Last night’s episode of V began with the Norman Rockwell-esque image of the Family Evans getting ready for a happy All-American day together. Erica was benched from FBI duty, possibly because her partners keep dying and terrible things generally seem to happen whenever she’s around. But she didn’t care about her suspension. She just wanted to hang out with her endearingly pleasant ex-husband (who was such a wonderful human being that he never stopped wearing flannel) and their awful child. Predictably, things quickly got out of hand, and before long the Family Evans — indeed, the entire cast of V — was caught up in a tense standoff. And not everybody got out alive.The standoff itself was a lot of fun. V is always at its best when it forces the characters to actively juggle all the lies they’ve been telling, and the standoff brought all those lies front and center. Ryan was captured by Eli Cohn’s Fifth Column, but a Visitor tracker had been following Ryan, and reported the rebels’ location back to Queen Anna. Anna sent an anonymous tip to the FBI, who surrounded Cohn…but not before Erica went into Fifth Column HQ for a stern discussion with her former buddy. Erica pretended to be a hostage. To make things more complicated, Cohn had some Fifth Columnite suicide bombers in the crowd, and they took real hostages. By my scientific estimation, that’s a three-ring circus.
But wait! Erica’s ex-hubby, Niceguy Krycek, found his way into Fifth Column headquarters thanks to some top-secret intel from a sleeper V. (Four rings!) Anna sent Hobbes to the standoff scene with a device that would set off the suicide bombs. (Five rings!) Also, Chad Decker’s crack news team was reporting from behind the barricade, Father Jack was on the sidelines being utterly useless, and there were snipers everywhere. (A billion rings!)
It was all pretty exciting stuff, with lots of promise for serious emotional resonance. And sure enough, a couple characters died. Unfortunately, their deaths couldn’t have been more telegraphed. Eli Cohn gave a speech about how Erica should take over the Fifth Column, and also pushed a picture of his dead family in our face several times throughout the episode. Meanwhile, Niceguy Krycek told Erica he was sorry for not believing her about the whole pregnancy thing, and then he kissed her, and then he said something to the effect of, “We have so much time left to work things out!” All that was missing was a giant target on his back.
Don’t get me wrong — I was pretty thrilled with how the standoff ended, with Eli exploded and Niceguy Krycek cut down in the crossfire. For all my gripes with V, I feel like Elizabeth Mitchell has turned Erica Evans into a legitimately interesting heroine. She has a kind of classically tragic character arc: She does everything for her family, but all her actions have only conspired to break her family apart. It was searing to witness her final interaction with Tyler, who blames her and the Fifth Column for his father’s death. (When she slapped him, it was doubly cathartic, because yeesh, someone had to slap that kid.) Even better was the last scene, where Erica gave her first order as Fifth Column leader: “We go on the offensive. We strike first, we strike hard!” (These last four episodes could be good!)
Still, there’s a part of me that thinks V could’ve done more with this standoff. The loss of two minor characters isn’t really a loss at all. (We didn’t see what happened to Ryan, but it’s a good bet that he survived the bombing.) Additionally, I’m not sure the creators of V really played fair: The FBI seems to have completely accepted that Erica just happened to be taken hostage, and cast aside all their legitimate suspicions as a result. Still, I’m legitimately excited to see what a more unhinged, militaristic Erica will do.
Viewers, did you like the standoff episode? Excited to see how the Fifth Column retaliates? Did you dig seeing Jane Badler interact with someone besides Morena Baccarin for once? And did you enjoy Father Jack’s defrocking scene? Don’t tell me this isn’t the most out-of-contest dirty line you’ve heard all week: “You’ve been laicized, Jack.”
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