After last week's unmistakable move to invigorate V, "Birth Pangs" continued on a similarly propulsive note. The show is delivering a surprising amount of information and clarity about the Visitors and their masterplan this season, which is great to see, even if it sometimes feel like an hour of information dumps in-between action sequences. The character problems and grossly expositional dialogue persist, but it's countered by the handful of actors who elevate the material, while the focus on action and answers at least staves off boredom.
This week, Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell) had to persuade the Fifth Column to accept her as Eli Cohn's chosen successor, travelling to Hong Kong to meet with her predecessors lieutenants, before investigating the mysterious Dr Rai who was involved with her pregnancy; Anna (Morena Baccarin) was aggravated that Tyler's (Logan Huffman) phosphorous levels are too low for the next stage of her interbreeding plot, so put a contingency plan into motion by ordering Lisa (Laura Vandervoort) to start a relationship with one of the 28 alternative males; captive Diana (Jane Badler) tightened her bond with granddaughter Lisa, insisting she refuse to trust anyone in the mothership; traitor Ryan (Morris Chestnut) resurfaced, having survived Eli's bomb, and discovered that Anna has accelerated the age of his hybrid daughter, as part of a plan to ensure the hatchling of her last surviving egg matures quickly if Lisa needs to be replaced; and Chad (Scott Wolf) revealed his Fifth Column allegiance to Lisa, asking her for medical information on the live-aboard humans to determine why they're being experimented on.
The dehumanizing of Tyler (symbolically having his hair shaved off), worked well. The character's such a bore that turning him into a jarhead, brainwashed V devotee is a wise move, and I like the suggestion he's becoming more like a Visitor with every passing day. Tyler's even opted not to grieve for his dead father, but instead throw himself into flight training, which spares Huffman some acting. There are only two big issues with his character now: (a) it's impossible to see why Lisa cares for Tyler so much, as there's zero chemistry between them, and (b) the show still hasn't explained why Erica doesn't just tell Tyler the truth about the Visitors. If Erica revealed what she knows and her son went into hiding, Anna would simply turn her attention to one of the "alternatives" for her daughter to sleep with, so surely that's an option now.
Overall, "Birth Pangs" managed to push the mytharc along very well, and it really helps having a good idea what the Visitors are up to now. Anna's masterplan, with the 29 motherships hovering over cities that each contain a genetically-modified human mate for Lisa to breed with, doesn't make total sense, but it's the kind of pulp sci-fi you can accept. The original '80s series was all about eating humans and stealing Earth's water, so this remake's genetic manipulation and interbreeding is far more interesting and intelligent scheme. It's just a shame V's ratings remain so low, putting the likelihood of a third season in serious doubt, because this year's been a definite improvement and I'd like to see how things develop.
- What was up with the heavy use of sunglasses in Hong Kong? Was it really that sunny? Wouldn't it have been a good idea for Erica and Hobbes to show the Fifth Column their eyes, if you're trying to gain their trust?
- The special effects for the suicide of Dr Rai was really good, as she jumped off that skyscraper and disintegrated in freefall. A genuine stunt, mixed with CGI. Impressive.
- Tyler's suddenly unsuitable for interbreeding because of an immunity to phosphorous? Ryan's daughter can no longer be affected by the pain Anna inflicted on her, which could only be soothed with her bliss? Both are changes that happened because otherwise the writers will encounter dead-ends, but it still caused some eye-rolling from me.