So how’s Falling Skies holding up?
Well, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say the last two episodes are a slight step back. Some of this stuff felt pretty formulaic, with a tendency toward talkiness and emoting for the sake of emoting. However, the plot is also moving forward and there’s still some momentum from the 2nd season premiere.
Overview: A sad family reunion because someone’s daughter has a really dumb boyfriend. Lots of emoting, one decent action sequence, and some rank stupidity masquerading as closure. Of the two episodes reviewed, this is the clunker.
As you may or may not recall, the 2nd Mass is on its way to Charleston because there’s some kind of Continental Congress there, and Weaver has a hankering for some of that shredded barbeque they do.
We open with Matt, Tom’s youngest son. He’s riding a scooter while two Skitters give chase. He leads them to a dead end where two of the Berserkers, Tector and Boon, blow the Skitters away. Head shots. A blood spattered Matt thinks it’s totally awesome. Tom doesn’t, and puts Tector and Boon on latrine duty when he finds out. Matt, of course, is pissed because Dad isn’t letting him fight. On the plus side for Tom, though, he manages a brief make out session with Dr. Glass.
Hal and Ben are scouting a factory with steam coming out of it when their motorcycles get stolen by some “young bloods.” They track them down and get the bikes back. Seeing that it’s just a bunch of kids and teenagers, though, swell guy Hal offers them some food and supplies. And wouldn’t you know it, the oldest girl turns out to be Weaver’s surviving daughter, Jeanie.
Underwhelmed with plot contrivance yet? Just wait. It gets worse.
Jeanie has a boy friend, her group’s cute little leader, Diego. Yep, same as Dora’s knock off cousin. About as much thought put into it, too. Of course the kids they left behind get attacked and captured by Skitters while Diego and Jeanie are gone. Of course Ben and Hal know the factory they saw with steam must be where any prisoners are taken. And of course Diego can’t wait three minutes for Weaver to organize a rescue attempt. He heads out with a couple of kids on his own, inexplicably taking Matt with him (he wants to fight sooo bad!)
Diego’s nowhere near as useful in a pinch as Dora’s cousin, either. He apparently got everyone captured like, I don’t know, thirty seconds after they left camp. So it’s up to Weaver to conduct the rescue. And that leads to our one truly effective scene of the episode.
Matt and Jeanie wake up in a harness loading operation. The harnesses are swimming like some sort of hammerhead worm in a liquid tank. They are sluiced out one-by-one to crawl along a table on which their victim is tied down. We get to see one attach itself, and it’s not a pretty sight. Weaver and company arrive in time to save Matt and Jeanie.
Ben puts his hand on the tank; his spikes glow as a harness swims up on the opposite side of the glass. Hal sees this and is appropriately freaked out. Ben cuts loose on the harness swim tank, sending them s[pilling to the floor. That doesn’t seem real bright since they then crawl toward people. But our heroes blow them away, except for one that bites Weaver on the leg. He then blows it away.
The special effects here are good for TV, as were the Skitter head explosions in this episode’s intro. That’s one thing that’s held true this season—generally improved effects.
Final scenes. Hal confronts Ben. Ben says these people distrust him enough already, that they’ll kill him if they know he has some kind of connection to the aliens. Weaver’s daughter has a big, long talkie scene with him. When he’s asleep, she leaves a note and departs with Diego to go hang out with their helpless band of teens and kids. Which makes absolutely zero sense, since Diego has amply demonstrated he’s a hot head who couldn’t protect a gerbil. Those kids are clearly doomed on their own. It’s just a way to kill the plot line in the same episode it’s introduced because the writers never wanted anything more out of it than some cheap angst.
“Love and Other Acts of Courage”
Pretentious title, huh?
Overview: The 2nd Mass becomes aware of a Skitter Civil War that may be humanity’s salvation. Too much talking and emoting (how could there not be with that title?), but some major plot developments and decent pacing.
Hal and Maggie spend the whole episode flirting and getting close while she doesn’t want to get close because what kind of future can they have, and you’ve seen this a billion times on TV. You know how it ends, too, so I won’t belabor it further. On the plus side, I suppose they’re nice enough looking kids.
The opening is kind of cool. Skitters greet the risen sun, crying out to it. Ben races out to a roof and does the same. Don’t know what it means, but it’s got a sense of urgency and multiple possible symbolic undertones.
The 2nd Mass goes to check what looks like a firefight in the city. They find Mechs destroyed by other Mechs and alien remains. Under one of them is Rick, the other harness kid from Ben’s old pod. They bring him back to be saved by Dr. Glass, after which he tells them Ben is in danger. They reluctantly follow him to an abandoned warehouse where they find our red-eyed Skitter from the last few episodes. He’s injured. The gang is about to blow him away when both Ben and Rick interpose themselves to protect Red-Eye.
Red Eye is taken back to base for interrogation. He wants to talk to Tom first. And by talking, I mean through Rick. He says the Skitters are other races who have been turned into this by the harnesses. They have been trying to revolt against their Overlords for 100 years. So I guess they’re not very good at it. Still, Red Eye thinks an alliance of humans and Skitters could do the trick. When Tom balks, red Eye offers a choice: “Join us and survive, or fight alone and die.”
It’s hardly original, but it’s a vast improvement over last year’s static, low budget slog. Unfortunately, an alien Death Squad searching for Red Eye picks that moment to show up. Weaver thinks Red Eye led them here and prepares to shoot him. Red Eye flees, Rick interposes again and gets shot this time. He dies this time, too.
Tough times. Possibly interesting, too. We shall see,
WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?
“Young Bloods,” probably not so much, primarily because the young bloods are stupid. Its pretentious title aside, they might like the second episode.