The Visitors are the subject of a new movie, leading the Fifth Column to have an increasingly passionate debate about why they should be the subjects of a film, who would play them - and what the romantic subplot might involve.
Takes place mid-season one.
"Bloody insult is what it is," Hobbes said angrily as Erica entered the basement.
"What's wrong?" she asked. Ryan and Jack were bent over a laptop while Hobbes paced.
Ryan gave her a wry smile. "Movie of the Week."
Erica leant over his shoulder to look at the webpage. It was a news story about how a cable network was going to film a made-for-TV movie about the arrival of the Visitors and all the good work they'd done.
"Propaganda," Hobbes said bitterly.
"It had to happen eventually," Erica told him. "Just be thankful it isn't a Hollywood blockbuster."
"Yet," Ryan added.
Erica pointed to one of the photos and read the text accompanying it. "Scott Wolf, of 'Party of Five' fame, plays intrepid investigative journalist and trusted liaison to the Visitors, Chad Decker." She gave a sarcastic laugh at the grand description of Decker, but had to admit, "Well, he really does look like Chad."
Jack nodded. "I'm somewhat surprised Chad didn't want to be in the movie himself."
"It would take away from his 'trusted liaison' activities," Ryan said.
Erica shook her head. She pointed to the woman chosen to play Anna, an attractive woman with long dark hair. "Is she going to cut her hair or wear a wig?"
"Doesn't say." Jack smiled at the picture. "That's Morena Baccarin. She was fantastic in 'Serenity' – people are saying that's why she was picked, because she's already popular with sci-fi fans."
"Who needs sci-fi when the aliens are already among us?" Hobbes grumbled. He was largely ignored because Erica was grinning at Jack's keenness.
"You're a fan of hers?"
He coughed delicately. "She's um…'Serenity' is a fantastic movie. It's all about loss of faith, and yet still doing the right thing, overcoming personal setbacks and tragedies and trying to expose a corrupt government system."
"Sounds interesting," Erica said, thinking of Jack's struggle with the Church, her problems with Tyler, and how the Fifth Column were considered terrorists by her own government.
"We should watch it, if you've never seen it," Jack went on, "It's inspiring. Tragic, romantic, action-packed and even humorous, but ultimately uplifting."
Erica squeezed his shoulder, amused and warmed by his enthusiasm. "I'd like that."
"In the meantime," Hobbes put in, "the Visitors get even more good press. They'll use this opportunity to show viewers the wonderful onboard life of the Vs – and it won't bear any resemblance to the truth. It'll all be bloody tea parties and meditating instead of – I don't know; torture and – and – egg laying!"
Erica bit back a laugh. "You're upset about this."
He fixed her with an incredulous look. "Aren't you? I mean, where's our story? The one where the Visitors are evil lying reptilian bastards?" He turned to Ryan and said, "No offence."
"None taken," Ryan said calmly. "But you know that if they're exposed, they will retaliate. The truth isn't going to come out in some 90 minute special, nor should it."
Hobbes gave a snort of disgust.
"He's just jealous," Ryan told Erica. "I think he wants to be in the movie."
Erica did laugh at that. "Really. Where would they find the right ruggedly handsome man to play the Misunderstood Mercenary with a Heart of Gold?"
"Admittedly it would be a challenge," Hobbes agreed. "But less of the Heart of Gold talk. That implies I do stuff for free."
"You would in a movie," Erica said. "You'd help us out of the goodness of your heart. It would be your character arc, a story of redemption."
Jack cleared his throat. "Speaking of redemption, what about me? The Church could do with some good publicity."
Erica turned to Jack and smiled. "Yes. We should all be in the movie."
Hobbes, however, had found something else to needle them with.
"You know what's missing from our story? A romance. People love them. Not the already-settled-down stuff like Ryan's got, but the hot, raw, somewhat inappropriate romance between two people who'd never met before this happened. Since you're the only woman here, Erica, you're going to have to take one for the team. And since Ryan's already got a girl, that leaves me."
Erica's mouth fell open.
"What about Jack?" Ryan asked and it was hard to tell if he was being serious, trying to derail the conversation, or attempting to stir things up further.
"He's a priest," Hobbes pointed out.
"You were the one who keeps mentioning 'The Thornbirds'," Jack retorted and instantly regretted it, especially when Erica turned to him with astonishment on her face.
Hobbes looked to the ceiling in despair. "Oh, yes, a priest diddling a divorced woman; that'd be great publicity for the Church!"
"Diddling?" Erica demanded in outrage. "No-one diddles me!"
Ryan sighed. He really shouldn't have brought Jack into it and some of this was now his responsibility. He was relieved when his cell phone rang, though he strained to hear the caller over a few more choice phrases exchanged between the three human members of the group.
"Hey. I just got a tip-off," he put in when he'd finished the call. "Suspicious activity near an old warehouse. Could be Fifth Column. We should check it out."
"Of course," Erica said and everyone was suddenly calm and professional as they readied themselves to go and investigate.
And that might have been an end to the whole incident, except as Jack checked his gun before they left, Erica leant over and said softly near Hobbes's ear, "You know, I hear - what was the buzzword? Right, iheteronormativity/i; how everyone is straight by default - is an outdated and increasingly unpopular concept amongst modern audiences. If the movie is to be really accessible and appeal to a wider audience, you should be gay. Or at the least, bisexual."
Then she smirked and went upstairs. Hobbes just shot Jack an odd look that the priest didn't see, and headed after Erica.
"We good?" Jack asked at last.
"Barely," Ryan replied. Which had to suffice.
As an alien, he observed humans from a rather different viewpoint. One that recognised all kinds of attraction, and one that allowed for all sorts of romantic entanglements that hadn't been raised – ones that he wasn't about to mention.
Besides, Movies of the Week weren't ready to tell the story of a rogue alien fighting for his adopted planet alongside an OTP3 that comprised an FBI agent, a mercenary and a priest. Maybe one day that would change – and maybe, Ryan thought with a grin, he could be played by Denzel Washington. Now that would be something.