V: “John May”



“John May”
ABC, Tuesdays 8PM
Written by Gregg Hurwitz
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

“Let them have this one victory, because I am about to deliver them a thousand defeats.” —Anna

We’re seven episodes into the first season of V, and still nobody’s been eaten. What kind of villains are these? The most we’ve seen up until this episode is a glimpse of lizard skin under a wound or a half-second look of a lizard eye. In fact, the most lizard-like image on the show is Anna’s unblinking stare and stiff body language. So far, these terrible alien invaders haven’t gobbled up so much as a mouse. I’m disappointed.

This episode dealt heavily with parenthood, both actual and potential. Anna is pregnant with a whole army of new warriors; in evidence of which, she now and then starts panting and turning faintly green. Val is pregnant and worried; she gets even more worried when she finds Ryan’s secret sonogram showing her baby with a tail. Georgie (David Richmond-Peck,Fringe), taken hostage by the Vs and tortured, holds fast because he is avenging his murdered family. And then, of course, there’s the ongoing Father Issues with Tyler, now enhanced by the introduction of a new Estranged Teen ™, James May (Mark Hildreth, The Tudors), stepson of the martyred John May who is now the symbol of the V resistance.

We got more soap opera in the Evans household, what with father Joe (Nicholas Lea, The X-Files) trying to bond with Tyler, and being undercut by Lisa. Lisa overhears him telling Erica that he’s not Tyler’s father; Lisa can’t wait to tell Tyler this. Funny how these lizard folk, who don’t know who their own fathers are, have a feeling for the bond between humans and their male parents. I’d have thought they’d be confused by attachments like these. Anyway, Tyler does his usual emo tantrum and storms off, then confronts his mother. I so, so longed for Erica to slap him and tell him “Snap out of it!” Cher-style. There are much larger issues at stake than Tyler Evans’ identity crisis. But no, not only are the writers continuing to hammer this theme into the ground and out through the other side of the planet, now they’ve brought in another Estranged Teen in James. Gee, I wonder what they think their demographic is.

I don’t know what the producers of this show have against teenaged girls. The only two in this show so far, Lisa and Grace (Jessica Parker Kennedy,Smallville), are lizard Mata Haris whose only role is to seduce and manipulate the teenaged boys, Tyler and James. Neither of them has the menace or gravitas of Anna, presumably their mother. It’s a pity the agents that Anna sends out into the human world consistently turn out to be so… flabby. If she can conceive a thousand embryos specifically to be warriors, can she not conceive a thousand females with smarts? So far, Anna’s the only female on screen an intelligent female viewer can identify with.

I got one good glimpse of lizard skin in this show: the fight between Hobbes, Grace, and Erica. At the last moment, Grace grows lizard claws, and dies wearing them, which is enough to convince James that his girlfriend was not all she appeared to be. He joins The Cause and helps Ryan, et al, find a communications device that lets them talk to their fellow resistance member inside Anna’s ship. The comm link allows them only to say goodbye to Georgie, as he chooses death rather than face more torture. So we got some new lizard tech and a pair of ragged claws. That’s a far cry from seeing a lizard wake up in the morning and put on his human suit.

Of course, we’ll probably never see this, because it would look hilarious. I can understand why the producers have been so reluctant to show us the true faces of the Visitors. The few times they showed them in the 1984 TV series, they were laughably done. But CGI has advanced considerably in the interval; we’ve been looking at believable giant lizards since Jurassic Park. What are they waiting for? How am I supposed to be afraid of these aliens, when all I’ve seen so far is the lovely Morena Baccarin looking menacing? So they torture humans—so do terrorists. Where’s the alien in this alien invasion?

This episode garnered 6.2 million viewers in the first half hour, dropping to 5.5 million in the second. This translates to an average 2.3 rating among adults 18-49, below last week’s 2.4 rating. While normally I would expect this to mean the show is doomed, right now I don’t know if ABC can afford to cancel one of the few new shows on its schedule that has not already imploded. Eastwick died a quiet, unlamented death, and FlashForward is teetering on the brink. Lost is in its final season anyway. If ABC wants to stay in the SF business, it may have to keep V regardless of its ratings. Me, I just want to see Anna eat somebody.