This review contains spoilers.
3.6 Be Silent and Come Out
Drew Roy has ended up with the least interesting of the Mason children, though that’s not really his fault. When he’s given stuff to do, as he is in this week’s episode of Falling Skies, he can handle it pretty well. We’ve seen a bit of Evil Hal in recent weeks, and this time Evil Hal gets his official coming-out party, a complete celebration of his nefariousness as he kidnaps his father at gunpoint and attempts to flee Charleston with him. I say attempts because Charleston is pretty small and well-fortified, and Maggie is great at interfering with plans.
What starts out as a chase through Charleston becomes a siege situation, with Hal and Tom holed up in an old building and various interests – Tector, Pope, Weaver, the other Masons, Maggie -trying to get Hal to not shoot the President of the New United States. Some folks pick negotiations; other folks try to simply pump Hal full of lead and leave him to his fate. You can pretty much tell who is who in this debate, and if you missed last week’s episode where they tried to repeatedly kill one another, Pope is generally the ‘shoot first and not ask questions later’ guy in the camp.
Bad Hal is both good and bad in terms of a performance from Drew Roy. In some scenes, particularly where Bad Hal gets to beg for his life, thrash around while tied down, or otherwise is given to trying to both wheedle and rage to get his way, Roy’s quite good. It’s not always easy to sell pain, but he does a great job of getting that across in his performance. However, he’s not quite as good as the megalomaniac villain. He’s a little too over the top (or maybe he’s just trying to do his Jessy Schram impression as he’s obviously under Karen’s control). He’s better at conflicted or manipulative, not so much at straight-up evil.
I ended up buying into Hal’s storyline by the end of the episode, though that might be due to the special effects crew’s great work. Much like they did in the second season with the CGI eggs hatching and eating their way out of Jamil, and much like they have with the designs of the little eye bugs, the design of the rebel skitter eye bug removal tool is pretty impressive. From the amber-like casing to the triggering substance to the reaction caused by all the little critters, the closing moments of Evil Hal’s episode were a series of great looking visuals by the effects crew and director Adam Kane, who really turned the body horror up to eleven. It really ended the episode on a stronger note, and helped tie off Hal’s plot thread (even if it seems early to put a stop to Evil Hal).
The script turned out to be much stronger for other members of the ensemble cast, especially Weaver and Pope. Weaver gets one of his best moments of the season, and it takes place in Popetown under the watchful eye of the Berzerkers. Literally, when Weaver walks into the scene, every extra turns to stare at him as he parts the crowd like the Red Sea on his way to get a drink. It’s really well done, and Will Patton crushes it (better than some of his dialogue this week). He’s a good non-verbal actor anyway, but he puts in some great character work simply with how he holds himself while walking through the crowd or when drinking his whiskey.
Popetown has become the most interesting setting in Falling Skies. The bar seems to be the centre of the actions, and it’s the place to be if you want a drink, rock and roll, gambling, and to watch Colin Cunningham channel Al Swearingen crossed with a carnival barker smeared with Greek chorus. Even when Pope gets to lampshade the audience or provide exposition, he gets cool exposition and a funny meta comment to make. It’s pretty clear that the writers (Bradley Thompson, David Weddle, and John Wirth) enjoy writing for Pope, and can you blame them?
Be Silent And Come Out was a bit of a mixed bag this week. Some stuff worked really well, while other scenes fell flat. Not every show can be excellent, and at times Falling Skies seems to be a little too relentlessly positive for a show where aliens have killed billions of people. On this week, pain and sarcasm fared a little bit better than loyalty and friendship.