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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

V: Visitors, Victims, and Victory "Visitors, Victims, and Victory"
V (the mini-series, part 1, hour 2)
50:06-1:42:22 on Side 1 of the DVD
Written and Directed by Kenneth Johnson

The Visitors allege a conspiracy by the world’s scientists; Donovan makes some startling discoveries aboard the L.A. mothership.

(This episode begins with the scene in Caleb Taylor's apartment in which Ben chastises Elias' lifestyle and ends with Abraham spray-painting a V on the Visitor poster.)

Read the story summary of the mini-series at the V Wiki

Didja Know?

I came up with the triple-V title for this hour because, to me, the series title V stands for all three and this hour is where some of our human protagonists begin to realize that all of Earth is falling victim to the aliens and Abraham Bernstein introduces the V-for-victory symbol to the children at the end of the episode.

Didja Notice?

Ben asks his brother, Elias, when he's going to stop his "poor man's Richard Pryor" act. For those of you too young to remember, Richard Pryor was an extremely popular African-American comedian in the 1970s and '80s; he would often put on a "hip brother" act as part of his comedy. In response, Elias refers to Ben by three different names in rapid succession: "Dr. Kildare" a fictional character dedicated to the medical arts, known on film, radio and television; "Uncle Tom", a reference to the character Uncle Tom, a suffering but dutiful servant to his white master in the 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe; and Sidney Poitier, the Academy Award winning black actor.

I'd always thought that Harmony was just an employee of the catering service that served the chemical plant. But at 53:05 on the DVD, it can be seen that the catering truck actually says "Harmy's Gold Star Catering", so she must be the owner/operator.

We see here and in numerous other instances that the Visitors eat live food or, occasionally, raw vegetables. Why do they always refuse offers of cooked meat? Is it actually harmful to them?

At 57:13 on the DVD, in the Bernstein house, the TV they watch is seen to be a Sony.

Brian points out to Robin the Visitors' home star, the brightest one in the constellation Canis Major. This would be the star Sirius (as stated by Diana in "Arrival").

Caleb has gone from saying "damn, stupid alien" in the previous episode to saying "damn scientist" in this one, after the Visitor P.R. machine "reveals" a conspiracy against them by many scientists.

The Visitor Youth program run by the Visitors for young humans is similar in name and function to the Hitler Youth program of Nazi Germany. It provided a haven for disaffected youth while indoctrinating them to the cause of the Nazi Party.

Tony realizes that a couple of the scientists who have confessed to being part of the conspiracy against the Visitors have suddenly become left-handed when they were right-handed before. This is later explained as a side-effect of Diana's conversion process. But metaphorically-speaking it may be a hint, a reference to the Latin word for "left" which is "sinister".

At 1:00:45 on the DVD, Brian is seen playing the Space Invaders video game on an Atari 2600 gaming console at the Maxwell house. Ironic considering the Visitors are space invaders to the Earth.

At 1:01:41 on the DVD, Daniel interrupts Robin's and Brian's conversation on the street by commenting on her father's career as an anthropologist. Given the Visitor's revelation/fear of Earth scientists conspiring against them, this is most likely an attempt on his part to put some distance between Brian and Robin out of jealousy and his own attraction to Robin.

At 1:03:11 on the DVD, there is some Visitor writing on the door of the chemical transport ship. And again on some kind of machinery on the transport at 1:03:24.  V writing  V writing

When Donovan sneaks aboard the transport and it takes him to the mothership, it is supposed to take place in Los Angeles. But the matte painting of the city used in the background as the transport enters the hanger is the same one used as New York during the first hour of the mini-series ("Arrival").

When we see the exterior of the mothership as the chemicals are being vented back outside at 1:04:11 on the DVD, figures can be seen silhouetted in the ship's windows, though they are unmoving.

During Donovan's brief time on the hanger deck after he has snuck aboard the mothership, a female voice is consistently heard speaking English over the P.A. system, announcing transport schedules. And he also overhears Diana and Steven speaking English during their incriminating conversation. Although it might be argued that each mothership's crew has been instructed to use the dominant language of the country they are assigned to at all times for practice and gaining fluency (as ordered by Supreme Commander John, according to the novel), it seems foolhardy for exactly this scenario in which a suspicious human is eavesdropping. (Also in the novelization, when Donovan soon after fights with a Visitor and the artificial skin is torn to reveal a reptilian face, he realizes that they can't speak their own hissing, slurring language while wearing the prosthetic human face.)
   The P.A. system mentions flight schedules to arrive from Santa Barbara and San Diego.

At 1:04:42 on the DVD, we can see that the video camera Donovan is carrying is a Betacam. Remember those? (Scott Sheriff of SST Digital Media pointed out to me that he is carrying a BVP-3 Betacam in the V publicity shot below and sent a photo of his. Thanks, Scott!)
Donovan's Betacam
Donovan's Betacam in the episode (may be a fake; see the fight scene reference and screengrab a few paragraphs below) 
 BVP-3 Betacam Donovan with BVP-3 Betacam 
BVP-3 Betacam Donovan holding a BVP-3 in a V publicity shot 

At 1:04:43 on the DVD, an old Hollywood trope is called out, that of ventilation ducts that are large enough for a person to sneak about in. In the real world ventilation ducts that run through buildings and ships are generally quite small and would allow only small animals to pass through. In V's defense, we see that there is actually standing room and ladders throughout the system of ducts, so it must be used as maintenance crawlspaces as well. Still, for security and privacy reasons, entrance to the duct system should not be so easily gained as Donovan manages.

At 1:05:22 on the DVD, there is some Visitor writing on the electronic door lock. V writing

In the scene at 1:05:52-1:07:35 on the DVD, Donovan witnesses Diana and Steven conversing and eating live food in what appears to be a sort of alien automat! A little later, Donovan sees another mini-automat in what appears to be a crewman's quarters, so it would appear all quarters are equipped with these small "automat cages" and kept stocked with live food.

Though it is creepy, the fake head used at 1:07:26 to depict Diana shoving a live guinea pig into her mouth is not very convincing. However, the effect of the ripple moving down actress Jane Badler's throat seconds later is quite good.

After removing his fake eyes which help him to appear human, a Visitor crewman sees Donovan through the air duct grill. This may suggest that the Visitors are able to see much better with their naked eyes than through the humanoid contact lenses. (In the novelization, Donovan later comments on it as well, speculating their real eyes can see farther into the infrared.)

At 1:08:26 on the DVD, during the fight between Donovan and the crewman, the camera Donovan is holding looks like a fake made of Styrofoam or something (notice the pitted look of the surface). Probably the producers did not want to risk damaging a real camera during the tussle.
Donvan clutching fake Betacam

At 1:08:32 on the DVD, although it goes unremarked upon, there is a faint spray visible as the crewman's lizard tongue flicks out at Donovan. Is this an early example of the Visitors' ability to spit venom (which we don't officially see happen until the next episode, "Betrayal and Reward")? (The novelization does say in this scene that the reptilian's tongue spatters drops of burning liquid.)

At 1:09:03 on the DVD, the crewman's left eye (screen right) appears crooked! (In the audio commentary, Kenneth Johnson says the alien contacts did have a tendency to roll out of alignment.)
alien eyes

At 1:09:14 on the DVD, the crewman's reptilian face appears to have several protruding ridges on the forehead and brow line. The Visitors must have the ability under normal circumstances to keep these protrusions "retracted" to keep them from bulging the humanoid syntho-skin outward (or, possibly, the syntho-skin keeps the ridges pressed down). (The novelization reveals in a later scene that the Visitor crewman is called Jerome.)

At 1:09:57 on the DVD, there is a Visitor symbol on a pillar on the hanger deck. V writing

When Donovan brings the videotape he shot of what he witnessed on the mothership to the network, we see that the network is currently broadcasting a movie with a scene in which two dinosaurs are fighting. It appears to be The Valley of Gwangi.

Although it's never explicitly stated, it would appear that the network Donovan works for (or, at least, brings his startling footage to) is NBC. There were only three American broadcast networks when V was made and, when we see the network go offline, one of the technicians says "so have the other two" and we see a bank of screens with two of them labeled ABC and CBS, the other two American networks. This would make sense since V was originally broadcast on NBC.
network feeds

It may be unintentional, but as Daniel polishes his new Visitor laser gun while sitting in front of the TV, he holds it near his groin and the polishing motion along the barrel could almost be mistaken as masturbatory! Guns have often been interpreted as phallic symbols in stories, especially when interpreted in a visual medium. It could certainly also be said that Daniel gets a feeling of power and prowess by associating with the Visitors and being allowed to handle a weapon.

At 1:15:59 on the DVD, we see Donovan spying on the goings-on at Davis Air Force Base (the novelization says it is in southern California). I can find no evidence of an actual Davis Air Force Base in the United States (though there is a Monthan-Davis Air Force Base in Arizona).

Apparently Kathleen Maxwell is an artist (whether amateur or professional is unclear) because at 1:16:16 on the DVD we see her working on a painting of a mothership over an ocean with beach in the foreground. Some other natural landscape paintings in the same style are seen hanging on the wall behind her. The painting behind her and to the left looks kind of like Vasquez Rocks, a state park in Los Angeles county which has been seen in numerous Hollywood productions, probably most famously in the "Arena" episode of Star Trek in which Captain Kirk fought hand-to-hand with the reptilian Gorn, a sort of forerunner in look to the Visitors.

I wonder what ever happened to Julie's stock broker boyfriend Denny? When it becomes clear that numerous scientists are disappearing, she says goodbye to him and we never see him again. The article "Fight or Die" in the British V Annual 1986, states that Julie was considering joining the Peace Corps before the Visitors arrived and she wondered whether it would end her relationship with it turns out here, she left for war instead! The Second Generation reveals that Denny later spoke vehemently against Julie and the resistance.

When a rock is thrown through the window of the Maxwell house at 1:19:13 on the DVD, Polly and Katie are playing with the boxed game Mousetrap and Katie grabs up a stuffed E.T. figure (from the classic 1982 film E.T. The Extraterrestrial) when the crash frightens her.

While watching the scene of Julie and the other recently disenfranchised people meeting to discuss their options in a world that is becoming totalitarian, it is interesting to note that by confabulating a fake conspiracy of humans against them, the Visitors have caused that very thing to happen.

When the fleeing man is shot at the Visitor checkpoint and falls against the windshield of the Maxwells' car, it can be seen that the rearview mirror is missing, only a piece of the holding bracket remains. This is common in cars used in film and television production; the rearview mirror is often removed so as not to obstruct the actors faces when shooting from an exterior camera.
missing rearview mirror

At 1:26:02 on the DVD, a Security Pacific National Bank skyscraper is seen in the background behind Donovan. This was an actual bank at the time, acquired by Bank of America in 1992.

A sign for an RTD stop is seen behind Donovan at 1:2625 on the DVD. RTD was Southern California Rapid Transit District public transportation division, now known as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The scene of Donovan being chased at 1:26:33, and Ben and Elias walking at 1:27:55, both take place at the same intersection! Notice the 76 gas station and skyscrapers in the background. The cross-street appears to be 400 S. Bixel Street in Los Angeles. Ben and Elias walk up Maryland Street. The street intersection looks quite different today (no 76 station!), but the brick building on the corner is the same (with some refurbishment).

The car with CA license plate 357LGV at 1:27:00 on the DVD is a 1973 Cadillac Sedan DeVille. The Maxwells' care with CA license plate 396PEK is a 1982 Ford LTD.

At 1:28:30 on the DVD, a Coke bottle is seen sitting on a window ledge as Ben and Elias walk by.

The truck used in the resistance heist at 1:38:20 on the DVD has CA license plate 12811S and is a Ford model. The sign on the door reads J. Miller Linen; this appears to be a ficticious company.

At 1:38:30 on the DVD, a Chevron gas station is seen down the street.

At 1:38:52 on the DVD, Julie's VW is seen to have CA license plate 719TPD.

At Julie is racing to Ben's rescue in her VW at 1:39:14 on the DVD, a billboard for Meyers's Rum is seen.

At 1:39:59 on the DVD, Abraham Bernstein says auv shalom while speaking about his long-dead wife. I have not been able to find the exact meaning of this phrase in Yiddish or Hebrew. Shalom means peace, but I can not find auv in online dictionaries. From the context of the scene auv shalom would seem to mean "rest in peace."

Abraham makes a very stirring speech to his son Stanley about why they must allow the Maxwells to hide in the Bernstein's pool house. Still, it is hard to accept that Abraham really thought they could get away with it while his Visitor-collaborator grandson Daniel was living with them.

When Daniel discovers Robin in his house, he has just returned from drinking with some of his Visitor Youth friends and comments that while Brian was there, he doesn't drink. Is this just due to Brian's consummate professionalism? Or does alcohol not mix with the Visitors' body chemistry? (Though we do see Steven apparently imbibing liquor with Eleanor and Arthur Dupres in a later episode. And the novel East Coast Crisis contains several instances of Visitors getting drunk with humans.)

How much time has passed since the Maxwells moved into the pool house and Daniel discovers Robin there? It seems like later the same day, at night, but then Daniel comments that sometimes Brian asks about her and wondered where she went and that Daniel himself wondered especially. That statement makes it seem like several days have passed.

After the medical equipment heist, when Julie drives up with the fatally injured Ben, Elias, in his grief, seems to forget that Ben asked him to help with his street connections. Elias says, "What? The doc? Stealin' stuff? Oh, bro! Man, you ought to come to me, man, I'll show you how to do it!" and "Brother, I just don't understand, man! Why'd you wanta go and try to pull a heist for, bro, man, without your little brother's expertise, man?" As he tries to deny the truth of what has happened, he talks as if Ben will be all right and the two of them will be a team, described almost as if from a '70s blacksploitation film; two badass brothers who are brothers called, "...the Doctor! Yeah! The Doctor and uh...Doctor and uh...Doctor and the other one...the other one..." He realizes he has not made anything worthy of his life. It's a good moment in the script and in Michael Wright's performance.


Notes From the Audio Commentary by Kenneth Johnson

Johnson comments that the miniature model of the Visitor chemical transport ship cost about $20,000 to make. He still has it in his personal collection. He also has the Visitor key that Donovan gives to his son.

The fight in the crewman's cramped quarters was inspired by the fight in the railroad car in the 1963 James Bond film From Russia With Love.

The scene in the NBC network studio was actually shot at Los Angeles station KTTV, an independent station at the time, now a Fox affiliate. Johnson also used this same studio in one of his Alien Nation TV movies.

Besides the Visitor symbol looking very similar to the Nazi swastika, their guns were patterned after the German Luger.

Johnson comments that the Visitors creating their own havoc and blaming it on someone else as an excuse to go after them was a stratagem also mastered by Hitler and the Nazis.

Johnson reveals that his original script was a movie screenplay called Storm Warnings with no alien presence, just a homegrown fascist takeover of the United States.

Julie Parrish is based on a real woman named Andrea DiJon, who was a 24-year old nurse's aid who became a leader of the  underground resistance in Nazi-occupied France during WWII.

The pharmaceutical company the resistance steals equipment from near the end of the episode is named Stamos Pharmaceuticals after actor John Stamos, on whom Johnson's daughter, Julie, had a crush at the time.

V novel Notes from the V mini-series novelization by A.C. Crispin

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, paperback edition, published May 1984)

Pages 73-136 cover the events of "Visitors, Victims and Victory"

Page 74 suggests that Dr. Metz may have felt the same love that Ruth admitted to Julie she had for him. After her disappearance, Dr. Metz becomes withdrawn and begins chain smoking when he had not smoked a cigarette since giving them up in 1963.

Page 75 states that the Visitors finally did give the world's scientists the promised scientific seminar but managed to give out only about 10 minutes of new information in a half-day's time. Shortly after this, the "conspiracy" of the world's scientists is uncovered, giving the aliens a reason not to continue the scientific seminars.

For the announcement of a scientific conspiracy on the television news, Crispin uses Howard K. Smith as the newscaster instead of replacing him with Dan Rather as she had in previous chapters of the book.

The book goes further into the Visitors' actions against scientists after the "conspiracy" revelations. They urge the U.N. and world leaders to push through a registration of all scientists and their families as to their names and whereabouts. After some initial reluctance, the world's nations acquiesce to the Visitors' request.

On page 106, Julie comments on the difficulty of making long-distance calls, needing a special permit to do so. She says, "...anyone in the life sciences doesn't have a prayer of getting one. Better not to even ask."

Page 111 reveals that Sancho's last name is Gomez.

Page 113 reveals that the cops seen by the Maxwells at the checkpoint are named Bob (the one who follows orders) and Randy (the one who seems a bit recalcitrant about Visitor authority and who later allows Sancho to smuggle the Maxwell family through the checkpoint).

V: East Coast Crisis Notes from the novel V: East Coast Crisis by Howard Weinstein and A.C. Crispin
The events of V: East Coast Crisis take place concurrently with the two mini-series
V and V: The Final Battle and details the goings-on in the area around New York City.

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, paperback edition, published September 1984)

Pages 75-154 take place concurrently with the events of "Visitors, Victims and Victory"

On Page 76, Lisa reveals that the Visitors' homeworld has two moons, both smaller than our own.

Pages 97-106 go into more detail about the "conspiracy" of scientists uncovered by the Visitors. When President Morrow argues against the registration of scientists, saying police-state tactics are not the way things are done in America, Pamela points out there is a precedent, the government-sponsored internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Later, it becomes obvious that many of the world leaders who have agreed to the registration have been put through the Visitors' conversion process, including members of President Morrow's cabinet.

On page 143, newscaster Denise Daltrey reminisces that she had worked with Donovan in the past and even dated him a little. One of her thoughts is that he was short, but with a good build. Excuse me, Donovan short? Actor Marc Singer, who portrayed Donovan on the series, stands 6'2! Why would the authors choose to alter the character's height for their book when the TV show upon which it is based clearly depicts him differently?

Memorable Dialog

poor man's Richard Pryor.wav
Uncle Tom.wav
two ships passing in the night.wav
be very careful, Steven.wav
to convert them all would take forever.wav
biggest traitor.wav
it isn't Daniel that I want to see.wav
the Man.wav
their house is being watched.wav

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