Image Credit: Jeff Petry/ABCMore things happened in the season finale of V than in every other episode of the first season combined. That’s a good thing. V definitely needs to inject some adrenaline into its reptile heart, now that it’s won the “hey, it’s more popular than FlashForward” sweepstakes and will be coming back for a second season. You could still argue that about half the characters in the main cast are extraneous, but you have to admit that the cliffhanger ending left you just a little bit interested in seeing where they take things in season 2.
The gist of the episode, I think, came down to three death scenes:
1. RIP, Pregnant Girlfriend
Lourdes Benedicto is a fine actress, but she had exactly two things to do on V: be pregnant and look anxious. I’m not sure if the creators were planning to do more with her character. (At one point, she randomly turned out to be Tyler’s shrink. Tyler and Val: two bad tastes that go bad together!) But even though her plotline proved to be an epic time suck this season, her death scene was still shockingly blunt and amoral. After delivering the V-human baby hybrid, she caught a quick look at her child. Her face was a mix of horror and confusion. Before she could even fully react, Anna stuck her with a death scalpel.
Tough, pulpy storytelling — and a great palette cleanser. In one fell swoop, the show eliminated an extraneous character and added an added a hopeful new depth to Ryan. If nothing else, we know he’s not going to spend another season agonizing over Val. And even if we didn’t get to see little Ryan Jr., our one sneak peek at his tail was Eraserhead-icky.
2. RIP, Doctor Joshua(?)
I’m about two seconds from starting a Facebook group called 1 Million Strong in Support of Firing Everyone on V Except for the Actor Who Plays Joshua. Mark Hildreth nails a feeling of emotions deeply repressed beneath a blanket of all-encompassing paranoia. He makes you believe that the Vs are genuinely everywhere.
The show tends to play pretty fast and loose with just how technologically advanced the Vs are: sometimes they seem practically omniscient, but they apparently haven’t heard of security cameras. In one of last night’s truly groan-inducing lines, Hobbes built Erica a secret telephone bomb, and claimed, “Even alien technology won’t pick this puppy up.” Hobbes, I don’t care if you can fit three hundred pounds of muscle into that tight black T-shirt. How the heck do you know anything about what alien technology can or can’t notice?
So it was nice to see that the Vs actually do possess the basic surveillance equipment of ’50s-era Soviets, and were actually able to catch Joshua and a co-conspirator. (Of course, nobody noticed when Lisa slipped into the medical bay to free Joshua, but whatev.) But it was wrenching when, in an attempt to keep Erica’s Fifth Columnist status under wraps, Joshua insisted that she shoot him. It was a great death scene, but I was worried this was yet another example of V‘s Alan Tudyk Syndrome: the show’s uncanny ability to kill off its most interesting characters, until only Father Jack remains.
3. RIP, Soldier Eggs
Morena Baccarin is awesome on the show: she manages to add a hint of sensuality and royal joie de vivre to a character who’s semi-purposefully emotionless. She hasn’t had a whole lot to do so far besides order people to do things, kill those people when her plans go awry, and then tell Marcus something to the effect of: “Perfect. Now that my plan has failed, my real plan can begin.” So it was a thrill to see her massive breakdown when she discovered her dead soldier boys.
It’s always seemed to me that V is a bit too straight-laced. Not every show needs to force you to question which side’s good and which side’s evil, but V so far has been mostly about plucky rebels fighting an evil Empire. It grew stale around episode 4. You want to see characters act passionately, even rashly, and not just keep doing everything for the greater glory of mankind or visitorkind.
In that sense, Anna’s final actions practically feel like a reboot of the entire series. She decloaked her armada and turned the sky red. (I assumed this was a reference to the Red Skies Effect from Crisis on Infinite Earths, but some quick research indicates that it might actually be an homage to the Red Dust bacteria from the miniseries V: The Final Battle.)
When you get right down to it, the “battle” this season has taken place entirely in the field of public relations: both Anna and the Fifth Column try to use the press for their own ends. As my colleague Benjamin Svetkey pointed out, the show is already a reactionary fable-nightmare, so it could be fun to see them really ramp up the media satire to Paul Verhoeven levels. But I’m excited by the notion that, next season, the battle might actually be, you know, a battle.
Oh, and in the penultimate shot of the season, we got the most welcome surprise of all: Doctor Joshua is alive! Viewers, Santa Claus does exist!
What did you think the season finale, viewers? Will you give V another looksee when it returns in the Fall? Were you happy to see Val go? And could we please never have another episode composed entirely of characters walking through CGI sets? The freakin’ holodeck looked more realistic.
Side note: When Father Jack gave his sermon a song played on the soundtrack that sounded remarkably like John Murphy’s theme from 28 Days Later. About two seconds later, over the Red Skies montage, a track played that sounded remarkably like John Murphy’s theme from Sunshine. I’m not sure if these were just musical homages, or if they actually borrowed the respective soundtracks, but either way, it added a ton of emotion. Makes me wish V had a slightly more eclectic soundtrack.