Thursday, 10 March 2011

'V' 2.9 - "Devil In A Blue Dress"

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The penultimate episode of V's second season (which most will agree has been an improvement), was a decent stride towards the finish line. V's the kind of show where there's nothing much to discuss about the characters or subtext, but it's good fun if you lower expectations and go along for the ride.

This week, Anna (Morena Baccarin) started to build her first Blue Energy reactor in New York City, to eventually power her Concordia city project. Sidney (Bret Harrison) noted how the reactor produces too much wattage for its stated purpose, leading the Fifth Column to correctly theorize the reactors are going to power landing platforms for hundreds of V ships. A plan to sabotage the NYC reactor was therefore set in motion by Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell), with Sidney undertaking his first mission. Elsewhere, Marcus (Christopher Shyer) visited erstwhile queen Diana (Jane Badler), where he was told Anna's been exhibiting human emotions for years; Anna realized she has the ability to "bliss" humans, although it's a painful process and only works on an individual basis; Joshua's (Mark Hildreth) memories of being a Fifth Columnist finally returned; Chad (Scott Wolf) was told by Anna to have his critical co-anchor removed; and Ryan (Morris Chestnut) was ordered by Lisa (Laura Vandervoort) to prevent the sabotage of the NYC reactor, as Erica's unaware their actions will destroy everything in a 100-mile radius.

It was a shame the stakes were so high with the reactor situation, as "Devil In A Blue Dress" never convinced me it would be brave enough to have Erica's team accidentally kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Maybe if the worst case scenario had been smaller, the situation would have been more unpredictable, as here there was no doubt Ryan would shutdown the Blue Energy system. Incidentally, the special-effects for the core of the reactor were excellent; with its snaking twirls of energy and the visual of having the characters in darkness illuminated by blue flashes. An atmospheric and visually interesting moment from director Ralph Hemecker.

There was a slight feeling of events being rushed, though -- which is perhaps a residual of ABC cutting the season order by two episodes at the last-minute. It wasn't distracting, but I think certain developments this season deserved more time to build -- such as baby Amy's rapid ageing and affection for her "mother" Anna, who now seems to reciprocate her love, to Marcus's horror.

Elizabeth Mitchell was better than usual (is it because her character got laid?) and it's certainly more interesting to see principled Erica lose sight of her morality because her mind's clouded by a desire to avenge her ex-husband's death. She was only seconds away from causing a 9/11-scale atrocity! This episode actually painted the Fifth Column in a very poor light: ready and willing sabotage alien technology they don't fully understand. It's like children trying to extinguish a fire by dousing it with gasoline because.. well, that's wet like water, right?

Great to see Joshua regain his memories, even if they come out of nowhere (another victim of plot condensing?), as Lisa's been a poor substitute for his role as a human-sympathizer aboard the mothership. I was a little disappointed Marcus wasn't fiercely loyal to Diana once he discovered her presence, and switched allegiance. Instead, he's just become more suspicious of Anna because of Diana's claim she's been afflicted by emotion for years. Of course, Diana has actually embraced human emotion, which is why Anna supposedly dethroned her, so I take it Diana is using Marcus's zero tolerance of emotion against her daughter and doesn't actually share his views. But as I've mentioned a few times before, I don't trust Diana. She's written as a benevolent queen who was deposed by her ambitious daughter, but I still think she's evil with a different manifesto.

Overall, "Devil In A Blue Dress" was a decent setup for next week's season (series?) finale, which should be crammed full of confrontation, but I'm bracing myself for exasperating cliffhangers that will never be resolved. The show's ratings aren't good and ABC could be itching to replace V with something new after two flop years. The only hope is that ABC don't have many hits, so maybe they'll keep V around as familiar continuity? It kind of happened with Chuck on NBC. V's expensive to make, but could they cut the budget and still make it work on-screen? Perhaps by reducing the amount of mothership scenes with its virtual sets, or pruning the cast?


  • If Tyler wasn't irritating enough, now he's been "blissed" and will be making spaced-out happy faces all the time? Oh joy. Maybe Lisa can quietly suggest he swallows one of those suicide pills.
  • I do like how Anna's every parent's worst nightmare: their replacement. She has Erica's son brainwashed, but also Ryan's daughter has bonded with her.
written by Hans Tobeason / directed by Ralph Hemecker / 8 March 2011 / ABC