This Falling Skies finale review contains spoilers.
I honestly didn’t want to end on a downer, especially after last week’s admirable turnaround from the slow pace of the the episodes before it. It appeared that the 2nd Mass was headed for a big battle with aid from the other Mason militias, and the biological weapon was a well-developed plan that I could get behind. But after a fast-paced rush job of a finale, humanity’s victory felt hollow. I rejoice at the defeat of the alien enemy, but I mourn the final result both because the series I’ve enjoyed for five years has come to a close and because of the poor manner in which it did so.
I do like how the episode was framed, I must admit. Matt’s writings have become the logical result of his time as a history professor’s son and as the youngest member of the 2nd Mass, almost its mascot. His records are both a chronicle of what has happened since the war began and a symbol of hope for what lies in the future for these characters after the show has ended. I almost wondered if we might see a flash forward to President Matt Mason down the road.
There was plenty to admire about the arrival of the 4th Maine led by a Vietnam vet played by Frank Lapidus, but I couldn’t help but wish the 2nd Mass got to spend more time with them rather than with the 14th Virginia. As it was, the tough but respectable motorcycle gang agreed to attack the wall surrounding the National Mall while the Masons snuck through the service tunnels. Unfortunately, this merely hinted at a larger battle going on elsewhere while Tom went after the Queen, but the front lines were never seen. I felt cheated, as though the story action became a victim of the show’s visual effects and casting budget.
Not to mention the journey through the service tunnels was very slow, and although the baby Espheni concept was a nice call back to season four when Cochise first shared their destructive nature with the group, it didn’t serve much purpose here except to cause a skirmish that ended with Wolfe dead from his own grenade and Tom on the other side of the resulting rubble. Although I understand Tom had to go after the Queen by himself, there was no substantial payoff, good or bad, to the threat of the glowing eggs.
From the army base to DC, viewers were treated to a smattering of hints and accelerated conclusions for several character arcs. Marty died in the black hornet attack, having served his purpose. Anthony is told to hold down the fort and is suddenly cured of PTSD and redeemed. Anne announces she’s pregnant because, okay, why not? Hal asks Maggie to marry him, and thank god he chose her instead of… what was her name again? Oh yeah, Isabella. Couldn’t these storylines have been fleshed out earlier or more sufficiently instead of cramming it all in at the end?
Everything was rushed to its conclusion! Tom got a quick mental picture of why the Espheni Queen had returned to Earth after visiting it so many years ago, but the vengeance story was overly simplistic, especially regarding the puzzling defeat of a queen by primitives with spears. And the suspense of Tom being unable to reach the fallen bioweapon was short-lived as he finally grabbed it and tainted his own blood to bring the Queen down in less time than it took him to navigate the tunnels. This anticlimactic joy of victory was represented well by the fizzling fireworks of exploding skitters. Hooray and yet – that’s it?
And oh, the tragedy of Anne’s death! It certainly tainted the mildly glorious defeat of the alien enemy for Anne to be taken down by something as simple as shrapnel, especially with her newly announced pregnancy. However, the drama of the moment was spoiled by the unbelievable resurrection somehow affected by the Dornia. Sure, I’m happy Anne is alive again, but bringing someone back to life is a pretty big ace up the last remaining Dornia’s sleeve! Too big perhaps.
Maybe I would have felt better about Tom’s appeal to the Dornia if it hadn’t be interrupted by the mostly dead Pope, whose reappearance was both expected and dreaded. The rubble that buried him last week was so abrupt that no one could believe he was truly gone. Less surprising still, as illogical as it is, was his change of heart with regard to seeking vengeance against Tom. For him to achieve such meaningless redemption before dying (again) was almost worse than leaving him in the rubble.
So I end my Falling Skies review stint with my lowest rating ever given, and it breaks my heart. The show deserved a better ending; the characters deserved better treatment; and the audience deserved a grander send-off. As Professor Emeritus Tom Mason makes his final speech, inexplicably invoking America after talking with Matt about uniting all the nations, I found myself wishing for a twist: an Espheni squeal from Anne’s belly, a scene with the Dornia scheming with the Volm from space, anything!
But then I realized that would only be… what’s the opposite of gilding the lily?