For the Adherent of Pop Culture
Battlestar Galactica ] Buckaroo Banzai ] Cliffhangers! ] Earth 2 ] The Expendables ] Firefly/Serenity ] Galaxy Quest ] Jurassic Park ] Land of the Lost ] Lost in Space ] The Mummy/The Scorpion King ] The Prisoner ] Star Trek ] Terminator ] The Thing ] Total Recall ] Tron ] Twin Peaks ] UFO ] V the series ] Valley of the Dinosaurs ] PopApostle Home ] Links ] Privacy ]


Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
V: The Masterpiece "The Masterpiece"
V: The Final Battle (part 2, hour 1)
0:00-47:21 on Side 2, Disc 1 of the DVD set
Teleplay by Brian Taggert and Diana Frolov
Story by Lillian Weezer & Diana Frolov & Peggy Goldman & Faustus Buck
Directed by Richard T. Heffro

Diana subjects Julie to the conversion process.

(This episode begins with Ham Tyler photographing the resistance HQ and ends with Ruby's death at Daniel's hand.)

Didja Know?

For the title of this hour, I borrowed from Diana's dialog at the end of the previous episode "Unmasked". Beginning the conversion process on Julie, she says "I'll break her. She's going to be my masterpiece." The final chapter of that episode is also called "Diana's Masterpiece" but it's in this hour that Diana spends her time subjecting Julie to the horrors of the conversion chamber.

Starting here, Dennis McCarthy takes over the music duties, though the opening theme remains the one written by Barry De Vorzon and Joseph Conlan. McCarthy continues as the composer all the way through the ongoing TV series.

This episode introduces Squadron Commander Pamela, played by Sarah Douglas. Sarah is probably best known as Ursa, one of the Phantom Zone criminals, in the movie Superman II.

Didja Notice?

At the beginning of this episode, we see even more of the area around the resistance headquarters and see a definite residential neighborhood. And a couple of guards stand outside the HQ, one holding a rifle. And this isn't thought of as suspicious by the residents? There might even be some passing Visitor troops who would be very interested to see this! It sure didn't seem to be too difficult for Ham Tyler to find! And why haven't they moved out of there already when they know that Julie has been captured?

When Mark confronts Tyler outside the HQ, Tyler says, "You're in my way, piglet." Piglet is a derogatory term for a cop in training (or sometimes a female cop). With one sentence Tyler manages to convey that he knows Mark is a former cop, insult him by calling him a pig, and draw the insult further by inferring that Mark is not even a full-fledged cop!

At 2:41 on the DVD, Chris Farber jumps out of an old camper shell to get the jump on Mark and Sancho to free Tyler. It may be that Tyler and Chris have been hiding out in that camper shell for some time, spying on the resistance. Tyler may have deliberately wanted to draw the rebel fighters' attention by stepping outside and taking pictures with his camera. If my speculation is true, it implies the resistance is not being nearly attentive enough of its surroundings. Tyler also points out that the HQ is bottle-necked front and back. He says, "Place isn't a camp, it's a tomb."

I wonder how Tyler got that scar on the side of his face? Actor Michael Ironside got it walking through a plate glass door while drunk!
Tyler's scar

As Tyler and Chris walk through the resistance headquarters with their two captives, at 3:39 on the DVD there are several large plants growing under heat lamps that appear to be marijuana plants! I suppose they must be Elias' crop which he is using to both make money for the resistance and to bribe Daniel and his other Visitor connections.
Elias' marijuana plants

Tyler tells the assembled members of the L.A. resistance that there is a worldwide network now and they should join. What is the name of this network? Is it the World Liberation Front which we later hear about in the ongoing TV series?

Somehow the Visitors have managed to discover that Pascal is the forger of the invitation that allowed the resistance to get into the medical center gala in the previous episode and have tracked him down. After being pushed around and beaten by them, Pascal leads them to the resistance headquarters. But how did he know where it was? Why would the resistance have told him about it and/or showed it to him?

At 7:04 on the DVD, Tyler mentions that the new ammo that cuts through the Visitor armor is a Teflon load. Chris later says they have Teflon tips. The script may be relying on the myth that Teflon coated bullets provide the bullet an ability to penetrate body armor. In actuality the low friction Teflon coating simply allows the bullets to pass through the rifle barrel with minimal damage to the interior surface of the barrel; this, in turn, allows a harder bullet to be used, which is what provides armor-piercing capability.

After Tyler sets off the explosive in the abandoned HQ and looks down at the exposed scaly skin of the dead Visitor caught in the blast, he says, "Now that's a waste of good luggage." Obviously a sardonic reference to bags and suitcases made of alligator skin and an example of the mercenary's warped sense of humor.

Arthur Dupres finally gets fed up with Eleanor's fealty to the Visitors and leaves her. He walks out the door of their home and we don't see him again in the course of the mini-series. He does show up again The Pursuit of Diana.

As they pull into the new site for the resistance headquarters, Elias asks, "What is this place anyway?" and Mark responds that it's an old abandoned movie ranch. Well, it really is a movie ranch, essentially! According to Filminamerica.com, these scenes were filmed at Sable Ranch in Santa Clarita, CA and it is private property that is regularly used as a filming location for Hollywood movies.

At 15:31 on the DVD, Julie is unable to move her feet from the conversion platform upon which she is standing even though there are no apparent restraints in place.

When they examine her prior to beginning the conversion process, the Visitors find that Julie has a congenital heart condition. Did Julie already know about it before this?

The Visitors find that Julie has a fear and loathing of anything abandoned or deserted due to an early trauma when she was being followed or chased and she hid in a deserted building. She was between 5 and 8 years old when it occurred. Julie never mentions this event in her life. What happened to her? And if she has a fear of abandoned buildings, she must have been apprehensive going into the original resistance headquarters at the old water treatment plant the first time (in "Betrayal and Reward") when Elias showed it to them.

At 16:08 on the DVD, there is Visitor writing on the computer screen as the Visitors begin the conversion process on Julie. It appears to be the same screen as seen at the end of the previous episode, but with more data having scrolled onto the screen. Portions of the same text seem to be repeated on the screen throughout the conversion scenes. V writing
   
At 16:13 on the DVD, there is Visitor writing on the console.  V writing

At 17:44-18:01 on the DVD, during Julie's conversion chamber nightmare, she is being chased by an unseen enemy. He calls her name and the voice sounds suspiciously like Robert England's Freddy Krueger character from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies! Could it be that England, who plays meek and mild Willie on V, provided the voice that is haunting Julie, here in the same year that the original Nightmare on Elm Street was released? Listen: Freddy Krueger  Willie Krueger

At 18:47 on the DVD, during Julie's conversion nightmare, some kind of green fluid gets splattered in her face. Is this meant to be as if Visitor venom has been spat at her?

At 18:51 on the DVD, during Julie's conversion nightmare, some kind of creature leaps upon her. It looks like a 1950's B-movie version of what a Visitor might look like!
1950s Visitor

At 21:04 on the DVD, Visitor writing appears on the readout screen as the conversion technician warns Diana to be careful as she pushes Julie to the physiological breaking point. V writing

Although they had been previously rooted to the pedestal by some unseen force, Julie's feet fall from under her as she suffers a cardiac arrest during the conversion process at 21:44 on the DVD.

Squadron Commander Pamela brings her mothership from space to park it above Los Angeles, so there are now two ships over the city!
Visitor motherships over Los Angeles

Pamela brings news that the Leader wants the schedule sped up. Why? Pamela implies it is because the resistance is causing trouble, but doesn't explicitly state it.

Does suicide run in the Maxwell family? First Robert appears to be contemplating it after his wife is killed in "Plan for Resistance" and here, at 28:04 on the DVD, Robin nearly does so herself before her father stops her.

During Julie's second session in the conversion chamber this episode, she sees what appears to be a giant python and a more fantastical snake with a head that looks a bit like Godzilla!
Visitor Godzilla

When Diana offers to save Julie from the horrors, the woman finally agrees and seems to think her parents are there to help. She says, "Yes..! Mama! Papa!"

When a Fifth Columnist disguised as Donovan attempts to assassinate Diana, he blasts two holes in the glass of the conversion chamber. At 31:41 on the DVD, the holes and cracks formed in the glass look like a spray-painted "V" symbol! (The novel reveals that the disguised Fifth Columnist is Barbara, who helped Donovan escape in "Betrayal and Reward".)
Glass V

As the ersatz Donovan breaks through the glass of the conversion chamber, Julie sees him and looks like she vaguely recognizes him and a spark of hope is in her face. But after he is gunned down by security she collapses and passes out. This may suggest her increasing attraction to Donovan.

At 32:21 on the DVD, Diana is playing with a small bird before putting it back into a cage with others. Why are the animals not fluttery and panicked like they were in "Arrival" in Steven's presence?
Diana and the birds

Pamela gets a dig in at Diana by saying that it hardly seems that her lover, the Leader, can't bear to be without her since he has sent her 56 trillion miles away. That's pretty close! The Visitors' home star of Sirius is about 8.6 light-years away from Earth, 1 light-year is about 5,878,630,000,000 miles, so 8.6 x 5,878,630,000,000 = ~50.5 trillion miles. So Pamela is a little high in her figure, but close. Then again, maybe she's measuring in Visitor miles!

When Tyler asks Ruby how good her acting is, she says the New Yorker called her nurse in Romeo and Juliet the best since Edith Evans. Dame Edith Evans was a classical actress almost all of her long life (1888-1976). She was well-known for her portrayal of the nurse in Romeo and Juliet in a series of productions at various times for almost 40 years!

When Ruby asks Tyler how he became someone so dangerous, he says if she comes back safely from her mission he'll tell her the story of his life. Unfortunately, she doesn't and we never get to hear it!

At 42:10 on the DVD, there is Visitor writing on what may be a safe at the Visitor Security Headquarters.  Safe at Visitor Security Headquarters

At 43:05 on the DVD, Ruby, in her disguise as a cleaning lady at the Visitor Security Headquarters, quickly blinds a Visitor officer with a couple blasts from a sprayer of liquid cleaner. Wouldn't the Visitor's full ocular contact lenses protect him quite significantly from an immediate stinging effect to his eyes?

When Daniel shoots Ruby, a friend of his family, he not only does it...he does it with a smile on his face.

 

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 269-303 cover the events of "The Masterpiece"

Page 269 reveals that Brad's last name is McIntyre (since Mark is not in the novel we are left to guess at his!).

Page 270 describes the resistance HQ building as being in a more isolated area than we see in the mini-series, making it a more logical choice and less likely for activity to be noticed.

On page 271, after he and Chris turn the tables on Sancho and Brad/Mark, Tyler tells them, "Take us to your leader." This is probably a bit of a reference to the proverbial aliens who land and tell the first person they encounter, "Take us to your leader."

In the mini-series Chris' last name is Farber. In the novel it is Faber.

In the mini-series, Ruby calls the resistance HQ directly to warn them that the Visitors are on the way. In the novel she calls Stanley Bernstein, who rushes over to tell Father Andrew. I guess in the novel there is no phone in the HQ! Besides that, in the novel Tyler and Chris are also aware of the Visitors' imminent approach from a contact known only as Sam.

As they begin to rig the explosives in the HQ to set up a deadly trap for the Visitors, Tyler tells Chris to use the same drill as what they pulled at an armory in Afghanistan.

Page 277 reveals that Harmony's last name is Moore.

Page 278 reveals that the truck Willie is being held/transported in is Harmony's catering truck.

In this episode of the mini-series, when Harmony asks Willie if he wants some food and offers cheese, he just says he's not hungry. In the novel she asks him if he can eat cheese and Willie says he is not sure.

On page 279, after Harmony reveals she didn't fall in love with him for his looks in the first place, Willie reveals that even among his own people he is not considered good-looking.

In the novel, several weeks are described as having passed between the time of the move to the new HQ at the old studio ranch and Donovan and Tyler's meeting with Martin to discuss rescuing Julie. During these weeks, Robin is caught in her suicide attempt and is never left alone from then on; Donovan feels sad and angry over Kristine Walsh's death; and Donovan becomes the de facto leader of the L.A. resistance in Julie's absence.

Page 282 reveals that Pamela's mothership is even larger than the typical one.

During Donovan and Tyler's meeting with Martin, the two are disguised as LAPD cops and drive a police squad car, all obtained by Tyler, to more easily travel without hassle through the city.

Up to the meeting with Martin, Tyler has assumed that Julie gave up the HQ location to Diana. But Martin tells them that she hasn't broken yet and that Diana tortured Pascal for the information.

On page 284, Donovan attempts to "apologize" to Martin for Tyler's rude and crude behavior by explaining that he "has problems dealing with people of other races, sexes, colors...you name it."

While discussing sexism and females in positions of power, Martin reveals that a small minority of Visitors have chosen to wear human disguises that are the opposite of their true gender.

Page 285 reveals that the idea of having someone in a syntho-skin disguise make an assassination attempt on Diana was Donovan's idea.

Pages 286-288 are an extra scene not found in the mini-series. It sets Daniel up as even more of a jerk than he's been presented so far. With Maggie looking on and pounding rock music blaring out of his house into the neighborhood, he finishes a bottle of his expensive Chivas whiskey and yells at his mother to get up and get him some more. When she tells him it's all gone except for some cheap Black Velvet he blames his father for drinking it all. And then he begins to have sex with Maggie right in front of his parents!

Page 288 reveals that Julie loves poetry and one of the things she does to keep her mind off the torture is recite poetry in her mind. Here she recites lines from "
The Princess" by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Issue #7 of the V comic book also picks up on this aspect of Julie's character; the story is called "Tennyson", and in it Julie confronts the feelings of fear we learned about in the conversion chamber sequences of this episode. The issue ends with Julie again reciting the same lines from "The Princess". A nice tie-in between two different V media.

Page 292 reveals that Diana has used Donovan's image as one of the focal points of the conversion process, making him a threatening figure in a pursuit and rape/violence sequence. Diabolical!

When Diana is shown that the Donovan body is one of her traitorous crew members on page 294, her crest elevates under the human skin and she begins to rage in her native language, breaking the synthetic skin around her mouth. It also describes her vestigial fangs snapping wildly.

On page 296 Pamela reports that shortly before she left (presumably the homeworld) there were rumors that the Leader had a new consort under consideration. She further reports that the new female is lovely and quite a bit older than Diana "prime-molted, full-patterned." "Molted" refers to shedding of the skin in reptiles and prime means either first or greatest. There is an implication in Pamela's comments that older females are generally more desirable than younger; the opposite of what generally occurs in humans. Also, Pamela remarks that she heard this "when she left". Does that mean this news is 8 years old, seeing as it would take the ship 8 years to travel to Earth from Sirius if what the Visitors have said about their gravity drive is true? Or is this evidence that they lied about the speed of the drive and they can actually make the trip much more quickly (faster-than-light)?

During the resistance raid on the Visitor Security Headquarters to rescue Julie, they also rescue any other prisoner they can get their hands on. On page 299 Tyler realizes he has rescued the Mayor of Los Angeles.


Memorable Dialog

you're in my way.wav
I want you to meet Ham Tyler.wav
a little muscle and God on your side.wav
there's a world network.wav
hammer-punch these lizards.wav
guy's a war monger.wav
Donovan may hate my guts.wav
a waste of good luggage.wav
I no longer consider Michael my son.wav
this time you've gone too far, Eleanor.wav
you saw what I look like.wav
not an ox.wav
we're not fighting this war over your personal life.wav
she will be converted.wav
I may not have your rank.wav
sex for favors.wav
56 trillion miles away.wav
we'll talk when you decide.wav
bring it to a close.wav
you're not as primitive as I thought.wav
how did you become someone so dangerous.wav
I could almost cut him in half.wav

Back to Episode Studies