Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Visitors are Coming V: The Series: "Secret Underground" (March 15, 1985)

In “Secret Underground,” Julie (Faye Grant) and Mike (Marc Singer) infiltrate the Los Angeles mothership when the couple learns that Parrish’s old flame, Maitland (John Calvin) is working on a deadly virus that could destroy humanity.  This is Diana’s “final solution to the human question.”

Meanwhile, Diana (Jane Badler) plans a nasty shock for her competitor, Lydia (June Chadwick). As the Visitor’s Feast of Ramalon approaches, it is tradition to have a “sacrificial lamb” for the festival, typically the youngest hero of the fleet.  Diana thus transfers Lydia’s brother Nigel (Ken Olandt) to Earth, and then offers him up as sacrifice.

Lydia seeks Philip’s help to outlaw the barbaric ritual and save her brother’s life, realizing that Diana will show her no mercy.

“Secret Underground” involves yet another instance of human Resistance fighters infiltrating the mothership successfully, destroying property there, and returning to Earth unscathed.  Already this sequence of events had occurred in “The Dissident,” to name just one episode.

Uniquely, this episode features a nifty trick in regards to that over-used plot-line.  Donovan and Julie wear Donovan and Julie masks (over lizard mask, over their own faces…) so that when caught, they will look like Visitors. 

Diana does the unmasking herself and is completely flummoxed when faced with the notion that her enemies are actually underlings who resemble her enemies..  I should note, this is the kind of story detail that Faye Grant said, at one point, would be her preference: stories of secret infiltration rather than gunfights.  The only problem in “Secret Underground” is that it strains plausibility that the Resistance should successfully mount this mission with no casualties.

In terms of character background, we learn in this episode of Julie’s previous relationship with Maitland, which sets up a kind of faux jealousy battle between Maitland and Donovan.

Julie reports that she and Donovan are “just friends,” which is a change in premise.  As late as “Visitor’s Choice” their code names in the Resistance were Romeo and Juliet, and in V: The Final Battle (1984) we saw them together as a couple.  I have no problem with the idea that they may have broken up, or otherwise ended the relationship, only that it would have been nice to see that point of character development.  

Rather, we suddenly -- after weeks of Julie’s absence -- suddenly get the “we’re just friends” routine. It happened to Jessica and Logan, it happened to Buck and Wilma, and here it happens again to Donovan and Julie.

“Secret Underground” reveals a more “human” side to Lydia, if that’s the right term. 

She realizes what Diana has planned for her brother, Nigel -- ritual sacrifice -- and does everything in her power to stop it, though is stymied at every turn.  It is clear she is in torment, and never believed Diana would stoop so low as to go after her family.  In some way, “Secret Underground” paves the way for the show’s last episode, “The Return,” in which Lydia is seen to readily make peace with the humans.  Perhaps allying herself with Philip here has led her to a reckoning about her behavior, and treatment of humans.

Also, the name Nigel is quite funny in relation to Lydia.  June Chadwick played Jeannine, the nemesis of one Nigel Tufnel, in 1984’s This is Spinal Tap.

Next week, we get to our final episode of V: The Series: “The Return.”

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