V – Hearts and Minds (S01E10) – Episode review

Hearts and Minds is a fairly transparent title for an episode which sees the Visitors using their malign influence to scare the humans into wanting them to stay.

This episode of V opens with Ryan, Father Jack and Hobbes using a sophisticated rocket-launcher to shoot a V craft out of the sky. All would have been well, except for Jack discovering human remains among the wreckage. How did our brothers in the Fifth Column screw up so badly? Well, the viewer finds out in full HD flashback.

Ryan’s mole aboard the mothership feeds him information about a craft full of trackers that’s being sent down to investigate how they escaped the soldier that was sent to kill them. If the trackers discover the Fifth Column cell behind the attacks, it won’t be long until a V soldier is sent down to kill Ryan and his chums.

However, slimy newsguy Chad Decker relays information to Anna about the proposed attack, and she sets up a ship to fly to the same location, setting up the Fifth Column. It’s loaded with the remains of dead humans and skeletons, but nobody knows that. Father Jack and the rest of the human population are outraged at the loss of human life. Except Jack was party to the disaster and decides to quit the freedom fighting game.

The Nitty Gritty

Hmm…let’s scrub the recapping and get to the meat of the episode: the seeming schism between Jack and Erica/Hobbes and Ryan. Hobbes advances the theory that they’re common terrorists now and they have to suck it up and get on with the fight. On the other side of the argument, the Priest and the FBI agent protest against collateral damage and the deaths of innocent humans.

The thing is, the Fifth Column are fighting a dirty war with aliens who are placed across the globe and who are ready to commit genocide on a planetary scale. Agent Erica and Father McBroody can bellyache all they like about the human cost and not becoming like the Vs, but this is war. I’m afraid I have to side with the intelligent, pragmatic Hobbes, and not with these two bleeding hearts.

In the end, none of it matter, because Erica discovers the whole bodies-on-a-V-ship thing was just a canny set-up after all. Phew. Father Jack can breathe easy after all.

Teen Spirit

In the world’s most boring sub-plot, Tyler and Lisa head for a spot of trouble. Lisa’s becoming prone to human emotion, which makes her want to protect the fragile teen. So she breaks up with him to prevent him getting anally probed on the mothership.

However, Anna’s discovers her new weakness and gives Lisa a vicious punch to the face. Then, inexplicably, she asks Joshua the flunkie to break Lisa’s legs. Why not do it yourself, Anna? Maybe she likes to spread the viciousness around….

Inexplicables

Erica gets assigned to head up a task force to hunt down the Fifth Column. How convenient. Especially when the line used to approach her was the boss “wants to ask you about your involvement with the Fifth Column”. Erica’s track record is sketchy at best, considering she’s forever disappearing to have secret Fifth Column meetings.

Also very convenient: Erica’s colleague turns out to be a Visitor in disguise. Didn’t see that one coming, did we?

Oopsies

  1. Why did Anna fake a crime scene rather than just use real humans? I mean, if she went to the trouble of scavenging human remains, wouldn’t it have been easier to load up a ship full of live humans? Live humans would also have grieving relatives to cry on TV and advance the theory that the Fifth Column are evil.
  2. And are we seriously expected to believe that pictures of remains found at the crash site were the only evidence remaining of the bones? Even without the digital copies, there would have been physical evidence that Erica could’ve pointed to.
  3. Great FBI system, by the way: you delete a file from the server and it’ll whisk that file off the screen of anybody else who’d opened it. Fantastic work.
  4. Despite V’s version of the FBI being the equivalent of the Keystone Cops, Anna is happy to leave the apprehension of the Fifth Column to “human law enforcement” rather than send down her far more deadly trackers and soldiers. And even if she had to put the tracker strike off by a day or two, she didn’t have to withdraw them entirely.
  5. If Lisa’s starting to become a human sympathiser, why hang around on the ship? She knows what happens on the V ship, she’s all hot and scaly for Tyler, so why not warn him off, join the Fifth Column (they’ve got a great dental plan) and live on Earth?

Only one quote of the episode

…but it’s a good one!

  • A little bit of sexual tension between Erica and Father Jack? Hobbes: “It’s like the Thorn Birds in here.”

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3 Comments

  1. Jeffrey Scott

    Why Anna didn’t just put real humans on the ship confused me also. I’m positive Diana from the original series would have put real humans aboard. One of the other things I miss about the older series was the music. So far the music in this series has been blah. Also, this newer V, the action seems to be slowly paced. I wonder if they plan on expanding the cast slightly.

  2. Gerard McGarry

    Yeah, I’ve heard the complaints about the “glacial pace” with which the plot is developing. Still, I’m enjoying it enough. A little tired of FBI agents in every single series at the moment: between this and FlashForward it’s a little bit by-the-numbers.

    At the same time though, this is the 21st Century, and I can’t believe that no-one’s bothered to use the Internet to discredit the Vs. Surely camera phone footage and pictures of their exposed skin would force them into admitting they’d been duplicitous in the first instance? I know that kind of blows the plot out of the water a little bit, but come on!

    After all, how’s a renegade group of freedom fighters gonna get their message to a global audience? Yep, set up a Fifth Column Facebook page!

  3. dyershand

    Yeah, the “Hearts and Minds” episode has pretty much put the kibosh on “V” for me. It was a “guilty pleasure” for the first five episodes or so. Morena Baccarin’s Anna is pure camp, of course – but now and again it’s great camp and the team creating the show landed one coup at least in finding an actress who is at the same time achingly beautiful and also, when you come to think about it, yes, DOES look rather like a lizard…But for some time now the unmistakable cynicism of the writing team and their evident contempt for their audience has been getting more and more on my nerves.

    This cynicism and contempt are revealing themselves on both the macro- and the micro-scale. The howling dramatic solecism of the set-up shuttle’s being filled by Anna – a character who has been repeatedly clearly shown to ascribe not the slightest value either to human lives or to the lives of her own species – with already-dead bodies is, of course, more than just an “oopsie”. It’s a clear indication of a really deplorable attitude on the writers’ part: namely, that they are eager to set up “moral dilemma” situations for their characters – due to these situations’ proven record as ways of grabbing an audience’s attention and giving them the flattering sense that they’re watchng something “deep” – but totally uninterested in actually dramatically working through these situations, jettisoning them, by means of absurd narrative measures like the one just mentioned, as soon as they’ve provided the occasion for a few high-emotion scenes likes Jack’s temporary resignation from the resistance movement. Jack’s grotesque split-second transformation, in the FBI interview room, from anguished, guilt-ridden humanist to “charge-me-buddy-or-let-me-go” tough guy must be one of the morally dumbest – either that or one of the most consciously fundamentally immoral – scenes ever written for TV. The news that their conducting of improvised paramilitary operations on clandestine word-of-mouth information has not resulted in death or injury to innocents THIS time seems, miraculously, immediately to clear the conscience of even this most morally scrupulous member of the Fifth Column of all apprehension that it might – in fact, inevitably will – do so next time, or the time after that.

    The most worrying thing, however, is that this evident nonsense actually plainly is a central tenet of the ideological world-view that the writers of “V” are trying – be it consciously or unconsciously – to get across. What “Hearts and Minds” is clearly telling its audience in the end is: “For all the thrill that can be gotten from teasing and playing with the idea, the problem that even just and necessary wars invariably involve terrible crimes against innocent parties is actually not a problem we really need to worry about ; somehow, it will always come about that the “good guys” will be able to achieve their ends without doing anything even remotely resembling what the “bad guys” do, and, if it sometimes appears otherwise, well, the bodies at My Lai were most likely as fake as the bodies Anna put in the shuttle. We’re humans (read: Americans) and humans/Americans can, in the end, do no wrong.”

    (There was a kind of disturbing fore-echo of the distasteful political reality-denial of “Hearts and Minds” in the immediately preceding episode, when the nerdy Fifth-Columnist who eventually panics and gets shot explains that he joined the resistance because his “grandfather fought in World War Two, his father in Vietnam”, and he “wanted to do something too.” I think it can only be in very, very recent years that popular culture in America has become settled deeply enough into post-Cold-War complacency for it to be possible for characters on TV shows to mention in the same breath and to place in exactly the same moral category a righteous war against fascism and a sordid, unwinnable adventure which, for years, the best of America’s artists deplored and mourned as their country’s hour of deepest shame).

    I suppose the cynicism that shows forth on the micro-level is somehow fundamentally linked to this more heinous cynicism and contempt at the core of the writing for “V”. Also extremely cynical and contemptuous of the audience in their way, in any case, are all the cryingly improbable tricks used in this episode to carry the narrative along, such as Erica’s ploy to get the arrested Jack alone and break the good news to him: namely, first screaming hysterically at a man just opening his mouth to answer that he should “Answer!” and then sending her superior officer out of the room to fetch some documents she’s just thought of, an “order” with which he, rather puzzlingly, instantaneously complies. Likewise the sloppiness and laziness of the script even at the sub-narrative level of language and phrasing: to all appearances, the writers take no time to hone or polish any adequately Machiavellian-sounding phrase that pops into their heads for Anna, but just bang it into the script unexamined; the episode was spoiled for me early on by Anna’s enunciation of her expectation that the earth authorities would take “swift and immediate action” against the perpetrators of the shuttle attack. For a creature apparently fluent in a large number of earth languages, it jars somewhat that it escapes her that “immediate” action is by definition “swift” and that it makes no sense to use both words in the same sentence.

     

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