Having opened last week with a fast paced pilot episode, the second episode had the daunting task of meeting the high expectations and sustaining the interested garnered by Episode One.
It is now impossible for Erica or Jack to know who is a Visitor, even people they have known for years, leaving them both in a state of paranoia. This is one of the key elements that makes this show so great: pretty much anyone can, and just might be, a Visitor.
Both Erica and Jack are interrogated by the FBI, with Father Jack eventually feeling responsibility to tell the truth. Erica wisely recognizes that they cannot be sure that the committee investigating the Visitors is not actually comprised of Visitors itself. Concurrently, Ryan spends the episode looking for help from another Visitor rebel. Reflecting the mistrust the FBI has towards Erica and Jack, Ryan is greeted with suspicion and, eventually, betrayal.
Although this episode lacks the twists and turns of the pilot, it improves the pacing dramatically, building up a tangible sense of tension, establishing a mood, and alarming the viewers. It proves that the concept can actually work as a series and not burn itself out too soon.
If you’re familiar with the original miniseries, you’ll probably recognize the character of Tyler (Daniel Bernstein in the OG show). While interesting (and predictable) that the character finds Lisa so beautiful that he would disobey his mother, Tyler still seems very two-dimensional, without enough character development. Meanwhile we (finally) see a group of protestors in the street. Tyler, however, doesn’t think the protestors are so great and gets into a fight with some of them, leading to him being banned from Lisa and the V compound.
While referred to in the first episode, actually seeing some people against the Vs gives the show a bit more realism. It’s also great to hear mentions of other governments, reminding us that this isn’t only happening to New York.
The Chad thread seemed a little out of place for me. All of a sudden finding his backbone, Chad organizes a debate between a politician in favor of Visitor integration and one against. The debate allows him not only to restore his qualifications as a reputable reporter; it also gives him a better grip over the V. To calm a seething Anna, he points out that he helped shape public opinion. The government decides to pursue diplomatic ties, and grants a limited number of visas to the Visitors. After the measure passes, Chad receives a surprising call from Anna where she thanks him and hangs up.
Anna remains an excellent underexposed mystery. By keeping her vague and obscure, the viewer never knows what to expect from this puppet-master behind the curtain. She needs to stop repeating her slogan (“we come in peace, always”) at every five seconds, as it is already starting to annoy. We get it!