“You’re killing people and it’s not acceptable!”
In its penultimate episode, V-Wars picks up seconds after “Red Rain” ends. Initially hesitant to testify at the hearing due to Niklos’ overt threat to kill his ex-wife (in the gallery no less), Luther finds his inner fortitude and scorches the earth of Niklos, the DNS, and other elements of chicanery during the vampire outbreak. Though his testimony puts Niklos on the run, after Ava goes behind Mike’s back and rallies Blood Nation, vampires from across the region (I’m still not sure how far the infection has reached) riot. The night of violence exacerbates Giroux’s desperation to parlay a truce with Blood Nation but Mike refuses her call. Luther understands the need for humans and vampires to agree to a collective ceasefire before the government steps in and makes things worse. Giroux is ever the politician, not trusting Luther’s ability to negotiate but also maneuvering things so that if the peace talks blow up, nothing will point to her.
In Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa tells Black Widow that “two people in a room can get more done than a hundred”. It’s an insightful observation of the bureaucratic nature of politics. Lacking any substantive skills in believable, Giroux appoints Luther to create the necessary bridge with his best friend in order to ensure even a tenuous peace. His relationship with Mike is not just surface-level camaraderie; it’s a deeper, more impactful kinship of the sort where they can tell one another the harshest of truths without fear of splintering their bond. “The Junkie Run” is essentially two men in a room talking.
There are other events going on in the outside world (only two of which are essential to the series narrative) but Mike and Luther are the spotlight characters and it should come as no surprise that, in that, this is the most complete episode of the series to date. Not counting the iffy start at the Senate hearings, Ian Somerhalder is at his best and that’s less a byproduct of him directing this episode and more about the chemistry he shares with Adrian Holmes. They really do come off as lifelong friends and the success these two actors exhibit together further emphasizes the direction V-Wars should have taken from the start.
I have said it on multiple occasions, but it bears repeating: Adrian Holmes is fantastic. Unlike some characters, whose performances are, to put nicely, severely lacking, Holmes embraces his role. He’s the reason that, despite some bottom-of-the-barrel episodes, V-Wars has retained some of its entertainment value. His explosive tirade when he admits to Luther just how impossible all this pressure seems deserved applause. He’s responsible for an entirely different species and the thought of this being all on one man is, as he says “like we’re trying to hold back the fucking ocean”. The line itself is brilliant and in ten words, encapsulates the insanity of this societal-breaking change. But the two men eventually get the terms of each side hammered out, with Luther calling out the vampire penchant for murdering people for food as a major impediment to peace that must stop. Mike relents, knowing his friend is right but cautions Luther about the political games and how “the devil’s in the details”.
Though the heart-and-soul of “The Junkie Run” centers on Mike and Luther, there were a few other interesting developments that will play some type of role in the finale and, if the series is lucky enough, Season Two. First off, is Ava who not only rallies chapters of Blood Nation to war (behind Mike’s back), she may be the one responsible for Mike’s physical imbalances, poisoning him with a steroid’d-out version of fentanyl; a concoction that attacks a vampire’s nervous system. Not as important is Amelie and Dez’s discovery of a vampire living in the Giroux residence basement.
But the secret is not that the Senator is keeping someone downstairs, rather that Amelie has turned. What that means for the Senator or even Dez remains to be seen. Finally, Niklos goes all-in, appearing to have himself injected with a liquefied version of the biomass, all but confirming that he and his silent partners are looking to weaponize this ancient mutation.
With a steadier hand at the helm, “The Junkie Run of the Predator Gene” is a picture of what V-Wars could have been. It still has a few too many spots where a sharp editing knife would have made an even tighter installment (Jimmy, Kaylee, and their unnecessary arc could have been completely cut from the episode) but, like a team that plays to their strengths, “The Junkie Run” is unapologetic in going to the Mike and Luther dynamic time and time again. It’s still difficult to see the series grade out higher than middling where it currently sits, but the penultimate affair at least strengthens my hope that V-Wars will not go down in flames.