Like “FlashForward” before it, “V” is starting to reveal that there’s a show inside of it that could work, if only the show as it actually exists would just eschew everything but one or two of its characters. On “FlashForward,” the only stuff that’s ever worked is everything that’s had to do with the conspiracy dudes who are trying to bring the world down, but the series remains committed to its cop show center, the least interesting part of the show. On “V,” increasingly, I’m getting into the story of renegade V Ryan and his attempts to bring down his own species in honor of the woman he’s come to love and the entire human race, whose “emotions” he has come to crave. “John May,” then, is another good Ryan hour grafted onto an episode that has literally no idea what to do with anything else.
[Full recap of Tuesday’s (April 13)
The titular John May is the guy that the series has been building toward us meeting for a fair while now. He was the first V to break from the collective and embrace humanity. He was the guy that started the Fifth Column and the whole resistance movement. He was an old friend and colleague of Ryans, the guy that Ryan rallied behind. Tonight, we met him only in flashbacks to ten years ago. (You know how it was ten years ago? The 2000 election results played on the TV.) He was played by “Battlestar Galactica” vet Michael Trucco, who is not the world’s greatest actor but has a nice air of masculinity to him that usually carries him through the sorts of action hero parts he’s asked to play.
Instead, “V” mostly asked Trucco to sit behind a desk and tell Ryan about how he’d learned that humanity was really kinda cool after all by marrying a human woman and becoming a good stepfather to her son. All of this played out like a weird moment from a sitcom about these two being unlikely alien roommates — one loves humanity, and one wants to eat them! — with Ryan insisting that John not break from Anna’s influence and John insisting that he saw a “glimmer” of feeling in Ryan, whatever that means. The whole thing was kinda goofy, and then it ended with Ryan killing John (offscreen, no less), then having to clean up his mess by comforting the stepson and meeting his future fiancee at the funeral. (And man, those two have been together a long time.)
As I write all of this back, it sounds kinda stupid, but the things the show has done to make Ryan seem like more of a go-getter in his backstory have done a terrific job of making the guy seem more vivacious in the present timeline. Tonight, he’s tracking down John’s stepson, explaining how John May is still the rallying point for the Fifth Column and losing his fiancee when she finds out all of his secrets (again, in stupid fashion, but at least in enjoyably stupid fashion). In short, he’s the guy who makes things happen, the guy this show has desperately needed, since too much of it up until this point has just been the four resistance members sitting around in the church and hatching half-baked plans to attack aliens.
Another plus of this episode: No stupid cop show stuff! Another minus of this episode: We got bogged down in the story of Erica and Tyler and her ex-husband Krycek and blah, blah, blah. Honestly, at this point, Tyler is such a liability to the show — does anybody like him? — that they could make him the secret, hidden lizard king, and it wouldn’t really register with me. The character has been ill-conceived from the start, more a way to force Erica to have a greater emotional stake in whether the V’s succeeded or not than an organic character in his own right, and now, he’s got a bunch of business about how he might not actually be his father’s son.
Here’s the thing, though: There’s pretty much no way to go with this that isn’t either boring or credulity stretching. Maybe Tyler is just secretly some other guy’s kid. Then we have to meet one of Erica’s ex-boyfriends, and he’ll just be as boring as everyone else she touches. Or maybe he’s actually Krycek’s, and there was a mix-up at the doctor’s. I’m sure you can see how that would be riveting. OR MAYBE HE’S AN ALIEN, which is clearly what the show wants us to think, both because it will help explain what his destiny is and because it will show that Ryan’s kid needn’t be a lizard monster. EXCEPT. Wouldn’t Erica have noticed she wanted to eat rodents and needed lots of phosphorous? Wouldn’t she have seen that she was carrying a monster in her sonogram? I mean, she’s kind of a sonambulist already, but I can’t imagine she sleep-walked through a whole pregnancy.
[Aside: If Tyler is somehow an advance plant by Anna to doom the human race by creating someone her daughter can mate with, she is so damn smart that literally no one will be able to stop her, and everyone should just get out of the way. EXCEPT. She spends much of her time lounging around and saying vaguely menacing things. She is apparently oblivious to the fact that basically everyone on her staff is a Fifth Column member. And she gets outsmarted by Scott Wolf tonight. SCOTT WOLF! Both Anna and Erica suffer from similar syndromes at a character level — they’re both smart only when it’s convenient for the story and listless most of the rest of the time — and it’s killing the show, man.]
Actually, speaking of Scott Wolf, I liked when he figured out a little piece of Anna’s plan. I don’t pretend to think it’s anything that’s leading to anything, but I’m a sucker for scenes where a journalist pores over the archives looking for something he missed and then puts it together at the last minute. For as often as Chad rewound the same five or six seconds of footage, I think we’d all put together what he was looking at before he did (well, I thought they were trying to lure that woman’s entire family on board the ship, since that would be essentially one big V buffet), but it was still the kind of scene I enjoy watching, especially as there’s no newsroom-set series on right now, where the characters can yell, “I NEED THAT FOOTAGE!” at each other and there are no boring teenage aliens to be seen. I would like a show like that.
Anyway, “John May” was half a good episode, which is better than the show’s record up until this point, mostly. I dug on a lot of the Ryan stuff — even the ridiculous flashbacks — and I liked Chad’s mini-story. The problem, though, is that the show is so committed to Anna and Erica as the twin leads, the twin poles driving the story, that it’s following them down some very boring paths. It’s not to say that neither character can work. Anna was interesting when the show began, while Elizabeth Mitchell is a very good actress who could make the most out of whatever the show wanted to toss her. But as the show is conceived right now, it doesn’t make a lot of sense why they’re always at the center of the story.
Some other thoughts:
***Georgie is dead. I am essentially alone in liking Georgie, though I’m not sure we needed to watch him die for a whole episode. A moment of silence.
***OK, so, if you’re hiding the evidence of your mysterious past and your alienness (or, at least, the alienness of your spawn) in a giant safe, wouldn’t you make it a lot harder for your fiancee to access? Also, do people from the safe company just COME BY and OPEN YOUR SAFE FOR YOU like that? Because that’s … handy.
Your question: How have the V’s not spotted Erica and company by now? They seem to send tracking devices after them on a weekly basis, but they never get any good footage. Lame.