Falling Skies season 2 episode 9 review: The Price Of Greatness

Two post-alien communities collide in this week's Falling Skies, which Ron ranks amongst the best of the season so far. Here's his review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.9 The Price Of Greatness

You know how when something seems too good to be true, it probably is? Well, Charleston, the new capital of the United States of America, seems like a pretty good set-up. Deep in the bowels of what seems to be some sort of subterranean shopping mall in the old city, humanity has created what its leader, Arthur Manchester (Terry O’Quinn), calls the first city state of the new post-alien world. Charleston has 3000 people, a host of armaments, and all the creature comforts of home. We’re talking electricity, running water, a hydroponic farm, all the fresh fruit and vegetables you might want, and even schools for the kids!

As it turns out, getting used to life with all the comforts of home isn’t going to be easy. The 2nd Mass has spent a lot of time fighting with the alien menace, while Charleston has spent a lot of time hiding from the alien menace. They have guns, but don’t know how to use them and don’t have a lot of combat experience, but they do have a state of governance, and that government has a system: go along to get along. That means you give up your guns, go back to being a pediatrician, and, when the President asks for your support – Tom Mason, this means you – you generally give it, even if you, the military leadership, and anyone who isn’t Terry O’Quinn thinks your choice to collaborate with the alien resistance and fight is the wisest one.

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You’d think that being a friend of President Manchester would get Tom, Anne, and the rest of the Mass crew special treatment, but that isn’t the case. If anything, it gets them worse treatment. Pope does Pope things and ends up in the brig, taking Lee and Maggie with him in the process. Weaver chafes under the pressure of direct command from someone else, even though he likes being reunited with his daughter. Even little Ben gets in a fight on his first day of school. Turns out, Charleston might not be so heavenly after all.

This might have been the most beginning-to-end good episode of Falling Skies since the season opener. There were still talky scenes and speeches, but they were the sort of rabble-rousing, inspiring speeches the show does really well. There was only one action scene, in which Ben helps Maggie escape from jail, but it was tense and well shot by director Adam Kane. The whole episode was very tense; there was the relief of being in Charleston, but also the layer of uneasiness as the 2nd Mass was slowly integrated into the group. It worked on several levels, because while pretty much every member of the Mass had problems, they were all different and appropriate to the character, not a general, vague uneasiness.

I like it when a programme that’s ostensibly an action sci-fi show has a specific source of conflict. Dueling political philosophies are great, when done properly, but there also needs to be someone or something to point a gun at. I also like when the threat isn’t discussed in vague terms, but in specifics. Little things, like Pope’s continued grudge against Tom and the clash between the Charleston heart surgeon and Anne the pediatrician help keep the show grounded in a sense.

I have to give writer Mark Verheiden credit for this week. It’s an interesting episode, and an interesting direction for the show. We know and like the 2nd Mass; these new guys I’m not so sure about. Would humans willingly collaborate with the aliens, as I suspected last week? Is the conflict between the Mass and Charleston simply based around battle-hardened vets versus soft civilians?

Can the 2nd Mass recover from their experiences and adjust to civilian life, or will they even get a chance to try before losing everything? Given how quickly everything seems to fall apart once Weaver and company show up, I have my doubts.

Read Ron’s review of last week’s episode, Death March, here.

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US Correspondent Ron Hogan was very much into this week’s episode of Falling Skies. The show seemed to fly by this week; even Ben and Maggie didn’t overstay their welcome. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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