Falling Skies season 2 episode 8 review: Death March

Despite some interesting revelations, this week's Falling Skies wasn't a high point of the series. Here's Ron's review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.8 Death March

The 2nd Mass has been taking its time on their trek down the east coast of the United States. However, after their emergency retreat from the hospital in Virginia, there’s a whole lot less time to get to Charleston and a whole lot of ground yet to cover. So, as Weaver announces, they’re going to drive until they get there, and nothing’s going to stop them. Even when Tector runs down a kid with a harness on the road, they only stop long enough to throw the kid into the back of the medibus (Weaver’s too much of a softie for kids, apparently) and then it’s back on the road, full speed ahead.

That’s not much of a morale booster, and with Ben gone, morale has been pretty low. Still, Matt now has a creepy new friend who not only has a parasite harness on her back, but she’s also got some Teen Wolf-style monster scales and claws, and is obviously about halfway into skitter territory. Yet Weaver still picked her up. Great idea there. Matt and the girl, named Jenny, bond over their kid-ness and discuss just how the skitter/harnessed kid relationship works.

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Apparently, the Skitters are the guardians of the kids, and the kids are like siblings, which might explain why Rick was so desperate to get back to his family while Ben – who has a real family – wanted nothing more than to get away and return to his blood siblings. Speaking of Ben, his brother Hal and Hal’s not-quite-girlfriend Maggie have to have a heart-to-heart talk, and Pope is apparently going to be the guy to encourage that by provoking Maggie into being honest about her back story. We’ve had the cancer discussion, now we’ve got to have the discussion about Maggie’s heroin use, her jail time, and her jailhouse heroin baby.

This week’s episode kind of hit on some heavy topics, but in the standard Falling Skies way of not making them so serious some heartwarming stuff can’t be wrung out of them Spielberg-style. There was only one major plot this week on the road to Charleston, and that was the revelation of long-held secrets, with a B-plot of the littlest Mason adopting a stray harnessed kid as a new friend/Ben stand-in. While Weaver and Tector revealed Tector’s back story in one of the trucks, Hal, Maggie, and Pope discussed Maggie’s back story in the scout truck.

I know that the structure of the episode required a lot of talking to pass the time, and I’m not saying it wasn’t good stuff, but I expected Maggie to have a sad back story (though I did like her interplay with Pope and the reminders that he wasn’t always the scruffy good guy he is now) and I figured that Tector would have a similar history the moment Weaver started in on him to pry out his military background. Plus, it’s Tector, who’s been featured prominently in maybe one episode (using Matt as the skitter bait with the late Boone) so I had a lot of trouble caring, even though the performance from Ryan Robbins wasn’t bad. I’m just not invested in his character. See also: the late Jamil and Lourdes.

There also wasn’t a long walk-and-talk that I saw this week. (Please correct me if I’m wrong in the comments, but I didn’t notice any extended scenes.) There wasn’t much action in the episode, either. There was some interruption with Jenny the half-monster and her brother, but aside from that, there wasn’t much. The reveal of Charleston (which looked like a set from Fallout 3: The Movie) was nice, as was the misdirection to that end, but it was kind of a bland episode for director Seith Mann.

After the final push to Charleston and the reveal that they’re organized and actively resisting the aliens (or at least have set up a Continental Army under the command of good old Col. Porter from the first season), I can’t help but wonder what the next step is. I’m glad we’re there; they did a good job keeping the journey interesting, but like all road trips I am ready to move on to the next destination. Much like The Walking Dead has been discussing bringing in the human threat, it looks as though Falling Skies will be bringing in human conflict elements for the group (more of them anyway). How will Weaver and Mason respond to being given orders, rather than giving them? It should be interesting.

 Read Ron’s review of last week’s episode, Molon Labe, here.

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US Correspondent Ron Hogan is glad to see that Falling Skies has made a mid-Olympics return to television. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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