Falling Skies: "Saturday Night Massacre" (Season 4, Episode 7)



Well, that was… an oddly sedate sort of massacre. It was basically a lot of unintentional violence, most of which happened off screen. It might have been a reasonably realistic depiction of how chaotic things happen, but it didn’t make for the most scintillating hour of television. Compared to the escape from the ghetto a few episodes back it felt small.

First things first. I admit the preview from the last episode had me expecting a battle royale, so perhaps my expectations were unfair. Nonetheless, I do believe the sequence of events felt rushed.

We open with Lexi breaking out of her cocoon from last week. This, too, is kind of anticlimactic because she just bursts out the same as before only with dark eyes and maybe a little bit blonder. Then she removes herself from the episode by announcing she’s so disgusted with humanity’s inability to rise above its fear and hatred, its warlike ways, that she’s going to join… the Espheni. Because surely they have no warlike ways and would never harm a… Sorry. That was too easy.

Shooting fish in a barrel.

Anywho, Lourdes asks to go with her. Lexi says “Do you want me to set you free?” When Lourdes answers yes Lexi grips her hand. Lourdes drops dead. It’s the most dramatically effective moment of the night, but it’s over quickly. Lexi then leaves. Everyone then spends the next fifteen minutes arguing about her.

Second things second. I will admit to another prejudice--I’m bored with Lexi. Always have been. Structurally, she feels like an intrusion on the story we were originally sold. That story was about human resistance to an alien invasion predicated around mysterious construction projects. There was no Lexi until the first episode of Season 3. She was off screen most of that season, sort of a bookend, a baby in the first episode and a six-year-old in the last episode. This year she’s suddenly eighteen or twenty-one or whatever and has become her own little tedious mystery. As a character, she doesn’t actually exist to me. She’s just some weird plot device who keeps contorting all over the place.

Dr. Kadar can’t figure out this Espheni cocoon technology. Good. That means there’s at least one aspect of a futuristic alien technology he can’t decipher immediately.

Is Lexi good or is Lexi bad? Will she come back or will she not? Fifteen minutes of this, people. Ask someone who cares.

The Espheni are now advancing on this mythical Chinatown in Augusta, which suddenly has a lot more rubble than it did in any episode before this one. What that really means is they’ve stopped shooting at the Sun Yat-Sen center in Vancouver and moved back to the old Charleston rubble set (also in Vancouver for all I know) to film a battle.

Ben leaves to go find Lexi. Good luck with that. The 2nd Mass plans to funnel the advancing Espheni into prearranged kill zones among the rubble. That should be exciting, right? And it begins well. A handful of the remaining Lexi followers sit across the road all peaceful like to halt the Espheni advance with their wonderful attitudes. They get gunned down by Mechs. The Mechs are taken out in turn by a rain of thermite from above. That’s far and away the episodes finest visual, one truly first rate by TV standards.

Then Pope notices a broken natural gas line. It's apparently still being fed by a pressurized distribution network from somewhere out there in the totally destroyed world. Everyone runs away as a huge gas cloud ignites, and just like that the promised massacre has occurred, all off screen with no actual battle at all. A bunch of people we’d never heard of get killed. In tribute, I shed a generic tear.

We later find Dr. Kadar has some piece of shrapnel driven into his side. He dies with an extended monologue as befits a man who knows more than the Professor on Gilligan's Island. Lots of emoting follows. Tom is pissed and determined to go out there and kill the Espheni Overlord leading the assault. That would be the one Tom burned at the ghetto. He takes Tector with him, who of course clubs Tom with a wrench the first chance he gets. Tector dons the ski mask and goggles that Tom used for his ghetto Ghost disguise to try and kill the Overlord himself. He misses. Subsequently, he goes all suicide bomber on a bunch of Skitters.

Lourdes is dead. Dr. Kadar is dead. Tector is dead. A bunch of extras are also dead. I suppose that does qualify as a massacre, and I’ll accept as a given that it happened on a Saturday, but the whole thing felt strangely uninvolving. Massacres are supposed to have a dramatic heft that the natural gas dodge wafted away.

And Lexi still needs more context to actually be anything.