The Falling Skies two hour finale, which included the episodes “Space Oddity” and “Shoot the Moon,” was a fitting ending to a season filled with exciting action and strange inconsistencies. Fortunately, there was more to love about the season four finale than there was to criticize, and the final moments left the possibility of a vastly different, series-ending season five, which is definitely a good thing. It not only gives us hope for humanity; it gives us hope for the show itself, as well.
The episode started well with a proper dressing down of Lexi, who wants to rejoin the human race but realizes on some level that it’s too late for reconciliation. It’s not that I wanted Lexi to die, but I appreciate that Pope at least tried to assassinate her, even if Tom and the others wanted him to back off. She did, after all, cause the deaths of a huge percentage of the 2nd Mass. Anne’s discussion with her daughter was also particularly moving, as she insists that she loves Lexi and hopes she finds her place in the world…somewhere else.
As first Matt, then Maggie, and finally Hal get their digs in at Lexi once they find out she’ll be taking the co-pilot seat from Ben, it’s clear that no one trusts Lexi – and thank goodness the writers didn’t make it easy for her. This set up nicely the scenes where Lexi uses the cocoon to conserve power on the trip to the moon, scenes in which Tom is ensconced in a false reality in which the mission was successful because of Lexi, and those around him now trust the victorious, young Mason daughter, who is now free of Espheni DNA.
The illusion is too perfect; the audience knows it, and so does Tom. Viewers have learned to distrust happy endings, especially when they come at the wrong time in the episode. But Lexi’s ploy to use their time in the cocoon to force the trust issue is both believable and effective. I particularly loved the absence of Pope in the false world Lexi has created. If only she had known Dr. Kadar was dead, she might have gotten away with it. But Lexi’s message gets through: “How can I ask you to forgive me when I can’t even forgive myself?” Tom regrets his inability to forgive, and they wake up still on their way to the moon. The only thing that bothered me was that it suddenly was no longer cold in the ship after their time in stasis, but that’s a minor detail.
What’s far from minor is the sudden, disturbing introduction of a frightening new Espheni weapon to defeat the humans: a pod that releases a fog that brings with it a sticky tar substance and slug-harnesses that attach to the chest, creating instant mutants. Like the pilons in the season premiere that rained down from the skies, quickly and effectively defeating the humans, this new weapon appears way too out-of-nowhere for such a decisive advantage. The moon imagery and howling wolves also seemed a bit much.
Nevertheless, we get some edge-of-your-seat, suspenseful moments with Hal, Maggie and Ben in one location, Dingaan and Pope in another, and Weaver and Matt in a third. Anne’s discovery of the effectiveness of fire against the new creep-fest is cliche at best, and at worst, the fog-weapon provides empty moments of action that give us little other than inspirational chanting from Weaver and a heroic gross-out moment from Pope. And when Sarah rides in on her 4×4 to save the day screaming flatly, “Be quiet, I think you’re attracting them,” I could only roll my eyes. What happened to the Oscar-winning acting of Mira Sorvino?
I’m not sure how the tar-slugs, which imploded just as the moon harvester exploded, are tied in to the power source, but the mission in space unfolds in a far more effective and interesting manner than the happenings on the ground. With the bombs corroded and the beamer captured by Scorch, Tom joins the audience in a moment of doubt as Lexi tries to convince the Overlord that she brought her father to the Espheni. However, the distraction is enough for Tom to inject the fish-head with the poison syringe Hal had given him from the Volm in case Lexi proved untrustworthy. With his dying breath, Scorch sabotages the auto-pilot and sets the stage for Lexi’s sacrifice.
I knew this was coming – maybe not all along but certainly in advance of the actual details as they unfolded, but that does not diminish the power of the moment when Lexi, in the larger Espheni ship unable to join Tom in the beamer, collides into the helium-3 harvester. The reconciliation with her father carries over into the audience’s feelings about her as well. It was definitely a redemption for the sole Mason daughter.
And you can’t help but love the ending: Cochise’s father and the Volm returning in the nick of time; Tom being blown off-course; Anne and Hal rallying the troops once they find out Tom’s fate. However, it can’t be a very good sign that Tom thinks the new aliens that appear on the scene are “beautiful,” even though he knows they’ve created more illusory surroundings, and from what little we can see of the creature who is using a strange woman’s voice, it looks a bit like a cephalopod. And squid aliens are rarely good.
Unfortunately, Falling Skies was also rarely good in season four, but with a final season assured, it’s encouraging to note that the writers will be able to plan for the series ending, which is always helpful in serial sci-fi television. I still love the show – especially its rich and diverse characters – and hope for its return next year. As the cast and crew begin filming again in two weeks, I wish them all the best and look forward to the continuing story.