Just because the Espheni power is out and many of the Overlords have left the planet doesn’t mean the 2nd Mass is free of danger from the Skitters. The masterless hordes descend upon the human camp like locusts in “Hunger Pains,” and the show explores a hardship I’m surprised doesn’t come up more often: food shortages in the post-apocalypse. Like last week, it’s clear that the writers have a better idea than they did last season about how people would really react in situations like this. That’s not to say it was all that realistic of a scenario in general, but the characters feel more genuine this season, and that goes a long way towards my enjoyment of the show.
Tom’s exhortation last week to “Find your warrior,” for example, led to some brutal Skitter prisoner beatings by some who truly embraced their rage at their leader’s suggestion. Anthony in particular, who lost his close companion, Denny, in the premiere episode, has gone down a dark path. Tom Mason’s acceptance of the group’s sadistic actions leads me to believe he did not return from his jaunt in space unchanged, and Captain Weaver’s sharp warnings echo my misgivings. I’m enjoying this change in character for Tom a lot, though, and I’m anxious to see where it will lead him and his followers.
It’s possible that viewers like me have begun taking it for granted that the 2nd Mass is always able to find ammunition and weapons,vehicles and fuel, and food and water just lying around; the suspension of disbelief on that score settled in several seasons ago. On the one hand, that makes it a little hard to believe that the food stores could be destroyed so easily, and Weaver’s statement that they’ll starve long before they run out of ammo rings a little false as a result. On the other hand, the group truly was punished hard last season, and the vehicle breakdowns, for one, make a certain amount of sense, even if the endless munitions don’t.
That being said, the fortuitous can of pineapple leading them to the food distribution warehouse one county north is hard to swallow in the extreme, not to mention the untouched treasure trove of ding dongs and dried fruit. In addition, the Pringles product placement was nearly as clumsy as Hershey’s has been in past seasons. I almost wish they had left the audience blissfully unaware of where their sustenance was coming from. The loss of their food was too easy, and so was the solution. I did enjoy the triumphant return of the truck, though, even with the foreboding Skitterized human on board, and Dingaan’s new drone toy that helped them get through the Skitter swarm was super-cool.
Again this week, we had reference to the Maggie-Ben-Hal love triangle, and although it’s still a tad forced, it’s within acceptable limits. Matt’s burgeoning love interest in a new young girl in camp has its own charm, too, especially as the adults around him react and give him advice. It’s cute. I’ll even admit, however begrudgingly, that Pope and Sara had a little more chemistry this week.
Tom and Anne continue to have the most believable relationship, though, as they deal with some of the changes since Tom’s return. The investigation of the human-eyed blue bug meets with a healthy amount of skepticism, and Tom’s hallucinations of Rebecca are simultaneously encouraging and worrying in equal measure. I can’t quite decide, though, if the bug leading them to a swarm of flying Skitters at the end was a warning or a threat. The underlying menace of the unknown is what keeps this plot thread (and this couple) the most interesting so far.
This week’s Falling Skies was an entertaining exploration of what-ifs, and looking past the overly convenient narrative shortcuts with the food shortage story, I’m definitely far more interested in where events are headed than I was at this time last season. And I mean, really, why be picky about the realism of post-apocalyptic life this late in the game anyway? It is what it is, and if it’s a fun journey along the way, then who am I to judge?
Except – sorry – that’s my job. I nitpick because I love.