EPISODE REVIEW: V – It’s Only the Beginning (Season 1, Episode 4)

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So here we are at the fourth and final (possibly) episode of this new and re-jiggered version of “V”. As you may or may not know after tonight’s show, the series is going on an extended hiatus with a scheduled return date sometime in the late spring. A lot of the final decision on whether or not it will actually return is probably tightly tied up in how well the viewership has held up on the show over its short run. So chances are probably not very good.

Having said that, tonight’s show was another incremental improvement over the previous episode. If it keeps improving at this rate the show should be completely average by mid-next season.

The Comcast show guide synopsis states quite boldly, “with the help of her allies, Erica uncovers a biological threat that may be linked to the Visitors; Anna supervises the murder probe of a V while meeting with a special guest on the mother ship; Chad reports on the Visitors’ healing centers”.

The show kicks off right away with the main players in the human resistance teaming up for an ominous and boring meeting. When the drunk human guy who has lost his family to the V secret agents starts talking about skinning the Vs, our stalwart secret agent V, Ryan, gets upset. Not so sexy this week, Erica is becoming suspicious of Ryan’s motives.

Back on the mother ship, V boss Anna is informed that Firefly guy was murdered as he was recuperating. She goes into slow burn mode and demands that the whole staff be investigated.

Back on earth, Erica’s lame-o son tries to talk to her and connect with her, but Erica is busy illegally accessing the FBI DB trying to get some background info on Ryan to see what his thing is. So, he naturally goes off and pouts. I really hate this kid. If there is anything I hate more than mopey teenagers, it is clichéd mopey teenagers.

Ryan’s girlfriend, the human, is feeling sick. Luckily at the very same time on TV Anna is announcing the go live of their Universal Healthcare plan with a vitamin injection that should help strengthen human immune systems a bit. I find myself hoping that it is made out of MSG.

We jump back to lame-o son and Erica again, but they get interrupted by an urgent call from Ryan – he saw the free vitamin injection report on TV and he knows that it is really meat tenderizer. Lame-o gets even more pouty if that is possible and storms off, Erica feels bad but the fate of the world is in her hands, so what can she do. Manufactured familial drama never gets old does it?

Ryan reveals a former V plan to create a human virus or something like that and then starts reeling off names of former undercover V. They finally get a hit on one and track him down at a big medical manufacturer or something – my notes are a little vague here because it was really boring.

We smash cut to lame-o teen son who is confessing his lame-o teen problems to his shrink. At first we don’t get to see the shrink's face which is suspicious until, surprise!! It turns out to be Ryan’s human girlfriend. She is all sniffly and lame-o offers to get her into a V clinic. DaDaDun!!

I have no idea how this show can cover so much ground so quickly and still feel like it is standing still.

Anyway, enter the Hottie Blondie V – she is on the mother ship talking with her mother, who as we learned last week is apparently Anna. (I was going to do a LILF gag here, but can’t figure out how to pull it off without everyone assuming that I find Anna more attractive than I really do – cause I don’t, she just isn’t working for me in this show for some reason). Hottie Blondie V and Anna are watching the shrink session from the hidden camera in lame-o teen’s V ROTC jacket – Hottie Blondie smiles at her mum and says ominously, in a way that only the Vs can because it helps cover up the lack of character depth or acting talent, that Lame-o is ready and sooner than she thought. Anna replies, just as ominously of course, “Good bring him up to the ship” so that she can meet him.

Back with the human resistance, they try to capture a loyal undercover V that was involved in the early virus experimentation. The crazy human guy with the resistance tries to exact some revenge when the others aren’t looking and the undercover V gets the drop on him instead. Erica shows up to see Ryan already there and then Ryan pulls a gun on her and fires, she winches but, psyche!! He was actually shooting at the undercover V standing right behind her that she didn't see as she walked right by him. Ryan goes over to question him but he pops the blue pill and then turns into a charcoal briquette.

Back to Anna and the issue of the dead Firefly guy – she is taking this personally, could it be out of loyalty to Joss Whedon, I don’t think we will ever know for sure. She demands all possible staff members that could have killed Firefly to report to her for questioning. She threatens to punish an innocent bystand V unless the guilty Fifth Columnist confesses right then. The guilty guy, who is Anna’s right hand lizard starts to step forward when his buddy that has been staring at him soulfully the whole show steps forward instead. Anna smiles grimly and stares down the real guilty guy, telling him to skin the confessee. Nice. Now that is more like the V we were expecting.

We then spend a little bit of time with the reporter guy, Decker – played listlessly by Party of Five.

Back to Erica, who, again, isn’t looking nearly as good this week as she did last week for some reason. She has put it together that Ryan is a V and confronts him, Ryan fesses up and then spills the beans to her on anything she asks – we of course don’t get to see her ask a lot of questions because the producers are making this whole thing up as they go and they don't know what to say.

We learn that the Priest guy was an Army chaplain and knows his way around a fight. The human resistance then blows up a factory where the V are manufacturing fake Flu vaccine with the mysterious MSG virus.

And we are back to lame-o teen story line – he is on the mother ship with Hottie Blondie and is going to meet Anna. Anna takes him to see the propulsion engine of their ship, it looks like it is straight out of Galaxy Quest.

Party of Five, while doing a report on the V health care plan gets diagnosed with a fatal heart ailment – fortunately the V can cure him, unfortunately there is a long line in front of him, but with luck and a bit of quid pro quo it is possible that he can get moved up in line – wow, is this what it is going to be like under government run healthcare…

Before blowing up the warehouse with all of the fake flu vaccine, Ryan sends a message to the V Ships saying that “John May lives”. Whoever that is, maybe he is the V version of John Galt.

Anna gets naked (finally) and takes a light bath (as in a big blue light shines down on her and bathes her in fuzzy long distance shots so you can't see anything good) and then starts mentally talking to her people – they all look soulfully off into the distance as they listen to her voice and enjoy a very understated psychic orgasm. This must be the “bliss” that was mentioned in last week’s show.

And then Hottie Blondie and lame-o teen start macking on each other.

And then Ryan’s human girlfriend announces she is preggers.

And then the Preacher guy gets stabbed by a bald V that apparently followed him back from the warehouse attack.

And then Erica finds out that her lame-o teen kid went up to the V ship.

So, like each of the previous three episodes, nothing important happens for approximately 50 minutes and then boom, a whole bunch of interesting stuff happens at the very end. It will be interesting to see if this gets renewed and if so, what they change.

I would like to see a focus on more balanced story telling. A focus on better directorial pacing, and less procedural stuff. I could care less that Erica is in the FBI, to this point it hasn’t mattered much at all except in her using access to the FBI Databases to track down people that she can’t find. The Preacher storyline feels like it was pulled right out of a soap opera, and the Ryan storyline is a disaster in the making. The Lame-o teen story line is seriously bugging me more and more, and it feels like they have already given up on Party of Five.

What did you all think. I know I am being hard on this show, but it just isn’t working for me, it is like we were dropped into the middle of Season 3 of Heroes.

Oh, and then at the very end we do a galactic pull back to a ton of alien ships heading towards earth.