Aliens hover above New York City. As crowds gather, a luminous face—seemingly human—appears on the underbelly of the sleek, stingray-like ship. Her name is Anna. She says her people are much like humans and need their help to ensure the survival of their kind. In return, they will share their technology with Earth and cure hopeless medical conditions—paraplegics will walk again, mothers with terminal cancer will dance at their children's weddings. "We are of peace," she says. "Always."

But can the Visitors (Vs) be trusted? "To ride on the bandwagon, it sounds like fun," a priest tells a congregation turning to God for answers. "Let us at least examine it to make sure it is something we want to climb aboard."

Truer words have never been spoken about alien invasions—or television pilots. Inspired by the 1980s miniseries of the same name, ABC's V is ramping up to be a sci-fi action thriller of galactic proportions. "I always feel like the pilot is kind of a promise and then you really have to start working so that the rest of it lives up," says series star Elizabeth Mitchell.

Mitchell has spent the past three seasons winning over Lost fans as fertility-doctor-turned-castaway Juliet Burke. When Mitchell's character detonated a hydrogen bomb in the season 4 finale, she booked V—but Lost producers later decided they weren't quite done with her yet. For the past few months, Mitchell has been happily filming both projects.

Juliet is a complicated, sometimes devious and quietly compassionate. FBI counterterrorism agent Erica Evans, Mitchell's V character, has more of a heroic streak, something Mitchell has been dying to play. "I love the idea of all of the mavericks out there and the people doing things to protect us," she says. "I like to think there's someone like Erica scouring the Web trying to make the world a better place."

Complicating matters is the revelation that Erica's 17-year-old son is aligning himself with the Vs. "She's a young mom, and I like the fact that she's making mistakes all over the place," she says. "Her intents were so good, her thoughts were so honorable, her allegiances were so pure, and that was also a really fun idea to me. I haven't played a role like that in a very long time."

An intriguing ensemble cast of aliens and humans is born from this war between worlds. In the course of her mission, Mitchell's character may cross paths with an ambitious anchorman toying with the dark side, a businessman with a big secret, a band of alien resistance fighters—even alien leader Anna herself. "Making your lead as strong as possible, making your bad guys really wicked but making your good guys have some fatal flaws—all of that to me is so fun," she says. "When you get to gang up against a bunch of really incredible actors, just like Lost, it's a gift."

Who's with the Vs—and who's against them—will slowly unravel in a four-episode "pod" airing one a week in November. Twelve more episodes will return after the Olympics in March. "There are shades of gray, but that's the world we're living in. We're living where we don't know if our neighbor is a good guy, but we're also living in a world where our neighbor will come pick us off the street and take care of us," she says. "I think that is part of what we're seeing [in V]—the best and the worst."

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