V: Seeking The Threatening Soul

Last night’s episode of “V” continued the theme of human identity and human emotion, with a more directly religious angle. The first hint of this aspect is when we see Ryan, a visitor in human skin, looking thoughtfully at the crucifix on the wall in Father Jack’s church. Soon after we get to watch parallel discussions between Jack and Ryan, and Anna and her mother (played by Jane Badler, the actress who played Diana in the original TV series “V”), about the soul.

The soul is not treated as a “spiritual substance” but as those intangible yet real aspects of human existence that are so distinctive and powerful – appreciation of beauty in music, sorrow at loss of a loved one, anger at those who harm those we love.

As Ryan seeks to explore his soul and pray with Jack, he also finds himself open to Anna’s offer of bliss and comfort. And so he stops trying to pray, and when Jack says that the soul is a blessing, Ryan responds by saying that it is also a curse.

I think the show is really on to something here. These essential components of human existence are the things that make life living. They also make us vulnerable to pain and manipulation. Vulnerability – is that the essence of the soul?

It allows us to be hurt more deeply than any physical wound, but also allows us to connect and bond with one another.
Maybe Anna is right that it is humanity’s most powerful weapon.
But as she commands her scientists to search for the soul, it is hard to tell whether this is a more effective parody of those who think that science’s failure to find the soul in any tangible sense leads to the conclusion that we are valueless matter, or of those who persist in maintaining that there must be a thing that is the soul in an attempt to avoid that conclusion. V points us in a more helpful direct, to turn our attention not towards a thing but towards an aspect of human existence.

Whether the idea that this aspect of humanity is found in our skin will work even on a symbolic level remains to be seen. But if nothing else, seeing Diana again and watching a visitor eating a rat certainly brings nostalgia to the human soul that grew up on 80s television.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05947081596759328950 Matt

    I followed V (the new one) for a few episodes until they started up with the "what are these humans and the E-MO-SHUNS" cliche. I do like the idea of aliens taking over humans by starting a cult though.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    I followed V (the new one) for a few episodes until they started up with the "what are these humans and the E-MO-SHUNS" cliche.hehehe…I had the same thought! ;-)It's Star Trek and Captain Kirk's "Humans are so unique that they can get the drop on all superior, alien technologies!"…all over again.Or maybe even BSG's "We want to love and be loved like you humans…instead of being called Toasters!It does seem to be a common theme in Sci-fi. The alternative is that the aliens show up and beat us handily in a few minutes…..but that wouldn't make for good, serial TV.