“Legends have to start somewhere.”
After the previous episode ending on such a quiet note — with Luther content to watch his son sleep, unaware of Niklos’s watchful eyes on them — Episode Three of V-Wars starts with blood on the wall when six people are slaughtered by a pair of vampires. There’s still no explanations on how the two attackers were infected but, considering Luther’s words that prions can remain viable for weeks in one area, there is any number of ways Mike could have passed it out. This is emphasized when Monster (Ian Matthews, Orphan Black, Gangland Undercover) the MC member set to fix Mike’s bike is overcome by the infection, as well as Danika (Kimberly-Sue Murray, Shadowhunters, Love Alaska) whose bloodlust overtakes her when she’s visiting her sister, Mila (Laura Vandervoot, Bitten, Smallville, V). There’s something both abrupt and incoherent with the branching of the contagion that, for the most part, works in favor of the chaotic and mysterious nature of the infection and why some folks are affected differently than others.
Though I’m loathed to admit it, Kaylee’s role as the TMZ-type news breaker is becoming too pronounced to ignore. She’s been the leaker who’s exposed the truth (at least as much as she knows it to be), even experiencing Mike’s monstrous transformation firsthand during his initial—and painfully short—capture. This time, she reaches out to Rachel (Nikki Reed, The Twilight Saga, Sleepy Hollow), Luther’s ex-wife and Dez’s mother who seems to have all sorts of issues. After catching the interview online, Dez presses his father about seeing Rachel, which is enough of a reason to acknowledge Kaylee’s importance to the story. Still, I’m still not sure if her role is all that necessary and the time spent working her into the narrative would have been better served a more pronounced expansion of Luther and Mike’s relationship.
Speaking of the two friends, Mike continues his trek to get out of harm’s way, though it’s incomprehensible that, by episode’s end, he’s still within Seneca’s borders. It’s one of those plot points that makes zero sense but is surpassed by Luther’s decision (and DNS giving him the leeway) to see Rachel.
Putting aside her impressive exhibition of the crazy ex title card, the danger of Luther being a carrier of the infection, or his importance to the mission, is more fanciful than the idea of vampires.
This is compounded when they allow Luther on the hunt for Mike, knowing (or rather not knowing) the nature of this newly evolved apex predator. In this way, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” shares more in the uneven narrative building department with the series premiere.
Until now though, there have been no solid conjectures as to the nature of the prion or its infection. Luther finally comes up with a theory in this regard, suggesting that this was a parallel species of humans. The cofactors involved in activating the DNA of some people but not others still remain a mystery, but it’s a positive step towards catching the underlying narrative up with the character development and effective horror tones. Exploring the similarities between the reality of these creatures and their references in historical legends is a smart touch and a reliable tool for weaving the prion’s presence as a natural evolution. But there are still questions to be answered.
For instance, why was Jess so easily killed when Mike could shake off several gunshot wounds? Does that have to do with him being Patient Zero or did exposure to the prions affect him differently? In that regard, does a bite transfer the infection in the same way as airborne exposure? This last question should be answered soon enough when you consider Danika taking an unwelcome bite out of her sister’s throat.
From a technical standpoint, there are a handful of scene edits that jumble the story’s pacing or cut short scenes that should have had a bit more time taken to develop. These decisions pull “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” down a notch or two from where it could have been. There’s also the curious inclusion of the motorcycle club, led by Bobby (Greg Brky, Frontier, Bitten, The Expanse); given Bobby and his MC extended time these last two episodes suggests they’ll play a key role somewhere down the road; after all, one of their own has succumbed to the infection. Even with some of the more questionable decisions on editing and character inclusion (the flashback of Mike introducing Jess to Luther felt out of place and added no real substance to the story), this is another encouraging installment in the series, adding a few more pieces to the puzzle, and continuing to expand on story’s lore.