V: “We Can’t Win”

Boy, nothing like a stomach virus to throw off your SF watching. Or rather, watching is fine, but anything else is right out. So sorry for the delay, but onward!

This episode let me down a little bit. It started out with a cheap dream (subconsciously, Chad both desires and fears Anna. SHOCKER!) and then moved to some lazy dialogue.

Tyler: You let me believe you broke up because of that stupid bike wreck!
Erica: I didn’t know you felt that way! If I’d known, I would have told you!
Tyler: Yeah, but you didn’t.
Erica: Uh, what the hell is wrong with you; are you deaf? I just said I didn’t know…

OK, that last line I made up. Call it “What Should Have Been” theater.

Let’s recap the episode, shall we? After the violent sex dream, we have Anna and Chad heading to Geneva to a summit to introduce blue energy, a clean, sustainable energy. The council doesn’t want to let her speak, however, the Secretary General saying that they’ve done enough damage to the drug industry and they don’t want her messing with the power industry. Anna then saves a country from a monsoon, giving them blue energy and rescuing stranded refugees, making the council love her. Except for the Secretary General, who is convinced that they’re not acting like visitors, they’re acting like they’re staying here.

Tyler has left his lying mother in a huff, deciding he wants to live aboard the ship. Lisa suddenly has to deal with a puppy-dog-eyed boyfriend in the wake of Joshua telling her she failed her empathy test and will be immolated when Anna returns. She takes Tyler to space in a shuttle and they make love. The interesting thing is she folds both jackets so that the built-in cameras are blocked. Tyler asks if she’s okay with the sex, she says no, and they continue. It’s clearly case of, “I’m gonna die, might as well have sex,” moment.

Our heroes have discovered that the FBI knows about the Fifth Column, and stumble on a cell of murdered resistance people and a missing hard drive (or rather, they find the empty computer case where the hard drive should have been.) The head of the FBI group focused on the Vs, played by Rekha Sharma (Tory from BSG), brings Erica on board to help them hunt the Fifth Column. One man, a teacher, got away, and it’s Erica’s job to find him. She takes Jack and Hobbes with her, while Ryan tries to find Valerie. They find the terrified man and he agrees to serve as bait to bring out the V hunter. Turns out the hunter is a sniper, and while Hobbes tries to tell the teacher to carefully get to safety, he breaks, runs, is shot, and dies in Father John’s arms. The chase is one to get the sniper, and Father John shoots him as as Erica struggles with him. When they look at his wound, they discover he’s human. They ask him why he’s helping the Vs, and he says “We can’t win.”

Valerie runs to the safest place possible, a V medical center, of course! The doctor looks at the sonogram, says everything is fine, and gets all sinister as Valerie gets nervous and wants to see the image herself. But Ryan comes riding up on a white steed and kills the doctor! Yay! He gets her out of there.

Joshua saves Lisa’s life by telling Anna that she passed her empathy test. (I realize my affection for Joshua is linked on a deep level to my teenage crush on Rick Astley. Shut up.) We are of course strung along in a tense scene where Anna talks about weakness and emotions and how Lisa needs to be strong to lead her people, then squishes a soldier egg in Lisa’s hand, then tells her she passed. When she sees Joshua again, she asks why. Joshua says she owes him.

I want more Joshua screen time.

Commentary: I enjoyed Anna’s manipulation of the council in Geneva; she admits to Chad later that if not for the monsoon, she would have gone somewhere else to restore hope and power. The world is full of places that need it. Then she tells Marcus once they get the humans to accept blue power, she’s going to take it away from them. It’s not established why, and we can only hope the reason goes beyond “just to be an asshole.” Sadly, we saw Chad backing down from the pretty, scary lady more often than he stood up to her. I’d like to see his face if he saw her big pool of gooey eggs, or see her squish one of her own solider eggs. I wonder how sexy he would find her then.

I very much like where Lisa’s character is going. Falling for Tyler was a foregone conclusion, but I don’t think she ever thought about how it would betray her mother, and now she will be put into a position where she will have to in the future. And you wonder if she would have eventually helped the Fifth Column of her own free will, and if resentment toward Joshua will build because of the position he has (or will) put her in.

I was annoyed that we didn’t get to see much of Ryan and Valerie this episode. Their story was mindless: she finds out something’s weird, she runs pointlessly around, ends up in a dangerous spot, and then he rescues her. I didn’t want this running about advancing maneuvers, I wanted the discussion: “So you’re an alien. And I’m pregnant. And our child has a fucking tail.” I hope that this week we’ll see the first ever incident where a pregnant woman beats her boyfriend with a Toyota.

I am trying to decide which is less likely: a romance between Erica and Hobbes or a romance between Erica and Father Jack. One interesting thing the storyline is doing to both Erica and Jack is forcing them to make necessary moves that clash with their professional obligations and core beliefs. Erica is buddying up with an FBI-most-wanted mercenary, tracing phones illegally, and deceiving her employers, while Father Jack is offering solace to the dying for the purpose of getting information. So following this line, is it more against their personal codes for Father Jack to fall for Erica, or for Erica to fall for Hobbes? (Yeah, I know there doesn’t need to be any romance between these people, but dammit, the casting people put such lovely men in the roles… I’m only human.)

The dialogue seemed sloppy this episode, especially at the end. If you want the last line to carry punch, you should not make it the title of the episode. Maybe that’s just me.

Mur Lafferty is an author and podcaster. She is the host and producer of the Tor.com Story Podcast and I Should Be Writing and the author of Playing For Keeps, among other things. You can find all of her projects at Murverse.com.


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