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TV

V

Second Season Premiere
Creator: Kenneth Johnson
Cast: Elizabeth Mitchell, Morris Chestnut, Morena Baccarin, Laura Vandervoort, Joel Gretsch, Logan Huffman, Scott Wolf, Jane Badler
Regular airtime: Tuesdays, 9pm ET

(ABC; US: 4 Jan 2011)

 
The more you think you’re helping your child, the more you push them away.
—Diana (Jane Badler)


Anna (Morena Baccarin) has a mother. Who knew? And not only does she have a mother, but she also has a rather bad-ass mother, Diana, who shares not only the name of the first V leader, way back in 1984, but the very same actor as well, Jane Badler.


When she first appears in the new season of the new series V, Diana is at once awesome and annoyed, wearing red high heels even inside the pod where Anna has consigned her for decades. It makes sense that Anna has difficult relationship with her mother, given her troubles with her own children, say, next-queen-to-be Lisa (Laura Vandervoort) and those soldier eggs Anna laid and lost at the end of last season. Pile on the fact that the eggs were decimated by another mom, FBI agent Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell), and Anna killed yet another mom, Val (Lourdes Benedicto), and it appears V‘s maternal stakes have been raised considerably.


For most of last season, Anna was demonstrating just how bad she could be—tangling with her number one, Marcus (Christopher Shyer), whose allegiance is not entirely clear, and her most vexing traitor Ryan (Morris Chestnut), now a single dad following Val’s demise. Not to mention her explicit bad-momness, manipulating Lisa, scheming on the mothership, and making her big-face-in-the-sky appearances for all those gullible citizens gathered below. Her plainly duplicitous promises concerning the Health Centers and the Red Sky made fools of her believers, V‘s unsubtle critique of today’s media consumers (see also: Anna’s collusions with Fox-Newsy TV personality Chad [Scott Wolf]).


With the second season, Anna steps up the pace of her evil plan—at last! This in turn ratchets up Erica’s resistance, along with her V-battling band of Fifth Columnists. The show has been notoriously slow in setting up the plot everyone knows already. While the pokey details have included the protracted not-quite-romance between Erica and Father Jack (Joel Gretsch) and the precise loyalties of black-ops and terrorism expert Hobbes (Charles Mesure), the new year brings at least a veneer of urgency.


For one thing, Erica is acting out, even turning a little Anna-like in manipulating her exceptionally manipulable (not to say exasperating) son Ty (Logan Huffman). Her manipulating is complicated when she receives some disturbing news about Ty via DNA researcher Dr. Sid Miller (Bret Harrison). In part, the complication has to do with race and allegiance. Erica has long grappled with how to think about Ryan, whose half-human child, currently in Anna’s rather gruesome clutches, might incline him to help the Vs or the humans: even he seems confused as to what to do or whom to fight. Erica doesn’t quite articulate the questions concerning Ty (and herself, for his genes were affected when in her womb: more mom stuff), but this turn underscores V‘s increasing interests in the politics and spiritual and cultural crises taken up by Battlestar Galactica or even 24.


To this end, Hobbes is called on to help Erica sort out some human terrorist activities, when suicide bombers are inspired by Jack’s sermons-gone-viral. The conspiracy seems to expand when Hobbes sees signs of Mossad expertise and he, Jack, and Erica begin to debate philosophical fine points of terrorism. Is it righteous (or palatable) to sacrifice a few human lives to save many more? And is torture ever justified, say, when a clock is ticking or when the victim is not human or when, as Ryan phrases it, “You’ve got to take care of your own”?


The question is, more and more, who is her own? When Erica isn’t facing urgent, Jack-Bauerish decisions, the show brings up some existential questions too, say, what makes humans human? For Jack, of course, the definition has to do with souls, and so he instructs Ryan, worried that his emotional responses to Val’s death and Anna’s taunting are making him too human and so, unable to rescue his daughter in an appropriately vicious fashion. 


Anna takes up the soul question from her own perspective. Meaning, she asks her mother. Reportedly “infected” by wearing her human skin for too many years, Diana is an expert on the subject. She advises, “The soul is what lies beneath, it is the core of all humans, it is the wellspring of emotion.” In an effort to stave off her officers’ doubts about her own “infection,” Anna engages in a few gross-out lizardy assaults—in full view of said doubters—to demonstrate she has no such core, that she remains “in control” of the earth takeover scheme and fully V.


Poor Anna. Being a mother, having a mother, and fighting with mothers, she’s never going to get out from under expectations and questions, the needs and desires of everyone around her. Jack Bauer never had it so hard.

Rating:

Cynthia Fuchs is director of Film & Media Studies and Associate Professor of English, Film & Video Studies, African and African American Studies, Sport & American Culture, and Women and Gender Studies at George Mason University.


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