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 Return V
"The Return"
Story by David Braff and Colley Cibber
Teleplay by David Abramowitz and Donald R. Boyle
Directed by John Florea

As the Starchild Elizabeth is called by the Leader to seal an accord between Earth and the Visitors, Diana plots to see that the peace doesn’t succeed.

Didja Know?

This was the season finale of Season 1 of V and it ends on a cliffhanger. Unfortunately, the series was canceled shortly after this episode aired and there was no Season 2.

The letter column of issue #8 of the V comic book states that DC Comics had permission to wrap up the story begun in this episode if NBC were not to renew the TV series. Well, as we know, NBC did not renew V, but later lettercols reveal that there was a lengthy attempt by Blatt-Singer Productions to convince NBC to make a wrap-up mini-series or TV movie which the network constantly delayed on, until sales on the comic dwindled to the point that it too was canceled. The cliffhanger of this story has not been resolved to this day.

An alleged first draft of a script that would have been the season premiere of the next season is summarized in the series of informational fan books The V Files by Edward Gross. The script is titled "The Attack", written by David Braff and Paul F. Edwards, from a Story by Don Boyle, and tells of Diana gaining the upper hand yet again and launching an all-out attack on Earth. You can read the summary at V: The Series Interactive Website and the full script at Second Views. Since it was not filmed or published professionally, I do not consider it part of the timeline. (There are also aspects of the script I have problems with!)

In 1989, Warner Bros. commissioned J. Michael Straczynski (later known for creating Babylon 5) to write a TV mini-series script continuing the V storyline, with the potential to expand into a new ongoing series for syndication. The series was to be called V: The Next Chapter, with the pilot mini-series titled "The Rebirth". The first three acts of part one are available to read at The Internet Archive and a summary of the mini-series script at B5TV. Since it was not filmed or published professionally, I do not consider it part of the timeline.

Why is this episode titled "The Return"? No one returns from anywhere. The Leader arrives on Earth, but this is his first visit as far as we know. Maybe "the return" refers to the Visitors supposedly returning to their own world after the peace accord?

Didja Notice?

The battle in Los Angeles opens on Hennesy St. There is no such street by that name/spelling in L.A. 

At 2:13 on the DVD, the Hennesy St. sign is hung on the telephone pole, but another street sign can be seen, sitting upside-down, on the sidewalk against the steps. At 2:18 is a closer shot. It is easy to see that it reads 8th Ave. This must be another, interchangeable prop sign used on the studio lot and it somehow was left in the scene!
street sign street sign

At 2:21 on the DVD is one of the old Visitor propaganda posters, The Future Together. This may be a foreshadowing of the peace announcement to come.
The Future Together

At 2:31 is another of the USA Work Program signs previously seen in "War of Illusions".

As Lt. James orders his troops to move in and kill Donovan, Julie, Kyle, Elizabeth, and Willie in the alleyway, he speaks Visitorese. It sounds like he says, "Abcor vatta!"

From 6:39-7:04 on the DVD, the Leader speaks in Visitorese in his own voice through Elizabeth. I've edited the sound file down to just his dialog. Listen: the Leader speaks

How does Philip know to find Donovan, Julie, Kyle, Elizabeth, and Willie in Ange & Frank's All Nite Diner? He just shows up unexpectedly. Did the Leader know where they were because of his mental contact with Elizabeth?

At 9:12 on the DVD, we see what is referred to by the anchorwoman as possibly the final report of the Freedom Network as the Visitor motherships pull out of their locations around the Earth. Where did the ships go? Back to the homeworld? Or just into Earth orbit? Apparently, however, the L.A. mothership has remained in place to host the Leader in the peace negotiations.

The Freedom Network report is presented by Tawny Schneider who was a real world L.A. anchorwoman around the time of V (she was also seen in "Reflections in Terror"). At the time, she was married to actor John Schneider. I guess Howard K. Smith wasn't available for his old Freedom Network role!

The Freedom Network report says that celebrations around the world make those of VE Day and VJ Day (the Allied victories ending WWII in Europe and Japan, respectively) pale in comparison. Why no mention of V-Day, the day the Visitors withdrew from the first Earth invasion after the dispersal of the red dust in "The Final Battle"?

When Elizabeth tells Kyle he has taught her a lot about human love, but it is limited because humans only know love as it is tied to their bodies, she almost seems to be in love with the Leader, based on her words and tone of voice. She says that in the cosmos there is a greater love because there are no bodies. Is this a suggestion that the Leader, in some sense, has no body? At the end of the episode he seems to appear from the doorway of his royal shuttle as just a point of light. 

At 12:32 on the DVD, there is Visitor writing on the bulkhead of the shuttle. V writing V writing

At 14:43 on the DVD, we see the same banner and symbol that was seen during the Ramalan celebration in "The Secret Underground".

While he and Donovan watch a Visitor fencing match, Philip remarks that in real combat the swords would be charged with nuclear disintegrators, making the slightest touch to the body instant death. I guess they are the V version of light sabers!  Before their own exhibition duel, Philip reveals that he was trained with the swords by a venerated master. Later, Diana refers to the weapons as nuclear swords.

Donovan mentions Errol Flynn before his duel with Philip. Flynn was a popular film actor from 1933-1958, known for his swashbuckling, sword-wielding roles.

In this episode, we learn that, even before they were hatched, Willie was arranged by his parents to be married to Thelma, now a crewmember on the L.A. mothership. Thelma didn't know that Willie had defected to the Earth resistance; she had been told by superiors that he was dead.

As he enters and waits in the arena for his sword duel with Philip to begin, you can tell the normally cocky Donovan is nervous because he keeps looking back at his friends sitting nearby. A nice, subtle bit of acting by Marc Singer.

Speaking of Donovan's friends, why isn't Julie with the rest of them in the arena? She's nowhere to be seen.

There is Visitor writing on the hanger deck catwalk at 23:24 on the DVD. V writing

At 26:34 on the DVD, it sounds like Lt. James speaks some Visitorese, saying, "You'd throw me to the snakes? Luk mak ha?" But the closed captions of his speech reads, "You'd throw me to the wolves? Just like that?" Listen: You'd throw me to the snakes?

As Philip begins teaching Elizabeth about her Visitor heritage, at 31:44 on the DVD we see an image of what may be the Visitor homeworld, with Visitor writing accompanying. Philip begins by saying, "The history begins many cycles and sequences ago...on Sullam Voe." Presumably, Sullam Voe is the name of the planet depicted. Is it the Visitors' current homeworld? Or did they originate on a different world than the one they currently call home? In the second screen grab, a graphic of the solar system of Sullam Voe is shown, with what appears to be the third planet from the sun highlighted by a yellow box. Both "Arrival" and The Chicago Conversion state that the homeworld is the fourth planet from the star Sirius.
Sullam Voe Sullam Voe system

At 32:45 on the DVD, Lt. James' two assassins are fitting plain, dermoplast human masks over their faces and then press a button on a device that hums and flashes a light. When the button is released, the device stops and the generic masks have taken on the aspects of two differentiated human men...complete with hair that wasn't on the masks before! Possibly this device is what was identified in the V comic books as an exo-adapter.

During the above scene, the two assassins are looking into a mirror as they smooth out the artificial skin of their human disguises at 33:10 on the DVD. In the reflection's background can be seen a table with two martini glasses sitting on it! Perhaps the assassins enjoyed a cocktail with Lt. James before donning their disguises!
cocktails

The Leader's diversionary skyfighter has Visitor writing on the sides that the typical skyfighter does not. (When the Leader's actual transport arrives, it is a larger shuttle, but has the same markings on it.)
diversionary skyfighter

In the past, the Visitors' handheld lasers have killed living targets while leaving the bodies largely intact. And it's clear that that is what happens when James' troops shoot the two assassins who attempt to kill the Leader in the landing bay. But a voiceover of Kyle saying, "They're disintegrated! Now we'll never know who they are!" is inserted immediately after! It seems as if the writers forgot to write in why the two bodies are not immediately identified as Visitors after Diana says, "It's the resistance on the catwalk! I knew they couldn't be trusted!" so a voiceover by Kyle was added. Sloppy.

When Diana orders the assembled resistance members arrested for the assassination of the Leader, she tells James to "prepare them for permanent orbit around an asteroid of your choice."

When Philip turns the tables on Diana and she essentially reveals herself as the true culprit of the assassination attempt, she, James, and a few of his troops make a run for it up one of the stairwells of the landing bay and into the corridors of the ship. But why do Philip and the rest of the troops, presumably loyal to the Leader, just stand there and let them run? There was plenty of time for them to get off some shots. As it is, Diana nearly blows the ship's nuclear self-destruct device after her escape.

At 36:16 on the DVD, James is attempting to use the door console in the corridor to seal off all the corridors from pursuit and the console does not seem to respond to his manipulations at first. James appears confused by this and tries again. Suddenly, after he comes under fire from Donovan and the others, he tries yet again and the door closes as it should. But it's never explained why the console didn't work right in the first place.

The troops awaiting the Leader's arrival in the landing bay appear to be wearing some special ornamentation on their uniforms.
dress uniforms 

As the bridge officer prepares the nuclear infusion reaction at 37:18 on the DVD, Visitor writing appears on the monitor screen. But then, why does the monitor start counting down in Arabic numerals?!
V writing countdown

In several of the close-up scenes of Willie and Thelma talking, it is obvious they have human tongues, not reptilian ones!

Willie and Philip seem to think that wearing some white cloak Willie has dug up will enable Elizabeth to initiate communication with the Leader to get his help in thwarting Diana. But it's never explained what the cloak is.

At 41:12 on the DVD, the production microphone is briefly visible moving across the top of the screen.

At 41:20 on the DVD, Philip engages in a brief conversation with the Leader through Elizabeth in Visitorese. I've edited the sound file down to just their dialog. Listen: the Leader speaks 2

While Philip is asking the Leader for help through Elizabeth, Julie and Willie head off down the corridor to find a ventilation entrance that might get them into the command center (Willie reveals that he used to work in the ventilation shafts as a crewman). But then there's no payoff on it, we're never told anything more of the attempt.

After having Diana and James taken into custody, why does Philip have them present in the landing bay (though handcuffed) for the Leader's arrival? It's obviously just for our benefit, as the viewer, so we can hear her gloat to James about her backup plan to kill the Leader and end the peace accords.

After Elizabeth joins the Leader aboard his shuttle, Donovan says, "I hope we did the right thing," and Julie responds, "We did. I can feel it." If Julie's feelings are anything to go by, then perhaps the Leader's peace gestures are legitimate. From the events and dialog of issues 11-16 of the V comic book story which precedes this, it seems that the comic's writer, Cary Bates, also interpreted the peace accord as legitimate.

After the Leader's shuttle takes off, Donovan, Julie, Willie, and Thelma turn around and begin to walk away when they suddenly realize that Kyle is not with them. Julie looks out the hangar bay door as she comes to the conclusion, "He stowed away..!" But when Elizabeth is boarding the shuttle, we see Kyle walk off stage left, while his friends are watching the shuttle door close. And then the shuttle immediately takes off. There's no way Kyle could have got on board without being seen. I think he just went to the restroom!

There is no credit given for who provided the voice of the Leader. 

Unanswered Questions

What is the nature of the Leader? When he beckons to Elizabeth from his royal shuttle, all we see is a red point of light. In the unproduced second season script "The Attack", the shuttle is empty except for the pilot, the Leader having materialized Elizabeth into some limbo with him. Is he a normal Sirian who now spends most of his time in a pocket dimension for his own protection from enemies?

Memorable Dialog

cease all hostilities.wav
overly exaggerated.mp3
the war is over.mp3
just like your brother Martin.mp3
the Leader's lost confidence in you.mp3
the fighting has stopped all over the world.mp3
why does it feel so weird.mp3
I've been in constant contact with the Leader.mp3
the giant Visitor ships are withdrawing.mp3
you absolutely refuse to accept reality.mp3
to serve our Leader.mp3
the least bit suspicious.mp3
she's changing.mp3
it's almost a pity.mp3
the legendary Donovan.mp3
I'll turn to the Leader.mp3
you'd throw me to the snakes?.mp3
I don't feel the same way.mp3
you can always turn to me.mp3
sitting on a time-bomb.mp3
I shall return.wav
it is time.wav
where's Kyle?.wav

Back to Episode Studies