This review contains spoilers.
9 & 10. Mutiny & Eight Hours
One of the things that television networks do all the time that I hate is the special two-hour episode. I understand it for a premiere episode, because you have to give people enough to get them hooked, but I hate the two-hour season finale.
Unless you’re doing something super-awesome, it’s kind of an inconvenience for some viewers (like me). I have a set routine. I know when I have to be home, when I have to be ready to write and watch, and then boom, no such luck. I have to change everything around and make it in just barely in time, and I’m all out of sorts. All for reasons that I don’t understand (and may never understand).
In a perfect world, your show would run until it is over. Instead, there’s a double episode, aka a two-hour season finale. And boy is it a doozy. For one, the whole subplot of Weaver being a bit on the deranged side due to lack of sleep/drinking/those mystery pills he’s been sucking back all season? Well, as it turns out, it’s not quite over.
In fact, it appears that Weaver’s gone a bit mad with power. Despite losing contact with Porter and the other divisions of the Massachusetts resistance who were supposed to aid Weaver and company in a daring demolition of the skitter tower currently blighting the sky over Boston, Weaver’s bound and determined to make the strike work. That’s even if that means he splits up his bomb in four pieces, his squad into four pieces, and just crams it all down the skitters’ throat without anyone else in the unit (aside from Tom) being the wiser. Tom, being smarter than he looks when it comes to historically bad military tactics, tries to talk Weaver out of this and ends up in the brig for his troubles.
Of course, Tom can’t stay locked up, and thanks to the help of Broken Boy Soldier Jimmy and his other children, Tom gets out of jail and has a nice confrontation with Weaver and the newly-turned company man Pope, who apparently is only on Weaver’s side because he wants to blow some things up and kill cooties. Can’t say I blame him, or any of them, for wanting to bloody some alien noses. So, Tom and Weaver come to a compromise (as Weaver is coming down off his drug cocktail regimen). Take a vote.
Weaver lays out the situation and tells the 2nd Mass what they’re facing: it’s a suicide mission with a pickup full of explosives, winner takes all. Of course, there’s a lot of enthusiasm on the side of the fighters for fighting, and off they go, leaving the civilians to wait nervously and prepare for the run for freedom. Meanwhile, while they’re off planning for war, one of their own is looking to turn towards the enemy.
That’s right, Rick is getting creepier and creepier (even Ben is saying this, and he’s a fellow razorback), and people are starting to notice. More importantly, Rick is starting to notice the way everyone looks at him, and seems to feel much more comfortable in the company of his scaly brothers and sisters. So he’s going to disable the device that the humans use to possibly block skitter communications, bash Scottie the mechanic grandpa in the head, and run off.
Of course, since this is Falling Skies, nobody puts two in his back and one in his skull as he flees to betray them to the enemy. Instead, Tom goes off to find him, and does, but not until a) Rick betrays them to the skitters, and b) the skitters betray Rick by leaving him behind after he gives them the info they wanted. Just like a man… err, an alien. Give it up and they dump you in the woods and leave you for dead.
Either way, Rick comes back (again) and the eaters are sent running for the hills while the few remaining fighters get to test Pope’s mech bullets (and Scottie’s anti-skitter jammer signal).
On the good side, the bullets work, even if it does take a ton of them to knock down a mech. On the bad side, the jammer only sends the aliens fleeing back to home: it doesn’t disable the alien communications enough to allow Weaver and company to actually carry out their attack. Rather, the 2nd Mass gets routed, the attack fails, and the only positive blow for the humans is a lucky shot with an RPG covered in mech metal that causes a chain reaction inside the hangar, and blows up a good chunk of the alien ships, while the survivors limp back to safety.
Well, except for Tom. As Weaver and Tom (who now have an understanding) are heading back to where the eaters and remaining fighters are to reconvene, they run into an old friend. Remember Hal’s girlfriend Karen, who got captured many moons ago? Well, she’s back, she’s a skitter agent, and she’s standing in the middle of the road. Of course, Tom stops, and the Big Gray who gets out of the suddenly-arriving saucer gives Tom an ultimatum. Come on board and have a talk, or Ben’s going to finish alien-ing out and will turn on the humans just like Rick did.
Well, when given a choice like that, what’s Tom to do? Obviously, he’s going to walk on board an alien spacecraft, because that’s setting up a huge cliff-hanger to get people to come back to Falling Skies season 2 in the summer of 2012. What’s going to happen to Tom? Is Weaver going to flip out completely? Why does every girl in camp want to sleep with Hal? Will Pope get his girl hair cut off?
This week’s pair of episodes? While I’m not a fan of the convention of the two-parter, or the two-hour special, these two worked really well together. Weirdly, these two episodes worked better than the actual two-part episode, Sanctuary, earlier this year. It flows well from Weaver’s breakdown to Rick’s betrayal to Rick’s return and the assault on the alien tower.
I’m not sure how this all ended up working so well together, but it feels very smooth in transition. Even the awkward moments (like the long-awaited kiss) felt like they worked in the course of this episode, and I’m very glad the Tom/Anne flirtation isn’t going to be stretched out for another 10 episodes next summer.
I’m not entirely sold on the PG tactics of the resistance in this show, as I still think traitors should be shot, but I guess that wouldn’t make for as interesting of a television series. Plus I imagine Rick, if they could turn him back to the human side, he’d be a powerful weapon as shown by his spider-fu in this week’s episode. Still, is that a risk you’d take? That said, I’m sure the aliens will stop playing around now that they know the humans can hurt them, and I’m very sure the humans will stop playing around now that they know that they’re able to kill even the most dangerous alien weapon currently on earth.
It wasn’t the greatest season finale ever, but it definitely gives the fans something to look forward to next season, and unlike a lot of dystopian sci-fi shows, it gave the fans a victory to celebrate between now and then, with a promised uptick in action (from a show that already has a good deal of action).
Read our review of episode 8, What Hides Beneath, here.