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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
V: Test Subjects "Test Subjects"
V: The Final Battle (part 3, hour 1)
0:00-49:55 on Disc 2 of the DVD set
Teleplay by Brian Taggert and Faustus Buck
Story by Lillian Weezer & Faustus Buck & Diane Frolov & Peggy Goldman
Directed by Richard T. Heffron

One of Robin’s children lies at death’s door, while the other lashes out; Pamela tightens the noose on Diana; Donovan worries about his son’s disconnection from him.

(This episode begins with Robin entering the incubation room to see her children and ends with Diana killing Pamela.)

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

Didja Know?

For the title of this hour, I modified chapter title 8 on the DVD "Test Subject Brian". In this episode there are multiple test subjects: the dead reptilian baby; the hybrid bacteria; Brian, when he is killed with the red dust; Julie, when she subjects herself to the red dust; Sean Donovan, who performs his first spy mission after his conversion; Elizabeth while in Diana's custody.

Didja Notice?

It seems like the producers could have done a better job with Elizabeth's shed skin. It doesn't appear to have the openings cut for eyes, nostrils, ears, and mouth!
Elizabeth's shed skin

Willie mentions that his people do not shed their skin until they are 6 years old.

Julie mentions that it has been a week since the birth, yet Elizabeth has grown to the size of a 2-year old.

At 6:19 on the DVD, the reptilian twin (which, apparently, was never given a name) is sick and dying and is visibly paler than he was at birth.
reptilian baby in incubator

After the reptilian twin dies, Harmony covers the body with the blanket and we briefly see more of it's body. It has a belly button, which a normal Visitor presumably would not have since we see in a later episode ("The Littlest Dragon") that they are born from eggs. The baby also does not appear to have any visible genitalia; is that the norm for the Visitors? Is so, how did Brian impregnate Robin?
death of the reptilian baby

In her own crib, Elizabeth starts to cry the moment her twin dies. Julie comments that this is the first time she has ever cried. It seems to suggest an early psychic component to the girl.

After the reptilian child's death, Robert takes some tissue samples and, comparing them with human and Willie's samples, he and Julie realize that a hybrid bacteria was created during the pregnancy, half human E. Coli from the human mother and half of the alien bacterium from the father. This hybrid bacteria seems to be what killed the child and is the basis of Red Dust that later proves deadly to the Visitors. E. Coli is a normally harmless bacterium found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded animals.

Though we don't see the actual attack, it is clear that Elizabeth has attacked Katie Maxwell to get the doll away from her; we see Elizabeth approach Katie in the sleeping area and then moments later, Katie is found unconscious, her face red and swollen with traces of venom spattered on it. The part that's even weirder is that Katie is found under her bunk, just one foot sticking out to give away her location. So Elizabeth not only has the venom spitting ability of the Visitors but she also has the macabre foresight to shove the young girl under the bed in an attempt to hide her victim!

As Diana spies on the meeting between John, Pamela, and Steven at 11:26 on the DVD, Visitor writing is visible on the monitor panel. V writing

The station wagon parked outside Daniel's house at 14:51 on the DVD is a 1983 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park.

In the scene beginning at 14:53 on the DVD, it appears that Brian has a human date at dinner with Daniel and Maggie at the Bernstein house. We even see him caress and kiss her hand. From this and his earlier comments about Robin, it seems that Brian shares Diana's interest in cross-species sexual relations.

The brand name of the champagne drank at Daniel and Brian's little dinner party is not visible, but Tyler later looks at the label and pronounces it as American, "but not at all inferior"...just before smashing the bottle over Brian's head!

At 15:18 on the DVD, Caleb, Tyler, and Donovan drive up to Daniel's house in the same 1983 GMC Vandura previously used by Elias in "Unity", only now it has a new magnetic sign of the side for Prestige Wine (555-WINE). The 555 prefix of the phone number is a long-time convention in Hollywood TV and film.

When Caleb, Tyler, and Donovan make their faux delivery of two boxes of wine to the Bernstein house, Caleb's box isn't even sealed, the flaps are tucked around each other by hand! That could have been a giveaway if Daniel or Brian had been just a little quicker on the uptake. Notice also during this scene that Donovan keeps his face obscured by the box he carries on his shoulder so he won't be recognized as one of the Visitors' most wanted.
special delivery

Caleb uses an M1911A1 pistol during the kidnapping of Brian.

After Caleb sets up Daniel as the one who orchestrated the kidnapping of Brian, Steven has the teen tortured and brought before him. When Daniel asks what is going to be done with him, Steven replies, "Send you where you'll serve us well...on a serving platter." This dialog may be an homage to the classic Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man" in which aliens come to Earth claiming peace and sharing their advanced technology to solve Earth's problems. An alien book is discovered and the title is found to be To Serve Man, which makes Man very happy. Upon further research, however, the pages therein are translated to be a cookbook!

At 23:07 on the DVD, as Brian is dying from the exposure to the Red Dust, his right contact lens is suddenly gone as he grasps and tears at his false skin. But it doesn't appear that he has torn his face away from his eye to have done it.
Death of Brian

While Donovan and Tyler are discussing how to test whether the Red Dust is toxic to humans, Tyler comments "Too bad we didn't bring our little brownshirt back," referring to Daniel in his brown uniform. Is "brownshirt" a term the resistance has commonly come to use for a human who has joined the Visitor ranks? PopApostle reader A. Garland also points out that the term "brownshirt" was used to refer to members of the Sturmabteilung (Storm Detachment), the original paramilitary division of the German Nazi Party, founded in 1920 and clothed in brown uniforms.

Just as I mentioned in "The Masterpiece", here Diana again handles one of the caged birds and they are all perfectly calm in her presence unlike what we saw with Steven in "Arrival". Only after biting off the bird's head do the other birds in the cage start to act panicked. Maybe after they are in the Visitors' presence for a period of time their fear goes away until given a reason to be fearful again.

After Father Andrew flees with Elizabeth, the resistance is forced to move headquarters yet again, this time to the grounds of a lighthouse. Filminamerica.com tells us it is Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

At 31:08 on the DVD, Elias comments that just handling the vials of Red Dust gives him the shakes, bringing up past "harmless" substances such as DDT, Agent Orange, and dioxin. He may have a point. The resistance's conviction that the Red Dust is harmless to humans comes from only a brief exposure to the stuff by Julie; what about the effects of long-term exposure? And what about the effects it might have on creatures beyond humans and the limited reptiles on which they've tested it? When the ongoing TV series starts, it is revealed that there has been some effect on Earth life over the year after the Visitors' departure. The Texas Run mentions a two-headed rattlesnake in the desert caused by Red Dust mutation. The substances DDT, Agent Orange, and dioxin mentioned by Elias are all well-known toxic substances that were originally proclaimed harmless to humans and the general environment.

The Resistance pick-up truck with CA license plate 2B77463 that Tyler is having (prematurely) loaded with boxes full of red dust is a 1970 Ford F-Series.

It's interesting to note that Elizabeth does not start to speak during her time with the humans, but does speak a limited amount while with Diana!

At 33:53 on the DVD, Elizabeth has typed "pre-te-nama", the Visitor word for peace, on a computer screen. Unfortunately, the screen is too far from the camera to make out the Visitor characters.

At 34:39 on the DVD, Elizabeth has built...something...that looks rather like a space Habitrail!
Space Habitrail

Commenting on Elizabeth's "space Habitrail", Diana says, "Very nice, dear. But remember, what you worked so hard to build, others take great pleasure in tearing down. You must never give them the chance." And she knocks down a portion of the construction. This statement of Diana's may give us some insight into her personality. She is probably at least partially referring to the word she just received that all security and military commands from her must pass through Pamela first. But it may also be revealing of events in her past that have helped make her the diabolical being she is.

Donovan and Martin meet at Bevan Theatrical Storage, a fictitious warehouse as far as I can tell. They had previously met at what seemed to be Moir Film Vault and Storage in "The Masterpiece". At 35:15 on the DVD, they stand next to a whole stack of film canisters labeled as "Soup for One". These may be the reels of the 1982 American sex comedy film Soup for One, released by Warner Brothers, as was V.

During the resistance debate about whether to use the Red Dust and risk nuclear annihilation at the hands of the Visitors, at 37:44 on the DVD, when Elias begins his speech that there is no other way, Chris gives a silent hand clap of applause.

For some reason the hallways at the resistance HQ are adorned with posters of other countries. China and Italy posters are visible. Maybe the resistance members wanted to decorate and just had to use whatever was handy. Or maybe the international posters are to remind them that they are fighting for more than just their local cell.

At 42:13 on the DVD, Father Andrew, while speaking to Diana about the Bible, actually volunteers to go to the Visitor homeworld to spread the word of God!

There is a bunch of Visitor writing visible on the exterior of the Fifth Column shuttle at 47:25 on the DVD. V writing
   
 

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 324-381 cover the events of "Test Subjects"

In the novel, Donovan and Martin must hide in the cold, dirty crawlspaces of the lowest levels of the mothership for days before making their escape. Donovan witnesses some of Martin's reptilian characteristics like the prolonged cold making him sluggish and disoriented; in fact, Martin comments that without Donovan to keep him awake and share body warmth, he would have slipped into hibernation involuntarily. Martin is also able to sense the vibrations of approaching troopers before Donovan hears their footsteps. And, of course, escaped rats have made a home even on the mothership and Donovan sees his friend swallow some whole.

On page 325, Martin mentions the Alliance (also mentioned in the novel
East Coast Crisis) as the opposition to the Leader on the home world.

Page 326 reveals that it was Barbara who disguised herself as Donovan in an attempt to assassinate Diana in "The Masterpiece".

In the episode, it seems as if the Fifth Column had planted the parachutes used by Donovan and Martin to escape from the mothership for just such a contingency. In the novel, Martin finds them by accident; they are 20-year-old leftovers from an obsolete escape system.

In the episode, Sean is a spy working for both Diana and Steven to bring information back on the resistance. In the novel, Diana plants him without Steven's knowledge and he and Pamela have concerns that Sean is working for Diana more than for the Visitors themselves.

Page 334 reveals that after escaping from the mothership, Donovan and Martin made their way to the Bernstein's home and Stanley takes them to the resistance HQ. It is also revealed that the HQ is in San Pedro, the vacated town in which Sean and his mother had formerly lived (the novel never mentions though whether it is an old jail or prison as it is at this point in the mini-series).

On page 335 we learn that Elizabeth molts every few days, eating like a piranha every other day, then going to sleep and molting. Pages 339-340 reveal that she sits and looks at books, flipping pages for hours on end, even taking in technical manuals; while playing with a spelling toy, it becomes obvious she has learned how to spell words, though she doesn't speak. After Father Andrew delivers her to the Visitors, Diana at first speculates she may be able to slow the child's physical growth to a safer rate, perhaps by controlling the secretions of the pituitary gland; later Diana states she has managed to slow the girl's growth, but doesn't specify how it was done (perhaps this is why Elizabeth still looks the same from this point up to the first episode of the weekly TV series, "Liberation Day", which takes place a year later in the timeline). Diana's tests reveal that Elizabeth's intelligence goes off the scale; she is likely a super-genius and has already learned to write computer programs in the Visitors' own language. Diana admits that Elizabeth's intelligence has made her question her belief that the Visitors are inherently more intelligent than humans.

Page 336 reveals it is the waste products of the hybrid bacteria that is deadly to the Visitors and which makes up the red dust. Page 355 describes how the resistance cultured the toxin in vats of yogurt at a dairy; later another plant in Switzerland joins them in the production effort.

The dinner scene at Daniel's house is quite a bit different in the novel than depicted in the episode:
     Daniel's parents are also present for the meal. On page 341, Daniel's father proposes a toast to his son's latest promotion to Junior Security Chief of the Visitor fleet; Daniel later comments he is the first human to be made an official Visitor officer. As the resistance springs its trap, Stanley and Lynn share with Daniel the contempt they now have for him, calling him a stranger who moved in and killed the son they loved, disgraced the Bernstein name, betrayed their faith, caused his grandfather's death, and cold-bloodedly murdered one their friends (Ruby); Stanley concludes with, "We have no son."
     Tyler and Caleb are pretending to be hired servants, cooking and serving the meal. In the episode it is Tyler who smashes a wine bottle over Brian's head; in the novel it is Caleb who does it. Conversely, in the episode it is Caleb who calls Steven at the Visitor Security Headquarters to frame Daniel; in the novel it is Tyler's idea and Maggie who makes the call.
     Brian's date, which is revealed to have been arranged by Maggie, is named Carol Ann and she is a member of the resistance; in the episode she seems to be an innocent bystander caught in the middle of the situation, but here in the novel, she actively participates in Brian's abduction. Carol Ann was a hairdresser before joining the resistance and at one point she touches Brian's hair and is able to feel the synthetic quality of it.
     Tyler calls Daniel a Judas, after the disciple who betrayed Jesus.

Pages 350-351 reveal that Robin asked Father Andrew for absolution after killing Brian.

On page 352, when Father Andrew tells Diana that Elizabeth's existence proves that humans and Visitors are made of the same genetic stuff and suggests that the Visitors making food of humans is nothing short of cannibalism, he then asks if the Visitors are in the habit of practicing cannibalism. Diana answers no, "at least not in several hundred years." That seems like a short amount of time to have not been eating your own kind!

After Father Andrew's departure, instead of moving the resistance HQ to the complex of a lighthouse as in the mini-series, they move to the Johnson Dairy outside of Los Angeles.

Page 355 describes that after a week, Julie, Robert, and Cal manage to come up with an immunization to the red dust for their Fifth Column allies, but they don't know how long the immunity lasts and all Fifth Columnists are advised to wear oxygen masks if possible and avoid breathing the toxic substance of the red dust if possible. Also, in the mini-series, the immunization is in the form of an ingested capsule; in the novel it is an injection.

In the episode, when Martin delivers the warning to Donovan about the thermonuclear device on the mothership, the scene takes place in the warehouse of a theatrical storage company; in the novel the meeting takes place in a Chinese restaurant. Martin reveals he knows the resistance is up to something big because he went to visit their HQ and was turned back at the gate by Sancho. He goes on to say that on one ship in any Visitor fleet is a device that can tap into the gravity drive and turn it into a thermonuclear device capable of blowing a hole in the Earth the size of a continent and equivalent to hundreds of thousands of megatons (compared to the maximum theoretical yield of 100 megatons on the largest known nuclear bomb tested on Earth). He says that Diana is one of the scientists who helped design it and most likely she, John, Pamela, or Steven would be the only high ranking officers on the ship, which just happens to be the L.A. mothership, who could call up the destruct program and implement it. Martin believes that John and Pamela are not psychotic enough to go through with it and Steven too gutless; only Diana would likely follow through on the threat.

On pages 359-360, when Jake explains to Diana that new orders are to run all military or security commands from her through Pamela first, he says that the Leader has apparently concurred with Pamela's precautions. This would imply that the Visitors have faster than light communications technology.

The resistance refers to the impending dispersal of red dust throughout the world and raid on the L.A. mothership as V-day, shorthand for Victory Day. In the first episode of the weekly TV series, the anniversary of the day is a holiday called Liberation Day (in "Liberation Day").

During the resistance debate on whether to follow through on V-day, Robert comments on the lives lost up to this point and mentions that Chris was killed in a raid "last week"! In the mini-series Chris is alive and uninjured and even goes on to appear in the weekly series, comic books, and novels! (Particularly odd, since the novel Death Tide, co-authored by Crispin, features a living Chris Faber!) Another difference in the debate is that Elias opposes going forth with V-day after the revelation of the Visitors nuclear device, the opposite of his opinion in the episode!

On page 363, Julie argues against the risk by suggesting that the growing Fifth Column may turn the tide themselves against their militant superiors and give the Visitors a chance to evolve out of being a threat to Earth. Robert counters that Neville Chamberlain (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1937-1940) said the same about the Germans and Hitler before WWII.

On page 365, Julie acknowledges to herself that part of her opposition to V-day may be her own childhood fears of nuclear war; as a child she was much more fearful of the likelihood of it than her peers and had nightmares of such an event and being forced to lead and organize the survivors afterwards. In "Tennyson", Julie's childhood bedroom is seen to have a variation of Lorraine Schneider's anti-Vietnam War art piece of 1966, War is Not Healthy hanging in it.

On page 370, while playing catch with him, Donovan notices that Sean has seemingly lost his baseball skills. Trying not to appear alarmed, Donovan comments, "Even Brooks Johnson had to warm up for a minute." Who is Brooks Johnson? I was not able to find a reference on the web that seemed applicable to baseball.

Page 372 mentions some of the Air Force bases the resistance is planning to hit around the country: the L.A. group has Edwards, the D.C. group Andrews, Portsmouth has Pease, St. Louis has Scott. These are (or were at the time) real Air Force bases in the United States.

Page 373 has Julie admonishing Caleb to make his peace with his semi-estranged son, Elias, in what could be their last days.

Page 376 reveals that Willie has told Robin that a Visitor child could not really be raised the way humans raise children because Visitor children grow up too fast. This implies that, while Elizabeth's growth is unprecedented, some accelerated growth from her would be expected.

Page 377 reveals that Eleanor is reading Machiavelli's The Prince, a guide on how an individual may gain and maintain power. Upon seeing it in her possession, Steven gives her a veiled warning not to become ambitious and tells her he had to dispense of Daniel Bernstein for that reason. (Interestingly, in the novel we are never told of Daniel's fate. When Eleanor asks Steven about it he simply responds, "I assure you, dear lady, you'd rather not know.")

Pages 378-381 feature a scene not in the mini-series. The night before V-day, Julie throws a small party for the resistance members and they are even treated to a glass of beer apiece, a rarity due to food rationing by the Visitors. Near the end of the evening, Elias plays one of his favorite songs, dedicating it to Diana. The song is "Beat It" by Michael Jackson.

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 240-262 take place concurrently with the events of "Test Subjects"

On page 241, Dr. Donnenfeld mentions that there are no pro sports taking place anymore and no amusement parks open.

Pages 242-246 depict a visit to the east coast by Julie, Tyler, and Maggie shortly after the death of Robin's reptilian child but before Robert has discovered the hybrid bacteria that killed it.

On page 242, Dr. Donnenfeld congratulates Julie on her group's success at unmasking Supreme Commander John on worldwide television. Despite the Visitors' staged cover-up of the incident, it brought in more new recruits than the resistance can train.

On page 243, Tyler uses yet another slang term for the Visitors: scalies.

Also on page 243, Dr. Donnenfeld calls Tyler an "MCP". I haven't been able to figure out what that stands for. Email me if you know! Remember, this book was published in 1984, so it doesn't stand for Microsoft Certified Professional! (And I'm pretty sure it's not a reference to Tron's Master Control Program either!)

This book seems to jibe a little more with the events and timeline of the mini-series than does the
V novel. East Coast Crisis mentions that Robin was held aboard the L.A. mothership for several hours instead of days. Tyler also mentions that Robin's reptilian baby died within a day as in the mini-series, not a week after birth as in the V novel.

On page 245, Julie says that Robin gave birth early, in her 8th month of pregnancy.

Page 247 reveals that the White Christmas team helps with the L.A. resistance's study of the toxin, using their computers and scientists at the Brook Cove lab. The computer analysis seems to confirm the initial findings that the toxin was unlikely to harm humans.

On page 248, the Brook Cove team nicknames the mass produced toxic powder "Cherry Tang" rather than calling it red dust. Tang is a powdered juice beverage.

Pages 249-250 reveal that Dr. Donnenfeld of the White Christmas group came up with the idea of using balloons to release the red dust.

Page 250 reveals a bit of Ham Tyler's past. When he first joined the CIA, he believed in good overcoming evil. In a way, he was the "gooder" he now refers to Donovan as! As his career as an intelligence operative progressed and he faced the parasites of world society he came to the conclusion that good could only win by adopting the same strategies as evil.

Page 250 also reveals that much of the transportation of the red dust to resistance groups around the world was done by drug dealers since they already had routes in place. This was arranged by Ham Tyler (in an example of his current world view!).

Page 251 reveals that many members of the L.A. resistance traveled around the world to explain the master plan to other groups. The strategy was to keep things from being written down or communicated over the airwaves so as not to be intercepted by the enemy.

Pages 260-261 reveal that the Visitors mate while young, with multiple partners, when their bodies are at the strongest. Male-female matches are made based on genetics. Later in life a Visitor might choose to stay with a single mate.


Memorable Dialog

do I have to draw you a picture?.wav
no defense.wav
she's your granddaughter.wav
we must focus our attention on these rebels.wav
I think it stinks.wav
as many times as I can.wav
as dumb as you look.wav
she's crazy about you, too.wav
to serve man.wav
how 'bout your mother.wav
our first interplanetary child.wav
your people might kill her.wav
this peace on Earth, goodwill stuff.wav
I would never hurt her.wav
I killed her father.wav
I wanted to kill Elizabeth.wav
traitors.wav
not harmful to humans.wav
I may bring the neighborhood down.wav
pre-te-nama.wav
thermonuclear device.wav
the fate of the world.wav
an empty beer can.wav
you can't win a war if you're extinct.wav
last shot before the buzzer.wav
don't ever make me choose.wav
a unique privelege.wav
vulnerabilities.wav
your son's been converted.wav
I was damn proud of you.wav
a common thief.wav
rats in the dorm.wav
an early retirement.wav

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