Falling Skies: Falling Skies: "Homecoming" (Season 2, Episode 6) and "Molon Labe" (Season 2, Episode 7)

Flabbergasted

As far as TV goes, things are moving along fine for Falling Skies. It’s nestled nicely at TNT with good ratings, the last two episodes reviewed her are certainly exciting enough in a TV sort of way, and the ending of the latest episode was actually touching. The writing is also still generally better than the first season. So it’s on firm footing even if it’s not the more demanding type of science fiction some of us might prefer.

We had a genuine two-parter this time as opposed to two different episodes spliced together. And we’re off…

“Homecoming”

Overview: The big bad Fish Head aliens launch a scheme to capture Ben to use him as leverage to get at the red-eyed Skitter leading the Skitter rebellion. It doesn’t exactly make sense, but just go with it. It’s a lot more entertaining than wandering around Massachusetts hearing lectures about the Revolutionary War while exciting stuff happens off screen. And yes, I’m looking at you, Season One.

So remember that bite Captain Weaver got from a harness creature one show back in the episode where the idiot lady’s man had won over his daughter? Remember how awkwardly that was shoehorned in, as in a blatant gesture about future developments. Well, he finally comes down with a severe case of alien bugitis this week. Meet Story Arc #1, your standard medical drama. Good thing for Weaver the 2nd Mass is holed up in a hospital.

As for Story Arc #2, reluctant sparring lovebirds Hal and Maggie stumble across a bunch of dead kids who have been deharnessed. Wouldn’t you know the only one alive is Karen, Hal’s old girlfriend, who was captured during last season’s rescue of Ben. Sort of a quid pro quo. It’s such an obvious plant that we already know she’s a transformed operative sent to get Ben as an inside job. That way he can spill his guts to the Fish Heads about old Red Eye, the aforementioned Skitter leading the aforementioned Skitter rebellion. Ben’s important to Red Eye for some reason.

So there you have it. The Weaver medical drama isn’t all that compelling. They come up with the typical inspired, one-in-a-million ad hoc solution (pumping out his blood to heat it cuz’ bugitis seems to like being cold). It’s about as interesting as it sounds. The only visually intriguing part is when a generator goes out and our stalwart hero, Tom Mason, turns the blood pump by hand.

We all know what’s coming with Karen. It’s by the numbers, but watchable. It’s kind of disappointing how Ben turns from skeptical about Karen to her total dupe in the blink of an eye. Having the one previously captured- and-transformed guy guard the returned captured-and-transformed girl wasn’t such a good idea. Still, Karen does punch Maggie’s lights out and the final visual of Karen and Ben leaping from the top of the hospital in back light is kind of cool.

Oh, and Pope’s returned. Probably a good thing since they’d have never figured out how to kill Mechs efficiently without him in the first place. Yeah, he’s surly, but beggars can’t be choosers, now can they?

All in all, Weaver’s survival is boring, but the last fifteen minutes of punching and escaping partially makes up for it.

“Molon Labe”

Pretentious title, huh? That seems to happen a lot with this show.
Overview: The title is ancient Greek for “Come and take them.” If you think that means we’re going to see the 2nd Mass under siege at the hospital, score one for you. What distinguishes this from the other “2nd Mass under siege” episodes we’ve seen is a really creepy new brand of insect aliens.

We pick up with Karen delivering Ben to her evil Fish Head master just like we thought she would. Then Hal and Tom and company show up and capture Mr. Evil Fish Head. They get Ben, too. But after returning to the hospital, they suddenly find themselves under siege. Captain Weaver says that’s sort of to be expected when you take an evil Fish Head master hostage; he’s pissed that Tom didn’t clear an action that major with him in advance.

That’s kind of a recurring image in this show. Tom does stuff, Weaver gets pissed, Tom does some more stuff, Weaver gets pissed… Rinse and repeat.

Lots of Mechs everywhere. Their ominous thudding theme music sounds regularly. It starts to snow and the interplay of white ground, thudding Mechs and the shifting light at night is honestly striking. It’s a nice bit of scenic design.

While the 2nd Mass is distracted up front, a Mech breaks into the hospital garage/basement. Tom takes it out with an exploding propane tank, or some such, but the damage that does strands Dr. Glass, Lourdes and young Matt (Tom’s third son) in the actual basement/sub-basement. That’s unfortunate, because the aliens decide to attack the basement/subbasement with…

Really icky insect bugs. They look like preying mantises with attitude, eat through metal and apparently lay fast-growing larvae inside you if they get a chance. Poor Jamil, Lourdes’ boy friend, winds up dead with bugs crawling out of his mouth. Definitely pushing the gross quotient for TV. Although I suppose The Walking Dead has lowered that bar.

While the Mechs outside in the snow ratchet up the tension by making a show of executing some scouts sent out by the 2nd Mass, the battle against the nasty insects proceeds. Matt climbs up a ventilation duct to let Tom and company know Dr. Glass and Lourdes are trapped down below. Dr. Glass rigs up a portable flame thrower to try and break out. The two ladies are about halfway home when Tom and company show up to help them the rest of the way.

Tom faces off with the Mr. Evil Fish Head. The Fish Head tells Tom that compassion is their weakness, then demonstrates it by doing something to Ben through the spikes in his back from when he had a harness. Ben’s dying until the Fish Head “graciously” relents. Tom reciprocates by shooting him. Captain Weaver is really, really pissed now. Not only did Tom get them surrounded by bringing Mr. Evil Fish Head home for dinner, now he’s just deprived them of the only leverage they had.

Except Fish Heads are hardy, it seems. This one is hanging on. So the 2nd Mass tells Karen she can have the damaged Fish Head, cuz’ maybe they can still save him, if they let everyone go. Think of it as one giant “do over” on the whole crazy scheme that started this in the first place. Kind of contrived, but at least a fair amount of dramatic stuff happened over the hour.

The ending is good. Ben tells Tom he has to go, that he’s a risk to the 2nd Mass. Not to mention that there are other things he needs to do to help this amorphous Skitter rebellion. Tom remembers Ben’s first day in preschool, how he pleaded with his parents not to leave. How tough it was to leave him even though they had to. Now those roles are reversed. It’s a poignant moment designed to resonate with any parent. And it’s good writing.

All in all, a decent success as an action hour goes.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Sure. Good guys fighting bad guys, with a little honest sentiment on top.

Tags: