FALLING SKIES: "On Thin Ice" (Season Three, Episode 1) & "Collateral Damage (Season Three, Episode 2)

Flabbergasted

Well, that wasn’t so good was it? The whole thing felt drab and derivative, like they were trying to pack in as many clichés as they could into two hours. And they certainly packed those suckers, freely borrowing from superior sources. It didn’t have any of the energy the second season premier managed.

Seven months have passed since last season’s finale, the lazy man’s approach to storytelling. Our erstwhile hero, Tom Mason, is now the President of Charleston. Yes, South Carolina, and no, don’t ask. Charleston is safe because of the new aliens who landed in the finale. Those would be the Volm--grey and generically bulbous, vaguely reptilian with their noses cut off—who hate the Espheni—grey, with elongated heads that are vaguely fish like. The Volm have given Charleston’s defenders all kinds of neat space firepower that has our boys and girls holding their own. But as is a pattern with this show, it all happened off camera.

Low budgets seem to be a problem. We see one, count him/her/it. one whole Volm. And so help me God, the Volm is called Cochise. One the plus side, however, he/she/it has excellent diction. Comes in handy for telling, not showing.

Dr. Glass is very, very pregnant. She has the baby almost immediately as well, after a clichéd “my water broke” moment that even the Lifetime channel would consider phoned in. The baby is a girl that Dr. Glass and Tom name Alexis. And of course she’s some kind of freak. She sits up on, I don’t know, day one. Crawls of the bed and says “mommy” a few days later. So it seems we’re ripping off the whole star child trope from V, which wasn’t even original then.

Yeah, it’s that kind of show, Geronimo.

On to the Mason children. Ben has adjusted well to being super human from his harness days. He has a new side kick, some African American age-appropriate lady friend. Good for him.

Hal is a mess. He’s paralyzed, only not really because they can’t find anything physically wrong. He sleep walks at night out into the woods to meet femme fatale Karen, his old flame until she got a harness. They have rough, woodsy sex. Karen’s spine glows when they get it on, a direct rip off of Battlestar Galactica. Nerds found that edgy once. Now it’s just kind of embarrassing.

Yeah, it’s that kind of show all right.

Matt is a twit. He’s a truant because he finds school boring. Dr. Glass lowers the boom, after which he tells her “You’re not my mother!” Honest to God. It really doesn’t get much more clichéd than that, particularly since none of it has any buildup or dramatic heft. He’s apologized by the end and everything is okay. It’s as pointless a way to kill five minutes of screen time as any.

The main thread of both hours is that Charleston is harboring a mole. Not the rodent or another new kind of alien, but an old-fashioned spy who passes information to the Espheni. One Volm and one mole per Charleston. They want us to think the mole is Hal, presumably from Karen’s mind control, but it’s possible it isn’t. The Lost guy (Terry O’Quinn) shows up for five minutes to try and find the mole. He gets killed. I guess he needed a car payment or something.

Colonel Weaver and Pope offer up a lot of manly military and rebel-without-a-cause growling, respectively. Things get shot. Things blow up. The usual.

The second hour has a remarkably dumb plot. It seems the Espheni are powering up their Mech droids at a local nuclear power plant. You’d think all those interstellar spaceships and huge bases they’ve built would be up to the task, but I guess not. The rebels decide to blow up the plant. However, they don’t want fallout raining down on them. So what’s a President of Charleston to do?

I’ll tell you. He goes to find Dr. Kadar, an agoraphobic with no social skills at all. That’s original, right, the nerd scientist? Seems Dr. Kadar has been living underground running Charleston’s power plant all by himself. On bad TV shows energy is magic. You don’t need maintenance or people standing watch. You just need some nerdy genius.

Yeah, we’re dangerously close to Power Rangers territory here.

Anyway, Dr. Kadar tells them they first have to turn the plant off. What an insightful tip. Then he says they just need to plant a few explosive charges to bring the containment building down and entomb the reactor. That’ll trap all the radiation.

Seriously. I know Fukushima-like events don’t happen every year, but surely someone on this show is vaguely conversant with that big news story from not so long ago. You know, decay heat, the stuff that’s still there after you shutdown, the reason the Japanese were frantically trying to restore power, the reason they wound up pumping SEA WATER through in a desperate bid for cooling.

Or how about Chernobyl: “The reactor itself was covered with bags of sand, lead and boric acid dropped from helicopters: some 5,000 metric tons of material were dropped during the week that followed the accident.” More than 400,000 m3 of concrete were needed for the ultimate sarcophagus.

Dr. Kadar is a moron.

Anyway, more fighting. Bang bang, emote emote, Bang bang, emote emote. Some guy I’d never heard of got killed. It wasn’t moving. When they get to the reactor, it seems like the explosive charges can pretty much just go anywhere. Afterwards, they watch the charges ignite from a few miles away. Tom smiles knowingly at their brilliance, as befits the President of Charleston.

Will conservatives like this?

No. They’re all boring, and they ruined a perfectly good power plant. Hal doesn’t even know he’s having rough, woodsy sex. Dr. Kadar is precisely the kind of buffoon who would have washed out into government work, a bottom quartile government worker who couldn’t come up with a reasonable excuse for a regulation if a Volm handed it to him. And explained it with excellent diction.

This show is what science fiction would be if it was a government program. And not one of those military programs that at least build something.

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