V 2.04 ‘Unholy Alliance’

Tyler beats up a priest and Anna cowers the Vatican into doing her bidding.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

V 2.04 'Unholy Alliance'

Episode Title: "Unholy Alliance"

Writer: Rockne S. O’Bannon

Director: Dean White

Previously on "V":                                                                              

FBI Agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) discovered that her partner Sarita Malik (Rekha Sharma) was a sleeper agent for the Visitors and barely survived an intense car crash and battle with her. Erica’s allies Kyle Hobbes (Charles Mesure) and Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut) tortured Malik at her Erica’s request to learn more about what the Visitors had done to Tyler Evans (Logan Huffman) while Erica was pregnant with him. However, little of what she knew was useful before Erica allowed Hobbes to kill her.

Meanwhile, Anna (Morena Baccarin) sought to quell the growing influence of Father Jack (Joel Gretsch) by using professional twit and TV personality, Chad Decker (Scott Wolf) to profile Jack before the Visitors undermined his message of non-violent resistance to their agenda with a badly edited Youtube video shot by Tyler. However, Jack was undeterred and introduced Chad to the rest of his resistance cell, making him a member of the Fifth Column to spy on Anna for them. Later, Ryan met with Anna and agreed to help her take down the Fifth Column in exchange for his newborn daughter.

Story:

The more militant wing of the Fifth Column strikes again, this time by murdering three of Tyler’s fellow Peace Ambassadors. Although Erica is relieved that Tyler was not one of the victims, he freaks out over the incident. At the FBI, Erica is given a new partner, Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach! Wait… No… it’s Chris Bolling, who is also played by Jay Karnes. Curse you, familiar looking actors! Anyway, Chris is an old friend of Erica’s and he jokingly asks if he should be worried because her last two partners have disappeared. Yes, Chris. You should be very worried. But Chris actually shows an aptitude for the case almost immediately by zeroing in on Father Jack as a potential Fifth Column member.

Erica and Chris ask Father Jack a few questions at the church while Jack and Erica pretend not to know each other well. But later, Father Jack comes up with an idea to locate the militant Fifth Columnists by beefing up his rhetoric in church. It works like a charm and soon enough Father Jack is being loaded into a van with a hood over his head. Elsewhere, Anna invites Chad for an impromptu trip to Vatican City. Once there, Anna meets with several important members of the church and asks that they clamp down on the anti-Visitor sermons of priests like Father Jack. Father Piers Moreau (Jonathan Walker) seems particularly cold towards Anna and Chad notices a strange ring on his finger that seems to resemble the Fifth Column symbol.

In a cabin in the woods, Erica, Hobbes and Ryan follow Father Jack there and come face to face with the man behind the newest Fifth Column campaign, Eli Cohn (Oded Fehr). Eli knows Erica by name and he quickly realizes that she’s Fifth Column too. He argues that they are on the same side and Charles agrees, but she and Father Jack vehemently oppose the death of innocent humans like the Peace Ambassadors. He tells them a story very similar to Erica’s about how his child was experimented upon while his wife was pregnant and his subsequent investigation led him to the Visitors. As a compromise, he offers up the two men who killed the Peace Ambassadors, who will allow themselves to be arrested and take the fall for Malik’s murder as well.

At the church, Tyler and his Hitler youth buddies in the Visitor Peace Ambassador program deface the office and record the event, despite the objections of Lisa (Laura Vandervoort). Tyler even knocks over the elderly priest before making his escape. In Rome, Anna discovers that Father Moreau is a Visitor sleeper agent loyal to her mother. When the officials deny her request to clamp down on their rhetoric, Anna wows them with flashing blue lights and warns that her science-based miracles may soon eclipse their faith. And then the church caves faster than anyone has ever caved in the history of caving.

Before Father Moreau is forced to leave with Anna, he has a moment with Chad and gives him his ring. On the Visitor ship, Moreau is reunited with his queen, Diana (Jane Badler), who kills him mercifully rather than let him be tortured by Anna for information on the human soul. Back on Earth, Father Jack finds Tyler’s cell phone and realize that he was the ringleader of the attack. He brings the information to Erica, who apologizes but she has no idea how to handle it. And back at FBI headquarters, Erica also has no idea that her boss has Chris investigating her… and that he already has evidence that she lied to him about knowing Father Jack.

Breakdown:

You know what I’d like to see in a sci-fi series one day? When a group of aliens tries to force the leaders of one of the largest group of worshipers on Earth into goose stepping to their agenda, I’d love it if someone… anyone… said "No, we’re not going to follow you. And we’re not afraid of you."

I’m not Catholic, so I have no particular aversion to see the church portrayed less than perfectly. But that was one of the cheapest cop outs I’ve seen from a series that seems to treat Chad Decker like he’s the only TV anchor in the entire world. I’m sure someone will argue that the church’s stance here has historical precedence; but here in the story itself, it was a creative dead end.

I initially quite liked Jonathan Walker’s Father Moreau, who was openly hostile to Anna, but also open-minded enough to actually engage her in a discuss on faith. If anything, I was disappointed that he was just another one of her lizardmen instead of… a character with multiple dimensions and depth. Even his death became comedic when Diana kills him with one of the worst CGI mouths I’ve ever seen. She also looked really ridiculous afterwards with the blood dripping from her lips.

However, I am happy to report that there’s finally a male character with some balls on this show. Eli Cohn is a breath of fresh air after nearly one and a half seasons of Father Jack and Ryan. Every time it looks like Hobbes is going to step up and be a man as well, he always gets shouted down by the group or Erica. In fact, thus far the season still hasn’t addressed that the Visitors may be blackmailing Hobbes. It’s been five episodes since that idea was introduced and there’s been no follow up to it yet.

Tyler Evens is really mounting a serious challenge to "True Blood’s" Jason Stackhouse for the title of King of the Idiots. I can understand Tyler being upset about the death of his friends, but the moment he starts trashing churches and knocking down elderly priests, I lose all sympathy for the d***bag. Let the Visitors have him. It’s also still unbelievably stupid that Erica hasn’t tried to clue in her son to the truth now that Lisa is on her side. That damn Visitor camera jacket has to be washed some time, right?

I did like that the FBI is suspicious of Erica and it was a good twist to end the episode. It would make for some effective drama (and even some dark comedy) if Erica and her crew were actually taken down by her own FBI taskforce instead of the Visitors.

Rockne S. O’Bannon will always be one of my favorite writers, thanks to "Farscape." But this episode didn’t deliver the goods. I still have hope that "V" can turn it around creatively and make it to a third season. It’s not a top rate show, but it’s better than almost everything on Syfy right now. And it’s one of the last truly genre shows on network TV.

Crave Online Rating: 6 out of 10.