There was a time in my life when everything I read, or watched, or thought reminded me of LOST. I’m not saying that’s quite over, but Kate the Lostie is Kate the Fringe Fan these days, and more and more I’m seeing J. J. Abrams’s other show in everything I read, watch, and think. I’ve been texting myself descriptions of my déjà vus just so I can learn about what Parallel Universe Isabela’s like.
So when we learned last night on the season two premiere of ABC’s V that Erica Evans, FBI agent and Fifth Column High Commander, may have been experimented on while pregnant with her son Tyler, my first thought was, quite naturally, “Cortexiphan!” More like a phosphorous supplement, but still. Erica and her son are the Chosen Ones. No wonder Erica had that weird psychic dream about acidic red rain. No wonder Tyler’s so effing annoying.
But let’s back up:
Season one closed with “Red Sky”—remember? The episode where Lisa the Lizard Princess gives Erica a Blue Energy alien bomb and Erica explodes Anna’s spawning soldier children, causing Anna to experience her first human emotions and, in a fit of vengeance, “initiate the sequence.” All these months I’ve been wondering what that meant. All we saw on the finale was that it made the sky turn red.
Well I admit, that’s pretty freaky. The people of V thought so too, and all the adoration, appreciation, and adulation the masses had for the Visitors last season quickly turned to riots, wrath, and religion. Tyler was stupid enough to wear his peace ambassador uniform on the street and got beaten up. I was kind of pleased about it, but, admittedly, that’s probably a bad sign about the state of society.
And when the titular “Red Rain” starts to fall, it doesn’t become a YouTube musical sensation—it’s pure chaos.
Father Landry goes back to the church (figures), Kyle Hobbes starts stockpiling guns (figures), and Chad Decker has an emotional breakdown (finally). Erica shouts at Anna for an explanation about the Red Sky. No harm done—Anna’s pretty sure they’re besties now.
Things would seem good for the Fifth Column right about now. A random New Yorker and fervent Tea Partier (okay, so that part’s speculation) sums up the public attitude:
“If Anna’s bringing Armageddon, I’m goin’ out fighting!”
Anna and Marcus
There’s even dissention in the ranks of the V elite. Marcus, ever the cold-blooded reptile, warns Anna that some of her ships’ captains are suspicious that she’s being infected by that perfidious human emotion. Anna has to flense and impale one of them just to prove she’s still the reptile queen at heart. I mean… er… well you know what I mean.
The killing continues in the nursery. Out of the hundreds (thousands?) of soldier eggs she laid last season, only six survived the bomb. In “Red Rain,” Anna and Marcus take a little trip to the intensive care unit, in which Anna takes her babies off life support in a symbolic act of destroying the thing that made her weak and emotional: her children. Marcus approves, but then, he doesn’t see the pain on her face when she turns away and… sniffles?
Then there’s the problem of the rioting humans down on the ground, who are pretty convinced that she sky is bleeding and the End of Days is just around the corner. The people are ripe for a revolution, but the people are fickle, and they easily accept Anna’s explanation that it’s a cleansing gift that’s going to clean up the ocean, stop global warming, and save the polar bears.
Still, Anna’s on shaky ground, and that’s a change for the Lizard Queen, who was calling all the shots last season. This time around, she has something to prove—and notably, she needs to prove it to Marcus, her closest advisor and the epitome of V violence and dispassion. If Anna wants to keep her power, she needs the approval of this guy.
Oh right, and her mother, who apparently lives in some jungle nest in the bowels of the ship.
Anna and Erica
Agent Evans is sitting pretty in “Red Sky.” No matter that the FBI’s been infiltrated by the reptiloids and Erica’s leader of a terrorist cell—Anna has complete confidence that Erica, Fifth Column mastermind, is her most trusted ally on Earth. Erica’s close enough to the seat of power that she can just fly on up to the mothership and talk to Anna pretty much whenever she wants.
The linchpin in this relationship is (gag) her son Tyler, Lisa’s paramour, who has decided once again that he wants to live up on the ship. On the one hand, it keeps Erica in the inner circle. On the other, Anna has some seriously nefarious plans for Tyler that definitely involve breeding.
Erica, we learn in “Red Rain,” had an unusually high level of phosphorous in the blood while she was pregnant with Tyler—after being experimented on by aliens. And that’s what the red rain is: phosphorous. Turns out Anna doesn’t care about climate change (gasp!) unless it’s about making the climate more suitable for raising reptile babies. Fun times.
Lisa and Tyler and Joshua (oh my!)
There have always been a lot of mommy issues in this show. Lisa’s mommy dearest, recall, had her legs broken as a public relations stunt against the Fifth Column. That’s pretty harsh.
For her mother, the princess plays the dutiful daughter: meaning, she seduces Tyler once and for all, as Anna surveils them. But Lisa’s character is growing increasingly complex: she’s not the tortured teenage V of last season. She’s actively conspiring with Erica against Anna, actively conspiring with Erica against Marcus, actively conspiring with Anna against Tyler, actively conspiring with Joshua except that he seems to have lost his memory—and all the while I still can’t tell who she’s really in love with. Still rooting for Josh; still guessing it’s Tyler.
Oh, dear dear Tyler Evans. It’s no secret that I can’t stand your blank expressions and terrible acting. As Kate the Lostie commented: “I tried to watch the first episode, but his smile was too annoying.” Per usual, he didn’t do anything exciting last night except get hit on the head and have his face dissolve with terrible special effects in Erica’s psychic dream about Anna threatening to kill Erica’s child for payback.
Of course it won’t happen—not now that Tyler’s all phosphored up and going to be the Lizard King or whatever.
Ryan and… It
But let’s not forget Ryan and Val’s hybrid baby girl, currently unnamed. With Val out of the way, and Ryan all Blissed up, Anna snatched the ugly little thing away and appointed herself both mother and captor.
“Every being in the world understands a mother’s pain when her child suffers,” Anna tells Erica, truthfully for once. That pain made Anna weak last season, and in “Red Rain” it looks like Anna’s using that lesson to weaken Ryan. Marcus is shocked when Anna decides to send Ryan back to Earth—he’ll join back up with the Fifth Column! Of course, that’s exactly what she wants: a man on the inside she can manipulate.
Jack and Chad
Erica might be buying Ryan’s sincerity, but Jack (Jack!) is finally on the same page as the ever-paranoid Kyle Hobbes. “What would you do to protect Tyler?” the priest asks, “At some pt, Ryan’s going to have to make a choice: his daughter or us.”
I’ve been ragging on Father Jack Landry as the most naïve member of the Fifth Column for a whole season now, and it seems that at last he might be learning the pilot episode “Don’t trust anyone” lesson. But this season, for the first time: Jack’s actually in a position to do something.
This time last year, Chad Decker was wheedling information out of Father Jack, just like any good reporter can. He was Anna’s mouthpiece, praising the Live Aboard Program (AKA, abduction and experimentation initiative) the high heavens and allowing V doctors to save him from a potentially-fatal aneurysm, all on live tv. But Chad realized what I’ve been thinking all along, that the Vs gave him the aneurysm. Now, after witnessing Anna’s experiments on humans firsthand in the season one finale, Chad’s feeling responsible. And where do you go when you need absolution? A priest.
Chad wants forgiveness, and practically begs Jack to let him into the Fifth Column clubhouse. He wants to fight back—publish a report and broadcast interviews about and from the victims of Anna’s experimentation. But just as Erica shrewdly keeps Tyler close to Anna, Chad has to preserve his relationship with the high queen as well. If he can make Anna believe he’s still her town crier, he’ll be the Fifthers’ most valuable inside man.
Chin up, Chad, you’re a journalist—you’ll be a great actor.
Hobbes and the New Guy
The Fifth Column, after all, doesn’t need more soldiers yet—at least not when they have a badass like Kyle Hobbes. Hobbes did have some shady dealings with Marcus last season, but it still seems like he’s committed to the Fifth Column. And the writers still seem committed to giving him the best lines ever. Him and the new guy, anyway.
The Fifth Column has a new recruit, and whoever’s in charge of casting did a great job. So maybe Bret Harrison (of Grounded for Life and Reaper semi-fame) doesn’t look like a PhD. But the Fifth Column lost Georgie last year, and some comic relief is definitely in order.
When the Visitors take out Ellis Watts, an environmental scientist beginning to suspect the true nature and purpose of the red rain, they overlook the true brains behind the operation: his young associate Sidney Miller, who’s squirreled away “Alpha,” the skeleton of a V he found in a mysterious mass grave in New Mexico, in his janitor closet-like office.
Needless to say—and especially after he sees Hobbes kill a V tracker on their trail—Sidney Miller isn’t going anywhere. “I’m not a fighter!” he protests. And Hobbes:
“We don’t need your fists, we need your brain. And if you say no, we’ll kill you… Ahh, relax. I’m kidding. Maybe.”
So the Fifth Column club gets themselves a scientist with comedic timing to rival Hobbes’s.
“Anna’s a lizard?” Miller asks. “That sucks. She’s so hot.” (cue incredulity) “Sorry… I joke when I’m nervous.”
When Miller calms down, he explains what’s been hinted at throughout the episode: the red rain is changing the planet and human physiology to make them capable of bearing little Visitors. Cue horror, and Hobbes:
“So, first they want to invade us, then they want to shag us.”
“Red Rain” is, essentially, about children. Using them, manipulating them, breeding, killing, protecting them, and all that jazz. And in my opinion at least, that’s a smart way to handle a galactic plot: make it about relationships. Humans vs. Visitors boils down to Erica vs. Anna, a much more manageably-scaled sort of conflict.