Falling Skies season 3 episode 2 review: Collateral Damage

Action, engaging plot developments, Doug Jones... What more could you want from a summer sci-fi series? Here's Ron's Falling Skies review...

This review contains spoilers.

3.2 Collateral Damage

One of the show’s earliest threads is the spectre of mistrust that exists between the rank-and-file of humanity and their alien benefactors the Volm. The expression too good to be true comes to mind. It reminds me a bit of the rebel skitter storyline from the last season, except it seems to be a little bit better in its execution. After all, the Volm are highly armed and working on a secret project that until now only Tom knew about. The very same Tom Mason who tries to get his soldiers not to kill harnessed kids who are actively trying to kill them. Tom’s a good person who generally believes that the revolution against the skitter forces will work out for the best, but increasingly he seems to show a willingness to get his hands dirty. 

With a mole who seems to know their strategies better than they do, it’s obvious that the former 2nd Mass has to figure out a way to bypass their security flaw, whoever that might be, and Tom’s idea to do just that is to offer his own soldiers up as a sacrificial diversion during a daring raid on a Espheni refueling and storage facility that also happens to be a nuclear power plant. It’s a clever bit of staging, because rather than go in guns blazing, you can’t just blast a nuclear plant if you hope to live within a few hundred miles of the site. That requires subterfuge, not Tom’s strongest point, but it appears that he’s getting the hang of things, even if it only exacerbates tensions within his soldiers, with both Pope and Weaver showing a little… uneasiness at Tom’s acceptance of Volm help. 

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Tom had to grow up sometime, right? Speaking of growing up, Falling Skies just might have solved the problem with child actors. Typically you use a child that’s a few months old for any infant, then the show is bogged down with a little person who can only shoot so many hours in a day before getting pulled from the set, but the Falling Skies crew has decided that the best way to combat this is by making Anne and Tom’s new baby into some sort of super-intelligent talking newborn baby. That gives Moon Bloodgood something to do and it means next season, they can replace the baby with a twenty-year-old teenager if they so choose. 

It’s an interesting alteration to the family dynamic (which is handled very well in this episode by writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle), and it may very well prove to be a great test to Tom’s new alliance with the aliens. It’s pretty obvious that the super-baby has something to do with the harness removing machine that only Anne can operate. Maybe the baby will end up more like Ben and less like, say, Hal or Matt. The show could definitely use another kill-crazed hand-to-hand alien fighter. 

Falling Skies seems to have upped its fighting quotient, and even increased its kills of random redshirts this season. We’ve had two episodes and two pretty impressive battle scenes. This week, director James Marshall makes great use of hand-held cameras at several points during the battle scene, without being overwhelmingly shaky. The whole setting for this season has been really appealing, and this week’s episode really reminds me of Fallout 3, thanks to the ghouls hopping out of the shadows, the broken-down industrial complex, and the general state of disarray. Fallout didn’t have a whole lot of aliens (except for the Mothership Zeta add-on), but it’s nice that the show is able to capture some of that feel and look. 

Two episodes in, I can’t help but feel good about Falling Skies third season. Action, interesting plot developments, and Doug Jones… what more would you want from a summer series?

Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, On Thin Ice, here

US Correspondent Ron Hogan would not want to be a janitor in the Falling Skies universe. It’s not just the rubble, it’s mostly the slime and glop from the alien bugs. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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