Monday, November 21, 2011

V - Season 2

Spoiler Level: High

I have to admit, I was very impressed with Season 2 of V. (Once I finally got to see it, that is.) Oh sure, I'm very disappointed that the "Let V no longer stand for Visitor; let it stand for victory" attitude was lost again after only one episode (and could there be any bigger perversion of the meaning of "V" than Tyler spray-painting a red V as a pro-Visitor message?), but in this season the show stopped trying to imitate the original and found its own voice, and as a result it was a much better show. And since it did have its own voice, I found myself being more content with what it was than being frustrated with what it wasn't.

For starters, we learned the real reason for them coming to Earth-- and it's got nothing to do with wanting to pillage the Earth for our resources. It's not to use the human race as food, but as breeding stock. Apparently they've been stealing DNA from different races, harvesting the best of every race in the universe so they become the genetically superior beings. And the human race is next on their list.

The way they go about it gets a bit convoluted; apparently Visitors and humans can interbreed with some scientific help. But the survival of the race depends on their queen, who is only fertile during a short period of her life. So they infiltrate a few decades earlier and set up test subjects to be containers of all the best DNA mankind has to offer. Then they show up with the smaller fleet, get into the planet's good graces, and the next Queen-to-be mates with one of the test subjects, thus ensuring new offspring with all the best DNA. Then they bring in their fleet en masse, round up all our women and turn them into baby factories (yes, this show could have been called Visitors Need Women), ensuring that their race continues. I'm a little hazy on how the two points connect, but that's it in a nutshell.

Storytelling wise, this was revealed in a very even pace, much better than the first season. Each episode felt like it was advancing the story, and like we were actually getting answers. We also got to see the resistance movement finally grow, expanding both on their own and then finally hooking up with a world-wide network. Of course, it may have helped that I watched the entire season over two weeks on DVD instead of over ten weeks on TV.

And then there's Jane Badler, returning as Diana. Not the same Diana, of course, but at least the producers of the show had the sense to always dress her in red to hit the proper nostalgia buttons. This Diana is almost a good guy-- she's learned the value in human emotions and the soul, something that her daughter, Anna, doesn't agree with. It makes Diana an interesting character-- she's just as concerned with the survival of their species as Anna is, and her loyalty is definitely with her own species and not humanity, but what Anna sees as humanity's flaws and a risk to their survival, Diana sees as something that can improve their race, making them something greater than they were.

And then there's the finale.

Like most shows these days, V was canceled without enough notice for any kind of wrap-up. But the ending we're given here works for an ending. Not a happy ending in any way, shape or form, but still an ending.

* Diana's plans fail completely as Anna kills her in front of their entire race. Anna wins.
* Ryan's plans to rescue his daughter Amy fail completely as his daughter kills him when he tries to take her away. As far as she's concerned, Anna is her mother, and Ryan isn't fit to be her father. Anna wins.
* Lisa II mates with and then kills Tyler. Anna wins.
* Chad Decker's role in the Fifth Column is exposed and he's taken into custody by the Visitors. Anna wins.
* Amy helps Anna spread Bliss to humanity, enslaving the entire human race to the Visitors as the breeding ships move in. Anna wins.
* The only hope left at all is Project Ares, a secret military organization run by the world's governments hidden literally underground so they escaped the Bliss (and lead by none other than Mark Singer).

What a great set-up for Season 3. At last, everything is out in the open, and Project Ares would have had to fight a war against the Visitors to save their own people who wouldn't even want to be saved. As closure goes, this is The Empire Strikes Back-- a series of down endings, ultimately ending in defeat but with a hope for the future. Only in this case there will be no third act. And who knows, maybe it wouldn't have worked, but there is closure here for nearly all the characters, and the potential for what could have come next is fantastic.

I've said before that if they did any V novels or other media tie-ins with this show I'd give them a pass, but I have to go back on that now. There's potential here for a great story, either in prose or comics. I don't believe we'll actually get it, but if it happens, I'll check it out.  Otherwise, for me the ending of this story is what we got on screen-- the Visitors triumphant, with Erica Evans and Project Ares still out there fighting the good fight to save humanity.