Actionscifi's Blog


Aired Australia – 21 March 2010
Aired USA – 17 November 2009

Although this week’s episode didn’t replicate the sphincter-clenching thrills of last week, it started to fill in some important holes for us, and also posed a few new questions.  Particularly, who is John May, and what is the fifth column?

When Erica’s former FBI partner Dale Maddox – the undercover alien who she almost killed in episode 1 – wakes up on the mother ship, it seems like her days are numbered.  At first he can’t remember what happened to him, but a fellow alien jogs his memory until he recalls the moment Erica ran him through with a sharp metal stake.  Dale immediately goes goggle-eyed at the thought of revenge, but his fellow visitor tells him that Dale won’t be killing Erica because she will make a very handy ally for the resistance.  As Dale struggles, the V pops a needle full of poison in his arm and whispers “the fifth column says hello” while Dale shudders and dies.  Oooh, the traitor Vs are even on the mother ship.

As we know by now, a number of undercover visitors – including regular character Ryan Nichols – defected to form a resistance movement some time in the past, and gradually joined up with earthling resistors, such as Georgie Sutton.  The visitor resistance was led by a bloke called John May, but we know nothing more than that about him so far.

It seems that the Anna and her 29 space ships full of visitors have made their entrance as the resistance is at its lowest ebb, its peak period having been some years before.  These traitors and their fellow human rebels are like the Eritrean insurgents in the late 1980s, pushed deep into hiding after years of futile resistance, suffering deep losses and facing an enemy that seems more powerful than ever.  But don’t worry – those pesky Eritreans fought back and ultimately won, and these rebels will do the same. Naturally.  This resistance movement, and especially its alien traitors, is one of the series’ most intriguing aspects.  Most alien movies and TV shows rely on a pretty simple narrative: aliens on one side, humans on the other.  In these scenarios, it’s not unusual to see the humans start to fracture and fight among themselves as the aliens pile the pressure on, but feuding aliens is almost unheard of.  Using the concept of traitors requires greater nuance: the aliens might be uniformly attractive, but they’re not uniformly bad.  So, sure: any human could actually be a visitor in disguise, but any visitor could be an undercover rebel.  Gold star for the creators.

The other insights in this episode relate to the way the aliens are going about world domination.  The Vs are running a slick PR machine, which gets a workout when a widow whose husband died in the kerfuffle following the Vs’ arrival wants to speak out against them.  Anna buttonholes the widow just before she is due to speak to an international audience.  She expresses her sympathy and bends the woman’s ear about the importance of harmony and peace.  We’ve seen Anna weep in front of the mirror as she practices the same speech moments earlier.  It’s the same standard fare that makes me wince when I hear politicians deliver it – sincere regret, deepest sympathies, all of that rubbish – so the scene seemed a little formulaic for my tastes.  It doesn’t get any better when the aggrieved widow subsequently tells the world’s media that the Vs have taught her about the importance of “hope” and “trust”.  I guess the writers get the point across: the visitors are very good at PR.  Nevertheless, they’re not quite up to the PR gold standard of Hill and Knowlton’s 1991 Iraqi-soldiers-ripping-Kuwaiti-kids-out-of-incubators story.  The writers’ persistence with this whole Obama mind-control theme remains the series’ only real weak point so far.  It’s just too clunky and obvious to be effective.

In the week’s other main developments, Erica is assigned to protecting the Vs, where she stumbles across a surveillance room showing hundreds of images which turn out to be coming from the lapels of the jackets worn by the visitors.  Because they have finally been given the green light to roam around New York, those cameras will soon be everywhere. And because the jackets are also worn by human “ambassadors”, whose number now includes Erica’s son Tyler (not that Erica knows it yet), the noose around Erica’s neck seems to be once again tightening.  Indeed, the episode ends with Tyler’s budding love interest – the visitor Lisa (Laura Vandevoort) – telling Anna, who she addresses as “mother”, that Tyler is the one.  Erica on one side, Tyler on the other. Bring it.

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[…] an investigation.  She thinks her lieutenant, Joshua (Mark Hildreth), is responsible (he is, see episode 3) but when another fifth columnist steps forward to claim responsibility, Anna instead orders Joshua […]

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