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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
V: Switch on to Fear "Switch on to Fear"
Author Unknown
V Annual 1986 (World International Publishing Ltd.)

The Visitors insert subliminal transmissions into television broadcasts.

Story Summary

Under cover of night, Donovan and Kyle steal a skyfighter in order to shoot down a shuttle carrying the evil Nazi scientist Dr. Ernst Gluckner to the mothership for a meeting with Diana. But before they can carry out their mission, a Visitor skyfighter shoots them down and they crash off the coast, into the sea. Back at resistance HQ, Elizabeth senses Kyle is in trouble but there's nothing they can do.

In the morning, Willie brings news that he witnessed the dogfight that ended with the commandeered skyfighter crashing into the ocean. Just then, on the TV, Diana makes an announcement about a foiled terrorist attack and the safe arrival of Dr. Gluckner. Then the broadcast is interrupted by a resistor pirate broadcast by a young man calling himself Mr. Free, encouraging the fight for freedom against the Visitors.

On the mothership, it is revealed that Dr. Gluckner is working with Diana and has manipulated Mr. Free into producing the pirate broadcasts so that they can insert another transmission which releases the human viewers' own paranoia and fear, making them susceptible to subliminal auto-suggestion.

Off the coast, Donovan and Kyle have been rescued by resistance frogmen who saw the crash. A portable TV on the boat shows more of the pirate broadcasts. Donovan contacts Julie and between the two of them, they are able to triangulate the moving pirate signal to somewhere near Beverly Hills.

They finally track down the van from which Mr. Free is broadcasting and find that he has succumbed to the Visitor signal in his own broadcasts. They manage to get him to lead them to the booster station and there find that Elizabeth has already arrived, her unique mind being drawn there by the signal's influence. Gluckner is also there and he is using her state of suggestibility to make her put a laser gun to her own head. When the others arrive, Gluckner uses the booster dish to affect their minds as well. He tells Elizabeth to shoot Kyle and as she is about to do his bidding, her eyes meet those of the man she loves and she snaps out of it, shooting towards Gluckner instead. The beam hits the dish and sparks and power from the dish strike the Nazi's head, releasing the stored up fears and horrors he has inflicted on countless people over his lifetime of evil. He is left a mental vegetable as the resistance members leave. 



Didja Know?

This story appeared in the British V Annual 1986, a book of short stories, articles and games all about V, geared towards kids. The stories use a fair amount of British terms and military jargon, despite taking place in the U.S.; illustrations of automobiles tend to show a European style license plate.

Notes from the V chronology

Diana's subliminal broadcasts over television is similar to the premise of Below the Threshold. I've placed this story earlier in the chronology in the thought that the Visitors may have learned from the experiment here and later expanded on it in Below the Threshold.

Didja Notice? 

On page 56, Elizabeth, at resistance headquarters, senses something is wrong when Kyle and Donovan's skyfighter is shot down over the sea. This is similar to her sensing Kyle in danger in "Visitors' Choice" and "Alien Conflict".

On page 57, Willie mentions that, once again, they had to steal a skyfighter for their latest mission. What the hell do they do with all the ones they've captured previously?! One thing the DC comic book did well is show that the resistance kept a building converted into a hangar/repair bay for their captured skyfighters (for example, see "City on the Edge").

On page 57, Diana is making a television announcement about a terrorist attack that has been foiled when a resistance pirate broadcast breaks into the channel, beginning with the opening bars of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. These notes were also used by composer Joe Harnell when we first see a mothership arrive on Earth in "Arrival"; and the first four notes are also Morse code for the letter V.

The pirate TV broadcast is called Channel Freedom or Freedom TV, hosted by a young man calling himself Mr. Free.

Page 58 mentions that when Donovan and Kyle's skyfighter was shot down off the coast, some resistance frogmen who had seen the crash went out to scavenge the site for Visitor weapons and found the two men floating in the water, still alive. It makes sense that the resistance would be alert for such opportunities to gain alien technology to help in their fight.

On page 59, Mr. Free speaks about the words of President Abraham Lincoln, such as, "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth," and "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." These are actual quotes attributed to Lincoln (though the second quote is disputed as having been first said by P.T. Barnum).

Donovan and Julie triangulate the moving pirate signal to somewhere near Beverly Hills. Beverly Hills is an affluent city in Los Angeles County.

It turns out that Mr. Free was being manipulated by the Nazi doctor Ernst Gluckner and the Visitors into producing the pirate broadcasts so that they could insert another transmission which releases the human viewers' own paranoia and fear, making them susceptible to subliminal auto-suggestion. After destroying the special booster station and leaving Gluckner a vegetable with the help of the resistance, does Mr. Free continue his broadcasts as a legitimate resistance pirate channel?

And speaking of subliminal broadcasting, since the Visitors virtually control Los Angeles (and most of the southern half of the U.S.) why don't they just insert the signal into existing TV broadcasts? Wouldn't that be easier than manipulating a resistance pirate broadcaster into doing it for them? Possibly, out of deference to Nathan Bates, who is the nominal leader of Los Angeles, Diana chose not to use the established TV stations in the city.

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