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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

V: "Hearts and Minds"

Illustration for article titled V: "Hearts and Minds"
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Yeah, I'm just gonna give this one an F. Until halfway through, I was pretty into it despite the incredibly boring in medias res opening, just because by having Hobbes, Jack and Ryan blow up a V shuttle, then find out it had humans in it, at least the show was tackling an interesting angle about the costs of freedom fighting.

Aaaaaaand then it turned out no, the gang didn't kill any humans, just planted corpses and skeletons that Anna put in the shuttle once she heard of their plans to take it out. Here's my problem with this episode, and with V. I have a lot of problems, but I'm focusing on this one now, and I think it's the most crucial. This is a show that thinks it's exploring shades of grey, big moral questions, having its characters go into dubious territory. "Make no mistake, we're terrorists now," Hobbes growls at the end.

But there are no shades of grey on V, not really. Not when the enemies are emotionless lizards who experiment on humans with scary needles and smirk privately each week as they pull one over on us dopey humans, yet again. The Fifth Column is kind of a terrorist organization: they have cells all over, they blow shit up, etc. But really they're just unabashedly awesome freedom fighters against eeeeeeeevil aliens. Even Hobbes, who's supposed to represent how the gang turned to questionable methods to keep up the fight, is just charming and, at worst, a realist. V, unfortunately, is too boring, slow-paced and cheaply made to be a kick-ass action adventure show. So instead it tries to tackle the issues, ponderously. And it fails. Miserably.

Don't get me started on the fact that we opened with them blowing up the ship, finding out that human bodies came out of the ship, and then spent TWENTY FUCKING MINUTES flashing back to how they set up their attack, and how they got duped. It meant we had to watch everyone excitedly plan the attack knowing full well it would go horribly wrong. That's not interesting, it's just making an episode last longer. Do I really need to see a scene of Joshua telling Ryan about the V shuttle with evil "trackers" on it that they need to blow up, and then Ryan saying they have to get a stinger missile, and Jack telling Chad about it, and Chad telling Anna, and Anna making the switcheroo? No! You can give that to us in character dialogue, easy. Opening with the bazooka attack and filling in the blanks quickly afterward would probably have looked a little sloppy, but a faster pace is what this show needs.

Sidebar: so, the "trackers" Anna sends are there to identify the fifth column guys, so they can sic a soldier on them? Then why didn't she do that last episode, instead of sending a soldier? Why can't she just send more trackers now that she's foiled their attack? Why can't Anna just get rid of this handful of people who can barely scrape together a resistance to her? They would have been fucked if there had been two, or three, or five shuttles with trackers, instead of just one.

Anyway, Jack gets bent out of shape when he finds out they killed humans accidentally, and quits the band. He invokes the image of Iraq, and says they should only preemptively strike if they're 100% sure. Ooh. But then Erica figures out, just by looking at pictures of some bones in the wreckage, that it was all fake. She figures this out looking at PICTURES! We're told in this episode that forensic DNA specialists are going to comb through this evidence for weeks. Won't they be able to figure out the Vs faked the whole thing? The incriminating pictures are deleted by a V mole (who turns out to be Tory from Battlestar Galactica, not Erica's boss aka the only other FBI character). But can they really cover up the whole incident if Erica could figure it out after five seconds with the pictures? Sheesh.


I realize I'm starting to sound really whiny and annoying. Maybe I picked that up from Tyler, who gets dumped by Lisa, whose emotions are developing further (bad emotions! bad!). She realizes she doesn't want Tyler to live aboard, which means having a zillion needles poke your naked body while you sleep, so she cuts him off. His reaction is to start sobbing, then go to his mom and bury his head in her lap (to cry some more). What a dweeb. Anna's reaction is a little blunter - she beats the shit out of Lisa to engender sympathy in Tyler, to bring him on board. Then she orders an underling to "break her legs." If only Erica had done the same thing to Tyler, my grade would have bumped up a whole letter or two.

Stray observations:

Among the burning wreckage is a hot pink Nintendo DS, the same model and color that I own. Worst product placement ever?


Erica and Jack's sweaty boxing flirting was lame and gross. "You're dropping your right," followed by a smirk, should basically be outlawed from all screenwriting.

Also in this week's plot: Erica gets to lead a task force, with the whole of the FBI behind her, against the Fifth Column. Not that she really needs to be in charge at all, because we've seen how incompetent the FBI are at their jobs without being sabotaged.