Falling Skies season 3 episode 4 review: At All Costs

Falling Skies season 3 isn't quite firing on all cylinders, but it's not far off. Here's Ron's review of the latest episode...

This review contains spoilers.

3.4 At All Costs

Falling Skies has put out four episodes thus far this season, and three of those have featured some very expensive-looking special effects and, most tellingly, gun battles of one sort or another. At its heart, Falling Skies is a parable for the Revolutionary War, and as such it needs to have actual war-like things happening. Especially considering that the Espheni know where the humans are holed up and keep launching combat missions against them, you would think having combat would be an integral part, though for too many episodes the fighting has taken a back seat to the talking. 

That’s part of the show’s appeal and part of the show’s problem. When Falling Skies leans too far in the direction of getting away from the war metaphor, it loses some of its lustre. There can be positive elements happening in the non-combat episodes, but without a bigger enemy to fight, the crew of the former Second Mass can tend to lack direction. Fortunately, it seems like the folks behind the scenes are working to change that dynamic by throwing in a lot of new wrinkles. 

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One of the best wrinkles thrown into the show has been the character of Dr. Kadar (Robert Sean Leonard), who has turned what could have been a pretty one-note Brent Spiner Independence Day character and crafted it into something with more substance. Leonard is a great actor, and he’s got a great character that is able to get across his central conceits without eating up the screen time that most of the other characters get. When Kadar is around, there’s going to be something interesting to behold, an expression or an action or a tic of some sort, and he’s been one of the show’s brighter spots whenever he turns up. It’s nice to see a character that’s legitimately damaged mentally by the trauma inflicted when the aliens struck earth, rather than seeing someone who is stoically trudging on with tears in his eyes. 

Some of the other wrinkles, however, aren’t quite panning out as well. For example, Anne and her mystery mutant baby. The spoiled reveal from last week aside (and thanks again TNT for blowing that completely), the actions Anne takes this week make absolutely no sense. On one hand, I can understand her need to keep her secret safe and that would definitely require some drastic action. On the other hand, it seems like just last week Anne couldn’t be trusted with her daughter because she seemed like she might do something to harm the baby. Now she’s willing to do reckless and/or stupid things to save the baby. Then again, people making dumb decisions isn’t a new thing on this show, so I’m not sure why I’m complaining. 

The attack from the ending moments of last week’s episode continued in this week’s, so the show managed to sneak in a firefight with the embattled Charleston characters and the mechs, skitters, and mega-mechs. It was well done thanks to director Greg Beeman and the special effects wizards behind the scenes, but entirely too short (though the brevity was well covered by a few throwaway lines in Heather V. Regnier’s script). To make up for the short action scene in the beginning, the show ends with a pretty impressive aerial action sequence and resulting crash landing. It’s an interesting shift in direction from ground-based to air-based, and it’s a fun little scene that seems to set up for interesting stuff ahead, because it seems as though Tom has found himself in quite a pickle thanks to his optimism and willingness to abandon the job of President to anyone else (especially the actual POTUS). 

All in all, I like some of the changes the show has made between seasons. I like that Karen is back as the bad girl skitter representative, I like that Hal has seemingly become some sort of bad guy based on his musical cues, I kind of bought into the debate Ben had with his fellow razorback girl-friend Danni about the price of their powers, and I like most that the show seems willing to dole out steady doses of action across the season. The show isn’t quite hitting on all cylinders, but all it needs is a few minor tune-ups and it’ll be picking up speed.

Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Badlands, here

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is very glad to see that Falling Skies is sticking to its plan of having at least one thing blow up in every episode. What more do you want from summer TV? Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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