This review contains spoilers.
4.9 Till Death Do Us Part
If a show actively has characters lampshading decisions, does it still count? Falling Skies, which typically opts for the happiest of all choices in the end, even when it comes to betrayal, had a character from Matt’s past return in a big way this week. While Tom, Cochise, Anne, Weaver, and Matt—you know, the most important people in Charleston and the leadership of the Second Mass—are off looking for a cache of Volm weapons, Mira runs into them on the road. She spins an implausible story about how she graduated from the camp but just happened to run into them on the road and that she’s thrown her Espheni dog whistle away, but Tom and Weaver see through it pretty instantly. She talks and talks, and eventually she talks Matt into letting her go, but as everyone but Matt seemed to expect, she turns on our heroes and blows her flugelhorn of alien warning.
That kicks off a pretty good firefight between Tom and the gang and the evil Nazi summer camp counselors, in which Tom finally toughs up and shoots some kids, albeit kids who were actively trying to kill them. That’s all well and good, and after shooting a half-dozen teenagers in masks, Tom and company are alive, but sans the concussion grenades they need to make Tom’s latest crazy plan work: The Second Mass is going to the moon! That’s right, apparently the Espheni power plant is hidden somewhere on the surface of the moon, and Tom wants to travel up there to find it and blow it up in true Tom Mason fashion.
I have to give a lot of credit to both Noah Wyle and Doug Jones for pulling this off. It’s probably pretty difficult for Doug Jones to make an incredulous expression behind whatever alien gear they put on his face to help make him look like a Volm, but when Tom starts talking about going to the moon and Noah Wylie starts talking in his best Kennedy impression, I can’t help but laugh. It’s the right touch of both goofy and completely in character—Tom Mason has more than enough kids and more than enough nerd to make such a Kennedy comparison and to ask to finish the speech off when interrupted—and it helps re-establish that, at his core, Tom is still kind of a goofball. It’s a fun moment of levity on a show that has lately been too busy plucking at heartstrings or staging explosions to have any real fun (see also Maggie accidentally hurling a chunk of rebar across the camp and nearly smashing Sarah).
Of course, you can’t have a Falling Skies episode without some drama, and Carol Barbee’s script manages to pack in a lot of it in a short time. Anne and Tom have a pretty nasty fight about their daughter Lexi and their relationship, while Pope and Sarah do the same except about her status as a former drug user. Hal and Ben and Maggie further accelerate that threesome, as it turns out the spikes amplify all your feelings, and Maggie and Ben also share a lot of feeling overlap now thanks to their shared alien parasites… makes you wonder if Maggie felt it when Hal punched Ben in the face towards the end of the episode. Some of these fights work better than others; Pope and Sarah are hard to invest in, even if it is Pope, while Tom and Anne’s fight feels like a real fight caused more by frustration than any actual fundamental flaws in their relationship.
Despite the emotional stuff falling a little flat, the action works very well this week. Greg Beeman is a solid action director, and both the traditional Falling Skies walk-and-talks and the various gun fights both look great this week, particularly the combat scenes. Maggie and Ben working together to explore their powers, and their lust for one another, worked well too. It was a fun little break, even if it ended in the expected way. The footage of the beamer rising from the rubble was a very impressive shot, and good use of the special effects.
If Falling Skies does go to the moon to some sort of Espheni moon base, I think all this will be worth it. I’d love to see some of the special effects budget go to building a giant bio-mechanical moon base akin to the flesh-like engineering that powers the beamers and the other alien technology, kind of like a Giger-style nightmare. If they were willing to spend the money and willing to get creative with the alien base, and it seems like they are with the way they’ve been showing bits and pieces of Espheni tech over the years, I’m definitely interested in seeing it. The show can be very creative when it wants to be, it just tends to focus on alien stuff and less on getting creative with its earthlings.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan crawled out of an alien birthing pod, flew his bio-mechanical beamer, and settled in to write this review on a keyboard made of bone fragments and gooey flesh bits. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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