There’s a lot at stake in this week’s installment: Most episodes just have to lure you back next week. This one has to lure you back next year.
So, appropriately, the show starts with a literal bang. Gunshot! Then we see Georgie is down, with Erica scrambling to help him. But what’s this? Ryan, the renegade V, approaches, pistol drawn! Pointed right at our heroine!
This is revealed later to be some lame narrative flim-flammery. Georgie is shot not by Ryan, but by an evil V scientist. Ryan, approaching Erica, is simply pulling the old “I’m not pointing my gun at you, I’m pointing at the guy behind you” trick, which should have been retired after Tango & Cash. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
Or, rather, move backwards, about fourteen hours, where we learn that the V must be reading our Twitter feed, because they quickly answer our most persistent question: Why don’t the resistance fighters simply capture a V, then skin him on TV to reveal his inner lizard? The answer: That would just provoke the V to retaliate with all-out war and, as Ryan says, “That’s not a war we can win.” All right, then: On to Plan B!
They better act fast, because Anna announces the latest V initiative: Offering a super-immunity booster shot to every human on earth. Given that our own government can’t convince people to take a flu shot (and rightly so! See below), it seems unlikely that we’d be convinced to take a booster shot from aliens. But hey, who knows? The Visitor’s Healing Centers (shades of Scientology?) are up and running, and people are lined up out the space portals.
To uncover the true nature of these injections, Erica and crew break into a V lab, where they find case upon case of … flu shots! That’s right, America — your paranoia is justified! First the aliens offer universal health care, now they’re trying to kill you through inoculation. At this point, we expected Glenn Beck to come running around the corner, carrying a submachine gun and shouting, “The Vs also built Rockefeller Center! I know the truth! Follow me!”
Meanwhile, back on the mother ship, Anna takes Tyler for a tour of the engine room, thus proving herself to be way more groovy than his own dumb mom, who’s always busy trying to save humanity and stuff. Anna further cements this good impression by later conducting the “bliss” ritual, in which she fortifies her troops by … shedding her clothes. This is a good strategy.
Erica and crew blow up the flu-shot factory then scatter. Later, Father Jack encounters a sobbing man at his church, sitting with his head in his heads. (We thought for sure he’d look up and be a lizard, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME.) Instead, it’s a V security guard from the plant, who shivs Father Jack. Cliffhanger!
But we’ll have to wait until 2010 to find out what happens — assuming ABC brings back the show at all. There are a few intriguing loose threads here: Chad Decker needs brain surgery from the Vs; Ryan’s fiancée is knocked up with a snake-baby; the final shot of a V armada was pretty damned cool — but overall, the show failed to hook us. A fantastic premise (sneaky aliens invade Earth) was subsumed by hand-wringing over agent Erica’s mothering skills and Chad Decker’s journalistic ethics. And we’re still cheesed that no one ate a rat.
At TV Guide, Scott Tomasso writes of the show’s opening, “Honestly, I’m not a big fan of these kind of setups, since most of the time the payoff is cheesy and gimmicky. I hope that’s not the case in this episode.” Prepare to be disappointed, Scott.
At MTV’s website, Josh Wigler gripes about Erica’s lack of inquisitiveness when she finds out Ryan is a V: ” I would have asked him what the real name of their species is, how many of them are there, where do they come from, how they put human flesh over their lizard skin, is it itchy under there, do they have to shave as often as real humans, et cetera, et cetera.”
And EW’s Jeff Jensen announces his verdict: “I wanted to like it. Really, I tried. But I didn’t, and now it’s all over, at least for me.”