V – Heretic’s Fork (S01E09) – Episode review

This revamped series of V sometimes comes across as a study in fundamentalism which is very poignant in the wake of the last decade’s wars on terror and – I think – the rise of fundamentalist Christianity in America.

Perhaps I’m way off base here, but the Visitors represent the promise of a better life – they’re all glamour, advanced technology and give off a kind of Utopian glow. It draws in humans who, as Tyler says in this episode, are looking for answers.

In Heretic’s Fork, we see Anna in particular manipulating gullible earthlings. She’s keen to get Tyler on board her ship and sends Lisa to work convincing Erica that her son will be safe aboard. She visits Chad Decker and deftly convinces him to investigate the Fifth Column who are proving to be quite a threat to her. And all the time smiling her benevolent smile, even as she orders a V soldier to be sent to assassinate Ryan, Val and their unborn child.

Even the Fifth Column captive, Barnes, is the ultimate fanatical soldier. He tells Erica the V’s “don’t believe in fighting, so people like me have to do it for them.” The root of his devotion to the visitors? When his daughter was horribly injured by a car, “Every human being that I know turned their back on me. But not them.” The V’s healed the little girl, earning his devotion.

Fifth Column

I love this moniker, “Fifth Column”. But with FBI Mom Erica holding down her day job and keeping her own fun little version of Guantanamo Bay in a basement, how long can it be before her moonlighting is detected?

There’s something comical about this band of three or four revolutionaries fighting against an entire planet’s worth of aliens spread strategically across the Earth. Sure, there’s a big ol’ database of Fifth Column members, but we rarely ever see them. They’d be outgunned even if there was a thousand of them, so it’s quite comical that they’ve managed to give Anna the runaround for so long!

I love Hobbes though. He’s got this constant, malevolent glint in his eye, like he’s working out the fastest way to gut you at any given time. Of course, he represents the torturer, hence the “Heretic’s Fork” of this week’s title. If we consider the Fifth Column to be the enlightened-but-unpopular minority, does that justify Hobbes’ career cruelty? Is it OK to torture people if you’re fighting on the right side?

V Propaganda

A nice little touch this week was the V propaganda that we saw creeping into Tyler’s speech and then repeated later by Barnes: “if the V’s are so evil, name one bad thing they’ve done”.

Of course, none of the Fifth Column have a ready answer. It’s not like the V’s are stealing sweeties from their local cornershop. It’s a little more complicated, and they don’t want to reveal all the incriminating information lest sneaky Anna should issue a PR counterstrike.

Chad Decker – The Pivotal Character?

Chad Decker’s a slimy guy. And as we see in this episode, he has no friends or family waiting for him when he wakes up from his V-surgery. It occurred to me during this episode that Decker might be the pivotal character in this story. He who controls public opinion wins the war.

If he launches a campaign against the fifth column, he unwittingly helps the Visitors to hoodwink the human race. However, if he investigates enough and discovers the evidence against the Visitors, he could swell the numbers of the Fifth Column and perhaps further the movement to expose the V’s. Of course, being a 21st Century journalist, he’ll do all his homework and make sure he gets his facts straight before he puts together an editorial, won’t he?

Little V Babies

Away from the political intrigue of the Fifth Column, Ryan ran into problems with Val when she discovered he was a scaly bugger underneath all that skin. And now she has the added hassle of having the first ever hybrid Human/Visitor baby. How will it look in those Winnie The Pooh all-in-ones she’d bought? And should she bottle or breast feed? Will a scaly kid get picked on in school?

And you thought the question of having a girl or a boy was the scariest thing about parenting…

After Ryan quickly dispatches a couple of V roughnecks, Anna sends down a V Soldier. Gasp! “But no soldier has ever set foot on Earth before,” exclaims her breathless second-in-command. Turns out this guy was like the Visitor version of the Terminator. Maybe the Verminator? An unstoppable killing machine who tracks Val down, but still manages to get taken down by Ryan until Erica and Father Jack come in and fire off a few rounds in the Verminator’s general direction. Again, Hobbes steals the show with his “axe to the chest” finishing move.

…and V Teenagers

Yeah, Lauren Vandervoot’s character Lisa seems to be a little bit conflicted. Instructed by Anna to bring Tyler to the mothership’s “Live Aboard” programme, Lisa suddenly seems to have got cold feet for this “exploit the stupid human” mission. Could it be that her raging V hormones are leading her to have feelings for Tyler?

Or was it all an elaborate hoax to pit Tyler against his mother? Who exactly is playing who?

Not a bad episode. The cards are stacked against modern Sci-Fi at the moment, but I think there are messages in V to be explored. Perhaps they’re not overt enough or cohesive enough to stand out, but I think they are present.

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