This Falling Skies review contains some spoilers.
If I had made any predictions about where the 2nd Mass would head after their victory against the Espheni in Boston, I definitely wouldn’t have guessed they’d be separated and reliving the days of Nazi Germany, complete with ghettos and re-education centers. And don’t get me wrong – it’s entertaining. But why reinvent the show so completely?
The biggest shot to the gut is the loss of the Volm, who have abandoned the humans they just finished rescuing with an irritatingly abstract excuse: war on another front somewhere else in the galaxy. It’s almost as if the idea last season of herding all the humans into a safety zone in Brazil somehow morphed in the writers room into a post-apocalyptic version of concentration camps. The passage of months softens the blow somewhat, and Falling Skies is no stranger to time jumps; but still.
Despite the jarring re-orientation of the narrative, there are certain elements that I can just tell are going to be fun to watch unfold. Tom Mason in his cell planning an escape from the ghettos using a map etched into the wall and hidden behind a mirror, for example, is already inspirational. Likewise Matt Mason’s small band of rebellious Hitler youth, meeting under cover of darkness to foil the brainwashing of the…wait a minute, why aren’t they using harnesses? Clearly there’s something we don’t know yet about the Espheni motivations.
I’m so glad we got our initial exposure to Lexi’s pocket of paradise through the eyes of Ben Mason, newly awakened from a coma. Just like him, I wondered why Maggie was so accepting of this supposed peaceful oasis, standing so vulnerable and yet strangely untouched amidst the devastation around it. I can understand Lourdes buying it, but Maggie? Never! This good life can’t possibly be genuine, not with other members of their family still out there fighting.
We have a few enticing initial mysteries to get Falling Skies season 4 started. One is the purpose and history of Tom’s masked vigilante, dubbed “Ghost” by those in the ghetto. Why is Pope deferent to him when he’s trying to take more than his fair share of rations? Does Hal know his dad is behind the disguise? And who is Dingaan Botha, an intriguing new character from Phoenix Utilities in Johannesburg, whatever that is. He’s been to several ghettos, scooped up by the Black Hornets (a new Skitter variant) each time he escapes. Can he be trusted?
If the laser fences had separated the 2nd Mass at the end of season 3, I think I wouldn’t have had such a hard time adjusting to the new way of things in this premiere. But it’s SO different! I like most of it, save the all-too-convenient fickleness of the Volm, and the truth is, although Falling Skies has often stretched the limits of credibility, it’s always damned entertaining.