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'V': A picture is worth a thousand words

May 11, 2010 | 11:00 pm

V_fruition2 This week's episode of "V" proved just how far Visitor High Commander Anna is willing to take her game. 

She's playing for keeps, with the future of two species hanging perilously in the balance, and she's clearly willing to use anyone in order to advance her master plan, even her own daughter Lisa, whom she brutally attacked at the end of the previous episode.

The Visitors, after all, don't naturally have what we tend to think of as human emotion, making it quite easy for Anna to nearly murder Lisa in order to further her own ends. Given that those ends happen to be the continued survival of her people, it makes it a little easier to see just why everyone is expendable -- the humans, other Visitors -- in order for Anna to achieve her "noble" purpose. 

After all, these are not human beings that the Fifth Column is fighting. They're cold-blooded reptilian aliens who don't understand emotional constructions like love. In that sense, Anna is diametrically opposed to Erica. While they are both mothers and both fighting for their people, there's a real emotional core to Erica that's wholly lacking from Anna, and the truth of that difference has a ripple effect over everything that happens in this week's installment.

Lisa. The attack on Lisa leaves her bloody and beaten, her legs broken, her face branded cruelly with a "V" as she's dumped in an alley for a homeless man to come across. Anna's callous disposal of her daughter, as though she were a piece of trash, a pawn in her larger game, is shocking. Even more so is the fact that she horrifically beat her daughter, then refuses to let Joshua to heal her facial wounds (though she does allow him to fix her broken legs so she can walk) so that she can be the poster girl for the threat against the Visitors, as posed by the Fifth Column.

There was a beautiful scene between Lisa and Erica at the Visitor Healing Center as Erica learns that her son's girlfriend is, in fact, a Visitor. While she could have shunned the girl, Erica instead envelops Lisa in her arms, consoling and comforting her as Lisa closes her eyes, seemingly at peace. I couldn't help but feel as though that had likely been the first time she had been held in any maternal sense. ... And Anna later inverts this image to mimic Erica's body language, approximating the positioning of her body, even though her embrace with Lisa is lacking any real emotion.

Lisa, meanwhile, is tempted by Erica's warmth. She knows that what Anna is doing is evil, and she doesn't want to see any harm come to Tyler, for whom she has genuine emotion. Erica works on manipulating Lisa's newly formed human emotions, trying to make her see that her false statements against Lawrence Parker will lead to no good and tries to break Anna's hold over her daughter.

In the end, Lisa does go ahead with Anna's plans, identifying Parker as one of the two men who attacked her. However, it's clear that she does so because she's both terrified of her mother and knows that she can do more harm to Anna from the mothership than she can dead by her mother's hand. There's a great moment at the FBI field office when both Anna and Erica place their hands on Lisa's shoulders as she finds herself torn between their two influences. While she does capitulate there, she's later seen on the mothership talking to Joshua and making her mission clear: She cannot allow the soldier eggs to hatch. It's all too clear now that she's switched sides. ...

Erica and Anna. As the mothers involved in both the global conflict and the Romeo-and-Juliet romantic situation of their children, these two finally get their first big scene together, engaging in some matter-of-fact words at the Healing Center before getting a one-on-one for the first time on the series. They both try to feel the other out, with Erica saying, "There are some twisted people in this world." It's clearly intended toward Anna, but the Visitor High Commander doesn't quite read Erica the way she should have: She doesn't see her as a threat. 

Yet Erica attempts to hide her true feelings while getting in a warning to Anna: "As a mother, I know that if someone tried to hurt my son, there's nothing I wouldn't do to stop them." Her intention is quite clear to anyone in the know, but Anna seems oblivious to the true meaning behind her words. Anna sees Erica, in her position as the head of the human-Visitor joint law enforcement task force, as an asset to be used against the Fifth Column. She doesn't see that it's Erica who is, in fact, thwarting her very plans.

The Weapon. But Erica's in a tough spot. The deeper she gets into Fifth Column goings-on, the more likely she is to be exposed at the FBI, particularly because she believes the mole to be her boss Kendrick rather than Sarita. She's able to get to Lawrence Parker before the agents and find out just why the Visitors are so keen to frame him and Kyle Hobbes for Lisa's attack.

She learns that Parker is an ex-CIA analyst who now works for Dorset Systems, a weapons manufacturer, and a member of an elite think thank that had been developing a compound to reduce CO2 emissions and stem the tide of global warming. However, the chemical compound had an unforeseen effect: It could unleash a deadly virus among marine life and, given that the Visitors are reptilian, could be a valuable weapon to be used against them. (Which is why they are champing at the bit to get their hands on him and are only too pleased when the government forms a joint task force to track down the Fifth Column and the Visitors are allowed to interrogate suspects on their own.)

The very idea that there's a weapon capable of neutralizing the Visitor threat is so potentially incendiary that Anna has made it a vital mission to track down Parker and Hobbes--who had been assigned to retrieve this information and kill Parker--and erase them. Erica manages to take a sample of the compound before the FBI bursts into Parker's hideout (as well as a list of the other members of the think tank, all of whom are "missing")... but she's missing a valuable piece of the equation, Parker's hard drive.

Hobbes. Unknown to Erica is the fact that Kyle Hobbes, the man hired to assassinate Parker before he got suspicious about his employer, had already stolen the hard drive. Hobbes, always the consummate mercenary, is looking out only for himself, and he cuts a deal with Marcus to have his slate wiped clean with the Visitors (and get a big pot of cash) in exchange for Parker's research. That Hobbes is so willing to sell out the human race isn't much of a surprise, but the fact that he's not even under duress is what is shocking to me. He's so cool and confident about this arrangement that he even meets Marcus face to face.

Chad. Anna cuts Chad out of the equation, denying him access and blindsiding him when it comes out that the Visitor woman attacked was none other than her daughter. Plus, she makes a major announcement -- that the Visitors would be leaving the planet -- without alerting him first. Anna is hoping that her censuring Chad would push him to become almost evangelical on their behalf, to offer a call to arms to the human race to support their Visitor saviors. Sure enough, Chad falls right into Anna's trap, giving the Visitors yet another major publicity coup before Anna welcomes Chad back into her presence, where she asks him to give her the name of his Fifth Column source. Chad is reluctant and says that it's a journalistic line that he can't cross. But, then again, he's crossed so many already, hasn't he?

Ryan. Hobbes seems to want Ryan to revert to his reptilian logic and bury his emotions in a scene that points out just how willing Hobbes is to continually manipulate the group. Cut off from Val, Ryan begins to lose touch with his human emotions and he's almost tempted to reconnect with Anna via the bliss. That siren song is nearly too powerful a lure to ignore. Despite the temptation, Ryan stops himself from being drawn back under Anna's bliss, steeling himself against her influence. It's difficult and seems to take a lot out of him, so much so that he doesn't see the text that comes in from Leah, announcing that Val's water has broken and that she's about to go into labor with their hybrid child.

Of course, what none of them are aware of is that the rest of Anna's fleet from their home world are set to arrive in the solar system soon. Anna plans to disable the Earth's radar systems so that no one will know that they're about to tighten their vise-like grip around the planet. The war is even closer than anyone realizes. ...

What did you think of this week's episode? Just what will happen in the final episode of the season? Head to the comments section to discuss.

-- Jace Lacob (Follow my musings on television, food and more television on Twitter: @televisionary)

Photo: Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) comforts a branded and battered Lisa (Laura Vandervoort) on ABC's "V." Credit: Michael Courtney / ABC

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