For five years, humanity’s war against the Espheni in Falling Skies walked a knife-edge between complete annihilation and marginal victory. Certain events have inspired the 2nd Mass with hope along the way, enough to keep the audience cheering the characters on through all the adversity in this great series. Below, presented in chronological order, are the most important turning points in the five seasons of Falling Skies now that the final battle has come.
1. Safe Removal of the Harnesses
Revealed in Season 1, Episode 3
At the beginning of the series, the “Skitters” appeared to be using human teenagers as slave labor by attaching a parasite, referred to as a “harness,” to the youth’s spine. Our hero, Tom Mason, desperately wanted to rescue his son, Ben, from his recent capture. Previous attempts at removing the harness had resulted in the death of the host, but implementing the theory of visiting doctor, Michael Harris, they use morphine to sedate the children before pulling the harness off just enough to cut its attachments to the spine with a blowtorch. The method works, allowing for the rescue of many children while at the same time opening the door to a whole host of possibilities for the series, since the remnants of the harness keep the teenagers healthy and even give them heightened senses and the ability to communicate with the Skitters.
2. Mech-Piercing Bullets
Revealed in Season 1, Episode 8
In season 1, the Skitters were difficult enough to kill, but the mechanical walkers, or “mechs,” were tougher-than-steel robots that were nearly impossible to dispatch. In one of the oddest pairings in the series, motorcycle gang chief and resident bad boy, Pope, and youngest member of the 2nd Mass and Tom Mason’s son, Matt, make an accidental discovery. A bullet made of mech metal scavenged from found parts will pierce the armor of the mechs themselves! Without this discovery, the 2nd Mass would surely have become extinct just a few episodes hence.
3. Red Eye’s Rebellion
Revealed in Season 2, Episode 5
Dr. Anne Glass discovered in season 1 that the Skitters, too, were harnessed. So who were the real invaders? For most of the first half of season 2, the audience and the members of the 2nd Mass thought the red-eyed leader of the Skitter rebellion was a bad guy. Ben Mason, using the translation powers given to him by the remnants of his harness, attempts to broker an alliance between the humans and the small group of Skitters that have managed to resist the effects of their harnesses. Trust does not come easy, but Red Eye eventually becomes the hero of the Skitter resistance forces, who in turn prove to be helpful allies in the war.
4. Capture of an Overlord
Revealed in Season 2, Episode 7
The true masterminds behind the Earth invasion are known as the Espheni in season 3, but in season 2 they were known as “Overlords” or “Fish-heads.” When Tom captures an Overlord during a particularly devastating onslaught, the humans noticed it had a pacifying effect on the massive numbers of attacking forces. Unfortunately, they have to trade the Overlord to allow for their escape from battle; they later find out how valuable their hostage was, and if they had killed him, it would have sent the entire Espheni force along the Eastern seaboard into chaos.
5. Arrival in Charleston
Revealed in Season 2, Episode 9
Some in the 2nd Mass thought that the promise of a large pocket of human resistance in Charleston was simply false hope brought to them by a well-meaning wandering pilot earlier in the season. And after a long, weary journey from Boston, a devastated city landscape and a broken bridge appear to indicate that Charleston is NOT the promised land. But when Col. Porter, the 2nd Mass’ original commander and now leader of the 1st Continental Army, escorts them into a hidden underground community, the 2nd Mass rejoices! More resources and a more secure base of operations mean a stronger opposition to the alien menace.
6. Arrival of the Volm
Revealed in Season 2, Episode 10
When a mysterious Volm soldier arrives as a previously unknown third alien race during the season 2 finale, the audience is left wondering: is this going to be a good thing for humanity or will this imposing looking figure be their downfall? Season 3 mostly shows the Volm as incredibly powerful allies, but they clearly have their own agenda as evidenced by the finale. The Volm provide perhaps the most significant turning point in the war because of the intel and technology they provide as well as the master plan to take out the Espheni power grid.
7. Volm Weaponry & Skitter Allies
Revealed in Season 3, Episode 1
The energy-blasting guns of the Volm make the mech bullets from season 1 look like firecrackers. Putting aside the benefit of befriending the Volm themselves, these alien weapons make their triumphant appearance in the season 3 premiere in which the 2nd mass appears to be confidently dismantling entire camps of harnessed children with the help of the Red Eye Skitter disciples. This is the first time the 2nd Mass has ever appeared to have the upper hand, and with Tom Mason having been named as the new president, this episode marks one of the largest turning points in the series thus far.
8. The Discovery of President Hathaway
Revealed in Season 3, Episode 4
It must have seemed rather quaint to Lt. Fisher, a sniper sent to the settlement at Charleston, to hear Col. Weaver refer to Tom Mason as “the president of the New United States.” Lt. Fisher originated from another camp of surviving humans which includes the REAL president, Benjamin Hathaway, who sent the sniper because of suspicions that Charleston was collaborating with the enemy (really just the Red Eye Skitters). Despite the rocky start, anything that brings more of the scattered remnants of humanity together, however contentiously, constitutes a turning point in the war.
9. The Destruction of the Espheni Power Grid
Revealed in Season 3, Episode 10
The culmination of the long-laid plans of the Volm was the two-pronged distraction of the Espheni while the massive energy weapon was floated into Boston Harbor to take out the East Coast power grid, which was maintained by a great tower in the center of the city. Once the protective barrier was brought down, the Volm commander could come down with an army to fight Earth’s enemies. Once again, there was a moment of doubt when the weapon was first fired and it appeared to fizzle, but eventually the whole structure came crashing down, and a victorious shout went up from the assembled humans. Celebrations were short-lived, though, as the Volm had their own plans to “protect” Earth’s inhabitants.
10. The Mysterious Alexis
Revealed in Season 3, Episode 10
Dr. Anne Glass became pregnant with Tom Mason’s baby (actress Moon Bloodgood was also pregnant in real life), and it was clear from the start that something was different about their daughter, Alexis. Her development, especially walking and talking, was remarkably swift even before she and her mother were taken from Charleston by the Espheni. When Lexi and Dr. Glass returned only months later, the girl appeared to be 7 or so years old. Why is this a turning point in the war? Well, Lexi blithely coaxed a stubborn group of mind-controlling “eye worms” from the 2nd Mass’ resident mole… and crushed them to dust. Lexi, of course, went on to change the course of the war in season four.
11. The Separation of the 2nd Mass
Revealed in Season 4, Episode 1
The entire game changed at the beginning of season four as the 2nd Mass was separated by the Espheni’s new laser fence system known as the obelisks. Many survivors were gathered together in ghettos, including Tom and Captain Weaver, while Anne and Anthony and others struggled on the outside looking for their lost loved ones. One pocket of paradise is seen through the eyes of Ben Mason, who awakens to find that his sister Lexi is suddenly a teenager with platinum blonde hair in charge of a commune of peaceful, healthy, but somewhat cult-like followers. Talk about a reinvention! This premiere turned the series on its head!
12. Alexis’ Cooperation With and Betrayal of the Espheni
Revealed in Season 4, Episode 2
Lexi’s peace seemed suspicious from the start, and it only takes one episode to reveal that the hybrid human is working with an Espheni Overlord named “The Monk,” whom she considers almost more of a father than Tom Mason. This relationship not only maintains the peace in Lexi’s compound, it also provides a mechanism for Lexi to later turn the tables on her masters and use her power to destroy a beamer force that would have easily decimated an already weakened 2nd Mass. Despite her initial complicity with the enemy, humanity wouldn’t have had a chance without her help.
13. Trading Harnesses for Brainwashing and Mutations
Revealed in Season 4, Episode 4
The Espheni have learned that the harnessed children are ineffective as slaves, and in fact, the de-harnessed kids like Ben actually have super-strength. Their new strategy includes brainwashing legions of uniformed youth to betray their rebel parents. And as if that weren’t enough, new mutated, skitter-like humans have been unleashed on the survivors. Add immobilizing fog, flying skitters, and few other innovations, and the Espheni have clearly gained the upper hand in this war.
14. The Mission to the Moon
Revealed in Season 4, Episode 10
After a devastating explosion that killed most of the surviving humans, a crashed beamer was discovered beneath the wreckage. Using the expertise of several members of the 2nd mass along with a lot of luck, the group was able to bring the vehicle up from underground and actually fly it. Against all hope, Tom decided to use the spaceship to destroy the Espheni power source on the moon. Major sacrifices were called for, but clearly this is a turning point in the war… just in time for a new enemy to show up at the end of the season. Or are they friends? Even through most of season five the answer was unclear.
15. The Skitter Factory
Revealed in Season 5, Episode 3
The power grid on the moon was destroyed! So why are the skitters still able to continue to the fight with even greater numbers than before? The discovery of a factory that churns out regular skitters and black hornets alike indicates more new advances in the Espheni war technology. Along with swarms of small, carnivorous bugs cobbled together with DNA from humans, skitters, and Espheni, the endless tide of replaceable soldiers threatens to remove the advantage the 2nd Mass had gained.
16. Pope’s Vengeance on the Masons
Revealed in Season 5, Episode 4
When the enemy is near defeat, the only ones who can slow down the changing of the tide in humanity’s favor are other humans. Such is the case when Sarah, Pope’s one true love, dies while waiting for help that never comes. The relationship between Tom and Pope was already antagonistic, but this was the last straw for both men. Tom banishes Pope, and Pope retaliates by kidnapping Hal, slowing the 2nd Mass’ progress significantly in the process. Perhaps more significantly, it destroyed any possibility of redemption for a character that came a long way since season one.
17. The Paranoia of the 14th Virginia
Revealed in Season 5, Episode 7
Nothing could have been more frustrating for the 2nd Mass (and for the Falling Skies audience) than a military base filled with paranoid witch-hunters, looking for supposed Espheni sympathizers rather than fighting the real enemy. The Mason family faced execution for circumstances out of their control, such as Ben’s spikes and Anne’s giving birth to a half-Espheni child. When it was revealed that the leader of the 14th Virginia was an Espheni-made clone, the chilling possibilities nearly paralyzed the 2nd Mass with fear, but it also brought the deception out into the open.
18. The Dornia’s Secret Weapon
Revealed in Season 5, Episode 9
The last remaining uncorrupted skitter, whose race was once known as the Dornia, assisted Tom from the end of season four to the final moments of the series, but viewers were never quite sure if she could be trusted. In fact, the weapon she developed to kill the Espheni Queen was inadvertently harmful to humans as well. Not only did the weapon help defeat the Queen in the series finale, but it also helped the 2nd Mass avoid a cruel deception by a Lexi clone as well. The weapon was the final blow to end the war altogether and could therefore be called the ultimate turning point in the war.
Falling Skies took the 2nd Mass on a long journey during its five years on the air, and they’ll finally be able to rest after the series finale. With Tom Mason and his family leading the world into a new era, who knows what’s in store as humans rebuild their war-torn planet? Against all odds, the victory appears to be final with no hint at a hidden menace leaving possibility for speculation. With the story at its end, viewers can now look back and judge the series on its merits and the turning points that brought this war – and Falling Skies itself – to a close.