V – Welcome To The War, episode review

The reboot of V finally continues with Welcome To The War. Like most of you who’d seen the previous four episodes, I could barely remember what had been happening in the series. Bad move to have such a long hiatus so early in the series.

As with any show with a huge ensemble cast, there was plenty going on. Agent Evans is trying to wrestle her son from the brainwashing of the V’s while at the same time recruiting a known mercenary for her little group of resistance fighters. Father Jack is stabbed by a vengeful Visitor and brought to a V healing center where he’s given the sinister R6 drug.

Chad Decker – the reporter who’d sell the planet out to get a scoop on the Vs – is torn between trusting conventional Earth science, or believing that the Vs can diagnose a condition that will arise in the future and prevent it. And after some heavy leaning from creepy V leader Anna, he does a positive news piece on the V healing centers.

Human-sympathiser V, Ryan, discovers his wife is pregnant and “eating for 10”, which implies that she’s having some kind of freaky hybrid human/V baby. This is actually quite a thrilling part of the episode – we can only imagine what the baby/babies will look like on arrival. And will Valerie survive the birth? In the meantime, we have the memory of her eyeing up a dead mouse as a potential dinner. She’s understated enough not to lick her lips, but the longing look she gave the mouse was fantastic and utterly disgusting.

And what are Anna and Lisa planning for Agent Evans’ son Tyler? They put him in a pod and mine his memories, discovering the moment that his father walked out on his mother. I’m guessing that they have their own insemination project planned to see if Tyler can get Lizard Lisa knocked up.

Continuing with the breeding theme – and it was a breeding theme last night – Anna herself decides it’s time to create an army in the face of a growing human resistance. So, she selects a big muscly soldier, takes his reptilian baby-goo and then proceeds to eat him. I thought the scary teeth were a bit over the top though. A frenzied feeding scene followed by a gross carcass afterward would have been much better.

Reading around what other people are saying about Welcome To The War, and V in general, it’s clear that many people are having trouble relating to the show. TV Overmind complains that it’s hard to empathise with the characters:

But there’s something, some element in that show, that keeps me aloof from what’s going on in the episode. I see the characters, but I don’t have a reaction to them. It’s observation, pure and simple. Anna’s description of V’s memories aptly fits the series; it has foregone emotion for efficiency.

I have to agree with that. It was Agent Evans’ (can I call her Erica now?) robotic desire to regain her son that got to me. Was she – an FBI agent – going to singlehandedly storm an alien ship she had no knowledge of, all guns blazing, and rescue her son? “She has my son. If I have to cross a line to blow that bitch out of the sky, I will.”

I suppose my problem with that “to the ends of the Earth” mentality is that somewhere along the line a main character like Erica needs to get some perspective and maybe accept the loss of her son as collateral damage in a war against a hostile alien threat. Focus, woman!

Alan Sepinwall has high hopes for Scott Rosenbaum as the new showrunner for “V”. But he acknowledges it’s going to take time before he’s going to be able to turn the show around.

I’m going to give Rosenbaum time, since you can’t turn a freighter around on a dime, and it would be hard for him to come in and immediately ditch all the elements that weren’t working.

For me, the big problem which connects both [[V (TV Series)|V]] and [[FlashForward (TV Series)|FlashForward]] is that in their attempt to give us “gritty reality” they ultimately end up delivering grim, one-dimensional characters. Where’s the gallows humour of the resistance, fighting against a much larger, more sophisticated enemy? The V’s are well organised, cold and ruthless, but they’re equally highly-strung about their objective. Maybe both these shows need a small injection of knowing humour to lighten them up a bit?

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