With the unexpected murder of Director O’Hagan, the DNS contingent finds itself at the command of General William May (Johnathan Higgins, Race, The Strain). Out of all the middling-to-bad characters we’ve seen, General May takes the top prize. A most unimaginatively terrible addition to the series, the character suffers not just from Higgins’ lifeless performance, but poorly written dialogue and directing that compounds what is an unnecessary character. Nothing about him says ‘General’. Sadly, this is what we’re left with after O’Hagan’s surprise death—and just as she was starting to find her rhythm.
This further impacts the DNS story angle and Luther’s research into the prion. Even with Somerhalder’s consistency and Outerbridge’s hidden agenda, the incredulity of the organization’s ineffectiveness has made this section of the narrative painful to visit, a damning trait when perhaps one-third of every episode is focused on this capturing at least some of the audience’s interest.
If there is a positive to this part of the story, it would be Luther’s very real conflict between providing Niklos and the General with Theresa’s discovery that those afflicted with the NH47 gene will be the ones to turn with his son’s unexpected sickness. Even if Dez’s condition is nothing more than flu-like symptoms (which it most likely is not), Luther has already mentioned his disgust at the idea of interning people based on a genetic profile that they have no power over.
It’s an intriguing argument; balancing what is the right course of action to prevent further bloodshed with what restrictions on liberty are acceptable in the face of the greater good? This type of choice could have gone a long way from pulling this episode from the bottom of the barrel yet, like too many things in V-Wars, it’s examined with a broad brushstroke that never gives the idea a chance to expand.
Though Luther’s druthers with the DNS and prion research are getting worse, Mike’s integration into this new Blood Nation may have to be the series’ saving grace. While I believe that introducing this new organization so early in the series is a mistake, it gives a bit more credence to the idea a war between human and vampires. No longer are there just pockets of vampires moving in small groups; this Blood Nation is now an organized movement, one that is necessary for their survival. The number of vampires (or Bloods) is still not clear—nor is the expanse of the infection—one has to wonder if every vampire will fall in line behind Mike as the face of this new species.
Whereas the two main storylines somewhat balance each other out, the secondary character stories continue to hamstring V-Wars. The entire MC subplot, where Jimmy (Michael Greyeyes, True Detective, Fear the Walking Dead, Klondike) is an undercover FBI agent has yet to prove its necessity. It’s worse than Kaylee and Jergen’s position as the Reveleaks voice of the people; at least their story has been germane to the V-Wars narrative. Up in the air in all of this is Danika’s own arc. After biting her sister Mila in “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”, it seems she’s taken to her new life. Holed up with another Verdulak, she has a handful of people as her ready-made walking blood banks. Unlike Mila—who later informs the DNS of her sister’s presence—Danika is happy enough using people to sate her thirst, showing no signs of guilt. Unless this evolution changes a person’s conscience, such a lack of contrition says a lot about the person she was before her transformation. Still, though, this is another example of how the ineffective structure of the series has been. Danika’s story (she escapes the DNS raid, is shot only to be rescued and taken to Mike and the Blood’s new HQ) still has a chance to become relevant.
No matter the series length, the midway point of any season is a major milestone. Not only does it need to wrap up some of the early narrative plot threads but is vital in creating momentum for the second half of the season, often by introducing an important variable to the primary story. While “Cold, Cold Ground” does the latter, it arrests the series’ early momentum as the warning signs that littered the first four episodes are unbearably clear, creating what is the worst installment of V-Wars to-date.