Just when you’re starting to listen to the haters, along comes an episode of V that’s full of interesting twists and turns. Fruition sees alien leader Anna beat her own daughter to a pulp, blame it on the Fifth Column and use the incident as a means to drum up support for the V’s across the planet.
I think this episode more than any proves that the visitors are – ethically speaking – worlds apart from the humans. Anna has her daughter Lisa savagely beaten for showing human emotions and dumped in an alleyway. When the battered alien is discovered, the attack is blamed on Fifth Column members and yet again – somehow – Hobbes is being framed for a crime he didn’t commit.
The story splinters into two parts here – with Erica finally meeting Anna and discovering that Anna’s daughter is her doe-eyed son’s girlfriend. Erica’s in a great position to see the extent of the lie that the V leader tells: Anna tells the people of Earth that she cannot stand these attacks on her people and declares that the aliens are packing up their space-suitcases and leaving. And to prove her point, she orders the Shanghai ship to leave the planet immediately. Hobbes recognizes the great military bluff, declaring “It’s all theater”.
That said, it was exceptionally good theater. Anna’s methods of manipulation are fantastic: she wraps toady Chad Decker around her little claw simply by freezing him out for a while. He’s even clever enough to work this out, but seems to see the Vs as a major meal ticket. It’s Decker’s broadcast in favour of the Vs that eventually swings government and public support to entice the Vs to stay. What that means in reality is a joint V/Human task force, but with a Guantanamo-style ability to arrest anyone remotely suspected of being in league with the Fifth Column.
That’s an area where we must applaud this revamped series: I don’t remember the original well enough to compare, but V 2009 plugs straight into our contemporary world – media manipulation, talk of terrorism and anti-species sentiment. Even religion plugs into the discovery of advanced alien life. They may sometimes be clumsy in executing their ideas, but the people behind V are generally doing a good job.
Interestingly, we get our first sniff at a weapon the humans can use against the V’s: an environmental solution that has the nasty side-effect of killing reptilian creatures. Yes, including our favourite planet-decimating visitors. But the only person holding the formula is Hobbes, who seems to be keen to sell it to the Vs – rather than giving it to the Fifth Column and helping them mass-produce enough toxin to kill the Vs.
Though probably the key point of the episode was Erica comforting Lisa. She discovers quickly enough that Anna was behind the violent attack on Lisa, but is forced to play a very subtle game. She talks to Lisa about the consequences of identifying an innocent man, but Lisa is in mortal terror of her mother, so she points out the scientist behind the V-killer formula. This may be a frustrating moment for Erica, but Lisa needs to prove her loyalty to Anna if she’s to live through this. Ultimately though, Lisa combination of new human emotions and her anger at her mother’s attack seem to have pushed her over the line to sympathising with the Fifth Column.
All in all, Fruition was a very meaty episode of V. I know many people will complain about various aspects of the show, but I’m going to advance the theory that we’re quite hard on Sci-Fi dramas these days. V carries a lot of valid and interesting socio-political commentary that its value outweighs the negatives of sometimes slow story development and slightly odd character moments.
I’ll end on a small criticism though: Erica Evans. I know that soccer moms never have a moment to themselves, but this lady is a full-time FBI agent, a part-time freedom fighter and a single mother all at the same time. Who the hell does her shopping? Not quite. The big question here is why isn’t she far more paranoid than she currently is. It didn’t seem to cross her mind that it was an extreme co-incidence that her son is dating the daughter of the V leader. I mean, here we have an important Fifth Column member whose son is dating – as Hobbes put it – the alien princess.