This review contains spoilers.
2.5 Molon Labe.
In what is the least obvious twist in television history, about 12 minutes after the pair of razorbacks – Karen and Ben – escape from the 2nd Mass, they run across a patrol of skitters, a mech, and an overlord (we’ll call him Fishhead, because that’s the nickname the Mass has stuck them with). Completely unsurprising, right? Wrong. Karen goes off on a rant and hands Ben over to the curious overlord, who wants the information he has about the rebellion. The joke’s on Karen; waiting in the woods around the meeting place is the 2nd Mass, and in a hail of gunfire, the skitter is killed, the mech deactivated, and Fishhead the overlord is captured.
Great news, right? Not quite, Karen has gotten away in the melee. She knows where they are; the skitters have known where they are for awhile, and while they have a hostage, their position is also betrayed.
That sets up the crux of this episode. The 2nd Mass is surrounded by aliens who want their boss back, Karen is back to being an evil mouthpiece for the aliens, and Tom’s got a new old friend to play with. Turns out the overlord they captured was the overlord from the ship, who has taken an unusually high amount of interest in the Mason family.
Tom did something unexpected tonight, showing a vicious streak the way he did when he shot down the captured alien overlord in cold-ish blood. However, it remains to be seen if this is going to be a permanent change in Tom’s character, or a temporary lapse in sanity brought on by Ben’s attack. The show can be inconsistent, especially in time-related issues, so this may be a blip on Tom’s overall character profile. That said, I would like to see Tom get a little bit meaner without losing that fatherly component. Perhaps this will make him tougher, or more willing to let other men (like Pope, back and better than ever) take on some of the dirtier work without worrying about morality.
The show does lean towards the Spielberg sappiness, but it punctuates it with one or two really effective scenes of horror per episode. For example, this week, a character was written out in a very awesome way. It’s one of the most disturbing scenes the show has had on it, and they’ve worked some good ones in during a darker second season. It helps that I’m terrified of crawling bugs, but it came out of nowhere and was pretty awesome.
Director Holly Dale is fairly skillful with her action scenes, but the stand-out is the ending walk-and-talk, in which various members of the 2nd Mass (mostly secondary characters like the berzerkers, Pope, and Anthony) discuss what life in Charleston may be like. Of course, Pope gets the best lines of the montage, what with the gingerbread strip clubs and all. He’s the acerbic wit the show’s group of mostly hopeful and positive people needs. There’s also another fun walk-and-talk with Hal and Karen as they return from the entrance of the hospital to where Fishface is laying wounded and bleeding in his psych ward prison chamber. It seems with the amount of hallway walks that Falling Skies is becoming The West Wing with aliens (and without Aaron Sorkin’s punchy dialogue, not an insult to the script from David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, but Falling Skies is not and should not be a talky show).
Still, a growing problem for the show is its creative use of time. Granted, I know that it’s boring to have favourite characters gone for weeks at a time, or confined to bed because they’re almost dead, but the show’s running into time problems, both in how it paces itself and in real-life time issues (this week’s episode was derailed by a mid-filming snow storm in Vancouver. Snow in the American south? Not very likely, unless they’re in the mountains or the aliens have been messing with Earth’s weather.
I just hope that when they get to Charleston, we’re not going to get some random Canadian blizzard.
Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.