V: “We Can’t Win”

Bait and Switch


“We Can’t Win”
ABC, Tuesdays 9PM

Written by Christine Roum & Cameron Litvack

Directed by David Barrett

“Your girl’s got a baby lizard in her terrarium?” — Hobbes

Well, if we can’t get anything like realism on this show, maybe we can get humor. Certainly the antics of the alleged “Fifth Column” are fodder for comedy. I love it when key players in a desperate conspiracy take time off from saving the world to shore up their relationships, like when Erica tries once again to form simple sentences with her son, or Ryan goes looking for his baby mama. Nobody in this cabal seems to have read up on conspiracy theory; if they had, they would have realized that the secret to a successful underground organization is discipline and secrecy. Yet there are cells of resistance fighters the Fifth knows nothing about, who meet in poorly secured locations and don’t even encrypt the vital information on their hard drives.

This episode revolves, sort of, around the search for the last survivor of a Fifth Column cell that was wiped out by a V assassin. The Fifth finds Alex Caruso (Nicholas Carella, Smallville) through his dying father — apparently Father Jack doesn’t consider a deathbed confession to fall under the Vatican’s definition of the sanctity of confession. Ryan and Hobbes persuade the group to set Alex up as bait to draw the assassin out. Apparently none of these bunglers, including professional law enforcement officer Erica Evans, thinks to provide him with a bulletproof vest, so he dies. And the assassin, once he’s captured, proves to be a human turncoat (Ty Olsson, Human Target). Gosh darn it, there goes there opportunity to ask a V why the Vs are on Earth. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone to ask Ryan, who is a V, that very question.

Meanwhile, Anna is busy wowing Earth with her compassion. She first airlifts supplies to a country so poor it’s imaginary, which has suffered a monsoon. Then she offers “blue energy” to the world, a source of power so clean and efficient it approaches the imaginary. The redeeming bit of that presentation was the open skepticism of the Secretary-General of the UN (Ernesto Griffith, Haunting Sarah). He’s enough of a politician to want to be photographed accepting blue energy, and enough of a politician not to trust High Commander Anna any further than he can throw her. He may be the smartest guy on this show.

And also meanwhile, Lisa is seducing Tyler Evans as fast as she can, even to the point of taking him for a ride in a spaceship. I so did not need to see that scene.

At this point, I am completely bewildered as to what Anna’s plan is for Tyler. It would seem that she is determined to have Lisa seduce him, and she succeeds. What could be the point of this? Manipulating a human? She can do that without sex, and in any case, who the hell is Tyler Evans? He’s neither significant nor important. Cross-breeding? In which case, Ryan should not be so surprised that his girlfriend is pregnant. Yet  the previews for next week make it appear that Anna is furious at the prospect of a hybrid–so why is she pushing her daughter into Tyler Evans’ arms?  Frankly, nothing about this plot is making any sense.  Lisa the hot alien princess can do so much better than Tyler.

Or perhaps we can get Anna to eat Chad. This guy has more mood swings than Tiger Woods on a golf course. He starts out afraid of Anna, attracted to Anna, intimidated by Anna. By the end of the episode, he’s volunteering to be her bitch. Is this a true conversion, or is he playing a deep game to get himself “on the inside”? Maybe he just wants to scoop the New York Times, or maybe he wants to steal Anna’s blue energy. Meanwhile, Joshua (Mark Hildreth, The Tudors) is cozying up to Lisa by lying to her mother about her Voight-Kampf test, er, empathy test results. He may be a lizard, but he’s as savvy about the art of trading obligations as Vito Corleone himself.

I did like Anna’s little scene with her daughter near the end. Reinforcing her “no emotions” rule, she lectures Lisa once again about getting entangled with her target, Tyler, and then crushes one of her own warrior eggs in Lisa’s hand, to make the point. Say, whatever happened to that armada of ships we saw in episode four, the ones Anna called on? Is it really faster for Anna to birth and raise a whole army, rather than wait for those ships, which were within sight of Earth last time we saw them, to arrive?

Another bright bulb in this dim landscape is the character of Kyle Hobbes (Charles Mesure, Ghost Whisperer), the hard-bitten, sardonic assassin. He’s the only one who seems to realize just how dangerous their enemy is. Although he, too, didn’t think to put any Kevlar on their only surviving Resistance fighter. The opening dream sequence redeemed itself by being both menacing and hot, an interesting combination.  Still, at this point I am hanging in for two reasons: I want to see some lizard skin, and I like Anna. Oh, and I’m still holding out for a scene where someone, anyone, eats Tyler.

Ratings were flat for V this week, with a 2.3 rating. Up against a long episode of Lost, it was bumped to 10:0 PM, losing nearly a million viewers after the first half hour, from 6.4 million to 5.6 million. Something tells me nobody else wanted to see Tyler knocking boots with Lisa, either. At this point, I won’t even speculate whether the show will be renewed. On the one hand, it stinks; on the other hand, Lost is ending and ABC needs to fill that hole. Maybe V will make it to another season; if so, I really hope to see more crocodile hide and less soap opera.