Thursday, 17 March 2011

'V' 2.10 - "Mother's Day"

Thursday, 17 March 2011

ABC reduced their season order of V by two episodes while the show was in production, and "Mother's Day" carried the scars of a truncated story that was, at times, ruined by the need to cram missing hours of plot into a single episode. The season 2 finale entertained, because it was full of provocative moments, but mostly played out without any finesse and intelligence.

"Now that's how you kill your mother." -- Anna
The show's always had a strong theme of motherhood and family, and this finale played to that very well. The Fifth Column organized their most daring mission yet, by manipulating Anna's (Morena Baccarin) love for her daughter and heir. Future queen Lisa (Laura Vandervoort) was kidnapped to lure Anna out into the open, without her usual security, to exchange her life for that of her only child and future queen. Anna was unaware Lisa's been collaborating with Fifth Column and expected to shoot her mother dead during the exchange, until a reflection of Lisa brandishing a gun tipped her off, and gave Anna the chance to talk herself to safety by claiming to have revised her opinion of humanity. The mission was a failure and Lisa's true allegiance was exposed in one fell swoop.


Meanwhile, in the mothership, Ryan (Morris Chestnut) and Joshua (Mark Hildreth) released overthrown queen Diana (Jane Badler) from her secret prison, to reclaim her throne by rallying her people towards a peaceful coexistence with mankind, until Anna pitilessly lanced her mother through the chest with her tail, ending the coup d'├ętat. There was a seismic shift of relationships and a strong theme of replacement here: Lisa thrown into her late-grandmother's dungeon; hybrid Amy disowning and killing her father in favour of her adopted mother; and the birth of another daughter for Anna from her last surviving egg, with the newborn V wrapped in identical skin to Lisa and sent to have sex with Tyler (Logan Huffman.)

"You taught me everything I know. But you never knew half of what I know." -- Anna to Diana
Now, I approve of how much "Mother's Day" achieved in an hour, but a great deal of it felt rushed and thus lacked impact. For instance, Erica finally told her son everything about the V's (something we've been waiting ages for), but she did so over the phone in a conversation we didn’t hear, and Tyler's response wasn't properly demonstrated because he was immediately seduced by "EviLisa" and viciously killed during their post coital glow. I'm a red-blooded guy, so I can see why a naked Laura Vandervoort would be a distraction to any teenager (even if she suddenly developed a 200-yard stare), but this felt like a big moment being shortchanged because there wasn't time to give it the treatment it deserved. Tyler's just been told that the V's are evil and here to enslave humanity, but he immediately jumped into bed with one? Still, Tyler's dead, which is cause for celebration. I'm sure the writers have been itching to end that particular thread of V's storyline, as Huffman lacked the talent to make the character work. And the writers don't get off lightly, as it always felt like they never knew how to deal with Tyler -- who was always kept in the dark about the V's for illogical reasons.


"I wasn't lying when I said not all human emotion is bad. Enjoy the show." -- Anna
Diana's release after a season of buildup only resulted in a change of dress, two brief scenes, and a shock death. It struck me as a disappointing end to that particular subplot, and a slight letdown that Diana wasn't revealed to have been lying about her good intentions. They simply released Diana and killed her within minutes, which retrospectively makes Jane Badler's involvement in season 2 little more than a fun nod for fans of the original series and mature cleavage. On a similar note, Ryan's strangulation only elicited a shrug, as his character should have died in the mid-season bomb and was only kept around longer for, assumedly, an emotional moment of redemption that didn't arrive.


Still, the ending worked well as both a season cliffhanger and a potential series finale, with Erica kidnapped and taken to the underground HQ of "Project Ares" (a secret cabal of top-ranking military and government officials who believe the V's are dangerous and know they've been visiting Earth for a very long time.) The death of Jane Badler also nicely coincided with the debut of another actor from the '80s V: a goateed, haggard-looking Marc Singer, now playing the head of Ares. However, before Erica had a chance to get acquainted with her new comrades (which included her FBI bosses?!), Anna was attempting to Bliss the world's population to enslave them, unsuccessfully, until Amy demonstrated that V-human hybrids can Bliss mass populations with relative ease. The final moment, of Erica walking amidst a group of brainwashed people, noticing former-priest Jack (Joel Gretsch) staring up at his new "God" in the heavens, was a great way to get you excited for what a third season could entail... but also worked as a decent end to V, if we're left to assume the Visitors effectively won.

Overall, "Mother's Day" gave us plenty of incidents and a smattering of effective, entertaining moments. It's just a shame the majority of them weren't given enough room to breathe, as you could tell this finale needed another hour to tell its story better. But I still hope it get a miraculous third season pickup, as there's enough back-story and complexity to the show's story to really start delivering the "alien invasion" angle of V's concept, as this finale felt like the writers were making it clear the preamble is over.

Asides

  • Newborn V queens are immediately ready to procreate? This flew in the face of what we've been led to believe with Lisa, who was only just coming into sexual maturity. Still, great to see what a Visitor looks like from head to claw at last, even if it makes little sense those giant grasshopper-lizards would resemble a human being just by having skin wrapped over them. They're about 7 foot tall, aren't they?
  • Where did Hobbes (Charles Mesure) disappear to towards the end? Theories? Did something get lost in the need to constrict 12 episodes into 10 this year?
written by Scott Rosenbaum & Gregg Hurwitz / directed by Bryan Spicer / 15 March 2011 / ABC