Falling Skies: "Mind Wars" (Season 4, Episode 5)



Marking Time.

That's the plan this week. They've got twelve episodes to film and less than twelve episodes of story to fill them with, so we get an occasional episode like this. Tom is kidnapped by two characters who will most certainly be dead by the end of the episode, and not all that much happens in Chinatown, either.    

We open with Tom, Matt, Colonel Weaver and Cochise the Volm arriving back at the empty foundry. As we saw last week, Hal and company had to move on to evade advancing Espheni forces. In an act of bizarre stupidity, however, Hal leaves the coordinates of their destination in giant graffiti numbers on a wall. You think the Espheni might notice that? Hal also leaves a radio on that blares about Lexi's safe zone in Augusta's famous Chinatown (don't ask). I figure the Espheni might notice that, too. They might even match the coordinates to it.

We have three storylines going: (1) Tom and company, (2) Hal and his group, and (3) Anne and Lexi in Chinatown. They're not well integrated, so I'll do them one by one again.

(1) Tom and Company

Our heroes play hide and seek in order to escape the foundry. The Espheni forces are led by Geminus, the Espheni Tom burned in the ghetto escape. Geminus glares ineffectually a lot.

Cochise leaves to continue his search for the new Espheni power source. Tom stumbles across two guys cooking and asks for food. They first say no, but recant when they learn he's the fabulous "Ghost" from that unnamed ghetto of the first three episodes. The good point in this is that the two guys are played by two accomplished character actors. The bad point is that we are marking time. They do the best with the material they're given.

One is Gil Bellows, most recognizable from "Ally McBeal" and playing that young convict Tommy who gets killed in "The Shawshank Redemption." The other is Aaron Douglas, Chief Tyrol from "Battlestar Galactica." If you look at their resumes, neither one of them is particularly famous for any one role, but they do a lot of steady work. Anyway, Gil is Nick, a former Goldman Sachs executive. Aaron is his blue collar brother, Coop. They escaped from one of the new camps where the Espheni are trying to turn adults into Skitters.

The clue that something is wrong comes when Nick claims they found abandoned food supplies in a deserted Mormon house. Those supplies included lots of whiskey. That's called not trying very hard at your cover story. The only thing more telling would be if the abandoned food supplies had supposedly contained a meticulously catalogued collection of anti-Mormon literature.

Tom is suspicious. He takes the first watch while Matt and Colonel Weaver sleep. Gil clunks Tom on the head; Coop shoots the sleeping bags, which isn't even remotely suspenseful. We know Matt and Weaver aren't in those sleeping bags. Why they felt the need to let Tom get kidnapped so they could track him down later is beyond me.

As they march along, Nick explains that the Espheni have put a big price on Tom's head. They intend to try and collect it because they're idiots. Tom plays tedious mind war with them because he knows Coop feels guilty about shooting those empty sleeping bags. He eventually gets them to turn on one another when his psychological brilliance forces Nick to admit he sacrificed Coop's children to get them out of the adult Skitter manufacturing camp. Coop kills Nick. Coop then gets shot by Weaver before he can kill Tom.


One other stupid point. Earlier, Weaver had been about to take a shot at Coop with a scope rifle. Matt insists on killing Tom's captors instead. Weaver, unbelievably, lets the child who has no such training try a long range shot with Coop sitting right beside Tom. There is a reason they have sniper schools--it's hard. This child is likely to miss. At best, he warns Gil and Coop; at worst, his untrained aim hits Tom. Fortunately, Matt can't bring himself to shoot another human being, a tribute to both his residual humanity and the awful sniper's aim he surely possessed.

(2) Hal and Company    

They wander a lot while complaining they don't know which direction to take for all the Espheni forces roaming around. They eventually take down a Mech with rope and a pickup truck (it's as dumb as it sounds). Shaq the Volm then plugs some gizmo from the Mech into some gizmo he has to reveal the location of all the Espheni.

The problem made up for this episode is solved.         

(3) Anne and Lexi

Anne fruitlessly questions the Espheni Gandalf she captured last week until Ben, the spiked conduit through which Gandalf speaks, gets tired. Lexi and Anne bicker. Lexi force chokes Anne without doing Vader's hand gesture. When she stops force choking Anne, Lexi passes out.

Lexi has a fever of 118 degrees. Seriously. And she doesn't even look flush.

Anne takes a two-by-four to Espheni Gandalf. The physical damage shows up on Ben instead, who gasps the word "flower." Somebody figures out that must mean a local flower they use for tea. The tea makes Lexi all better. They push the first sip past her lips and seven seconds later she's coherent and talking. A couple minutes later, Lexi  manages to arrange for someone to free Espheni Gandalf.

"He's my father, too."

Yeah, yeah. We already guessed that from the disgusting umbilical cord flashback in Episode 3.

I assume everyone will arrive at Chinatown next week. Maybe then something will happen. Or maybe they'll just drink tea and get all better.