Wednesday, November 11, 2009

“V: There Is No Normal Anymore" Means Trust No One

Photo from ABC

The second installment of ”V” “There Is No Normal Anymore” continues the story right where we left off in last week's “V” pilot episode. This is a refreshing change from shows that lately feel the need to go backwards or forwards in time in order to advance their story. At least for now, the present in “V” is all that is important. The main characters seemed well developed in the first episode, so it is actually very easy to jump right back into the story without being confused as to what is going on. But the show quickly establishes that mistrust and paranoia are going to be the order of things down the road.

This episode emphasizes for Agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch) that they may not be able to trust anyone. When Erica decides to make an anonymous call to police to report the massacre in the warehouse, she finds that even a public telephone can’t be trusted when a flying object – the same kind that disrupted their meeting and killed many, hones and in them and chases them down. Erica manages to bat it down. She comes to the conclusion that since her work partner of 7 years - Dale - was one of them and operating right under her nose, she knows no one can be trusted. She tells Jack to go home and act as if nothing happened. (By the way, I was amused at the address number of the warehouse – 4400 – which seems like a tip of the hat to both Scott Peters, “V” writer, and Joel Gretsch, both who were involved in the series The 4400.)

Erica comes home and begs her son Tyler (Logan Huffman) not to get involved with the Vs. He promises her that he won't, but it’s actually too late, he’s already signed up to be one of their peace ambassadors. Later, though, V Lisa (Laura Vandervoort) tells him he’s now out because he and his friend Brandon (Jesse Wheeler) got into a fight with some people giving them a hard time, and Tyler punches one of them. But it seems that Tyler still has feelings for Lisa, which could be his undoing. I find Tyler's storyline the least compelling right now.

Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut) is still trying to figure out what to do since his girlfriend Valerie Holt (Lourdes Benedicto) found the engagement ring in the last episode. He also has to figure out how to fix that horrible gash he got at the warehouse which shows his lizard body underneath. He gives Val a line that he cut it on a file cabinet, and then hunts down someone at Al's Garage named Angelo Russo. The mechanic who is under a car says he's never heard of him, but Ryan knows it's him and yanks him out from under the car. Angelo is not happy to see Ryan, but he heard about the warehouse incident and brings out the equipment to fix him up. As he does so, he lectures Ryan and then seems to have drugged him, saying he can’t trust Ryan. Later, with Ryan coming to and running home, he finds Val is not there. Angelo calls him and tells him if he really loves her, he will stay away from her, and if he can find out about her, so can the Vs. When Val gets home later, she checks out Ryan’s wound which now just looks like a very long scratch. She notices a photo on the mantle is upside down, and underneath is a card with the name Cyrus and the address 51509 Gibbs Ave. He says it was some guy he used to know, and she seemed to buy it. Of course, since I am not sure who can be trusted, I find myself wondering if she already knows who that is.

While all this is going on, Erica and Jack find themselves being separately questioned by the FBI. Erica is questioned on her missing work partner Dale, and Jack about the dead man in the church (from the previous episode). When Jack cooperates and gives the pictures that the now dead man gave him, he is shocked to find that Erica works at the FBI. She is shocked to find out he is a priest. They argue over trust, and Jack thought that since Erica told him to pretend things didn’t happen that he was on his own. Bottom line is that Erica convinces her boss that Dale was involved with “terrorists” but doesn’t let on that he is a V. Erica later approaches Jack saying he is the only one she can trust, but he wants no involvement, saying he’s just a priest. But when he later hears the announcement that the US has agreed on diplomatic relations with the Vs, he says this made him sick, and now he seems to be back in. Erica, likely with the same feelings, tells him she stole a list of every person that has contacted the FBI about aliens. It’s a huge list, and they hope that they have some people on that list they can recruit to fight the Vs.

News anchor Chad Decker (Scott Wolf) decides that he isn’t going to play Anna’s (Morena Baccarin), the leader of the Vs, game. He has a television interview that seems to encourage opposing views to the Vs, but later, when confronted by Anna on the issue, he says that he actually helped her cause as more people are now on the side of the Vs and he thinks that they will now get the diplomatic recognition they want. And they do, likely giving Chad a feeling of a little more power in their relationship, but he’s just a little too self assured. I find myself wondering if he is just playing right into her hands, seeing that she thinks she understands human being so well.

Something about Jack’s pastor is creeping me out a bit, and I suspect he’s working for the other team, likely one of the Vs who has been on earth for years. He seems too supportive of the Vs and seems to be cautioning Jack a little too much.

Back on the V ship, Dale’s body is laying on a slab – and then comes back to life. No surprise here.

The “trust no one” theme is certainly not new, the phase being the centerpiece of The X-Files and linked with that series' main character, Fox Mulder. But with V, the audience may find themselves taking that philosophy to new heights, as, unless they cut into someone, it will be hard to tell if they are a V or human. Even then, as with the case of Ryan, some of the Vs are working on the side of humanity. It will be a guessing game for the viewers on who to trust, and right now, maybe with the exception of Jack, Erica, and her son Tyler, everyone is fair game. The main weakness for V is that it is a remake, and that they revealed fact that they have lizard bodies underneath their human skin, both which takes a lot of the mystery out of the series. The issue will be if they can make paranoia and trusting no one into a sustainable series. So far they are off to a good start. They will need a new twist in order to keep viewers intrigued and coming back, seeing that after the show’s 4 episode run, the series won’t be returning until after the 2010 Winter Olympics. Let’s hope they have enough of a cliffhanger to encourage fans to wait.

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