Falling Skies: "At All Costs" (Season 3, Episode 4)

Flabbergasted

The show still seems to be doing decent in the ratings, but from a creative standpoint, this episode felt like rock bottom. Some of it was actually funny bad.

Last week’s big cliffhanger? The attack the Espheni finally launched? It lasts all of about two minutes. The Volm shoot down five fighters in formation, a whole five from the Espheni’s ovewhelming attack, and “that’s all, folks.” In fairness, however, there were hints that more interesting carnage happened off screen. That’s an old pattern by now.

Lt. Fisher, the U.S. Army regular captured last episode, was seriously impressed by the Volm shooting down five Espheni fighters. And apparently lots of stuff offscreen. She got right on the horn with “real” President Hathaway, and faster than you can say “Volm” five times, “fake” President Mason has a meeting set up at some place called Keystone.

Of course sociopath savant Pope happens to have a working plane he found somewhere. So faster than you can say “That’s really convenient,” General Bressler is flying Tom and Cochise (our Volm ally) to meet the President. Hathaway is staying at an airport hanger that looks a lot like the airport hanger from last season. He has a general of his own whom you might recognize as Colonel Tigh from the most recent Battlestar Galactica.

There’s lots of generic manly shouting about security followed by a meeting where Tom tells President Hathaway all the stuff about Charleston that we already know. Everyone looks pale and washed out, too. Kind of like a bad 3-D conversion.

The President is unsure of Cochise. Cochise tells him a story about a flower Cochise has never seen. The President is convinced by the flower story that humanity’s fate can be entrusted to Cochise. And no, that really happened. I honestly did not make it up. The flower no one has ever seen was named the Kitarsu. Or something like that.

Hal, who may or may not be a mole, is nonetheless played by a bad actor. He gets a scene where he argues with himself in the mirror, and it’s totally the giggle works. Good Hal’s distressed emoting is the worst bit of acting I’ve seen in a while. He looks like a man panicked at the thought of an impending bowel movement. Bad Hal wasn’t much better, but at least he didn’t have to emote. In the end, Bad Hal takes over. He more or less had to since Good Hal had no credibility left as an actor.

Hal then turns into a giant praying mantis and starts devouring the citizens of Charelston. Okay, I made that up. It would have been more interesting than anything in this episode, though.

Dr. Glass. Sigh. Where to even begin? The stupid baby is still talking to her. So she goes to see everyone’s least favorite genius in the basement, Dr. Kadar. For some reason, the actor playing Dr. Kadar seems to play all his scenes like Jeff Goldblum explaining about BrundleFly from the minor classic of yore. He’s a creepy, twitchy mess. Dr. Glass gives him twelve DNA samples from deharnessed kids to test. Of course, she’s slipped in a ringer—a sample from her baby.

Did I mention that she first had to get supplies for Dr. Kadar to build a DNA analyzer from scratch? That, too, really happened.

Is anyone surprised that only one of the samples turned out to have alien DNA entwined with human? Anyone? Dr. Kadar says they have to tell the proper authorities. So Dr. Glass beans him with a wrench. As stupid as that is, at least now Kadar finally has a reason to twitch.

Did you guess that Dr. Glass will now try to flee with baby Alexis out of Charleston into the hopeless ruins outside? If so, you may also be one of those rare people who know that the sun rises and sets every day. Of course she runs into a Skitter and some creepy harness kid. When she tries to turn back, Evil Hal is waiting for her. And no, he still can’t act.

The Espheni are attacking the President’s airport hanger. The real President’s hanger. Did I mention he was the “Seventh Heaven” dad? Stephen Collins, whom I’m sure you remember from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” This show is actually more interesting for its trivia than anything happening on screen.

Cochise winds up on a plane with the President. Tom’s plane gets shot and crash lands. Another thrilling cliffhanger.

Yawn.

Will conservatives like this?

No. Neither should most liberals. This was tried, hackneyed crap, poorly written and, at times, poorly acted. This was the equivalent of phoning a television episode in.

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