This review contains spoilers.
3.7 The Pickett Line
The Mason family is on a road trip to be reunited with Anne and baby Alexis, but there’s a little problem. Not only are they chasing a cold trail; they’re being pursued. If it’s not one thing – an armed alien task force of skitters and mechs and mega-mechs – it’s another in the form of highwaymen. The robbers are people we later find out are the Pickett family, a bizarro world version of the Masons, except with a few extra people involved. Where Tom and his family always do the right thing, even if it makes survival tough, the Picketts have decided to take the easy way out.
Director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan has put together another fine-looking episode. He has a great ability to handle outdoor scenes; when he shoots forests, or people riding horses through a forest, it always looks wonderful. When it comes to the action sequences, he makes good use of shaky hand-held cameras to provide some tension to a really well-done home invasion by Clan Mason, and he continues to use interesting shots throughout the episode. A good director can add a lot to an episode, and he does a great job with the sneak attacks in this episode.
Another good decision was splitting the Masons off from the folks in Charleston. The Masons work really well together, and they’ve managed to capture the family vibe between the four of them. I think the Masons work better outside of Charleston than within it. And in Charleston, we’re given three of the show’s more interesting characters interacting in the many scenes shared by Pope and Weaver, and Pope and Maggie, respectively. It’s easy to forget just how good Colin Cunningham has been at shifting Pope from a thug who allowed his gang to pass Maggie around like a basketball into a likable rogue anti-hero.
However, writers Heather V. Regnier and Jordan Rosenberg aren’t willing to forget the incident, and they’ve made it clear that Maggie and Pope both remember that time, as well. It breaks down to a very nice, very nasty little scene between the two, with lots of accusations being tossed around. Maggie, when freed from the company of Hal, is a much better character. It’s certainly better than Maggie following along with the Masons on yet another misplaced mission of mercy.
It’s easy for fans to forgive nasty behaviour, but I like that Falling Skies continues to remember the negatives that have passed between characters. It’s easy for us to forgive Pope because he’s charismatic and prone to swooping in to save lives (and it’s clear he’s a good person at heart as we saw with his adventure with Tom a few episodes back), but Maggie and Tom Mason shouldn’t be quite as quick to let bygones be bygones, even if he has been a good soldier for a while. There are some folks you work with that you just don’t like, and I think Pope should be one, even if he and Weaver seem to get along better these days thanks to their paranoia. If anything, I’d love to see Pope and Weaver get into some Lethal Weapon buddy cop-type shenanigans in the future, as they further investigate the Volm and their potentially nefarious weapon of mass destruction.
It’s strange to see the show separate its cast into two separate but equal storylines at this point in the season (and it’s weird to have Moon Bloodgood disappear for multiple episodes, even if she is pregnant and/or giving birth right now), but I think it helps flesh out more characters like Anthony and, in particular, Lourdes, who the show can’t seem to find an angle on. Well, until now I suppose. I kind of hate the direction it’s taking, but it’s pretty entertaining to see Lourdes and actress Seychelle Gabriel get a chance to break from the good girl medical whiz persona Lourdes has been saddled with since the first season.
The Masons work better on their own, Pope and Charleston work better on their own, and it’s nice to see that Charleston proper has more on the ball than the weekly Mason family drama. Personal stories are an important part of any series, but this is a town of thousands of people, and there needs to be some sense of scale. By letting the Masons have their adventure on their own, it allows Charleston to take care of the much, much bigger picture.