V Season 1, Episode 3 Review: A Bright New Day

“A Bright New Day” opens with a really effective montage of confessions from members of Father Jack’s congregation. We hear their thoughts and feelings about the alien arrivals and how, for some, it challenges their faith in God and the words of the Pope while others see it as a blessing. This not only shows us how different people have reacted to the Visitors’ arrival but also reminds us of the crisis of faith Father Jack himself is going through, knowing that the Pope’s declaration that the Visitors are a gift from God is misguided.

Using the list that Erica had procured from the FBI subcommittee investigating reports about the Visitors, Jack spends most of this episode trying to track down Georgie Sloan, the leader of the resistance cell that met in the pilot. This search leads him to Georgie’s seemingly abandoned home where we learn more about what caused him to become involved. Questions do remain however about why the event we learn of happened which will hopefully be answered in a future episode.

While Jack searches for Georgie, Ryan spends most of this episode trying to recruit other undercover Visitors to join him in his fight against his own kind. It seems he has learned little from the events of the previous week’s episode, appearing surprised when the person he meets with betrays him. The moment is, I suspect, supposed to come as a surprise to the audience but most of us will be ready for it. If it fails to surprise us however it does work nicely to show how far Ryan will go to achieve his goals.

It also goes some way towards explaining how Anna and her colleagues maintain their control over their underlings. We learn the price that is paid by those who wish to break away from the Visitors, helping us to understand why most of the Visitors appear to be willing to fall in line behind Anna. There is also a first mention of John May, the leader of a Visitor ‘fifth column’ group. I suspect that we may well have seen him before this episode’s end.

By this episode’s end Ryan has also been brought into contact with Father Jack and Erica; a development that ought to give the character a little clearer purpose. So far he has been isolated, forced to follow leads on his own. Hopefully now he can start to develop some relationships with other regular characters and we can begin to get to know him a little better.

While Ryan and Father Jack search for ways to bring the Visitors down, Erica spends most of this week protecting them from a potential assassin’s bullet. In doing so however she gets an opportunity to explore the Visitor’s security center which ironically seems to have very poor security.

In her snooping she does learn the secret of how the Visitors are able to monitor what is going on in different locations, discovering that there are security ‘cameras’ within the jackets they are issuing. The sequence in which she realizes this is one of the best in the episode, Elizabeth Mitchell managing to convey her character’s thought processes visibly as she works out exactly how this is done. It is smart and observant, establishing qualities that so far have been a little lacking in the character.

Where her character has been lacking in observation is in her dealings with her son Tyler, who continues to be the least interesting of the main characters in the show so far. Unlike those around him, he operates on just one level. Beyond knowing that he wants to sleep with Lisa, the character seems to have no other thoughts, aspirations or stakes in what is going on.

The final scenes of this episode ought to make this subplot a little more interesting by suggesting that the events may be more important than they appear. It is a welcome development that gives these scenes a much needed boost, but it is still proving hard to love the character of Tyler. We need to see another side to him at some point to help him become a more likeable, rounded character.

This episode also brings back the character of Dale (Alan Tudyk), who lost his memory after being struck on the head by Erica. Assisted by Joshua in a virtual reality setting, Dale pieces together the events leading up to injury and realizes Erica had seen his real, reptilian face. As in several of the other storylines this week a twist follows although, like the others, it does not prove particularly surprising.

If the twist fails to surprise though the scenes themselves are really strong. We learn that Dale is not the only sleeper agent within the office he was working in, which is useful to know, and he has a really entertaining rant about how disgusting and unhygienic humans are. Besides, it is hard not to admire the two superb performances in the scene.

The final major storyline in the episode centers on Anna who is anxious to silence Mary Faulkner, the widow of a man who died as a result of the Visitor’s arrival. I enjoyed the scenes in which we watch her prepare for an ‘impromptu’ meeting with her, rehearsing hitting emotional levels in her speech to try to sound genuine while the scene in which the pair appears together before the media is absolutely superb.

These moments illustrate the character’s ability to manipulate humans but also emphasize that it does not come naturally to her. Those words are carefully chosen and rehearsed repeatedly to ensure they are effective. She appears so collected when she is in control that it is hard not to wonder what might happen if Chad is able to ask her some questions that she is unprepared for.

“A Bright New Day” is not a perfect episode. Early parts of the story drag a little and its attempts to use twist revelations to build interest mostly fall flat. Fortunately V is not the sort of show that needs storytelling trickery to generate interest. Instead it continues to explore its characters and situation while pushing its story forward.

The events of this episode position things well for next week’s final installment before the Winter break. So far V has proved entertaining and well-written but has yet to deliver a stunning episode which may be in part responsible for its sharp decline in viewership. Hopefully that last installment will deliver that knockout punch and leave audiences hungry enough to come back in a couple of month’s time.

– Aidan Brack

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