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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
V: Breakout V
TV episode
Written by David Braff
Directed by Ray Austin
Original air date: May 24, 1985

Donovan and Tyler head into Visitor-controlled territory to find Donovan’s son; Diana enlists Nathan Bates’ help in finding Elizabeth.

Read the summary of this episode at V: The Series Interactive Website

Notes from the V chronology

   This episode, as a whole, does not fit well into the V continuity. In fact, during the first run of the V weekly series in 1984-85, this episode was not aired! It showed only after the series went into reruns at the end of the season. Instead, the original airings went from "Dreadnought" to "The Deception", with "The Deception" seemingly written to ignore the events of this episode. The most glaring problem when trying to include this episode in continuity is that the resistance members are first introduced to Nathan Bates' son, Kyle, here, but then are introduced to him again in "The Deception" as if for the first time! Although I do agree that "The Deception" is a better introduction to Kyle than the one here, why was it changed?
A second continuity problem is that Donovan informs Robin in the Visitor work camp that Elizabeth has "grown up" and her father sacrificed his life on the captured mothership. But she seems to forget this in later episodes!
   On the other hand, this episode does show Donovan making an attempt to regain his son from the State Academy he mentioned in "Liberation Day" and it suggests that young Sean was picked up with the other boys at the school by the Visitors, thus explaining his presence with them in
"The Deception". So, for continuity freaks (like me), it is suggested to pretend Robin never appeared here and to imagine some change of dialog in "The Deception" depicting Donovan and Tyler saying "You again?!" instead of "Who are you?" when Kyle shows up at the Club Creole.

PopApostle reader A. Garland points out that he read in one of the V-Files books from the 1980s that this episode was initially rejected by the network (NBC) as too violent to show in the 8:00 time slot. When the show went into reruns after the end of the season, it had been moved to 9:00, so the episode was reinserted into the playlist. As to what was too violent for 8 p.m., it's not clear. Mr. Garland speculates possibly the dog attack or crivit attack.

Didja Notice?

As the episode begins, we get a news update by Howard K. Smith from the Freedom Network. Smith provided his newscaster presence on the original V mini-series as well.

During the Freedom Network segment we are told that a combined force of Arab and Israeli commandos briefly liberated the Wailing Wall before being driven back by counter-attacking Visitor troops. I'm sure it was intended as an ironic comment by the writers that it would take a third party threat to both sides to unite the Arabs and Israelis in common cause. The Wailing Wall is, of course, a real place, built as a retaining wall on the Temple Mount of Jerusalem in 19 B.C., with successive layers added in the following centuries. The Wailing Wall is but one of many names applied to it, in this case for the Jewish practice of coming to the wall to mourn the destruction of the ancient Temple that was there. It is also sacred to the Arabs as the place where Muhammad tethered the legendary winged horse Buraq as described in the Koran.

During the Freedom Network segment, Smith compares the new open city agreement in Los Angeles to Lisbon, Portugal during WWII. Lisbon was a neutral city during the war, with citizens of both Allied and Axis nations passing through it.

Also during the Freedom Network segment, Smith reports on a high school senior who led other members of his class into routing a Visitor patrol in Bear's Point, Kentucky. As far as I can tell, Bear's Point is fictitious.

The story opens in Visitor-controlled Ojai, CA, with Donovan attempting to track down his son in the State Academy there. Donovan had mentioned him attending school there in "Liberation Day".

At 3:06 on the DVD, before the boy rides his bike through the town courtyard, a few sets of bicycle tracks can already be seen in the sand right along his path from rehearsal or previous takes of the scene.

At 3:28 on the DVD, the Visitor shock troopers on patrol walk right past several people sitting on benches, yet they pause to look at Tyler sitting there pretending to read a newspaper until he looks up and smiles at them. Then they walk away without incident. Why did they pause to look at him at all? If they recognized him as a wanted resistance member why didn't they arrest him or least ask him some questions? It seems like the typical Hollywood cheat of building some false tension for no reason and which has no pay-off.

At 3:54 on the DVD, we can see that the newspaper Tyler and Donovan are reading is the Ojai Herald. This is just a printed prop, there is no real such newspaper.

At 4:07 on the DVD, the Visitor van the boy is defacing appears to be a Ford Econoline of the 1983-1985 series.

The old refrigerator in Annie's house at 5:37 on the DVD appears to be a 1950s-era General Electric model.

In this episode there is suddenly a photo of Kyle on Bates' desk that was not there in previous episodes. Conveniently, it allows the viewer to be introduced to him by proxy before meeting him in the work camp near Ojai.

After Diana asks for Bates' help in locating Elizabeth, he says he'll think about it and she leaves. Then he calls in his head of security and during the discussion it is clear that Bates already had his men looking for the girl. Why would Bates have been interested in finding her before Diana's request? Is he hoping that a replacement for the red dust can be found by examining the Star Child's unique hybrid chemistry as he later tells Julie?

Elizabeth demonstrates an ability to play classical piano.

At 9:09 on the DVD, as Donovan and Tyler leave Annie's house, the house next door is the Stephens' house from the 1964-1972 TV sitcom Bewitched! (Thanks to A. Garland for pointing this out!)

The Visitor Jeep that brings Donovan and Tyler into the work camp appears to be a CJ-7. The Visitors use this same model Jeep throughout the series.

As they are brought into the Visitor work camp as prisoners, Donovan and Tyler note that there is no fence around the place, just a mote of sand. Turns out the mote is inhabited by crivits, dangerous extraterrestrial carnivores presumably from the Visitor homeworld (though possibly some other planet) that live under the sand and consume any creature that walks upon the mote's surface. The screen grab below is the best glimpse we get of a crivit as it races after a would-be escapee. Notice in the second image part of a mouth or fin pulling the victim down under the sand.
crivit crivit swallowing a man
There are several pieces of Visitor signage in the work camp, with both Visitor and English words printed on them. V writing V writing V writing

It turns out that Robin is already a prisoner in the work camp (as is Kyle Bates) when Donovan and Tyler are brought in. It's not difficult to imagine that she was picked up by the Visitors sometime after she fled her vehicle at the check point at the end of the previous episode, "Dreadnought". However, for continuity's sake it is best to ignore her scenes in this episode since here she is told of recent events by Donovan (like her father's death and her daughter's transformation) but she seems to forget it all in following episodes. Since she escapes but disappears at the end of this episode, it is easy to imagine that she was simply on the run on foot for an entire day or two without meeting anyone until she sees Kyle (for the first time!) at the beginning of the next episode, "The Deception".

Diana tells Lydia that their troops have entered Marseille, France, Jerusalem, Israel and Ho-Chih Minh City, Vietnam. Lydia comments that they are still meeting stiff resistance from the World Liberation Front in Houston. The mention of Jerusalem is a nice synchronicity with the Freedom Network report at the top of the episode.

From 17:01-17:50 on the DVD, we see several monitor shots with Visitor writing. The topographical map in the second and third screenshots appears while Diana and Lydia are talking about the fighting in Houston, but it looks more like a chain of Pacific islands, possibly near Vietnam since they earlier mentioned Ho-Chin Minh City. Also notice that the map on the third screenshot appears to be simply a reverse image of the one on the second! V writing   V writing   V writing

Reviewing her research on Kyle Bates, Lydia tells us that Kyle was expelled from Stanford University late last year (no reason given) and since then has devoted most of his time to racing motorcycles, mostly in Arizona and Nevada.

When Diana checks the computer records on the mothership for indications that Kyle may have been placed in one of the Visitors' internment camps, the information comes up on the screen in English! Shouldn't it be in the Visitors' language?

Bates asks Julie to head up the new project at Science Frontiers to develop a new form of red dust to use against the Visitors.

The mark of Zon seen on Elizabeth's hand at 22:30 on the DVD is different than what was seen in "Dreadnought". Previously, it looked like two moles, here it just looks like a birthmark in the shape of an infinity symbol. In "The Dissident", it goes back to looking like two moles, though smaller than the ones seen in "Dreadnought".
The moles of Zon The infinity symbol of Zon
Mark of Zon in "Dreadnought" Mark of Zon in this episode

At 24:13 on the DVD, Act 5 Saloon is seen across from the alley entrance next to Club Creole. A Ford Ranger pick-up is parked in the alley.

When two Visitors at Club Creole seemingly recognize Elizabeth and attempt to take her into custody, the Star Child demonstrates a previously unknown ability to control or influence the actions of animals, as two German Shepherds tear the Visitors apart to protect her. The other strange thing is that the dogs initially appear to be leashed into the back of a pickup truck, yet they manage to jump out to attack the aliens! I guess Elizabeth used a telekinetic power as well to free them!
German Shephers attack lizards

When Julie learns that Elias let Elizabeth play the piano in public at the Club Creole, she is angry at him. As she walks away she even seems to mumble, "Stupid!"

As the boy, Billy, sneaks around behind a tent to bring some materials for escape to Donovan at 28:09 on the DVD, a close viewing will reveal Tyler as he approaches in the far background, leading to his sudden appearance through a flap in the back of the tent, startling Donovan and the boy.

After the dog attack scene, Elizabeth apparently went into a withdrawn, unresponsive state and slept for a while. When she awakens, Julie and Elias seem surprised that she is speaking. It's true that when she emerged from the chrysalis in "Dreadnought" she did not seem able to speak for a while, but she did when her grandfather, Robert, was shot aboard the mothership. Apparently she has not spoken again until this moment.

This episode gives us our first look at Julie's house.

When Nathan Bates shows up at Julie's house unexpectedly, she introduces Elizabeth as her cousin Betty. She uses the excuse that Betty has just arrived from Tucson where things are really bad. "Betty" is sometimes used as a nickname for people named "Elizabeth"; good thing Bates didn't pick up on that! Tucson is a city in Arizona.

After Donovan and Tyler have managed to escape the work camp with Robin and Billy, they somehow get separated from Robin. The next morning Tyler comments there's no sign of her.

   The girl, Annie, who helped Donovan and Tyler by letting them into her and her mom's house to hide from the Visitors at the beginning of the episode, shows up again at the end to take in Billy at a refugee camp in the nearby mountains where the red dust is still effective. Does this mean that she has left her mother behind at the house after realizing that she betrayed the two resistance fighters to the Visitors?
   The rifle Annie carries is an M16.

Near the end of the episode, it's a nice touch that Billy calls Donovan "Gooder", having heard Tyler refer to him that way the whole time.

At 41:46 on the DVD, a storefront that Donovan and Tyler walk past has a sign that says "Cash Only, No Checks or Bankcards Accepted". This may be because banks are unreliable in Visitor-controlled territories.

Donovan and Tyler steal yet another Visitor skyfighter! You'd think the Visitors would learn to take the keys out of the ignition! During the ensuing chase we get yet more recycled skyfighter footage from the mini-series. It's fun seeing that, seated behind the piloting Donovan during the chase, Tyler looks like he's about to lose his lunch!

Earlier we saw Kyle knock out a guard at the work camp, but how did he get past the sand mote? The Visitors had already stopped the stream of prisoners who were working with Donovan and Tyler on their escape. Yet, somehow Kyle shows up in Los Angeles in his father's office near the end of the episode.

Elias remarks to Julie that Bates' men searched Club Creole for hours and couldn't even find his secret recipe for Oysters Bienville. Oysters Bienville is a traditional Creole dish.

Unanswered Questions

Why are Donovan, Tyler, and Robin not recognized as wanted Resistance members upon capture? The Visitors should certainly have a sophisticated identification system.

Memorable Dialog

a little paranoid.wav
guardian angle.wav
when I want your opinion.wav
that's what I love about this place.wav

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