This review contains spoilers.
5.7 Everybody Has Their Reasons
Falling Skies isn’t really acknowledging that the show is drawing to an end. This is the fifth season, and this is the final season, and seven episodes in, Falling Skies is behaving with the leisurely pace of a second or third season, instead of a show with three episodes left in which to expel the alien threat from Planet Earth. We’re meeting new people and killing them, we’re searching for food and ammo, we’re doing alien… liver transplants, I think, and we’re very slowly making our way to Washington DC, where the Espheni are apparently plotting something nefarious.
A couple of seasons ago, the Second Mass ran into the remnants of the American military, including a general and a colonel and the President. They promptly killed all those people within a few episodes, leaving a retired Colonel and a college professor in charge of the last remaining effective military in the country. It seems strange that one of the largest and most capable military forces in the world can be so easily decimated, and one can only imagine that China, Russia, and the rest of the world are in the same predicament. We can only hope they also have capable professors and PhD Candidates ready to pick up assault weapons and fire on weird aliens.
However, as it turns out, not all of the United States military has been put out of commission. The Norfolk Naval Base, the destination for the Second Mass, is not only well-stocked with supplies, there’s also a sizable force there, under the control of Katie Marshall (Melora Hardin), a former flame of Weaver’s who also served under the Colonel in Iraq. Remember how last time the military served to work alongside the Second Mass after some initial trouble? Well, that’s not the case this time. Almost immediately, there’s friction between the battle-hardened Second Mass and the mostly worthless Fourteenth Virginia, who spend more time hunting down ‘human collaborators’ than they do killing the actual aliens.
This is a conflict that’s been explored quite a bit. Get a bunch of soldiers together, introduce new women and their boyfriends or whatever, and wait for the sparks to fly. When you add in the fact that Marshall is under the control of an alien—the show makes it blatantly obvious that her neck wound is something to be concerned about—she’s going to be working hard to eliminate the most important members of the Second Mass, who all happen to be Masons. Ben is the first to be grabbed, thanks to his spikes attracting the attention of a particularly nasty jarhead, Zak (Matt Bellefleur), and then Hal, because he’s the one standing between nasty jarhead and Isabella/Maggie. Last but not least is Tom, because for some reason he doesn’t like it when someone tortures his son by pulling out one of his spikes with a pair of pliers.
It’s an easy conflict to write for Ryan Mottesheard, who’s on scripting duties this episode. Zak is a horribly one-note character, as are the other military types, from the second-in-command jerk to the helpful “I have reservations about all this” radio operator and the compromised, pitiable commanding officer who is the victim of forces beyond her control. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and nothing surprising, right down to Maggie kicking some teeth in and rescuing her love-rival Isabella (the new third arm of the Hal Mason love triangle now that Maggie’s gotten her spikes out).
It’s not as if it’s a bad episode. It’s pretty sharp. Ben’s fight scene is good, the fact that the Masons are railroaded in a kangaroo court is a fun twist, but it’s clear that nothing bad is going to happen to the Masons, because the show has proven they’re untouchable, and director Matt Earl Beesley isn’t going to change that with only a few episodes remaining. I could be surprised, of course, but I doubt I will be. The boldest thing the show could do is kill off a few Masons right now, especially at the hands of an Espheni-compromised remnant of the United States that Tom turned to in the hopes of wiping out the alien threat.
That won’t happen, and we all know what’s going to happen. Matt is going to get help from Dingaan and Cochise, or Weaver is going to pull the thing out of his ex-girlfriend’s neck and restore her to normal. If anyone dies, it’s not going to be Tom (or Anne, who is threatened in the ‘next week on’ montage). It could be Hal, but I doubt it’s going to be anyone. They’re too central, and they all need to make it to have that happy ending that Falling Skies is going to build to. As dangerous as they want this season to seem, they’re not that bold, and I doubt Spielberg would allow that to happen anyway.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Respite, here.
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