TV Revisited: ‘V: The Original Miniseries’ – part two

TV REVISITED: ‘V: THE ORIGINAL MINISERIES’ – PART TWO

V The Miniseries Part 2

We find out more of the Visitors true motives, the resistance movement continues to grow, Robin Maxwell takes one giant leap for the human race and also has gravity defying hair. It’s all happening in this review for part 2 of ‘V – The Mini Series’. If you want to catch up with our review of part 1, click here. As with the review of Part 1, this is very detailed and full of spoilers.

The episode begins with Donovan arriving at his ex-wife’s house, presumably to find see his son Sean. What he finds instead is a completely deserted town, decorated with a burned out Visitor squad vehicle and overturned cars. Josh surprises Donovan and nearly gets a laser bolt between his eyes (thanks to the laser rifle Donovan snaffled from one of the Visitor troops trying to capture him at Kristine’s place).

Josh explains that everyone is gone and tells Donovan what happened. As Josh explains the viewer sees flashbacks detailing what happened. Josh tells Donovan that the people of the town started to protest against the Visitors and begin a demonstration that quickly got out of hand and soon became a riot. Josh goes on to explain that he hid in Sean’s house while Visitor troops burst in. We then see the ‘Awful eyes’ that gave 8 year old me nightmares for weeks.

Marc Singer’s acting in this scene is excellent and that isn’t a phrase I use lightly. In fact, he is superb in this entire episode. During this scene Donovan has to strike a fine balance between comforting Josh and finding out what happened to his son. Josh tells Donovan that all of a sudden everyone was gone, everyone but him. When Josh ask Donovan if he’ll ever see his parents again, both Donovan and the viewers know the answer but Donovan’s reply of ‘You Bet!’ is what Josh needs to hear. Donovan asks Josh if he knows where the Visitor trinket is that he gave to him earlier. Luckily for him, Sean put it in a safe place. Donovan tells Josh that it’s a key to ‘The Belly of the Whale’

It’s breakfast at the Bernsteins! Daniel has procured some champagne and is celebrating his engagement to Robin Maxwell. Unfortunately Robin knows nothing about this. Daniel tells his family “I want her, just like I wanted this champagne and I will get her won’t I? Otherwise I’ll just turn her whole damn family in”. Nice one Daniel, your role as a Visitor collaborator is getting stronger by the day. Enraged, Abraham throws his champagne in Daniel’s face.

Daniel runs off to the pool house in a massive teenage strop and grabs Robin, getting rather rough with her. Stanley overpowers his son and throws him into the pool. When Daniel comes up for air he has his pistol drawn, pointing at his Father. Only a scream from his mother Lynn stops him from pulling the trigger. Daniel strops off. It’s becoming clear that the Maxwell family can no longer use the Bernstein’s pool house as a place to hide. They must take their chances running the roadblock and escaping the city.

Watch out for that trigger finger Daniel
Watch out for that trigger finger Daniel

They enlist the help of their ex gardener Sancho (Rafael Campos). Robert and his family hide in the back of Sancho’s truck, hidden under a plethora of plants and gardening equipment. The only problem with their plan is the constant crying of Katie, the younger daughter, which would alert anyone that Sancho is carrying more than gardening supplies in his truck.  Sancho gives Katie a pack of sweets to keep her quiet, explaining to the Maxwells that he has had some previous experience of smuggling people over the roadblocks.

Back at the Bernstein’s home a Visitor shuttle touches down and troops begin to file out of it, rifles ready. Brian is leading the troops with Daniel, who wants reassurance that his family have amnesty. Brian confirms they do have amnesty and asks who the Bernsteins were hiding. Daniel responds with “just a bunch of scientists”. I remember being rejected by many a girl when I was a teenager, I reacted by just sulking in my bedroom, turning my family over to a fascist regime seems a bit much.

As Sancho is driving towards the roadblock, he drives past Eleanor Dupres who suspiciously eyes the van when she hears Katie’s mumbled crying.

Sancho arrives at the roadblock, telling the Police that he is off to ‘El Tepenyac’, the best Mexican restaurant ever. As a second Policeman examines around the back of the vehicle, he hears Katie Maxwell let out a small cry. He ignores it, gives Sancho a silent acknowledgement and he is allowed to continue through the roadblock.

Following the death of his brother, Elias has now joined the resistance. He has found a base for the group. It’s under a sewer but has plenty of room for the ever expanding resistance movement. Juliet supervises as the group move into their new HQ, she is naturally becoming the leader.

Daniel is at the family home on the phone trying to track down his parents. He finds out that his parents have been taken by a Visitor patrol, even though Brian promised him amnesty for his family. Thanks Brian, you’re a legend.

Sancho returns to the city via the roadblock and is surprised when the cops and the Visitor troops halt his vehicle and draw their weapons. It would appear that somebody has informed on him. That somebody is Eleanor, who afterwards receives a huge diamond from Steven to say thanks. Yep, inform on your own species and you will get rewarded folks!

Donovan, Josh, Tony and his wife Fran are huddled in the back of a van talking. Josh is going to stay with Fran. Tony talks about rumours of a rebel camp in the mountains (just like El Salvador) and also rumours of a base in the city. Donovan wants to find the resistance. He also wants to head back up to the Mothership and investigate the disappearance of the people from the town where Sean lived.

Daniel is at home alone, stewing in his own guilt (and Whiskey) from informing on his own family. Brian arrives, apologising for going back on his promise of amnesty but explains he was overruled by his superiors. When Daniel enquires after Abraham, Brian tells him that “he isn’t well but he’s with our doctors and they’re very good”. Brian then cheerfully informs Daniel that he’s been promoted and is now Brian’s second in command. Way to go Daniel, you’re finally in a rewarding career! It’s a shame that you had to give your family up to do well, but whatever it takes, right? Brian then gives Daniel an AWFUL diamond ring, compliments of Diana, to reward him for his loyalty. The Visitors must get a good discount at the local jewellers, they’re giving out diamonds to anyone who betrays their own species!

Meanwhile, Donovan and Tony are sneaking around a Visitor installation, trying to get aboard a shuttle to take them up to the Mothership. After incapacitating one of the guards they witness a group of people being shepherded onto a shuttle (including the Bernsteins and Sancho), obviously prisoners.

They are surprise attacked by Visitor troops, resulting in a quick firefight. Tony hits a Visitor in the face, removing the fake skin and revealing the reptile underneath. He sprays venom into Tony’s face. Donovan is shot trying to rescue Tony. They are both carried onto the shuttle. It seems they are getting their trip up to the Mothership after all.

Robert Maxwell and Robin meet Juliet at the resistance HQ. The rest of the Maxwell’s are at the resistance camp in the mountains. Juliet gives Robert and Robin a tour of the base. She is naturally becoming the leader. Everyone is asking her for guidance and help. She may not have asked for the role of leader, but that is what she has become.

As Juliet struggles to accept her new role, Ruby offers her guidance telling her she is a natural leader. Juliet confesses that she doesn’t always know what to do or what to say, Ruby suggests that in times like those she should just fake it, nobody will know the difference. Good old Ruby.

Up above the city on the Visitor Mothership, Donovan is woken up and informed that Diana is ready to see him. Martin (Diana’s second in command) takes Donovan to her.

Diana scalds Donovan for causing a lot of trouble to which he retorts “That’s nothing compared to the trouble you’ve caused lady. Lady…that’s a good one”. Diana says that Donovan will soon have no more worries, suggesting that whatever is going to happen to him will be pretty final. Donovan witnesses Stanley Bernstein being marched into the room and strapped into a chair in Diana’s torture chamber, equipped with many an unpleasant looking instrument.

Martin suggests to Diana that Donovan would be more useful as a convert. Diana admits that Donovan would be too tough a subject to brainwash. Martin uses some reverse psychology to get her to change her mind and Diana orders Martin to take Donovan back to his cell. On the way there Martin reveals he’s going to help him escape. Donovan can hardly believe it. Martin tells him that there are a few Visitors that don’t believe in their mission. Donovan refuses to leave without Tony but Martin shocks him by saying ‘It’s too late for Tony!’  Donovan demands to know what Diana is doing and why. “The goddamned lady can bend people’s minds around, what the hell does she need a blowtorch for?!” Martin tells Donovan that Diana always uses torture to get information, and she likes to do it. He puts Donovan back into his cell and tells him to be ready.

Back at resistance HQ Robin is wandering around, bored out of her mind. She sees a route outside and explores but wanders a bit too far and ends up being captured by Visitor troops! Bloody teenagers, always causing trouble.

Back on the Mothership Donovan is anxiously waiting when a female Visitor named Barbara enters and tells him to take off his clothes as he needs her uniform. He protests that it won’t be big enough but is reassured that it will stretch to fit. As they both undress Donovan remarks that “you sure don’t like look an iguana”. Barbara tells him a shuttle will soon be leaving for the surface and he needs to get on it and will be fine as long as he keeps to himself and keeps his mouth shut. Barbara asks him to shoot her or her superiors won’t believe her story. Against his better judgement Donovan shoots her, quickly checks for a pulse and sneaks in a little kiss before he leaves. Donovan, you are a cad!

Time for a hypothetical question: If you were number 1 on the most wanted list of the local police and you found yourself in the Police Station, how would you act? Would you act normally and try not to attract attention? You could always take the Mike Donovan approach and look suspiciously at everyone as you walk past them, which is exactly what he does. He still manages to get on board a shuttle as it’s about to leave but finds himself stood next to a rather chatty Visitor. For the rest of this review I’m going to refer to him as Chatty Man. Chatty Man asks Donovan what unit he’s with as he’s not seen him before. Obviously Chatty Man doesn’t keep up with current events as Donovan is the Visitor’s most wanted! He may be wearing glasses and a cap but you can still tell it’s him! As Donovan can’t talk as ‘my voice will sure be a tip off’ he just signals the number 2 with his fingers.

The shuttle touches down in LA, Donovan exits quickly but Chatty Man is now a tad suspicious. He says to Donovan that he wants to hear him say goodbye. Chatty Man draws his rifle and starts shooting at Donovan as he makes his escape by stealing a nearby truck. “Goodbye!” he shouts as his truck crashes though the fence and escapes.

Elias and his gang ‘The Angels’ are hitting the streets – spraying V’s all over Visitor posters and generally making a nuisance of themselves. They spot a Visitor on their own and capture him, taking him to the resistance HQ. It turns out that they’ve captured Donovan. Juliet quickly realises that he’s not one of the Visitors but says that he might be a sympathiser.

During his kidnapping by Elias and the Angels Donovan has been injured and has a cut on his head. He asks Juliet if she has a bandage. Juliet takes him into another room and begins to patch him up. She seems to interrogate him as she’s looking at his wound, by inflicting pain to get answers to her questions. George W Bush would be proud!  Donovan explains what happened but it’s clear that Juliet doesn’t believe him. After one too many painful pokes to his head Donovan loses his patience. “I’ll tell you why I was up there, because my kid, my ex-wife and all the people in their damn town are up there!”

Donovan attempts to leave but is blocked by other resistance members. Juliet explains the source of her misgivings but Donovan convinces her, “I’m on the right side kid, believe me.”

Donovan then gives the team the lowdown on what has happened and what he’s seen so far. The team surmise that heat and bright light could be weapons against the reptilian invaders.

Juliet rallies the troops and they agree to attack a Visitor armoury to steal weapons for their fight against the Visitors.

Robert finally realises Robin is missing (He’s a candidate for Father of the year) and wanders outside to look for her, only to be caught by the same Visitor trooper that caught his daughter, he confirms this by saying “Another Maxwell!” when looking at his ID.

Back on the Mothership, Brian is summoned to see Diana. They are both watching Robin in her cell. After some NSFW flirting from Brian towards Diana she asks him to take part in an ‘unusual medical experiment’ between him and Robin. Brian agrees to do it, as long as he can take part in another ‘medical experiment’ with Diana in the future. The dirty git! Brian enters Robin’s cell and seduces her, knowing full well that Diana is watching.

Diana_Brian

Back on the surface Robert demands to know where Robin is. The Visitor Captain informs him that she is being held prisoner on the Mothership. If Robert wants to see his daughter again, he must give up the location of the resistance camp in the mountains. Robert is distraught as his wife and other daughters are at the camp. The Visitor Captain offers a solution. He guarantees Robert that he won’t attack the camp until a certain time, so he can get the rest of his family out. He cannot warn the other people though. The Captain assures Robert that the camp can be taken easily with little or no harm being made to any of the others. They agree that the Visitors will take the camp at 4pm the next day.

Back at resistance HQ the group plan the next day’s attack. As well as raiding the Visitor armoury they plan to attack the chemical plant that Caleb worked at. Their goal is to disrupt as many Visitor activities as possible. Donovan tells Juliet that while the resistance is causing havoc on the ground he’s going to head up to the Mothership and try and find out more about their plans and hopefully find his family.

The next day the resistance put their plans into action, planting small bombs around the chemical plant. The bombs explode all over the plant, causing chaos and disruption.

Meanwhile Donovan (still wearing his Visitor disguise) gets on a shuttle heading to the Mothership. Guess who gets on it? You’ll never guess! Chatty Man is back and he stands right next to him! Tense!

The shuttle touches down on the Mothership & Donovan quickly disembarks before Chatty Man can see him. He uses the key he gave to Sean (It’s a good job he wasn’t searched when captured by the Visitors earlier!) to go into the bowels of the Mothership to explore. The sound design in these scenes are excellent, it gives a real sense of creepiness to proceedings. Donovan enters a huge room, wall to wall with huge storage tanks. He examines one more closely and finds out that it’s full of water, not the chemical compound the Visitors claimed that they need.

Back on the ground the Resistance head to the Visitor armoury and begin their assault. As well as using standard weapons against the Visitors they also use mirrors to try and reflect sunlight into the Visitors faces. We see one Visitor trooper get shot in the chest, but he just keeps on ticking as if nothing has happened.

Robert is in turmoil, having betrayed the resistance for his family. He confesses to Juliet what’s going to happen at the mountain camp and races off to there to warn them before the Visitors arrive.

Back on board the Mothership, Martin conveniently happens to walk past Donovan so he grabs him. Donovan demands to know what’s happening with the chemical that the Visitors need. After getting over the shock of being pounced on by the Visitors most wanted man, Martin tells Donovan that there’s no chemical. Donovan realises that it’s just a smokescreen and the Visitors are on Earth to steal all of the water. He says that without water the earth will become a desert and humanity will die. Martin says matter of factly ‘No, there won’t be any people left by then”.

At the Bernstein home Daniel is acting rather chipper, getting his packed lunch ready ‘for work’ when his parents arrive back, looking battered and bruised. Stanley has his arm in a sling. Daniel gives one of the lamest apologies ever and asks where Abraham is. Stanley tells him that they never saw him again and states “They burned me”. Daniel simply leaves, not being able to look his parents in the eye.

On the Mothership Martin shows Donovan another huge room full of small storage tanks, each housing a person, cocooned in suspended animation. There are thousands of cocoons. Martin explains that this is Diana’s work and the people will be used for two purposes. One will be for cannon fodder to fight the alien race that has defeated the Visitors before. Donovan surmises that this race of may be able to help them. The enemy of my enemy is my friend etc. Martin then tells Donovan that food isn’t the only shortage on their planet. In horror, Donovan realises that the humans will also be used as food.

As if all this horror wasn’t enough Martin takes Donovan to see Tony. Or at least what’s left of him. Donovan looks on in absolute horror and disbelief at Tony. The viewer doesn’t see him or what has happened but you can tell that whatever it was is awful. Martin says that Diana authorised it, claiming it to be a ‘medical experiment’ Donovan whispers that he wants to kill her. Martin responds that he’s not alone. In the same cell, Donovan finds a battered and very bruised Sancho. Donovan assures him that he is a friend.

Martin gets Donovan, Sancho & Robin Maxwell onto a smaller shuttle craft and intends to leave with them. Donovan convinces him to stay on board the Mothership as he’d be a lot more useful to the resistance here than down on the ground. Donovan convinces Martin that he’ll be able to fly the Visitor shuttle and get himself and the others to safety. They say their goodbyes and Martin leaves. Just as Donovan is about to close the shuttle door, Chatty Man spots him!

Donovan quickly flies the shuttle out of the Mothership (this special effect footage will be used countless times in future episodes of V) but Chatty Man has jumped in a shuttle of his own and is in hot pursuit! Donovan’s shuttle is quickly descending towards the ground at high velocity. Robin screams at Donovan to pull up just as he manages to get a grip on the controls but he overcompensates and they end up flying upside down for a few seconds. It’s during these few seconds that Robin’s hair displays an amazing talent for defying gravity!

Robin's Magic Hair
Robin’s Magic Hair

The shuttle chase continues over the skies of LA, Chatty Man is firing at Donovan’s shuttle with gleeful abandon.  Sancho happened to be sitting in a rear gunner chair and begins to return fire. This scene is pretty clearly influenced by the scene in Star Wars where Han & Luke are firing at the TIE Fighters after escaping the Death Star. I always fight the urge to shout “That’s great kid, don’t get cocky!” when watching.

Some flyboy piloting from Donovan enables them to escape as the pursuing shuttle get destroyed in a scene that is heavily riffed by Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade some 6 years later. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.

Back on the ground Robert races towards the camp in the mountains as V shuttles ahead overtake him, an hour before the agreed time. The Visitor Captain has betrayed him. The shuttles attack the camp with full force, destroying everything and anything that they can see.

The rest of the resistance, now armed to the teeth from attacking the armoury arrive at the mountain camp to salvage the equipment that is left and rescue the survivors. Using a bazooka, Elias destroys a Visitor shuttle.

These scene mirrors the opening scene from Part 1 in El Salvador. Juliet cannot believe the chaos and war that is unfolding in front of her. We know it’s terrible because it’s all in slow motion and there’s mournful choral music.

Josh and Fran get pinned down by V fire and she runs to help them. Juliet defiantly fires at a Visitor shuttle with just a pistol as it rains laser bolts all around her – just like the soldier in El Salvador in the previous episode. The shuttle (with Diana and the duplicitous Visitor Captain aboard) passes around again to have another go at killing her. In the nick of time Donovan’s stolen shuttle appears and opens fire, wounding Diana and causing the Visitors to retreat from their attack.

julievsshuttle

Robert discovers his wife Kathleen mortally wounded from the attack. She dies in his arms. Feeling entirely responsible for the death of his wife, he quietly contemplates turning his gun on himself. Suddenly his kids turn up out of the blue, including Robin. Robert and his daughters hug it out together, mourning the passing of the Maxwell family’s matriarch.

Donovan briefs Juliet on what he found out on the Mothership. Juliet concludes that their main objective should be to destroy as many Motherships as possible.  In all the years I’ve been watching V I’ve never understood that conclusion. You say that all the ships have water and people aboard? Let’s destroy them!

A few days later at Resistance HQ Robin has assumed the role of Mom of the Maxwell family. Some expositional dialogue reveals that she’s been having morning sickness for the last three days. Mmm, what did you and Brian get up to exactly?

Robert arrives at the Bernsteins asking if they can use their place as a safe house if ever needed (Good choice Robert, Daniel the informer lives there.) Lynn refuses but Stanley gives her a letter that Abraham had written just before they were taken by the Visitors

In a very emotional scene she reads aloud his final words and thoughts, saying that everyone should unite against the Visitor threat. Stanley says to Lynn that “We have to help, or else we won’t have learned a thing”

Elias and Juliet are at an Observatory, sending a message for help into space, trying to contact the Visitor’s enemy that Martin told Donovan about. In a piece of dialogue that dates the show 100 times more than any special effect Elias says “Let’s hope they’ve got our ghetto blasters tuned in on us.”

Outside the observatory Juliet says that it may take years for the signal to be transmitted and help may never actually come. The resistance must do what it can by themselves. The first battle has been won but the war is just beginning.

Elias sprays a V on the observatory door, V for Victory!! I’m not sure what the owner of the place feels about people randomly spraying graffiti onto their building but it’s all in a good cause I suppose.

Coming soon to The Spoilist: the V story will continue with our review of part 1 of V The Final Battle

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