However, last night's episode, "A Bright New Day," was aptly-named by my reckoning. It seemed like the first installment of the series that was at all promising. In other words...a distinct improvement.
I feel this way because some of my gripes about the new series were actually addressed. For instance, instead of merely hearing about the general reaction of Americans to the Visitors, in last night's segment we actually witnessed some of that reaction.
Early in "A Bright New Day," we got a lightning-quick montage of various confused people in the confession booth at St. Josephine's. "Are the Visitors demons or angels?" "Is everything we believe a lie?" "Can they heal my sister's cancer?" They asked Father Jack. Again, this was a lightning-quick touch -- a token move, perhaps -- but it was nonetheless a start at constructing the larger global context that has largely been absent thus far.
We also met the wife of the U.S. Air Force pilot killed in the first episode, Mary Faulkner, and learned of her issues with the aliens. In the spirit of Diana, the tricky Anna co-opted this human leader and even (finally...) had a good scene (told in jump cuts...) during which she rehearsed the correct human emotions for dealing with grief. A very slippery lizard, this Anna.
"A Bright New Day" also afforded the series the first mention by name of the Visitor's Fifth Column, an important ingredient of the original series. And beyond that, we got more detailed glimpses of Visitor technology, Visitor written language...and Visitor's lady's underwear. These are all steps in the right direction and signs, I hope, that the show is making a much-needed course correction.
Most impressively, "A Bright New Day" featured at least two authentic, jaw-dropping surprises during the hour. I'm an old hand with genre TV, but I didn't see either of these shocks coming. Again, for perhaps the first time, I felt last night that V was actually making a concerted effort to entertain, rather than just kind of plodding around on automatic pilot.
My big concern with the series now is something that a clever reader brought to my attention last week. In the comments for the review of last week's episode, a reader named Pete noted "if the V traitor *really* wants to fight the V, why doesn't he just go on TV and expose himself as a reptile?"
As hard as I've tried to suspend disbelief since reading that comment...I just can't do it. This is the elephant (or reptile...) in the room.
The whole premise of V and a Visitor Fifth Column just crumbles when you consider this idea; that Ryan, the Fifth Columnist, could defeat the Visitors in one swift stroke by going on television and cutting open his human skin to reveal his scales before a live global audience. Last night, even Anna noted herself the importance of public opinion; and keeping public opinion in favor of the Visitors. Imagine how public opinion would swing against the aliens if Ryan went on TV and revealed to the world that the Visitors were a pack of liars? All the material in "A Bright New Day" about Ryan re-organizing the Fifth Column is a runaround; a time-waste., a cheat. If he wants to win in one fell swoop, Ryan would simply himself to the world.
Now two things. First, some people might say Ryan doesn't want his fiance to know he's a lizard. My answer: priorities, Ryan, priorities! How happy of a marriage can he hope to have if the Visitors are ruling the world? If their love is true, his girlfriend would forgive him his lizardly nature. Secondly, the series could get around this point simply by acknowledging it: by having a throwaway line from Ryan in which he says he can't reveal himself on TV because he's afraid of his girlfriend's reaction or something. It would still be stupid; but at least it would be acknowledged.
However, that's not the end of it. Here's my sinister, paranoid side coming out. There is one other way in which Ryan's unwillingness to reveal his lizard-nature makes narrative sense. What if the Fifth Column is not only anti-Visitor, but also anti-human? What if Ryan, as part of the Fifth Column, is actually carrying water for another malevolent force out to harm humanity, and thus can't reveal himself for that purpose? Remember, the original V miniseries ended with the Resistance sending a message to the Visitor's wartime enemy, another alien race. out there in space
So is V setting this subplot up with Ryan's refusal to strip for the camera? We'll see. I hope that I'm not being cleverer than the writers of the series here...