Coming off of a successful pilot episode (ratings and buzz-wise) put even more onus on V’s second episode to deliver in terms of keeping the momentum going and keeping the twists interesting. It’s especially true considering ABC’s strategy of airing only four episodes this year, making V more of a miniseries event than a regular sci-fi serial, at least until next year. On those terms, “There is No More Normal Anymore” didn’t work.
I don’t know if, when breaking the season’s stories, the show’s writers were aware ABC was going to schedule V in such an unusual way, but it sure feels like they didn’t, because this episode felt like a typical episode 2 for a new show: it rehashed a lot of the same ground, only moved the plot forward incrementally and generally sucked. Think of what the big takeaways were at the end: the visitors got tourist visas! The resistance is going to start forming! Alan Tudyk is getting resurrected! Tyler totally lied to his mom!
Of which I thought: they need tourist visas, but they already built recruiting stations and healing stations on the ground? Wasn’t the resistance supposed to be up and running already? Plus everyone in the comments predicted Mr. Tudyk’s return, and Tyler lying to his mom about liking the visitors…he did that last week. These things shouldn’t be episode-ending beats. They should be right at the front!
Instead, we pick up where we left off, as Erica tries placing a 911 call to nab the evil warehouse Visitors, but instead we discover that the Visitors are monitoring communications (shock!). So instead she resolves to continue the fight with Father Jack, in secret. I didn’t like that since their gathering at the warehouse, already that resistance group has been scattered. Jack and Erica making sexy-eyes at each other are a pretty boring pair, and Ryan is left to meander around in his own snoreful subplots. This is a mistake V can’t continue to make – the bigger the group, the more interesting things will be, with more character dynamics, and (from Ryan, who is a visitor himself) more information. Plenty of shows (most recently Heroes) have fallen into the pitfall of keeping everyone apart to prolong the mystery. It’s not a good idea when the individual storylines are this dull.
Ryan, and tedious fiancée Valerie, were the worst part of the show last week, and they continue the trend this week. Valerie is especially useless, actually believing Ryan’s story that he ripped the length of his arm open on a FILING CABINET and not even getting out of the house. Ryan goes to see another visitor-traitor at an auto body shop, who stitches his lizard wound up but then poisons him, cause he can’t trust him, or something. It’s low on action, low on information. I’m not well-acquainted with Morris Chestnut’s charms as an actor, but given how interesting his character could be, he’s getting saddled with very slow material so far.
Erica and Father Jack (I’m gonna keep calling him this, for any Father Ted fans out there), after deciding to begin a resistance, proceed to act like total idiots for the entire episode. Father Jack, who is very handsome but about as dopey as a five-year-old, has a panic attack when he tells a lie to an FBI investigator on some mysterious V task-force (played by Rekha Sharma, Tory from Battlestar Galactica) and goes back to the office to tell her the truth. Even though he found out just last night that lizard aliens have infiltrated all ranks of society, the guy’s still having attacks of conscience over telling lies to figures of authority. Luckily, his old mentor priest is on hand, to deliver hollow aphorisms and smile uselessly.
Erica castigates Jackie-boy for his stupidity, but goes on to be just as dumb when her FBI boss plays her a tape of her 911 call and tells her to give it up. Sure, she’s between a rock and a hard place, but she immediately spills the beans that missing partner Dale is “a traitor” and basically half-involves her mysterious, suspicious boss in everything that she’s doing. Way to keep things on the down-low, Erica! Also, who are these bad-guys on the “other side” that Dale apparently defected to, which the boss accepts without any questions? Does the FBI have some sort of nemesis “dark side” agency that they’re battling? Seems a little simplistic, even if it is background stuff we’ll never explore in much detail.
Another problem I have with the FBI in V is their shitty, fluorescent, Dunder-Mifflin style office with absolutely no character to it at all. I miss the FBI offices of The X Files, all basement shadows and mahogany walls, paranoia creeping at every turn. The design of V is too pedestrian by far: the obviously green-screened alien spaceship backgrounds with frosted windows, Chad’s empty TV studio, even the visitors’ torture chamber. Way too minimal.
Chad’s plot was probably the most interesting of all: at least he got to go up to the spaceship and vaguely provoke Anna, who has gotten pastier and creepier. Although I’m sure he’ll turn out to be a smiley good-guy, at least they’re giving him a sliver of ambiguity right now. Tyler’s plot, I’ll just skim over. His chubby idiot friend needs to die, and fast. His stolen conversations with visitor Lisa through the gate are meaningless so far, because I just assume she’s evil. They could invest some ambiguity in her character too, but so far I haven’t seen any.
V’s got two more episodes to get me on board, but I’ll keep watching (and grading it less harshly than my reviews seem) just because I think there’s still some potential here. But the conflicts need to ramp up, and fast, before the show uses up all the goodwill generated from its killer concept.
The warehouse is at 4400 Pier Ave, surely a reference to The 4400, also created by Scott Peters.
Tyler’s visitor jacket is not as Village People as the original Vs, less day-glo.
Chad alludes to daddy issues in one of his lame “BANTER!” scenes with the assistant. He’s the second Party of Five alum in an ABC sci-fi show to have daddy issues!
It’s weird to see Elizabeth Mitchell wearing makeup all the time. I’m so used to the look she had on Lost all the time.
The spare Vs are tough to cast. They have to be all robotic and bland, like the Agents in the Matrix.
Why is the visitors’ camera shots of the resistance so fuzzy? These jerks can build spaceships with TVs on them!
Outside Tyler’s visitor center, we finally get some sign of organized protest against the Vs. All we’ve seen before now is a bit of clapping.