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Soul-Searching: Alien Invasion Drama V Returns for Its Second Season

When we last saw the scaly-skinned aliens and human resistance fighters on ABC's invasion drama V, the Visitors' high commander Anna (Morena Baccarin) had unleashed a swath of red across the planet, offering a cliffhanger ending that placed every character in jeopardy.

Just what was this so-called Red Sky? What did it symbolize? And had Anna's master plan for the human race finally come to fruition?

When we pick up with V, which returns tonight after a lengthy hiatus with the apocalytpic "Red Rain," we're given some of the answers to those questions and a hell of a lot more over the next three episodes, which were provided to press for review.

In fact, answers seem to be the name of the game, as showrunner Scott Rosenbaum has made it his mission to remove the cloak of mystery from around several long-gestating plots. Before these three episodes are over, viewers will learn just what the red sky phenomenon was all about, will get a glimpse at a Visitor sans human skin, and will learn a fair amount not only about Visitor physiology, but also about their leader's familial structure.

Yes, Jane Badler is back.

The former V star returns to the franchise as Diana, the mother of Baccarin's Anna. Rosenbaum seems to be pushing for a Shakespearean dynamic between the troika of women at the heart of the Visitor ship: Diana, Anna, and princess Lisa (Laura Vandervoort). There's a nice glittering edge to the scenes between Diana and Anna and a hint of menace to their exchanges as well as something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It seems that rebellion is a natural part of this ruling family's DNA and that those human skins the Visitors wear have some side effects. The series ponders the greater questions of what defines us: our insides or our exteriors. If the Visitors can be "contaminated" by wearing human skin, is that awakening an insidious virus or their true selves? Have they cut themselves off from emotion for so long that they don't recognize it within themselves?

What makes us essentially us and Visitors them? Do they have--for wont of a better word--souls? And just where does this ephemeral aspect of our humanity reside within the human body? Can it be found, measured, destroyed?

Badler's return brings a fair amount of melodrama into the mix, but unlike AOLtv's Maureen Ryan, I actually welcome the Mildred Pierce/Mommy Dearest high drama; it's a nice shift of tone from the direness of the Fifth Column storyline and the persistent back-and-forth tug-of-war between the humans and Visitors for the upper hand.

By introducing Badler's Diana, Rosenbaum injects a hint of instability aboard the aptly named mothership, a place where daughter spars with mother and where each generation repeats the same cycle endlessly. Just as Anna accuses her mother of being contaminated via the human skin she wears, her daughter Lisa extends her own bout of rebellion, working with the Fifth Column secretly even as she prepares for her own life's purpose. The wheel turns anew.

(Aside: I can't help but wonder, unfortunately, about Diana's access to dry cleaning facilities. Watch and you'll see what I mean.)

But, as Rosenbaum told me an interview last spring, V is at its core about two mothers locked in battle for the survival of their respective races and both Anna and Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) are willing to cross a host of moral lines in pursuit of this goal. After all, what higher goal is there of keeping one's family safe?

Questions about the parentage of Erica's son Tyler (Logan Huffman) also bear fruit here as well. There's an intriguing suggestion that leads to some interesting consequences about just what the Vs want with Tyler and why he's of special interest to Anna and the others. Hmmm...

As for the others, they each have choices to make. Will Father Jack (Joel Getsch) hold to his convictions even as he sees his words twisted and misused? Will Ryan (Morris Chestnut) choose family over freedom? Will Chad (Scott Wolf) follow his ambitions or the truth?

Season Two also sees the introduction of a new member of the Fifth Column, scientist Sidney (Reaper's Bret Harrison), who--like the Diana/Anna dynamic--adds something new to the tonal mix: some much needed levity. While Sidney gets caught up in the V plot very quickly (and winds up in a pretty gruesome environment by Episode Three), there's an air of unpredictability and a rather carefree spirit about Sid that makes him a welcome addition to the series, which has a tendency (given the stakes and the subject matter) to be very focused on the doom and gloom.

Unlike the first few post-pilot episodes of Season One, these second season installments offer a swift pacing, dramatic reveals, and, yes, some answers about the Visitors. There's a nice sense of momentum building over the course of the first three weeks and one of the strongest hours of the series to date in Episode Three, even as Rosenbaum rightly realizes that the most interesting characters on V are the women: icy leader Anna, rebellious Lisa, grimly determined Erica.

These women warriors might just be the very best thing about V and Vandervoort gets a chance to shine this season. Keep your eyes on Lisa as the plots begin to mount this season. There's every chance that she might just be the most pivotal player on the board.

Season Two of V begins tonight at 9 pm ET/PT on ABC.

Comments

Rebecca said…
Looking forward to the new characters, the Diana/Anna/Lisa dynamic, and seeing The Resistance getting some answers.

I really feel like you GET what V is and were it's going and that makes reading your reviews such a joy.

I trust your opinion a lot and reading your take here on the first three episodes of Season 2 makes me even more excited than I already was about the return of V!
Craig Ranapia said…
The thing about V is that seemed to look at another re-boot of a not- very-good-cult-SF-show called Battlestar Galactica and LEARNED ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Yes, the "StarDOE's a MAN, MooreRon!" crowd lost their minds the moment the backdoor pilot/mini-series was announced. But it came on with a point of view, a style, clearly defined characters and dramatic drive, that grabbed you by the throat and didn't let go.

'V', on the other hand, just doesn't seem to have a clue what it's trying to say or how to say it.

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