V: There is No Normal Anymore

‘There is No Normal Anymore’ wasn’t as entertaining as the pilot, but it was a decent enough follow-up to the events of that episode, particularly regarding the burgeoning resistance and the Visitors increasing foothold on Earth. The story feels a bit derivative and cliché at times (how could it not, since it is based on an old series?), but the writers are still managing to wring some tension of out the old “trust no one” chestnut. I felt just like Agent Erica --- suspicious of nearly everyone, particularly at the FBI office. Rekha Sharma (Tory, Battlestar Galactica) feels like a prime Visitor candidate, as does Father Jack’s fellow priest (he’s just way too cool with their arrival). After their private confrontation about her missing partner, I think maybe Erica’s boss (Roark Critchlow) is a normal human --- but I’m not 100 percent sure. Ack! They are everywhere!

I found some of the dialogue a bit forced and clunky at times. Even the excellent Elizabeth Mitchell couldn’t do much with some of the horribly ponderous and cheesy lines she was given. Especially in the scenes between Erica and Jack. “We can’t attack it head on. It’s too dangerous. I have to figure out what to do.” Oh, OK. Erica is in charge and has to figure out what to do. You go home, Jack.

Erica is almost as good a liar as Juliet from Lost. Almost. She’s not quite as stone cold. (How much do I love Elizabeth Mitchell for being able to convey such a subtle difference?!)

The parts with Rebellious Son Tyler and Lisa the Beautiful Blond Visitor are just painful to watch. I actually started yelling at the TV, “She’s a lizard, dude! Her insides are nowhere near as pretty as the outside!” Ugh. Those sequences feel make me feel like I’m watching some angsty teen drama. I kind of hope she eats him (or does something equally horrible) and we are done with Tyler. I’d rather watch Elizabeth Mitchell do the angry, grieving mother as resistance leader, instead of the distracted mom with the annoying teenage son.

My favorite moment was Erica’s nightmare that Dale had come back to kill her son with her gun. Oh, how I wish he had. At least the possibility remains, since we saw at the end that Dale lives to fight another day. (Yea! More Alan Tudyk!)

I also thought it was very interesting that Dale had been Erica’s partner for 7 years. And Morris Chestnut and Angelo said that the invasion was happening ahead of schedule. Wow. That’s some seriously advanced planning. Why go to so much trouble? Why not just invade? What exactly do they want the humans for? (I can’t remember from the original series. The mid '80s were a long time ago. Please no spoilers.)

I’m still loving Anna, particularly Morena Baccarin’s portrayal. So smooth and controlled, but still somehow lizard-like. And really scary.

The scenes with Journalist Chad were interesting. (“Abrogation? Nice. Do you have one of those word-a-day calendars?”) I can’t decide if he did what he did because he has suspicions and concerns, or if he really wanted to help Anna. I suspect he just wants to be in the driver’s seat, and not the one getting used and manipulated. “This one was a freebie. The next time you want my help, it’ll be on my terms.”

My household was less than impressed with the Visitor’s flying ball of death. Sure it looks cool, goes real fast, and gets super spiky, but we find it hard to believe the thing isn’t capable of capturing better images. With all that impressive Visitor technology --- including the awesome HD projection on the bottom of their ships, tech that makes people hallucinate snakes, and Anna's "closet" --- they can’t create a flying ball of death that gets clearer images? Please. They should have instantly been able to see who was in that warehouse meeting. I hate when the tech is illogically dumbed down to create plot tension.

Final Analysis: On the whole, not nearly as compelling as the first episode, but we’re in the transition phase. The resistance is just getting started. (Here’s hoping they can ramp it back up in the next two episodes, or viewership is going to take a hit when the show comes back in March!)

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.

9 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Terrific review, Jess. You praised everything I liked and criticized everything I didn't, and you also pointed out stuff I hadn't thought of. I'm already tired of the teenage plot and I didn't like Vandervoort on Smallville, either. Rekha Sharma is such an obvious V (considering BSG) that maybe she's not. And I am looking forward to Alan Tudyk's return.

Despite the way she pushed him around, I thought Erica and Father Jack made a very interesting couple. I was definitely getting couple vibes. Anyone else getting couple vibes?

Mark Greig said...

Yay for Wash! Glad to see Alan Tudyk won’t just be a one off guest star.

Great review, Jess. Like Billie already said you summed up perfectly everything I thought worked and didn’t work about this episode. So far the Tyler plot is the only thing I don’t really enjoy about the show. Watching a pair of horny teens with Emo hair pathetically trying to score with hot alien girls is not my idea of great drama.

The Cylon seems like a red herring to me. Too obvious to be a V. But the older priest is definitely a shifty character. I’ll be keeping an eye on that one.

Josie K said...

Fabulous review, Jess. I was quite glad that it was yours, too, as this episode didn't really do much for me. It felt like it had to be done, to move us past the stuff from the pilot, but wasn't very compelling in itself.

'Flying ball of death.' :-)

Jay said...

Great review. It seems most of us readers share the same opinions, most notably on the topic of a certain young teen's (hopeful) demise.

After watching the pilot I was hoping the show would branch into interesting social commentary and create tensions between race relations. Now after seeing the second episode the show seems more suited for pure escapism.

The "anyone can be a V" storyline doesn't do it for me, perhaps because I have seen it so many times or because I'm not emotionally involved yet. And somehow its distracting for me to see a cylon on the show, heh.

But I think the resistance storyline has a ton of fun potential and I absolutely love Morena Baccarin as Anna. I hope Scott Wolf's character stays in the morally gray area to keep their relationship interesting.

And Billie, I sort of get a vibe from Erica and Jack. I see either a very subtle beginning to romance, or a brother/sister dynamic. But if it's anything like ever other show ever made, it will soon turn to romance =).

Koi Nahin said...

Great review! I guess I'm with everyone else here who loves Morena Baccarin as Anna, wants the horny teens to die, and felt the romance vibes between Erica and Jack.

Regarding the point on technology though, and the V's lack of good cameras. IMO, the point of the Ball of Death was to identify their human enemies [ie. as humans] and kill them. So it was set to detect heat signatures because, of course, there could be other Vs roaming around in human suits and lizards are cold-blooded! In that case, a camera wouldn't make any sense -- how you can tell a human apart from a lizard in a skinsuit?

Anonymous said...

I find it fascinating that when ever an angst ridden teen character is introduced in a series the viewers immediately call for the character to be silenced. Whether or not they are truly annoying or just cliche enough to feel too close to home. The final objections are always the same.

No one wants to be reminded of the past and truthfully this character is superficially annoying and one-dimensional. That being said with Elizabeth to learn from maybe his performance will get better and he can rise above the stupid teen angst duldrum that he is currently lost in.

As for everything else, I think that the the parallel's to the original are playing close enough to feel the same. But they are changing the nuances which alter the entire picture. One major difference is the Visitors themselves. Without spoiling anything I am amazed at the very different portrait they are painting for this invasion. It has shades of the same, but it isn't the fascist takeover from the original 80's mini-series.

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! I hope they don't go the romance route with Erica and Jack. The man is a priest, and I don't want this to turn into the Thornbirds.

Koi Nahin, that is a good point about the Visitor technology. I hadn't considered that.

Anon 12:14, I love your point about no one wanting to be reminded of their past teenaged awkwardness when it comes to annoying, angsty teen characters. Very possibly true.

Eldritch said...

"Why go to so much trouble? Why not just invade? What exactly do they want the humans for?"

They don't need humans. In the original series, they just wanted our water. Today that's a pretty stupid reason as people are more aware that there's plenty of water ice flying around the solar system which would be easier to take.

Invading is messy and expensive. Years ago I read a really cool story about patient aliens who wanted our planet without us. Instead of invading, they sprayed the atmosphere with a psychotropic drug which made men gynephobic. Men's attitudes shifted to hating women. Religions began preaching that women were evil. Men began attacking and killing women in large numbers. Women began going into hiding.

So with a little patience, the aliens would have our planet with out the expense or mess of invasion. But I don't expect the "V" writers to be so clever.

Perhaps more to the point, recently I read that the original series was intended to be a story about how a fascist government took over the United States and a resistance formed. But the networks though the idea was too hackneyed. So the writers adjusted the story to make the fascists aliens who took over our government. That finally explained to me why the show was never really a science fiction story. It was World War II French resistance. Back then, I thought it was just bad writing, now I realize that's the story they originally wanted to tell. To get the series on the air, they just had to compromise to the network by throwing in gerbil-eating lizards.

Anonymous said...

Eldritch, which part of "Please no spoilers" didn't you understand?