Thursday, 17 February 2011

'V' 2.6 - "Siege"

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Last week found V tackling the archetypal "assassination" plot, and this week it cleaves close to the archetypal "siege" plot. So, no points for originality, and the characters still aren't inherently rousing, but the show's forward-momentum, action and drama has definitely ballooned in recent weeks. I had a great deal of fun watching "Siege" unfold, and was pleased to see it end with more surprises that, again, left me anxiously anticipating the next episode.

This week, Anna (Morena Baccarin) vowed to destroy the Fifth Column in the wake of the attempt on her aide Marcus' (Christopher Shyer) life, ordering Ryan (Morris Chestnut) to assassinate their leader Eli Cohn (Oded Fehr) in retaliation. However, after Ryan is captured by Eli's security team shortly after invading his townhouse HQ, the situation worsens after Anna gives the FBI an anonymous tipoff about Eli's whereabouts; a move that's problematic for Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell), who has arrived to speak with traitor Ryan, forcing her into pretending to have been taken hostage by Eli's terrorists. In the V mothership, Anna, sensing an opportunity to eliminate both of Tyler's (Logan Huffman) parents in one fell swoop, quickly manipulated Erica's ex-husband Joe (Nicholas Lea) into the volatile situation. Elsewhere, Father Jack (Joel Gretsch) was laicized from the church for his anti-V preaching that goes against the Vatican, and Hobbes (Charles Mesure) found himself blackmailed into helping the V's bring the standoff to an explosive end.

Forgiving the habitually weak dialogue, "Siege" was V's most successful episode in a very long time, which was particularly surprising because the involvement of scene-stealer Anna was more limited. Having the episode focus on one particular situation gave the story a sharpness that's sometimes missing from this series, and writer Dean Widenmann used this scenario to kick the show's simmering storylines into top gear. Ryan's treachery was finally exposed, the FBI dropped their internal investigation into Erica's affairs (swallowing her fake hostage ploy), the show tardily remembered that Hobbes is also under Anna's thumb because the V's have his presumed-dead lover (a plot-point from season 1's finale I was beginning to think had been ditched), and the show breathed new life into its setup by killing Eli (after he relinquished control of the Fifth Column to Erica), Ryan (who leaves his daughter an orphan), and Joe (who got caught in a crossfire with the FBI and Eli's men.)

That latter development is the catalyst for Erica taking a tougher stance, as she announced her intention to go on the offensive against Anna (inheriting some of predecessor Eli's attitude), and her son Tyler decided to go live aboard the mothership. That painted Tyler in a particular poor light (your dad's killed and you immediately leave your grieving mother to move in with your girlfriend?), but my patience with Tyler is at such a low ebb that I'm just grateful his actions appear to have kicked Erica into a more proactive mindset.

Jack's also escaped his restricting role as a priest, to embrace his background as a soldier, while Hobbes has essentially replaced Ryan as Anna's mole in the Fifth Column. I just hope his storyline won't be largely the same, which is perhaps why they decided to ignore it for so long while they concentrated on Ryan's deceitfulness. There was also the moment when Lisa (Laura Vandervoort) rather comically noticed her mother emerging from the secret floor portal to Diana's (Jane Badler) oubliette, before venturing down herself and meeting the grandmother she's never met before. It seems likely Lisa will try to free her grandmother, considering they share a common enemy, which perhaps means Diana has become the new Joshua (someone on the mothership that Lisa can take advice and leadership from.)

Overall, "Siege" was a surprising amount of fun that brought some storylines to an effective end, while simultaneously rejuvenating the show in many ways. In light of Joe's death, Erica now has an emotional reason to expose the V's for what they are, which will hopefully help Elizabeth Mitchell bring added hardiness to her performance.

What's the general feeling about V right now? After a slightly rocky start this season, I think it's developed rather nicely and is managing to offset some of its dull characterizations and dodgy dialogue with a frantic pace and decent action. Is this another example of a sci-fi drama, like Dollhouse, that's beginning to hit a groove partly because the writers sense the writing's on the wall?


  • Season 2 of V was originally scheduled to air 12 episodes, which means "Siege" was intended to be the mid-year climax that refocuses the show for its final half. That was certainly achieved. Of course, ABC reduced the season to 10 episodes, so I'm predicting the final episodes will be furiously paced, if they've had to condense six hours into four.
  • Considering that last week's episode had Anna insisting that Tyler isn't actually vital to their mission, was anyone else confused he was back to being a prized component of Anna's plan this week? Maybe I'm just bitter that V's chosen to avoid a great opportunity to remove Tyler from the series. The show's admittedly in a tough position: the character is clearly an important one, but the actor has none of the qualities necessary to make Tyler work.
written by Dean Widenmann / directed by John Behring / 15 February 2011 / ABC