If “Mother’s Day” proves not to be just the second season finale of V, but also the series finale, it will be fitting. V has never been able to figure out just what kind of show it should be, and this finale manages to be two different finales at once. The first finale builds on all the storylines that have been dully percolating throughout the season and suggests an attempt to pay them off. The second finale blows all those storylines up and cops to what a gigantic failure they’ve been in the process of retooling the show for a hypothetical third season. But if, as seems likely, that third season never comes, then the final image V will leave for the world will be a flashy, bloody repudiation of every single thing it ever tried to do. If nothing else, there’s a kind of honesty in that I never would have expected, even if it is just a hail mary attempt at getting a renewal.
“Mother’s Day” is pretty evenly divided between the show V has been and the show it’s apparently now decided to become. The first half of the episode involves the Fifth Column’s attempt to assassinate Anna for something like the thousandth time. Their plan is, like all of their previous plans, utterly incompetent and needlessly complicated, and the execution of said plan is predictably dull. They decide that the best way to kill Anna is by fake-kidnapping a complicit Lisa (AKA Supergirl), who is then supposed to turn around and shoot her mother with one of the V’s extremely fake-looking disintegration guns after they lure Anna into an empty building. Why Lisa couldn’t just kill her mother on any one of the many occasions they’re alone together in the normal course of their day is never explained. As all this is going on, Ryan (AKA Token Black V) is back on the V mothership (the same one he couldn’t be on before because everyone was trying to kill him) trying to save his daughter and break Diana out of her cell.
When the Fifth Column’s plan fails, it’s neither a surprise nor really a sign that anything is amiss. The Fifth Column always fails at everything, after all. (Anna manages to convince Lisa that she thinks human emotion is swell, and that she loves her so much, and that humans and hideous alien lizards can live in peace and harmony forever; so Lisa puts her silly raygun away and the Fifth Column is angry that she ruined their insipid plan and … eh, who cares?) But when Diana’s triumphant return-to-Queenhood speech in front of all the V extras we’ve never seen before (yeah, it turns out her prison wasn’t very secure) is suddenly interrupted by Anna’s lizard tail slicing through her body, it’s clear that something is up.
But before we get to just what that something is, it’s worth taking a moment to pause in appreciation of Diana’s death scene, which is legitimately one of the best things I’ve seen on television this year. No, seriously. Aside from Morena Baccarin, Jane Badler has been the best thing about V this year. Despite being saddled with terrible dialog about insipid themes and being given virtually no story arc to participate in, her scenes have nonetheless managed to be relatively enjoyable if only for her campy line readings. And that’s on full display in her silly speech about how awesome the soul is and why the Vs should live in the peace with humans. Until Anna stabs her with her lizard tail and lifts her dying body in the air for the camera to linger on for what seems like at least a full minute. Is it gratuitous? Yes. Is it a Deep Blue Sea rip-off? Yes. But that just makes it all the better. Diana’s warning (uttered with her dying breath) that Anna has just doomed the Vs rings so hilariously hollow that I’m just going to go ahead and assume that it’s supposed to. And the scene’s coda–Anna turning to Lisa and telling her, “Now that’s how you kill your mother”–is so much fun it almost makes you forget what a waste of time the rest of the show has been.
And that’s the point. It’s with Diana’s death that it becomes clear that the show is abandoning all of its storylines. I mean, sure, it would be nice to think that all of Badler’s appearances have been leading up to her awesome death scene, but that’s obviously not the case. It’s the writers realizing that Badler’s appearances weren’t actually leading anywhere and finding a way to get rid of the character in as fun a way as possible. Which is to be commended, though it’s not entirely clear why it had to take so long.
The rest of the episode is similarly ruthless, but also feels needlessly delayed. The episode goes on to kill off Ryan and Tyler, and then disband the Fifth Column and replace it with something called the Ares Project. These are all positive moves, but they’re moves that should have been made a long time ago. Ryan’s story has been spinning its wheels since at least the beginning of the season. His shifting alliances have felt like plot devices and have done little to make his character more interesting, while his relationship to his daughter has remained completely unchanged throughout the season, even as she’s been aging at an increased rate. When said daughter breaks his neck with her tail, it’s not a conclusion to the story, but a merciful surrender. Like Diana’s story, Ryan’s story wasn’t going anywhere, and now, because of a horrible alien lizard tail, we don’t have worry about it anymore.
Tyler, meanwhile, has long been one of the most annoying characters on television, and I feel confident that, while V might inexplicably have actual fans who like it, absolutely nobody will miss this character, with the possible exception of Logan Huffman’s mother. Indeed, the V writers appear to have given his demise a fair amount of thought, deeply considering the method of his death that would give the show’s unfortunate viewers the most satisfaction. Given that they settled on Tyler getting his neck ripped open by the ferocious alien lizard teeth of a naked, post-coital Laura Vandervoort, I feel confident that they made the right choice. The only mildly disappointing thing about the scene is that Tyler experiences a few moments of happiness, to which he has no right.
The episode dispenses with The Fifth Column just as quickly–though, unfortunately, not nearly as bloodily–and the Ares Project seems to offer solutions to a few of the shows biggest problems. V has always wanted us to believe that the stakes are immensely high and that The Fifth Column is humanity’s last great hope. But The Fifth Column has always been composed of no more than 6 people who mostly just sit around talking about incompetent plans that never work. The writers tried to remedy this by introducing other arms of The Fifth Column, but the only real change was that sometimes our Fifth Column would video chat with a couple other people. Their plans, meanwhile, remained incompetent and continued to never work. The Ares Project is, if nothing else, a much more impressive looking organization. It appears to be staffed with actual human beings who have actual skills and the technological and financial means to actually execute plans of attack, assuming some of those skilled human beings can come up with competent plans. Whether the show would actually know how to use the Ares Project if it gets renewed is something of an open question, but it at least has potential.
It’s worth pointing out that while all of this is a lot of fun and a move in the right direction, none of it makes even a lick of sense. And none of it even remotely guarantees that the show would be any better if it got the chance to go forward. “Mother’s Day,” after all, succeeds in much the same way that the pilot succeeded: by throwing as much shit at the wall as it possibly could. The episode ends with Anna blissing all of humanity with the help of Ryan’s adorable murderous daughter. When she does this, blood comes pouring out of her eyes. And it raises the two questions every scene, episode and story of V should raise if it gets renewed, and answers them in precisely the right way. Why is this happening? No idea. But is it awesome? Why, yes. Yes it is.
- I failed to mention what happened to Lisa in the review proper, so quickly: Anna throws her in Diana’s old cell and forces her to watch as a duplicate Anna has just created fucks and murders her boyfriend. It’s somewhat tawdry.
- This sequence features Morena Baccarin saying, “Put skin on my daughter.” It’s no “Now that’s how you kill your mother,” but it’s pretty good.
- No mention in the episode as to what would become of the rest of the Fifth Column aside from Erica if the show is renewed. Hopefully they will all have their necks chewed off by a naked Laura Vandervoort.
- Despite the positive steps the show takes in “Mother’s Day,” I think it would almost certainly still suck if it gets renewed. But I would also almost certainly continue to watch it. Given that, I can’t say I’m exactly rooting for its renewal. Besides, “Mother’s Day” is about as good a note a show this bad could hope to go out on.