USA Today

Season 2 ‘V’ cuts to the chase at a lightning-quick pace

Expect plenty of action when ABC’s sci-fi series V returns tonight (9 ET/PT) for its second season.

“We’re more active. Instead of talking about doing things, we’re doing things,” says Elizabeth Mitchell, whose Erica is an FBI agent and part of a resistance movement against the alien Visitors.

Conflict is in the offing, Mitchell says. “It’s not really that much fun unless it’s kind of an Independence Day. We get our rear ends kicked pretty well, and then we do a little kicking back. I’d like to think at some point in time we might actually win.”

On V, alien Visitors, led by their queen, Anna (Morena Baccarin), come to Earth under the pretense of helping mankind. The true motives of the Visitors, whose real, more reptilian-looking forms are covered by human-appearing skin, are much darker.

At the end of its first season, V was a “bubble show,” one whose renewal fate was uncertain. It averaged 9 million viewers in its first season, ranking 44th.

Producers needed to map out as exciting a story as possible to persuade the network to pick the show up for a second season. Executive producer Scott Rosenbaum says he “needed to knock their socks off.”

To that end, Rosenbaum locked himself in his office and came up with a plotline that won’t stall when it comes to answers. “To me, the excitement of making shows like this is not to have to wait for reveals, not to have to wait for the mythology to be explained. I wanted to go all in from the top of the season. It makes for a really exciting, lightning-quick, fast-paced series,” he says.

“Literally, by the end of the first episode, the audience will have a pretty fair understanding of what the Visitors are doing on Earth. As episodes progress, more details will be revealed: how long they’ve been here, what they were doing before the ship arrived … who was leading them before they got here, why did they come to Earth instead of other planets.”

When V ended its first season, a human-Visitor hybrid was born, sporting a tail. Also, Anna flew into a rage — showing the human emotion she despises — and vowed vengeance against the humans after Erica killed her soldier eggs. However, the Visitors don’t immediately destroy humankind, because they need something from it.

“In the first episode, you start to feel there’s going to be a full-blown war, but as episodes go on, you kind of figure out that can’t happen right away or Anna’s plans will fail. She needs people,” Baccarin says.

V’s second season also features a new character played by Jane Badler, a fan favorite as an alien leader in the V miniseries and series of the 1980s. In the current V, she keeps the same name — Diana — but plays a different character, a Visitor queen who has been imprisoned for years by her daughter, Anna.

In the second episode, V will play homage to Diana’s famous rat-eating ritual from the original. The show will also tip its hat to the first V with the appearance of Marc Singer, another veteran, in the season finale.

“It was so great doing it. It felt very right,” says Badler, who had to audition for the role. “As an actress, you have to work very hard to get into the character’s skin. For me, I never left it. It’s a different role, but I think the same thing applied. It still resonated in me. The role still had a lot in common with the original Diana, like namely me.”

The new V expands on the original, exploring emotion and the soul, Badler says, but the two provide a common challenge for their characters: “who to trust and who not to trust.”