EPISODE REVIEW: Falling Skies: "What Hides Beneath" (Episode 8)

Flabbergasted

It did pick up some this week. That's a relief I'm actually curious to see what it's selling in the finale next week.

"What Hides Beneath"

What hid beneath last week was a crappy episode. How’s this week? Better. It even has some twists, although it’s still not going to be ground breaking to people who have read and/or watched a fair amount of science fiction.

We open with Captain Weaver having a nightmare where a Skitter attacks him in his old house. From there, we see Tom’s son Ben doing a lot of exercising, a reminder that the harnesses altered these kids in some way. Back at the nightmare bit, Colonel Porter is worried that Weaver’s not getting enough sleep. Because…

Something big is up. Something “can you keep a secret?” big. The Skitters are pulling back to that weird Tinker Toy contraption they build over every city. No one knows why, but the resistance is going to attack it in 4 days. So there’s your theme for this season’s final episodes.

The strategy session is straight forward. Since the Skitters build these things on four tall, skinny legs, the better to knock them down with, let’s knock them down! One big explosive charge on each leg. Sounds like a plan, which is why you really shouldn’t build your fortresses with four tall, skinny legs. Conveniently, ex-convict/cook Pope also has a background in explosives from people he knew in jail. He even knows how to make them. Seriously, it’s just like cooking. And we’ll find later that he knows a fair amount about metal working, too. All TV-pretend sociopaths should be so helpful; he’s the utility infielder of terrorism.

Rick, the kid who had a harness and now is acting all weird, is drawing pictures. It’s a form of therapy prescribed by the doctor. He freaks Captain Weaver out by drawing a bunch of row houses that looks like Weaver’s old street. The Captain wonders if Skitters can somehow read minds, but won’t answer any questions as to why he’s so freaked out.

Weaver, Tom and Tom’s oldest son, Hal, head out to scout the tall, skinny legs. Tom resists Weaver going along until the Captain points out he has a background in structural engineering. So like, he’ll recognize just the right skinny part. I’m thinking that with the limited tools at hand, a skinny part close to ground is the obvious play. Elsewhere, Dr. Glass examines harness alumni Ben. She’s disturbed that he feels no sensation around the leftover harness spikes in his back, even when she jabs the surrounding skin with a scalpel.

Big revelation time. As Tom and company scout the legs, they see a Skitter taking orders from a third type of alien. These ones look kind of like the polymimetic alloy terminator from T2, except stretched vertically and not as expensive an effect. All three of them are stunned. But this will tie in with something Dr. Glass discovers later. A further hint comes as Ben tries to befriend Rick. He gets pissed instead when Rick tells him his life before doesn’t seem real, and that just because the harnesses have been removed doesn’t mean the Skitters have abandoned them. (Cue foreboding music).

On their way back, Tom and company run into some old lady who has been holed up in her apartment since the invasion. She talks about some people surviving in their homes or coming back to them. Weaver freaks and runs off on a motorcycle. Tom says he must be going to his house and mentions it’s location by name (that’s important, not just trivia). He and Hal subsequently give chase.

Next big revelation time. I kind of saw this one coming, but it’s still a decent stab at a twist for TV. While doing an autopsy on the Skitter she killed in episode 5, Dr. Glass finds something horrifying. The Skitter’s central nervous system runs off a harness fully integrated into its body. Which means… This Skitter might have been something else once. Which means…

At Weaver’s house, Tom gets the Captain’s sad story. He was away when the alien attack came, got home in time to see his wife and oldest daughter disappear in collapsing rubble down the street. He searched the rubble a long time but couldn’t dig deep enough. Then he tracked down his youngest daughter at a Skitter work camp. She had a harness. He rescued her, but she was hurt and he didn’t have anyone to help him. He took her back to his house and tried to remove the harness himself. She died in the attempt. He says he’s been living on revenge ever since, and it’s not good enough. He’s going to stay in this house until something kills him.

A Mech picks that moment to conveniently attack. Tom and Hal need help, so Weaver mans up. Together, they destroy the Mech. It’s not as much of a coincidence as you might think, either. Weaver spells out the obvious: the old lady told someone. Back at her house, they listen to harnessed teenager tell the old woman that they’ve brought food, and that she should share anything she learns. Hal realizes the girl is the member of his team that got captured several episodes back, but there’s nothing they can do. We see one more of the new aliens. He looks less silver this time, more earth-toned. Could just be tricks of the light, so we’ll have to see them some more.

Back at the 2nd Mass base, Dr. Glass is trying to figure out how to tell Tom he might still lose Ben. The harness may still be doing its thing inside him. Utility infielder Pope has figured out how to make Mech-jacketed bullets out of the remains of Mechs. These technological wonders blow right through Mechs, unlike regular bullets. Everyone is psyched right in time for the big attack.

Is there anything the ex-con can’t do? I think Dr. Glass should get him working on Ben. I can see it now: “Well, when I was running with the gangs, they got shot a lot so I picked some things up, liver transplants, heart bypasses, some brain surgery. I think I could synch that up with a textbook on nanotechnology I ripped off from someone’s house.” He’s not just a utility infielder. He’s a thug savant.

All in all, it’s a massive improvement over last week. This is another well integrated episode with pieces coming together.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Sure. The aliens haven’t become touchy-feely yet, the ex-con’s new bullets would make him an NRA hero for life, and everyone seems to have a sense of personal responsibility this week.

Next week is the two-hour season finale. Humans versus tall skinny legs, with various aliens doing stuff. Be there or be a polytetrahedron.

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