are experimenting on humans (testing new flavor enhancers?). They torch the warehouse and run. Now we know why there is a shortage of H1N1 vaccine.

Lizard Lisa has brought Tyler to the mothership, where Anna has just forced Dr. Joshua to skin one of the other doctors alive, for the crime of treason. Of course, Dr. Joshua is the real Vth Columnist, and the victim is a martyr to the cause, and I’m just grateful that this show airs at 8 and not at 9, or we might have had more than screaming to tell us of his gruesome death. Tyler, knowing nothing of V execution methods, is nervous about meeting Lisa’s mom, and even more astonished when Lisa’s mom turns out to be Anna. Anna takes Tyler on a tour of the ship, shows him the propulsion system, flatters him, and generally does everything she can to figure as the “cool mom”. Then she takes off her clothes, gets into a yoga pose, and broadcasts a soothing mantra to her followers, both human and lizard. It’s basically a message of “don’t worry, be happy, everything will be all right”. And it works like a charm. I can’t imagine a more addictive drug than being told everything will be all right; this is the “bliss” mentioned in the last episode, and I can see right now that it’s going to be tough for the Resistance to fight.

I love the idea that Anna is a Queen Bee type of creature. Terrestrial lizards are not social animals like bees, but there’s no reason alien lizards couldn’t be. Maybe Anna is the “mother” of all the Vs on the ships. Maybe she’s looking for a host species to eat/use as incubators. I don’t think the lizards reproduce the way humans do, so it will be interesting to see if Anna starts laying eggs in people. Starting, perhaps, with her pet reporter.

It’s interesting that, along with FlashForward, ABC is exploring free will in its science fiction dramas this year. FlashForward deals with clairvoyance and the implications of “knowing” the future; V deals with humans voluntarily surrendering their free will for the luxury of security. Of the two,V is far closer to the nerve center of contemporary politics, where we struggle to balance civil liberties (and collective responsibility) against security, the longing to live in a world where we don’t have to worry, don’t have to fear, and don’t have to make those hard decisions. Anna is one of the most dangerous villains I’ve seen on TV in a long while. Narcotics dealer, mother figure, and savior all rolled into one, she is a threat more insidious than the swine flu she is hijacking. This is going to be interesting.

We end on a typical cliffhanger—Father Jack is stabbed by a V, Ryan finds out his girlfriend is pregnant, Tyler holds hands with Lisa in the mothership, and Erica can’t find her son. Meanwhile, a huge fleet of alien ships approaches from deep space—more Visitors, or could they be the enemiesof the Visitors? Stay tuned—the next installment of the story doesn’t air until January. This last episode piqued my curiosity just enough to bring me back. I’m especially interested in Anna’s use of “bliss” to control human minds (we can only take so much happiness, before we start looking around for that forbidden fruit). I keep wondering if Tyler has been chosen to incubate the next generation of lizard babies (Ooh! And will they hatch out of his chest?). And what is Val carrying?

Well, we got a nice, satisfying look at the Visitors’ propulsion system, their mind control mechanism, and their (?) fleet. We still don’t know what they look like au naturel, and I hope we get more of that next year. ABC needed a big finish to this episode, because it will be several months until we’re offered another one. Will the audience stick around? It’s been shrinking steadily from the premiere four weeks ago, but this final episode’s numbers held steady. The show posted 9.2 million viewers for a 3.1/9 rating in the 18-49 demographic. That’s down about 40% from its season opener, but comparable with last week’s 9.3 million visitors. Heh. No other freshman show this season, faced with declining ratings, has been able to halt the slide. So going on hiatus now seems really, really dumb, but I don’t run Hollywood. With any luck, ABC will be able to lure us back next year, when I sincerely hope to see some alien lizard skin. Or at least, somebody eating a live hamster.