V “Devil in a Blue Dress” 3/8/11

Okay, after I did that review of Supernatural “…And Then There Were None” I didn’t think I’d be doing another review so soon.  However, this past episode of ‘V’ made me get out of my chair and put words to paper.

While the original 80s miniseries and series falls victim to 80s camp, it still holds a place in our hearts…particularly the allusions to Nazi Germany.  When this ‘V’ first started, it almost felt as if the producers thought they had all the time in the world to tell the story, but in this day and age of shows not making it past episode 3, I don’t think they were prepared for the concept that it could be cancelled at a moment’s notice.

Well, the producers have woken up and I only hope that it’s not too late.  The earlier part of the season meandered, but the last few episodes, and this past one in particular, have shown that the producers have upped the ante and are prepared to do ratings battle with whatever crappy reality series the other networks can dream up (Charlie Sheen, stay away from ‘V’s’ timeslot!!!!)

This episode concerns the V’s plot to create “Concordia”: Blue Energy powered maxi-malls in 538 cities around the world that would supposedly make the humans feel good about the V’s, but in reality are landing sites so that the mother ships can attach to the ground via the tall buildings and release the invasion forces.  The 5th column, led by the intrepid Erica Evans (played by Elizabeth Mitchell who really proved herself as Juliet on Lost and was a hot Mrs. Claus in “The Santa Claus 3: The Escape Clause”), find out about this and decide to dick with the Blue Energy reactor in New York, creating a 3-Mile Island effect that would cause the humans to put the kybosh on the whole “Concordia” project (younger readers will have to look up 3-Mile Island).

What makes this story work are the many subtle layers revealed of the characters.  Chad Decker, played aptly by Scott Wolf (who should play Michael J. Fox in his life story before he gets too old! Wolf? Fox?  Come on, networks, what are you waiting for?!?), ends up turning on his co-anchor, a new chick who was hired to be counterpoint to his V-centric “point”.  Now, we all know that Chad is also 5th column after he learned what the V’s have done to the live-aboards.  His faux TV news network hired this cute, red-headed chick as a counterpoint to his pro-Anna stance and I was looking forward to the day when he would reveal himself to her as a true 5th columnist. (I can’t find the actress’ name on the show, but she totally played the role as if she were a hot, female, Bill O’Reilly.)  However, this was not meant to be and is exactly why I’m writing this review.  Chad is told by Anna that he must squash his counterpoint, and so he tells his co-anchor the truth about what happened, but keeps his sources confidential.  She reveals the truth on air, and this causes the chick to be fired, cementing Chad’s place as the main anchor and painting him as a self-centered douchebag.  He does this at great sacrifice to his character.  We as audience members know he’s on the side of right, but the world in which he lives thinks he’s just a shallow news anchor and Anna’s pet.  Much to his chagrin, he does this selfless act in order to keep his place as a valued member of the 5th column who has inside contact with Anna.

Ryan Nichols (yes, Morris Chestnut is trying hard to not only redeem his rather peculiar name, but also the fact that he was in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory and Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid) returns with info from Lisa filtered from hot MILF Diana (the original V’s Jane Badler as a character similar to her run in the original series) that if the Blue Energy is messed with in the wrong way, it could weaponize and kill tens of thousands of people, including our beloved main characters.

Bret Harrison, fresh off his run on the CW’s ‘Reaper’ (do I even need to mention ‘All That Glitters’ and ‘Breaking In’? I thought not), plays a nerdy 5th column human scientist who must actually go into action to turn the Blue Energy plant into another 3-Mile Island (as an aside, why was his co-star, the valued Ray Wise, in a throw-away role on a recent Hawaii 5-0?????  Okay, once again I digress…).  What really made this work for me was that when they were in the field and Bret was ready to go, he pukes on the ground.  This is a REAL human reaction to fear, and I was very impressed with this inclusion in the episode.

The show is making great pains to make the characters vulnerable, human and relatable.  When former Queen Diana meets with the newly healed Marcus, she doesn’t let on any insinuation that she’s helping the humans.  Rather, she plays on his devotion to Anna and plants the seed in his mind that Anna is susceptible to human emotion and a danger to their race.  Christopher Shyer (how can we NOT forget him as Nicholas Conroy in the Smallville episode “Slumber”) plays this to perfection.  When he finally greets Anna after his healing, he does not mention that he knows Diana is alive, but instead spends the episode observing her possible emotional urges.  The final shot in the episode is, I think, the straw that breaks the camel’s back in his mind… Anna has succumbed to human emotions.

Mark Hildreth, who plays Joshua, the former 5th columnist V, who lost his memory due to explanations than are more than I have time for here, also has a radical re-birth of character and this could go in several directions.  I think this guy is a star in waiting and just needs the right role to break him out into a “post-apocalyptic Angels battle for domination of the world movie”…er…or something to that effect.

All in all, this was hands down the best episode of the new ‘V’ series, if only because of the many subtle character levels that it presented.  Yes, there were more action-oriented ones previously, but this was so good at advancing the plot and really defining many of the characters that we can only hope ABC renews it for a new season.  Okay, for all of those of you out there screaming “Why do the V’s refer to each other with their human names?” or “Why do the aliens refer to themselves as V’s, which is what the humans call them?” calm down.  What the fork?  This is a TV show.  If it were TRUE science fiction, we would understand that the V’s speak in their own language when amongst themselves, but it’s translated for the audience.  This is NOT “The Hunt For Red October” where after the first few minutes of Russian with subtitles, we can say, “Okay, we get the point, now translate to English so we don’t have to read for the next two and a half hours…”.  This is a cool, sci-fi/fantasy TV series that just wants to engage you and tell cool stories about cool characters on a weekly basis.  If you don’t like it, don’t worry, there’ll be another crazy reality show where people shout at each other for an hour coming right behind it.

And if you didn’t see Marc Singer in the preview for next week’s “season finale”, well then shame on you!!!

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