Falling Skies: "Search and Recover" (Season 3, Episode 5) and "Be Silent and Come Out" (Season 3, Episode 6)


Sigh. Flaccid Skies drones on. The whole third season has turned quite strange at this point. It has characters, dialogue, things happening, etc. but it never actually feels like a story. It feels more like you’re watching outtakes from a story training course, as if someone filmed interns at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh executing various aspects of the whole story thing. This time out, I watched two whole hours and found only one or two moments that held any interest. And that was just because they had visual color compared to the normal washed out palettes of this thing.

“Search and Recover”

That’s me trying to get something out of the hour I invested in this episode. I failed.

When last we left the fearless Tom Mason, his plane had just been shot down and General Bressler was urgently struggling with the controls. The uninteresting yet valiant General manages a pretty good crash landing. For his efforts, he is rewarded with a metal rod through the chest. Cest la vie.

Tom pulls Pope out of the burning plane. It explodes. An Espehni airship hovers over the site playing a search light below. Pope keeps Tom from stupidly stumbling into it. So I guess they’re even.

Back at Charleston, Anne and baby Alexis are missing. Dr. Kadar explains how he had determined the baby was a human-alien hybrid before Anne clonked him on the head. Tom’s second-in-command, Marina, has a tedious conversation with Weaver about the needs of the overall city versus the fate of one woman (Anne). It’s supposed to be dramatic, but it’s pretty much rote. Weaver and the Mason family (including evil Hal) head out to search for Anne. Today's trivia? They pass a dull, dreary mural with a faded Jesus on their way out.

Pope and Tom have a conversation about stuff while making a fire. It’s not scintillating television, but it’s better than the alternative available with the Mason family search back in Charleston. At least the storytellers seem to be trying here.

As far as that search back in Charleston goes, I’ll spill the beans early--they don’t find Anne. They spend the whole episode talking and emoting until they find a baby wrap next to Skitter footprints. So the big conclusion to this part of the story is that Anne was captured by Skitters. If we hadn’t watched that happen in the last episode, it might have constituted a plot development. But since we did, it’s just a waste of time. I did appreciate Ben’s horse, though. During an extended bit of emoting between him and Matt, it looked as bored as I felt.

I warmed a little to the Pope/Tom scenes. Since they’re in the woods, there’s actually some color--it’s all green, but at least it’s vibrant. I hadn’t realized how sick I was of the washed out grime of Charleston. The interior sets there seem to consist of nothing but unpainted dry wall, all of which has a small rectangle of white at the upper and lower joints. They couldn’t even spare a decent stab at color for Jesus. So the woods are pretty much like being in the 1930s and seeing Technicolor. It wakes you up every time the transition happens.

Come on people, nuke Charleston already and head for the woods. I’m begging here.

Marina asks Dr. Kadar to examine photos of the weapon the Volm are building. She wants him to tell her what it is from a couple of pictures. I suppose if he can build a DNA analyzer from baking soda and gingerbread, why not?

Something finally happens. Skitters chase after Tom and Pope. They even look more colorful in the woods. It’s not a great chase, but it beats anything we’ve seen for weeks, so I’ll take it. Kill a few Skitters, run, then jump off a cliff into a river like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The intern who did this scene is close to graduating.

Downriver, Tom has injured his ankle. Pope lugs him along until Tom, in a fit of self pity, says Pope is a coward for not abandoning him. Pope responds by abandoning him. The Skitters close in. But just at the last moment, Pope returns to blow their heads off. Anyone not see that coming? He’s found a car with enough gas to drive back to Charleston. That's convenient.

Mercifully, the episode ends. But not before the magical Dr. Kadar says the weapon he can’t understand is built to require more energy than it needs. Marina looks worried.


“Be Silent and Come Out”

In this episode, Hal comes out of the closet and expresses his love for Colonel Weaver.

No, he doesn’t really, although that might have been more interesting. This season seems to be best characterized as one where each subplot is given its own episode to fizzle out. This is Evil Hal’s week to fizzle.

He starts the episode by taking his father hostage and trying to drive out of Charleston. Maggie shoots up the car and it crashes. That at least has a little life to it. But the way it fails guarantees a clichéd hostage taking scene. Hal is holed up with Tom as a hostage while Colonel Weaver jabbers about the need to save them both. I’m with Pope: WTF? Could we deal with any crisis situation without making the emotional needs of the Mason clan our first and only priority?

There’s a chance for some interesting father-son interaction here since Evil Hal could play on Tom’s sense of fatherly guilt about a lot of things. But that would require someone other than an intern writing it. Tom simply begins by apologizing for everything in the world and talking about Mom. Good Hal tries to break through and whines a lot. On the fizzle scale, it’s definitely well-soaked powder.

Weaver does nothing, as is becoming more and more the norm. Matt, Ben and Maggie sneak into the building and wrestle-talk Hal down. He tries to shoot himself. Does anyone, and I mean anyone, think for a moment that he’ll succeed?

And yes, they brought the little kid into a takedown of an armed hostage situation. If he had been involved, I think Pope would have said WTF? for that, too.

The rebel Skitters have a magic cure to remove the eye bug (or is it the eye-ear-nose-and-throat bug?) from Hal. Of course it will either save him of kill him. Totally binary. Does anyone, and I mean anyone, think for a moment that it will kill him?

They try and milk it anyway. I’ll admit the scenes of the Critter’s silvery goo seeping into Hal are well done. But by the time Lourdes is looking generically concerned while preparing the heart needle injection against a backdrop of unpainted drywall, every last panel with the same white rectangles on the upper and lower joint, it’s another lost cause. They don’t even bother really. They just cut to a commercial while Hal is saved off-screen.

Hal lives (of course). Tom resigns as President to go search for Anne and Alexis (the rebel Skitters know where they are, too.) Marina takes charge.

The whole family heads off into the wilderness on horses. With the little kid, too. Seriously.

Pope is becoming the only thing worth watching in this show.

Will Conservatives Like This?

Only if their idea of a good time is a C-SPAN marathon.